Northern BC has long been a haven for outdoor adventurists, and when the snow flies, skis and boards are standard equipment — and always at the ready — for every intrepid adventurer.
Shames Mountain near Terrace, for example, promises a flurry of activity once the temperature drops. Here, mega snowfalls routinely draw skiers and riders, and in this quiet, rural setting, fresh tracks are frequently on the menu. As Canada’s only non-profit, co-operatively owned ski hill (locals formed My Recreational Mountain Coop in order to purchase and operate Shames Mountain), this northern gem offers choice intermediate and advanced runs, alongside an expansive backcountry landscape. In addition, skiers and boarders can expect spectacular fluted ridges and peaks spread in every direction, while natural glades make for heart-thumping tree skiing, Northern BC-style. mymountaincoop.ca; ski-shames.ca
Further northeast in the Bulkley Valley near Smithers, Hudson Bay Mountain Resort draws the faithful every year, due largely to the area’s natural mountain-range topography combined with the ferocity of northern Pacific weather systems. The result: Mother Nature’s ultimate snow machine. On mountain, enthusiasts can carve through 127 hectares (315 acres) of big mountain terrain, and they’ll even be tempted to stay a while, thanks to Ski & Stay packages that combine one day’s play (or more) with an overnight at the Aspen Inn and Suites or the Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge. For a change of pace, intermediate and expert skiers can switch their gear for backcountry boards to make tracks along the Hankin-Evelyn Backcountry Recreation Area, where 13 cut ski runs, five alpine bowls and a day-use shelter in the sub-alpine are sure to stir the adventurist spirit. hudsonbaymountain.com; bbss.ca/hankin
Snow-packed exploration continues north of Prince George, where Powder King reigns. Here, the resort is situated a mere 462 metres (1,500 feet) from Highway 97, but Powder King feels worlds away from the bustle of your average ski resort. Breathtaking drops, challenging, groomed slopes and excellent tree riding draw devotees, while 38 runs (most, like Penny Lane and Lovely Rita, named for popular Beatles tunes) and a trickster-friendly snowboard cross track are sure to mix things up. Those who wish to linger can bunk at the Powder King Mountain Hotel, an old-school-style hostel at the base of the mountain that offers cosy comfort for powder-hungry crews. powderking.com
Just west of Prince George, Otway Nordic Centre is home to a 55-kilometre (34-mile) trail system that is a tempting blend of smooth grooves and technical track. As the site for the Cross-Country Skiing, Biathlon and Para-Nordic events during the 2015 Canada Winter Games — Canada's largest multi-sport competition for young athletes — Otway upped its game and refurbished its competition facilities, a $1.7 million upgrade that included expanded stadiums and new technical buildings, alongside courses primed for future international competition. caledonianordic.com