24 hours at Big White by Nick Coates
Nick Coates leaves us longing for winter at Big White with his experience last winter.
We wake up in our huge comfortable double bed at StoneGate spa resort and pull open the curtains with one short sharp motion; we’re greeted by a fairy tale scene, inch upon inch of white fluffy snow has piled up on our balcony, the air is cold and crisp, and the sun is shining brightly in the sky. We scramble excitedly into our base layers, socks, jackets, and pants, up-ending the room slightly in our quest to find that ever elusive missing glove. With equipment on we rush out the door, it’s time to get those legs moving!
We strap on our skis and boards and take a few quick laps of Exhibition, Paradise & Perfection. The runs are steep and wide open blues and a few excited shrieks and woops of joy escape our mouths as we slice through the virgin corduroy, carving through the crisp undulations left by the fantastic grooming facilities at Big White. With the blood pumping and muscles sufficiently warmed it’s time to get some fuel in the engine and we grab some breakfast at Beano’s coffee parlour in the village centre mall. We wave to staff that we recognize from previous visits, they smile warmly back and we catch a glimpse of a group of trainee ski instructors heading out to begin the day’s lessons. Their jackets are emblazoned with a striking red and black logo that reads “SnowSkool” … must look into that on our return.
Suitably fueled for the day we strap back in and head over to Gem Lake for a few runs through Sun Rype Bowl and off Moonlight Run. We begin with plenty of long blue runs, just to ease ourselves back into the groove; we attack Blue Moon, Mustang Sally and Snowy before we move onto the more challenging black runs. The Fourth Ace and Cann Cann certainly step things up a notch and our legs begin to feel that satisfying burn as we bend and flex our way through the rollers and the whale-back moguls. Then it’s off into the trees at Ribbon Glades to get some tight turning practice in, there’s nothing like the prospect of a face-to-tree collision to motivate you into getting the turns in!
We take a quick hot chocolate break at Westridge Warming Hut before we make our way back to the village centre. We take things easy down the Village Way (green run) before we take the Powder chair to some of Big White’s finest terrain. The Flagpole and Powder Glades have everything one could possibly want: powder, trees, and cliff drops… the father, the son, and the holy ghost of skiing. After a few laps through here it’s time to fuel the furnace once more... it’s fondue time! So we head to the Swiss Bear for some molten cheesy goodness.
Feeling sufficiently stuffed we need to get back out on the slopes, so we take a few runs to re-warm our muscles cruising around the wide open pistes accessible from the new 6-seater village chair. Once we’re back into the swing of things we challenge ourselves and take on the Dragons Tongue, a tight, mogul filled, black run with the odd tree-line thrown in for good measure. After this we’re brimming with confidence so we take on the Cliff, previously an out-of-bounds area that has been brought in-bounds with the addition of a new chairlift. It’s steep, challenging, and offers a number of drop-ins all along the ridge. Once this has been negotiated it the run opens out into a wide-open powder field - perfection.
Just as we finish the snow begins to set in thick and heavy, so we head into the trees at Black Forest. There are plenty of options to choose from here: super-tight lines are plentiful but then so are wide open ones, we choose a wide line charge through, using the trees as if they were slalom gates.
As dusk begins to fall we don’t want our day to end so we head over to the huge night skiing area around the TELUS terrain park. There’s plenty on offer here with kickers and rails all over the place, enough to keep even the most seasoned freestyle kids happy! Oh and did we mention the sound sytem? What an atmosphere!
Once we’ve had our fill we head back to StoneGate to soak our weary limbs in our own private balcony Jacuzzi. We chat about the days skiing and riding, embellishing our stories with a cold beer in hand…
Then it’s out for dinner at the Kettle Valley Steakhouse -unbelievable steak and delicious red wines, followed by a couple more drinks at Snowshoe Sam’s
The perfect end to a perfect day in Big White!
Nick Coates - SnowSkool
Photo Credits - Andrew Jay Nicholson