Terrace offers the magic of skiing that we all search for and cherish. The pleasure of being engaged by community, operators and the owners has become rare and special when encountered with our modern corporate ski industry. Intrawest, Resorts of The Canadian Rockies and the American Ski Corporation have slowly eroded the spirit of community skiing. In Terrace, passion and community are the driving force behind the operation!
Terrace is the closest Alaska big mountain skiing that we have in Canada and I was visiting Terrace with a group of bib mountain skeirs from all parts of North America. We arrived with a healthy appetite for powder and partying–knowing that Terrace has the goods!
Day one took us to Shames Mountain where they were operating in theuir first year ad the new community owned My Mountain Co-op. During the summer of 2011, 300 locals banded together to purchase and manage Shames. This was a huge step forward for community skiing in Terrace and Prince Rupert. We were there to ski are celebrate the local initiative.
Shames Mountain is located 20 minutes west of Terrace and 50 minutes east of Prince Rupert and operates a double chair and t-bar. The skiing and boarding is great with lots of variety. Most locals’ tour as the backcountry access is perhaps some of the best anywhere. My group didn’t have touring gear so we did a few boot hikes however we thoroughly enjoyed skiing the terrain off the lifts. While most of BC was experiencing a “High” avalanche rating due to multiple dangerous snowpack layers, Terrace was offering safe skiing because of having a 10-meter snowpack!
At the end of the day we were engaged in a very social après’ski bar and enjoyed many of their house drink “Sneaky Pete’s”. A conversation with the area manager reported that they have experienced a great first year operating as a Co-op and perhaps even made a profit! We partied with locals, who were owners, and the staff until the bar closed at 5:30.
From there we rolled down the mountain to check in at Northern Escape’s Yellow Cedar Lodge on the banks of the mighty Skeena River. We were booked for three days of skiing in the massive backcountry of the Coast Mountain range.
NE has upgraded their heli-skiing service to include sno-cats to ensure no down days from bad weather restricting flying. The two snow cats help them boast about offering 100% ski days! The skies were clear and we were signed up for their Unlimited Vertical Package! The Unlimited Vertical option is unlimited! The minimum vertical guarantee is increased and if you don’t utilize all of your vertical you can use it next time.
On the first day we skied 40,000 vertical feet! The first timers were ecstatic to be skiing such seemingly endless vertical runs. The runs are 4000to 5000 feet long and steep, and the altitude is not an issue as the lodge is at 300 feet and highest altitude is 7000 feet. Day two we skied slightly less due to late afternoon cloud moving in. The 30,000 vertical foot day did position us for attaining 100,000 of vertical in three days. Day 3 it rained to the top and we didn’t meet our goal however enjoyed the best two days of skiing of the season. As they say at Northern Escape, “It’s Deeper Up Here” holds true and we celebrated the best snow-pack in North America.
For those of you considering heli-skiing I do recommend a smaller operation with small group skiing. Northern Escape has been my best heli-ski experience to date! Here are few shots of my group: