We headed up to Big White for 4 days over New Year. We took the 7 hour drive up pretty leisurely, as it was a sparkling, crisp winter day. And its rude to drive past all those wineries without having a taste or three.
Approaching the resort, we were amazed by the amount of real estate that has sprung up since our last visit 3 years ago. It all looks tasteful and stylish, but there’s sure a lot of it.
I suspect this explains why a new 6-pack lift was installed this year to move people out of the village. It was certainly needed, and at times there were still lift lines at both the main chairs. This was especially true on the first day when wind prevented Gem Lake from opening.
Overall it was a fun few days. The weather was generally excellent, and the cover was pretty good. There were rocks but they were mostly missable. The Gem Lake terrain is Big White’s highlight, and we skied everything there that was open several times, and took many different lines through the higher trees where the cover was good. The snow, especially in the bowl at the top, was excellent and the long bump runs like Black Magic and Black Beauty were soft, forgiving and great bump practice.
I always enjoy a trip to Big White. It’s mostly a cruising mountain, but has some good trees, bumps and a few exhilarating, if short, steeps around the Cliff area. As long as Gem Lake is open, there’s lots of entertainment to be had.
Two gripes however.
One, the Powder Chair, a slow triple, needs replacing, badly. It serves some of the best fall-line tree skiing on the hill. But it’s become a huge bottleneck as people use it to travel from the village to Gem Lake and back. We encountered some huge lines there after about 9.30. Lines are always bad, but worse, it discouraged us from skiing the runs off the chair, and that’s a real bum deal.
Two, the food outlets on the hill need upgrading and expanding. Getting served at the cafe at the bottom of the Ridge Rocket could take 20 minutes if it was busy. Even if not, the crazy line-up system meant you stood around for ages getting soup, then watched it get cold while they cooked your burger. It was virtually impossible to purchase a cookie – perhaps a good thing, I guess!
After all those real estate sales, surely there’s a few bucks left over for on-hill improvements next year ;}
Trip details: 4 days, 30,200m vertical
Season totals so far:
14 days, 6 powder days, 106,200 verts