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Our Epic 2018/19 Okanagan Ski and Board Mountain Round Up

Hello Kelowna Staff | November 10, 2018
Our Epic 2018/19 Okanagan Ski and Board Mountain Round Up
The 2018/2019 Okanagan ski and board season is almost here. Compare all the rates for the region's five resorts.
The 2018/2019 Okanagan ski and board season is almost here. Compare all the rates for the region's five resorts.
Snow is beginning to pile up in the higher elevations of BC, and the Okanagan mountains and resorts are gearing up to get you to it. With three of our major local hills now open (Big White, SilverStar, Sun Peaks), it's time to break out the wax and check out the local options. While we may not be on the Powder Highway, offer the vertical of Revy, or have the massive scene that Whistler does, take it from me, someone who's skied the latter for decades, the Okanagan has all you need: dumps of that sweet light snow that, thanks to a lack of crowds, won't get skied out for days! And this year El Nino promises to send us tons of pow. So whether you're a glade glider, steeps chaser, rails rat, or just want a day above the clouds and an après vibe (with that first class BC wine and craft brew natch) you'll find all the deets and tips you'll need in our Okanagan Mountain Round Up!

APEX Mountain Resort: The Only lines are in the Snow

APEX: The Only Lines are in the Snow

Honestly we shouldn't even be hyping this hill for fear the crowds will come, but seriously, Apex is a gem. Gobs of that dry powder, tree skiing and steeps, nice groomed rollers and the kicker: no lift lines! Roughly 3/4 of the skiers here are local, giving it a chill, friendly vibe. If you're new to the mountain be sure to take an informal tour with a mountain host (there's a morning and an afternoon tour daily). It’s a great way to experience the mountain, history, and local personality that makes Apex the swell place it is.

Aside from piste and slackcountry (easy to access backcountry), they've got 4 well-designed terrain parks for all levels, ski and snowboard cross, and after dark the Okanagan Run Night Park is fully lit and brings the board rats to those funky rails down the middle of the halfpipe. Oh, and it's only $7.50 Friday Nights!

Hours: 9:00am – 3:30pm (9:00pm Friday & Saturday)

Distance from Penticton 35.6 km
Base 1577m
Peak 2187m
Vertical 610m
Ski Area 450h
Longest Run 5k
Breakdown % 16
48
28
8
Lifts 4

Ticket/Pass Costs

Tickets:
DAYS Adult Teen Junior Senior Master Student
1 $85 $70 $53 $70 $49 $70
2 $155 $125 $90 $125 $83 $125
3 $211 $169 $122 $169 $105 $169
4 $275 $222 $158 $222 $137 $222
5 $340 $270 $196 $270 $169 $270
Passes
Season
Adult 19-64 $1099
Teen 13-18 $800
Junior 8-12 $550
Senior 65-69 $800
Masters 70+ $550
Student $525

Rentals (full day)

Prices based on the full package (skis, poles and boots or board and boots). Nordic rentals are from Nickel Plate Nordic Centre.

Ski/Board Snowshoe Nordic Fatbike
$44 $20 $19 $60

The Deal

Save $10 off your first Day Lift ticket, the 2nd through 6th day, receive 10% off each day… On the 7th day, SKI FREE! Pay as you go, valid any day throughout the season, no blackout periods.

Also of Note: BC and Alberta Family Days are 50% off, there's the Friday Night Special where it's only $7.50 for tubing, skiing and rentals, and of course they participate in the reciprocal mountains 25% off program for pass holders of other BC/Alta mountains.

Outdoor Activities

  • Fat biking
  • Ice skating loop and fully lit NHL-sized outdoor hockey rink
  • Tube park
  • Snowshoeing
  • Snowmobile tours
  • Nordic skiing (classic and skate-skiing) at Nickel Plate Nordic Centre ($7-15, seniors and under 6 are free)

Known for

  • Great glades and tree skiing
  • Sweet pow
  • No lineups
  • Nickel Plate Nordic Centre

Après

Not a lot of options for nightlife but the Gunbarrel Saloon has a full-on après vibe and it's open late - good times, live bands, and given their location, their wine events like Vertical and Vintages (with Naramata Bench Wine Association mid March) and the Brewski Craft Beer and Cider Festival are a regional treat.


Big White

BIG WHITE: Best All-Rounder

The area's most established resort, this all around buzzy destination appeals to all types of skier/boarders, and families especially. It's a ridiculously friendly and organized place. It boasts great glade skiing and boarding, nice long runs, more intermediate runs than at surrounding areas and some fun steeps off the Cliff chair and Gem Lake Express, however "Big Whiteout" is vulnerable to some white-out conditions. The terrain park's reputation is that it's not quite as well designed as nearby resorts of similar stature (Silver Star), especially the half-pipe, but it does have a dedicated lift - yay! They too have a great Snow Hosts program with local skiers/snowboarder volunteers, that run free tours from the Village every Thursday morning at 10am. They love to teach guests about Big White's diverse terrain and show off the best powder stashes!

Hours: 7:45am - 10:00pm, Sunday through Thursday, 7:45am - 11:00pm Friday & Saturday

Distance from Kelowna 62.5 km
Base 1508m
Peak 2319m
Vertical 811m
Ski Area 1147h
Longest Run 7.2k
Breakdown % 18
54
22
6
Lifts 16

Ticket/Pass Costs

Tickets (Reg/Peak):
Adult 19-64 $105/$125
Youth 13-18 $89/$109
Child 6-12 $64/$84
Senior 65+ $89/$109
Student $89/$109
Passes
Adult $729
Youth 13-18 $474
Child 6-12 $289
Club 65+ $519
Student $519
Limited Tickets (Reg/Peak):
Limited Tickets Afternoon
12:30-3:30pm
Afternoon & Night
12:30-8:00pm
Night
3:30-8:00pm
Beginner Ticket
Adult 19-64 $81/$101 $105/$125 $29/$39 $29
Youth 13-18 $69/$89 $89/$109 $29/$39 $29
Child 6-12 $49/$69 $64/$84 $29/$39 $19
Senior 65+ $69/$89 $89/$109 $29/$39 $29
Student $69/$89 $89/$109 $29/$39 $29

Rentals

Prices based on the full package (skis, poles and boots or board and boots).

Ski Board Nordic
$46
(add day: $36)
$46
(add day: $36)
$32
(add day: $27)

The Deal

Buy your Biggie Card at your local ski board shop – it's $85 and includes 1 day built in, then you reload online for as low as $70/day. Compare that to $125/day in peak season.

Also of Note: The Big White Resort Express Bus will be operating 7 days a week for $25 round trip. Check out the schedule here.

Outdoor Activities

  • Ice climbing tower
  • Ice skating - Canada's highest Olympic sized rink
  • Tubing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Fat biking
  • Snowmobiling tours
  • Heliskiing
  • Telus Terrain Park has over 60 acres (24 hectares) of terrain and a dedicated lift – you'll be flying off jumps and features in no time.

Known for

  • Total ski-in, ski-out.
  • Best tree riding in area
  • Champagne powder
  • A lot of powder
  • Family-friendly
  • Events galore
  • Snowshoe Sams has an epic apres and live music nights, locals love Sessions
  • Mostly intermediate but the Cliff and Gem Lake Chair have the steeps
  • Big Reds at Big White wine festival

Après

Big White has some decent bars and restaurants. Sessions is the place to apres. Also, you can always pick up good Okanagan wine in the village and take the evening to your chalet's fireplace.


Ski Baldy: Back in the groove baby!

BALDY: Back in the Groove Baby!

Another refreshingly low key winter resort with great terrain and powder, Baldy is getting its groove back. As you may or may not know they re-opened under new ownership in 2016 after being closed for a while due to financial issues. The last two seasons went well and they're continually working to improve the experience. It seems they really are here for the ski community and are willing to take the care to do it right – tackling 10 years of deferred maintenance including rebuilding lifts, purchasing grooming equipment and upgrading the lodge infrastructure. According to new owner Joey O’Brien (aka Snowy Joey), they’ve completed everything on the must-do list, and have moved on to the should-do’s and will soon get to a few nice-to-do’s.

The lack of crowds make for a pretty special experience: some days may be so quiet it can feel like cat skiing and you can ski a fresh snowfall for a couple days, which makes up nicely for its small size.

Hours: 9:00am – 3:30pm Thursday through Monday. Opens the full 7 days/week from Dec 21st to Jan 8th (inclusive).

Distance from Penticton 77.5 km
Base 1726m
Peak 2300m
Vertical 397m
Ski Area 245h
Longest Run 3.25k
Breakdown % 33
46
21
Lifts 3

Ticket/Pass Costs

Tickets:
Adult 16-64 $57
Youth 7-15 $37
Child 6 & under $10/5
Senior 65+ $35
Passes
Adult 16-64 $459
Youth 7-15 $349
Child 6 & under $25
Senior 65+ $239

The Deal

The whole thing is still so affordable it's silly. It's worth supporting at this stage, to help Baldy grow and improve. Family day is half price with children 6 and under free.

Also of Note: Baldy is participating in the Grade 4/5 pass program as well, and of course they also offer the reciprocal mountains 25% off dealio.

Outdoor Activities

  • Tobogganing
  • Frisbee golf
  • Terrain park
  • Snowshoeing
  • Nordic skiing

Known for

  • Slackcountry city: complete mountain access
  • Dry pow
  • Powder stashes for days
  • Highest base = long season
  • Not crowded
  • Awesome locals vibe

Après

The lodge has had some great updates! The cafeteria had some minor tweaks and the bar has had a real overhaul. Also, keep an eye out for an updated menu and longer hours for après!


Silver Star

SILVER STAR: New Terrain Added Last Year

The third largest ski resort in BC (after Whistler and Sun Peaks) has plenty of nice beginner and intermediate terrain across four faces, but they're gaining serious rep for the gnarly expert-level steeps (and deep) around the back (the resort developed an additional 130 acres of challenging new terrain for 2015/16) as well as including new gladed terrain in both Putnam Creek and Silver Woods. Intermediates will enjoy the rolling groomers off the summit and the gorgeous vistas. As mentioned, their well-designed terrain park for snowboarders is a slopestyle playground worth visiting and freestylers will flip for the AirZone.

When the sun goes down the lights come on at Silver Star. Every Friday and Saturday night, they provide 4km of groomed and lit trails for night skiing accessed by 2 chairlifts. Voted #1 Cross Country Ski Resort in Canada by USA Today, they have 55km of Nordic trails, and there is an additional 50km of connecting trails at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre. An ersatz historic BC mining-town "village" with a bit of a Disney vibe anchors the action off the hill. Nearly all accommodation is either ski-in/ski-out, or less than 30 seconds walk to the hill.

Hours: 8:30am - 4:00pm (8:30pm Friday & Saturday)

Distance from Kelowna 73.9 km
Base 1610m
Peak 1915m
Vertical 760m
Ski Area 1240h
Longest Run 8k
Breakdown % 15
40
35
10
Lifts 12

Ticket/Pass Costs

Tickets (Reg/Peak):
Adult Youth Child Student Senior
1 Day $99/$115 $80/$92 $52/$59 $82/$94 $82/$94
Afternoon $77/$89 $64/$73 $41/$46 $65/$74 $65/$74
Day & Night $114/$135 $90/$100 $59/$65 $92/$102 $92/$102
Afternoon & Night $92/$109 $74/$83 $48/$52 $75/$84 $75/$84
Beginner $45/$52 $45/$52 $45/$52 $45/$52 $45/$52
The Zone $20/$22 $20/$22 $20/$22 $20/$22 $20/$22
Passes
Regular
Adult 19-64 $1379
Youth 13-18 $1039
Child 6-12 $639
Student $1059
Senior 65+ $1059

Rentals

Prices based on the full package (skis, poles and boots or board and boots).

Novice Ski/Board Advanced Ski/Board Nordic
$44.99 $55.99
$24.99

The Deal

PowPass is a 3 or 5 multiday pass and the savings are significant.

Also of Note: Silver Star offers both the reciprocal mountains 25% off pricing, and Powder Alliance discounts for American pass-holders.

Outdoor Activities

  • Ice skating - Brewers Pond
  • Tubing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Fat biking
  • Nordic trails
  • Snowmobile tours
  • Heliskiing
  • Progressive terrain park & rail garden (6.5 hectares): a separate beginners area; and areas for each level from intermediate to huge jumps and expert level rails. Table tops and step-up jumps.

Known for

  • Almost totally ski-in, ski-out
  • Award-winning Terrain Park is known all over the Okanagan as one of the finest, all-natural-snow terrain parks
  • Champagne powder
  • Great steeps on the back side
  • Family-friendly
  • Colorful ski "village"

Après

There is a decent range of bars and restaurants, however it is overall a pretty sedate scene.


Sun Peaks Mountain Resort

SUN PEAKS: Second Biggest in BC

The ski area is made up of three peaks: Mount Morrisey, Sundance and the main one, Mount Tod. The latter was expanded by more than 500 acres for the 2014/15 season, making Sun Peaks the second largest ski area in Canada after Whistler. They just renovated and expanded their day lodges as well - you can feel this place growing. Eighty percent of the accommodation is ski-in/ski-out, and like Whistler, it has a planned pedestrian-only village (with a vaguely European feeling to it) with increasingly more and more interesting things to do off the hill – some standouts include ice-fishing and mountaintop fondue dinners followed by evening ski descents (easy on the schnapps!).

The takeaway from Sun Peaks is that it's uncrowded for a resort of its scale, its mellow and rounded terrain is perfect for intermediates, and has great powder and visibility, however it does feel a little unconnected trail-wise (Big White by comparison has lifts and trails that flow together more smoothly). Nevertheless, that "complaint" may have its upside in the secret pow department, and if you need help finding those stashes, all you have to do is meet up with a Sun Host to tap their local knowledge (there are hosts for every ability level and terrain preference).

Hours: 8:30am - 3:30pm (7:00pm Friday through Sunday)

Distance from Kelowna 221.2 km
Base 1255m
Peak 2080m
Vertical 882m
Ski Area 1728h
Longest Run 8k
Breakdown % 10
58
29
3
Lifts 12

Ticket/Pass Costs

Tickets:
Adult Youth Child Student Senior
1-2 Day $105 $84 $53 $95 $84
3+ $100 $80 $50 $90 $80
1/2 Day $84 $67 $42 $76 $67
After 2pm $52 $42 $27 $48 $42
Foot Passenger $25 $25 $25 $25 $25
Passes
from Oct 9
Adult 19-64 $1349
Youth 13-18 $932
Child 6-12 $647
Student $1098
Senior 65+ $1023

Rentals

Prices based on the full package (skis, poles and boots or board and boots).

Ski/Board
$45

The Deal

The Peaks Snow Card is for 1 day ($102 ) or 3 days ($252 after), after which you can buy tickets at a nicely discounted rate (15 - 25% off depending on the time of year: it is 25% off until Dec 22!) for the remainder of the season.

Also of Note: Sun Peaks offers the reciprocal mountains 25% off dealio.

Outdoor Activities

  • Alpine Fondue & Starlight Descent
  • Bungee Trampoline
  • Cat Trax Groomer Rides
  • Fat Biking
  • Ice Fishing
  • Ice Skating and Drop-in Hockey
  • Ski Bikes
  • Tube Park
  • Snowshoeing
  • Fat Biking
  • Nordic Trails
  • Snowmobile Tours

Known for

  • Second in size to Whistler with nowhere near the line-ups
  • 80 per cent of the accommodation is ski-in/ski-out
  • Nancy Greene will greet you and show you around
  • Dry pow
  • Bluebird days
  • Family-friendly
  • European-style pedestrian only village

Après

Plenty of restaurants and bars for a low-key après-ski session or after-dinner cocktail. There are some interesting Ale Nights and Wine festival events but nothing gets too crazy here. Bottoms is the place for the scene.

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