The 2013 – 4 ski season in South West BC was a bit of a writeoff with several persistent weak layers developing as very little snow fell in Whistler while artic cold fronts set in. Meanwhile some resorts including Shames outside of Terrace were owning continent-wide deepest snow totals well into January.
We staved off powder starvation with some pow-hunting trips but planned a trip to visit the Terrace area and backcountry ski at Shames’s insanely large backcountry – accessible terrain. This little hole in the wall ski resort averages 12 meters (approximately 40 feet) of snowfall a year. The surrounding Skeena Range mountains are “only” about 1800m to 2000m high. Shames’ base area elevation is at about 700m and extends to about 1100m. The resort area is 144 acres and occupies less then 10% of their huge 8,730 acres of tenure. To put that number into perspective, Whistler/Blackcomb’s total lift-served area is 8,171 acres while Vail has 5,289 acres of lift-served terrain. However because of the resort’s location in North – Central BC serving a population of about 30 to 40,000 people, Shames only gets 30,000 or so skier visits a year; a bit more than our home mountain of Whistler/Blackcomb might see in a busy winter day!
This is a new area for the ski hill. Since becoming a community owned ski-hill Coop in 2012 there has been a ton of community support and interest in the little mountain that could. Thanks to the dedication from the community the ski area persists providing recreation and incredible access to some great back country skiing. This past season saw the provincial government forgiving an outstanding loan (getting a huge debt monkey off Shames’ back), the skihill making an operating profit and many little capital improvements take place.
Up the double chair
Then the T-bar takes you to 1150m. There is some good skiing off the T-bars especially after a snow dump.
Across the valley there is also accessible ski terrain in more stable times
But we come here to tour!
New snow on this day
Stu taking in the Valley of Certain Doom
– photo by Tyler Wilkes
Good skiing off North Bowl
– photo by Tyler Wilkes
Tyler and Sharon checking out the potential
Lee enjoying the pow!
Big slide off Super Bowl. One destination that will have to wait until next year hopefully
Dedicated Shames Crew making it work for you every weekend!
With great snow fall comes lots of Avalanches!
Touring goals limited for the year
Unfortunately avalanche hazard this year was pretty high in the alpine as the persistent weak layer so prominent down south reared its head in a big way in the Skeena Range/Shames area.. Reality keeps one’s goals in check so we cancelled potential opportunities to get into the amazing alpine potential and postponed it for another year.
We did have the opportunity on this trip to say with Brad and Kim atSkeena River House, a Bed and Breakfast which is much needed in Terrace. As this is a working town accommodations are expensive and basic. As Brad and Kim get their lodge set up as a B &B it will provide a very nice place to chill after a hard day of skiing in the winter or biking in the summer!
Awesome Lodge right on the Skeena river