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big white chief

Big White Ski Resort

Big White Ski Resort, or simply Big White, is a ski resort located southeast of Kelowna, in the British Columbia interior. It is the second largest resort in British Columbia after Whistler-Blackcomb, making it one of the larger resorts in North America. Big White is the sister resort of Silver Star Mountain Resort.

The mountain summit is at with a vertical drop of , serviced by 16 lifts. The mountain receives 750 cm of annual snowfall. It has of patrolled area of a total of skiable. With 38 acres of night skiing, Big White has western Canada's largest resort night skiing area. It has a central village which comprises accommodation, eateries, bars and shops. The village is above sea level.

History

Big White opened in 1963 with two T-bars.

The Ridge Chair (double) opened in the early 70's. The Powder Chair (triple), The Easter Chair (triple), and the Village Chair (triple) opened thereafter. In the mid 80's the Easter Chair was moved to replace the bunny hill t-bar and was renamed the Village chair; the Village Chair became the Summit Chair. The Ridge Rocket Express (quad) replaced the double chair in 1989 and the Bullet Express replaced the Summit and Village chairs in 1991. The Alpine T-Bar was moved to its present location and extended around this time as well. The Falcon Chair, which was in fact the old Ridge Chair, opened up the west side of the hill in the mid-1990s. The Gem Lake Express (quad), which doubled the skiable era, opened around 2000. The Snow Ghost Express (six person), which is adjacent to the Ridge Rocket, ended annoyingly long lineups when in opened in 2006.

Replacement of the Powder Chair and the Alpine T-Bar are likely to come soon.

Skiing terrain

Big White has a total of 118 "designated" trails and 27 unnamed trails. 18% of these trails are beginner, 56% intermediate and the remaining 26% are classed as expert. The wooded areas between trails are all open, and can offer a variety of ungroomed snow and widely varied terrain.

Big White currently has one 8-passenger high speed gondola, one 6-passenger high speed chair (new for the 06/07 season), four 4-passenger high speed chairs, one 4-passenger "beginner chair", one 3-passenger chair, three 2-passenger chairs (including the telus park chairlift), one T-bar, one children’s and one adult's magic carpet. There are also two tubing lifts. These lifts are capable of transporting 28,000 people per hour uphill.

East side

The eastern side of Big White is where the majority of lifts are located. The runs on this side are usually shorter and more crowded than those found over on the Gem Lake side. The most advanced runs are located on this side underneath the Cliff chair. The Cliff Chair closed during the 2008 season, pending an investigation by avalanche experts after the Parachute Bowl slipped in January 2008.

There is one high-speed detachable 6-seater chair (Snow Ghost Express), three high-speed detachable quad chairs (Ridge Rocket, Bullet, and Black Forest), two two-person chairs (Cliff and Telus Park), and a single T-bar, the Alpine T-bar.

The Ridge Rocket chair has a small lodge at its base, and the base of the Bullet chair is very near the main village. The new 6-seater lift (the Snow Ghost Express) was built for the 2006-2007 season parallel to Ridge Rocket Express to reduce lift lines.

Gem Lake

Gem Lake is located on the western side of Big White and is served by a the Gem Lake high-speed detachable quad chair. The Falcon and Powder Chairs, two and three person lifts respectively, are nearby,. The Gem Lake lift is often more windy than the east side lifts, but offers the largest single-lift vertical drop at the hill at 710 m. It has a small lodge and parking lot at its base; the base of the Gem Lake Express is quite distant from the Village area. Traditionally tourists tend to ski more on the east side while locals from Kelowna and other nearby towns will ski Gem Lake more than tourists. Gem Lake is built with more experienced (black diamond) runs and is not recommended for beginner skiiers/riders.

Terrain Park

Big White recently built a Telus Park in the 2004/2005 season. It features an Olympic sized long Super pipe with transitional walls along with a standard sized half-pipe. The park also has a skier/border cross course and beginner through to advanced rails and hits. The park is separated into two sides. One with larger jumps, rails, and boxes, and the other with smaller features, the border cross and a half-pipe. Big white is also exclusive to a snow-cross run identical to the one at the olympics.

Nordic trails

Big White has 25 km of Nordic trails. You can snow-shoe and dog-sled as well as cross-country ski on the cross-country trails. A small number of them also have snowmobiles. There is one warming hut on the trail.

Ski and Snowboard School

Big White has 100 qualified instructors, offering classes for all ages and all skill levels.

Services

Activities

Activities include the Mega Snow Coaster, which was once the largest tubing park in North America, snowmobile tours, sleigh riding, dog sleds, snowshoeing, and ice skating.

A new activity in 2006-2007 season is the Sno-Limo, a sort of a cross between a dog sled and a lazy-boy chair on skis.

The resort also hosts a number of family aimed events (Big White was awarded North America's best family resort in 2003 by The Good Skiing and Boarding Guide 2003) such as carnival nights and Tim Hortons's Cruise the Blues.

Accommodations

There are currently four village hotels, 25 condo or town house complexes, 244 vacation homes and two ski in/ski out hostels. The village area includes 18 restaurants, cafés and delis, as well as a small grocery store and liquor store.

Retail

Big White is located about a one hour drive outside Kelowna, and features a smaller village than resorts like Whistler. Big White has a limited number of on mountain shops. Several shops are located in the Village Centre Mall and around the village. A few more are in Happy Valley at the bottom of the gondola. An internet cafe is located in Trappers Crossing near the Village Centre Mall.

A shopping bus is available and takes riders to Orchard Park shopping mall in Kelowna for the day.

Deaths

On Jan 6, 2008, Leigh Barnier, an Australian skier, was killed by an avalanche while skiing on an open, in bounds run. Barnier was an employee at the time; however, he was not on shift.

Trivia

Gallery

Awards

Taken from the Big White website

  • The Best Ski Area 2004 - Okanagan Life Magazine

Winner of numerous Ski Canada awards including:

  • Best New Chair (Cliff) 2005
  • Best New Terrain Park (Telus Park) 2005
  • Best Intermediate Terrain (Gem Lake) 2005
  • New Accommodation (Grizzly Lodge) 2003
  • Best Ski Bar - Snowshoe Sam's 2003
  • Earliest Opening 2002
  • Largest Base Expansion (Happy Valley Day Lodge) 2001
  • Best Glades West – Big White Thunder and Black Bear
  • Best Ski Resort Features for Kids (Big White Kid's Centre) 1999
  • Best Grooming 1999
  • Best On-Mountain Ski Bar (Raakels) 1999
  • Best Weather 1998
  • Best Renovated Skiers’ Hotel 1998
  • Best Ski Area Child Care (Big White Kid’s Centre) 1998

Okanagan Life Magazine

  • Best Ski Area, 2004, 2003, 2001, 1999, 1998, & 1997
  • Best Place for Adult Fun, 2002, 2001 & 2000
  • Best Place for Family Fun, 2002 & 2000

The Good Skiing and Boarding Guide 2003

  • North America’s Best Family Ski Resort

References

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080112.BCAVALANCHEAUSSIES12_ART_2056/TPStory/TPNational/BritishColumbia/

See also

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