In winter, the world-famous Helmcken Falls in Wells Gray Provincial Park forms a magnificent ice cone, a view of which is a reward for backcountry skiers willing to make a short trek. Another marvel here is the frozen crescent of Dawson Falls. Groomed and track-set trails lead cross-country skiers through the park past the Majerus homestead, King Meadow, and the always welcome sight of a warming hut. More challenging routes include the Corkscrew and the Roller Coaster. Hut-to-hut backcountry skiing provides an extended multiday winter adventure.
Cross-country skiers should also check out the untracked backcountry routes in the region around Blue River on Eleanor Lake. Valemount and Blue River are the hubs for the Cariboo, Monashee, and Rocky Mountains, and provide the best base you can have for your heli-skiing and snowmobiling adventures in the area. In the centre of 3,000 square miles of the world’s best skiing, Blue River provides the magical experience of heli-skiing, a thrill that has skiers returning year after year.
Skiing and Winter Sports in the Kamloops Area
Harper Mountain is one of the hidden secrets of the Thompson Okanagan region of British Columbia. This family friendly ski hill in Kamloops offers great Okanagan Powder for downhill skiers and snowboarders, as well as night skiing, cross country trails and snowboarding – all at affordable prices. The mountain has a local operation geared to teaching families to ski, and lifts include one triple-chair and one T-bar, with 1,394 feet (425 m) of vertical. Harper Mountain is located on Paul Lake Road north of Kamloops, about 9 miles (14 km) east of Hwy 5.
Sun Peaks Ski Resort is an international four-season resort north of Kamloops in the Thompson Plateau. Known for its sunny climate, Sun Peaks Resort receives more than 2,000 hours of sunshine per year, and more than five metres of snow. More than 80 trails and glades cascade from the high alpine of Tod Mountain down to the award-winning pedestrian base village.
Winter activities include downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, Telemark, dogsledding, ice skating, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and sleigh rides. Sun Peaks Resort is located east of Yellowhead Hwy 5 on Heffley Creek Road east of Heffley Creek, 31.5 miles (50 km) north of Kamloops (45 minutes).
Former world ski champion and Olympic gold medallist Nancy Greene Raine is the spokesperson and director of skiing for Sun Peaks Resort. One of the best known names in Canadian skiing, her success at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France made a lasting impression on Canadian skiers and non-skiers alike. Greene Raine, who first skied at Sun Peaks in 1964 when the Canadian Alpine Championships were held there, describes the resort as mellow. Many visitors, particularly those from outside British Columbia, take a week at Whistler-Blackcomb for the big hit; then they want to come to a resort that has a more relaxed atmosphere.
The opening of three new hotels and a new base lodge at Sun Peaks, plus the installation of faster, covered lifts means that in the depths of winter, skiers won’t require an infusion of hot chocolate to warm their blood after each run. After all, with 3,000 feet (1000 m) of vertical, Sun Peaks has some of the longest runs in the province. In the past, Tod Mountain was perceived as a place where a small group of rugged, wild-and-woolly skiers went to enjoy some of the best powder skiing in the province.
Sun Peaks has finally brought the mountain to the attention of a wider group, something that’s been promised here for decades. An extensive network of cross-country trails runs from the village, around the golf course, and through the surrounding forest, and is posted with trail markers and groomed regularly. A skating rink and a public outdoor hot tub also add to the winter ambience in the valley.