Big White cancels non-local bookings until February 5

Big White cancels bookings

Big White Ski Resort is now cancelling all accommodation bookings for non-local customers until February 5, following Thursday’s announcement by Dr. Bonnie Henry extending the ban on gatherings.

“I have instructed our reservation teams to start the onerous task of calling excited guests and ski groups from all over the country and cancel their bookings to Big White Ski Resort,” said Tracy Layng, vice president of Big White Central Reservations Ltd.

“This will take a few days, as there are literally hundreds of reservations due to the pent-up demand of not being able to visit us earlier this season.”

Because the restrictions and travel advisory remain in place, all non-essential travel is discouraged.

“We take Dr. Henry’s orders very seriously, and we ask and expect others in our resort community to do the same,” says Michael J. Ballingall, senior vice president of Big White Ski Resort Ltd.

“In December, we cancelled Christmas and New Year’s holidays, which unfortunately disappointed many, many guests and their families. We’re not going to give up now. The Provincial Health Officer is recommending to avoid all non-essential travel, and to travel within your local area only, and so we are cancelling and encouraging visitors from all around Canada to abide by these rules. Following the rules is not about the bottom line, it’s about bending the curve and staying open for our season passholders and local skiers and snowboarders.”

Ballingall says Big White Ski Resort remains committed to reducing the transmission of COVID-19.

“It’s safe to ski at your local mountain,” Ballingall says. “If you live in the Central Okanagan, we are your local mountain. Wear your mask, ski in your household bubble, wash your hands, and don’t gather with people outside your bubble. Being outside, exploring your local area, and supporting your local businesses is how we will find our moment of normal – we’re all in this together.”

Up to a foot of fresh powder at ski resorts across the Thompson-Okanagan

Fresh pow blankets ski hills

Monday’s winter storm that caused havoc on highways brought an early Christmas present to Thompson-Okanagan ski hills.

Resorts received up a foot of fresh snow across the region.

Vernon’s Silver Star Mountain Resort saw 24 centimetres fall. As of midday Tuesday, conditions were mild, with the thermometer at -8 C and an alpine base of 136 cm.

“Looks like Santa is planning on giving us all an early Christmas present,” the resort posted as the snow began falling yesterday.

Big White Ski Resort east of Kelowna saw the most snow in the region, with 33 cm over the past 24 hours.

The alpine base is currently 148 cm, with a temperature of -10 C.

At Apex Resort near Penticton, it’s -6 C.

The resort received 23 cm of fresh snow during the storm, bringing its alpine base to 91 cm.

As of midday, its Quickdraw Quad lift was on standby due to high winds.

At Sun Peaks, near Kamloops, not quite so much snow came down, but the mountain still received 9 cm of fresh powder.

Its alpine base is 122 cm, and it was -11 as of midday.

“Powder Alert! … 33 cm over the last seven days means there are plenty of fresh turns to be found out there,” the resort posted on its Facebook page.

Plenty of fresh powder and smiling faces at Big White’s opening day

Opening day fresh powder

Fresh powder on a ski resort’s opening day is rare, but that’s exactly what skiers and boarders got at Big White Ski Resort Thursday morning.

As the Ridge Rocket and Bullet chairs started spinning at 8:45 a.m. Thursday, a cheer rang out in the lift lines, welcoming the 2020/21 ski season.

While opening day was initially pegged for Nov. 26, early season snow prompted the resort to open a week early for season pass holders.

And with 11 centimetres of new snow and a 121 cm snow base, it was one of the best opening days in recent memory.

“When our patrol captain, who’s been here over 30 years, says this is one of the best [opening] days he’s seen, and I’ve been here since 1985 and it’s one of the best [opening] days I’ve seen, and those people who’ve been here longer are giving the double thumbs up as well, this is a great opening day,” said Michael J. Ballingall, senior vice president at Big White Ski Resort.

“There’s a big smile underneath my mask, Okanagan champagne powder on opening day.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the early shut down of last season in March, but the resort has reopened with a number of new measures in place. Face coverings are mandatory for everyone on the mountain, skiers and boarders are encouraged to spread out while in lift lines and only those people who drive to the resort together will ride the lifts together.

“Once we get the rest of the resort open, there’s thousands of acres up here for people to spread out and have a good time. We just take it one day at a time,” Ballingall said.

“Just do the right thing by everybody because you certainly don’t want to be the reason we lose the season.”

Ballingall noted with last season’s early closure, there’s been some “pent up demand” for skiing and riding for many months. And powder hounds sure got their fill Thursday.

Big White had one of B.C.’s earliest opening day this year, with only Cypress Mountain opening earlier on Nov. 13. Big White will open to day pass users on Nov. 23.

Meanwhile, Sun Peaks plans to open Nov. 21, followed by Revelstoke on Nov. 27 and SilverStar on Nov. 28.