Author: Abby Cooper
Ahhh this place is just right”: Twenty-first-century skier Goldilocks, Big White Ski Resort BC.
Not too cold. Not too busy, and home to a silly amount of snow - what more could a skier or rider ask for? Oh right, epic terrain, and lots of it? No problem.
Noses pressed against the glass of the passenger window in a child-like manner, we pulled into a parking spot located only 30 feet from the lift. The rarity of front row parking after the lifts have already started spinning, let alone on a bluebird powder day, is unheard of. The casual access to the fresh 12-inches caused havoc in my mind: why was no one here? Had I read the snow report wrong? Later I’d learn that the 16 lifts have an upload capacity of 28,700 skiers per hour, which might have something to do with the lack of lines, a fortunate fact that contradicts the bustling energy found in the main village.
As we plopped onto the Gem Lake Express chair with fresh coffee in gloved hands, we ogled at the terrain passing underfoot - where would we go first? Into the stunning snow ghosted trees that Big White is so famous for? Down the open untouched powder-coated runs? Rip into the freshly groomed corduroy? Pause here. Yes, we need to talk about corduroy. While typically a powder snob myself, Big White has hands down the smoothest, grooming I’ve ever seen across Canada - and I’ve seen a lot of corduroy in my lifetime. Probably due to the fact that the mountain has raised some of Canada’s top-performing Olympic ski cross-team members, but they don’t save the good stuff for just the pros, nope, all of us get the same delectable corduroy at Big White. Unpause.
Snow ghosted trees were our first pick of the day. Contrasting blue sky and snowy cartoon-looking trees was a landscape entirely unique to Big White, and one we had to indulge in. The tasty Okanagan champagne-flavoured snow was everything we hoped for and more. Light and deep, we confirmed the snow report was spot-on.
With grins and snowy evidence of a delightful pow lap plastered on our faces, we slid into the empty corral ready for more. Stoke oozing from our pores, the lifties asked us how it was, and even slotted in a recommendation for our next lap. Off we went with a plan of attack to see the whole mountain. With no big lineups, we made quick work, but spoiler alert: Big White is, of course, BIG and quick work wasn’t enough to see the entirety of the offerings. Clearly, we’d have to come back for more.
The feeling of “too good to be true” was etched into my mind after just one lap. Front row parking, incredible terrain, light snow, impeccable grooming, friendly atmosphere; could this dream hold up to reality? Had I just landed on the perfect set of circumstances, a happy convergence of conditions that were unlikely to ever be repeated ? Years of visiting Big White has provided me with evidence to the contrary, and I now know that my feeling of “too good to be true” is simply the truth.
High fives and chats from locals and employees alike were standard issue in the short lift lines. Big White’s not a place where elbows are up and a locals-only mentality prevails; there are plenty of goods to go around here, and sharing is part of the resort’s DNA. This atmosphere flows through the various villages and gathering points on the mountain. It’s the little things, like the barista who draws smiley faces on your coffee cup, the boot fitters who cracks jokes while you cruise the store, and the servers who explains that making the last upload on the Alpine T Bar will offer the best last lap view while also ensuring we can still get back to the base where we left our truck. The heartbeat of Big White is pure and playful, and it’s this feeling that gives the resort its family-friendly reputation. Yes, there are runs for the whole family, 119 of them in total, and that means that every family member - from the deep pow rippers to the first timers - will be entertained.
The easy-going vibe extends to Big White’s layout and amenities, too. With five bases, one main village, and a multitude of parking locations all connected by lifts, it’s ridiculously easy to link zones and amenities without the fuss of driving from one spot to another. Whether you park or shuttle up to the mountain for a day or an entire week, you won’t need to touch your vehicle. Ski-in, ski-out shops, grocery stores and restaurants add to the charm and practical layout, while extended gondola hours keep access to the necessities, ensuring you get a full day on the hill and have ample time for errands. Or, perhaps more importantly, apres.
Thanks to its reputation as a family-friendly resort, Big White has always been slightly misunderstood among the hardcore ski and snowboard community. And that’s a shame, because while, yes, Big White truly is a resort for the whole family, it’s also a place that offers a terrain park, numerous technical cliffs and bowls, epic tree skiing, and pretty much everything imaginable when it comes to groomed runs. Better yet, the playful quality of the terrain is reflected in the tone of the town. Fun remains at the core of Big White, and the fun isn’t reserved just for families - it’s also for everyone else, too.
Not too cold. Not too busy. Home to a silly amount of snow, vast terrain and a mountain with a playful and positive demeanour. No wonder our twenty-first-century skier Goldilocks moved to Big White. And no wonder she stayed.