Southern Interior ski hills ready for spring

Time for spring skiing

An avalanche of emails arrived recently with news from the Southern Interior's ski hills.

As the 2023-24 winter season slowly, inexorably winds down, the Sheriff asked the 12 downhill resorts and cross-country ski areas about their plans for the last major celebration of the year, spring break, for upcoming columns.

Christina Antoniak, director of communications at Sun Peaks Resort, provided an update on conditions there.

"Our current alpine snow base is 155 centimetres. Typically, we’d be around 200 centimetres, so we’re not far behind in the grand scheme of things. It was a slow start to the season with lower snowfall in November and December. January made up for it though with 98 centimetres that month, a higher-than-average amount of snowfall for January. We’re happy to see that February snowfall is on track to hit our normal levels," she said.

Skier visits were down until the new year, directly correlated to the lack of snow.

"Despite the big swings we’ve experienced in temperatures in January and February (polar vortex and an unseasonably warm stretch), our season pass-holder visits and destination skier visits have rebounded. Accommodation bookings are strong in February and going into March. People are realizing that there are very good snow conditions in B.C.’s Interior and our guests are having some of their best days on snow this season here in Sun Peaks,” said Antoniak.

"Our on-mountain teams did a phenomenal job monitoring the conditions and we saw minimal trail closures. Our grooming teams have been working their magic and getting rave reviews through our guest feedback channels. And our content team has been working around the clock to capture the true picture of day-to-day conditions with photos and video. It’s truly been a team effort to produce a quality ski and ride product, and to make sure people out there contemplating a ski holiday, know it!"

The Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen took advantage of back-to-mid-winter conditions by checking out one of their favourite loops from the Kallis Creek parking lot (just past Big White Road) at Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club.

With three centimetres of new snow and -6.6 C, the groomed trails were excellent. Part of Backcountry Trail wasn't groomed (a true backcountry experience) but the downhills of Old Cedar Trail were glorious and refreshing after the climbs.

Kelowna Nordic had great news from the fourth annual (and final) Stride and Glide for cardiac care at KGH on Feb. 10, despite a major challenge.

"The weather was perfect, conditions were great and then Highway 33 was closed in both directions at Joe Rich due to accidents on the icy road. Amazingly enough, word got out and a steady stream of cars (and large trucks) made it up the backroads using McCulloch Road and we had over 80 people up for the event," said coordinator Lyle Nicholson.

"We raised almost $35,000 toward an intra-aortic balloon pump to support cardiac patients who have a depressed or failing heart function, or to support higher-risk cardiac procedures.," he said.

The four-year total from the event is just shy of $180,000.

In other news, Kelowna Nordic has already raised more than $20,000 toward a new $600,000 grooming machine, a great step toward this year's $100,000 goal.

The Cabins and Cookies tour will return from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 2, a fun-filled family event with homemade cookies at the four cabins, plus a winter scavenger hunt bingo. Guided ski and snowshoe group tours will leave at 9 a.m. with self-guided route maps available for distances from six to 20 kilometres. Registration will close at 9 p.m. on March 1.


Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre will have a Tails On Trails Skijoring event, in partnership with Pooch Partners, for teams of one person and one pooch at 4 p.m. on March 30. Registration is $30 plus GST for SLNC members and $40 for non-members, with a limit of 25 teams in two category levels—“Breathe Hard” and “Just Dog It.” The route is the stadium to Woodland Bell and back.

If you have any questions about skijoring, and whether you and your teammate might be ready for it, reach out to Shelly at [email protected]. For more about skijoring, go to the Pooch Partners website.


Friends of Black Mountain will hold its AGM at 6:30 p.m. on March 19 at the EECO in Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna and is hoping to find several new directors.

Last year, the third year of the regional park development project, the 6.7-kilometre Sntsk’il’nten Trail was completed and significant work was done to the Summit Trail, including the lookout at an elevation of 1,240 metres. An aluminum staircase was also installed. This spring, the Summit Trail will be completed, trail markers and bluebird boxes installed by FBM volunteers and a regional park grand opening will be scheduled.


Feedback on last weekend's column on snowshoeing:

"Nice article, but I have two comments. It's gaiters, not gators. Gators are found in warm swamps in places like Florida," said Rick Gee, snowshoe guru at Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club. "Kicking snow up the back of your leg is not a problem of the snowshoe, it's a problem of the user. You're flipping your tails up instead of keeping them down. Walk with your toes up and your heels down."

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

J.P. Squire arrived in the Okanagan Valley from flatland Chatham, Ont. in the middle of the night in the spring of 1980. Waking up in the Highway 97 motel, he looked across the then-four-lane roadway at Mount Baldy and commented: "Oh my God, there's mountains." Driving into downtown Kelowna, he exclaimed: "Oh my God, there's a lake."

The rest is history. After less than a month in Kelowna, he concluded: "I'm going to live here for a long time." And he did.

Within weeks and months, he was hiking local hillsides, playing rec hockey at Memorial Arena and downhill skiing at Big White Ski Resort. After purchasing a hobby farm in the Glenmore Valley in 1986, he bought the first of many Tennessee Walking Horses. After meeting Constant Companion Carmen in 1999, he bought two touring kayaks and they began exploring Interior lakes and B.C.'s coast.

The outdoor recreation column began with downhill ski coverage every winter as the Ski Sheriff but soon progressed to a year-round column as the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff.

His extensive list of contacts in Okanagan outdoor recreation clubs, organizations and groups means a constant flow of emails about upcoming events and activities which will be posted on Castanet every Sunday.

You can email the Sheriff at: [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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