Although the Okanagan faced unseasonal temperatures over the past winter, the two nearby ski resorts were both in a strong position to weather the conditions.
“We’re in the Interior and we have light, dry, powder snow, which is hugely sought after,” said James Shalman, general manager of Apex Mountain Resort. “One of our best-selling attributes is the fact that we face north and east.”
From those angles, the detrimental effects of sunlight are minimized.
And after a year-long hiatus at Mount Baldy Ski Area, favourable conditions were also experienced, but an early spring made it difficult to activate skiers and boarders.
“We had a great year and incredible conditions compared to so many other resorts across Canada, but it’s so warm in the valley, that people forgot about skiing,” said Dave Howard, vice president of Baldy Capital Corporation, following the first season of the hill’s new management.
After ceasing to operate through the 2013-2014 season, Howard was among the team to reopen the family hill last December.
“What our goal is now, is to meet with the community leaders, and see what they want Mount Baldy to become in the future,” said Howard.
The resort operated over the past season with just the Sugarlump Chair, but will have the whole hill functioning next year.
At Apex, local visits were noticed to have declined, Shalman said, which he suspects is largely a result of spring-like conditions being deceptive.
“Skiers travelling around the province have been the most impressed. They’ve told us that we really have the best snow in the province,” he said.
And although a dry spell was experienced in the midst of winter, groomers built a strong snow base. Precipitation has picked up, which is lending healthy snow reports from Apex during its final two weeks of operation.
“Spring skiing has been absolutely fantastic,” Shalman said. “We call is ‘eagles snow’ or ‘heroes snow,’ and what that means is just that top layer of snow gets nice and soft, and really allows your skis or snowboard to really grip into it, making you feel like you’re an even better skier or snowboarder than you actually are, because it’s really grippy and fun snow to ski.”
Apex is open until April 6, and it’s some of the best conditions of the season, said Shalman.
“Come July, people start saying to themselves, ‘Man, I really should have taken advantage of those last two weeks of the season.””
For their final weekend of the 2014-2015 season, Apex will be celebrating their Year-end Beach Party Weekend, which features the Slush Cup, the Dummy Downhill, and an Easter Egg hunt on the slopes.
The Slush Cup begins at 1 p.m. on April 4, and gives skiers and boarders a chance to carry their momentum from down the hill to overtop of a man-made pond.
On April 5, the Dummy Downhill begins at 1 p.m. near the hill’s aerial site, where skiers will be substituted by mannequins before embarking upon a massive launch.
“We have the highest flying dummy downhill in the world,” Shalman said. “These dummies fly about 70 vertical feet from where they will land.”
Participating in the Downhill Dummy is free, and only requires the homemade production of a dummy, which should be under 250 pounds.
Also on April 5 – Easter Sunday – the hill the ski patrol Easter Egg Bunny will be ripping around the mountain hiding eggs all over for skiers and boarders to find along the slopes and village. The hunting runs between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.