Volunteers Ricky Lee Roberts and Robin CecionI help guide the chairlift wheel back into place last month.

Snow and soul at Shames Mountain

Heading into the winter, many eyes are on Terrace's co-op owned mountain

“Shames may be the only place where there are friends on a powder day,” writes Christopher Solomon in Outside magazine’s November issue. Featuring a flurry of familiar faces, Solomon’s piece is pure love for Shames Mountain, its backcountry, and the rest of what he calls “the big north”.

It’s one of several let’s-get-stoked-on-northwest-B.C. articles expected this pre-season, including one in Air Canada’s En Route magazine that is even more focussed on the co-op aspect of the mountain’s operation, and is further indication that more eyes are on the area than ever before.

“Of course we hope it translates to more visits,” said Shames general manager Christian Theberge last week, on the media attention.

But “the heart of Shames will always remain its local clientele … Shames will grow with the growth of it’s local population. I would say that the amount of houses, and lots being built in Terrace is a much stronger indicator than the magazine coverage – though it surely won’t hurt.”

This latest article’s release coincided with the snow line’s slow creep down the mountain. As of Oct. 29 there were 10 centimetres of snow at the top chair with the snow line sitting around the 10th tower, according to Theberge.

He says that’s average for this time of year, and that, looking at the forecast models, his educated guess/hope is “that we will get pounded with snow through November and beginning of December, switch to milder blue bird weather for holidays, then back to heavy snowfalls from mid January to mid March, then ending with fantastic sunny spring skiing.”

This summer was packed with projects at Shames – replacing the T-Bar cable, a major repair of the chairlift return station that saw the 3000-pound wheel removed, repaired, and then reinstalled.

“We could not have accomplished what we did without the help volunteers and the assistance of numerous businesses in town,” he said.

“The truth about Shames remains unchanged – the mountain can sustain itself operationally, but cannot afford to finance its necessary capital infrastructure upgrades and repairs from operations alone.

“This is the co-op advantage at work,” he said, noting nearly $50,000 in savings. “Without this kind of help our only option would be to increase prices which would go against our founding principles of affordable, sustainable, and innovative.”