It’s a brand new season on Shames Mountain as the ski hill opens to the public with plenty of snow, resulting in some of the best ski conditions in the country.
“We have absolutely epic conditions,” says Shames general manager Christian Theberge.
The hill opened on Dec. 16, with a free ski and board day, with day passes being traded for a donation to regional food banks.
“It was fantastic, we had well over 700 people up at the mountain,” says Theberge.
“We had the biggest snowpack of any opening in 20 years,” he continued about the 180 cm snowpack base on opening day, a number that in the past two years has been less than 100 cm.
“Typically in an early season we would have marginal conditions and be waiting for the snow and this year that is a non-issue,” Theberge explained.
High attendance continued for Shames past opening day and on through the holiday season as the ski hill welcomed more than 7,000 people during the winter break.
“We had a fantastic holiday season, and now we need the regular season to get going just as well,” Theberge said.
And weather seems to be co-operating with the hill – as of Jan. 2, Shames had 280 cm of snow at its base with 340 cm mid-mountain.
The closest hill to that in the province was Mount Washington’s ski hill on Vancouver Island, which was almost 100 cm behind with 182 cm at its base. Elsewhere in the region, Hudson Bay Mountain in Smithers had 138 cm of snow at its base.
Along with the favourable weather conditions, Theberge says he is also impressed by the community spirit within the staff and users of Shames.
It is the first year the hill has operated as a community co-op.
“The co-op is definitely making a difference, people seem to be taking ownership in the hill, they are
pitching in from as much as picking up garbage to helping us shovel,” he explained.
And his opinion on community spirit is echoed by Tara Wilson, a member on the first–ever My Mountain co-op board of directors.
“There is a really exciting vibe on the mountain right now…..the snow is amazing, it’s obviously great for business, everyone is happy,” Wilson said.
Ironically, she said the hill has had some trouble with receiving too much snow, having to shovel some away and close more than once because of avalanche control.
However, she says rentals are up and there are plenty of new faces on the mountain.
“Whether you are a member or not, this is now our community-owned mountain, and I think there is a sense of membership within our regional community,” Wilson said. “This is a lifelong adventure and we are in it together.”