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Community Minded

Against the odds, the DIY ethos of Northern British Columbia keeps skiing alive

tess weaver

As you deplane the turboprop aircraft on the runway at Northwest Regional Airport in Terrace, BC (which is most likely how you’ll arrive, unless you’re driving 15 hours from Vancouver), you can actually feel Northern British Columbia. Especially if you’re traveling from the area’s climate antithesis: Colorado. My first breath of fresh air feels cool, damp and oxygen rich. On this March day, the fog lingers in the valleys, drapes the old growth cedars, and hovers above the steelhead famous Skeena River which meanders around gravel bars on its way to the nearby Pacific. The moisture, the dark timber, the rugged Coast Range, it all just feels … alive.

That’s exactly how I’ve heard folks describe the skiing up here—big mountains, deep snowpack, little development and a tight-knit, DIY-minded ski community where volunteers provide homegrown operations the life support they need to flourish.

Terrace and Smithers—the towns we’re staying in to access the region’s best skiing—sit about as far north as you can ride a chairlift in the province, but Northern BC, an area larger than California, twice the size of the UK and populated by less than 250,000 people, stretches north for another 500 miles of mostly uninhabited wilderness to the Yukon border. There’s a lot of elbowroom up here, which is just how Terrace’s population of First Nations (aboriginal Canadians), loggers, mill workers, miners, fishermen, surveyors and skiers, like our ACMG ski guide Hatha Callis, like it. Callis first came to the industry-based service hub of Terrace for a four-month heli-ski guiding contract. That was 10 years ago.

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