Destination: British Columbia
If you only had one trip to ski the backcountry of British Columbia in your lifetime, what should you do?
I was born and raised outside of Vancouver, B.C. and I am now lucky enough to work as the program lead for Ski Touring education in the Adventure Studies Department at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. It’s my job to take people backcountry skiing in British Columbia! I’m clearly heavily biased, however, I’ve skied in many countries and mountain ranges around the world and there is nowhere like home.
The backcountry skiing in British Columbia is almost limitless.
B.C. is BIG and almost seventy-five percent of the province is mountainous. At almost a million square kilometers Canada’s westernmost province is twice as large as the state of California and around three and a half times larger than the country of Japan (incidentally, both great destinations for backcountry skiing).
To ski the length of just one of B.C.’s mountain ranges (the Coast Mountains) took one expedition team six months - covering over 2,300 kilometers during that time!
It would take a lifetime to scratch the surface of all the skiing available in B.C. It would take multiple lifetimes to explore it all.
Skier sampling B.C.'s world-class tree skiing. SOL Mountain Lodge photo.
So, if you only had one trip to British Columbia in your lifetime, what should you do?
I’ll tell you what I would do.
If I had only one trip to come backcountry skiing in B.C. in my whole life, I would do two things:
A trip in one of B.C.’s backcountry lodges offers skiers relative luxury after a day of skinning up and skiing down mountains (think sauna, great food and drinks, warm bed). A local, ACMG-certified guide, will take you to the best possible skiing and will greatly enhance your margins of safety in the mountains. Local guides have dedicated years of their lives to the craft of leading people in these mountains.
SOL Mountain Lodge at sunset. A welcome sight after a day of ski touring in the Monashee Mountains. SOL Mountain Lodge photo.
These two choices will maximize your time in B.C.'s mountains and deliver an iconic, unforgettable Canadian backcountry skiing experience.
Of course, if you have a lifetime to explore - lucky you - there are limitless possibilities for backcountry skiing adventure here on Canada's west coast. Each mountain region in B.C. - from the Coast Mountains to the Columbia Ranges and the Rockies - is unique and worth a visit.
Interested in coming to ski B.C. without booking a backcountry hut or hiring a guide? Backcountry Skiing Canada has created high quality maps and guides for some of the top backcountry locations in the province. These and other ski touring guidebooks are available in the online shop.
Jerry Isaak is an Associate Teaching Professor and the program lead for ski touring in the Adventure Studies Department at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. He is an AMGA certified Ski Guide and has guided backcountry ski adventures in Iceland, Kyrgyzstan, Japan, and throughout the United States and western Canada.