My entrance into 2015 was anything but gradual. I’ve spent some New Year’s contemplating the past and planning for the future, but this year, my only reflection was to 30 years ago, and the future? Well, I’d grab that and and slide into it immediately! You see, once upon a time I was a great skier. Unfortunately, that time was more than a few decades ago and since then I’ve skied a total of one half-day. Despite my lack of practice, and with the dramatic changes in the world of downhill skiing over the years, in three days (within the first week of the year) I went from awkward and tentative ski dork to relatively graceful skier – a direct result of my first trek to Big White resort. This snow-covered resort tucked 45 miles southeast of Kelowna, BC, in the heart of the Okanagan Highland (and a windy, scenic drive off just off Highway 33) held both exhilaration and success.
The drive to Big White could be a story on its own. From Seattle, a lazy-morning departure brought us to their closest major city, Kelowna, by midday. Through north-Central Washington’s farmlands, past fields with Trumpeter Swans, volcanic vistas and high mountain passes, it’s easy to understand why there’s always been so much talk about enjoying the journey (rather than focusing too much on the destination). This would’ve been true, had Big White not been a stunning destination in its own right! With panoramic views to the Kelowna Valley, myth- and monster-filled Lake Okanogan and the Monashee Mountains, there was no reason to venture further in search of stunning vistas.
My ultimate goal of the trip, however, was to get over my accident-driven fear of skiing and to once again savor the pure joy of skiing. My guide, a middle-aged British chap, Chris, made my task easier work that I’d anticipated. Through Big White’s in-resort ski school, I spent 2 hours for two consecutive days regaining my balance, focusing on technique and once-again feeling a secret satisfaction of success. Did I just make that sound easy? It wasn’t! Over 20-plus years, my body’s forgotten which muscles push what. I was cautious and tentative, although thankfully still had extraordinary balance. Chris’ positivity and patience walked me through the process step-by-step. Once a level was mastered, we’d move forward. When I struggled? We’d discuss and model why. And by the end of day two I found myself with new confidence and all the tools to move to the slopes on my own and enjoy these newfound gifts!
My remaining time, with my son snowboarding nearby, was spent enjoying the mountain run-by-run. Each chair had dramatic views to the enormity of the 7,000+ acre mountain resort. With a massive snowfall just prior to my arrival, trees were now groaning under the weight of over two feet of new snow. Ice crystals clung to branches in artistic ways framing the scenes time and again. And while both the views and the snow quality were near-perfect, my biggest surprise was something I hadn’t expected: with 16 chairs, I expected a huge amount of the mountain would be off-limits to a moderate skier like myself. The surprise? There’s a beginner’s (green) route off of every lift! This meant that the 7,000-acre mountain was wide open and allows even the greenest of beginners to explore the area.
I have many more satisfying days of skiing ahead, and undoubtedly more trips to the northwest paradise that is Big White Resort. For you? Consider the deals they’re constantly offering. Mid week (which was when I arrived) offers free accommodations with the purchase of two adult lift tickets. But the list of Hot Deals goes on and on! Love to eat? Not a skier? There’s so much more than just the slopes! Click here for more on food and fun in Big White.