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2017 Mountain Guide: Western Canada

Prostitution remains legal in Canada.

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Photo: Reuben Krabbe

Overall Best Resort

WHISTLER// British Columbia

What can we say about Whistler Blackcomb that hasn’t already been said? It has a larger footprint than some Eastern European nations (8,171 acres), drops an entire vertical mile (5,280 feet), and gets nearly 40 feet of snow a year. There’s rowdy alpine terrain, glaciers, pillows, cliffs, incredible tree skiing, and more than 200 named trails. And this is terrain you’ve definitely drooled over before: Whistler is home to dozens of top pro skiers and photographers, for good reason. With heli skiing directly from the resort and incredible backcountry-touring access, boredom is never a factor. But as good as Whistler’s skiing is, après may be even better, with hundreds of restaurants, bars, all-night parties, and plenty of that famous Canadian hospitality (even if it sounds awfully Australian). Just go. Seriously.

Best Old-School Spirit

MOUNT CAIN// British Columbia

Mount Cain, a nonprofit ski hill in the rugged northern mountains of Vancouver Island, has just two T-bars and a rope tow. But with a throwback cabin culture and some of the best ski touring in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a welcoming ski community that harks back to a time when corporate culture had no place on the slopes.

Best Pay to Play

WHITEWATER// British Columbia

Nelson’s hipster culture will draw you in, but it’s the lift-accessed touring at Whitewater that’ll bring you back. From the top of Silver King, you’ll find road-lap classics like the White and Black Queens, as well as peak-to-valley steeps on Five Mile. Across the valley, Summit chair sets you up for quick, spicy off-piste hits like First Choice and Dog’s Leg. And that’s just scratching the surface.

Best Steeps


Even the ride up the Golden Eagle Express gondola will get your palms sweating. Kicking Horse serves up some of the most exciting inbounds skiing you’ll find north of the 49th parallel. Climb the Stairway to Heaven to find Whitewall and Feuz Bowl, both with committing entrances that keep you honest and on your edges. Bootpack T1 and T2, with fixed hand lines on exposed sections, for a taste of Euro-style ski mountaineering without having to duck ropes. Afterward, grab lunch at the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant and dig the killer 360 view.

Most Charm

ROSSLAND// British Columbia

Rossland may be overshadowed by its Kootenay neighbor, Nelson, but this historic mining village with a quaint main street is the archetypal mountain town. Think century-old architecture, cafés, Rossland Beer Company, and precipitous residential streets that locals shred during winter storms—after last call at The Flying Steamshovel.

Least Tracked

SHAMES MOUNTAIN// British Columbia

The biggest crowds you’ll find at Shames, a co-op hill near Terrace, will be at Galloway’s Bar in the day lodge. With neither cell service nor accommodations, this is a skier’s ski hill, pure and simple. With legendary coastal snowfalls and an open-boundary policy, Shames delivers days’ worth of burly slackcountry for the experienced and equipped.

Best Lactic-Acid Trip

REVELSTOKE// British Columbia

Revelstoke Mountain Resort puts the burn back into the turn. With 5,620 feet of vertical, top-to-bottom fall-line groomers on runs like Snow Rodeo will leave you begging for sweet mercy when you finally slide to a stop in front of The Mackenzie Common Tavern.

Biggest Oh Shit Moment

FERNIE// British Columbia

It’s when you peer down the tight entrance of Fernie’s Corner Pocket, complete with a fixed line for self-belay and rubber tires on the ground to keep the snow from blowing off the mountain.


Photo Courtesy of Kicking Horse Resort

Best Zoo

KICKING HORSE// British Columbia

Get nose-to-nose with Boo the Bear, a grizzly who has made his home at Kicking Horse since he was orphaned as a cub 15 years ago. In summer, the 20-acre fenced enclosure provides shady forest, meadows, and running water for Boo, and, in winter, a place to hibernate, though he’s been known to escape in a flush of springtime friskiness.


Photo Courtesy of Sun Peaks

Biggest Mountain You’ve Never Skied

SUN PEAKS // British Columbia

What Sun Peaks Resort lacks in alpine atmosphere, it makes up for in bountiful terrain, encompassing 4,270 skiable acres and three mountains—Tod Mountain, Sundance, and Mount Morrissey. It can feel like you’ve got Canada’s second most expansive resort to yourself.


Photo: Chris Moseley

Best Views


Unfairly gorgeous.

Best Nightlife

WHISTLER// British Columbia

Basement raves. ‘Nuff said.

Home of All Things Maple


Maple stout, maple chasers, maple cured bacon, and sausage…oh, and the flag.

Weirdest Watering Hole

ELKS CLUB// Red Mountain, B.C.

The whole town turns out for swing dancing (and strong drinks) on Thursdays.

Only Good for Clam Juice


The national drink. Like a Bloody Mary but better.