Clearwater, BC is an adventure and mountain town. Forestry and pipelines play a big part of the local economy. But Clearwater is also home to Wells Gray Park. In my humble opinion it is one of the most spectacular and unknown parks in BC…and there are many. From epic canoe routes to stunning mountain hiking and touring, Wells Gray is a treasure. This mix of community passion, mechanical know-how, and outdoor adventure expresses at the Clearwater Ski Hill.
Meet Shelley, Kelvin, and Erik. Each are members of the 10 person volunteer Board of Directors. We had a chance to discuss a wide range of topics. Including their ability to secure grants for items ranching from kitchen dishwashers to groomer tracks and ski rentals. Perhaps the most important item we touched on was the fact the majority of ski areas challenges are shared challenges…big or small…there are many consistencies. It is likely that the most important service CWSAA provides is connecting people within our industry. One of the best ideas was the Junior Executive – the Board has 2 youth skiers to serve the Board. It provides perspective, ideas, and future succession.
CWSAA visited Clearwater on BC Family Day. And the slopes were full of families. Virtually everything is done by volunteers from lifts, ski school, patrol and kitchen duty. The areas has developed a Ski Buck programme…that rewards 2 hours of voly time with access to skiing.
Clearwater has a Tbar and a handle tow. Chris, who was working the lift, told us that the 14 tower Tbar speeds along at 3.6 metres per second. It shares a terrain profile similar to Salmo (pitch, bench, steeper pitch). If there was a way to host Tbar drag races at the conference we should do it…Salmo, Phoenix and Clearwater would all be in contention.
The handle tow serves perfect terrain for first time lessons. The industry has put lots of energy into Never Ever Days this year. Clearwater is one step ahead where everyday offers a rentals and bunny hill ticket for $5. Talk about developing new participants…fantastic. School groups are also able to ski at Clearwater for $15 per day and includes lift and lesson. The ski area achieves these offers in part by securing community grants to purchase rental equipment.
Clearwater is groomed with a BR 275. The ski area would be interested in contacting any other area that has a similar aged cat to trade knowledge and parts (if/when needed).
Clearwater overlooks the North Thompson Valley and townsite. The run beside the Tbar is like a boulevard. It is complemented by a road-wide green run, and a couple of runs with changing pitches and fall lines.
The daylodge has many uses in the community beyond serving as a ski lodge. Weddings, family reunions, fund raising dinners, etc are common throughout the year. Facility bookings are managed by, yes you guessed it, yet another exceptional community volunteer.
Great sunny patio and view from the lodge.
Mark Taylor handles the rental shop. He was responsible for reaching out to other ski areas to find equipment. Special acknowledgement and appreciation to Whistler Blackcomb for some of the skis, and SilverStar for some of the boots. This complements the equipment purchased through community grants.
While not part of Clearwater Ski Hill, Candle Creek cross country area is very much part of the Clearwater experience. The trails are also volunteer run and are located 5 minutes north of town off Highway 5. Facilities include a warming hut and around 25 km of groomed and track set trails.
The groomer uses a narrow guage tiller, ideal for xc skis.
Anyone who drives Hwy #5 know to look for the Rainer Farm display. This season, it’s the minions.