Table Mountain southwest of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and Wapiti Valley, northeast of Saskatoon, are impressive operations that serve local and regional markets. They also share some similar traits. There are two things you will rarely see in a photo: 1. A Sasquatch 2. A Saskatchewan farmer that operates a ski area – which makes this photo so valued. We have learned that farmers hate their photo taken. Whenever the camera-happy CWSAA CEO pulls out his camera phone, it literally sends folks running. Put the camera away… and you find the most engaging folks on the planet.
Pictured above: General Manager Lawrence Blouin and Operations Manager Dave Cashmore operate Table Mountain.
Table Mountain is operated as a regional park. In similar fashion to Wapiti Valley, both have governance Boards made up of municipal and regional district contributors that provide oversight for the assets.
Table Mountain has a large day lodge at its base. This building was erected in 1989 and expanded in 2013 and has multiple function rooms of generous sizes including a lounge, cafeteria, overflow room and meeting rooms. The distance from the delivery truck bay to the freezer is about 12 feet and immediately adjacent to the kitchen prep area.
The North Battleford region (Table Mountain) is stunning. The North Saskatchewan River valley is joined by the picturesque Battle River. It is lush and full of dramatic colour.
Two Poma quad chairs plus two carpet lifts make up the lift system at Table. The 600 foot carpet is used for the tube park. The top to bottom gated terrain park has 28 features.
Given the wealth of irrigation knowledge, it makes sense that Table Mountain makes its own snowmaking equipment. Thirty-eight guns pump out at 500psi and can cover 45 acres of terrain in 10 days.
Each part of the snowmaking system at Table Mountain is acquired from agriculture shops. Snowmaking started in 1974. They also choose to use fibreglass lines rather than steel. Initially, the product cost is more expensive, but long term savings are substantial. This includes less cost for installation as you do not need welders. There is no rust, and the lighter material and easier to handle. As far as longevity, the lines installed in 1974 are as good as new. Fibreglass is great for the soft ground of the Prairies but will not do as well in rocky terrain.
This shop is red. Two Piston Bully cats groom the slopes. They are turned over every 5 years.
Table Mountain’s rental shop is extremely efficient. As guests enter the shop (they have lots of school groups), snowboarders go left and skiers go right. This makes things efficient and quick for guests and staff.
Guests move from registration straight to boots, skis, helmets, poles, and directly onto the slopes at Table.
To improve acoustics in the lodge, management put up banners. Each has a historical date relating to the development of Table Mountain, such as when a lift or lodge was built.
Can you make out the skier in the stonework above the fireplace in the Table Mountain Lodge?
Rather than spraying helmets, Table Mountain chose to add a walk in freezer to their rental shop. Each night, the helmets are placed in the freezer to be disinfected.
Wapiti Valley is located northeast of Saskatoon by a couple of hours. It has a beautiful view of the Saskatchewan River and is operated as a regional park and started in 1982.
The lodge at Wapiti has a wonderful wilderness outfitter feel. Board of Directors Chair Dennis Wiebe grew up in the area and is a retired principal. He is exceptionally knowledgeable about the history of the ski area and its operation.
The Wapiti lounge has a inviting warm vibe.
Wapiti has a quad fixed grip chair and a carpet lift and runs a Prinoth groomer. Many areas on the prairies increase operational days per week in February and March. This is due in part to the normal cold January temperature, but also to end of term student exams in January and recent Christmas holidays.
The Riblet chair was made in Spokane Washington and installed in 2000 at Wapiti. It has 65 carriers and is 1900 feet in length.
The bullwheel on the Riblet is massive.
The grips of the carriers on the Riblet are woven into the haul rope rather than overlapping the cable.
A familiar sight: crop dusters.