Places & Faces: Little Smoky

There are SROAMies everywhere in ski country. CWSAA spent the morning with SROAM grad Rob Bourgeois at Little Smoky Ski Area near Fahler Alberta, northwest of Edmonton. It rocks!

The Doppelmayr Tbar and handle tows provide access to skiing/snowboarding, as well as an impressive tube park. Rob is one of the folks that firmly believes tubing helps increase ski and snowboard participation as it attracts people to winter sport that would otherwise not play outside. He says he can see tubers gazing at the skier and snowboarders and planning their first lesson.

Little Smoky is a gem. It started in its current location in 1987. Well known, Jim Buckingham was involved in the design. A significant change occurred around 2000 when the facility buildings were moved from the bottom to the top of the slopes due to a decision by the Ministry of Transportation to change a highway intersection location for safety. Thus a cafeteria daylodge building and rental building greet guests at the top of the slopes.

The ski area can be proud of many ideas such as its rental tech benches that allows the techs to easily retrieve skis while turning bindings at waist height benches. The patrol clinic has a separate heater so if a patient is admitted, the room can be significantly warmed for their comfort. It’s door is over-sized for easy access. And the clinic is equipped with a defibrillator and other supplies to assuage concerns regarding access to medical attention. Similar to some other areas, helmets are stored in baskets on wheels so they can be easily rolled outside in sub-zero temps for sanitizing. They also pile snow outside the daylodge which instantly turns into the most fun and inexpensive playground in the world for kids.

Little Smoky are fans of Snomax, and they also produce their snow in a way that maximizes quality…but the recipe is a secret so you will have to ask Rob 😊. The snow guns are locally fabricated sticks with interchangeable nozzle sizes that are switched based on temperature to maximize snow production (eg: corkscrew nozzle is used for warmer temps). Each are colour coded to temperature ranges, just as the snowguns themselves are colour coded and each with a fabricated steel initial for easy reference. The lack of compressors, cables, and electrical keeps things simple.

Little Smoky has also mastered the used of a drone for its promotional purposes. Take a look at the Little Smoky facebook page and it will be sure to generate all kinds of ideas for you. Thanks for the tour Rob…36 more sleeps until ‘Go Time.’