Now in it’s third season of summer operations, Big White continues to grow their activities and events. Diversifying ski areas operations to include summer activities and events is becoming a trend to ensure the long-term sustainability of resorts. A lot of work goes into developing a summer operation, and for Big White they began with weekend sightseeing chairlift rides and hiking trails three years ago. Last season the resort launched weekend lift-accessed downhill mountain biking, and this year they have lengthened their mountain biking season and grown it to 5-days a week and added several events.
Note – for thumbnail photos below, click to enlarge to full photo!
I was lucky enough to visit during the inaugural Big White Invitational this past weekend, an official Freeride Mountain Bike Association Slopestyle World Championship Gold and Bronze level event. This world class event is the only at this level on this side of the Atlantic and featured 30 of the top downhill mountain bike riders in the world. The resort worked with local rider Tom van Steenbergen to bring the event to Big White and Tom provided input into the course design and event plan. The courses (there are two) were built in less than two months by the LOFT Bike Parks crew – check out the course design HERE. The Big White events crew did an amazing job hosting thousands of locals to see these top riders, but also dozens of media were also on site capturing the event.
During the slopestyle event, Big White also had a kids bike race through the village which concluded with a bouncy castle obstacle course. My kids were particularly pleased that every child got a medal! Big White will also be holding a Huckleberry Festival, L’Alpe de Grand Blanc (road-cycling race), outdoor movies, concerts, cider and beer festivals and more. New this year, is a campground in the Black Forest Parking Area. There are picnic tables and washroom facilities in this quiet area of the mountain with amazing views.
A great idea to provide additional village animation is providing games. Many of Big White’s games appeared to be hand-made, and we loved that they were able to use some of the kids centre foam pieces for summer fun. Many kids (and adults) were enjoying the pump track this weekend (including mine). This free village feature provides a great introduction to riding, hours of fun for kids and a warm up opportunity for those hitting the trails.
We couldn’t leave without taking the family up the Bullet Chair for some hiking (the kids aren’t quite ready for the downhill biking!). The mountain’s dedication to safety and conservation through education is prevalent. No smoking signage as well as wildlife and plantlife signs educate the guests while instilling the mountains dedication to conservation with the guests. A great idea seen throughout the mountain are the orange inukshuks used as trail markers. These collections of orange painted rocks are highly visible from long distances and help guests stay on appropriate trails.
While summer is in full-swing, the Big White operations crews and their contractors are busy working on several major projects in preparation for next ski season.
Powder Chair replacement is being undertaken by the Leitner Poma crew. While I didn’t make it to that area of the mountain, I was told the project is going along well. Since the new chair will take a different path, they’re using the old triple chair to help deliver supplies up the hill – a cleaver idea! Soon the old chair will be dismantled and moved to a new home.
In the village, construction to replace the skier tunnel is well underway and the road is temporarily diverted. Staff accommodations are being constructed and the haul-rope on Ridge Rocket detachable quad is being replaced.