From the high and iconic Rocky Mountains along the British Columbia–Alberta border to the impenetrable wilderness fortifying the Coast range’s Pacific edge, western Canada is, in a word, massive: 400,000-square-miles massive. With over 50 ski resorts, countless backcountry-touring, cat-skiing, and heli-ski operations (it’s rumored that 95 percent of the world’s heli ops are in BC), and mountains that often see over 500 inches of snowfall in a year, the Canadian West has endless schuss potential. Which, if you have a conquer-all personality, might make a visit here somewhat daunting. Let go and submit to the laid-back vibe, to the enormity of a place with mountain ranges bigger than entire countries and storm cycles that can last for months, and you’ll see the true face of paradise. And paradise here comes in many forms—from the cosmopolitan nightlife of Whistler, where you can step off the back patio for a multi-day traverse, to the elemental extremes of Castle Mountain, where wind fills in tracks almost as quickly as you can lay them. In Canada, pro skiers and heli-guides mingle with international tourists and gritty ski bums while gangs of dreadlocked septuagenarians sit back, smile, and breathe it all in. Sure, there’s plenty of skiing to go around, but if you play your cards right, the wisest of the wise might just show you the goods. Because Canadians are nice like that, eh?
Writer—Mitchell Scott: Snow-crystal researcher, Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine editor, Nelson local
Leslie Anthony:Herpetologist, Whistler local, former editor of SBC Skier magazine
Ross Janzen: Fernie local, snowy-mustache grower, Faction Skis employee
Kevin Brooker: Radio host, ski bum, William Faulkner of Canada