by Jeff Pew
You walk into a bar, and realize, this is not a joke. No priest. No rabbi. Just a group of young women, one so stunning you can’t take your eyes off her. You’re distracted by her self-absorbed killer looks, until you notice the one sitting next to her by the fireplace. The shy smile. An untucked flannel shirt. The laugh. The subtle beauty you almost overlooked. She’s the one you can’t stop thinking about. The one you talk about on the drive home. She’s the one you fall in love with.
On British Columbia’s Powder Highway, in the Kootenay Rockies, eight spectacular alpine resorts vie for your attention, with steep, deep powder, and gnarly lines. Yet one resort town, without the others’ glitter and glam, keeps you coming back. Not only do you want to ski there—it’s so freaking cool, you want to live there. Located in Southeastern BC, tucked away in the Purcell Mountains is Kimberley Alpine Resort (KAR). The one you fall in love with.
10 Reasons We Fall in Love with Skiing Kimberley:
Variety of Terrain
With over 1,800 skiable acres and 80 plus runs, there’s something for every level of skier. The front side has smooth corduroy groomers for beginner/intermediate skiers, and the legendary Dreadnaught: a Canadian Championship sanctioned race run, where skiers reach eye-rattling speeds. For the more advanced, the backside has long, sustained fall line skiing and some of the most gladed terrain in Canada. Try Geneva or Jackpot in the gladed Black Forest, and spend a day in the trees skiing fresh pow. For those wanting to hit some rails and jibs, there’s KAR’s Rail Park, with features for all skill levels. And if you didn’t get enough laps in during the day, KAR has one of the longest lit runs for night skiing in North America.
Kimberley Keeps it Real
Wander through Canada’s highest city, with only one traffic light to slow you down, and you’ll bump into North America’s largest cuckoo clock housing Happy Hans, a beer-hoisting, Lederhosen-sporting, yodeling mascot who will serenade you for a “loonie.” You’ll notice a town in transition, from a once thriving, lead-zinc Bavarian-themed mining town, to a tourist destination with unpretentious charm. Join a game of Texas Hold’em at the Kimberley Elks Halls, or a local roller derby with the all-women Bavarian Barbarians, or take in a game of classic hockey rivalry between the Kimberley Dynamiters and the Fernie Ghostriders. Drop into the Sullivan Pub, the oldest bar in town, where you might sit in the corner of wisdom, where retired miners like Pee Wee offer free advice: “If you’re drinking and ya smell burning hair, you better ease the f&%k up.” This is a town whose promotional ad reads: “Send us your weirdos,” and where the East Kootenays’ fastest growing city of 35 and under, gather in the climbing gym or new outcrop of ethnic restaurants. If you’re looking for valet parking, and long nightclub lineups, you’re in the wrong town. Kimberley keeps it real.
These People Know How to Party
It’s no doubt that a town, who for over forty years, has thrown JulyFest, one of Canada’s biggest summer fests—where teams of nun-frocked bocce players compete against bikini-clad women in cowboy hats—knows how to party in the winter. On closing weekend (April 4 and 5), KAR hosts two happening events: Spring Splash, where the fearless and numb attempt to skim across a chilly pond; and the Downhill Dummy, where home-built dummies are launched 100 meters off a jump, and cheered on by the beer-garden crowd.
All About the Pow
Kimberley’s surrounding geography creates perfect conditions for the legendary Purcell powder, some of the most consistently dry snow in the Kootenays. With such expansive terrain, skiers don’t compete for fresh lines. Locals don’t freak out on powder mornings, because they know it will last for days, especially the secret stashes. Ex T-bar liftee, now teacher, Jeff Bates provides advice for powder hungry tourists: “Follow the duct-taped jackets of locals, like Steve Blake, who bash through their own lines they cut in summertime.”
Get Your Goggle Tan On
With over 300 annual days of sunshine, Kimberley is one of BC’s sunniest resorts. Typical spring conditions feature a dump one day, followed by a blue bird day. The locals find the best way to recover from that “cough” that caused you to miss work is a little fresh air and whole lot of sunshine.
Easy Going. Easy Getting There
Kimberley is only a 20 minute drive from either The Canadian Rockies International Airport, or from Highway 3, one of Canada’s two primary east-west routes. How easy is that?
Slack Country Sunpits
A non-sanctioned, yet highly stoke-filled feature of KAR, are the famously hidden, mountain-top sunpits, where locals, and those smart enough to follow them, end up in snow-carved labyrinths of archways and benches and a heap of backpack partying. On sunny March days, there’s smuggled barbeques, guitars and glowing people enjoying the last glimpse of sun, before they navigate their way down the mountain.
Kimberley was built for thousands of more people than the 6,600 who live there. KAR reflects the abundant space in this town. In Kimberley, there’s no parking lot road rage. Lift lines? What’s a lift line?
If you want to see the hill from a local’s perspective, hang out in KAR’s single’s line, and share a lift with a Kimberley character, where retro ski gear isn’t a fashion statement. Take a run with local Dirtbag Film Fest icon and ski patroller Johnny Haner, who might share tips on where to find the goods. Have a chat with 78-year-old, Santa-bearded Bill Henricksen who will give you heck for not monoskiing, then teach you how to spin woolen socks. Catch one of Canada’s massive airtime World Cup competitors Darren Thorburn, who insists Kimberley has some of the best skiing in the world. Hit some GS turns with retired elfin teacher Joe Meagher, who tells the tale of wrestling a giant beaver, or challenges you to one arm push-ups. What you won’t hear while sharing a chairlift with a local: what stock to buy, who did their hair, or which Kardashian has the nicest ass.
Where You Hang Your Toque
In Kimberley, there’s a bed for every budget, from modest mountain chalets, to ski-in/ski-out rentals, to luxury lodges. If you want to enjoy the Rocky Mountain alpenglow from your hot tub, you’ve come to the right place.
Make a trip to Kimberley Alpine Resort. You’ll be hooked. On the way home, you’ll have a smile on your face, like you just left a good friend. You’ll wonder how soon you can return. How you’ll live without her.