Shoulder season comes to an end this week with Apex Mountain Resort near Penticton opening for the season.
Skiers and snowboarders from across the South Okanagan, including many Peachlanders, make the short drive to Apex Mountain on a regular basis during ski season.
“Things are looking very good for this time of year – everything’s either on track or ahead of schedule,” said general manager James Shalman. “And sometimes it’s not how much snow falls but the quality and everything has been really good. The type of snow and the quality has been phenomenal.”
Shalman said Apex has already experienced a few major snowfalls and meteorologists are forecasting a colder and wetter season than normal.
“Our snow base is close to a meter (on Tuesday) which bodes well with good things to come,” he said.
During the offseason, crews were excavating the hill to reshape runs, building new snow fencing and making constant improvements.
“There’s lots of stuff under the snow people may not see but a lot of time and energy went into mountain improvements,” he said.
Even if Apex wasn’t anticipating a winter of favourable conditions, it will always be situated in an advantageous location.
“It’s the only mountain in the South Okanagan that faces north and east and what that means is it’s not affected by the sun – snow quality stays light and dry for days after a snowfall,” he said.
After he went for an extended run as part of some quality control tests earlier this week, Shalman said conditions around the north end are as good as they get.
Also new this year, the team at Apex has added a top-of-the-line groomer to their fleet.
“The grooming machine cost $300,000 and it’s called The Beast,” he said. “It’s the biggest on the market.”
The Beast has “significantly” more horsepower than anything else available and is much more versatile.
“Before The Beast we needed a wench to get our groomers up some runs,” he said. “But this thing can climb on its own. The amount of grooming we can do up here is more than every before.”
He says riders know Apex Mountain for having steep and aggressive terrain and those tricky runs will be in much better shape under the thumb of The Beast.
The operators operating the groomers have an intimate understanding of their craft, with the two most veteran operators working at Apex for their 27th and 28th season and another on his 17th, he said.
“We’re all very experienced,” he said.
The resort’s high -peed detachable quad takes riders to an elevation of 7,200 feet, allowing them to begin their descent from above the tree line.
“Then you get into tree terrain that’s naturally bladed before the steep chutes and natural meadows,” he said.
Around the village, Shalman said new management is running the ski shop and offering a brand new clothing line.
Over at the Gun Barrel Saloon and Restaurant, a team of new chefs has been hired and is ready to prepare delicious food for patrons throughout the upcoming season, he said.
“We’ve got a very eager crew,” he said. “We’ve hired of about 120 employees to run the ship up here. Everyone is super keen and excited.”
Beyond the skiing and snowboarding experience, Apex has cut new trails for snowshoes and fat bikes.
“For anyone who doesn’t know, fat bikes have oversized three-inch tires with very low inflation, about seven pounds per square inch, in order for people to comfortably ride these bikes on snow. It’s another exciting way to explore the outdoors in winter,” he said.
Apex has many major events – both competitive and celebratory – planned throughout the entire winter.
It also offers night skiing and has four terrain parks to appease all levels of tricksters.
To get the snow report, learn out about ticket rates and get more info on the hill, visit their website apexresort.com.