Inevitably as autumn colours contrast crisply against the sky and the purple of the grapes intensifies on the vines, morning’s light reveals traces of snow along the peaks and a bit of blues set in.
Alas, summer is over in the Okanagan and autumn is rotating through quickly. My remedy for such blues is a simple one. Embrace the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival and haul out my pictures from last ski season. Almost immediately my mood changes from melancholy to anticipation.
My anticipation mounts as the deer scratch into the first snows to find a taste of grass before their diet turns to shrubs. Finally my neighbourhood is frosted with a full blanket of snow and the wait won’t be long before I can make the drive to Apex Mountain Resort about 40 minutes from Penticton. The other signs sure to herald skiing are the ads announcing early bird rates for season’s passes, the reopening of the ski shop and the arrival of the latest Warren Miller ski film tour. Now if that doesn’t prime you to hit the slopes, you just haven’t embraced winter.
Inspired by these telltale signs, we gather our equipment together and embark on our first outing close to home at Apex Mountain Resort. It is a full service destination ski resort with great snow, a well-stocked ski shop, rentals and snow school. It boasts two terrain parks, World Cup aerial and mogul sites, lift-accessed tube park, outdoor regulation-size skating rink plus a one-kilometre adventure skating loop which is maintained and lit. Night skiing is also offered Fridays and Saturdays in peak season.
On-hill accommodations are available as well as a number of dining options. Close at hand there are snowshoeing trails and the nearby Nickel Plate Nordic Centre offers 56 kilometres of groomed trails for cross-country skiing activities. Apex reports an average snowfall of 600 cm (19 feet) with lots of Okanagan champagne powder. There are four lifts, some 67 trails and a terrain mix that satisfies beginner to advanced skiers. A number of promotions are offered for reduced rates throughout the season and you can buy lift tickets in advance at the Penticton Sport Chek. Opening day is scheduled December 7 with lifts operational daily 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to April 6, 2014. Most seasons we take advantage of the ski and stay packages so we can take in more of the activities, enjoy a wine-paired dinner and relax in a perfect stay-cation.
I can hardly wait! There’s always a bit of grumbling that first day as you relearn how to jam into your boots and snap them into your skis. Despite my wobbly ski legs, I manage to stumble on to the chairlift and never cease to be awed by the winter wonderland. As you ski off the lift and muster at the top to choose your route, the impact of the full vista around causes you to pause. A deep breath or two of that pure mountain air and you’re off. Glory be the ski season and for those of us who ski, any blues are abandoned in the valley floor.
Where will we ski next?
Skiing & snowboarding in Penticton, BC
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