Words and photos by Jeremy Allen for SkiNorthBC in collaboration with SnowSeekers.
MISSION: In seven days, we aimed to cover some of the “iconics” in North Eastern BC. Investigate the treasures, if you will, via epic road trip. Spoiler alert, it was dope.
Ahhhh, Northern BC, where the powder stays fresh, local vibes are authentic AF and the terrain is rugged – in an enticing irresistible way. Can I just start off by stating that lift lines were never longer than 45 seconds at any resort – unheard of, but it’s just that way up north, there’s not many people. The largest town we visited comprised of 10,000 people, even at that, it seemed like everywhere we went was quiet, untouched and ours for the exploring. Northern BC was a snow junkies paradise.
HUDSON BAY MOUNTAIN, SMITHERS BC
First stop, Smithers BC. The resort towering over town is Hudson Bay Mountain. Sitting in Smithers you can’t run from the 360 degrees of mountain views and Hudson Bay’s ultra prominent peak if you tried. It’s easy to see that the resort’s offerings are large and in charge of this town, but what’s bigger is the scope of the backcountry – I was drooling.
Having only 5,000 people in the valley below, the locals are well aware of the twenty-minute commute to the resort and option to cat ski 40 min down the road at the legendary Skeena Cat Skiing.
Jason Krauskopf, part-owner of a local snowboard shop by the accurately named Local Supply Co, was stoked to show us around his hometown resort along with his team. We couldn’t believe our eyes when the 15-year-old groms we were shredding were getting some of the best turns on the resort – their parent’s priorities were dialed. Off-piste, on resort and in the terrain park, it was clear what matters most to Smithers, is the mountains.
JEREMY’S SMITHERS WORDS OF WISDOM
- Damn good beers & good vibes at Smithers Brewing
- If you love coffee like I do, hit up the BugWood Cafe for a quality caffeinated cruise up to Hudson Bay Mountain.
TROLL RESORT, QUESNEL BC
I’d come here for the cinnamon buns alone but a big ole beautiful mountain with more runs than population to ski them is a pretty dang good reason to hang at Troll Resort too. From the greeting, as you walk into the lodge, to the cute old lady pouring my coffee right down to the Tbar operators – everyone’s family, if not in blood then in spirit. And this is important – T bar pride has never been so real as it is at Troll.
Cozy cabins, comfort food and a lodge that will warm up your soul, got to dig unique resort vibes – even though the city of Quesnel is less then 40 mins away, Troll feels remote. We came for the boarding, ate all the food, and stayed for the live music. The locals at Troll definitely knew how to apres, I think we could all learn a little from them – do you think they have a mentorship program for aspiring apres mentees?
JEREMY’S TROLL WORDS OF WISDOM
- Get an “I heart T-bar” sticker.
- Don’t be grumpy, everyone here loves visitors so be prepared to make friends.
- “Wildcat Glades” is my favorite run.
- Liquid goal lies down the road in Quesnel at the Barkerville Brewery
This place is rad, a single ridge sticking out of the earth acts as a barrier to the further north mountains. With the longest T bar in America, it made us realize we couldn’t hide the fact that our legs were burning after every run, but no complaints about more time on a board. Built by local outdoorsman Richard Hasslinger, Senior. His son explains that his father and resort founder could out hike anyone and would often embark on month-long mountain expeditions. Surely he didn’t feel the T bar burn as I did.
The board of the resort is operated on a volunteer basis. Learning this was grounding. It keeps Murray Ridge’s roots authenticity passion-based. The money isn’t a thing at Murray Ridge, it’s for the love of the mountains, for the sport, and for the next generation.
If you’re looking for an honest experience with the locals and friendly vibes, this is your spot. It’s the kind of place we’d call a family resort. While the kids are skiing, you go and get some relatively steep black diamond powder throughout the day. Not into family vibes? The terrain park will entertain and so will laps on Zeek’s Ridge which hosts brag-worthy tree runs. The side hits are sneaky but abundant.
I’d like to say a special thank you to all the community members who put their hard efforts and time into making Murray Ridge such a special place.
JEREMY’S MURRAY RIDGE WORDS OF WISDOM
- Ride Haslinger’s run in memory of the legend, in fact, it would be rude not to.
- Zeek’s ridge is home to some photogenic tree runs.
- Enjoy the peace and quiet while you’re out there.
POWDER KING, BC
Best for last, and it is notorious endless snow – Powder King! It’s hard to explain this resort in words, it’s truly something everyone has to experience. Five years ago when the winter was an absolute dud in Whistler, I kept seeing face shots coming out of Powder King.
Powder King was the one resort that was consistently getting snow while everywhere else was getting rained on. This burned an image in my mind to one day get out and visit the elusive “Powder King.” It most definitely lived up to its name and then some. There’s nothing like getting barreled in a wave of snow and then riding right through it and capturing a face shot en route. A there’s enough cold smoke here to have you frothing for all eternity.
One thing really stood out for me in Powder King, no cell reception. The locals know that you don’t get any, some bring SAT phones, but most enjoy the purposeful disconnect. We noticed two parents with a sat phone outside, we inquired and they wanted to stay as long as they could until they had to pick up their kids.
It might not sound like a huge difference here from other resorts, but imagine this, snowboarding all day long, and never get distracted. The rest of the world could be burning, but you’re simply living in the moment. Your biggest concern is which run you’re going to take next. No pings from Instagram, no email notifications, no business calls. Finally, an authentic environment where you connect with the snow, the other people around you, and the still nature that we all yearn to experience once again.
We all remember the best turns of our lives without a doubt. For some of us, maybe just that feeling of eternal irreversible stoke that flows through you. A bite from a bug that you can never leave alone. Powder King provides just that, lap after lap.
JEREMY’S POWDER KING WORDS OF WISDOM
- A snorkel is highly recommended.
- Stay at the Azu Lodge, it’s got a perfect A-frame cabin and breakfast house on site.
- Bring a SAT phone if you need to contact the outside world, it’s the only way.
After sampling the four resorts, our biggest takeaway is that you can’t go wrong with any of them. They all have amazingly big personalities (despite their size) that make them unique in their own way. Northern Eastern BC is a gem. I shredded more than I normally do anywhere else, simply because the lines were lacking and but the friendly faces to shred with were in high supply and I’m not one to turn down a good time. Out of the city with the objective to ride, unwind and repeat – yeah you’re alright northern BC.