By Jamie Anderson
EDITOR’S NOTE: In this week’s “Ski Hill Shout Out” we’re featuring My Mountain Co-Op, which runs Shames Mountain Ski Resort. To give our readers the best picture of this slice of heaven we reached out to a Shames super supporter, Gary from Terrace, who agreed to provide the insights below.
Nestled in the Coast Mountain Range near the little town of Terrace, BC lies the stuff skier’s dreams are made of. Shames Mountain is consistently home to some of the largest base depths of any ski area in North America. Long the stuff of legend, talked about in hushed tones in Patrol Huts around the world, this is a little ski hill that could.
Shames started in the 1990s, recently became a co-op, and the skiing here is good, really good. In shitty snow years it’s still really good. A mid-mountain base of 2.5 meters is considered a drought year. The hill has closed numerous years with a 5 meter base at mid-station. The ski touring off the top T-Bar gets you to some of the most mind blowing terrain you’ll see south of Valdez, and all this with a relatively stable Coast Mountain snowpack. Pro tip, get beta on backcountry from locals and/or The Mount Remo Backcountry Society (MRBS), a voluntary non-profit society with a mandate to support the protection of backcountry recreation areas, increase awareness of backcountry issues, and to develop backcountry recreation facilities.
History and Ownership…
Shames is relatively new! Lift served skiing first came to Shames in 1990, when a group of local business folks banded together to create a place where they could shred with their kids, help attract professionals (who would stay more than a couple of months), and to generally make their chosen home a better one. The hill’s basic infrastructure was gleaned from a failed attempt at a ski area closer to town, but way too low in elevation. In typical, Northwestern BC “get er done” fashion they moved the lodge and lifts to a spot better suited to skiing – up the Shames River Valley. The result was an ass-kicking little ski area with infinite backcountry possibilities, right off the top of the T-Bar.
Fast forward to 20 odd years later, and the local business folks are retiring, their kids are all grown up, and the stoke needed to run a breakeven (in a good year) ski area had faded. After an unsuccessful four years of trying to find a buyer, apparently money losing ski areas are hard to sell, the possibility of the ski area shutting down was becoming more and more likely. With a potential closure looming, a group of local rabid ski-folk got together and decided to take control of their own future. Friends of Shames was born, and the successor, My Mountain Co-op, was incorporated as a non-profit community service co-op based on the cornerstones of affordability, sustainability, collaboration, and innovation.
Shares in the co-op were sold to anyone and everyone who would consider helping out a hell of a just cause, because well… because a town needs a ski hill damn it. Five years later and the little ski co-op operating Shames Mountain Ski Resort and thriving. Success is dependent on the generosity of local businesses (who help out with in-kind donations) and volunteer forces that do everything from summer grooming, replacing chairlift cushions, repairing floors, painting the lodge, even replacing the kitchen. But hey, it’s really about the skiing right?
Skiing the hill is an amazing time for the whole family, so go ahead and bring the wife and kids. All this snow means soft-groomers are the rule and there are tons of lines available through trees and just to the side of your last tracks (there are generally no big crowds at Shames, the total population within 150kms (100mi) is about 30,000). My favorite on-hill stashes are to be found on Hangover (or beside); Junior’s (or beside) and Terminator (or beside). Tons of great skiing can be had with a little boot pack to the front or backside.
Shames Mountain Trail Map
Getting to Shames:
BY ROAD: The Shames Mountain Ski Area is located 35km west of Terrace, BC and 125km from Prince Rupert. The final 13 km of the drive is on a maintained gravel road. In the winter, vehicles need to be equipped with proper winter tires—this means newer winter tires, studded tires, and/or chains. To check road conditions visit Drive BC.
BY AIR: Both Terrace and Prince Rupert are serviced by multiple airlines; Hawkair, Air Canada, WestJet and Central Mountain Air.
BY TRAIN (a cool way to get anywhere): Both Terrace and Prince Rupert are serviced by Rail Canada.
Location: Terrace, British Columbia
Chairlifts: 1 Double Chair
Surface lifts: 1 T-Bar, 1-Rope Tow (Bunny hill)
Vertical Drop: 1,600ft (on hill lift access); 2,500ft+ backcountry runs
Stores, Spas, and Sushi Restaurants in Shopping Village: 0
Trails: 28 Runs & Trails 57ha (141 acres) + natural glades of 45ha (111 acres)
Accessible Skiable Backcountry Terrain: 7,800 acres
Skiable Backcountry Terrain in the Coast Mountain Range: Infinite acres
About the Ski Hill Shout Out: Few skiers have the privilege of learning in amazing destination resorts such as Jackson Hole, Whistler, or Squaw Valley. Instead, most of us fell in love with the sport shredding local hills. We came to these (often smaller) local hills because they offered easy access, low prices, and accessibility. Sadly, many of these local hills have either died or are struggling to survive. At Unofficial, we understand that these hills are the life blood of our sport. Through this feature, we hope to raise awareness of smaller ski areas, and if possible, direct a few readers their way.