Valemount Glaciers May Ascend From B.C. Proposed Resort Purgatory

Sergei Poljak |
Scenery from the proposed location of Valemount.
Scenery from the proposed location of the Valemount Glaciers Resort. Photo: Valemount Glaciers

Valemount Glaciers is more than just a project, it’s a bundle of ambitions that would make it one of the premier ski resorts in the world. In terms of terrain, these guys want to go big or go home:

“The ski area is designed to be developed in three major phases. The first phase will reach Twilight Glacier, at elevation 2,530 meters (8,301 feet), allowing for year-round skiing and for a vertical drop of 1,370 meters (4,495 feet) to the resort village base. Sightseeing will be impressive, more impressive than any mountain viewpoint in the National Parks, with an incredible view of Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

The second phase will reach the view of the glaciers of Mount Arthur Meighen, from a location overlooking “Push-along “ glacier, expanding both the access to summer skiable glaciers and the winter skiable territory. The sightseeing experience of the glaciers will be world-class and the vertical drop will increase to 1,595 meters (5,233 feet).  The third phase will reach a saddle below Mount Arthur Meighen, at 3,205 meters (10,515 feet), further expanding summer skiing and creating the most dramatic sightseeing experience of the project, a major international draw showing mountains with glaciers from a spectacular and unique view point. The vertical drop to the resort base near the airport will reach 2,090 meters (6,857 feet), amongst the largest in the world, and could reach 2,260 meters (7,415 feet) with the installation of an optional lift, the second largest in-bounds vertical drop in the world in absolute terms and without requiring snowmaking – a particularly noteworthy attribute that is unlikely to be replicated elsewhere.”
– Valemount Glaciers
Indescribably large amounts of terrain.
Indescribably large amounts of terrain.

Unlike some other B.C. proposals – like Jumbo Glacier – it seems like Valemount has the support of the community and Canadian First Nations. They have secured approval from the B.C. government, zoning laws have been amended, and every few months it seems like they get closer to reality. Oberto Oberti, the Vancouver-based Italian designer responsible for the design, has stated that the resort will be built before Jumbo – which he also designed. It may have it’s lifts up and running by December 2017.

More terrain and piste plans.
More terrain and piste plans.

The Resort just released their Master Plan Presentation:

The snowfall numbers are impressive:

“Valemount’s average annual snowfall is 536 cm (211 in), amongst the highest Canada, and significantly higher than Whistler, Lake Louise, Jasper and Fernie. CMH’s Cariboo Lodge operators report an average annual snowfall of 14 metres (551 in) at 1,800 m (5,905 ft.) elevation, which is in the lower portions of the planned skiable terrain. The average snowpack has been reported by CMH and Cariboo Snowcat Skiing and Tours to be in the range of 100 cm at lower elevations and 250 cm – 300 cm at higher elevations.”

– Valemount Glaciers

The village: "compact and authentic"
The village: “compact and authentic”

The area is currently the stomping ground of CMH Cariboo, a roudy bunch of snowmobilers, and, at its base, an economically depressed community suffering from the closure of its saw mill. While the resort will bring money and jobs in the short run, it may run long time Valemount locals out of their town. There is also the question of economic profitability. B.C. currently has multitudes of these new resorts, Revelstoke and Kicking Horse to name the most recent and obvious two. Why do I love the Stoke? Because there is never anybody here. Same with Kicking Horse, Whitewater and Red Mountain. These places are all super remote, several hours from a major airport through mountain roads that are often closed, or extremely dangerous, in the winter.

B.C. is growing fast. People want to live here and their population is steadily rising, similarly to Colorado. With people comes development and habitat fragmentation of the species that make this place wild. We need to make responsible choices for development. While there will be a large environmental footprint, my hope is that Valemount Glaciers will make their best effort to limit it where they can.

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