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At this B.C. ski hill, skiing is free to other season pass holders

A view of Shames Mountain from its chairlift livecam on Feb. 19, 2024. Officials say people with a season pass from a ski hill that has shut down because of poor conditions can ski at Shames Mountain for free. (Shames Mountain - image credit)
A view of Shames Mountain from its chairlift livecam on Feb. 19, 2024. Officials say people with a season pass from a ski hill that has shut down because of poor conditions can ski at Shames Mountain for free. (Shames Mountain - image credit)

A ski area near Terrace, B.C., is throwing open its doors — and lifts — to skiers who have been left on the sidelines during this bummer of a ski season.

Shames Mountain is giving a free day lift ticket to patrons holding a season pass from a ski hill that is currently shuttered or on pause due to poor conditions.

"There's been a number of ski hills, some in the north here, that have been shut down. Some only got to operate a handful of days...so those pass holders paid to ski and can't ski," explained Christian Theberge, general manager at Shames Mountain.

"Lending a hand to our neighbours is a really good gesture. The industry on the whole needs a bit of a boost."

Shames Mountain hasn't been immune to the warmer than normal weather and dismal snowfall that has hit a wide swath of B.C. ski hills, but it has been luckier than most.

It's just coming off a successful Family Day long weekend that saw all runs open from top to bottom. Other ski hills in the region —  Murray Ridge, Troll, Purden, and Mount Timothy — remain closed with no snow in the forecast.

The free pass program began on Friday and is an extension of a sponsor program that allows people to check a free ski pass out from the local library.

Theberge said as of Monday no one had taken Shames up on the offer, but word of the program is just starting to get out.

"There is certainly a reality that up here in Terrace we are some distance from just about everywhere and so people have not yet made the trek over here," he said. "But we certainly hope people do."

Challenging ski season

Alpine resorts across B.C. have said they are struggling with unusually low snow levels this ski season.

Ski resorts, and municipalities that depend on their revenues, are having to adapt to the greater unpredictability of their winter sports season.

To try to mitigate the impacts of warmer, drier winters, many resorts have increased their year-round, all-weather activities — including golf courses, mountain biking trails, water parks and conference facilities.

James Shalman, general manager at Apex Mountain Resort in the Okanagan, said back in December that resorts across the province were "definitely behind the 8-ball" because of the warm weather, with visitors lost during the holidays unlikely to return later in the season.

Conditions on Shames Mountain are currently spring-like, according to Theberge. He said the mountain and local businesses are more than ready to welcome out-of-towners who may want to finally get some runs in.

"It is good for our business, it is good for the future of our business and it's good for the sport of skiing in general," he said.

"We certainly hope that a gesture like this wouldn't go forgotten if the roles were reversed someday and we were forced to ... be shut down because of weather."