A hidden gem awaits avid skiers to enjoy its beautiful views at the Misery Mountain ski area in Peace River.
“Distinct to Northern Alberta, we have an operational hill right in town,” says treasurer Mark Ilyin.
“The views of the town are spectacular, and we have quite a lot to offer for different skills levels.”
The hill is inclusive of 29 different runs, which Ilyin says all have different difficulty. Although the hill attracts more beginner or intermediate skiers, Ilyin says it’s a great place for the whole family to challenge their abilities.
Misery Mountain has faced some difficult financial years, largely in part because of the pandemic and some woes in management, however; Ilyin says the new board has taken it in their hands to turn things around and they’ve had great support from Peace River town council and community members.
“Communication between us has been really good,” says Ilyin of the new board.
“We are a group of people who are really immersed in business, and we want to see the hill be successful,” he adds.
Ilyin says Town of Peace River has been very supportive, helping to provide a loan to repay Misery Mountain’s assistance received during Covid.
“We are working on a business plan to build a tube park,” says Ilyin, noting there are some attractions the board is hoping to be able to add to the facility.
“Our main focus is bite size, primarily to open for a full season this year.”
Ilyin says surrounding municipalities have also stepped up to the plate, recognizing what a great recreational opportunity is available so close to their own homes. He says the board’s long-term plan (at the beginning of 2023) was to hire a full-time chalet manager to oversee the many rentals the facility attracts and to be a first point of contact for interested parties, but they decided to expedite that goal and hired Aaron Sumayop to man their ship.
The facility often attracts wedding receptions, anniversaries, political suppers, and many other notable events. The views from the chalet provide a private and peaceful ambiance, all while being nestled right in the heart of the community.
“The momentum is starting to build,” says Ilyin. “It’s a testament to how people would like to see whole families get out and enjoy our facility.”
Ilyin says the board wants to create collaborative partnerships with other hills, currently offering a free Northern Alberta Small Ski Area Passport with the purchase of an Early Bird Family Season Pass. The passport entitles a season pass holder to one complimentary lift pass at each of the participating ski areas, including Little Smoky Ski Area, Nitehawk, Manning Ski Club, Ski Fairview, and Whispering Pines.
“We would like to see the hill be busy all year round,” says Ilyin, who adds the board has big visions for the facility.
“We want to bring value to our community and know how blessed we are to have this in our town.”
Misery Mountain is also pleased to welcome a full-time operations manager in Rocky Johnson, who has oodles of experience in the ski industry.
Ilyin says they are also just bought a 2017 Snow Cat and are hoping to tweak their water distribution system to help increase water pressure draw. They also are hoping to put a cooling system in so they can make snow at lower temperatures.
“We have already exceeded our expectations on chalet rentals less than half the year into the new fiscal year,” say Ilyin. “We also plan to improve the outdoor night skiing lighting system with something newer, more modern, and more efficient. We also did add a few more directors to help lighten the workload for the team.”
Misery Mountain is hoping to be open for the season on Dec. 15, but that date may have to be switched if the weather continues to stay warm.
Misery Mountain is also looking for people to join their team as ski and snowboard instructors, lift operators, administration clerks, rental technicians, and kitchen and concession staff. Approximately 20 people have filled some of the vacancies, but there are still some positions available.
“Huge shoutouts to Northern Sunrise County and Boucher Bros. for helping us buy our new snow cat and a big shout out to Town of Peace River for their financial support,” says Ilyin. “Also, thanks to our community at large for all the donations and attending the 60th anniversary and Snowfest 2023, which were incredibly successful and sold out events.”
Emily Plihal Local Journalism Initiative Reporter - South Peace News - southpeacenews.com
Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, South Peace News