Tucked away in the Coast Range near Terrace, British Columbia, Shames Mountain is a community-owned ski hill--the first nonprofit ski co-op in Canada--renowned for deep storm days and an expansive backcountry.
Along with Jake Cohn, I arrived on a Thursday morning to heavy snow at the Terrace airport. After quickly dropping off our luggage, we drove the 20 miles west to the hill to find but a dozen cars parked in the lot. Only open Friday through Monday, Shames allows uphill traffic while the mountain is closed, and a handful of skiers were skinning laps. We toured 1,600 vertical feet under the double chair and T-bar as the storm raged around us. A group of locals skied down as we ascended, caked in snow and wearing wide smiles. "Ski the blacks!" they shouted. "It's too deep for anything else!"
There was no official snow report, but we probed 30 inches of storm snow at the top of the T. Loud whoomphs echoed around us so we ducked into the trees and skied long hemlock hallways through the coastal forest, leaving behind deep trenches that were barely visible by the time we returned for a second run. Another foot fell overnight, and the resort opened on Friday under blue skies with 40 inches on the storm board. It was one of the busiest days of the year--nearly 500 skiers were on the mountain. --Andrew Strain