Makin' Trails

Dizzy’s at Big White Ski Resort is now taking online bookings for ski and boot fittings, above. Mask and/or face coverings are mandatory in all lift lines, loading/unloading the lifts, and in all indoor spaces. Physical distancing is in effect, and guests are asked to wash hands thoroughly and frequently.

To mask or not to mask. That is no longer the question.

Three season pass holders at Big White Ski Resort had their passes suspended this week when they refused to comply with the provincial health order.

The question now is: do you wear a mask or risk three $230 fines (refuse to wear a mask, refuse to leave, act belligerent)?

“Mask and/or face coverings are mandatory; physical distancing is in effect; wash your hands thoroughly and frequently; and do your part to help us flatten the curve and keep the mountain open,” says senior VP Michael J. Ballingall.

On Thursday, Big White had a base of 102 centimetres, –8 C and five lifts open to 46 runs. Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre had opened nine kilometres of green cross-country trails, seven km of blue trails and 17 km of black, plus 27 km of snowshoe trails.

Silver Star Mountain Resort opened for Nordic skiing today. It opens for alpine skiing on Dec. 4-6 for alpine and Nordic season passholders, and for the public on Dec. 7.

Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club had clear and sunny blue skies on Thursday. “We are grooming with both machines today and most trails will be done, except ones that don’t have enough snow.”

Telemark Nordic Club has “a good base of snow (15 centimetres packed average in the stadium) but still not enough to open safely and groom regularly. We will be limiting grooming until we get more snow. We are not open yet but some people are skiing — no set-track. If you ski, there is no patrol and you ski at your own risk.”

Nickel Plate Nordic Centre opens today while Apex Mountain Resort plans to open for the public on

Dec. 5.

Nickel Plate reports all the inner trails have been packed and track-set numerous times. Early-season conditions include rocks, dirt and debris. No rentals yet.

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The series on the Okanagan’s downhill resorts and cross-country ski areas continues with the second part on Big White Ski Resort. Here are more of the changes for this season.

— Guests can dine in at Happy Valley, Black Forest, Moonlight Bistro and The Woods Patio, and can scan a QR code on the table to access the menu. Reservations must be made to dine in at The Woods. There will be a tracing protocol for those eating at the restaurants: one member of each group will leave a name and phone number in the event of a COVID-19 case.

— Two food trucks have been added to the resort. You can find Kelly O’s food trailer between the Ski Patrol Hut and the Ridge Day Lodge, and Broken Anchor at the Black Forest parking lot. The Beavertails trailer will once again be parked at Gem Lake once snow permits the lift to operate.

— Introduction of the Squawk Box — the newest, online food delivery service. Guests can order a pre-made, chicken-centred meal — from wings and tenders to full dinners of barbecued, roasted and fried chicken — online and have it delivered to their door. Vegetarian and vegan options are available along with options for kids.

— The Market at Big White is taking orders of groceries and alcohol for delivery to accommodation.

— There is no skating rink this year, but there is a new temporary parking lot in Happy Valley for Club 65 members and those travelling with tots, close to the Happy Valley Day Lodge. On weekends and during peak season, a staff member will direct drivers.

— A limited number of guaranteed parking stalls will be available at the leased Ridge Parking Lot — day parking only for $1,000

per vehicle through tickets@

bigwhite.com or 250-491-6262.

— Adventure activities — from dog sledding to horse-drawn sleigh rides, snowmobiling and ice climbing — can all be booked online in advance. Some activities have reduced capacity, and limited reservation numbers to maintain physical distancing. Book well in advance.

— Rental shop was completely renovated for social distancing and rentals must be pre-booked online. Guests must have a valid ticket (day ticket or season pass) before pickup. New laser feet scanners will ensure the best, most suitable boot, limiting staff touch points and speeding up rental.

— Big White tuques are back with new colours — including limited runs of favourite national sports teams.

— Dizzy’s is taking online bookings for ski and boot fittings.

— Santa can’t make it to the resort, but his elves will set up a workshop in the Village. Guests can take family photos on Santa’s big chair 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. on Dec 19-24 by booking online in advance.

— Firework shows on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve in Happy Valley.

J.P. Squire, aka the Ski Sheriff, is a retired reporter. Email: jp.squire@telus.net