For some, Shames Mountain opening-day countdown started over a month ago with the first fleeting snowflakes that fell in town. To say that the buildup has been tantalizing is an understatement — even the burliest of mountaineers transform into giddy children, while families run up the hill with their kids, snowshoes, and toboggans, all bombing down the fresh untouched lines. You can literally hear the cheer through the valley.
This Saturday (Dec. 9) Shames Mountain, will open for its seventh year as our local (and world renowned) non-profit co-operative ski resort.
For beginners, the opening marks a time of transformation, learning to carve and take a few bruises or maybe teaching the little ones that a pizza, at least in this context, symbolizes restraint and control.
For the experts, it’s a time of transition, re-familiarizing yourself with those ephemeral muscles buried somewhere in the back of your hamstrings. Many of us are excited about carving on corduroy turns or finding new side hits to butter-off of (lazy spins for those of us too old to “send it” down every run). It’s also a time to reconnect with seasonal friends, those great folks you only see when the chairlift starts turning — a bond based on the fiery need for powder, burnt legs at the end of the day and a solid community.
Of course, a secret society of hustlers has been getting their fill of powder for weeks, now. The epic snowfalls in Terrace secured a nice base on the Mountain. Both locals and eager tourists have been hiking and ski touring around the Shames backcountry — famous in ski communities throughout the world for its great access and record snowfalls.
Whether you’re a beginner or expert, it’s a time for fun, but also a time to reflect on early season hazards. Kasia Kistowska, My Mountain Co-op Board Director and avid skier, notes a few early season hazards to watch out for, “exposures like rocks, shrubs with lower early season snowpack, and other debris can be hard to see so its important to look out for posted signs and warnings.” Shames has great tree skiing, but always “keep a buddy system, hoot and holler so your team knows where you are, and keep away from those tree wells,” says Kasia.
While in-bound conditions at Shames are generally safe, and ski patrollers work hard to offer extra levels of protection and precaution, heading into the backcountry offers an entirely different type of hazardous landscape. Generally, this type of adventure should be reserved for those that have enough experience, the proper training and gear.
Suffice it to say that if you plan on enjoying opening weekend at Shames — and we hope you do — remember to take it easy, save your legs, but most importantly have a wicked time with your buds and families!
Shames Mountain will be open regular hours 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. starting this weekend. Then from December 16, for two weeks through Christmas, seven days a week, straight! See you all on the slopes!
Column by Chelsey Geralda Armstrong, a member of My Mountain Co-op who was an amateur and professional snowboarder 10 years ago when she competed internationally. She’s now a Doctor of Archaeology for the Smithsonian Institute and lives, laughs, and loves in Terrace, B.C.