Having faced a veritable obstacle course of fluctuating weather extremes, Little Smoky Ski Area opened on January 1.
“We were just hours away of getting a couple of runs open for November, and then rain and tropical weather! It didn’t freeze at night for 11 straight days,” says Little Smoky manager Clem Bourgeois.
“We lost a lot of snow, and tried making some as temps got a bit better.”
Through December, Little Smoky Ski Area was almost 10 degrees warmer than other areas but after Christmas, it managed to make enough snow to open two runs.
“But now it was -36 and that’s too cold for the safety of skiers and workers! However, this cold gave us a chance to get a great start on the snowmaking of the terrain and tube park,” says Bourgeois.
The tube park and terrain park will open soon with the terrain park being located this season on Elk’s Point.
The Ski Area is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm through the season and during the week, if there are group bookings the hill is also open to the public at those times.
Most group bookings are from Wednesday to Friday as Little Smoky usually closes on Mondays and Tuesday but is open on Family Day Monday.
The most reliable way of checking the schedule is to visit the website, which is updated daily at www.littlesmokyski.ca/ If there are bookings during the week a green sign on the events calendar signifies that it is open to the public also.
Catering to Grades 3 to 12 school groups is a large part of Little Smoky’s operation and throughout the season school groups come from Slave Lake, Fox Creek, La Crete and local schools in Falher, Donnelly, High Prairie and Valleyview.
The rental shack is well equipped and capable of dealing with large groups, so when a school skiing party arrives it can get fitted–up and on the hill quickly.
This is also the first season for Big River View Snow Club at Little Smoky, which began on Saturday November 18 with dry land training and runs every Saturday from 9am to 3pm until the end of the ski season.
Over the course of the season, members of the snow club receive 12 hours instruction in a group setting with a level 1 Canadian Ski Instructor Association (CSIA.
Club members also receive one hour’s equivalence of private lessons. The Snow Club is full for the 2018 season but when the club is better established next year it will be accepting a larger membership.
Little Smoky’s Hilltop Cafe has a large, eclectic menu that includes burgers, hotdogs, fries and poutine. It also offers soup, sandwiches, mozza sticks, calamari, wings and fresh salad. For those wishing to take a snack with them on the trails there is the “taco in a bag.” The cafe serves beer, coffee and a wide variety of non-alcoholic beverages.
Little Smoky Ski Area receives financial support from the MDs of Smoky River, Greenview and Big Lakes and due to the support of the MDs Little Smoky can offer relatively low rates to school groups.
Situated on the banks of the Little Smoky River off Highway 49, Little Smoky Ski Area is accessible by turning west on TWP 744 and north on range road, RGE 214. Little Smoky is approximately 35 minutes north of Valleyview and 40 minutes west of High Prairie.
Depending on weather conditions, Little Smoky Ski Area’s season runs to the beginning of April 2018.