Day Ski: Ski Cal­laghan

Nordic Win­ter Par­adise

SkiTrax - - Contents - by San­dra Wal­ter

Ski Cal­laghan is the Van­cou­ver 2010 Win­ter Olympic Games' gift to the grow­ing cross-coun­try ski­ing com­mu­nity on B.C.'S south­west coast. Whistler Olympic Park (WOP), the Nordic-ski­ing venue built specif­i­cally for the Games, is lo­cated less than 30 min­utes from Whistler and less than two hours from Van­cou­ver. Con­ve­niently com­bined in a joint ven­ture be­tween WOP and neigh­bour­ing Cal­laghan Coun­try Wilder­ness Ad­ven­tures, Ski Cal­laghan now of­fers more than 130 kilo­me­tres of cross-coun­try ski and snow­shoe trails eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to com­mu­ni­ties from the Greater Van­cou­ver area, all the way up through the Sea to Sky Cor­ri­dor.

The sea­son at Ski Cal­laghan typ­i­cally runs from the end of Novem­ber un­til late March or mid-april, de­pend­ing on con­di­tions. The av­er­age snow base is 191 cen­time­tres, and WOP'S el­e­va­tion ranges be­tween 840 and 930 me­tres, while Cal­laghan Coun­try reaches heights of up to 1,382 me­tres at the Jour­ney­man Lodge, which is fre­quented by back­coun­try skiers on overnight trips.

As Ski Cal­laghan is lo­cated in B.C.'S Coastal Mountains, av­er­age win­ter tem­per­a­tures are mild and rarely drop be­low -10°C, with an av­er­age daily high of +3.3°C and a daily low of -4.0°C. The snow tem­per­a­ture gen­er­ally hov­ers around 0°C, so wax for that range is ideal. While wax­ing, skiers should also bear in mind that the Pa­cific coastal snow usu­ally holds much mois­ture.

The folks at Ski Cal­laghan are proud of the di­verse mix of groomed and track-set ski trails on of­fer, with ter­rain for all abil­i­ties rang­ing from flat routes to chal­leng­ing climbs. The trail net­work winds through old-growth for­est, tra­verses open mead­ows and tops out at breath­tak­ing view­points. For advanced skiers, Ski Cal­laghan fea­tures North Amer­ica's long­est con­tin­u­ous Nordic ski climb with an el­e­va­tion gain of a whop­ping 560 me­tres, along with some of the steep­est de­scents.

If vis­i­tors crave a break from ski­ing, there is a large to­bog­gan­ing hill on site, elec­tric-as­sist fat­bikes for rent, as well as a newly in­tro­duced ac­tiv­ity – base­board­ing. Best de­scribed as a hy­brid of the sport of skele­ton, body­board­ing on snow and to­bog­gan­ing, rid­ers de­scend

a slope on aero­dy­namic boards. Ski Cal­laghan's 1.5-kilo­me­tre lift-ac­cessed course opened in De­cem­ber.

With the ex­panded Nordic ter­rain Ski Cal­laghan has had on of­fer since 2010, the re­gion has ex­pe­ri­enced sig­nif­i­cant growth in Nordic ski-club mem­ber­ship and gen­eral par­tic­i­pa­tion in the sport. The ex­tra in­fra­struc­ture has helped broaden the pub­lic's ex­po­sure to rac­ing and de­vel­op­ment of Nordic sports through school and out­door ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams that see 2,500 to 3,000 chil­dren and youth en­rolled each sea­son.

Ski Cal­laghan re­ceives ap­prox­i­mately 55,000 to 60,000 skier vis­its and an­other 15,000 for other ac­tiv­i­ties through­out the win­ter sea­son.

The fa­cil­ity hosts events in var­i­ous win­ter sports, such as cross-coun­try ski­ing, biathlon, Nordic-com­bined and ski jump­ing, at­tract­ing ath­letes of all lev­els with such re­gional, pro­vin­cial and na­tional com­pe­ti­tions as the pop­u­lar Sigge's Payak Lop­pet and this sea­son's Hay­wood No­ram Western Cana­dian Cross-coun­try Ski Cham­pi­onships, Cana­dian Cham­pi­onships Ski Jump­ing, and Nordic-com­bined Cham­pi­onships.

The Games in­fra­struc­ture has en­abled the in­tro­duc­tion of ski jump­ing in the prov­ince, and the con­struc­tion of ju­nior jumps in the sum­mer of 2014 has led to the de­vel­op­ment of a youth ski-jump­ing pro­gram.

The WOP fa­cil­ity reg­u­larly hosts train­ing camps for all kinds of sports, such as Ski Jump­ing Canada, Canada Para Snow­board, Canada Snow­board and adap­tive sports.

Stay­ing true to its cre­ation as an Olympic venue, WOP is con­tin­u­ing its high-per­for­mance legacy with the Whistler Nordic De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre, founded in 2016 by Wop/whistler Sport Le­ga­cies. With ac­cess to the Whistler Ath­letes' Cen­tre for ac­com­mo­da­tion and the in­ter­na­tion­ally sanc­tioned sport venues within WOP and Whistler's var­ied train­ing in­fra­struc­ture, the pro­gram pro­vides coach­ing and per­for­mance ser­vices to B.C. ath­letes who want full-time train­ing. The Cen­tre was first ac­cessed by a group of promis­ing B.C. biath­letes, and will be ex­panded to in­clude all Nordic-sports ath­letes in the fu­ture.

One of Ski Cal­laghan's most pop­u­lar weekly events is “$5 Wed­nes­days,” when on Wed­nes­day evenings, the WOP fa­cil­ity opens a five-kilo­me­tre net­work of lit trails for a $5 trail fee. Wed­nes­day nights reg­u­larly at­tract many lo­cals and guests to the park with dis­counted trail passes, rentals and meal op­tions.

Ski Cal­laghan fea­tures a full-ser­vice day lodge at WOP with a restau­rant, sport school, rental and re­tail shop, while Cal­laghan Coun­try of­fers its own rental and re­tail shop, snow school and food ser­vices at its base area.

An­other unique fea­ture of Ski Cal­laghan is its dog-friend­li­ness. The area of­fers more than 35 kilo­me­tres of ded­i­cated trails for snow­shoe­ing, walk­ing or ski­ing with dogs, mak­ing it one of the re­gion's big­gest win­ter off-leash ar­eas.

With a ton of ac­tiv­i­ties that ap­peal to a wide ar­ray of users, Ski Cal­laghan is a true win­ter play­ground and def­i­nitely worth a visit. Al­though there are no ac­com­mo­da­tions on site be­sides the small back­coun­try Jour­ney­man's Lodge, Whistler it­self has many overnight op­tions just a short drive – or shut­tle ride – away. Ski Cal­laghan con­ve­niently pro­vides a daily shut­tle ser­vice from Whistler Vil­lage to WOP from $10 round trip.

(fac­ing from top) Just a short drive or shut­tle ride away, Whistler Vil­lage of­fers ex­cel­lent din­ing and ac­com­mo­da­tions

Elec­tric-as­sist fat­bikes are avail­able for rent.

A legacy of the 2010 Win­ter Olympics, the Whistler Ath­letes Cen­tre pro­vides a venue for high-per­for­mance train­ing and ac­com­mo­da­tion.

(above) Cal­laghan of­fers more than 130 kilo­me­tres of cross­coun­try-ski and snow­shoe trails.

(left) Cal­laghan also fea­tures a large to­bog­gan­ing hill for kids and adults alike.

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