Dis­cover a Win­ter Play­ground


Nes­tled in the heart of the Coast Moun­tains, Pem­ber­ton is a small, unas­sum­ing town. But de­spite its sleepy am­biance, it is home to a vi­brant com­mu­nity of out­door en­thu­si­asts. Whether it’s ski­ing steep chutes on the sur­round­ing moun­tains, jump­ing off cliffs on snow­mo­biles or hik­ing from cabin to cabin through the back­coun­try, Pem­ber­ton’s res­i­dents make a life­style out of en­joy­ing their nat­u­ral play­ground.

Upon en­ter­ing Pem­ber­ton, you’ll quickly take note of the sur­round­ings. End­less ex­panses of snow-capped moun­tains sur­round the com­mu­nity, and the mag­nif­i­cent Mount Cur­rie looms over the south side of the town — its rocky face stand­ing 2,591 me­tres (8,500 feet) above sea level (And yes, peo­ple ski down it!). Even though Pem­ber­ton’s win­ters are rel­a­tively mild in tem­per­a­ture, big snow­falls are cer­tainly not rare in the vil­lage. Back­coun­try skiers, snow­board­ers and snow­mo­bil­ers flock to Pem­ber­ton to take ad­van­tage of sev­eral ex­cel­lent back­coun­try ar­eas. To the west is the mas­sive Pem­ber­ton Ice Cap, with ac­cess from sev­eral points south of town; and to the north and north­east, the Hur­ley and Duf­fey Lake roads of­fer ac­cess to world-renowned back­coun­try ter­rain. For the ul­ti­mate one-day back­coun­try ex­pe­ri­ence, heli-ski­ing and snow­mo­bile tours are avail­able. Many lo­cal at­trac­tions, such as Nairn Falls Provin­cial Park, are ac­ces­si­ble in the win­ter. Fol­low­ing the Sea to Sky Trail, vis­i­tors can ac­cess Nairn Falls di­rectly from One Mile Lake on a wide, crushed-gravel path that’s pop­u­lar for win­ter hik­ing and snow­shoe­ing. For cross­coun­try skiers, trails are track-set around the Nairn Falls camp­ground each win­ter.

In Jan­uary, the Vil­lage of Pem­ber­ton marks the sea­son with its an­nual Win­ter­fest cel­e­bra­tion. Most Win­ter­fest ac­tiv­i­ties oc­cur at One Mile Lake, where the frozen sur­face is the venue for a shinny hockey tour­na­ment, curl­ing tour­na­ment and skat­ing rinks, as well as the ever-pop­u­lar Po­lar Bear Plunge. Other event fea­tures in­clude live mu­sic, out­door movies and fire­works. (Ac­tiv­i­ties are weather de­pen­dent. For up-to-date in­for­ma­tion visit pem­ber­ton­win­ter­fest. com). One Mile Lake is also an ideal place for younger an­glers to try ice fish­ing; and dur­ing Win­ter­fest a youth fish­ing derby is hosted by lo­cal guides. For more ex­pe­ri­enced an­glers, lo­cal wa­ters such as Mos­quito Lake, Black­wa­ter Lake and Gates Lake of­fer great ice fish­ing for rain­bow trout, bull trout and Dolly Var­den.

For those who wish to es­cape the cold of win­ter, soak­ing in one of the area’s nat­u­ral hot springs is a sub­lime ex­pe­ri­ence. Vis­it­ing the Skookum­chuk/T’sek or Slo­quet hot springs is a pop­u­lar day trip from Pem­ber­ton, each of­fer­ing its own unique set­ting and char­ac­ter.

Af­ter a day of ad­ven­ture, why not set­tle in for a warm, hearty meal at one of Pem­ber­ton’s res­tau­rants? The Pony, The Sta­tion, Mile One Eat­ing House and the re­cently opened Town Square all of­fer a wide va­ri­ety of en­trées and of­ten fea­ture lo­cal pro­duce and meats.

Each restau­rant serves its own sig­na­ture dishes, rang­ing from gourmet piz­zas and burg­ers to hearty pas­tas and wild game en­trées.

In the evening Pem­ber­ton has a few places to wet your whis­tle with a cold beer, a stiff shot or glass of wine. The Pony’s bar of­fers a ro­tat­ing se­lec­tion of B.C.’s finest craft beers, and The Beer Farm­ers and Pem­ber­ton Brew­ing Co. craft brew­eries fea­ture cozy tap­houses where guests can sam­ple their brews. Fes­cues Restau­rant at Big Sky Golf Club fea­tures fon­dues and com­fort­ing win­ter favourites, pub and board games, and is the place to watch all the lat­est sports ac­tion. The Prospect Pub is the place to go for nightlife, live mu­sic and com­edy.

While only a 30-minute drive north from Whistler, Pem­ber­ton seems far re­moved from the hus­tle and bus­tle of Whistler Vil­lage. Its quaint, old-west­ern down­town harkens back to sim­pler times, yet all the thrills and ad­ven­ture you can imag­ine ex­ist a mere arm’s length away.

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