Cross country at Big White

Big White's Michael J. Ballingall went cross-country skiing with his wife, Diana.

Even though the name is officially Big White Ski Resort, there are multiple other activities at this popular skihill that don’t involve downhill skiing and snowboarding.

To get the inside track, all you need to do is chat with Big White staff.

“I tried ice climbing once — and wow, it was a challenge, but so exhilarating once I got the hang of it,” says Nikki Wiart, communications specialist.

“I also took my six-year-old niece and nephew. The staff were patient and helpful, and made it a great experience for them. And the sleigh ride dinner, well, it was so perfect. Cruising through the woods with just the sound of the sleigh gliding through snow and the jingling of the bells on the horses was one thing. Capping it off with an extraordinary, heart-warming dinner prepared by the excellent chefs at Big White was something else completely. I recommend it to everyone who plans on visiting the resort.”

For Big White’s senior VP Michael J. Ballingall, the challenge was to try cross-country skiing — again.

“I went cross-country skiing and twice, I just about had to call ski patrol; my lungs were burning,” he admitted with a smile. “I’ve never laughed so hard with my wife, Diana, as going downhill I was literally running on skis. We bought these 15 years ago at Fresh Air and they are still in great shape. I recommend lessons for technique, but you actually just have to be committed to get on snow and let the magic work!”

Other activities available at Big White:

— Enjoy leisurely ice skating with family and friends, or a friendly pickup hockey game with the locals at Canada’s highest outdoor skating rink 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Rentals are available in the Happy Valley Day Lodge.

— The 25 kilometres of combined Nordic and wilderness trails are perfect for all levels of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Nordic ski equipment and snowshoes are available for rent.

The trailhead is located behind the Ice Tower and below the beginners’ slope in the Happy Valley Adventure Centre. Daily guided snowshoeing tours are available or you can rent snowshoes and choose your own adventure. Call 250-491-6101 or email ski school@

bigwhite.com.

— An old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh will convey you to a cosy cabin in the woods for breakfast, brunch or gourmet dinner from Kettle Valley Steakhouse. For more information, email: concierge@bigwhite.com.

— Big White Tube Park offers five specially-groomed lanes for a high-speed ride 4-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 2-9 p.m. on Saturday-Sunday.

— Dog sledding tours: Candle Creek Kennels begins with an orientation introducing you to the dogs, the sled and the process of harnessing before heading out. Reservations are recommended since there are only two sleds and a maximum of two people per sled. For more info, call 250-491-6111 or email concierge@bigwhite.com.

— If you want to climb to the top of a 60-foot ice tower, Tinastin Adventures has expertly-trained staff to help you up four telephone poles covered with three feet of ice. All ages and levels of experience are welcome noon-8 p.m. daily. Climbing gear is included. Call 250-491-6111 or email concierge@bigwhite.com.

— Children aged six to 15 years and under 100 pounds can experience the thrill of mini-snowmobiling on a track built especially for them and fully lit for night riding. Tickets for the Mini-Z miniature snowmobiles can be purchased from the Snowmobile Hut in the Happy Valley Adventure Park.

— Outback Snowmobile Tours offers a variety of tours into the backcountry for all skill levels. You can drive your own snowmobile or double up with a friend. The one-hour tour is perfect for those who are new to the sport.

— You can also explore in a Side-by-Side ATV with snowtracks, a family-friendly activity. Full guided tours are available and helmets are provided. For more info, call 250-491-6111 or email: concierge@bigwhite.com.

— You can also explore Trapping Meadows, a fat bike-designed trail, but bring your own fat bike since Big White does not rent them. Access points are at both Black Forest and Happy Valley. For more info, call 250-491-6111 or email: concierge@bigwhite.com.

— For a fun, family-friendly way to explore the village, Big White’s Reindeer Roundup involves finding artistic reindeer hidden there. As you discover each reindeer, you will find different animals and habitats featured.

— Sessions gaming centre on the edge of Perfection Run offers Trapped at Big White escape rooms to test your problem-solving skills. You and team members will be “trapped” in a room, and given riddles, puzzles and clues that guide you to your escape.

You can also check out the resort’s Weekly Event Calendar on the website for everything from bingo on Tuesdays to trivia on Thursdays, and the Family Channel Carnival Night on Thursdays and Saturdays.