Summer at Big White

Big White Ski Resort's first festival of the season, the Craft and Country, Beer and Music Mountain Festival, attracted 2,200 guests to the mountainside, above.

Big White Ski Resort had a bigger-than-big summer season with cyclists riding the equivalent of one-and-a-half times around the globe.

A total of 26,124 bike scans went through the Bike Big White gate. With an average of 2.5 kilometres of riding per scan, it's estimated more than 65,000 kilometres of riding took place on Big White trails during the summer.

When the official summer season at Big White officially came to an end on Monday (Sept. 2), the resort had sold 4,845 Scenic Chairlift tickets to hikers, bikers and those just looking to take in the 360-degree views at the top of the Bullet Chair.

“We can look at the numbers and see the growth, but it's just as easy to feel it,” said Kat Bensler, marketing manager of Bike Big White. “There’s a real energy on the mountain for biking. Locals are getting into the sport for the first time and word is spreading on our new trails, bringing riders from all over the region and beyond. There's a real vibe and excitement, and it's infectious — you can't help but want to be a part of it.”

Since opening Bike Big White in the summer of 2017 and with four new trails added to the roster this summer, the park has become increasingly popular for avid mountain bikers. According to the TrailForks rating system, three of the trails at the resort — Knockout, Bermsland and Dark Roast — are in the top 50 trails in B.C. That’s out of the 6,688 bike trails in the province.

More than 5,000 people made the trek up the mountain between July 10 and 14 to witness some of the world's best mountain bikers battle it out at Big White’s inaugural Freeride Days. The Dunbar Cycles Summer Series event on June 30 saw 160 competitors and there were 70 up-and-coming bikers at the Shimano Kids' Race on June 29. The fifth annual L'Alpe de Grand Blanc — a 60-kilometre ride from Kelowna to the Village — had 179 participants.

The first festival of the season, the Craft and Country, Beer and Music Mountain Festival, was enjoyed by 2,200 guests. Ciderfest drew 1,050 people and the Huckleberry Festival served up slices of its four-metre pie to 500 guests.

Over two days, Big White had 365 hikers take part in a Geo-Hiking scavenger hunt.

And on Aug. 24-25, 40 yogis saluted the sun at 6,627 feet above sea level at Live Big at Big White.

The number of people who stayed the night at Big White increased this year with a 45 per cent growth in accommodation revenue and 34 per cent growth in camping revenue.

From June 2 to Sept. 2, Clocktower Coffee Co. in the Village Centre Mall used more than 700 litres of milk and baked 66 kilograms of cookies. The Woods served more than 2,000 burgers — not to mention 57.6 metres of its Carnage sandwich. And to beat the summer heat, guests quenched their thirst with more than 1,770 litres of beer.

“Ever since we entered into the summer tourism market, new opportunities have arrived,” said Michael J. Ballingall, the resort's senior vice-president.

“We are proud to be a big part of the Central Okanagan’s summer season and this year, we saw more visitors than ever before.”

More than 700 first-year students, student leaders and UBC Okanagan staff visited Big White Ski Resort on Thursday as part of the university’s Jump Start program.

The students soaked in the last rays of the summer sun with a chairlift ride up the Bullet Chair, a hike to Rhonda Lake, then headed back down to the Village for lunch.