If you've ever done the journey from Calgary to Fernie, you'll probably have noticed Pass Powderkeg but the majority of skiers just drive on by. I've always been curious about it as the runs always seem to be snow-covered and it looks as though it is a more substantial ski facility than the small community of Crowsnest Pass justifies - i.e. I'm a bit jealous!
There are hundreds of these hometown hills around North America - for example Howelsen Hill at Steamboat Springs and Snow King at Jackson - all over-shadowed by their more famous neighbours that nab the lion's share of destination skiers. But the smaller hills also share a few advantages - chief of which is lack of crowds, especially at peak periods, and much cheaper overheads. For example in the Crowsnest Pass area there are very affordable motels (starting at $59 per night), several hotels, homey B & Bs and an increasing number of cheap AirBnBs popping up. The towns in the Crowsnest community are Bellevue, Hillcrest, Frank, Coleman and Blairmore, by the way. And, of course, lift passes are cheaper too: e.g. adult day pass $50 and adult season pass only $199.
Casey Morris, who took most of the photos in this blog, has been skiing what locals call PPK for the past decade. "The value for your money, especially as a family, does not compare," she says. "Our seasons passes were priced at four days skiing. That's two weekends worth. For locals, the ability to have a pass and get in a couple quick laps before or after work, five days a week is great. And night skiing really opens up the ski day to everyone."
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- Winter Wonderland