Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief Ω
A mere 45 minute drive northeast (give or take) from Thompson Rivers University, perched on the side of Tod Mountain, or rather nestled in the valley below, is the village of Sun Peaks.
Most know the name. It is, after all, the second largest ski resort in Western Canada (behind only Whistler Blackcomb) and if you’re in Kamloops, you see their signs and promotional material seemingly everywhere.
What most don’t realize, however, is that it’s much more than a ski hill. It’s a community of about 500 permanent residents, complete with a mayor, a grocery store and even a fire hall — and it’s growing.
For the outdoorsy folk, head up to the village before the snow flies for a round of golf at the highest elevation you can swing a club at in B.C. or hit the trails on your mountain bike.
Or you can join in on the North Face Dirty Feet Mountain Run, being held this weekend.
On Sept. 8 runners can take on the valley floor for a five-kilometre run, or be more ambitious and take on the mountain itself for a 16-kilometre trek up the face of the mountain and back.
For a more social event, there’s the upcoming authentic Bavarian Oktoberfest.
“There’s a bunch of ex-patriot Germans putting it on, so it’ll be truly an authentic experience, complete with the costumes, hats and dancing,” said Brandi Shier, coordinator of media and marketing for Sun Peaks Resort.
And of course, come November, there’s the reason that most people know of Sun Peaks — the world-class ski resort opens and floods with visitors from all over the world.
The Austrian Nordic Ski Team uses it for their training, so that is saying something.
“It doesn’t have to be hard on a student budget, as some people think,” said Schier, pointing out there’s a misconception about the expense of winter sports.
September and October is a great time to look for cheap gear, according to Schier. “People are looking to upgrade,” she said, “and they’d like some money to put towards that new gear, so they’re willing to get rid of some pretty gently used gear at a good price.”
She also suggested carpooling and buying a season’s pass as ways to make it less costly to head up for some winter fun.
“You only have to make it up about seven or eight times to get the value out of the pass,” she said.
For those who aren’t downhill-seekers, there are plenty of ways to experience a Canadian winter that don’t involve lift-tickets. Snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and tubing are all available at the village.
The outdoor activities aren’t the only reason to make the trip up, according to Shier.
“It’s a great place to meet people,” she said. “There’s a pretty healthy student body that comes up here regularly. I’ve always found it to be an extension of the TRU social scene.”
For more information on the village of Sun Peaks, the resort or any of the various amenities available go to sunpeaksresort.com or grab a few friends and make the quick trip up Highway 5 to Heffley Creek and take a right up into the hills.
You’ll be there in no time and can see it for yourself.