Mount Baldy, that definitive grassroots BC ski resort located near Oliver, has gotten a new lease on life. Here’s the tale of its recent resurrection.
Nick Holmes-Smith remembers the day in 1970 when a second T-bar was installed on the upper half of Baldy (as the locals call it). “It was decided that two old Scandinavian codgers would be on the first T-bar (the rest of us kids elbowed our way to be on the T-bars right behind them). Big grins were on the faces of these two old Euros whose ski career began before World War 1. But those grins turned to panic and terror as the two old farts were lifted off the ground, spun 270 degrees in the air, and set back down facing sideways. Then, they were dragged for a while (they were determined to be the first ones to the top of the lift), then lifted again, spun again, dumped, dragged and then finally left in a heap. Being nice young punks, we steered our T-bar around them, didn’t look back, and carried on to the top.”
Nick’s tale is one of many colourful stories that make up the fascinating history of the 49-year-old Baldy Ski Resort located on McKinney Road between Oliver and east of Osoyoos on the Okanagan plateau. What began as a cat ski operation became a lift-access area when a T-bar was installed in 1969 at 1722 metres up the mountain – making it the highest base altitude of any resort in Canada. Soon chairlifts followed along with more runs and ski cottages that formed the Mt. Baldy Village.
Eventually hard financial times struck though and the resort did not open for the 2013-14 season. It reopened in January 2015 but again had to close for the 2015-16 season and bankruptcy was declared. Then Vancouver-based lawyer Victor Tsao got involved and became the primary investor of the new Baldy Mountain Resort which took ownership on July 28, 2106. Since then the operations have been taken over by manager “Snowy Joey” O’Brien and the company invested over a million dollars to open on December 1st, 2017, which they did to much fanfare by the local communities, not least of all the seniors who only pay $19 for a season’s pass. (No, that’s not a typo.)
Today Baldy boasts two chairlifts, a T-bar and a magic carpet, which access 750 skiable acres of inbound alpine terrain, 70 percent of which are green beginner or blue intermediate runs. Above the lift access is 275 vertical metres of slackcountry, the terrain where the Slackcountry Cup will be held on February 18 and 19, 2017. The resort also offers snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, winter disc golf and fat biking and the village has expanded to 103 cabins with plans to build more lodging space in the coming year.
For further information about Baldy, and to read more about the history of this fascinating resort in its blog post area, log on to skibaldy.com.