Six days after the last snowfall I drop into The Monster and sink up to my waist. For the next 10 minutes I work my way down the steeps, trees and rock garden in lightly tracked up powder. This is not what I expected to find during Christmas Break at Panorama Mountain Resort.
The Monster is part of the largest ski resort expansion in Canada this winter. An extension of Taynton Bowl, the vast gladed valley off the resort’s summit, the four new runs add open alpine faces, pillows and spines and more perfectly spaced trees. A 40-minute hike from the summit The Monster also adds 75 additional metres of elevation to the resort, pushing Panorama to third place in longest vertical drop in Canada.
In the first week of January, the second week of Christmas holidays, I was at Panorama for two days of skiing. The weather in the valley was frightfully cold, but an inversion had people in sun chairs on the summit basking in 15 degrees warmer temps and bright sunshine. With strong early season snow Taynton Bowl was wide open.
It had been a while since I’d skied Pano and was pleased to find the resort has invested heavily in glading. The trees of Taynton were wide open, with plenty of room to negotiate the steep ridges and open faces in the knee deep powder. Even the main lines within a few minute traverse of the summit were still powdery.
The next day I made the long hike over to the new terrain. The resort built a cat road along the ridgeline easing accesses to the plateau above the summit. The first of the new lines is The Monster, a steep convex, wide open face. To get it ready for skiing this year patrol spent several days boot packing the avalanche prone feature to make it safe. The rest of the new lines are further down the ridge from here.
The Monster greeted me with a half dozen untracked turns right down the main feature to a series of spines that still needed more snow before they were skiable. From here I traversed into some trees for more knee to waist deep turns, and eventually a small rock garden that will be fun pillows with another foot of snow.
Eventually the new terrain joins the ski out from Taynton Bowl. I hit the long traverse track back to the bottom of the resort wondering why no one talks about Panorama as a freeride destination. It has a ton of wicked terrain and far fewer skiers chasing after fresh snow. I’m guessing the overlook is due to less snow than a lot of other B.C. resorts. But there is a ton of good stuff here.
The new terrain brings the whole Tayton Bowl valley into the ski area and preps the resort for a new lift. The exact plan is still in the works, but it will lift expert skiers back up this huge chunk of terrain towards the summit, allowing faster and easier laps of Taynton Bowl and The Monster.
That’s good and bad news: More laps in this overlooked freeride playground, but less five-day-after-a-storm powder. Until then, Taynton Bowl and The Monster remain one of western Canada’s best places to score in-bounds powder days after a storm.
RYAN REPORT is a frequent web post by Ski Canada magazine’s technical editor, Ryan Stuart.
Tags: freeride, Panorama, powder, Ryan Report, Taynton Bowl, The Monster