UPDATE: Valemount’s target opening date is December 2018, not 2017 as a previous version stated.
The announcement of a new resort is news, but when it promises to offer the biggest vertical drop in North America, that’s mega-news.
This mega-news comes out of Valemount, British Columbia, which has declared that the first of three stages of Valemount Glacier Destination Resort will open for riding by Christmas 2018—not in some distant future, but December 2018.
When complete, the resort will have a 6,857-foot vertical drop, putting even mighty Whistler (which sports a 5,020 drop) and Revelstoke (5,620) in the shade.
The new “ski and sightseeing resort” will access glacier skiing near Banff and Jasper national parks, both among the planet’s most beautiful landscapes.
What’s more, Valemount has the trifecta going for it—It’s northern, inland and high, making it less vulnerable to the perils of snow-starved winters. In addition, its vertical drop means it will have bragging rights to some of the world’s longest ski runs. Skiers and snowboarders can even reach Valemount by train. (Via Rail stops at the town’s railroad station.)
Most importantly, Valemount Glacier Destination Resort’s master plan has been composed with the input of and approved by local municipalities, First Nation tribes, and by the province of British Columbia. Oberti Resort Design, the company designing VGD, previously encountered an enormous amount of public opposition for its initial project—the controversial Jumbo Resort development. This time around, the company is emphasizing its commitment to the surrounding environment. “VGD embodies the best of B.C. – environmentally sustainable design coupled with some of the best vistas and mountain experiences in the world.”
So, if all goes according to that plan, what’s in store, and when will bullwheels be ready to roll?
Lifts could be running as early as December 2018, although the entire build out, including hotels and amenities, is expected to take 15-20 years.
The first phase will be a gondola and chairlift linking the resort village to Twilight Glacier and 4,500 feet of vertical.
Later stages will further access the Premier Range and will include the expansion of the village to more than 2,000 beds, restaurants and shops, chalets and hotels. An airport is also in the plans, as is year-round skiing.
According to the master plan, “The high elevations and large glaciers provide a large summer skiing area suitable for both public skiing and race training. At build out, the skiable terrain in winter will feature one of the longest vertical drops in the world at over 2,000 meters, substantially larger than anything else in North America.”
The plan concludes, “Year-round skiing area and sightseeing … will be unparalleled in North America. It will offer the only substantial summer skiing on the continent, the only high-elevation alpine glacier viewpoint in North America … and renown snow conditions.”