Driving British Columbia

Lillooet-canada-road-trip

Me and Gav did a season in Whistler, Canada back in 05/06 and took a three week road trip around British Columbia ski resorts as well as Banff in Alberta.

Our first stop out from Whistler was to the city of Kelowna for the resort of Big White, a favourite with Australians. This was a not so inconsiderate 500km drive in mid winter so we got up early (midday) and arrived at a town called Merritt at dusk having to refuel.

whistler-to-kelowna

We knew we had a mountain pass to climb before getting to Kelowna so I asked the guy at the service station whether we’d be able to arrive before it got properly dark. He said, probably but good luck, especially as a storm was coming in.

The idea of a Best Western type accomodation at Merritt vs a fun youth hostel in Kelowna ensured that we set off up the mountain pass. This was before iPhone’s and GPS and so I was trying to navigate using a map whilst Gav was driving. It’s pretty hard to work out how much longer you’ve got to go to reach the pass before you start to decline but this was the question we we deeply concerned with; we were  in the middle of a snowstorm, on a mountain pass with no barriers and in darkness with no other vehicles to be seen combined with 2-3 inches of fresh on the ground and more coming down fast.

This was one of the scariest drives I / we’ve done. The snow was falling so fast that Gav swears he didn’t blink for 20 minutes until we started to decline and were able to see tarmacadam again. And when we reached the youth hostel the guy couldn’t believe that we had got through as they had closed the pass 2 hours ago. Hectic.

The next day we drove up to Big White where we stayed for a few nights. It’s a great hill with a real locals feel and incredibly light powder snow that freezes and clings to trees creating strange formations I think were referred to as snow ghosts.

big-white-snowrehab

We’ve recently been in touch with the guys at SnowRehab who run snowboard instructor courses out in Big White as well as Revelstoke and found out that part of their package is a very welcomed internal flight from Calgary to Kelowna saving any potential transfer woes.

Me and Gav have also done the drive out of Calgary / Banff to Revelstoke and it was just as ‘fun’. This time I was driving in a two wheel drive car we hired from a company called Rent-A-Wreck. It was -20C outside with ice on the ground and we were experiencing the warm sensation all four wheels gently sliding on a left hand bend again with no visible barriers but a very visible sheer drop. We just held our breaths and said nothing until we regained traction. When FluidCar expands to North America the days of having to scare yourself will be over!

About the author

Richard Patey

Skier & boarder by day, internet marketing warrior by night :) Did a ski season with Gav in Whistler back in the day and now live between Norwich UK & Jasna SK