Tourism Pemberton

20 October 2020

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How Pemberton Became a Ski Town Without a Ski Area

Every day feels like a ski movie in this DIY community

This story originally appeared in the November 2019 (48.2) issue of POWDER.

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Pemberton, British Columbia, doesn’t look like much of a ski destination. In fact, on a blustery March day, it doesn’t look like much of anything. Mount Currie, whose heavily serrated north face lords over the valley, has its head in the clouds. The enormous talus cones spilling from its 7,550-vertical- foot system of dendritic chutes streaked by avy debris is the only sign of alpine action. There’s no hint of ski heritage, no cars with ski racks, no ski shop, no quaint Swiss cabins.


A 30-minute asphalt roller-coaster ride north of Whistler, Pemberton has the look and feel of a small, industrial outpost. Like many mountain towns, the bricolage village is the tiny heart of a disseminate body, its main arteries flowing 15 miles in two directions before climbing vertiginous passes. Driving either—north through the area known as Pemberton Meadows, or east on Highway 99—reveals more of the town’s real character: vast potato fields, farms tucked behind cottonwood palisades, spindle-legged foals cavorting in pastures.


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