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magazine heralds Mount Currie as one of world's best ski descents



Tired of weekend liftlines on Whistler and Blackcomb?

Well, pack up your skis, your climbing harness and your ice axe and head north to Pemberton.

The small village is on its way to becoming one of the world's top ski mountaineering destinations thanks to an article in a major U.S. magazine.

The article, which appeared in the October issue of Powder magazine, focuses on skiing the 2,500-metre Mount Currie from peak to valley.

"There are few mountains in the world that offer the descent potential of Mount Currie," writes Mitchell Scott, the article's author.

The California-based Powder magazine, which is celebrating its 30 th anniversary this year, has a North American circulation of 250,000.

"Any exposure in a major magazine is great," said Pemberton Mayor Elinor Warner.

The village recently received funding from the B.C. government through its gateway community program to boost the area's burgeoning tourism industry.

"Mount Currie is part of our backcountry," said Warner.

A descent down one of the mountain's three main drainages offers more than 2,300 vertical metres of hairball skiing on 45- to 50-degree slopes.

"Currie hosts some of the longest and steepest ski descents in the world," writes Scott.

Whistler or Blackcomb mountains, by comparison, each offer 1,500 vertical-metre peak to valley descents, while Blackcomb's popular Couloir Extreme run is approximately 300 vertical metres on a 48-degree slope.

According to the article, the most efficient way to reach the top of Mount Currie is via a 10-minute helicopter flight, which costs "not much more than a Whistler-Blackcomb lift ticket."

Local helicopter operations have noticed an increased demand for their services over the past couple of years.

According to Suzanne Astells of Pemberton Helicopters, the heli-drop business is getting busier each year.

"There are an average of 20 to 30 (helicopter) drops each year," she said.

But Astells said there were only eight to 10 drops last year due to poor snow conditions and high avalanche danger.

"Obviously, (Mount) Currie is not for the faint-of-heart or inexperienced," Scott writes. "Beware of avalanche conditions, be prepared to rappel and carry an ice axe and crampons in case you have to downclimb."

Astells agreed with Scott's assessment.

"It is increasing in popularity," she said. "But it's not for the average tourist."

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