2 - 3
FATMAP difficulty grade
There aren't many ski resorts in Canada which have access to backcountry terrain as good as this, and even fewer which allow you to reach that terrain using the lift network! Apex Mountain Resort sells a one way ticket on the Quickdraw chairlift which takes you to the top of the resort, and from there you can then duck under the ropes and get into the fabulous tree-filled bowls which descend from Apex Mountain proper.
The ticket costs $21 and when you buy it you have to sign a waiver, provide details of where you're heading, and promise that you'll be back by 3.30 to report back in.
Make sure you make it back in time or a search party will be dispatched! To access Apex Mountain itself, take the Quickdraw chairlift, ski briefly down Grandmother's Trail groomer and then head under the resort boundary rope, drop down to a broad col and then put skins on and head south, staying well left of the prominent ridge crest, to reach the top.
The view from the top is absolutely epic and so - in all but the mildest of spring weather - is the cold! The summit is exposed to weather from all directions and is a savagely cold spot in mid-winter, but you might just get lucky and be there on a day when you can enjoy the view for a while. When it's time to ski, retrace your steps back down the summit slopes and head down to the huge bowl immediately north of the peak.
The bowl is lightly tree-d at the top but the trees get thicker the further down you get.
The bowl can be skied just about anywhere and gradually mellows the further skier's left you go.
The line we've drawn is the steepest and best line in the area but pick your poison! There are cornices and potentially loaded slopes to be considered, but much of the bowl is not super steep and can be safely negotiated in most conditions.
Ski down as far as you like and then climb easily back onto a ridge overlooking the "Wild side" runs of Apex Mountain Resort.
It is actually possible to ski down into the valley below the bowl and then ski/pole/skate back into the resort, but it's a laborious trip - skinning out is easier, and provides the option to do another lap.
Drop back into the resort and head to the Gunbarrel Saloon for some refreshment!