Gateway to Adventure
By Steve Fisher / Images By Joern Rohde
Nestled in the heart of the Coast Mountains, Pemberton is a small, unassuming town. Despite its sleepy ambiance, it is home to a vibrant community of outdoor enthusiasts. Whether it’s skiing steep chutes on the surrounding mountains, jumping off cliffs on snowmobiles or hiking from cabin to cabin through the backcountry, Pemberton’s residents make a lifestyle out of enjoying their natural playground. Upon entering Pemberton, you’ll quickly take note of the surroundings. Endless expanses of snow-capped mountains surround the community, and the magnificent Mount Currie looms over the south side of the town — its rocky face standing 2,591 metres (8,500 feet) above sea level (and yes, people ski down it!). Even though Pemberton’s winters are relatively mild in temperature, big snowfalls are certainly not rare in the village.
Backcountry skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers flock to Pemberton to take advantage of several excellent backcountry areas. To the west is the massive Pemberton Ice Cap, with access from several points south of town; and to the north and northeast, the Hurley and Duffey Lake roads offer access to world-renowned backcountry terrain. For the ultimate one-day backcountry experience, heli-skiing and snowmobile tours are available.
Many local attractions, such as Nairn Falls Provincial Park, are accessible in the winter. Following the Sea to Sky Trail, visitors can access Nairn Falls directly from One Mile Lake on a wide, crushed gravel path that’s popular for winter hiking and snowshoeing. For cross-country skiers, trails are track-set around the Nairn Falls campground each winter. All-season anglers can drop a line in Mosquito Lake, Blackwater Lake and Gates Lake, which all offer great ice fishing for rainbow trout, bull trout and Dolly Varden.
Pemberton kicks in the new year with its Winterfest celebration every Dec. 31. This free, family-friendly event offers a variety of fun activities and events at the Pemberton & District Community Centre, including a Kids Zone, outdoor activities, pickup street hockey, a family dance party, fireworks, and much more. For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit pembertonwinterfest.com.
For those who wish to escape the cold of winter, soaking in one of the area’s natural hot springs is a sublime experience. Visiting the Skookumchuk/T’sek or Sloquet hot springs is a popular day trip from Pemberton, each offering a unique setting and character.
After a day of adventure, why not settle in for a warm, hearty meal at one of Pemberton’s restaurants? The Pony, The Station, Mile One Eating House and the recently opened Town Square all offer a wide variety of entrées and often feature local produce and meats. Each restaurant serves its signature dishes, ranging from gourmet pizzas and burgers to hearty pasta and wild game entrées.
While only a 30-minute drive north from Whistler, Pemberton seems far removed from the hustle and bustle of Whistler Village. Its quaint, old-western downtown harkens back to simpler times, yet all the thrills and adventure you can imagine are at a mere arm’s length away.
For more information on Pemberton, visit tourismpembertonbc.com.