Over the winter holidays, we took the kids to Mt. Baldy near Oliver, BC, and I was reminded of all the reasons I’d choose a small ski hill over a big one any day.

No, Mt. Baldy does not have the number of runs as Big White or Lake Louise or Whistler, but it makes up for it in a bunch of ways. 

Our kids learning to ski at Mt Baldy

Fancy is overrated when you’re learning

Our kids are only just learning to ski, and I’m getting back into winter sports after a really long break. We lived in Asia for six years and did not touch our snowboards that entire time. When we returned to Canada, our kids were babies and toddlers. Because skiing with preschoolers is a particular form of hell, we avoided it. But with bigger kids now (11, 9, 7), we’re ready to dust off our skis and snowboards and hit the hills.

When you’re learning, you really don’t need the fanciest chair lift or an enormous menu of runs. In fact, the fewer the better. Baldy’s two chairs gave us ample runs and plenty of powder to get started.

The price is right

For us folk who prefer not to be bound to one winter sport, and who love variety, the price point at a small hill is just right. Baldy is half the ticket price of Big White and almost 3x less than Whistler. A small ski hill with a smaller price was absolutely perfect for our family.

Less waiting, more skiing

Hands down, this is a mighty draw for small hills. At Baldy, we never waited longer than a couple of minutes to get on a chair lift, and that was during high season. Even buying lift tickets was low-key. You just don’t have the volume of people that you do at a bigger resort. I credit Baldy’s short lines and chill vibe with our kids going from zero to skiing blue squares in a matter of hours.

We never waited longer than a minute or two for the chair lift.

Endearing quirky culture

A place scores big points in my book when it has a quirky vibe. At Baldy, there was no pretense. It felt low-key, real, and authentic. The lift attendants were congenial and friendly and always offered to slow the lift down so we could all get on and off without incident. I needed this most of all as I struggled to nail the dismount on my snowboard. At least there weren’t that many people to see my struggle.

After two days at Mt Baldy, the kids were taking jumps through the trees.