For some strange reason, Panorama flies under the seasonal worker radar. It is not entirely clear why - with a huge vertical drop of 1,225 metres, fresh BC powder and a chilled out vibe, Panorama is a great place to work a season if you don’t want to chase the lights of Banff or Whistler.
Panorama is located in the Purcell Mountains, 300km from Calgary and a 3.5 hour drive. The closest town to Panorama is Invermere, which is 20km away and a 30 minute drive.
If arriving internationally, Calgary is the closest major international airport. However, Vancouver services more international destinations, so you are more likely to arrive into Vancouver.
From Calgary or Vancouver, you could take the Greyhound Bus to Invermere, from where there is a free shuttle run by the resort to get you to Panorama.
There are also private shuttles available from Calgary Airport from around $105 per person, a bit pricier than the bus, for obvious reasons.
Being still so forgotten, Panorama has a low-key vibe with very few shops and just a small amount of accommodation development for the growing number of holiday-makers at Panorama. However, the resort has a very young crowd, with plenty of seasonal workers and riders mixing at Panorama. Among your reasons to work a snow season, Panorama ticks a lot of boxes.
There is a fun scene at Panorama which, although not quite Whistler, means you rarely will have nothing to do after work or riding. On the other hand, the resort is pretty empty when you’re out riding which means more in the way of fresh tracks, even on your ride breaks.
The Panorama Hot Springs are awesome. After a hard day riding, or even working, a dip in the Hot Springs is a pretty excellent way to chill out with your workmates.
Invermere is much more of a proper town and has the shops and other services you might need throughout the season such as banks, post offices and repairs for your car.
The Terrain at Panorama
Almost the entire resort sits below the tree-line, so Panorama is clearly best for trees and long cruisers. There is 2,847 acres of terrain in total, making it one of the bigger BC resorts, of which the majority of terrain is intermediate or beginner.
At 1,225 metres, the vertical drop is one of the largest in Canada, ensuring lots of leg burners throughout the resort. Also, given how deserted it often feels up on the mountain, you can be finding untouched on-piste corduroy even late into the afternoon some days, which is great for when you get a ride break late in the day.
For beginners and intermediates, Panorama shines. There are enormously long cruisers to take you top to bottom and great wide-open runs to carve with not much traffic to worry about. The runs off the Champagne Express and through Founders Ridge are nice intermediate areas. Sun Bowl provides a few slackcountry intermediate opportunities as if you are testing your feet.
For advanced and expert riders, trees are the order of the day. The Extreme Dream is a nice gladed area with a number of steeper pitches.
There is also the Taynton Bowl which was formerly accessed only by heli-skiing but now has a lift to access the area. There is around 750 acres of skiable terrain here. The terrain is more open at the top, and then funnels down into some nice trees and gladed riding. Although it’s not big mountain such as you might find at the truly gnarly BC resorts, for most advanced seasonal workers, it will be pretty satisfying.
Advanced riders will also enjoy the many bumps runs that form as the season goes on.
If you are working day shifts, it’s always good to know there is night riding available to get you onto the hill even on days you work, even if it’s only cruising terrain. Night riding is open Friday and Saturday on the Mile1 chair, which takes in the green/blue runs of Showoff and Hoggsflat .
The park is the Rockstar park which has two lines - the Powder Trail Park and the Hoggs Flat Park.
As you might guess, Hoggs Flat is a little flatter, with small to medium features. The Powder Trail Park has some serious features in it, attracting some exceptional riders to practice and throw down at Panorama.
There is around 6.5 acres of terrain in the park in total which extends to one kilometre in length.
The season usually opens in mid-December and closes mid-April.
If there is a downside to Panorama, it is that the snow is not as consistent as at other BC mountains. Average snowfall is 5 metres / 196 inches, which is lower than at other BC mountains. One reason for this is the lower summit elevation of just 2375m / 7792 ft.
However, the weather is usually quite temperate, and doesn’t often get down to the staggeringly low temperatures that you might find at the higher BC resorts (-20c and below, for example).
Also, the resort is not very rocky meaning there is usually a decent base of snow on-piste, and the snow is generally well-retained as the resort mostly faces north.
Panorama is a fairly big operation and seems to be off the radar for many seasonal workers. As such, they are always in need of employees. You basically just need to be presentable and you have a pretty good shot at a job. There are around 110 year-round staff and approximately 350 seasonal winter staff each season.
Jobs are available at www.panoramaresort.com/career-opportunities. In particular, they are always looking for people to work in lift operations, food and beverage and in the ski and snowboard school.
There is a pretty good management at Panorama and the mountain has previously won a BC tourism award for being the best tourism employer in BC.
You will need to have on hand when you apply: your work visa; two pieces of photo identification; a criminal record check; a SIN number or proof of application (see Work a Snow Season in Canada for more information); a Canadian bank account for direct deposit; and your resume with referees.
See Jobs Available at Ski Resorts for a description of ski resort jobs.
Foreign applicants can work at Panorama, but you will need to organise your own visa and get this before you are able to be offered a job. See Work a Snow Season in Canada for further details.
You get a free season pass. Additionally, Panorama is part of a reciprocal discounted pass program with 20 other mountains which you can check out on days off. However, you will need a car to get to these as Panorama is pretty isolated.
There are also seasonal jobs available each winter in Invermere. The Columbia Valley Pioneer is a local paper that comes out each Friday. Hard copies are always available around town or you can look at the website at the classifieds for jobs.
The www.invermerevalleyecho.com is another local paper in the valley which comes out every Wednesday. They are linked with Local Work BC and often have jobs.
Kijiji is another place to look for jobs in Invermere.
The two staff lodging complexes are the Paradise and Monument buildings, located in the resort village. There is also a studio complex, Horsethief, which generally goes to couples. Paradise and Monument house up to 96 people.
The studio accommodation at Horsethief is self-contained and also has a hot tub and BBQ area which is really nice. It is right near the main gondola so you can easily walk to work. Internet is not included so you need to pay extra for this.
The Paradise and Monument buildings have a combination of units with single beds, and loft rooms which have double beds. Each unit or loft has its own kitchen and bathroom. The units are very large, much larger than you might normally expect in staff housing at a ski resort.
There are also common areas which include a fireplace to chill out next to, a locker and waxing room, and laundries. Internet is available which can be dodgy.
Staff housing tends to go to employees in their first season at Panorama. There are not enough spots in housing for all employees, and you can generally only do two seasons in staff housing.
For Monument and Paradise, rent is $16.50 per night for a single room and $15.75 per night for a shared room. Horsethief is $16.50 per night for each person (so you can’t split unfortunately). This is on the higher end for staff accommodation at ski resorts in BC, but the housing is pretty good compared to other ski resort staff housing.
HR runs a bus every so often into Invermere. In Invermere, there is a Sobey’s and AG foods to pick up your groceries. Stack up when you go in! You never know when you will have to miss the next run into town.
The advantage of living in Panorama village is being able to roll out of bed and walk into work. The advantage of Invermere is being where more action is, as well as having all the better shops and amenities close by. Also, there are many less rules to abide by if you have your own place in Invermere as opposed to being in staff housing.
The Columbia Valley Pioneer is a local paper that comes out each Friday. Hard copies are always available around town or have a look at the classifieds section online.
The Invermere Valley Echo is another local paper in the valley which comes out every Wednesday which may have rental listings.
In Invermere, people often post ads for roommates or houses for rent on noticeboards. In particular, outside the supermarkets is a good place to look. In Panorama, a good place to look is outside the General Store.
The Panorama Employee Facebook page also sometimes has people looking for roommates. The Snow Season Central Forum is another place to look.
Panorama has a nice vibe for après-ski if on the smaller side. It’s very much not in the league of Whistler or Banff, but the decent number of seasonal staff and tourists means there is usually always something going on.
Staff housing, as well, with around 100 employees living together, can be a raucous time.
The Jackpine Pub is a favourite for seasonal workers to hang out and get a drink after work or riding. Other places to check out include T-bar and Grill and the Thunderbird pizza for when you need to stock up on energy after a hard day.
If you have access to a car, or friends with a car, you can head out in Invermere which has more going on. Bud’s bar and lounge and the Station Inn pub are two places you will certainly end up at over the course of the season.