Land Without Limits

Exploring Winter Flavours: A Gourmet Ski Adventure in Wells

Wells International Gourmet Ski Festival | Thyana Polessa

Picture yourself sliding down pristine, snow-covered slopes, the crisp mountain air filling your lungs as you cut through picturesque cross-country ski trails and gorgeous scenery never seen before. An exciting winter day unfolds in front of your eyes, and to take your outdoor adventure to the next level, you run into a food stand in the middle of a snowy forest serving warm treats from across the globe. Welcome to The Wells International Gourmet Ski Festival! You have arrived!

This non-competitive event has become a staple in Wells’ winter calendar, bringing together locals and visitors alike. Hosted by volunteers and members of the Wells and Area Trails Society, The Wells Gourmet Ski Festival is also a fundraiser that supports the maintenance of the ski trails in the area, while helping to spread the word about the region’s recreational assets, fostering interest in their winter economy.

Snow, Food and Funny Costumes: Wells 16th International Gourmet Ski Festival

Skiers collect their registration package at The Frog on the Bog

Skiers collect their registration package at The Frog on the Bog | Flavia Marcondes

The Wells 16th International Gourmet Ski Festival took place on February 17, 2024, drawing people from across the province and beyond, including Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton. The day started at The Frog on The Bog, a quaint little gift shop where attendees go to pick up their maps, meet other participants, and get ready for adventure.

“The total circuit has over 30 km of trails within the network, yet the event is confined to the front section. Novice skiers or families with kids can visit every station and return home on a 4 km stretch that is almost flat, encompassing breathtaking settings such as forests, meadows, and streams with mountain views,” explained Dave Jorgenson, president of The Wells and Area Trails Society.

Participants had the chance to go cross-country skiing around the Wells meadow and the hills of the Cornish Mountain trail network while enjoying incredible international cuisine served at pit stops along the way. If that’s not enticing enough, they also got to dress up in the most ridiculous costumes for a chance to win prizes! To wrap up a day filled with fun and adventure, participants can also stay for the evening and join the popular International Mountain Film Festival.

“As a festival, the Gourmet Ski should not be confused with a race. If anything, it’s part of the slow food movement. Seeing the success of the event, other communities have attempted to grow it too but without the same result. I think it’s because of the unique elements of our community,” Dave insightfully shared.

Participants of the Wells International Gourmet Ski Festival posing with their funny costumes.

Participants of the Wells International Gourmet Ski Festival posing with their funny costumes | Thyanna Polessa

A Day Full of Delicacies: A Unique Gourmet Ski Experience

The happy skiers spent a full day skiing and visiting all the food stations along the way to try the delicious international food carefully selected by volunteer chefs. This year’s offerings included food from the Levant region of the Middle East, Dutch specialties from Holland, traditional dishes from Norway and Thailand, as well as a station featuring yummy Canadian desserts.

Elyssia Sasaki, executive director of Island Mountain Arts (IMA) and a volunteer with Wells Gourmet Ski for two years, was in charge of the exceptional Levant station, serving food from the Easter Mediterranean, along with the couple Amber and Patrick Courtin. “The best thing about the Gourmet Ski is that you can be outside, do something different, and meet new people,” shared Elyssia.

Elyssia Sasaki serving skiers at one of the food stations.

Elyssia Sasaki serving skiers at one of the food stations. | Thyana Polessa

Covered in layers to fight the cold but with warm smiles, Ekai Jorgeson and Emma Swabey served Norwegian waffles topped with homemade crème fraîche and berry compotes, along with Brunost. “Brunost means brown cheese; it’s a special cheese impossible to find anywhere except in Norway,” Ekai explained.

The Wells International Gourmet Ski Festival not only invites you to enjoy the incredible outdoors while indulging in global dishes and meeting interesting people but also encourages you to be conscious about the environment and the footprint we leave behind. All cutlery and plates are made from recycled materials, and the ski scrapers used by attendees are manufactured in Williams Lake by a home-based business striving to make a difference in the world by keeping plastic out of the waste stream.

2024 Wells International Mountain Film Festival

Introduced 14 years ago as a means to incentivize people to stay in Wells, get to know the 200-person community better, and participate in the charming life of the town like a local, the Wells International Mountain Film Festival is held in the beautiful Sunset Theatre, a spectacular 1930s performance venue dripping with history and personality.

The selected films are carefully curated to interest the specific audiences of Wells and the Gourmet Ski Festival, including narratives that discuss nature, sports, and other outdoor adventures. “I have a passion for homegrown adventure, so I love films that showcase elite athletes adventuring in their own backyards,” Dave explained. “In addition, I look for films that may be about somewhere else but reflect the ethos of the Cariboo in some way too.”

Some of 2024’s thrilling selections included “Is It Possible?” (Great Britain), detailing Vasu Sojitra’s emotional journey from his last epic adventure as a one-legged powder skier to becoming a big mountain skier who summited Denali, and “A Bear’s Necessities” (Hakai, Institute Canada), about the black bears housing crisis and the story of Helen Davis, a biologist who monitors the big-tree market and studies bear denning.

Join the Fun: How to Participate in Wells Gourmet Ski Festival

Being a volunteer-driven event, The Wells International Gourmet Ski Festival offers only 100 tickets each year – and they sell out fast! With its coveted experience, word spreads far and wide when registration opens: for the past few years, it has sold out in 24 to 48 hours.

Registration opens early in January every year. Mark your calendars and make sure to plan ahead to join an amazing day filled with snowy smiles and warm food from around the world!

Wells Gourmet Ski Tour

Flavia Marcondes