B.C.'s snowy Powder Highway resorts the stuff of ski holiday dreams
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Every winter the Kootenays call, its pull all the stronger farther north as the distances between hamlets get longer and the mountains get taller. Its the landscape ski trip dreams are made of.
The Powder Highway southeast of British Columbia boasts the worlds most concentrated collection of skiable experiences: eight ski resorts and dozens of heli- and cat-skiing operations and luxury backcountry lodges linked by 677 kilometres of pavement. The names of the epic mountains such as Whitewater RED Mountain Revelstoke Kicking Horse Fernie stoke road-trip plans in skiers minds.
For many stateside skiers, Whitewater Resort is the first attraction on the Powder Highway.
Describing Whitewater is difficult, as its more of a feeling for me that pulls me back there every year to ski and snowboard, says Spokane skier and snowboarder Damian-Eachan Dilley.
Dilleys frequent ski-trip companion Brandon Byquist agrees, referring to Whitewater as a true soul-skiing experience.
Collecting 40 feet of light, dry powder of every season and capped by Ymir Peak a name aptly reflecting the peaks fierce, primeval visage Whitewater offers steep, snowghost-framed terrain and expansive backcountry access. It also boasts one of the regions finest ski-hill sunsets.
The terrain at Whitewater feels raw, almost like inbounds backcountry in places because of the mountains unique topography and the resorts light touch on grooming, says Byquist. It makes for the best steep tree skiing I've seen, with perfectly spaced glades.
Adds Byquist, the mountain has great snow quality and tends to milk more snow out of each storm than most places in the region.
But despite its big-mountain bona fides, Whitewater welcomes guests of all ages and abilities, from toddlers to old-timers. Its a true community ski hill.
Incidentally, if youre trying to blend in as a local, Coal Oil Johnnys Pub is a good place to embrace the national cuisine of poutine. Whitewater has the best quality and most interesting food I've found at a ski area," says Byquist. Theres a reason why the resort collects its recipes in a popular cookbook.
All that Whitewater offers great tree skiing, unique glades, esthetic views of the Selkirks, excellent, affordable food it does with a humble, welcoming vibe that keeps me coming back to this skier and snowboarders playground," says Dilley,
It doesnt hurt that Whitewater Ski Resort is only a 20-minute drive from Nelson, the cultural capital of the Kootenays. Scrabbling up a steep hillside on the fjord-like shores of Kootenay Lake, Nelson possesses an open-air mysticism, a mix of hardcore mountain and hippie living thats represented in events from Renaissance fairs to rave-music festivals.
But its the skiing that matters most in this mountain town, and, acre-for-acre, nearby RED Mountain boasts perhaps the most expansive ski terrain in the region. Expert skiers will enjoy the steep rock chutes and a dizzying network of runs; everyone will enjoy the mid-mountain bar and grills. For those looking to blend in with the locals or at least catch a great meal and a reliable slate of live music Rafters Lounge is a good place to start.