British Columbia has started strong this winter, and our home base of Whistler was no exception. Even Vancouver had a pile of snow, including the first dump of snow in the city for over a decade! But there’s always time for road trips.
Flooding in BC had cleaned out a lot of highway infrastructure so it was with some sense of relief that we navigated the only intact west-east highway (DriveBC for Highway 3 if you’re interested in road conditions) and made our way to Rossland, settling into the Red Shutter Inn and getting to know its resident Big Red Cat.
We started with a cold day cruising RED with one of the mountain hosts. The hosting service is free and an amazingly efficient way to download some mountain knowledge. We were lucky and hooked up with Mike, who clued us in on how to figure out the terrain. With three distinct peaks, lots of hidden nooks/crannies, and side-country hits, you’ll need all the beta you can get. If you’re not as fortunate or want to get a hint of what’s up, you can always download RED’s super cool 3d Trail map.
The next day we had 22 – 25cms new blower pow as an atmospheric river met an Arctic outflow partying over the southwest Kootenays! Everyone in town must have had a sick day as the chair lifts were sooooo packed, with some liftlines being almost five minutes long (sarcasm intended – we’re used to Whistler lines).
Fortunately, we met with our old friend Dipper, who left the Lower Mainland gong-show more than a decade ago and towed us around into all the goods.
It’s still hard to believe the size of RED’s terrain! There are 360-degree options off ridgelines with sniper entries every which way you look, dumping into exit cat tracks ringing all the peaks (Red, Granite, Grey). With this cold snow and lack of solar effect, every aspect skied well; all we had to was hang on and try to catch the local.
We then hit up Big Red Cats for three days of mechanized skiing (more on that in Part 2 as it’s so picture-heavy).
After the powmageddon of over 50 cms of cold smoke over the next three days of cat skiing, we headed to Nelson to ski Whitewater. An excellent place to hold up is the Best Western on Baker Street, which must have the most efficient snow removal staff around as the sidewalks were bare even as the snow kept falling and falling. Bonus is that Marzano is their in-house restaurant and has insanely good dinner and breakfast. Perfect for the tired powderhounds.
As with RED Resort, we’ve never skied Whitewater, so it was a treat to meet old friend Scott J and his now grown-up kids who would show us around. In keeping with our exceptional good fortune, we woke up to 12cms new which turned out to be a good deal more at WH20. It was busy enough that parking shunted us to the xc ski area. However, the snow delivered, and it was good times inbounds. Scott spent a lot of time pointing out the various slackcountry accessible hits available from the lifts – we’ll have to come back for those as there was more than enough snow to keep us busy in-resort.