NELSON, BC — It can be awfully hard to leave your home resort sometimes. Amidst everything pulling you towards your home mountain, you can often overlook all the other amazing locations to shred some white fluffy stuff.
As I drove down highway 23 towards Nelson (from Revelstoke), I realized that I was one such victim. It was time to branch out and ride Whitewater for the first time. Leaving for the weekend in the middle of the biggest winter storm of the season, I questioned whether or not I was crazy. Sure, I’d be white knuckling my car the whole way, and then there is the unwritten rule, “don’t look for powder when there’s powder at home”.
I shrugged this off and told myself that this is what snow seekers do!
As we drove south down highway 23, my friend Jean Marc and I spotted a wolf chewing on a dead buck at the side of the road. As the buck’s antlers bobbed up and down in the wolf’s jaws, we exchanged a knowing look. This was an omen for the weekend, surely, but we could not be sure which way it would turn. Were we the deer or the wolf?
As it turned out, we were be both.
Lining up for the Glory Ridge Chair. Hundreds of powder hounds hungry for freshies.
Photo courtesy of Jean-Marc Laflamme
The weekend in question ultimately had the largest dump of snow in living memory for many who call Whitewater Resort home. We awoke on Saturday to a reported 32 centimetres of fresh powder at WH20, and another 29 cms on Sunday. Like deer trapped in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle, we could only stare as we took the shuttle up to the mountain early Saturday morning. Cars were parked along the side of the road for kilometres leading to the base. More were already coming down, having decided that the lack of parking and long lines at the lifts weren’t worth having face shots of powder all day long.
Once off the bus, Whitewater’s true charm set in. With two double chairs and one triple, Whitewater recollects the authentic days of skiing; before multi-millionaires bought vacation properties where they could land their personal helicopters. Whitewater can proudly say it does not buy into any of that hype. The “village” is simply a day lodge with a delicious snack bar and plenty of smiling faces. It was easy to see that the staff really loved their jobs and understood the authenticity their resort held.
Jean Marc and I first took the Summit Chair up to access the Glory Ridge. Like wolves, we spent most of our time devouring the powder on that side of the mountain; amazing tree skiing awaits when you venture over there. Weaving between some incredible old trees, the canopy of some extending fifteen feet or more, yielded incredible turns. We managed to hook up with a couple locals who led us up a short boot pack and into some secret terrain that was hands down one of the best runs of my life. With powder at times as deep as my waist, a steep fall line and rolling features galore, this untouched location can be found if you have your explorer’s helmet on.
Welcome to Nelson. Home to Whitewater Resort and epic snow conditions.
Photo courtesy of John Devitt
Throughout the weekend the snow kept falling, making every run an “all-time”. The terrain was classic, with something for everyone. I had forgotten how much fun it could be to explore a new mountain using only a wolf-like ability to sniff out deep powder and wicked lines.
The après scene in Nelson was pretty awesome too (as advertised). Live music at the Royal and the Spirit Bar brought all the powder hounds together for good times.
We rode in silence as drove back into the north Kootenays leaving Nelson and Whitewater behind us. Over 60 centimetres of snow had fallen in the 48 hours we had been in the lower Kootenays. Our minds were floating in the wake of that storm and dreaming about the incredible conditions we had witnessed during one epic weekend at Whitewater Resort.
Check out this video to see what Whitewater looks like.
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