Soft Turns Amid the Trees at Red Mountain

mike5
Mike Ramsey turns amid the trees at Red Mountain.

The SkiZer finished off a trip to Canada with a day at Red Mountain Resort.

It was a challenging day on a challenging mountain. A new storm had dumped a few inches of snow, and fog shrouded the top of Granite Peak. Coverage was a little thin on lower slopes and shortly after arrival, the new snow turned to freezing rain.

The SkiZer made do. Red Mountain is a big place — a rough mountain built on tree-skiing. Luckily, I had snow host Mike Ramsey to show me around.

Over the next few hours, Ramsey guided me around the Red, uncovering few excellent powder stashes in the trees. Even though the freezing rain was a challenge, the snow remained soft and creamy in most places.

Facing a seven-hour drive home, the SkiZer split at 1:30 p.m. It was a short day, not nearly enough time to digest everything Red had to offer. Next time.

Day 14: Red Mountain

  • Vertical for the day: 12,000
  • Vertical for the year: 222,000
cabin2
Several rustic private cabins sit amid the trees on Red Mountain’s vast terrain.
boarder2
A snowboarder glides on fresh snow on the north side of Granite Peak.

Eating Well, Skiing Well at Whitewater

base
The base area of Whitewater Ski Resort.

You have to love a small resort that seems to do everything well.

Whitewater Ski Resort near Nelson, British Columbia, has fantastic terrain, great snow, a very cool locals vibe and, believe it or not, excellent slopeside food.

The SkiZer started the day with a Morning Glory Breakfast Sandwich: Egg, chedder, tomato and pea shoots on whole wheat flatbread. Awesome!

Lunch was even better: A Chicken Bahn Mi Sandwich, served with Tuscan pasta salad. You have to love those carbs after shredding the challenging slopes of Whitewater.

Whitewater has so many things going for it. It makes the most of its three lifts by serving more than 2,300 acres within its boundaries. The elevation at the lodge is 5,400 feet, higher than many ski areas top elevations in the Cascades.

Then there’s the wonderful town of Nelson, which is filled with galleries, shops, restaurants and boutique hotels. It all works.

Day 13: Whitewater

  • Vertical for the day: 20,000
  • Vertical for the year: 210,000
climb
A backcountry skier heads into the 5-Mile area at the top of the Silver King chair.
foodtruck
Ed Wall checks out the menu at the food truck at the base of the Glory Ridge chair.
ed3
Ed Wall skis trees near the top of the Summit Lift at Whitewater.

How Kicking Horse Kicked My Ass — in a Good Way

emile2
Emile Lavoie skis a chute near the summit of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

Day 2 on the Powder Highway brought the SkiZer to Kicking Horse near Golden, B.C.

Impressions? It’s pretty amazing.

More than 4,000 feet of  vertical and some very scary steeps. Just the place for the 60-year-old SkiZer.

skizer-photo
The SkiZer devours fresh pow on the south side of T1 at Kicking Horse.

Emile Lavoie, marketing and events coordinator for the resort, showed the old man around. The mountain is filled with high ridges, bowls and some pretty radical chutes. A few inches had fallen overnight on top of a few inches the day before, and Kicking Horse was skiing very well.

Winds drifted snow into the many chutes, creating soft freshies on every run.

All I can say is that it’s impressive. I’m ready to saddle up and return any time.

Day 12: Kicking Horse

  • Vertical for the day: 28,000
  • Vertical for the year: 190,000
emilehikes
Hiking to T1 for fresh lines at Kicking Horse.
emile5
Emile Lavoie shreds on the back side of T1.

Epic Day at Revelstoke After a Foot New

RevelstokeBase.JPG
Powder hounds get ready for an big day at the base of Revelstoke.

A foot of new snow at Revelstoke is a great way to begin a tour of  the “Powder Highway.”

It was the first visit for the SkiZer at the famed resort. Not a bad start — great tree skiing and face shots all morning long as the storm kept dumping.

It was hard to pick out a favorite — every run was exceptional, thanks to “hero snow” as my ski companion Brent Strand termed it. My other ski buddy for the day, Chris Pawlitsky, sniffed out all the best lines, thanks to a lifelong career guiding in the Revelstoke area.

It was a great introduction to Revelstoke. The SkiZer looks forward to a return trip.

Day 11: Revelstoke

  • Vertical for the day: 16,000
  • Vertical for the year: 162,000
chrisbrent
Chris Pawlitsky (foreground) and Brent Strand find freshies in the trees at Revelstoke.
brent
Brent Strand shreds a powder pillow at Revelstoke.

Freshies, Bright Skies: It All Works Out at Sun Peaks

getsome
Early morning in Gil’s Zone at Sun Peaks.

The tour of the Okanagan ski areas is over after a couple of very good days at Sun Peaks.

The SkiZer had always wanted to try out the resort near Kamloops, and finally got the chance. With that, the SkiZer got in five days at four resorts — nice work if you can get it.

Sun Peaks is very proud of being “Canada’s 2nd Largest Resort” behind Whistler-Blackcomb. And yes, there’s certainly a lot to like.

Mt. Tod, the summit at Sun Peaks, offers many great glades and tree runs. The sidecountry hiking behind Mt. Tod in an area known as Gil’s Zone is even better, and with a few centimeters new overnight, there were many freshies to be found.

The frigid temperatures finally moderated too, and snow quality remained excellent. And if that wasn’t enough, some blue skies poked through the cloud cover giving the mountain a top-of-the-world feel.

Days 9 and 10: Sun Peaks Resort

  • Vertical for the day: 28,000
  • Vertical for the year: 146,000
kyleclouds
First tracks down the Crystal Chair.
patrol
A sign at the gate leading to Gil’s Zone.
skizerhike
The SkiZer hikes into Gil’s.
kylegils
Snowboarder Kyle Taylor rides the trees of Gil’s Zone.

 

‘Survival Skiing’ on a Cold Day at Silver Star

silverstarvillage2
The colorful village of Silver Star Mountain Resort.

The SkiZer met ski guide Bob Vedan inside the cozy Bugaboos Bakery Cafe in the Silver Star village.

“It’s going to be survival skiing today,” Vedan said. “You still want to go?”

Vedan, an affable, 70-year-old ski host for Silver Star, was referring to the Arctic temps gripping much of British Columbia. No problem, I said.

coldskizer
The SkiZer bundles up.

Give Vedan credit. He was back on the slopes after getting frostbite on his face from another day recently. We bundled up, headed outside and clicked in at this popular resort near Vernon, British Columbia.

We cruised a few runs on the front side before the below-zero Fahrenheit temperatures chased us indoors for a warm up. Highlights were found in the loose snow off the summit of the resort.

After an excellent body-thawing coffee break, we hit it again for several more before plunging temps chased us off the mountain.

Sure it was cold, but we survived and even had a lot of fun.

Day 8: Silver Star Mountain Resort

  • Vertical for the day: 16,000
  • Vertical for the year: 118,000
bob6
Bob Vedan hits a groomer on the Alpine Meadows Chair at Silver Star.
bob4
Bob Vedan turns in the soft snow on Whiskey Jack at Silver Star.
silverstarsunset
Loose snow off the summit of Silver Star.

Big White Shines Bright on a Clear Day

bw_boardersnowghosts
A snowboarder rides a soft groomer on the upper slopes at Big White.

You have to love a bluebird day, especially at Big White Ski Resort in British Columbia.

Often, the rolling terrain of this mountain is socked in, either with storms or fog. But on a cold, clear day, it’s positively gorgeous. Snowghosts dot the landscape of the upper slopes, giving it an otherworldly feeling.

The SkiZer continued his tour of the Okanagan with a stop at this resort near the booming city of Kelowna. Big White is one of the big dogs among ski areas in this region, and you have to love the great grooming and vibrant village scene.

For the SkiZer, some excellent turns were found amid the snowghosts, particularly in Powder Bowl. And for steeps, Big White has an excellent set of double-diamond drops in an area known as The Cliff. A bit scary at times, but in a good way.

Day 7: Big White Ski Resort

  • Vertical for the day: 26,000
  • Vertical for the year: 102,000
bw_tbar
The Alpine T-Bar serves the upper slopes of Big White Ski Resort.
bw_cliff2
The sun peaks through the trees on The Cliff at Big White.
snowghosts
Snowghosts dot the upper slopes of Big White.
bw_carlan
Carlan Silha turns on Whitefoot Trail near the summit of Big White.

Apex Delivers a Great Day of Steeps and Powder

cade
First run at the top of Apex Mount Resort in British Columbia.

It’s still early season, but Apex Mountain Resort in British Columbia is skiing very well.

The day started cold — it was minus 4 Fahrenheit when the SkiZer arrived at the lifts, but it was sunny at least. After a couple of excellent early runs, I quickly warmed up and forgot about the cold temps.

Apex is a skier’s mountain. It has excellent grooming and some very fast and fun advanced-intermediate runs. But it really stands out with its steep terrain.

Even though it was five days since the last snowfall, the cold temperatures and light crowds left plenty of fresh lines available off piste. Best day of the year, by far.

Day 6: Apex Mountain Resort

  • Vertical for the day: 30,000
  • Vertical for the year: 76,000
james1
James Shalman turns in broken snow on The Pit at Apex Mountain Resort.
nikki
Nikki Morris cranks a turn on the double-diamond Make My Day run.
freestyle
A Japanese freestyle skier practices on Apex Mountain Resort’s mogul course.

Blue Skies, Cold Snow: What’s Not to Like?

skis
The Nordic trails at Mt. Bachelor are primo with fresh snow.

The day started at zero degrees Fahrenheit on the Nordic trails at Mt. Bachelor.

Skate-skiing was cold and a little slow, but you have to love a sunny day in December. The SkiZer went after it with gusto and finished a loop called Woody’s Way in fairly short order.

selfie
SkiZer stops in for skate and classic skiing.

After a warm-up with excellent coffee at the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center lodge, he was back at it with a tour around Dutchman Flat and then another loop on Woody’s Way, this time on classic skis.

Mt. Bachelor has some of the best Nordic skiing in the Pacific Northwest, with a season that lasts from November to May. After back-to-back days on the downhill boards, it felt nice to exercise the Nordic muscles in a perfect setting.

Day 5: Mt. Bachelor Nordic

  • Distance skied: 18K
  • Distance for the year: 30K
nordic3
Skiers hit Woody’s Way on Mt. Bachelor.
skate1
A skate-skier on the groomed trails of Dutchman Flat at Mt. Bachelor.

A Perfect Storm on Mt. Bachelor

Powder karma continues for the SkiZer.

With temperatures in the low 20s and 10 inches of fluffy new snow, it just doesn’t get much better than day 4 of the SkiZer season at Mt. Bachelor.

Only two lifts were open as the resort ramps up operations for the new season. That was fine — us powderhounds made do. It’s all good when you can ski blower snow in early December.

selfie
SkiZer stops at the mid-mountain Pine Marten Lodge.

Highlights: An out-of-bounds traverse to the lower slopes of the Summit lift, still closed, which yielded some sweet turns; and an out-of-bounds tree run on the Northeast side of the mountain.

As the day went on, the clouds lifted and even a little sunshine poked through. All in all, a great day.

Day 4: Mt. Bachelor

  • Vertical for the day: 20,000
  • Vertical for the year: 46,000
pinemarten6
A skier shreds the fresh snow on the Pine Marten lift at Mt. Bachelor.
pinemarten5
The upper slopes of Mt. Bachelor are covered in deep powder after recent storms.
summit1
A skier turns in untracked snow near the Summit Lift or Mt. Bachelor.
pinemarten1
Clouds break up near the top of the Pine Marten lift at Mt. Bachelor.
base
Clearing weather reveals a view of two of the nearby Sisters peaks.