Winter 2016


With my season of work on the trails is winding up and snow accumulating on the peaks, skiing and the winter ahead is increasingly on my mind.

It’s been quiet summer at Red Mountain Resort. Construction activity on the partially built Josie hotel was conspicuously dormant through the entire 2016 summer construction season, though periodic press releases assure us that everything is proceeding to plan.  In marked contrast to the impressive amount achieved the previous summer, there seemed only a minimal amount of clean-up of and improvements to the ski runs, and only a token amount of belated brushing of the ski terrain. The only significant  investments seem to have been unavoidable repairs and upgrades to the aging lift infrastructure, and rumors rife in the community speculate that Red’s major investors have turned off the money supply. Despite their challenges, Red have spun their precarious financial situation into the basis for a brazenly hypocritical but remarkably successful crowd funding campaign, “Fight the Man, Own the Mountain”. Offering such a transparently poor deal that I have trouble conceiving why anyone could think otherwise, it’s nevertheless generated an incredible amount of free publicity and over $4.6 million in reservations at last count. In a time where Trump could be President, I guess anything is possible.

After abandoning my own plans to develop a commercial backcountry skiing lodge as un-viable, but still highly motivated to somehow provide accessible and affordable backcountry lodging, I’ve been mulling over what to do next. Now, along with a couple of co-conspirators, I’m in the process of setting up a new non-profit society to plan, fund-raise, construct and operate basic backcountry skiing huts in the region. We’ll be releasing details soon.

I just read that the long dispute over the status of the Glacier Park Lodge has been resolved, and that Canada Parks will now be demolishing the building and redeveloping the site. It was a creepy dive of a motel, but I do have fond memories from back before Roger’s Pass became the busy ski-touring Mecca that it is. My dirt-bag ski-bum friends and I would have the Pass to ourselves, pestering the highway maintenance staff for forecasts, bivying in the heated bathrooms of the Visitor’s Centre, drinking beers with soldiers at the artillery base, poaching the hot-tub at the hotel, and with the highway closed for blasting – trenching the deepest of powder lines through the trees.

It’s snowing wet flakes outside my window right now, with a 40cm base building on top of Granite it won’t be long before we’re sliding on snow.


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Spring Powder

Storming all day, with boot deep powder over a variety of old snow surfaces, and not another track in sight. Skied a few of the classic KP lines and then returned to green grass and flowers in the valley, and beer-o’clock at the brewery in warm Spring sunshine.


Filed under Backcountry

Bluebird in the Norns

Sunshine and easy skiing powder made for a beautiful day of sled accessed touring in the Norns. In the shadow of recent instabilities we kept our objectives moderate, but the turns couldn’t have been any sweeter.

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Storms keep rolling in from the Pacific, in what is proving to be one of the wettest winters on record. As is common in March, conditions fluctuate widely, varying by elevation, aspect and the hour.  I’ve been obsessing over the forecasts, calculating how to be  in the right place at the right time, enjoying boot deep powder, carving groomers in the sunshine, and everything in between. With heavy rain pelting on the roof and depleting the snow banks my yard, chillaxing (a term currently favored by my nephews) with coffee is the call for this morning.

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Filed under Backcountry, Red Mountain

Ymir Lodge

Sometimes you get exceptionally lucky. Our group of 16 flew into Ymir Lodge after over a meter of new snow in the previous week, and 25cm the night before. Then the sun came out, temperatures held, and we shredded incredible powder lines for 7 days. The Rossland Range was visible in the distance, yet we were in another world, living the dream of ski-touring every day, eating and drinking like royalty, and enjoying the company of a great bunch of friends. Ymir Lodge isn’t quite as fancy as some of the much more expensive hut options, but it’s comfortable and spacious with everything you need, and the amount and quality of accessible terrain is hard to beat. I’m told there’s availability through March.


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Filed under Backcountry, Wildhorse

Lost Creek

It’s been over a week since we’ve had any fresh snow , so finding some preserved powder on Northern aspects was a bonus at Kootenay Pass yesterday. Travelling was fast and easy, so we covered lots of ground, linked up a few descents, and got to ski a new (for us) line into Lost Creek.  The Southern aspect back to the highway was a painless mix of crust and skiable schmoo, and we finished the day with beers courtesy of the generous couple who provided our hitched ride back to the Pass.

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It seems like it’s been socked in and snowing most of the time lately. My regular Thursday ski touring buddy and I have achieved almost nothing this year, because every Thursday has been a powder day on the ski hill (with another one forecast for tomorrow). Not that I’m complaining. I’m totally satisfied lapping my favorite lines at Red in powder, but it’s not been conducive to blogging. Yesterday the sun finally came out, and it was a beautiful change.


Filed under Backcountry