Monthly Archives: January 2008

Fact or Fiction?

As well as I can recollect the story goes something like this: Some-time recently at Red Mountain, two local snowboarders loaded onto each side of the Motherlode chairlift, along with a stranger. The snowboarders proceeded to spark up a joint of Kootenay’s finest, passing it back and forth across the stranger sitting between them. Apparently the stranger declined to partake when offered, and eventually identified himself as an off-duty RCMP officer. The quick-thinking snowboarders responded by pushing (a presumably very surprised) Dudley-do-right off the chairlift, leaving him stranded, and continued on to the top, where they made their escape.

Although it seems rather far-fetched, I’ve been told roughly the same story on the chairlift on two occasions this week, so I’m wondering where such a rumor might have originated, or if there’s any connection to reality?


Filed under Eclectica, Red Mountain

Cliff dropping and Fence Jumping


Pete Golden taking the icicle cliff variation left of Roxanne.

Only 5cm of new snow overnight, but the sun was shining, with no wind, and I hooked up with a crew of happy rippers to ski and share many of my favorite steep lines and drops.

We’ve all seen the huge chain link fence that Teck-Cominco erected right above the intersection of Kirkup Ave and the Highway to Red, designed to prevent skiing on that particular slope. I’m co-operating with Teck Cominco to try to re-open the area to the public as part of my summer trails job, but I’m not a big fan of the fence, so I was amused to see our resident Scandinavian free-skiers building a jump over it a little while back. They’ve posted a video of the whole episode on Youtube.


Filed under Eclectica, Red Mountain

Orchard’s Cliffs Closure


Stewart Spooner – Dropping the cliffs circa 1999.

The Orchard’s Cliffs, located about two-thirds the way down the Powder Fields at Red Mountain, is one of my favorite areas on the mountain. With at least a dozen classic steep short lines and drops, and one of the few cliff areas with an open run-out (much of which I’ve maintained over the years) I ski it at least once per day and often more whenever I’m skiing on Granite. So although I’d heard rumors, I was surprised and dismayed to find the whole area marked off (I skied it regardless of course) as closed today. Apparently (a short message on the white-board at the base of Motherlode was the only actual notification) the cliffs are going to be made over into a slope-style venue for a portion of the Red-Bull Cold Rush, and will presumably remain closed for the next 10 days until the event is completed. I’m unimpressed with the Coldrush, which just seems to be advertising masquerading as sport, but closing the Orchard’s Cliffs for 10 days, and likely rendering the area unskiable for a long period afterwards, is just another example of Red’s disregard for the regular skiing public. Enough of these half-baked promotional ideas, surly there are more fundamental  issues to address: funding proper maintenance so the lifts run reliably, investing in summer grooming, serving healthy tasty food at reasonable prices, and keeping the ski runs open and slope-style events in the terrain park- where they belong. Until then I’ll just bear witness to the madness, and enjoy the uncrowded slopes.


Filed under Red Mountain

Winter Carnival


It’s Winter Carnival time again in Rossland. Last night’s parade on Columbia Ave was notable for the public dissent at Red Resort’s expense. The golfing ladies (pictured above) were having fun ridiculing Red’s development priorities, while the Stupid Deep guys mocked the hyperbola of Red’s recent marketing slogan, with a reality check on the rarity of snorkel worthy days (not since January 2005?).  While these are clearly cheap shots at any easy target, such sentiments speak to a discontent that is approaching universal in the community.

I checked out the Bobsled race down Spokane St. this morning, where teams of four hurtled down an icy track on home-made sleds, at truly death-defying speeds, with only minimal (if any) control. With on-the-edge speed runs alternating with breath-taking carnage,  it was an incredible spectacle. It makes my skiing seem so sedate and controlled in comparison.

It’s dumping hard outside, my skis are freshly tuned, and if I can exercise some restraint at the wine tasting tonight, tomorrow should be a sweet powder day.

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Filed under Eclectica

Kootenay Pass Shenannigans


Kootenay Pass from the Camel’s Humps.

Just over an hour from Rossland, at an elevation of 1775 meters is the local ski-touring playground of Kootenay Pass. With such a variety of aspects and elevations, it’s always possible to find great skiing. Strong North-Westerly have scoured many slopes, but on another cold clear day yesterday we found dense consistent and easy skiing powder on the South-East slopes off Wolf Ridge and the steep North-East facing trees off the Camels Humps.


Monte on Wolf Ridge.

We met up with some ski buddies from the East Kootenays, who demonstrated the red-neck skier’s technique of candling dying trees. Not the most politically correct of practices (I guess that’s the point) but probably handy for an impromptu BBQ of the endangered Mountain Caribou you’ve run down to exhaustion and beat to death with your skis.


Tree Candle.

I was back at Red today, lapping my favorite lines on Granite in the sunshine. The snow is cold chalky and consistent, with great coverage, yet inexplicably there’s almost nobody skiing. The regular retirees are presumably enjoying the groomers on Paradise, but Motherlode has been eerily empty.

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Filed under Backcountry, Red Mountain

OK Mountain


Michelle Laurie dropping into the top of the OK Main Chute

With strong northerly winds having scoured many of the usual quality lines in the Rossland Range, a cold (-14 degrees C), clear, windless  morning called for some alternative thinking. The East facing main chute of OK mountain (visible from the highway down to Patterson) often delivers poor quality snow due to it’s sunny exposure and low elevation, but with the recent long run of cold temperatures, it was in perfect condition today. We skied powder down through the top half of the chute, then traversed left when the alder got too thick, and found a clean line and fields of creamy snow down an open ridge down to the car waiting on the Cascade highway. Here’s some video of Cam on the lower fields.

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Filed under Backcountry

Randy’s Poles


My brother Cam has been ranting for years about the limited function of his ski pole’s, and we’ve imagined all sorts of additional features that could be incorporated. I guess we’re not the only ones, as Randy from Orange County was sporting these home modified poles at Wildhorse recently. That’s a compass and a temperature gauge (purchased at REI), and a very clean installation.

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Filed under Gear

Bluebird Powder


20cm of light fluff over night, with sunshine, and cold temperatures made for perfect conditions and some pretty stoked skiers (including yours truly) at Wildhorse today.


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Filed under Backcountry

Old Glory


Andrew Gross – Old Glory Summit.

Yesterday being the first clear calm day (above the valley cloud) in weeks seemed like a perfect time for skiing Old Glory. A check of the snow-pack on the Unnecessary Ridge headwall was confidence inspiring, so we continued to the summit in the lifting clouds.


East Face of Old Glory. Descent Route (Nose Route) in Green.

Andrew, Campbell and I skied a conservative line down the Nose feature on the East face, finding velvety compacted powder on the rolling terrain between the rime encrusted trees.


Andrew Gross – Old Glory.

The snow in the North-east chutes off Hanna Peak had a light wind crust at the top, but there were still steep fun turns and plush landings to be had, and the ski-out to the highway was smooth and soft all the way. Great to be skiing in the Rossland Range again.

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Filed under Backcountry

Wildhorse Air


I skied at Wildhorse cat-skiing today, with an enthusiastic group of young guys keen on launching everything in sight. We all had a fun day in soft and stable conditions.

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Filed under Backcountry