Monthly Archives: February 2011

Long Skis, Deep Snow.

For a couple of seasons in the early 90s in Rossland my brother Cam and I carried a Hi8 video camera around, and recorded lots of skiing and associated footage. We were a crew of reckless young Aussie ski bums, sharing a household of 12, charging around on 210cm GS skis, and touring on Secura-fix binding adapters. So many stories and good times. I’d had the tapes stored away, and only recently had them converted to digital, so that I could come up with a short film for last night’s Rossland Backcountry Film Festival. Unfortunately technical issues at the screening resulted in the middle section being cut out, so I’ve now posted it in it’s entirety, for your viewing pleasure.


Filed under Backcountry, Eclectica, Red Mountain

Qua Yurt

Climbing Mt Seaman.

I’m just back from four days ski-touring out of the Qua Yurt in the Nelson Range, showing around a small group of keen skiers from Vermont and Seattle. It snowed on and off for the duration, making for some great skiing, though the arctic chill and strong winds on my last day made for challenging conditions at higher elevations. It’s always a pleasure too witness the stoke of those experiencing the wonder of our local backcountry for the first time.


Dave – getting what he came for.

My solo tracks off Wildhorse Peak.


Filed under Backcountry

Winter Sunshine

Yesterday was one of those perfect winter days, brilliant blue skies, scarcely a breath of wind, and velvety powder snow on all aspects. I got to share some exceptionally good skiing with friends.


Wandering in the Sun.




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Touring Around

Colin – Kootenay Pass.
Fresh snow and cold temps have made for great backcountry conditions, including some of my deepest turns of the year. Here’s a few pics from the past couple of days, though I’ve been doing a lot more skiing than taking photos.

End of the day at Kootenay Pass.

Jordy – Field of Dreams.

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Snow Reports

Ed – First tracks on First Slide, two days running.

I think only the most naive would expect snow reports to be completely free of spin. Conventional wisdom is that people decide whether or not to ski based on the numbers that are publicized, so there’s a big incentive for resorts to be a little careless with the truth. Red Mountain is no exception. We’ve had a little new snow overnight these past three days, by my best estimation 3cm, 10cm, and 5cm (making for great shallow powder skiing these past two days), but the snow report has advertised 5cm, 6cm, and 10cm. The long term pattern is of exaggerating snowfall, both daily and in the cumulative total. Not an earth shattering issue, but one that contributes to the prevailing sense amongst skiers that Red Mountain is disrespectful and/or incompetent in this regard. I just want accurate information so that I can make informed decisions about my day. Most people I talk to assume that the information (snowfall data) is provided by those who are trained and experienced, and record the data every morning (ski patrol), to those responsible for publicizing it (marketing department). Unfortunately this is not the case, with the marketing department relying on their own personnel and systems, which clearly don’t work so well. A casual disregard for accuracy is also expressed in claims to Red’s average annual snowfall, currently claimed to be 750cm (295 inches). According to the data from the past 6 years that Red makes available on their website (also based on their own spurious recording) the average is 513cm (201.81 inches), and the best year (2007/8) was 649cm . The reality is that Red gets consistent, moderate amount’s of snow (with occasional snowy exceptions), but that many other places get significantly more. Regardless, what makes this a great place to ski is the extent and variety of challenging ski terrain, the consistency, coverage and skiablity of the snow we do get, and the relatively low volume of skier traffic. I suggest telling it and selling it as it is.


Filed under Eclectica, Red Mountain

Lightweight Ski Touring Gloves

MEC Navigator Glove
I carry both warmer and a lightweight gloves when ski-touring, but 90% of the time I’ll be wearing the lighter ones, and these are my current favorites. Sure leather gloves provide delicate sensitivity, and reliable grip, but when they get wet (and gloves always get wet) they stay wet, and if you’re using and abusing them, they wear out fast. So I stick with fast drying synthetics, and have until recently found that cheap construction and gardening gloves do as well as any. This year I splurged on the Navigator model gloves from MEC. The palms are made of notoriously durable and waterproof Hypalon fabric, with Schoeller softshell backs, and a light fleece lining. Hard to go wrong for $29 (now on special for $21). A couple of weeks back they got completely soaked in a minor snowmobiling incident (it was raining and there was a small creek involved), but I continued wearing them for several hours of skinning up through a blizzard, and by the time I reached the top and was ready to ski, both my hands and gloves were dry. I expect they’ll be too warm for the sunniest spring conditions (though otherwise cover a remarkable range), and would be even better if they fit like ArcTeryx’s latest and greatest, but so far they’re everything that I need.

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Local Lines

Cam – East Ridge of Roberts.
The snow may not be quite as deep in our local mountains as it is further afield, but it’s fun to lay down tracks that you look back on from one’s front door.

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Addicted to Powder

Ed – Glad to be done with the switchbacks.
I’ve been skiing so much good quality powder of late, that my motivation for lapping tracked out in-bounds terrain is lacking. I just want more powder. Despite promising predictions, there was no new snow overnight, so we went walking at Kootenay Pass. The parking lot seemed frightfully busy, but once moving the only people we saw were a couple of friends from Rossland, who then joined us for the rest of the day.

Kel – Enjoying a new line.
No complaints about skiing three long, steep, fully featured lines, in stable, light and creamy, boot-deep powder snow.

Creek Crossing.

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Ripple Mountain.

Heading up into the Clouds
Our plan was to ski off the summit of Ripple Mountain (2334m), the highest peak in the vicinity of Kootenay Pass. Despite persistent cloud at peak level and a strong north-westerly wind we kept faith through multiple climbs and descents on the approach, hoping for a sunny break, but to no avail.

Jeff – approaching our high point.
We ended up cresting the north shoulder (2230m) of Ripple, still a ways from the summit, but as close as I’ve made it. Skiing in the alpine was pretty funky on aspects exposed to the wind, but got much better down in the trees.

Despite beta that it was pretty horrendous, we decided to continue skiing down the drainage north to the highway.

The descent wasn’t actually that bad. We dropped a few fun pillow lines, linked together some open glades, and negotiating the steep convoluted gully and increasingly tight trees was fun and challenging.

I guess we can’t go that way!
However, the solid hour of groveling (at the end of a long day) out of the steep canyon of Stagleap Creek, through impossibly tight trees and faceted snow, and back up onto the highway, is not something I’ll repeat anytime soon.

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That’s me, out in front at Wildhorse – Photo by Trevor.

I’m just back from four days at Wildhorse cat-skiing, and hanging out in the funky little town of Ymir. Effortless powder skiing as per usual, with even a crisp sunlit day between the endless snows. After a bit of a dry spell, we had 12cm of new snow this morning at Red, and while it took me a run to re-adjust to feeling the base underneath, I soon found my groove.

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Filed under Red Mountain, Wildhorse