Category Archives: Whitewater

Whitewater Opening

Whitewater opened for the season today, with 39cm of new snow from this past storm providing great coverage (even in the trees) and silky turns, all the regular inbounds terrain (not the new chair yet) open, and only a small crowd, making for a fun full day of lift serviced powder skiing.

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Cold and Crusty at Whitewater

Challenging Conditions
Yesterday, despite temps somewhere south of minus 20 degrees, not including wind-chill, we headed to Whitewater for a couple of laps. The snow in my yard is still light and fluffy, but at higher elevations the wind must have been howling, because we soon realized there were firm wind-crusts on all aspects. At about three quarters of the way up Ymir bowl on wind-loaded aspects, a 20-30cm wind-crust was cracking and settling, so we skied from there. Medium radius survival turns on a variable breakable crust were very challenging.

Warming Up
It was cold, but manageable with lots of gear on. The construction debris fire at the lodge was most welcome.

Good Early Season Coverage.
Though at that point I was pretty keen to head for all-you-can-eat fish & chips in Nelson, we did another lap on the Summit chair area, which because it had been skied so much recently, made for much better skiing (but still wind-crusted). What the wind has done is blown snow into the ditches, creeks, and holes, making for much improved (and more supportive) coverage. Things are looking good for Dec 4th opening.

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First Turns for 2010/11

Cam on Goat Slide, Ymir Bowl.
After weeks of obsessively monitoring the limited information available on snow conditions, it seemed time to take a chance and get amongst it at Whitewater. We did a couple of laps on Ignitor – Bonanza, and found nothing but easy powder skiing in 60-80cm of creamy supportive snow. Seeking a little more adventure, we then headed into Ymir Bowl, where there are plenty of places to avoid, but we had great skiing with a protective crust down 40-50cm on Goat Slide. Here’s a short vid of Cam on Ignitor.

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Leisure Suit Gear Review

Discussing our pre-race strategy.
According to Wikipedia, the Leisure suit achieved it’s short lived fashion zenith in the mid 70s, but as a connoisseur of kitsch I always keep one in my wardrobe for special occasions. While my brown Levis Pantela suit  has seen plenty of action at parties, with its’ durable stretch polyester open weave fabric and comfortable loose cut, I figured I needed to explore it’s potential as a competitive skiing outfit.
There wasn’t much fluff to be found, but under warm sunny skies it was a fun and social  Coldsmoke  Powderfest at Whitewater this past weekend. Lured by the possibilty of some impressive prizes and a bit of curiosity I signed up for the King of Coldsmoke competition, in which the results from the Randonee Rally, the Backcountry Booter, and the Banked Slalom are tallied to crown a champion. Coming into the competition I knew I wasn’t going to dominate in any one event, but I figured I was pretty versatile, so could be in with a chance.
The bag-pipes playing while in the start gate were a nice touch.
It was my first Randonee Race, and I enjoyed the format, providing for  a good variety of challenging ski-touring adjacent to Whitewater resort. My brother and I paced the long course at the upper end of of our regular ski-touring pace, and came in at 2hrs and 35mins, about 25 minutes off the (lycra clad) podium. If I was to race again I’d try to source some lighter gear and  practice to get a lot faster at the transitions. I thought I had my skis-on skin removal technique dialed, but it all fell apart under the pressure of competition. The Leisure suit proved well suited to Randonee racing, providing excellent ventilation, allowing unrestricted movement, and ensuring extra cheers (and motivation) from the small crowd.
Given-er on the Bootpack.
The Backyard Booter was a combination bootpacking/free-skiiing/slopestyle event held on the Powderkeg cliffs. It was great that the patrol had previously closed the venue, so we got to ski in a remnant section of untracked powder. Coming just after the Randonee Race the bootpacking sprint to the top was a lung buster, and I struggled to place 4th. Attempting to ski to the judging criteria I skied a fast and fluid line with a moderate drop through the main cliff band, but the judges (and the crowd) were obviously more stoked with the big hucking flippers. With a light fleece mid layer added for warmth, the Leisure suit performed flawlessly.
On the Sunday morning I completed the Poker ski-tour at a relatively relaxed pace. I got nothing in my poker hand, but I skied the event alongside Jeff and Dustin who both won Scarpa ski boots and ArcTeryx backpacks for their three aces.
The final event was the banked slalom, held on a firm (for a powder junkie like me) fast and fun course. I was stoked to complete two clean runs, and placed in the middle of the field. I was most impresssed that Whitewater outside operations manager Kirk Jensen was able to lead by example, cleaning up for the second year running. In slightly colder conditions and for less active use, the leisure suit was a bit chilly.
In my leisure suit I was prepared for all situations.
Due to a misplaced results sheet the final placings weren’t able to be calculated at the end of the weekend (apparently we’ll be notified by e-mail), but the reigning champ, Scott  Jeffery of Nelson, was a clear standout, placing a very impressive third in each of the events. It turns out that my strongest event (with my long reach) was the swag catching on the deck, and I scored a sweet carbon probe, some nice ski socks, and a hat.
I was pleased with all my results, pretty much performing as well as I was able, and I’ll likely be back next year, with revised tactics, and the maybe even the Leisure suit.


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Everybody loves Whitewater.

I’m all for making the most of what you’ve got, but it’s difficult to understand why Whitewater skiers express such fervent devotion to their little mountain. I woke yesterday to report of 12cm at Red, and an invitation I couldn’t refuse to ski 35cm at Whitewater. Sure there were some deep turns to be had, it snowed hard through most of the day, of course the food and beer were tasty, and being around stoked people is a buzz in itself. But for me there’s just no getting around that I’m skiing a tiny little hill (1300′ ), with very limited and mostly intermediate terrain (much of which you have to traverse to, and a significant part which isn’t even opened on a busy powder day), with a shitload of people and a couple of antiquated double chairs.  I could only manage 4 runs by noon, and the mountain was tracked out almost immediately – although still lots of fun in the cut up stuff. I’m sure back in the day, before snowboards and fat skis, when dropping Backsides was a secret, before it became cool, that people were skiing lots of lift serviced powder at Whitewater, but that’s far from reality in 2009. 

Back at Red today, charging long steep untracked lines till my legs gave in, I was glad to be home.


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Opening Day #2 at Whitewater


With a promising forecast, we made plans the night before, hoping there’d be enough new snow to completely obscure the December 4th crust. After our first run down Blast in knee-deep snow (22cm from the storm), we knew we’d made the right decision, and our crew of snow starved Rosslanders enjoyed a great day of real powder skiing at Whitewater. Red Mountain received 10cm, and with more forecast for tonight, the lifts could start turning tomorrow.

I tried out the Stockli Stormrider DP Pro Model skis that ROAM was demoing, and found them smooth damp and easy turning, though the Fritschi Freeride Plus binding are definitely not up to the task of hard lift serviced skiing.  I’m still a little sore from crashing after pre-releasing.

The Christmas lights through the Beaver valley are ridiculous, making for a surreal drive home.

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