Another day lapping deep cold untracked powder lines with friends.
Minus 22 degrees at Kootenay Pass this morning, and didn’t seem to warm up much through the day. Made for the deepest and lightest snow conditions so far this season, but barely tolerable, even in the sun, and wearing everything I had.
Blue skies, fresh snow, and a surprisingly substantial base made for a great opening day at Red. The long first chair line-up and the frothing of marketing staff trying to generate hype were soon forgotten bouncing turns down fields of un-tracked powder, and by mid-morning we were skiing straight onto the chair. It’s low-tide on the lower mountain, with obstacles aplenty on poor line choices, but we were still finding fresh lines until we eventually gave our early season legs a break. The poutine and craft beer in Rafters were as tasty as ever.
The number of skiers parking at the Kootenay Pass summit have been exceeding the capacity of the parking area on busy weekends, potentially compromising the area needed for trucks to make their compulsory brake check before descending.
I spoke with an RCMP officer from Creston last weekend, who seemed pretty concerned about the situation, so I wasn’t entirely surprised to find this notice tucked under the windshield wipers of all the cars parked at the Pass yesterday. There was no identification of who is making the request, no suggestion of any penalties for ignoring it, and given that parking at the East side of Bridal lake is 500 meters away from the trail-heads we’re all accessing I don’t expect there’ll be much voluntary compliance.The much more sensible solution of clearing a parking area within the vast (mostly) unused flat area on the South side of the Pass would require MOT’s cooperation, which they seem institutionally incapable of, but I’m hoping that’s where we get to eventually.
After three weeks road tripping through the mountain biking trails of the US Southwest, I’m stoked to arrive home to skiable snow conditions. It’s still conspicuously green and snowless at lower elevations, but snow has been piling above 1700m, which is perfect for Kootenay Pass. Cars in the parking lot at the Pass were overflowing into the brake-check lane on both days this weekend, which had the RCMP from Creston concerned, but we didn’t have any issue getting fresh tracks on some of our favourite early season lines. The well consolidated snowpack is 140cm at 1800m, and is skiing well on more open lines.
Cliff Mass is calling for a normal winter.
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.
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.