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Powder Day: Powder Highway

Powder Day: Powder Highway

We find ourselves slashing fast arcs through sun-splashed powder in a ghost forest of charred spruces. That's how we start our Powder Highway mission.
By Joe Cutts
posted: 01/13/2014

On our first day, British Columbia delivers exactly what we came for. We find ourselves slashing fast arcs through sun-splashed powder in a ghost forest of charred spruces. It’s a typical day at Rossland’s Big Red Cats—fun people, gorgeous Monashee Mountain views, a few inches of overnight freshness atop a deep snowpack. And it’s an auspicious start to our Powder Highway mission.

With eight resorts and 25 heli and cat outfits, the Highway, a 680-mile circuit tracing a roughly rectangular shape through the interior ranges of southeastern B.C., is sometimes more highway than powder. Unless you have a winter to burn, it needs to be attacked in sections. Many start in Calgary, plunging westward through Banff to Kicking Horse and Revelstoke on the north side of the box. Others fly to Cranbrook and work the east side: Fernie, Kimberley, Panorama. On this trip, we rally in Spokane—four mature, good-looking guys—and head for the west side. Judging by reported snowfall totals, we’ll hit the Highway’s snowiest sections. At the same time, we’ll connect three of B.C.’s coolest ski towns:

Rossland » There’s industrial smelting in nearby Trail, but Rossland, two hours’ drive from Spokane, is a cute and quiet mountain town with magnificent skiing. Red Mountain is one of Canada’s most historic resorts (home of Nancy Greene, host of early World Cups), and its Granite Mountain terrain challenges the most demanding experts. Stuff that would be roped off at other mountains just makes the local kids tough. Liftlines do not exist. From the summit ridge, countless crazy-steep lines descend through cliffy forests. Efficient traverses lead quickly back to the lift. We hit Rossland’s famous Flying Steamshovel for beers that night, but we’re too tired to get anything going. 

Nelson » Do the people living in this beautiful mountain-lake town pinch themselves daily? Mining and lumber barons built the fine historic buildings, but today it’s artsy, outdoorsy people who shape Nelson’s sensibilities. (Still, the girl skinny-dipping in broad daylight at the waterfront surprises us.) Whitewater, 25 minutes away, is the biggest little locals’ hill you ever saw, especially since the Glory Ridge expansion. The snow is so deep they have to dig out the lift towers.

Revelstoke » Logging, hydro, and tourism coexist peacefully in this mountain-rimmed Columbia River crossroads. In the morning, vanfuls of CMH and Selkirk Tangiers clients drive to helicopter landing zones. Guests at Revelstoke Mountain Resort emerge from sleek slopeside lodgings to tackle the continent’s highest lift-served vertical. At night, everyone mingles loudly in the streets, bars, and bowling alleys of downtown Revy.

A laid-back vibe permeates all three towns. The other common denominator: reliably deep snow. During the seven-hour drive back to Spokane, there’s plenty of time to reflect. And to plan next year’s attack. Fernie, perhaps?

reviews of Powder Day: Powder Highway Write a comment
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680 is actually 1133K. Did any of you four feel any freedom type sensation doing you thing? Is the Big Red Cats the best deal going? Are the ski resort towns along the Powder Highway the sizes of a tourist city, such as Whistler? Park City? Steamboat Springs? Incline Village? The article sort of left me hanging!
To: Can Snow Plow. In all the Powder Highway towns you are safe crossing the street without looking. Small, friendly and best of all, they aren't resorts ala Park City or Whistler. Mega mellow vibe is attributed to BC bud and the fact you are in Canada. Nelson may be the funnest/coolest town in North America. Big Red Cats is OK. Kieren and Paula, the owners, work real hard to continually improve it. Try it, you will like it ( and go back year after year!). And yes, you will feel free when you are rolling down the Powder Highway to your next "resort" for more days of no crowds and face shots. I expected a better article too!
Dream trip! Revelstoke Mountain Resort boasts North America's GREATEST vertical at 1,713 metres (5,620 ft) not highest.
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If you can't hit BC' Powder Highway because of your tainted background with "the man" consider n. Idaho, e. Washington and w Montana! Between Spokane and Glacier National Park you can rip Selkirk Powder cats & Schweitzer, 49 Degrees North, Silver Mtn, Lookout Pass, Turner, the real thigh burner in Libby and Whitefish Resort & Great Northern Cats. Rally back to Spokane or fly out of Missoula. No time would be wasted answering silly questions posed by un-silly Canadian border guards! Like: Have ANY OF YOU ever been arrested? Figuring Joe just kept real quiet, maybe pretended to be asleep like Anton Pogue did some years back!
image-picture-33425-1297093991
If you can't hit BC' Powder Highway because of your tainted background with "the man" consider n. Idaho, e. Washington and w Montana! Between Spokane and Glacier National Park you can rip Selkirk Powder cats & Schweitzer, 49 Degrees North, Silver Mtn, Lookout Pass, Turner, the real thigh burner in Libby and Whitefish Resort & Great Northern Cats. Rally back to Spokane or fly out of Missoula. No time would be wasted answering silly questions posed by un-silly Canadian border guards! Like: Have ANY OF YOU ever been arrested? Figuring Joe just kept real quiet, maybe pretended to be asleep like Anton Pogue did some years back!
From this little sound-bite of an article I can't even tell if you actually went. The only thing you can offer about Revvy is its highest lift-served vertical? We can read that in the brochure. And "biggest little local's hill" is the summation of Whitewater. Come on, you are supposed to be a ski writer. Oh, but you guys are all "good looking". Way to go!
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