Powder Highway Runs Deep Into Canadian Rockies Steepest Terrain

KH-Cover

The farther you go on western Canada's Powder Highway, the more rugged, remote and challenging the ski and snowboard mountains get for serious powderhounds.

Start with Panorama (2,975 a., 4265 vert.), probably the least known along the Powder Highway. It's 3.5 hours' drive from Calgary -- on a clear roads -- and 5.5 hours from Spokane. Despite its remoteness, it has an extensive base village for lodging, as nearest town is 30 minutes away. Ikon Pass works for seven days, Mountain Collective too.

Half the trail map is black-rated with just one summit lift. Super pitch-y glades and natural chutes cover top half of the hill. Powderhounds have to ride three chairs to that high ground, where a ridge subdivides Panaroma Mountain. Skier's left finds sparse glades served by lappable Summit fixed-grip quad.

Same but more on the other side. Extreme Dream's double blacks -- long and technical with hidden cliffs -- stick close to the ridge. Farther out, Taynton Bowl's long ridge traverse ends up with more open bowl skiing. A $24 snowcat shuttle cuts traversing time. Since no lifts, only way out is return to base.

Next stop on the Highway is Kicking Horse, an Epic Pass resort. Probably the most concentrated collection of chutes, couloirs, drops and straightlines anywhere. Runs are long and test fitness: "I got kicked by the Horse today." Famous for ridge-drops with slot entries that thankfully open up into alpine bowls.

Spread across five ridges and bowls, more than half the hill is black-plus. With only the base gondola and lappable Stairway to Heaven fixed-grip quad serving high ground, a good portion of the best stuff requires traversing and boot-hiking -- and long runouts. Less than half of acreage is directly lift-served.

Cold temps make powder snow among lightest in B.C. Decent lodging at base, more in quaint Golden nearby.

And then there's Revelstoke (3,121 a., 5,630 vert.), with the most vertical drop in North America and a trail that goes for 9.5 miles. Vertical is unrelenting; several black runs extend all the way to bottom. It's much taller than it is wide, with a main gondola and two upper, lappable chairlifts.

PeakRankings calls it "decidedly wild." It's aimed at the seriously adventurous. Once you push off, there's nowhere to bail. Both bowls have lifts but also require a hike. Down from there it's trees, trees and more trees. One reviewer: "It's a ski area in a giant forest with a few trails and bowls that get in the way of all the tree skiing and off-piste."

Persistent fog and snowy weather reduces visibility and adds to the challenge. Because of the vertical drop, snow can vary widely from top to bottom. Revelstoke holds Canadian record of 80 feet in a season. Several snowcat and heli-ski ops load at the base. Seven-day Ikon Pass and Mountain Collective work.

Base area modest and with minimal lodging. Town of Revelstoke (8,700 pop.) has a limited number of beds with places to eat and drink. Calgary is a four-hour drive.

  103 Hits

Crave The Deep Stuff? Hit British Columbia's Powder Highway

BC-Whitewater-Cover

A deep powder day hypnotizes top-end skiers and riders, so a trip to Western Canada's Powder Highway is an obvious destination.

Eight resorts sit on a 600-mile loop in the snowy Kootenay Rockies southwest of Calgary, and they've earned their moniker honestly with deep powder and precipitous pitches -- all inside the ropes. Snow-catting and heli-skiing aplenty, too.

Let's start with RED Mountain (2,700 a. inbounds, 2,900 vert), a three-hour drive from Spokane in the snowy Selkirk Range. All six chairlifts are fixed-grip across three mountains. But there are so many double-black diamond runs at RED that black diamonds seem like cruisers.

Powderhounds focus on Grey Mountain (6,870 elev.), with its persistent fall line and over-the-top tight lines in the trees. Add in extreme "cliff areas" that require straightlining and air drops. Smaller Red Mountain (5,219) is no slouch, with a tidy cohort of double black glades.

Snow can be heavy, because of lower elevation, and famous Kootenay Fog rolls in. Ikon Pass works. Nearby Rossland (4,100 pop.) has classic mountain mining vibe.

An hour northeast is Whitewater (1,184a., 2,044 vert.), another down-home, fixed-grip gem that averages 40 feet of snow and 60% expert terrain. Online Powderhounds rates it No. 1 in Canada because of its renowned tree skiing on four distinct aspects.

Powderhounds head to the forested cirque Summit and the peel-off-the-piste Glory Ridge sectors that hold Whitewater's private treasures: traverse-to alpine bowls and steep-steep glades.

All four chairs are fixed-grip but, oddly, some run faster than others. Basic base facilities include grab 'n' go, rustic pub with local beers, and a yurt. No cell service at all. Rustic civilization down the road in funky Nelson.

Finally, there's Fernie Alpine Resort (2,500 a., 3,500 vert.), the biggest of its nearby Powder Highway cohorts and the farthest east (4.5 hours from Spokane). It averages 29 feet of powder a year, and has the tallest vertical drop in western Canada. However, weather can be mild, and it often shuts down in February. So, make plans early ... and bring an Epic Pass.

The trail map presents a classic layout: Five peaks hold five alpine bowls that drain into five distinct trail systems below timberline. Up top, it's more than 1,000 acres of blacks highlighted by Polar Peak Headwall (7,000 elev.) that's got its own chair. Innumerable pitches dive off the ridges below.

Two high-speeds and eight fixed-grips do what they can to get powderhounds up into the high country. The best stuff requires a traverse, but the freshies stay longer because of that effort.

Base village features the usual suspects, including three overnight spots and hangouts. Coal-mining town Fernie is just down the road, with turn-of-century feel and modern amenities.

 

 

  104 Hits

SnoCast: Looking Back at a Great Ski Season

SundayRiver_tw_040321

 

With the final days of ski season closing in, we’re taking a look ahead at weather conditions through the end of April and also looking back on this snow season across North America.

Continue reading
  2438 Hits

SnoCast: Strong Sun for Early April Turns

SkiMissionRidge_tw_033021

It’s sad, but true and time to face the fact there’s only so much ski season left. Whether you’re a die-hard to last chair, a pond-skimmer, or seeking out the best spring turns in a windbreaker, here’s what to expect weather-wise during the first week of April.

Continue reading
  2186 Hits

SnoCast: Feet Of New Snow Will Close Out February

Summit-at-Snoqualmie-WA

A month in which several feet of snow hit several locations of the U.S. and Canada will finish with another burst of 30”+ of fresh powder.

Continue reading
  3154 Hits

SnoCast: All Eyes on a Weekend Nor'easter

SundayRiver_TW_120220

While the northeast watches the forecast closely for a weekend nor'easter, the West soaks in the sunshine and bluebird days. Watch and read this week's SnoCast as we highlight where to find the best conditions. 

Continue reading
  3294 Hits

New Renderings For Proposed Garibaldi Ski Resort Near Squamish

garibaldi-squamish-resort-4

The new Garibaldi at Squamish ski resort could have a design that highlights the area’s connection with the Squamish First Nation, based on new preliminary concept artistic renderings that provide higher detail.

Continue reading
  1767 Hits

Behind The Scenes Of North America’s Hottest New Bike Park

Revelstoke

Since it opened in 2007, Revelstoke Mountain Resort has held a reputation for its monster vertical (at 5,620 feet of lift-accessed terrain, it’s the longest descent in North America), alpine bowls, rainforest glades, record snowfall and near-ridiculous scenery. But where most resorts also boast thriving summer operations to complement winter skiing, RMR had largely stayed relatively quiet on the summer front, with most warm-season activities centralized on the bottom of the mountain.

Continue reading
  1600 Hits

New Major Ski Resort Proposed for British Columbia Interior

London-Ridge

A proposal to build a new ski resort in the BC interior, in an area about a four-hour drive east of Kelowna and seven hours west of Calgary, approximately eight km east of New Denver and 38 km west of Kalso, is in the very early stages of its design and application process.

Continue reading
  3756 Hits

SnoCountry SnoCast: March Ends With Spring Snow

Fayston-Vermont-Cover

Ski areas may be closed in these historic times, but the weather doesn’t stop! Here’s a look at the national snow conditions through April 1.

Continue reading
  3044 Hits

Shredding Canada's Towering Powder Highway is Like Skiing Through Time

Revelstoke

The world’s avid skiers and snowboarders likely regard British Columbia’s “Powder Highway” -- a jaw-dropping collection of mountain towns, hot springs, and monolithic slopes tucked in a compact section of the Canadian Rockies west of Calgary -- as the globe’s crown jewel when it comes to sliding downhill on boards of some sort. From December to late April, it's one of the best places on Earth for powder hounds.

Continue reading
  2148 Hits

Panorama To Bring More Steeps With Snowcats

Panorama-Cover

Powderhounds who revel in the host of off-piste black-diamonds at British Columbia's Panorama Mountain Resort will be carving up new terrain next season.

Continue reading
  2284 Hits

SnoCountry SnoCast: Strong Storm For Groundhog Day

Mission-Ridge-Cover-Picture

Regardless of the Groundhog Day winter prediction, we have a big weekend storm to discuss, plus a lot of the season still left!

Continue reading
  3940 Hits

SnoCountry SnoCast: A New Year Begins With New Powder

BIg-White-Ski-BC

Happy New Year! You’ll have plenty to celebrate in certain parts of the U.S. and Canada regarding this week’s weather forecast.

Continue reading
  3351 Hits

SnoCountry SnoCast: A Huge Gift Coming For Some

Snoqualmie-Cover-Picture

Naughty or nice? Rather than your deeds, location will determine who will get the finest gift of snowy weather this week!

Continue reading
  4600 Hits

SnoCountry SnoCast: Recent Pattern Sets Up Nice December

Jay-Peak_Cover

Thanks to a stormy and snowy Thanksgiving week, we are in prime position for a great start to December!

Continue reading
  4153 Hits

SnoCountry SnoCast: Season’s First Storm Slams Southwest

Arizona-Snowbowl-Header

Heavy, accumulating snow will reach all the way south to San Diego’s mountains and dump up to two feet of snow in Arizona and the Four Corners.

Continue reading
  3203 Hits

SnoCountry SnoCast: Multiple Storms Finally Target The East

Sunday-River-Cover-Picture

Patience will pay off in the East when multiple shots of cold and snow bring a much-awaited weather pattern for area ski resorts.

Continue reading
  2644 Hits

SnoCountry SnoCast: Colorado Snow Taking The Spotlight

Aspen-White-Cover-Photo

With at least three resorts open for skiing and riding this weekend, Colorado is poised for a foot of snow from multiple weather systems.

Continue reading
  4441 Hits

SnoCountry SnoCast: Another Early-Season Storm In The Rockies

Sunshine-Village-Tuesday

Here we go again! The second strong, early-winter storm has moved across the Rocky Mountain range in the western United States and Canada.

Continue reading
  3519 Hits