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Revelstoke is one the best off-the-beaten-path ski hills in B.C.
Revelstoke is one the best off-the-beaten-path ski hills in B.C.

Searching for deep B.C. powder Add to ...

The Line

Après: Gunbarrel Saloon

Eat: Lake Breeze Winery ( www.lakebreeze.ca)

Sleep: Apex Mountain Inn ( www.apexmountaininn.com)

Lift Ticket: $60

Snowfall: 600 cm

Vertical: 609 metres

Terrain: 1,112 acres



Day 4 Travel or bonus ski


Hold your breath and maybe even pray a little. Better yet, bring chains. Back in Penticton, turn south along the flat Highway 93 past pastoral vineyards such as Noble Ridge and Tinhorn Creek to the town of Osoyoos. Pleasant enough, that drive. Coming out of Osoyoos there's a steep climb eastward to Highway 3, a hint of the long ups-and-downs to come in the Kootenays to get to Rossland. Think of it as driving's equivalent to 10,000 feet of vertical on a ski hill. Blizzard ahead? Wait it out. On the road you'll encounter a mere half-dozen pit stops, the last being Christina Lake before reaching the Highway 3B cutoff. A downhill stretch outside Rossland named after Nancy Greene is your first hint that the toughest drive of this journey is over. Greene and Kerrin-Lee Gartner, both Olympic champions, skied as youths on Red, and if that isn't sufficient hint of the advanced terrain awaiting, know that the Canadian freeskiing championships are held on Mount Roberts, a.k.a. "Robbie." Off either Granite or Red peaks, you'll find acres of open glade skiing through evenly spaced trees, steep chutes and backcountry, too.

The Line

Après: Rafters Lounge

Eat: Idgie's Restaurant Sleep: Prestige Mountain Resort ( www.prestigeinn.com/rossland-prestige-hotel.php)

Lift ticket: $64

Snowfall: 750 cm

Vertical: 880 metres

Terrain: 1,685 acres




Less than an hour drive from Red, Nelson became a hippie haven in the 1960s and 70s, a place for draft dodgers to go and for "B.C. bud" to grow. Sloping down to the west arm of Kootenay Lake, the town of 10,000 is home to restored brick heritage buildings, microbrew excellence, a thriving arts community, and one of B.C.'s better summer festivals. Come winter, on legendary powder days, a horde of ski bums makes the 20-minute pilgrimage along Highway 6 and up an intimidating access road. From the parking lot they gaze up an open bowl framed by ridges to the top of 8,000-foot Ymir Peak. There's nothing resort-like about this hill, notably a complete lack of accommodation - cat skiing with lifts is how it's fairly described in a tourism brochure. Two vintage double chairlifts and a handle tow serve a seemingly innocuous 1,300 feet of vertical. But when the snow comes, it falls in heaps. Whitewater is well reputed as a portal to the backcountry, and avalanche awareness courses are offered.

The Line

Après: Last Run at Coal Oil Johnny's Pub (on the hill); Mike's Place (in the Hume Hotel)

Eat: All Seasons Café

Sleep: Hume Hotel ( www.humehotel.com)

Lift ticket: $57

Snowfall: 1,200 cm

Vertical: 396 metres

Terrain: 1,180 acres



Day 7 Travel or bonus ski day


Claw your hand through a mound of soft clay and you've got a rough idea of the Fernie layout, a series of bowls separated by ridges, all offering fall-line tree skiing and chutes of varying difficulty. Son Ted finally went where I would not go - through one of these rock-strewn skinny chutes, a transformational day in our father-son relationship. For the great majority of advanced skiers with their thighs intact, Fernie is navigable throughout. On powder days, listen to the locals. Mystically attuned to the avalanche-clearing operation, they will move from one bowl (Currie, for wide-open powder, for instance) to another, usually in east to west fashion, to get first tracks. For fall line turns, you can't beat Boomerang Ridge..

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