Category Archives: Other Resorts

The road to Red

I must have entered a thousand “win a ski trip” contests over the years. Hundreds of hopeful submissions disappearing into the ether, because of course you never actually win.

Except this time, I did.

Catskiing heli sticker

The contest, which was run by ski.com, involved taking some adorable stickers of a skiing kitty, sticking them to cool things, and then sending them in via Twitter for an online vote to determine the winner. My friend B set up a fantastic shot of the sticker on the tail of a helicopter and the next thing we knew, we’d won the vote and the two of us were off to Rossland for two days of skiing at Red Mountain and a day out with Big Red Cats.

Osoyoos, on the road to Rosslan

Most important things first: Red was awesome. I had no idea how big it was; there were acres and acres of terrain, really long runs with incredible fall lines, and swathes of amazing looking backcountry beyond every rope. The weather lined up almost perfectly while we were there, with a first day of skiing under bluebird skies with unlimited views of the Monashees and a completely unexpected storm on day two that dumped fresh snow all over the mountain.

Monashee views, Red Mountain

We rapidly established that the Grey Mountain side was our preferred skiing area. This is a new addition to the Red tenure (the chair just went in this season) and in itself is the size of Baker. On the day of the storm, the east slopes were experiencing tremendous wind loading and we scored incredible, unexpected powder turns all the way down through the trees that started boot deep and kept improving as the day progressed.

Accumulating snow

On the days either side of the storm we skied the long, steep groomers on Granite. They were icy, fast, and more or less deserted. With so few other people to worry about we pretty much cast speed limits aside. I’ve skied so little hard snow this season that it took a while to dial my carving back in, but once I did I had a ton of fun.

Rafters, which was named Best Ski Bar in North America by Powder last year, was our apres go-to. This was the part of the trip that felt the most crazily luxurious. I’m used to ski days that start with a 5am alarm and are book-ended by two hour drives, often in terrible weather. Sleeping in till 8am and having a leisurely breakfast before rolling out of the door onto the chair felt almost as unusual as lingering over beers in the bar at the end of the day.

Lolrus at Rafters

The bad news, which came shortly after we arrived, was that a vicious melt-freeze cycle had scuppered the catskiing part of the trip. I have to give a lot of credit to Big Red Cats for how they handled this; they were still quite prepared to take us up if we wanted to go, and gave us the option of a two-winter raincheck if not. We opted for the raincheck once we’d had a day on the mountain to check out conditions. While the catskiing was supposed to be the point of the trip, I’m actually not sad at all about how things turned out: it gives us the perfect excuse to go back to Red next year.

Last day at Red

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to check out a completely new area. We have so very much so close to home – the Sea to Sky corridor, the Duffey, the Coquihalla, Baker – that we could ski for a lifetime and never want for new terrain. But sometimes it’s fun to go somewhere else, experience a different snowpack, and be reminded that there’s still more out there than just the amazing Coastal ranges on our doorstep. I loved Red, and I can’t wait to go back. Thanks, ski.com – that was a fantastic contest prize.

Toast

Have lolrus will travel

A while back we picked up a Groupon for a stay at Manning Park Lodge. I’d never been to Manning Park, but had heard many good things about it from friends. The trip came just a couple of days after I moved to a new position at work, so I brought along my work buddy the lolrus who was feeling a little displaced after we moved out of the office that’s been my home for the previous five years. It turned out to be an exciting weekend for him.

Lolrus on skis

Heavy fog slowed our Friday night drive through the Fraser Valley, but once we reached the mountains and turned onto the Crowsnest it was magical. A full moon hung low over the mountains, soaking the towering peaks around us in silver light. I was almost sorry to reach the lodge and leave the moon-drenched snowscape behind.

The next morning we got up bright and early and headed for the Gibsons Pass ski area.We arrived to about six inches of fresh snow off-piste, and soft-packed groomers. J picked up a rockered snowboard, and we spent the day cruising easy runs while she worked on her technique with the shorter, more forgiving board. Snow began falling heavily in the afternoon, and I cruised through the powder at the edges of the run while the lolrus got his first face shots.

Face shots

Once the lifts closed we headed back to the lodge for hot tubbing, an extremely good dinner in the restaurant, and apres-ski entertainment that included darts, foosball, and a lot of good beer. The next morning we had time to fit in ice skating and a snowshoe before heading back to Van. It was a brief visit, but all three of us had a great time and I’d love to come back with more time to explore the area.

Lolrus apres

October season teaser

The first ski hill to open in North America this year was Calgary’s Olympic Park, which took advantage of an early season cold snap to start operations in mid-October. I was lucky enough to be in Calgary for a conference the week they opened, and was able to juggle my schedule enough to fit in a brief four-hour visit on October 21st.

The snow was better than I expected: heavy without being wet, and it improved considerably once night fell and the temperature dropped. The run included a small half-pipe, a couple of decent-sized rollers and a few impromptu jumps on the ridges under the light stanchions. There were scores of park kids doing flips and grabs in the pipe, a couple of telemarkers, and even one lonely snowblader. Part of the fun for me was wrestling the carving skis I’d been given by the rental store out of the tight GS-style turns they kept trying to make, and attempting to land a few small airs on a 70mm waist. (I learned the hard way that there was just no way those things were going switch.)

The Olympic Park is pretty tiny – it took me all of about 30 seconds to get from top to bottom – and to be honest, in mid-season I would have been bored within about fifteen minutes. But in October, after five months of summer sunshine, it was just great to be back on the snow.