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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.