BY BRAD DUSKA -Trip Date Jan 18-22, 2019
I’d seen Brent’s Kootenay Powder trips on the events calendar for a few years and I was pleased to finally be able to join. Not surprisingly the snow quality was great, and on top of that the AVI conditions also quite stable. It seems in general the AVI conditions in the Kootenays are more stable than the Rockies, and on top of that usually they have less problems with persistent weak layers. I suppose the only down side is it’s about a 6-hour drive to Kootenay Pass (our first stop) – so better to make it a multi-day trip or maybe a weekend in a squeeze.
Left Calgary 6AM so we could fit a half day in at Kootenay Pass. We arrived there about Noon and quickly struck out for Lighting Strike Ridge. This was quick to get to and we managed three runs off various sides of the ridge. There were some tracks but still lots of room. The first run had a bit of a sun crust under the snow, the other two runs we had excellent and fun powder. We were back to the car just as it got dark, and then spent the night at Hotel Ymir. They have a locals jam session on Friday night with the restaurant offering Friday night specials, so we had a couple of beers and dinner and enjoyed hanging with a mix of locals and out of town skiers.
We drove to Evening Ridge just outside Nelson’s Whitewater Ski resort. We were expecting and found fairly crusty conditions on the South facing approach, so skied a couple of lines on more North facing aspects once we reached the top of the ridge. Lots of lines in all kinds of steepness. It was a warm day and the snow was getting heavy. The return down the South facing side was surprisingly good. We then drove on to Brent’s place just South of Kaslo where we spent the remaining nights.
This was our best day of skiing. We started from Fish Lake which is halfway between Kaslo and New Denver. The route then goes up the FSR on the nose of the ridge and winds between cutblocks. On the way down you reverse it and link the cutblocks via bands of trees. To me the volume of cutblocks across BC are a terrible legacy for the future, but as far as skiing these ones it was great! Initially we were a bit nervous the stumps and deadfall would be leg-breaking hazards, but it turns out they were solidly covered and in fact provided a bunch of fun bumps that turned the whole thing into a giant terrain park. We did three laps and thoroughly enjoyed all of them.
Drove back to Calgary.
January 27, 2019