Skiing in late March in Nelson is about as risky as trying to put a bear in a half nelson. In both cases, the chance of things getting too hot are pretty high. However, if you do get extremely lucky, you may actually accomplish what you set out to do. All 8+1 of us got extremely lucky. Our group was Noel, Sheena, Kyle, Charlie, Paul, Jen, Lisa, Dave and myself (Matt). Jen was less lucky because she is a Nelson local and can ski this stuff out of her back door and Nelson has had a great winter this year (or does that make her the most lucky?).
This was the 4rth annual Dancing Bear Hostel long-weekend, and unfortunately the last (by Charlie and I). Given the great luck we have had 3 out of the last 4 years, I think it is worth quiting without getting bit by the bear.
Late March in Nelson is warm, very warm. You got to get up high, like 2000+ high in an area where the peaks max out at 2400 m (highway elevation varies but is around 1000 m in the valley and up to 1800 m at Whitewater and Kootaney pass). You also need to find something that doesn’t get much sun, because the sun is hot enough to turn a slope into mush in the time it takes to microwave a burrito. The next thing you need is fresh snow. Any snow older than a day turns to elephant snot before solidifying into a beautiful hard crust. I like elephant snot, but I prefer fresh powder. Luckily, we managed to get new snow the day before we arrived and Saturday, making for great skiing on Friday, Saturday, and Monday and for a very wet Sunday. However, Sunday turned out to be a pretty interesting tour where we stumbled upon a snow cat party (Kootaney Culture rocks) which made the long death march all worth it in my eyes.
Anyhow, the company was good and the food was great. Other people who like food less than I do would swap those adjectives, both being equally valid. The highlight would be when Jenn dragged us to the top of Ymir peak, a ski down the bench, followed by a beer for lunch before we headed up to the top of Half Dome followed by some laps of 5-Mile Creek.
I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.