Kootenay Powder Tour 3.0
(February 24 – March 1, 2017)
By: Kelvin Downs
Four members of the Alpine Club of Canada – Calgary Section attended the 3rd Annual Kootenay Powder Tour including, Elisabeth Dupuis, Allen Hardy, Kelvin Downs and led by Trip Leader and Host – Brent Hepfner
An early start on Day 1 had us arriving at the Kootenay Pass at about noon. It was a clear day with recent 20cm of new snow providing opportunities for fresh powder lines in almost every direction. Our group spent the next two days at the pass enjoying mostly tree skiing on Ripple Ridge, Lightning Strike and The Muffin.
Our first night and a regular highlight of a trip to the Kootenay Pass is a stay at the eclectic Ymir Hotel where the weekly Hillbilly Jam and Friday night dinner special brings locals and visitors together for a unique experience.
After spending two pow filled days at the pass our next destination was the Goat Range of the Selkirks between Kaslo and New Denver. What could be more enchanting than the Ymir Hotel? Brent Hepfner’s house on Kootenay Lake near Kaslo is the resounding reply. Four nights were spent at Brent’s place with him being a most gracious host. All the conveniences and comforts of home with amazing views of Kootenay Lake with the added bonus of being close to amazing back country skiing were some of the best aspects of this trip. Our group is very thankful to Brent for his hospitality.
The next three days were spent skiing in the Goat Range near Retallack (mining ghost town).
Day 3 was spent skiing a south aspect of London Ridge. This is a long tour up (> 1000m) in fairly exposed terrain (ie: few places to hide), but it was made easier by the fact that our up-tracks followed existing mining and logging roads with a reasonable grade. It was like we had an untracked ski resort to ourselves. A previous overnight snowfall of maybe 20cm on what we found to be a stable snowpack made for magnificent laps and a long (1700m) day.
After enjoying a fairly strenuous day it was decided that we would take it a little bit easier on day 4. North facing cutblocks accessed by a logging road near Retallack provided the perfect option for that easier day of skiing. The toughest thing was deciding which line to ski in order to connect the cutblocks without having to slow-down to ski trees. It still ended up being a 1000m+ day with a number of laps in untracked powder but again the logging road made the up-tracks easier.
Our final day at the Goat Range was to be another trip up to the London Ridge, but this time to ski the North Aspect towards Kane Creek drainage. Dropping-in off the steep, northerly ridge (avoiding the cornice lip) was exhiIarating. I know that it is probably hyperbole to say that conditions were the most amazing ever, but that’s what I am saying and I am going to stick to it. The best ever!
With the Low-density, north facing powder we skied laps until we were tired and then climbed back to ridgetop for the 1000+m southerly ski down. Total for the day was about 1800m.
The final day was driving home in the snow and reminiscing (of course with smiles all around) of the adventure that we had.
Thanks again to Brent for leading and hosting the trip.
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