Ad­dicted to POW­DER

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - TRAVEL - By Jeremy Hainsworth

ROSS­LAND, B.C. — For many in the ski­ing world, the re­sorts of Canada’s Pow­der High­way in Bri­tish Columbia’s Koote­nay re­gion are se­crets they’d rather not share with the pub­lic.

The cir­cuit links eight moun­tain re­sorts and many times more Nordic, heli- and cat-ski op­er­a­tions across 677 kilo­me­tres.

“There’s very lit­tle out there that can ri­val the qual­ity and ter­rain in the Koote­nays,” says Ian John­ston, a Van­cou­ver trans­plant to Ross­land, where he skis at Red Moun­tain.

“If you want pow­der, you go to the Koote­nays,” he says. “If you go to party, you go to Whistler,” re­fer­ring to the bet­ter-known and mas­sive ski re­sort that hosted the 2010 Win­ter Olympics, a nine-hour drive from Ross­land.

Like most lo­cals, John­ston grudg­ingly agrees those along the Pow­der High­way need to share their light, airy pow­der bo­nanza with the world.

The laid-back re­sorts of­fer kilo­me­tres of trails, mas­sive quan­ti­ties of ver­ti­cal feet, heli-ski­ing and com­mu­ni­ties where ski­ing is a pas­sion passed from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion by friendly lo­cals.

The gems along the high­way through the pris­tine val­leys of the western slope of the Rock­ies and the Pur­cell and Selkirk moun­tain ranges are, start­ing in the East Koote­nay, Fernie Alpine Re­sort near the min­ing town of Fernie; Kick­ing Horse Moun­tain Re­sort west of the en­trance to Yoho Na­tional Park; Kim­ber­ley Alpine Re­sort out­side the pic­turesque city of Kim­ber­ley; Panorama Moun­tain Re­sort out­side In­ver­mere; and Revel­stoke Moun­tain Re­sort west of Kick­ing Horse.

Mov­ing into the West Koote­nay re­gion, Red Moun­tain Re­sort is min­utes from the ci­ties of Ross­land and Trail, and White­wa­ter Ski sits above the trendy lakeside city of Nel­son.

Fernie av­er­ages 37 feet (11 me­tres) of snow a year and boasts a sea­son from De­cem­ber through April, as do most area moun­tains. With a ver­ti­cal rise of 3,550 feet (1,082 me­tres), it of­fers 142 runs in­clud­ing five Alpine bowls and tree ski­ing.

At 4,133 feet (1,260 me­tres), Kick­ing Horse boasts the fourth-high­est ver­ti­cal drop in North Amer­ica. It boasts 120 runs, 60 per cent of which are rated at ad­vanced or ex­pert. Right at the edge of the Rock­ies, the re­sort of­fers some of the most stun­ning moun­tains views in North Amer­ica.

For hard­core pow­der afi­ciona­dos look­ing for rides through hefty pow­der fields, Kick­ing Horse — a.k.a. “The Cham­pagne Pow­der Cap­i­tal of Canada” — and Revel­stoke are the des­ti­na­tions of choice. Lo­cated out­side the charm­ing Alpine-themed for­mer min­ing town from which it takes its name, Kim­ber­ley of­fers 2,465 ver­ti­cal feet (751 me­tres) of ski­ing served by five lifts.

Panorama of­fers 2,847 acres (1,152 hectares) of ter­rain cov­er­ing the spec­trum from wideopen fall line cruis­ers to pow­der-filled tree lines. The area’s Tayn­ton Bowl, once a he­liski­ing

Ice- and snow-cov­ered trees turned into del­i­cate win­ter sculp­tures at Red Moun­tain in Ross­land. At left, skiers on a snowy land­scape.

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