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Dirt Baggin’ the Powder Highway: Caught Inside at Whitewater

Words and Photos: Chris Zimmerman

The ceiling, the sleeping bags, even inside the coffee mugs…you know it was a cold night when you wake up covered in a layer of frost. If the anticipation of checking out Whitewater wasn’t motivation enough to crawl from the sleeping bag, the thought of firing up the truck for some heat was. Cold, clear and with blue skies overhead, our trip to Whitewater began with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. A 25-minute drive from Nelson and in the heart of the Selkirk Mountains, Whitewater Ski Resort has a real community vibe to it, but like an extreme version where everyone rides with avy gear and has a touring setup.

You know you’re early when you park next to ski patrol. Photo: Chris Zimmerman.

With three chairs—two doubles and a triple—and one lodge serving up some local food options, Whitewater Ski Area offers an expansive inbounds area and plenty of sidecountry access. It was pretty tracked out by the time we arrived, and without any touring gear we stayed mostly on the groomed runs. From the amount of annual snow received, a resort like Whitewater is geared more towards powder than perfect groomers, but what groomed runs they did have were pretty cherry. On a good day, the inbounds terrain at Whitewater would rival anything found beyond the rope.

Out of the shadows and into a bright future. Photo: Chris Zimmerman.

As we got halfway up the the Summit double chair, we were out of the shade and greeted by the sun. From the top we ripped down the Bonanza and Motherlode groomers, super steep and with perfect corduroy, it was easy to really get cooking. Wall-to-wall carves and some good hockey stops in the dry snow made the cold, sunny day a welcomed addition to the trip. After a few laps on the Summit chair, we dropped over to the Glory Ridge area, a fairly recent addition offering more sidecountry access, long groomers and a triple chair heading back to the top. We dropped in on both Morning Glory and Ramble On, taking further advantage of more uncrowded, perfect groomers.

Dude, we get it—you vape. Photo: Chris Zimmerman.

While a few traverse access points make getting out to the expansive sidecountry terrain easy and accessible, obviously backcountry experience and an idea of where to go would be helpful. In the two days we were at Whitewater, we heard there were actually more people out of bounds than in-bounds. Even though this trip was limited to in-bounds groomers, our sunny visit really showed the expansive terrain Whitewater has to offer. Next time we’re definitely bringing touring gear. As we made our way south and crossed the border back into the U.S., we started making plans for a return trip to Whitewater and the Powder Highway. Thanks to Rebeckah Hornung at Whitewater for the hospitality and to the Fresh Tracks Cafe for the poutine.

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