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Dirt Baggin’ the Powder Highway: First Stop, RED Mountain

Words & Photos: Chris Zimmerman

A mellow 7-hour drive and rural border crossing from Seattle lies British Columbia's RED Mountain Resort. The first stop on our Dirtbag Powder Highway trip, RED Mountain sprawls across more than three mountains and is a short, 10-minute drive from the true ski-town of Rossland. Until recent glading, RED Mountain's terrain was predominantly advanced tree riding with a handful of chute-accessed bowls, and while the terrain is more accessible now, plenty of stashes remain. From the peak of each mountain, you can ride almost any direction before meeting a long cat track to take you back to a chair. After waking up in the resort parking lot, we were fortunate to be linked up with a couple local guides to show us what RED had to offer.

This could be Zone 4, or maybe it's Zone 3? Photo: Chris Zimmerman.

Meeting up with the crew at the main Silverlode quad, what crowd there was quickly disappeared once we reached the upper mountain chairs, absorbed by the 4,200 acres of rideable terrain and long chair rides. To start the day we took the Motherlode chair to the top of Granite Mountain and ducked into a double diamond zone called Sara's Chute where a tight bottleneck opens into a pillow field and eventually down to a wrapping cat track called Rhino's Run. While plenty of chutes lead off the top of Granite Mountain, there are also a few places to get cliffed out, so following RED's general statement of, "if you don't know, don't go," should be well-heeded.

Already spanning three separate peaks, Red, Grey and Granite, RED Mountain also has a fourth cat-accessed peak, Mt. Kirkup, where $10 gets you a cat ride to a whole new zone. While the regular resort offers plenty of terrain to fill up a day, a cat track bump is definitely worth the extra loonies, especially if you time it right and get the first 10am cat. After dropping in at one of three marked sections, make some turns through the untracked glades before popping back into lift-accessed terrain on the Get Up Stand Up cat track, which drops you back to the bottom of Grey Chair. With so much uncrowded terrain to cover, it'd be a disservice to try to name off everywhere we were taken. The way the runs are laid out, each line eventually ends up hitting a cat track, leaving plenty of options to explore without the fear of an unplanned overnight.

Feel free to pop in, the sign actually says, " Please Keep Door CLOSED." Photo: Chris Zimmerman.

On our final day, we woke up to a fresh 15-20cm of pow, wet by Interior BC standards, but blower by PNW. Without guides, it was our job to try to remember at least a few of the zones we had been treated to the previous day. We started the day by taking Motherlode chair, or "Mom" if you're local, to the top to hunt for some pow. Drop in just under the chair line and point it towards signs for the Powder Fields Traverse. Take this cat track out to the end of the ridge for access to a few different double diamond options including Han's Run, Jumbo and The Orchards for gladed runs with perfectly-spaced trees, small drops and plenty of poppers. Eventually, you'll land on a cat track that takes you back to the bottom of Motherlode Chair where you can rest your tired legs on the ride to the top.

With plenty of terrain, over 300 annual inches of snow, a tight local apres scene with mountain-sized nachos, RED Mountain is definitely worth experiencing. When you go, be sure to check out a couple of the historic cabins dotting the terrain and stoke up the wood stove for a lunch break. After two nights posted up in the parking lot, our time at RED was up and we were off to Revelstoke. We couldn't help but think of all the runs we didn't have a chance to ride and immediately started planning a return trip. Thanks to Nicole at RED for the hospitality, and Dan Grey and Thomas Rodrigue for showing us around and the pasta stir fry.

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