The Path To Powder


Words by Ben Gavelda

Last winter was a heavy one in the Interior. The tap above the Rocky and Columbia Mountains stayed wide open and it seemed almost every film crew stopped by to wallow around in the deep at some point. None of this is new for those in the know though. This great white expanse stretches hundreds of miles up from where Montana, Washington, and Idaho border BC, and holds every terrain imaginable. It’s bound to be good somewhere—it’s part of one of the largest, snowy mountain-scapes in the world. Hosting over 50 shred destinations, it’s one of the densest areas of snow sports operations. But what sets it apart is accessibility—where the asphalt ends is where the heli tenure opens up, the cat track lanes begin, the sled access starts, and the bullwheels turn. It’s a vast system into a snow cosmos and it’s addicting after only a taste.

For me, that one sip turned into a bender. I planned a tour to link up with a few crews and visit some legendary spots, but quickly found myself blitzed on powder, staying out too long, too late. All the allure had proved true and it trapped me—I’d finally reached the place I’d been seeking all these years. It was all too awesome, too massive. Here, the snow replenishes itself daily, the rolling ollie bumps and pillow stacks are infinite. The fluff and vast terrain altered my state of mind, completely flipping my outlook on snowboarding, forever. I never knew it could be this good.

Broad Borders

Choose your weapon. No matter what it’s pure powder destruction PHOTOS: Chris Wellhausen

It has a number of names, “The Powder Triangle” and “The BC Powder Highway” among them, which it damn well deserves. Hell, the concept of using a helicopter to access turns originated here in 1965 by an operation called Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH), and later Selkirk Wilderness Skiing (SWS) pioneered the use of snowcats in 1975. Snowcat lodges, heli-ops, big mountain snowmobiling—this is where it thrives.
The area encompasses a massive swath of the Canadian Rockies and Columbia Mountains in southeast British Columbia encircled by a 530-mile loop of roads. Where it really begins and ends is vague though. Maybe you’ve heard of the mountain ranges: Cariboo, Kootenay, Lizard, Monashee, Purcell, Selkirk, and Valhalla, and there are plenty more, lesser-known ranges within. It’s daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. This is about breaking in.

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