Here’s the insider scoop for this season (2018/19):
#1 – New Terrain at Panorama Mountain Resort
Panorama’s got a new mean machine: Monster X is a snowcat that’s roomy enough to take a dozen skiers/riders into Panorama’s newest monstrous terrain. The Monster X terrain boasts four double-black diamond lines – it will be steep, deep and epic! Each ride is $15 + taxes plus 4-pack rides are available too.
Monster X, photo courtesy of Panorama Mountain Resort
Honourable mention: At RED Mountain Resort’s Mt. Kirkup terrain can be accessed by snowcat too for a cool $10 + taxes (no reservations required). Just jump in and then pick your line - open runs or tree skiing on advance terrain. (The cat operates from 10am – 2pm daily & holidays, conditions permitting.)
#2 – New Terrain at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
“The Horse”, as it is affectionately known by big mountain enthusiasts is another Powder Highway stop with unique character. They are adding terrain to their already impressive offering. This year a stomping 243 hectares (660 acres) will open up, starting with the famous Ozone (featured on the Freeride World Tour last year) and Middle Ridge offering skiing into both Feuz Bowl & parts of Rudi’s Bowl. The Freeride World Tour is making another stop in February.
#3 – New Cat-Ski Operator “North Country Snowcats”
North Country Snowcats’ ski/ride terrain is located in the Badshot Range (a sub-range of the Selkirk mountains in our Columbia mountains). With an average annual snowfall of over 1,015 cm/400 inches – it’s one of the lightest, driest powder stashes in the world. Operated within a 6,880 hectares (17,000 acre) tenure, their terrain includes wide open powder bowls with the choice of both treed and gladed runs. Runs vary in length from 305 – 1,219 m (1,000-4,000 ft.) vertical and between 915 – 2,438 m (3,000-8,000 ft.) in elevation – plenty of room to spread out and enjoy!
Photo courtesy of North Country Snowcats
#4 – The Powder Highway is the birthplace of heli-skiing
Stellar Heliskiing in the Selkirks has new ‘backcountry’ terrain available for this season. Having terrain options for their skiers and boarders is king. This summer their crew spent time glading new terrain in the Purcell Range. They focused on two specific areas, Lower Merino Man and the Clute Lake Run to adjust the spacing between the trees and make the runs more fluid. We also added 10 new landings that give access to more untouched terrain and improve runout for their helicopters.
Photo courtesy of Stellar Heliskiing
Honourable mention: Over 50 years ago, Hans Gmoser – legendary climber, mountain guide and backcountry skier, whisked a few intrepid skiers into the Bugaboo Mountains by helicopter. Soon after, the first commercial heli-ski operation in the world was up and running. Now the Kootenays is home to 20 heli-ski/snowboard operators.
New for this season, CMH-Heli has added Bighorn Chalets in Revelstoke into their family of lodges. Voted the world's best ski chalet three-years running, Bighorn is your exclusive private chalet.
#5 – New places to 'rest your head' this season
There are four new properties opening this season, two in Fernie and two in Rossland.
In the community of Fernie, the Fernie RV Resort has added “yurts”. Offering the fun of camping without all the set-up and gear required. Available on a year-round basis, the insulated and heated yurts provide a great option during the winter months too. They are furnished with a queen over queen bunk bed, twin trundle daybed and dining table. Toilets, potable water and dishwashing station. are located approx. 25 m from the yurts.
The Snow Valley Motel, in Fernie, has added “tiny homes” to their rooms and suites. Experience tiny living without giving up all the comforts of home.
The historical and powder enthusiast favourite RED Mountain has a new hostel called Nowhere Special for affordable accommodation located just a couple minutes from the chairs.
A new on-mountain, ski-in/ski-out hotel The Josie. Independently-owned, this brand-new luxury boutique hotel is right at the base of RED Mountain offering 106 stylishly appointed guest rooms, studio suites and one-bedroom suites. The rooms’ design brings the outdoors in, with earthy tones, rich paneling recycled from local wood and floor-to-ceiling windows - achieving the rare balance of modern minimalism and cozy warmth.
Photo courtesy of The Josie Hotel
Honourable mention: Opening last season were backcountry lodges – Eagle Pass Heli Skiing and Keefer Lake Lodge. Eagle Pass’s luxurious 12-bedroom lodge offers specific gear drying and tuning rooms, is equipped with its own private Heli pad, a private executive chef on-hand to create healthy gourmet meals with locally sourced ingredients, dining room and full bar presenting a brilliant local and international wine menu. While, Keefer Lake Lodge Cat-skiing’s main floor features a large, open space; giant wood beams and a wall of glass frame your views of Keefer Lake and the mountains beyond – the large common area features a hand-crafted floor-to-ceiling rock fireplace, big comfy leather chairs and a fully stocked bar within arms-reach.
#6 – Segway Tours on Invermere’s “The Whiteway”
A local operator, Valley Ziplines Adventures is planning on adding ‘Segway tours’ on the ice surface of Lake Windermere on “The Whiteway”. Valley Zip has purchased a fleet of 11 all-terrain Segways to add to their adventure business in the summer season, and it only made sense to add winter adventure to the mix.
Honourable mention: Grab your ice-skates or your Nordic skis and skate or ski the 34-km groomed track that runs all the way around the lake and connects the towns of Invermere and Windermere. The Whiteway has tracks for classic Nordic skiers, a groomed skiing track and cleared ice-skating track - plus at the Invermere entrance there are cleared ice areas for curling and hockey. Plus fat biking, ice-fishing and kite-skiing are available as well!
#7 – A New Beginning at the Talus Backcountry Lodge
Congratulations to Chris and Joanne Espinel for their extraordinary vision and sixteen years of backcountry hospitality and stewardship at the Talus Backcountry Lodge. The new owners Sara Renner and Thomas Grandi (and their family) are thrilled to continue the lodge’s legacy and share time with returning guests and look forward to meeting new friends too! (Cover photo above.)
#8 – Single-day cat skiing with Great Northern Snowcat Skiing from Revelstoke
Revelstoke Mountain Resort is proud to be the exclusive provider of single-day cat-skiing with Great Northern Snowcat Skiing in the Selkirk mountains.
Great Northern is home to laid-back, blow-your-mind backcountry skiing in the Badshot range of the Selkirks. With an unbelievable amount of snow every year, it piles up in steep chutes and is spread over wide-open mountain faces and fills powder bowls up to the brim. Somewhere in the middle of an old-grown snow forest, you’ll find your favourite all-time run.
Photo courtesy of Great Northern Snowcat Skiing
#9 – Heli-Snowshoe and Spelunking Package
#10 – Tap into your inner ski bum, with “uptracking” at the Kimberley Alpine Resort
New for this season is uptracking. Uptracking is when you skin up the mountain (climb on skis or a snowboard) on their safe and approved route. Get your first-tracks in the morning before the even lifts open! Also available at the Fernie Alpine Resort.
Story by a KootRocks Staffer and contributor Mike McPhee, top/cover photo courtesy of Talus Lodge (photo by Dan Verreall).