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Story by Lynn Rosen; photos by Lynn Rosen and Steve Giordano
HighOnAdventure.com   October 1, 2012

Rossland Winter Carnival bobsled race
Rossland 2012 Winter Carnival Bobsled Race

Now is the time for all obsessed skiers and boarders to buy up bargains at ski swaps, do snow dances an in general get ready for their next adventures on the slopes for the upcoming season. When the leaves start to fall and the temps dip, time to get in the mood for winter. Prime targets: The kick-ass champagne-light Kootenay powder of Red Mountain, BC, in the Selkirk Mountains and Whitewater, BC, in the Monashees.

When it comes to snow sports, British Columbia rocks! Make plans to visit Rossland’s Red Mountain Resort and its century-old-plus Winter Carnival, and an hour or so up the road, Nelson and Whitewater Resort, the Kootenays' and Monashees’ undiscovered jewels, both with piles of deep powder, huge hospitality, partying people and great food. The skiing/boarding is awesome, but even if you don’t ski or ride, this adventure is one you’ll relish, enjoy and keep in your heart forever.

Fly into Spokane and enjoy a 3 1/2 hour scenic drive (allow an extra 1/2 hour for border crossing) first to Rossland, B.C., home of Red Mountain Resort, and then to Nelson, B.C., home of Whitewater Ski Resort. We did just that and plan to do it again and again.

We rolled into Rossland late in the afternoon, threw suitcases into our condos at Slalom Creek, bundled up in our warmest duds and plowed down to Queen and Columbia Streets to party with the night-time crowds at the renowned, the famous, the legendary annual Rossland Winter Carnival. http://www.tourismrossland.com

  Red Mountain Garter Girls   Red Mountain's Boomtown Garter Girls  
Red Mountain's Winter Carnival Boomtown Garter Girls

What a crazy fun scene. Peeps in costume, boarders jumping over ramps into the town square, beer garden fever, lots of music and dance hall girls who entertained all over town.

A Winter Carnival that began in 1897, still goes strong every last long weekend in January and is not to be missed! Opened at British Columbia’s first ski resort in Rossland, Red Mountain’s hometown, this winter carnival has a tradition of a luge race, fire dancers, a rail jam contest, dance hall girls and the famous bobsled race down Spokane Street, the main street hill that runs straight through town.

  Rossland BC Winter Carnival Bobsled Racing  

Take one gnarly looooongggg steeeeep icy main street, a 115-year legacy of crazy racing, throw in a garage-sale collection of home-built, throw-together sleds, some courageous teams and you’ve got the Rossland Winter Carnival Bobsled Races.

Bobsled rules are...well, there really are no rules except you have to have a team of four and you’ve all got to start at the top connected to the sled and finish at the bottom, still connected. And that might be a challenge since spiked hot toddies and ice cold beers start flowing early in the morning on race day. Everyone cheers the crashes along the course, and there always are a few.

  Rossland Winter Carnival bobsled race   Rossland Winter Carnival bobsled race watchers  

But don’t spend too long at the beer garden and miss skiing/riding Red Mountain next morning, just a wee bit up the road. Red Mountain, famous for champagne powder, steep terrain, challenging vertical, snow ghosts, frozen ice falls, as well as a great variety of beginner and intermediate runs, has just announced that the resort is adding nearly 1,000 acres by opening Grey Mountain to increase their in-bound terrain. Located on BC’s famous “Powder Highway,” this two-year expansion adds almost 1,000 acres of in-bound terrain to the ski area making Red Mountain nearly 2,685 skiable acres. http://www.redresort.com

At Whitewater Ski Resort, nearby Nelson, B.C., http://www.skiwhitewater.com , the snow is falling and the powder is deep. And the historical Hume Hotel in downtown Nelson, has not only ghosts, but a number of great restaurants and deep history. Check out www.humehotel.com .

Along with Red Mountain, Whitewater has a large back country terrain which is a huge draw for, of course, back country skiers. The resort also has a serious educational program for adventurers who use this backcountry. We were lucky to spend time with a couple of their experts on how to stay safe and still enjoy the wilderness areas.

  Lorne Graham   The Canadian Avalanche Association offers information about equipment and prevention issues necessary for back country safety. Basic equipment items include a transceiver, a probing tool and a shovel. In a continuing effort to save lives, the Association is developing a bulletin for the Selkirks to caution and warn back country skiers about prevailing conditions.

Lorne Graham (left) works with Back Country Preparedness and is a professional member of the Canadian Avalanche Association.

Lorne Graham

Avalanche control at Whitewater takes no chances. Call them avalanche-busters or what you will, but they know their terrain and are dedicated to keeping skiers and riders safe. We were privileged to spend a morning with one of their best, Asa MacLaurin, on a typical round of evaluating and controlling avalanche dangers at Whitewater.

Asa explained how the explosives worked to trigger slides so that ski runs are safe to open, where the red zones were and how explosives are carefully stored and totally restricted under lock and key from public access.Asa MacLaurin (right) is Snow Safety Supervisor at Whitewater Resort, Nelson, B.C.


Asa MacLaurin

Asa MacLaurin
  Whitewater Ski Resort avalanche signes  

Whitewater has some gnarly, steep runs which can be prone to slides, so Asa’s (and his colleagues’) work is critical to keeping the mountain running smoothly and, most importantly, safely. Rest assured. Asa and company make sure you are never in danger of avalanche in-bounds at Whitewater.

Check in at the Avalanche Information board across from Guest Services in the main daylodge for current weather and avalanche bulletins.

Shelly Adams
Shelly Adams' cookbook cover
Shelly Adams
Chef Shelly Adams and one of her three Whitewater cook books

Once you’ve exhausted yourselves on the mountain, or even before you head out, don’t miss the iconic Fresh Tracks Cafe, featured in the New York Times. Originally started in the ‘90s by Shelley Adams, who, with her husband Mike, owned Whitewater Ski Resort until 2008, Fresh Tracks Cafe has continued her innovative tradition of fresh, healthy food, carefully prepared and beautifully presented. Shelly has a number of flashy cookbooks to her credit which are on sale at the resort gift shop and on Amazon. FYI, people come to Whitewater just to experience Fresh Tracks Cafe.

  Whitewater Fast Tracks fast food menu  
Whitewater Fast Tracks grill menu
Fresh Tracks Cafe menus
  Whitewater's Fresh Tracks salad   Whitewatert's Fresh Tracks salad  
Fresh Tracks salads

Putine is THE most popular item on the Fresh menu. Fresh Tracks Cafe has sold $40,000 worth of this traditional Canadian dish of fries, cheese curd and gravy each winter season. Word has it that with the addition of a new street food truck for the 2012-13 season, that dollar amount and volume will skyrocket. Canadians LOVE their putine.

BTW, it never stopped snowing the whole week we were at Red and White. Every run surprised us with fresh powder all week.

For more information:

Shelly Adams' website: http://www.zoominfo.com/people/Adams_Shelly_242000376.aspx

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