Skiers and snowboarders are in for double the fun at Whitewater this year as the much-loved Canadian powder playground is getting ready to double its spectacular terrain to more than 1,400 acres of “glorious” fun!
The Glory Ridge (triple) Chair, on track for completion by the end of 2010, is Whitewater’s first new lift in 17 years—the sixth lift in the mountain’s 34-year history—and will allow access to eight new runs before the year is over.
“It’s a history-making event,” said Whitewater outdoor operations manager Kirk Jensen. “It was hard to believe it was going to happen, but here it is only a few months after we started construction in July.”
The lift-line itself—nearly twice as long and wide and as steep as Whitewater’s famed Blast, beneath the Summit double, “is going to be a real leg burner,” says Jensen. “It’ll separate the shredders from the pretenders,” says the former ski movie star, an employee at the hill for the past 18 years.
Whitewater is set to open for the season the first week in December, and to say everyone at Whitewater is chomping at the bit is an understatement.
Anne Pigeon, Vice President, Operations of Marketing, said the eight runs, which have already been cut and gladed, will provide 2,042 feet of vertical terrain and 749 new skiable acres by the end of the year.
“Very exciting things going on here…it’s going to be a great year,” she said.
Nestled in the rolling Selkirk Mountains, on British Columbia’s famous Powder Highway, and with a view of Kootenay Lake and the town of Nelson below, Whitewater is a relatively undiscovered little gem with a reputation for epic powder snowfalls (40-plus feet annually! ) and little to no lift lines. There’s a reason Powder Magazine calls Whitewater, “One of the best powder mountains on the continent.”
Alpine runs range from beginner to expert-advanced, and offer the “best deeps, bowls, and glades,” as rated by Ski Canada. There’s also a Rail Park, 15 kilometers of Nordic skiing and plenty of back country trails to keep you challenged, whether you want to go it alone or head out with Whitewater’s professionally trained instructors.
Another new addition to the mountain this year is Snow School director Brent Malyshhas. With ski instructing experience gleaned from some of the world’s greatest slopes, including Switzerland, Colorado, and all over British Columbia, the CSIA Level 3, Level 4 candidate “has big plans for those aiming to be more pro in the snow—from first timers to fledgling freeriders, tiny tots to senior hot shots.”
“As Whitewater grows now, there’s a clear need for our Snow School to grow along with it,” says Malysh. “We’re no longer just a small locals-only focused ski and snowboard program.”
The 28-year-old has completely revamped the children’s ski and snowboard instruction programs, making them more enjoyable and easier-to-understand, and launched other programs including The Powder Room for ladies only and the Boardroom for men.
Private lessons are also offered daily for ages 13 and up (starting at $78/hr + $38 for each additional person; discounts available for multiple hours), and are a great value; not only do you have the pro’s undivided attention and a lesson tailored specifically to your goals, but you’re allowed to head to the front of the lift lines. You can include up to three friends and/or family members to share in the cost.
Also new this year is the Discover Cat and Heli program, taking you off the groomers and into endless incredible terrain of chest-deep powder, conveniently accessible with the new Glory Ridge chairlift.
If the backcountry is what you’re after, Snow Safety Instructors are ready to take you exploring. Before heading out, knowledgeable guides will review proper use of equipment and skins, share how to prepare for the trip, how to find routes and keep safe when in avalanche terrain. (All skiers/riders must be advanced and have some avalanche safety awareness.) Groups must book at least two days in advance and have between three and 12 participants per group.
An Avalanche Awareness program is available, taught by Beyond the Boundaries, a non-profit society newly formed to provide free Avalanche Courses to youth between the ages of 13–18. These free 1- and 3-day safety courses follow the curriculum established by the Canadian Avalanche Association and will be taught by qualified instructors.
If you’re looking for great deals this season, Whitewater is bringing back, by popular demand, the Powder Plus Perks card. Starting at just $42, the card allows you not only the first and the sixth day free, but $5 off every time you ski or ride in between or after, with no blackout days.
There are also great ski & stay deals to be had. Just visit the Whitewater web site for a list of packages, starting at $69 and ranging from “heritage hotels to hip hostels,” right in the heart of Nelson.
Only 30 minutes drive from the top of the mountain, Nelson is a sweet little counter-culture community, reminiscent of a quaint European village, where life feels easy and people exude warmth and hospitality.
Just head down Baker Street and you’ll see the economy is alive and well, with unique businesses everywhere. Nelson is very proud of local artists as nearly every restaurant and public center doubles as an art gallery. There’s also live entertainment year-round and a great selection of restaurants, pubs and night life to make your vacation a well-rounded one.
Or head across the lake for some TLC at the Ainsworth Hot Springs where you can steam and melt away all those aches and pains in one of three natural, thermal pools.
Whatever you choose to do, have peace of mind knowing that you probably won’t have to wait in big lines or fight the masses. It’s just not the Whitewater experience.
Says Pigeon, “What we don’t have are the huge crowds…it’s all about the good times, the good people, the good food.”