Words by Darryl Hunt
Photos by Darryl Hunt & Steve Shannon
On Sunday, December 16th the town of Rossland woke up to 21cm of blower pow which was the start of a week long storm that dropped a total of 144cm of snow in 8 days. I was able to get away from Revelstoke quickly and ski inbounds on day two of the storm and it was amazing. I have never seen Red Mountain that good in mid December before. Long time locals say they haven't seen Red this good in decades and all this at the time when Rossland and Nelson are in the finals of Powders 'Ski Town Throwdown'.
After a few days hanging out back in Revelstoke I had to drive my girlfriend to Kelowna so she could fly home to the family for the week over Christmas. With clear skies and a stable snow pack I took this opportunity to spend the week ski touring around Rossland. I arrived in town to find out that Rossland/Nelson won Powder Magazine's ski town contest and figured I'd write up an article of my skiing to help hype up the area.
Kirkup Mountain's north face (taken from Hanna Ridge later in the week).
Headed up Kirkup on Christmas Eve with my friends Wiggly, Kyle, and my dog Tokes. Usually Kirkup is considered slackcountry, but because none of us had a pass to Red we hit it from the highway instead.
About halfway up we ran into a family with two other dogs and a kid that couldn't have been older than 12 or 13. It was his first tour ever and stoke level was high. Now with six people and three dogs on the skin trail it was an entertaining climb for sure.
The family heading up to the peak while we head off to do a quick lap on a short open pitch.
Reason for the short open pitch for our first run is because Wiggly is noboarding and wanted a couple warm up turns before tackling the full run down the north.
Tokes getting her pow on.
The family about to drop in for their run. The kid was super stoked on the snow as he was hooting and hollering with each turn.
The north side of Grey Mountain with Granite (in bounds) behind. Red Mountain is putting a chairlift up Grey for next season with $10 cat rides up this year. While the south side (which faces the ski hill) is mellow intermediate terrain, the north side offers short steep shots with cliffs, ridges, trees, and nice open areas. It will be interesting to see how it will ski once it becomes inbounds and gets tracked.
Tokes hanging out just below the summit ridge watching...
Wiggly and Kyle approaching the summit.
By the end of the day we did two runs down the north side and one down the east back to the highway. The dog was pooped by the end to say the least. On Boxing Day I headed out to Kootenay Pass for a tour. With three Revelstoke folk, two from Nelson and one Rosslander it was a good group of Kootenay folk. I forgot my camera (like usual) but my friend Steve had his and took a couple pictures. The following three pictures are his. (Steve has some skill with the camera - check him out if you want at www.facebook.com/SteveShannonPhotography)
Seb getting his turn on.
Me skinning up through the trees.
Our tour on Google Earth. Four runs, all north/northeast facing. With bomber stability and excellent skiing conditions we skied some nice chutes, avy paths, steeps, cliff zones, treed pillow zones, the kind of day that dreams are made of.
The ski out to the highway after a great day in the mountains.
The next day Wiggly and I headed up Hanna Basin with the goal of doing a few lines on 1950 Ski Movie and Hanna Ridge. Our plans changed as the day went on due to clouds coming in but the day was fun nonetheless.
1950 Ski Movie on the left and Plewman's south face on the right (taken from Kirkup on Christmas Eve).
The day started with an inversion and the skin up was beautiful. Snow covered trees and sunshine sure makes for a pleasant climb in the mountains. Unfortunately by the time we reached treeline some clouds came over the ridge and swallowed 1950 Ski Movie forcing us to change our plans. We ended up heading towards Plewman to see how the north side was looking. North Plewman arguably has the best terrain in the Rossland Range but sadly the clouds were too thick by the time we got to the top and decided against dropping in.
Hanna Ridge from Plewman.
Considering the options we figured we'd just follow the ridge from Plewman up and over 1950 to Hanna Ridge where there are more trees to give us definition while skiing. As with the rest of the week, the snow was stable and very skiable.
Wiggly dropping a cliff at the end of our run on Hanna. The ski out is normally down Hanna Creek to the highway, but due to it being December still the creek wasn't fully filled in. Due to Wiggly being on a snowboard we ended up in the creek gully eventually and sure enough, he fell in the creek. Only his board got wet and after some scraping, he got the ice off and made it out safe.
We had plans to head up to a cabin in the basin on the north side of Plewman on the night of the 28th to spend the night up there skiing under the full moon. With a high inversion all day all but the peak was in the clouds, and as the sun went down some high cloud cover rolled in ending any chance of seeing the moon. Luckily, the bar was a good substitute for good times.
Tomorrow I head back up to Revelstoke for New Years and the forecast looks promising for getting up in the alpine. Rossland has been fun, but as much as I love sleeping under a pool table, Rogers Pass and my bed are calling me.