Classic Kootenay Stoke
At first glance, you might wonder if all the fuss about Whitewater is mere hype: naked skiing (yes, really — this happened), best selling cookbooks (no greasy burgers on stale buns here), powder so deep you can swim in it (okay, maybe I exaggerated – but just a little), and an epic rivalry with Red Mountain (read this debate for a great howl).
I mean, come on — the resort is tiny, isn’t it? What, three lifts? And no on-hill accommodation? No gondola? It can’t be that good, can it?
Well, actually, yes. It can. Whitewater’s reputation starts with a few key features that many hills can’t reproduce, even if they tried: epic, I mean epic powder and trees. Lots of trees that were kept in place when the resort was built, and have shaped the way runs are created even to this day. You combine these two things, add in a vibe that is pure west Kootenays, and you’ve got a secret sauce so good you don’t need filler like on-hill accommodation to get people to come. They come and line up for the pure epic realness of it all.
Case in point: Go ahead, bring your own sack lunch into the lodge. Do it. The thing is, the reason this is still okay at Whitewater is two-fold: first, they aren’t jerks. And second, sure, go ahead and bring your little brown paper bag peanut butter and jelly sandwich or leftovers from last night’s dinner. The staff is betting on the fact that you will be salivating from what’s cooking in the Whitewater kitchen and end up happily ditching your lunch in favour of some of the good stuff — so good, the menu’s been made into four best selling cookbooks.
Also: Sure, there’s only 3 lifts. But the terrain is not wasted on filler runs. It’s all good stuff – and there is lots of it. And the thing is, who cares whether you’ve got 1184 acres or 8171 acres if it’s all crappy slush — or slushy crap — or crud? Whitewater’s terrain is basically 1184 acres of champagne powder with few if any lift lines, incredibly chilled out vibe, and access to the backcountry which is endless.
The season runs from the beginning of December to mid April each year, with about 40 feet of snowfall on average. It’s a ski hill that matches perfectly the town it resides next to, Nelson. On the one hand, perfectly laid back. On the other hand, nothing but the best where it counts.
If coming from the USA, you can even fly into Spokane and take the shuttle to Nelson, every day of the week. For great ideas on accommodation when you are skiing Whitewater, check out Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism’s website.