Winter is back in the Kootenays, where is everyone?
When the snow line shows up on Elephant Mountain which lies in plain view, and directly north of the city of Nelson you know its time to get your backcountry gear out of temporary retirement. Since the local ski hill known as ‘Whitewater’ is now closed for the season it makes for an logical destination to get in some convenient vertical, being all but a 20 minute drive from downtown Nelson. This is an April (and sometimes May and June tradition) and yesterday was no exception.
Arriving at Whitewater around 9:00 am I was expecting to see a small army of cars amassed in the parking lot but was pleasantly surprised to be the first one there. After putting in an uptrack directly up a run called “Bonanza” I skied back down the same way. There was healthy 30cm of dry, fluffy snow atop a soft base so the skiing was excellent. On lap two I was still the only one that could be found skiing or skinning and was starting to wonder where they hell everyone was. I skinned bak up my uptrack and came down a run called “Pay Dirt” which was just as much fun as the first. On my final climb a few people joined in but I still managed to get first tracks down “The Blast” and even though it sluffed huge off the convex role it was the best skiing of the morning.
When I left at 12:00, 4,000 feet more tired the temps were holding cold at -2°C and it was still snowing hard. With only 10 cars in the lot I was thinking that everyone really had given up on the season and that coming back on Wednesday was looking like a very good idea.
So who else got out? where? and how was the snow? Maybe ‘work’ really is a four letter word or just maybe the sting of a really shit season is a pain that most people aren't yet over.