British Columbia Backcountry: Nelson

March 28th, 2008

While I bide my time here in Bozeman contemplating my MegaTrip around North America, I thought I would post one a previous trip, just completed. Flesh out the blog a little, give me a chance to play with putting pictures up, that kind of thing. And procrastinate doing anything school related tonight as well, of course.

This f-ing guy...So, now that I’ve played a bit with Gallery2 and WPG2 (a plug-in to integrate WordPress with Gallery2) I’ll give it a shot here and post pictures from the first part of my Canada Spring Break trip. To start off, I’ll give a little background on the trip. The idea was born out of my habit of going “somewhere” for spring break, getting really into backcountry skiing in the last three years, and hearing a lot about Nelson BC and Roger’s Pass. So I managed to convince some of my backcountry partner’s to go, finagled some $$$ from MSU for the trip as President of the MSU Backcountry Riding Club, and we were off. A modest road trip brought us up to Nelson, BC where we ended up at friendly and cool the White House hostel. At almost 5000′ here in Bozeman I had not fully cognized that Nelson is only at 1500′, and was dismayed at first to see how retreated the snow was. To allay the off-putting feeling of going on a ski trip and not finding snow, however, we met some entertaining hostel denizens. Like the guy pictured. And his red CRX. This guy was CRAZY. He thought that he was Jesus. The picture is of him putting on a show for us behind the hostel on our second day. Literally, a show. He’d open up the hood and poke around, then change the radio station, then rev the car and change the radio again. Then he’d turn the car around and open up the back, mess with stuff in the trunk, and change the radio. This continued ad nauseum. It was weird. However (aside from this scary/entertaining weirdo) things were good and by the grace of Dobbs we happened to get to Nelson the same night a favorite MC of mine, Aceyalone, was playing a show! A crazy coincidence and surreal good omen. After surviving the awful opening acts (we made fun of Mike Spec the entire rest of the trip), Aceyalone was fantastic and Nelson nightlife impressed me.

Near RetallackThe next day we moved slow (for many reasons) and didn’t get out on the road until lunch time. We headed towards Ainsworth Hot Springs in search of snow so that if we didn’t find it at least we could still stop on our way home and check out the hot spring caves. However as we continued past Kaslow, circumnavigating the block of mountains containing Kokanee Glacier, we started to see some tempting and impressive mountains by Retallack. Suprisingly firm pillowsWe picked a spot to stop and did a short tour up an old log road of some sort. We only went up about 2000′, so the snow was just starting to get soft by the time we had to turn back at dusk. It seems like a bust, since we only got one slushy run it and one of our party manged to lose a probe pole (hold on to those things!), but we were stoked since we now saw that there were big peaks nearby and the potential for some nice pow the rest of the trip.

Whitewater ski resort by Nelson BCWe now knew the key to good skiing was elevation, so we rolled south to 6000′ Kootenay Pass the next day. One of our crew was feeling under the weather so it was just three of us. On our way we drove up to Whitewater ski resort to check it out. We’d all heard great things about the powder and backcountry access Elise on Kootenay Passthere (our favorite ski movie Sinners is filmed there), so we had to. Even just from the base it was clear that this tiny ski area dishes up some tasty side-country lines, and would be unreal on a blower day. Sadly there was only a couple inches of fresh so we decided against buying lift tickets and continued to the Pass.

Kootenay PassAt Kootenay Pass, we found the snow! And sick terrain to boot! There is a nice gentle road that allows easy access to everything on the south side of the pass, and it looked easy to go north out the ridge. Being one person short and low on time we just skinned up the little 7800′ mountain right to the south of the pass and did one run. The tour was a little underwhelming, but snowed the whole time and it looked like we found where the good turns were for the next day so spirits were high.

Below is a picture of the Holy Smoke Culture shop and Psyche-deli, and an example of the surreal beer prices. In both cases: we’re not in America anymore guys… :)

Nelson Chrysler dealership...Beer is NOT CHEAP in Canada

Yay!The next day we returned to Kootenay Pass in full force. You can see Graham is stoked to be back out today. Today we dropped off the backside of the same peak we rode the day before. It was northeast facing, and the snow was tasty. We found some fun chutes and pillows on our way into the basin below. From the basin we spotted some more chutes, and skinned up to get ‘em. The avi danger seemed to be low where we were, so we schrapled nice steep pow with impunity. The trip is shaping up nicely!

Gettin some1:1 ratio of ascents to descents

Graham steeze on Kootenay PassLuke dropping in

Then our stay in Nelson was over. Spring Break is only so long, and bigger mountains called to us in the north. We enjoyed a beautiful drive up towards Revelstoke, complete with a ferry ride!

Graham surveying Beautiful British ColumbiaOn the ferry headed to Revelstoke

Next stop: Roger’s Pass!

Roger's Pass looms

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