Whitewater, British Columbia — where snow is measured by the yard

At an elevation of 5,333 feet, the main lodge at Whitewater is a scenic launch pad to the resort’s groomed runs, open bowls, glades, chutes and tree skiing. (Photo by Sean Armstrong, courtesy Whitewater)

By Bob Goligoski

For an early Wednesday morning, there sure seemed to be an over-size throng of skiers and boarders in the lift lines at Whitewater Ski Resort. Word had gotten out in nearby Nelson, British Columbia, that about a foot of light snow had fallen overnight at the resort.

When the snow hits that hard, it’s understood that powder-hungry residents will be late for work and classrooms will be half empty that morning.

Rebeckah Hornung, sales and marketing manager at Whitewater, explained, “A big dump at night and people take off the morning at work or from school. It’s an accepted part of the culture.”

Whitewater, just outside Nelson and 149 miles north of Spokane, gets legendary snow virtually every winter. This is a rare resort: no snowmaking system. When Mother Nature delivers over 40 feet every winter, who needs it? Shortly after we left the slopes in early March, the flake count was 394 inches and rising.

Three chairlifts, including a new quad what went in last summer, fan across some 1,174 lift-accessed skiable acres. Add in the adjoining backcountry and the skiable terrain goes to 2,367 acres.

More than half of the 82 runs are black diamond or double diamond, but there still seems to be plenty of bunny and intermediate slopes. Toss in a terrain park and five kilometers of nordic trails.

The official travel guide for the Nelson area declares that “our region has more cat ski operations than anywhere else on the planet. Makes sense, since we were the birth place of cat skiing in 1975.”

I was on a chairlift with a local logger and asked him where the best groomed runs were. He laughed and responded, “People don’t come here for groomed runs. They come for the powder.”

There is no lodging at the base. But Nelson is only 20 minutes away and seems well populated with hotels and motels. At the resort base is one of the tastiest ski resort cafes I have ever sampled – Coal Oil Johnny’s.

Whitewater has a lung-friendly, low level elevation with a base of 5,400 feet and a vertical drop of 2,044 feet. There are no high-speed lifts, which is bonus because the powder does not get skied out that quickly.

The resort, which is laid back and below the radar of many skiers and riders, likes to say we are “humble yet huge.” Our adult lift ticket worked out to $68 (U.S. dollars). And ticket prices are the same every day. The resort has been operating since the 1970s.

One of the delights of coming to Whitewater is the proximity of Nelson, a historic jewel nestled in the Selkirk Mountains and along the West Arm of Kootenay Lake. Nelson, which boasts more than 350 preserved heritage buildings, has the feel of being there forever.

Nelson likes to call itself the “number one small arts town in Canada,” and it’s bursting with public art, galleries, live theater and performance venues along with a number of street musicians who perform when it warms up.

Be sure and visit the Hume Hotel, a picturesque structure that opened in 1898. The vibrant life span of the town, which has about 10,000 residents, can be viewed through the history of the hotel. We had a number of to-die-for dishes in Mike’s Place at the hotel.

When the weather turns foul, a good break from the slopes is beer tasting. Nelson has four breweries. My favorite, with their ample pours and styles I enjoy, was Torchlight.

And after imbibing into the evening, be sure to try some amazing mountain cuisine. Two great choices are Louie’s Steakhouse and the West Coast Grill.

Information: skiwhitewater.com

Ski Canada: Mont-Sainte-Anne is a special place for downhill fun

A skier enjoys one of the many gladed trails at Mont-Sainte-Anne in Quebec. (Photo courtesy Mont-Sainte-Anne)

A skier enjoys one of the many gladed trails at Mont-Sainte-Anne, a resort in the Canadian province of Quebec. (Photos courtesy Mont-Sainte-Anne)

By Richard Irwin

Like the rest of us, Mont-Sainte-Anne is getting older. The historic ski resort 25 miles northeast of Quebec City turned 50 years old this year.

And during those five decades, the unique getaway has recorded many firsts. Among them, hosting the inaugural Canadian Winter Games in 1967 and the first Snowboard World Cup Stage to take place in Canada in 1993. In fact, the very next year it became the first mountain in the region to welcome snowboarders.

In 1971, the cross-country ski center opened with 90 kilometers of trails. Today, it’s the second-largest cross-country area in North America with more than 200 kilometers of trails.

The St. Lawrence River shimmers in the valley below as skiers gather for another exciting run at Mont-Sainte-Anne.

The St. Lawrence River shimmers in the valley below as skiers gather for another exciting run at Mont-Sainte-Anne.

The little ski area began with only 10 trails and four lifts, including the first gondola in eastern Canada. Today, the beautiful resort boasts 71 trails, offering fun runs for beginning skiers as well as the most advanced. These are served by nine lifts, including a high-speed eight-person gondola as well as a new high-speed quad that opened in 2014.

Western skiers may balk when they discover the summit peaks out at 2,625 feet in the picturesque Laurentian Mountains. But in a strange twist, visitors arrive at the summit and it’s ALL downhill from there, falling 2,000 sweet feet to the valley below.

And while Mont-Sainte-Anne averages 187 inches of natural snow annually, it has put in a snow-making system that covers 80 percent of the skiable terrain allowing the resort to boast one of Quebec’s longest ski seasons, closing on April 24 this year.

While eastern skiing can be icy and wet, the snow was a light powder when we recently visited. Granted, it’s not the champagne powder of its sister resort Kicking Horse or Fernie, but the conditions were better than the Sierra concrete often found at our local mountain resorts.

Since being bought by Resorts of the Canadian Rockies in 1999, a lot of money has gone into new gladed trails as well as improving the snow-making system. This is a great place for skiing or boarding through snowy glades.

Children use one of the longest magic carpet rides in Canada during a lesson at Mont-Sainte-Anne's ski school.

Children use one of the longest magic carpet rides in Canada during a lesson at Mont-Sainte-Anne’s ski school.

The first glade for kids, La Foret Enchantee, opened on the north side in 1997, along with a glade for experts on the south side. There’s nothing quite like sliding through a stand of snowy pines on a clear winter day.

The mountain offers three faces, each with a personality all its own. One overlooks the majestic St. Lawrence River. The view from the cable car can’t be beat. The trail La Crete provides a stunning view of the river and Quebec City.

On our first day, we took it easy, enjoying the well-groomed runs. The longest, Le Chemin du Roy, is 3 and a half miles long.

Mont-Sainte-Anne has a nice beginner’s area, with one of the longest magic carpets in Quebec. It offers an excellent ski school for the little ones, as well as the rest of us. Most of the easy trails are located east of the gondola.

The ski runs on the south face have the most slope, while north side has the easiest runs. The west face offers only natural snow and is serviced by a T-bar. So check to see if the area is open before going there.

Expert skiers will be challenged by the black diamond and double diamond runs. The resort has marked 20 percent as more difficult and another 10 percent as extreme.

The mountain also offers four terrain parks and a bordercross. A helmet is required in all snowparks. One park, La Cachette, is set in a forest and is lighted at night.

And you can’t beat the price considering the favorable exchange rate, which gave us $1.35 Canadian for every dollar we turned in.

A day lift ticket costs $76, good from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A day/night ticket is $69 and good from 12:30 to 9 p.m.

Night skiing at Mont-Sainte-Anne began in 1986. It has the highest vertical drop for night skiing in Canada.

So give Mont-Sainte-Anne a try whenever you’re in Quebec. You’ll be glad you did.

Rich Irwin is a freelance travel writer and a member of the North American Snowsport Journalists’ Association.

Information: mont-sainte-anne.com

Ski Canada: Discovering all that Kicking Horse and Revelstoke have to offer

With more than 3,10 acres of fall line skiing, high alpine bowls, and gladed terrain, Revelstoke also is the only resort to offer lift, cat, heli and backcountry skiing and snowboarding all from one village base. (Photo by Ian Houghton / Courtesy Revelstoke Mountain Resort)

Boasting more than 3,100 acres of fall-line skiing, high alpine bowls and gladed terrain, Revelstoke also is the only resort to offer lift, cat, heli and backcountry skiing and snowboarding all from one village base. (Photo by Ian Houghton / Courtesy Revelstoke Mountain Resort)

By Bob Goligoski

Like most of you, we’ve been to Mammoth, Squaw Valley, Heavenly, Sun Valley, Jackson Hole and other big-name resorts around North America.

This winter, some friends and I decided to do something totally different and visit Kicking Horse and Revelstoke in British Columbia. These are a couple out-of-way sprawling ski resorts southwest of Banff and surrounded by awesome, cloud-piercing peaks that remind one of the Alps.

Both have at least one thing in common: they have the two highest vertical drops among all Canadian ski resorts. Revelstoke, in fact, has the biggest vertical drop of any resort in North America at 5,620 feet.

How does this translate to the skiing? We took one endless intermediate run at Revelstoke that rolled on for 4,200 vertical feet. That is comparable to skiing top-to-bottom at Lake Tahoe’s Alpine Meadows not once but twice.

At Kicking Horse (4,133-foot vertical drop), where we started our four-day adventure, the 16-year-old resort is 15 minutes outside Golden, British Columbia, which is about three hours west of the Calgary airport.

Kicking Horse is a two-and-a-half-hour drive out of Calgary and is surrounded by six national parks. (Photo by Jeff Bartlett / Courtesy Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

Kicking Horse is the first four-season mountain resort to open in Canada’s Rockies in 25 years. (Photo by Jeff Bartlett / Courtesy Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

Kicking Horse has 128 runs, an eight-person gondola, three chair lifts and more than 85 in-bounds chutes.

There is plenty of skiing here for all ability levels, but with all the steep terrain (60 percent of the slopes are rated expert or advanced), this place is a mecca for powder-hungry experts.

Resort owners state that “in recent years, we have been focusing developments on softening the ski experience with increased winter grooming and ongoing slope development projects.”

Perhaps the best vantage point to enjoy the stunning scenery is the Eagle’s Eye restaurant. Located at the top of the gondola, it sits at 7,705 feet and is the highest-elevation restaurant in Canada, offering commanding views of five national parks.

The Golden Eagle Express offers a quick trip up to the mountaintop Eagle's Eye restaurant at Kicking Horse. (Photo courtesy Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

The Golden Eagle Express at Kicking Horse offers a scenic trip to the mountaintop Eagle’s Eye restaurant. (Photo courtesy Kicking Horse Mountain Resort)

Down lower on the mountain, you can visit with Boo, the on-slope, 900-pound resident grizzly bear. Boo was orphaned in 2002 when his mother was illegally shot by a hunter. He lives in a 22-acre enclosure and has lots of company during warm months when he is not hibernating. Last year, 27,000 people took the chairlift to check out Boo.

If one does not alpine ski or snowboard, you have a choice of Nordic skiing, tubing, snowshoeing, dog sled riding, snowmobiling or ice skating at the rink in the heart of the village. Hotels, B&B’s and condos dot the landscape around the base of the peak.

Nearby Golden is a bustling industrial hamlet of 4,000 souls. It has a large lumber mill and is a transportation hub with the Trans-Canada highway and the east-west railway line running through. It boasts a number of highly acclaimed eateries including Eleven22, Whitetooth Bistro Cedar House and Turning Point.

Next, we headed up the highway for a 90-minute drive to the town of Revelstoke.

The ski resort, which has only been around since 2007, sits just outside of the town, which has a population of 8,000.

Both Kicking Horse and Revelstoke top out around 8,000 feet, so altitude sickness is not much of a problem. Revelstoke has a vast amount of terrain fed by two chairlifts, a gondola and a magic carpet.

One could spend virtually all day here on one run. The Last Spike, a winding novice choice, rolls on for 9.5 miles before it hits the bottom. Revelstoke’s 65 “named runs” includes a good mixture of green, blue and black-diamond runs. Some come here just to ski the trees as the glades are everywhere, both tight and fairly wide open.

The Revelstoke area is known as the capital of helicopter skiing in Canada. The resort is the only ski resort in the world to offer lift, snowcat, helicopter and back-country skiing from one village base.

There are rooms at the base but the clear winner appeared to be the 221-room Sutton Place Hotel, which opened about six years ago. It boasts “luxury ski-in/ski-out condo-style accommodations” with daily rates ranging between $250 and $1,200 during the winter. Food tip – the Thai curry soup at the Revelation Lodge is a 10.

Skiing in Canada is easy on the wallet right now as the exchange rate is quite favorable for Americans. The adult, walk-in, lift tickets at Kicking Horse, for example, are priced at 92 Canadian, which works out to about $65 in U.S. coin. Lift tickets at Revelstoke are even cheaper.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort: kickinghorseresort.com
Revelstoke Mountain Resort: www.revelstokemountainresort.com

Whitewater is newest Powder Alliance playground for skiers, snowboarders

Whitewater Ski Resort, famous for its deep powder and seemingly endless terrain, has become the 14th member of the Powder Alliance, a collection of ski and snowboard resorts throughout the western United States and Canada that can be accessed with the use of one “anytime season” pass.

Located in the Selkirk Mountains near the town of Nelson, British Columbia, Whitewater receives an average of 40 feet of snowfall every winter.

“If you don’t know Whitewater, you should — 2,044 vertical feet of steeps, deeps, chutes and bowls. It’s an epic winter adventure with the most unbelievable food,” said John McColly, spokesman for Mountain High resort in Southern California.

Here are some other Whitewater facts:

  • Elevation: 5,333 feet for the base lodge, 7,867 for Ymir Peak
  • Lift system: 1 triple chair, 2 double chairs, 1 handle tow
  • Terrain: 13 percent beginner, 32 percent intermediate, 55 percent advanced
  • Ratings: The resort has the best deeps, bowls and glades, according to Ski Canada.

Other resorts in the Powder Alliance include Crested Butte in Colorado; Mt. Hood Skibowl in Oregon; Snowbasin in Utah; and China Peak, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Wrightwood in California. Information: www.powderalliance.com


Quebec’s Hotel de Glass dazzles with its fanciful frozen decor

The Hotel de Glace in Quebec features guestrooms with elaborate carved walls and a bed made of ice. Some, like this one, come with a fireplace, though it's only for looks - no heat enters the room. (Photo courtesy Hotel de Glace)

The Hotel de Glace in Quebec features guestrooms with elaborate carved walls and a bed made of ice. Some, like this one, come with a fireplace, though it’s only for looks – no heat enters the room. (Photo courtesy Hotel de Glace)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

The bed is made of ice, the walls and floor made of snow, and the ambient temperature is a brisk 24 degrees F. Sound like a place you’d like to spend the night? Surprisingly, many people do.

The Hotel de Glace (Ice Hotel), located a few miles from downtown Quebec, is an imaginative creation of snow and ice, reconstructed every winter in a matter of six or so weeks. From the grand entrance, complete with check-in counter, to the guestrooms, the walls of every room are intricately carved into masterpieces of art, and some of the beds feature massive ice canopies and elaborate headboards.

The hotel is open for overnight stays and to tourists from Jan. 5 to March 22. With 44 rooms, a vaulted hall with an amazing ice chandelier, chapel, bar, disco, and ice slide, there’s a lot to see. Visitors can walk around on their own or sign up for a tour.  We opted for the tour, which included a drink at the ice bar.

Like any hotel, the guestrooms range from the small and simple to elaborate suites with fireplaces, which are for ambience only as no heat enters the room. Most rooms come with an ice chair and ice table (can’t imagine spending much time there!) and have one to three beds. But all feature amazing sculpted decor, every one different from the last.

This year’s theme is “Space-Time,” and as visitors wander from room to room, they journey from ancient times into the future. On our tour, we saw one room depicting humankind’s space exploration with a relief of the Space Shuttle and a full-height sculpted astronaut, and another showcasing automobiles, complete with an ice car bed.

Our guide Sara explained that in the evening, the guestroom areas are closed to the public, cleaned and prepared for those staying overnight. A mattress and an isolating bed sheet are placed on the bed to keep the cold from seeping in, and each person is given an arctic sleeping bag. “We advise guests to take a warm shower before bed to increase the body temperature. This will help you stay warm throughout the night,” she said.

After visiting the entrance hall, several rooms, the chapel and disco, the tour ends at the ice bar – a popular stop apparently from the size of the crowd. Sara explained the beer, wine and alcohol are stored in refrigerators not to keep them cold but to keep them from freezing. Everything from the bar counter to the lounge chairs and tables are made of ice. Even the drinks are served in an ice glass, a bulky square block of ice with a hole in the center to hold the liquid.

The first ice hotel went up in 2001, and it’s been a popular winter attraction ever since. With the outside temperature only in the single digits, standing at a table in an ice bar enjoying a vodka and cranberry juice cocktail out of a frozen glass in an ice hotel at 24 degrees feels downright warm.

The ice bar at the Hotel de Glace. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

The ice bar at the Hotel de Glace. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Racing canoes on ice-covered St. Lawrence River among events at Quebec’s Winter Carnival

Two crews in the elite male class compete in the ice canoe race on the St. Lawrence River during Quebec's Winter Carnival. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Two crews in the elite male class compete in the ice canoe race on the St. Lawrence River during Quebec’s Winter Carnival. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

Standing on the edge of the St. Lawrence River watching a group of five women power their canoe over the ice-crusted surface, all I could think of was, “You go, ladies!”

The women are among the 10 teams of elite female crews competing in the ice canoe race, one of many events and competitions at the Winter Carnival in Quebec City. In addition to the women, there are 10 teams in the elite male class, and a whole lot of brave souls in the amateur sport class. (I stopped counting at 25 boats.)

From where we stand near the starting line, we can hear the canoes coming before we see them. We hear the voices of the crew, but mostly we hear the scraping of boats over ice. The ice on the river is broken up in huge blocks, and navigating them takes great physical effort and group coordination.

Wearing spiked shoes, holding on to the gunwale, and kneeling on one knee in the boat with the other leg dangling over the edge, the crews propel their canoes up and over the chunks of ice. The crews do this for half a mile up river before reaching flowing water where they jump in and start paddling.

For today’s race, the temperature is in the single digits, sinking into sub-zero with the fierce wind blowing across the river. But the cold weather doesn’t keep bundled-up spectators from lining the riverbank, four and five deep. Nor, apparently, does it bother the racers.

When I marvel at the utter craziness of it all, a native Quebecer standing next to me counters, “I’ve done it once; it’s a lot of fun!”

The ice canoe race is a carnival staple. It’s been held every year since the carnival’s inception in 1955. The first women’s team participated in the race in 1966. The race begins in Quebec City, and teams navigate a course across the river to Levis and back. The elite male class must complete the circuit twice.

So why a canoe race on a frozen river? According to the Quebec City Tourism website, carnival competitions were created to represent Quebec winter traditions. The canoe, dogsled and sleigh are traditional modes of transportation and were important to the settlement and history of Quebec.

Quebec’s winter carnival ends today with the sleigh races and the closing ceremonies.

A crew in the elite female class work to get their canoe across the ice. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

A crew in the elite female class work to get their canoe across the ice. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Everyone loves the parade at Quebec’s Winter Carnival

Spectators line the streets to watch the night parade in Quebec. Photos courtesy Quebec City Tourism

Spectators line the streets to watch the night parade in Quebec. (Photos courtesy Quebec City Tourism)

By Marlene Greer/Correspondent

Lights, camera (yours) and lots of action.

That’s the night parade at Quebec’s Winter Carnival, a 17-day long celebration of all things snow and ice. The parade is so popular it’s done twice – once in the suburb of Charlesbourg and a second time through the streets of Quebec. The Charlesbourg parade was held last weekend, and the parade in Quebec is set for Saturday.

“The parade in Charlesbourg is held earlier in the night at 6 and is better for children,” said Paule Bergeron of Quebec City Tourism.

Standing with the crowd in Charlesbourg, a look across the street at the row of children lining the parade route definitely gives the impression this is a family event. And the zero-degree temperature hasn’t spoiled the fun. But it does make for a lot of stamping of feet, clapping of hands and dancing around by spectators just to stay warm. Even the marching bands had to wrap their instruments to keep them from freezing.

The parade begins with groups of jesters and jokers who dance, mime and perform acrobatics. Spectators blow their long, red plastic horns, a carnival necessity, in approval. There are musicians, singers and marching bands, playing mostly Canadian tunes, but we did recognize the familiar “Eye of the Tiger.”

This wide-eyed creature is just one of many in the parade.

This wide-eyed creature is just one of many in the parade.

It’s the colorful lighted floats, however, which are the most interesting. A long procession of sea creatures, magical creatures, and what looked to me like dancing snow wolves entertained the crowd.

At the end of the parade came Bonhomme, the carnival’s mascot. Bonhomme is a snowman who wears a red cap, an arrowhead sash and a big smile. And just like with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland, the kids, parents and tourists all clamber for a photo with the famed character. Bonhomme’s been around since the first carnival in 1955, and kids seem to love him.

The carnival concludes this weekend with the snow bath (put on your swimsuit, some boots and roll in the snow), Quebec night parade and after-party on Saturday and the sleigh race and closing ceremonies on Sunday.

Bonhomme waves to the crowd.

Bonhomme waves to the crowd.

Enjoying the Carnaval de Quebec with an ice castle, rides and caribou

Ice castle at Carnival de Quebec (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Ice castle at Winter Carnival in Quebec. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

Bundled up in several layers of clothing, we braved the single-digit temperatures for a sled ride down an ice track, a round of bumper rafts on ice, a drink of caribou at the ice bar, and a walk through an ice castle. We even made our own “maple-sicles” in the snow.

It’s all part of Carnaval de Quebec, a 17-day long celebration of all things snow and ice. Quebec City, like much of the northeast in early February, was in the grip of a deep freeze, but that didn’t keep families from bundling up in their snow gear for some winter fun.

Christian, a native Quebecer there with his two children, the youngest he was pulling around in a sled, joked, “We have to do something in winter.”

The carnival is spread across the Plaines D’Abraham just outside the old walled city. In addition to the rides, food, music, snow sculptures and events at the Plaines, parades, concerts and races take place throughout the city.

Making maple popsicles (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Making maple popsicles. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

The first thing you notice – and can’t miss – at the carnival is the large ice palace, a tradition going back to the first carnival in 1955. As you go from room to room, you can lounge in an ice chair, check out the ice bar, and explore ice tunnels (for kids, except for one parent we watched crawl in to retrieve her wayward toddler).

Then there are the beautiful to fantastical snow sculptures. The international snow sculpture competition has been part of the carnival since 1973. Sculptors from around the globe come to Quebec to create these intricate and realistic works of art. A trail winds among the sculptures so you can view them from all sides.

Being Canadians, of course there’s a small hockey rink, where kids can grab a stick and join in. There’s also ice fishing, dogsled rides, a tubing hill, and bumper rafts, where you just sit back and enjoy the spin as the boats (on wheels) are pushed around the ice. And what’s a carnival without food and drink? We tried the make-your-own maple pop and caribou. To make a traditional Canadian maple pop, a foot-long strip of warm maple syrup is poured on top of snow, and you take a popsicle stick and roll the slowly hardening syrup around the stick. As for caribou, with a name like that how could we resist? Caribou is made with Canadian port, vodka and brandy and is served warm – perfect on a frigid winter day.

The carnival concludes this weekend. Special events include the night parade and after-party, a sleigh race, and the crazy snow bath.

Snow sculpture at Carnival de Quebec (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Snow sculpture at Winter Carnival in Quebec. (Photo by Marlene Greer)


British Columbia’s ski resorts offer inspired food

Think BC’s slopes are dominated by powder, chutes, bowls and glades? Sure, but they’re paired nicely with power-foods, rice bowls and sablefish with miso glaze. Indeed, menus at these delectable resorts go far beyond the standard fare, opting instead to creatively — and deliciously — fuel adventurers onto their next snowy stash.

Whistler Blackcomb may earn rave reviews from the ski and snowboard crowd, but it’s their tasty offerings both on and off the slopes that ensure time spent in the snow satisfies every appetite.

Adventurers can stop at the top of Creekside Gondola to sample the goods at the resort’s first vegetarian restaurant, Raven’s Nest, where plant-based menus prove they can stoke the fire with equal fervour.

If curry is more pleasing to the palate, Vancouver chef Vikram Vij’s signature Indian dishes (think chicken with chickpea, beef with spinach, and vegetable bean and kale) at Whistler Mountain’s Roundhouse Lodge or Blackcomb Mountain’s Wizard Grill are worth planting the poles.

Off the mountain, hungry hordes can tuck skis and boards away for strolls along the pedestrian-only village in search of pie — Peaked Pies, that is. At this popular spot, Aussie staples will satisfy even the heartiest of cravings with steak, chicken and veggie pies, topped with mashed potatoes, mushy peas and gravy.

Options abound: La Cantina Urban Taco Bar dishes out time-honoured favourites and Mexican fusion in equal measures, while Stonesedge Kitchen serves up comfort food with a decidedly local twist. Should a more intimate indulgence be on the menu, locavores can raise a glass to Alta Bistro’s cutting-edge take on French cuisine — with some of BC’s best reds and whites, of course. whistlerblackcomb.comwhistler.com

Whitewater Ski Resort, near Nelson in the province’s Kootenay Rockies, wrote the book (literally) on mind-blowing cuisine, thanks to the success of Shelley Adams’s wildly popular Whitewater Cooks series.

With menus plucked from the on-mountain restaurants, home cooks can whip up the wild game bratwurst or the spiced falafel goodness of the Glory Wrap in the comfort of their own kitchens, or, better yet, sample dishes first hand on the mountain.

The best part? Snow isn’t Whitewater’s only legendary offering: here, skiers and boarders can maximize their powder play, courtesy of the resort’s own Fresh Tracks Café Express, set at the base of the Glory Ridge Chair.

This crowd-pleasing food truck — the first of its kind to make an appearance at a BC resort — satisfies with the Evening Ridge Quinoa Bowl, zested with almond lime dressing, and the two-hands-required Ymir-style Turkey Bun, served with spice-infused turkey breast, roasted garlic aioli, handcut seasoned ripple chips and banana peppers. skiwhitewater.com

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, another famed Kootenay Rockies destination, is known for its heart-thumping mix of terrain and fluffy champagne snow — toast-worthy traits best celebrated at the resort’s Eagle’s Eye Restaurant.

Set 2,346 metres (7,700 feet) in the sky, Eagle’s Eye reigns as Canada’s most elevated restaurant, boasting sophisticated menus that celebrate scallops with pear and parsnips, and wild boar tenderloin nestled on beluga lentils.

Afternoons will prove a delicious adventure, too, with the resort’s new Sky Lunch Package, a gondola sightseeing ride up and up paired with a lunch entrée and dessert. Smoked salmon bruschetta, anyone? kickinghorseresort.com

BC’s Powder Highway draws adventurers

There’s something compelling about British Columbia’s Kootenay Rockies. The nature here is big — monumental, in fact — but amidst this imposing landscape adventurous communities thrive, small but hardy.

Prospectors originally mined this area for gold; now something else beckons, a rush of adrenalin that requires skis and boards, and a GPS to map the way.

The outdoor-adventure action here is concentrated along the Powder Highway in southeastern BC, where eight full-service alpine resorts mingle with more than 10 Nordic ski destinations, nearly two dozen snowcat and heli-ski operators, plus a complement of 23 backcountry lodges.

Heli- and cat-skiing were born here, and it’s where winter resorts offer remarkable, and varied, mountain experiences, chock full of warmth and charm.

Case in point: Fernie, a historic mining town that is now a ski mecca whose population nearly doubles during the winter season.

Here, adventurists can make tracks in Fernie Alpine Resort’s legendary powder, a playground that includes 1,000 skiable hectares (2,471 acres), 142 runs and five alpine bowls. As a bonus, après-ski, Fernie-style, is easily achieved with a pint of Glacier Fresh Kokanee at The Griz Bar.

And that’s just a taste of what’s on offer along BC’s Powder Highway. Die-hards could, for example, explore whole new realms of possibility at RED Mountain Resort, where the addition of nearly 81 hectares (200 acres) of gladed tree skiing on three newly cut runs on Mt. Kirkup’s south side promise to redefine steep and deep.

A venture to nearby Whitewater Ski Resort offers equal challenge — thanks to a wintry landscape that boasts an annual 12-metre (40-foot) snowfall — that is blissfully rewarded at nearby Ainsworth Hot Springs. (Both the resort and the springs are just a short drive from Nelson, one of BC’s quirkiest and most beloved towns.)

Powder addictions will be further sated at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden, “The Champagne Powder Capital of Canada,” or at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, home to North America’s longest vertical.

For those eager for some high-flying action (a.k.a. an opportunity to perfect their Double McTwist), Panorama Mountain Resort’s terrain park is just the ticket.

There are down-to-earth options along this road trip, too: grown-ups can leave the aerials to the pros, enrol the kiddies at Kimberley Alpine Resort’s Owl Learning Area, and make tracks along open glades and heart-thumping steeps. (Planting poles and warming up with a steaming cup of hot buttered rum at the Stemwinder Bar & Grill is an equally tempting alternative.)

Bottom line: along BC’s adventurous Powder Highway, options for powdery play are seemingly endless. And the locals are pretty friendly, too. PowderHighway.com