Today’s Poll

Whitewater soldiers on during dreadful winter

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
February 20th, 2015

At some ski hills in BC skis and snowboards have been replaced at the resorts by mountain bikes.

Not in the BC Interior where ski hills continue to boast some of the best conditions in the province.

Included in the mix is Nelson’s Whitewater Ski Resort, which is one of those mountains persevering during this awful winter for snow, boasting some of the best conditions in the province according to General Manager Kirk Jensen.

“Yes, all 81 runs are open and have been since early January with the exception of the odd avalanche area closure during periods of elevated hazard levels,” Jensen told The Nelson Daily when asked about the conditions.

“We don’t anticipate having to close any runs or lifts with the current long range weather outlook not changing significantly.”

“We are happy to say we currently have some of the best conditions at any ski area in Western North America and boast one of the deepest snow packs at any ski resort,” Jensen added.

Despite Jensen putting on a happy face, Whitewater has struggled with snow conditions.

Toss in the fact most of the recent precipitation during the Pineapple Express came in the form of rain instead of snow as the freezing level climbed up the mountain, and the resort is happy just to be open.

“We actually have more snow currently this winter with a settled base of 211cm at the Summit weather plot today, compared to 195cm at the Summit plot on the same day last year,” Jensen said.

“The big difference is on the lower 1/3 of the mountain where we have a below average snowpack due to the higher than average freezing levels this winter.”

The yearly average snowfall at Whitewater checks in at 1200 cm or 40 feet. Much of the 40 feet usually arrives in the form of Champagne Powder.

For skiers and snowboarders this season, the powder has been replaced by spring skiing as warmer temperatures and sunshine continue to dominate the weather at Whitewater.

“No nothing out of the ordinary,” Jensen said when asked if the current conditions pose any safety threat for skiers.

“Currently we are experiencing spring like conditions so skiing is great on the groomers and soft heavy snow in the trees.”

“(However) normal caution is advised,” he added.

Of course, skiers could be living on the west coast where conditions are absolutely dreadful with hills like Cypress, Mount Seymour, Grouse Mountain, Hemlock near Mission and Mt. Washington on Vancouver Island all closing due to lack of snow as is Salmo Ski Hill.

Rossland’s Red Mountain remains open, as do most of the interior hills.

“Every year is different,” said Jensen asked if he’s seen a season like this during his tenure at Whitewater.

“However the winter of 2000-2001 stands out in my mind as being somewhat abnormal.  

“If I recall it was a very slow start with about an 80 cm settled base at the Summit weather plot heading into the Christmas holidays. We were also well below our average settled base that year with a 180 cm base going into our last week of operations.”

As in the case for any weather dependent industry, Whitewater soldiers on.

This weekend the hill invites skiers and the public to the ninth annual Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Fest.

Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Fest began as a way to provide a gathering of mountain enthusiasts of all levels can celebrate our local culture with a breathtaking backdrop on world-renowned snow.

Normally the festival allows skiers and boarders to learn and compete and celebrate the snow.

There is snow at Whitewater for the ninth annual Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Fest.

It’s just not the Champagne Powder everyone is used to gliding on.

But at least those on the hill are not using mountain bikes to get down from the top of the mountain.

Categories: General


Other News Stories