I Found the Snow – Accidentally

This is my ski year, but where is the snow?  Accumulated snow (aka “base”) all over the U.S. & Canada are bizarrely low – even Utah & Colorado & Wyoming are low.  BUT I WANT TO SKI.


Solution:  I lowered my standards from powdery glades to packed powder groomed runs.  Initially experimented with my local ski hills, Mt Spokane, & 49 Degrees North in Chewelah.   OMG:  it can be so bone dry in town, yet up on the mountain there’s that beautiful white stuff, and skiing on it was so much fun!  I was in.


I packed up my trusty new-to-me Subaru Outback with the Consumer Reports approved  winter tires:

–           5 pair of skis, 4 sets of ski boots, a bag of XC (cross country) gear and a bag of downhill gear

–          A bag of goodies I’m helping Santa deliver

–          Plus the usual stuff


www.onthesnow.com showed that the 2 mountains in N America with the deepest base are Whistler-Blackcomb (N of Vancouver, BC) and Whitewater near Nelson, BC, each with about a 50” base (better than the 28” base everywhere else including Colorado & Utah & Wyoming).  

Of those 2 mountains, only Whistler met my criterion of my never having skied there before.  So, I was off to Whistler

–          Day 1: drove from Spokane to Vancouver (approx 7 hours)

–          Spent 2 nights in Vancouver visiting a friend I met in Istanbul last year. It was balmy spring weather.

–          Day 3: Did the gorgeous/spectacular 2 hour drive to Whistler and spent my first afternoon XC classic skiing in a park there – totally gorgeous around Lost Lake, and I walked there carrying my skis from my friend’s condo. 

XC ski at Lost Lake - Whistler

 Shocking that there was snow, for yet again, the weather was balmy. 

–          Day 4:  gorgeous, warm, sunny day and my friend gave me a tour of both mountains, i.e. both Blackcomb & Whistler. 

  • My theory was validated, I was able to very much enjoy the groomed packed powder
  • skiing Whistler in sunshine

–          Day 5:  Did  skate skiing then classic XC skiing at the Callaghan Olympic XC Ski Park just outside Whistler.   It was XC ski perfection, and so incredibly interesting seeing the Olympic venues.

Olympic XC ski venue

Olympic ski jump

        Day 6:  miracle:  IT SNOWED OVERNIGHT.  Gorgeous, wonderful powder, but still had to stay on runs because all that hard pack was only beginning to fill in.   Took advantage of the free Ski Guide Tours that start at 11:30 a.m.  Of course I got lost getting back to the meeting point and by the time I got there the tours had left.  But, I found some red coated guides and begged and pleaded and they let me tag along with them.  MAN – did they ski fast.  MAN – did my legs burn by the end of the day.   MAN – was it ever fantastic. 

Touring Blackcombe

Touring Blackcomb



   Day 7:  more snow, more powder, more perfection.  Today I got to the tour on time, and chose the slow group –my quads were still recovering.

–          Day 8:   5 ½  hour drive to Sun Peaks outside of Kamloops.  Loved the new-to-me scenery and the sense of isolation up there. 

Arrival at Sun Peaks Int'l Hostel

Then it started to snow heavily as I got closer to my destination.

–          Days 9 & 10: two heavenly powder days, being generously toured around by their Sun Guide program. 

On Sun Peaks Tour day 1

Here the tour starts at 9:15 a.m. and at 1 p.m. and lasts about 2 ½ hours each.  Took a total of 3 tours and each was more fun than the last . By the end, it really was powder powder powder,

Sun Peak Trees

and even though tours are not supposed to go through the trees, well, we’re all only human.



 It’s Bucket List time, and I signed up about a week ago for a day of Cat skiing in Ymir, BC, about ½ hour south of Nelson and (gulp) 8 hours from Sun Peaks.  So, today was a driving day. 

Waiting for Ferry across Arrow Lake

I could NOT have survived without Books On Tape.

Crossing Arrow Lake

  Parts of the drive were pretty, parts were spectacular, and parts were – just parts.  Overall, though, it was disturbing how little snow I saw – more from a climate change perspective than even my personal selfish wish to ski.

I am now safely at the Ymir Palace Hotel, and tomorrow is Cat day.  New experience for me, just the way I like it.



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