Pros: Tons of skiable acreage with no peeps!
Cons: A bit hard to get to and no real "base village" per se
In March of ‘12, DSJ got a call from Tom Tanner, manager at Ski Pro Mesa/Tempe, AZ asking whether myself and my wife Karen would like to be part of a promo trip to Red Mountain Resort, BC. After quickly checking my schedule and frantically moving or canceling anything in the way, I said “Well, I suppose”. Thanks to Fran Richards, the Dir. of Marketing at Red, five of us were heading for Canada. So we had Tom – Ski Pro living legend, Dave Ridgeway - friend and associate of Fran, Spy Optics rep, and all-around great guy, Nick Wittl - Ski Pro employee extraordinaire and resident wild man, Karen – DSJ COE (Chairman of Everything), and myself.
After a short flight on Southwest to Spokane, we stuffed our junk in the trunk of the rental Suburban and pointed it north...
Red Mountain in Rossland, BC is just a short distance north over the border and only about a 2.5 hour drive, but involves a network of highways, so a GPS was nice. We arrived after dark, picked up our keys from a drop box, and headed to our rooms. Wow, Fran really pulled out all the stops – two new 3 bedroom condos on the top floor with private hot tubs on the balconies overlooking the resort. Way too cool, but what really had us buzzing was the foot of fresh on the ground and it was still coming down!
The next morning we awoke to clear skies, ate, booted up, and marched over to the base lodge to hook up with Roly, our guide for the day. If you’re a small resort in BC terms, you can still be big, and Red is a really big place with lots of acres and lots of vertical. It has two large peaks and just opened a third this season. The centerpiece is Granite Mountain which offers 360 degrees of skiing. The wide open terrain relentlessly pulls you off-piste, and with almost unlimited lines to choose from and very few skiers, we were charging through fresh pow for three solid days after the storm.
We hit the sunny stuff early while it was still blower, then chased the shade in the afternoon. Probably the highlight was on day two doing repeated laps on the north face of Granite off the Motherlode Chair. The area between Booty’s and Coolers is a maze of endless stash alleys with steep open bowl entries at the top and crazy booters mixed into the trees below.
This pretty young lady would meet us every time coming out of the trees.
Rossland is an authentic mountain town built from the days of the gold rush and after a hard day riding, offers some real good eats. The first night for us was at the Flying Steamshovel where Tom and Nick decided to stay late and karaoke with the locals. A long, cold walk home through Sasquatch’s back yard on snow trails gave them a chance to sober up a bit. The real surprise was the Rock Cut Pub the next night. The food at this rather ordinary looking mountain bistro style place knocked our socks off! Of course Canadian beer always rocks, but it just doesn’t get any better than Kokanees in the Kootenays.
Doing the shotski at The Rafters.
It was three days of pure stoke! Our worries of snow conditions that late in the season were met with a foot and a half of cold smoke and bluebird skies. The terrain was over-the-top. Rolie was a great guide and a fun dude. The accommodations were first class. The apres’ ski scene at the Rafters (one of N. America’s oldest and greatest ski bars) was a hoot, and the company was fast. Yeah, even for boarders, those dudes could really ride :>) And Karen, like the trooper she always is, totally hung with the bros on the hill, and put up with our endless litany of BS off of it.
A big thanks goes out from DSJ to Fran and Dave for making this happen and, of course, to Tom for not screwing it all up
John "fritzski" Fritz
EpicSki Special Correspondent