I departed on my ski trip just after MLK Day in my 1991 Dodge diesel pickup with custom winter ready pop-up camper on board, along with my dog Tia.
We arrived at Stevens Pass just as the weather was changing from a widespread 2 week drought and temperature inversion that had effected all the PNW and B.C. Interior. The conditions were bulletproof but not icy. Since there is no on hill accommodation, there is a very large plug-in RV lot, with a short walk to the lifts and perfect for my truck camper and the half million dollar motorhomes that started arriving on Friday afternoon. Kinda pricey at $30/night.
Since I am a bit picky when it comes to ski conditions I did not ski a whole lot the first 2 days and the place was deserted (it helped that as a Sun Peaks Resort employee I get free skiing at Stevens). On the 3rd day we woke up to two inches of fresh that really perked things up. I met Posaune for breakfast and the recommended breakfast burrito was very tasty as was all the food at Stevens. Had a great day with Posaune touring me around the mountain. It was noisy underneath the fresh snow but fun to ski.
The next day, Friday, we got 4 more inches of fresh overnight plus flurries during the day and it got mild but stayed below freezing with no rain. I met up with DesiredUsername and we immediately went up to Cowboy mountain via the 7th Heaven Chair which had been broke down all week, so there was 6 inches of fresh to ski and combined with the Skyline Express lift provided some decent length to the top to bottom runs. They also opened the Southern Cross on Friday as it had been closed earlier in the week due to a lack of skiers on the backside Mill Valley area. This is the longest lift at Stevens and had really nice varying pitch and trees and open terrain. Unfortunately it had the heaviest snow with the most bulletproof layer underneath. In good conditions it would likely be my favourite place on the mountain.
Things that impressed me about Stevens included the variety of terrain and the amount of steep terrain. The large and not so nicely spaced moguls with a bulletproof coating kept me off most of the steeper runs though. I didn't night ski while there but the amount of lit up terrain is impressive.
Being a day ski area only likely means that the place gets less recognition than it deserves, but I was told that on weekends Seattle area skiers show up in big numbers so it is not neglected and future lift expansion is in the works.
Next my ski trip took me to Schweitzer Mountain near Sandpoint Idaho. RV parking at the mountain is $20/night for ski-in/out but no plug-ins. Instead my dog Tia and I stayed overnight at the shuttle lot at the bottom of the mountain and I paid $3 to ride the half hour shuttle to the lifts (free for pass holders).
I hooked up with Skierish while at Schweitzer and we had a great time skiing excellent conditions for 2 days. Lots of loose snow to push around, small soft moguls and the tighter trees, which weren't really tight, got hardly skied as most skiers seemed to stay in the more widely spaced trees. My favourite chair was Snow Ghost, an old fixed grip double, but the longest lift on the mountain and a mid terminal for avoiding the upper mountain when foggy.
About the only negative for Schweitzer are that the steep pitches tend to be short. With 2400' vertical and 2900 acres and 200k skier visits, it is very uncrowded. In fact Stevens on a Friday seemed busier than Schweitzer on a Sunday. I really liked this out of the way place and small town of Sandpoint on the shores of a very big Lake Pend Oreille. If I were a US resident I think I would give consideration to moving to Sandpoint.
The final stop on my ski trip was Whitewater Resort near Nelson B.C. Whitewater is small with no on hill anything except a day lodge, 3 fixed grip chairs and a 1970s feel to the place. 10 dollar per night plug in at the cat shop is ski in-out. I was the only over-nighter. The lodge is famous for its food and Ski Canada magazine once awarded Whitewater the best cafeteria food in Canada. A former co-owner also use to own a catering company that specialized in catering to the Vancouver film industry so that is where the menu (and cookbook) come from. Apparently Bruce Willis loved the brownies--special ingredient: sour cream.
Most ski towns in B.C. have a 15cm (6in) rule so that if it snows that or more overnight pretty much the whole town drops what its doing and goes powder skiing for 2 hours, then back to work, school, back country or whatever. Business that normally open at 9am, don`t open until noon etc. Well Whitewater gets 40 feet of snow annually, so the locals get kinda jaded and don`t come skiing if there is less than 15cm overnight.
Sure enough WW had bee getting 4cm to 8cm for several days in a row. A check of the 7 day snowfall showed 47cm (18.5in) but not very many people skiing. The conditions were the best of my trip with mostly ankle deep and some boot top snow.
Although WW is 1100 acres small, the Glory Ridge chair came used from Vail (no.5) and offers to the skiers right, 2000 feet vertical black diamond tree skiing about 3 runs wide, sustained pitch, changing to double black if you cross the skiway and keep going. Or take the skiway and drop in to single black or blue to finish the run.
Before leaving Whitewater and heading home to Sun Peaks, I dropped into the ski shop where they sell the cookbook, Whitewater Cooks. I told the saleslady that friends had a small cafe at Sun Peaks and were going to expand it this summer and they might be thinking of expanding the menu, so if that is the case I would like them to get ideas from Whitewater Cooks so I could continue to experience this fine fare. (people have been known to drive the 20 minutes from Nelson to WW not to ski, but to have lunch). She enjoyed this little (true) story so much that when I told her that I was staff at Sun Peaks, so how about giving me the staff price, she happily agreed.
Since giving Whitewater Cooks to Elizabeth, co-owner of the Bolacco Cafe at Sun Peaks, I haven`t been able to pay for a coffee and Elizabeth has promised me 2 jars of her homemade secret recipe spicy mustard. They use to sell jars of the mustard but it soon found its way onto the sandwiches of other restaurants, so now it is a prized commodity, only available to trusted friends.lol