Spanning southeastern British Columbia, Canada’s Powder Highway claims the highest concentration of skiing and snowboarding in the world, with eight alpine resorts, dozens of heli and cat operations, seemingly endless backcountry (including huts and cabins), plus Nordic skiing and unlimited backcountry touring options. An exposé could fill an encyclopedia. Here are a few choice operations worthy of digging for gold.
Revelstoke: Couloirs scratch down the Selkirk Mountains like bear claws, revealing rugged peaks that bleed potential. Cat and heli-skiers have been tapping this untracked treasure trove for decades, and in 2007 Revelstoke Mountain Resort started spinning lifts to access this big-mountain terrain. With just two chairs and a gondola (and no crowds), Revelstoke delivers a mile vertical and over 3,121 skiable acres (nearly half advanced terrain). Go for glory (or humiliation) on “Kill the Banker,” a cliff-riddled run under the gondola.
Downtown oozes mountain culture. Bearded dudes swig beers in dive bars, outdoor shops offer deals on avalanche gear, and heli ops promise Nirvana. Eat pizza alongside locals at the Village Idiot (thevillageidiot.ca). To sample beer the local bears like, head to Mount Begbie Brewery (mt-begbie.com) and ask about the paw prints in the floor. revelstokemountainresort.com
Kicking Horse: You might get an ass-kicking at Kicking Horse, Revelstoke’s lesser-known but perhaps gnarlier neighbor. Take 12 minutes to survey 4,000 feet of steeps from the gondola. Terrain fans out over spiny ridges, with southern flanks plunging down gladed runs, and northern chutes that scream extreme. Not to worry, the adrenaline-averse can find easier runs for carving. kickinghorseresort.com
When the alpenglow fades, head to pint-sized Golden (tourismgolden.com) and swill microbrews like Blower Pow IPA at Whitetooth Brewing Co. (whitetoothbrewing.com). Turn-earners, note that Golden is a staging point for 20+ backcountry huts (info at cvhsinfo.org and alpineclubofcanada.ca).
Panorama: Forget everything you’ve heard about Panorama Mountain Resort. It’s not just for beginners. This season it’s adding to its double-black terrain with four new runs adjacent to Taynton Bowl. More expansion is slated for 2018-19. Hard chargers can also hop a helicopter from the base to backcountry stashes. panoramaresort.com
Another unusual perk: winter paragliding. Flying Max (flyingmax.com) soars skiers off the mountain for woozy views of the Purcell Mountains. To cap the day, schuss into mid-mountain après at Elkhorn Cabin to cook raclette on a tabletop griddle and tip back hot toddies. The ski down by headlamp is a hoot. Panorama is three-and-half-hours from Calgary, unless you swing south to Kimberley (skikimberley.com) and Fernie (skifernie.com), but that’s a whole ’nother story.