Skiers and snowboarders are stash-focused and prone to secrets. We’re all scared that someone is going to discover our spot, and all of a sudden it’s going to look like Breckenridge on President's Day. At Red Mountain Resort (which sprawls over three peaks above Rossland, B.C.) that particular paranoia doesn’t exist. There are so few people there that you can actually enjoy the skiing. You can stop and take a breath before diving into the Beer Belly trees – and you’re going to need to, because the mountain is giant and steep.
I was surprised by Red in every direction: Its size, its steepness, its stashy trees. Even Mike, the retired local who took us into the Powderfields, was surprising. He made perfect old guy wiggle turns and he crushed, never slowing down. We lapped the steep trees on Granite Mountain, then headed for Grey Mountain, which is part of a relatively new expansion. The mountain put in a lift and added 1,000 acres on Grey in 2013, then bumped out 200 more the following year. Because the first of Red’s not-so-secret secrets: It’s huge and the mountains yield nearly 360 degree skiing on volcanic cones. You can follow the sun or the snow around the mountain.
There has been skiing in Rossland since the 1890s, when Scandinavian miners (who had moved to the area for gold and copper) started holding ski races. The history still feels present, too. Tiny, downtown Rossland, even though it had an organic grocery store and an extra-cute coffee shop (Alpine Grind). Try the meat pies that one of the mountain’s snowboard instructors makes. But, it still feels like a mining town. The base lodge, which was built in the 1950s still stands and there are semi-secret, privately owned cabins hidden in the woods. We drop into one, the Klister Klub, and Terry LePage regales us with stories about all of the debauchery that’s happened there.
After giving our legs a break, we head to Grey Mountain for a little bit of cat skiing. For $10, you can hitch a one bump up Kirkup Mountain, which might be the best deal in skiing. It was after lunch, but the girl driving the cat told us we were only their second ride of the day, there were only three other tracks in the whole place. We gunned down through the trees and berms, elated to have the mountain to ourselves.
So how (in the overcrowded world of skiing) can a place like this exist? It’s a little off the map, for one. It’s not exactly easy to get to: If you’re American, the most practical way is to fly to Spokane, WA, then take a shuttle or drive from there. And Rossland isn’t exactly a tourist hotbed. But if you’re there for the skiing, and maybe some good local microbrews — The teensy Rossland Beer Company won the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards Gold Medal for their 7 Summits Milk Stout — it’s hard to imagine a better, less spoiled place.
At the end of the day we end up at Rafters, the base lodge bar that’s been voted the best in the ski world by Powder. Over beers and huge nachos we look back up at the mountain, and all the runs we hadn’t even touched.
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