"I chose to live and work in Nelson. Hopefully I can finish the season at the ski school and I have an offer from the municipality to set up a youth program. That means I can stay here for three years." We picked up Leah along the way. Like many others, hitchhiking is the way to get from Nelson to Whitewater, a journey of about 20 kilometers. "The snow in Whistler is too wet, the houses in Vancouver too expensive and people really live here." Welcome to Nelson.
Like so many cities in the West Kootenay, Nelson has its origins and owns its prosperity thanks to the discovery of precious metals. Gold and silver were found in 1867. It led to the construction of the city as we still know it today, with its many distinctive buildings around the historic Baker Street. An important event for Nelson was the Vietnam war. Many Americans fled to Canada to avoid compulsory military service, and in many cases these liberal and often highly educated people never left. Not even after President Reagan finally granted them amnesty. It still provides a more liberal vibe in the pleasant town.
The drive to Whitewater takes about 30 minutes and the stoke increases with every minute. It has snowed. The trees along the road are white and look impressive. Since it is "only" about 20 centimeters, it is not a real powder day, according to Leah. For that, more snowfall is needed. The parking lot is therefore absolutely not full of cars. It is clear that the locals in Nelson are used to more snowfall.
Whitewater has three lifts and around 400 meters of vertical (which is accessed by the lifts). The old two-seater, three-seater and four-seater move slowly but surely. Plenty of time to take a good look at the area. About ten years ago we made some nice tours here, but now we don't have to use the skins to find untracked powder. We ride down through the fairytale-looking trees.
Although it is not a "real" powder day, it should be clear that everyone rides powder in Whitewater. In the end we choose to leave the boundary on the Glory side of the area and are immediately rewarded with a wonderful pillow field. Eventually we end up on the road to the daylodge and we are back at the lift with a ten minute walk. This is precisely why Whitewater is so loved by skiers and snowboarders from all over the world. The inbounds skiing is already very interesting, but the possibilities are endless outside the boundary. And not just directly from Whitewater. You will find a lot of good catski and heliski options in the Nelson region.
The relaxed vibe in all respects dominates in Whitewater. Ski patrol is extremely helpful in identifying the various risks and the best options for descending. A chat with one of the locals leads to another secret stash. It is a place where every skier or snowboarder feels right at home.
You can't spend the night in Whitewater. Here you will find the day lodge, ski rental, things like that. Really only the much needed. No, you spend the night in Nelson. In the historic center you will find a number of hotels with a long history, such as the Hume hotel (where there is also a nice bar). We stayed in the fairly recently renovated The Adventure Hotel, within walking distance of all the restaurants and bars that Nelson has to offer.
Nelson and Whitewater are therefore inextricably linked. And actually not only with each other, but also with ski culture. Not only because of the many great freeriders who come from the area, but mainly because of the great vibe. Please never change!
We had a great day in Whitewater, but Dylan Siggers and his friends probably had an even better day. They show what else is possible in this great area!