SECRET STEEPS: Snowboarding Red Mountain Resort Canada

Words By Dave Scoppa
Pics courtesy of Red Mountain (Dave Heath, Francois Marseille, Greg Roebuck)
Published November 2007

Continuing our Secret Steeps series, Dave Scoppa looks at Canada's Red Mountain - founded in the days of the gold rush - the mountain now draws plenty who are looking for white treasure that falls from the sky.

the snow obeys no signs; Red Mountain Road

Located near the quaint old Canadian town of Rossland, lies a mountain that will keep you entertained forever. Red Mountain in British Columbia is a small mining town and home to some of the sickest lift accessed terrain available in Canada and quite possibly the world. The history of Rossland skiing goes back to the gold rush which brought an influx of people to the area, many of whom were Scandinavians, who in turn brought their love of knowledge of skiing to the town. In 1930 the first rope tow was installed, and things are been steadily expanding ever since.

Don't be put off by the slow triple and double chairs - they simply add character, plus, you don't have to worry about the mountain getting tracked out too quickly; though growing in popularity, Red Mountain still remains a largely overlooked ski and snowboard destination by the major tour operators, and retains very much a small town appeal.

The Terrain

Red is actually made up of two mountains, Red and Granite, which offer over 1,500 acres of ski-able terrain (resort area of 4,200 acres). With a vertical drop close to 3,000 (884m) feet and an average snowfall of 300 inches (7.6m) you are bound to have a good time - especially if it snows.

All 360 degrees of Granite Mountains are accessible from the Motherlode triple chair. The bonus here is the endless options on the way down plus an amazing view from the top! Despite its relatively small size on today's "mountain resort" scale, Red offers varied terrain, and has even been awarded "Best Trees", "Best Powder" and "Best Steeps" by Ski Canada Magazine - titles not to be taken lightly in a country which homes many of the top tier of the world's ski resorts.

a frozen forest on the slopes of Red Mountain

Night Life? Quiet Life.

Don't be heading to Red for the nightlife either. This place is for the 'hardcore'. With 45% of the hill labelled "advanced", Red Mountain is all about skiing and snowboarding first, with après a distant second. Saying that, there's a nice selection of restaurants ranging from a take away pizza joint to the gasto pub, and a handful of bars which stock the essentials.

For inbound terrain - when the snow is good the tree runs are the best. Red is also a popular spot for backcountry bandits. A lot of the skiing and snowboarding revolves around touring as there are acres of backcountry that is easily accessible from the resort itself. Additionally, Red has recently upgraded their terrain park with a variety of new rails and tabletops. There are also a good variety of cross-country trails to choose from, if skiing on tooth picks is your thing.

drowning in snow? a lone hand emerges from a wave of powder

Development Plans Make Locals See Red

Red may not have a familiar name or Hollywood resort status but it offers sensational terrain and plenty of powder that takes a week to get tracked out. The mining history is embedded in the town buildings and on-hill facilities. The old style and simple approach takes you back in time, a feature that many of the new ski "village" destinations lack. Authenticity is in abundance here.

However, as with all ski resorts that have the perfect raw and rustic charm, the potential for future development brings controversy and Red Mountain is no different; though many are welcoming the new facilities and expansion plans that will put Red in a higher league, some locals are furious with the approved CAD$1 billion development of Red, as they feel such a move will destroy its small town character that makes it currently so attractive. However, despite the local's protests, development has begun, so if you want to ski the rustic Red that I've described here, get in quick before it's too late. If you'd prefer a few more lifts and some extra condos, shops and bars - delay your visit for a couple of years.

With a tonne of fresh pow, top tree runs, no crowds, steep terrain and friendly staff, Red Mountain definitely gets a massive thumbs up, so if you're thinking about skiing and snowboarding in Canada this season, perhaps you should forget the over hyped, overcrowded and overpriced snow superpowers of Whistler and Banff, and instead, head to Red.

For more information about skiing and snowboarding in Red Mountain see:

Dave Scoppa is a SnowSphere Magazine columnist. He is currently living back in his native land of Australia, shredding the gum tree slopes of the Ozzy Alps.


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