Whitewater, British Columbia
Whitewater is in interior BC near the town of Nelson. It’s most famous for deep snow and frequent powder days.
|Real Vertical ?||2,044′, Rank: 68|
|Size||1,184 Acres, Rank: 71|
|Annual Snowfall ?||480″ claimed / 395″ actual, Rank: 14|
|Ski Pods ?||3, Rank: 91|
|Distinct Trails ?||72, Rank: 58|
|Review Date||January 2023|
|Number of visits||1|
Our trip to Whitewater was delayed for a couple of years due to COVID. We had originally planned it for 2021 but crossing the border was of course difficult or impossible until the restrictions were completely lifted in late 2022.
January 2023 featured frequent storms which meant we encountered soft snow on most of the terrain on the upper half of the mountain, but it wasn’t a powder day on the particular day we finally made it. The lower half of terrain on the Glory side (facing the sun) was pretty much un-skiable if it wasn’t groomed due to a warm up/rain/freeze cycle that left big icy clumps everywhere. The shady Summit side was good top to bottom.
I have no hard evidence of this and even though we encountered less than ideal conditions, I feel like the climate is a little bit less like an “Inland Pacific Northwest” resort and more like what Fernie further to the east in the Rockies gets. It’s a little bit drier and colder with fewer rain issues.
The only problem with our day was that there are only 3 lifts at this small resort and one of them was down with a mechanical issue that lasted for weeks. This was the Silver King chair which is where a lot of the low intermediate and all of the beginner terrain is. At 900 ft of vertical it’s not that significant and we probably would have only done a couple of runs there anyway, but we hate to review a place without skiing all the terrain! The 23/24 season will feature a new chair that is supposedly extending up another 500 vertical feet with another 160 acres of terrain. This is much needed and will really add to the appeal of this place.
The chair with the most activity when we were there was the Summit chair, and we encountered some lines even mid week in January. Heading straight up the steepest part of the ridge it’s a very short ride to gain 1,250 vertical feet. There were 3 top-to-bottom groomed runs in this zone when we were there which we liked a lot. There are also some steep ungroomed runs and of course just about all the treed terrain at Whitewater is skiable including the trees off Summit. The traverse over to Catch Basin and the chutes had some very light traffic on it, but the snow conditions didn’t really encourage us to do that.
The Glory chair was the main event for us, with 2,000′ of vertical drop. We skied this both before and after lunch and ended up spending 3/4 of our time there. When I think of Whitewater that terrain is what I remember the most because it’s really good stuff and every run takes an interesting turn. The 4 main blue runs were groomed when we were there. Long and winding with drop-offs and benches these were a blast. I sampled some of the off-piste on the upper half of Glory including the steep Fuse and Det Cord runs. There was still some powder left in spots there. Most of the trees on Glory are skiable even if they are not named runs. The terrain below the Backside Skiway (road) on skier’s right is really steep and would be fun under the right conditions, but definitely not when we were there!
Strangely, Whitewater is known for its food, and the main sit-down restaurant/pub definitely didn’t disappoint. They say that people make the significant drive up from Nelson to eat there and we can verify that we saw some non-skiers. We would rate the food high compared with most ski resort food we’ve been introduced to over the years.
After skiing we drove into the town of Nelson to look around. This is one of the best ski towns we have encountered in BC with a cool walkable downtown with lots of shops. We stopped in a bakery for some good coffee and excellent treats. This is where most people skiing Whitewater will stay, and it definitely adds to the allure of a ski vacation at Whitewater.
- The most snowfall in interior BC
- Nice tree skiing
- Great town (Nelson)
- Strong community feel
- Less vertical than other resorts in the region
- Small for a western resort
The bottom line
Whitewater is a fun mountain, but we have trouble imagining making the effort to go back for a standalone trip. It’s really just a local hill that became notorious for deep snow, but everything other than the snow reflects that small resort reality. We can, however, fully recommend a stop for a couple of days on a Powder Highway tour that would include nearby Red Mountain and more distant but incredible Revelstoke.