Where the Log Driver Learns to Step Lightly / by Strain

Partying the night away in Fernie presented us with an interesting problem: Shayne and I had done some serious damage to our bar tab (and livers) and while driver Eliel stuck to water, we still had to be at Whitewater the next day to run another demo. We were still drunk when El managed to wake Shayne and I at 5am, setting us up for my favourite past time - being drunk in a car travelling through the dark, windy mountain roads of southern BC. Fortunately Eliel was still paranoid of black ice and had mercy on his half inebriated, half hungover passengers, taking it easy on the potentially treacherous road. His suspicions proved accurate when we tried to get gas in Cranbrook: a right off the highway turned into a straight slide. We powered through to daylight and filled up in Creston. A quick check of the road report in Creston showed that the Kootenay Pass was closed for avalanche control (a promising sign for the conditions at Whitewater) so we made the snap decision to take the sneak attack route on the ferry across Kootenay Lake and through Nelson. El took advantage of the downtime to catch up on his sleep - I took advantage of Nelson to buy more PBR and hot dogs.

As soon as we rolled into the Whitewater parking lot, we could instantly tell we were going to like this hill. One day lodge, no accommodation, 2 double lifts, total whiteout conditions, the muffled THUD of avy bombs... right up my alley. My first thought was, this is just like Baker, but more low-key. Theres something magic about these small, relatively unknown powder enclaves. Everyone is there for the same reason - theres no park scene, no big egos, no multi million dollar slopeside condos - just straight up, no frills no bullshit pow shred.

If you're in the business of demoing fat, rockered skis, a hill that gets 40 feet of snowfall a season is a damn good spot to set up shop. Even without our fancy Surface tent - theres no way we could set it up in the howling wind - we were down to just park skis in mere minutes, which meant it was time to spin a lap. Local guidance took us to a spot that I'm not likely to forget any time soon. Easily the best run I've had all season, it was a good 400m of sustained drop through a zone of perfectly spaced trees, with endless pillows, chest deep pow, and no tracks in sight. I quickly lost everyone and tragically had to shred the line in one straight shot without stopping for photos.

The line popped us out onto the access road, a couple kms away from the resort. Board off, thumb out... within minutes we had a ride back up in the box of a pickup - a ride of doom that was significantly more thrilling than the shred down. I'm not sure how we made it up alive (or without taking out other cars), but our ear-to-ear grins of satisfaction were a clear sign that the risk was worth it. We kept lapping through the day, rotating off one guy to keep tabs on the demos.

Eliel was so amped on Whitewater that he never wanted to leave - even going to extremes like sinking the truck into a ditch full of quicksand snow. Strike 2 - the Kootenays really wanted that truck to stick around. We didn't really want to leave, either, so we set up camp in the metropolis of Ymir for the night and postponed our Red Mtn demo a day. Little did we know, Ymir was about to become our home away from home... more on that next post.

For those of you still scratching your head over my post title, peep this extraordinary piece of Canadiana. The log drivers waltz pleases girls completely...