The Powder Highway Road Trip Revisited

See our dispatches from the Powder Highway Road Trip >>There is nothing like a good road trip to set the mind free.  Just step on the gas and let adventure be your guide. For those passionate about snow-covered mountains there is no better route than the Powder Highway.  This remote path in southeastern corner of British Columbia weaves together over 60 different powder providers, including eight alpine resorts, nine heli-ski operators, 16 snow-cat tenures, and 21 backcountry touring outfits. With more than ten meters of annual snowfall and friendly faces around every corner the Powder Highway is an epic adventure on and off the mountain.

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Inspired by a few local legends, my brother Zach and I began our journey in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Sun Valley Resort has always been known for innovation, beginning with the world’s first chairlift in 1937. Another landmark era came in the 1970s when local shredder Bobby Burns and his friend Wayne Wong’s creative approach gave birth to ‘freestyle skiing.’ K2 Skis got behind the new movement and promoted a team called The Performers, a group of four freestyle skiers that traveled the nation in a dilapidated red, white, and blue motor home spreading the new mantra of the sport…FUN!

After an amazing start to the season with nearly five feet of snow in Sun Valley, we started driving north towards the Canadian border and the Powder Highway.  We made our first stop in Nakusp at Canadian Mountain Holidays’ K2 Rotor Lodge.

No adventure along the Powder Highway would be complete without a visit to CMH, the largest heli-ski operator in the world. Made famous in part by legendary filmmaker Dick Barrymore, CMH is known for long tree-skiing lines with epic champagne powder.

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A skier takes in the CMH experience; Photograph by Will Wissman

It was an amazing week that ended with a beautiful sunset along the shores of the Columbia River.

Our next stop was Revelstoke, where a new resort was built in 2007 that features the longest vertical drop in North America. With a population of roughly 7,000, there is plenty of untracked tree skiing to go around.

Twenty minutes south of Revelstoke, we visited Eagle Pass Heli (EPH), which has some of the best heli-ski terrain in the area with over 270,000 acres in the Monoshee Range. EPH is famous for steep pillow lines and our guide, Scott Newsome, was kind enough to show us where to find them.

Crossing over Roger’s Pass, we dropped down into the town of Golden where we met up with the folks at Golden Alpine Holiday. From there we caught a heli ride into a remote lodge known as the Vista Hut. Nestled in the trees below an alpine cirque, Vista is beachfront property for a wide variety of terrain for those willing to earn their turns with backcountry touring gear.

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Skiers en route at Kicking Horse Ranch, British Columbia; Photograph by Will Wissman

The eastern slopes of the Kootenay Range typically receive less snow but the scenery at Kicking Horse Resort is spectacular. Our crew was fortunate to have early-ups with the ski patrol the morning after a big storm, which proved to be the best resort skiing of our trip.

With longer days and warmer temperatures indicating a change in seasons, our team decided to head north to Alaska. The journey to Haines is a right of passage for passionate skiers and snowboarders. Last year marked my 16th consecutive season in Haines and I have no doubt I’ll be back again in March for that rare combination of steep, deep and stable.

Geographically Haines is sheltered from the Gulf of Alaska by the highest coastal mountains in the world. Peaks such as 18,009 ft St. Elias and 15,325 ft Mount Fairweather act as a buffer against violent pacific storms yet the town is located on the Inside Passage, which feeds plenty of moisture into the snowpack.

Consistent temperatures, an average snowfall of over 500 inches combined with uniquely featured terrain makes SEABA, the premier heli operations in Alaska.