COLUMN // RESORT CHECK - WHITEWATER
By Eric Greene
Nelson is further than you think. That bottom chunk of B.C. is fatter than the top, the mountains are bigger, and the roads windier. If you come in from the sides or the bottom, you've got a lot of distance to cover from any other place worth being. Perhaps this land lockage is what makes Nelson so good. It keeps the kooks away and gives the place its own sovereign vibe. It's further than you think, but it's worth the trek. Here's why…
Whitewater Resort is 20 minutes out of town. You've surely heard of it. Three chairs (low-speed) sit in a valley and the hike-able slackcountry covers peaks and ridges in all directions. The access is plentiful and if it hasn't snowed in days or weeks, you'll have no trouble getting to some fresh zones. The West Kootenay snow is world class. It's dry and fluffy, unlike anywhere else. The terrain is a mix of all varieties, whether you want to rip groomers on a shred date or get as gnarly as you dare with a film crew.
The "lodge" or "chalet" or whatever fancy word you call the cafeteria on a ski hill is nothing special in appearance. It's basically one big room at the end of the parking lot. But the food is the difference. Sure, they have poutine and hotdogs like every resort, but they have a million other things that won't cost you $25 for a lunch that will end your day with stomach cramps. The food is good, like damn good, without absurdly inflated prices. It makes you realize that every other resort has missed the point when it comes to on-hill eats. There's also a bar. You'll love the food an menu at Whitewater, but it will make you criticize the prison slop that empties your wallet and is served at every other mountain you ride this year.
I was told the Hume Hotel runs the nightlife scene in Nelson. There's Mike's Pub at street level, that is packed every night with the local brew, Face Plant, flowing. They make a fine pizza, too, if you're hungry. Downstairs is the Spirit Bar if you want to get dirty with some late-night DJ action. Nelson boasts a scene of young winter warriors, so you shouldn't have a problem finding a decent house party or after hours venue. There are girls in this town as well, unlike a more common resort town scene (Banff, for example).The rest of the residents are foodies and winos so you also won't have a problem finding a home cooked meal with great company to pop bottles with.
Here's some more useful info:
Whitewater adult day ticket price: $64 CDN
Best item on the cafeteria menu: The Ymir Bowl
Local brew: Nelson Brewing Face Plant Winter Ale
Local snowboard shop: Ripping Giraffe (Say hi to Dave Cashen behind the counter)
Accommodation: The Prestige, The Hume, or Mountain Hound Inn
Where to find a decent burrito: El Taco
Other riding options in the area: Numerous heli and cat-skiing lodges and operations.
Coffee Spot: Oso Negro
Easiest place to get lucky: Spirit Bar
Closest airport: Castlegar
Finding contraband: If that's what you're into, you'll have no trouble here.
Driving distance from Vancouver: 8 hours
Driving distance from Calgary: 7 hours
Matt Belzile, Russell Dalby photo.
Chris Rasman, Russell Dalby photo.
Sean Genovese, Russell Dalby photo.
Jeff Keenan, Russell Dalby photo.
Chris Rasman. Russell Dalby photo.