Ski Culture

The town of Nelson, B.C., and Whitewater Resort add up to a powerful one-two winter punch.

Bryan Ralph

Powder magazine has called Whitewater “one of the best powder mountains on the continent.” With its more than 40 feet of annual snowfall, that award is pretty easy to understand. Whitewater is minutes away from the artistic community of Nelson, B.C., and when you set foot on the ski hill, it’s like stepping back to a time when skiing was about the skiing — pure and simple.

When I ask professional ski photographer Bryan Ralph (“Ralphie” to his friends) what makes Whitewater so special, he says, “The feeling. It’s all of the elements put together. The people, the snow, the mountain, the culture. You just have to experience it to understand. It’s a magical place.”

Ralphie relocated to Nelson 10 years ago to pursue his passion for skiing. Why Nelson? “Simple: The local skiers are rippers!” he says. “Whether they’re 7, 17 or 70, they rip. When you ski on a mountain like Whitewater day in and day out, pushing your limits, it’s inevitable you’ll be a great skier or snowboarder.”

Until recently, Whitewater only had two chairlifts, but they added the Glory Ridge triple chair, which opened some lip-smacking terrain that had only been accessible by hiking or skinning before.

Now, after a hard morning enjoying the goods off the Glory Ridge chair, head into Whitewater’s rustic Post and Beam lodge to refuel. This is what a ski lodge is about — it’s rich in history and full of flavor. If these walls could talk, you would hear endless tales of ripping fresh Kootenay powder.

Whitewater is not only famous as place to get a powder fix, though. It also fulfills one’s culinary desires, with its legendary café food. Only a few years back, the café staff was sworn to secrecy about the recipes.

Ralphie suggests heading there hungry, because “the cuisine is worth the trip up the hill alone. It’s likely the best food at any ski resort on the planet. You don’t see many brown bag lunches at the lodge — the food is just too good to pass on.”

And you’re probably not going to find better restaurants for healthy, organic meals than in the downtown Nelson restaurant scene. Take it from Ralphie: “For guys like me, who love beer, check out Coal Oil Johnny’s Pub and tank down a frosty glass of Nelson Brewing Company’s beers. My fave: their signature winter beer, NBC Faceplant. It helps wash down all that powder you’ve been choking on all day”

Welcome to Snowlander, Vol. V

Wow! What a year it’s been so far. Winter is still far from over, with a little under two months of the season to go. This is the best time of year for Inland Northwest ski resorts, with late-season storms traditionally bringing lots of powder, a full event schedule and legs that can handle a full day on the slopes and a couple of hours dancing at apr├Ęs ski. As I write this, I am in the 60-day range for the number of days I’ve skied so far this season. Ski adventures have taken me all over the Northwest, and while the pavement is dry down low, the skiing is superb up high.

Bryan Ralph

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Of course, I have learned, in my quest to ski 100 days, that it isn’t as glamorous as one might think. Days of wearing base layers and socks multiple days in a row, broken equipment, fatigued legs, sore back and lack of sleep are all part of it.

But in the end, laughing with friends, challenging myself on a daily basis, breathing in fresh mountain air and taking in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world makes it all worth it.

This is the last issue of Snowlander for this season. I’m already looking forward to next October’s issue! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Since we all know there is a lot more season left, please take the time to “Like” our Facebook fan page ( to keep informed about upcoming events, giveaways and contests. We’re emptying out our schwag bag, so you might win something cool — lift tickets, goggles, T-shirts.

Thanks for reading, and see you on the slopes!

Jen Forsyth
Snowlander Editor

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