Red Mountain, a ski resort in Rossland, British Columbia, is the type of place that many avid skiers have heard of but few have actually visited. It’s known as much for it’s lack of pretension and crowds as it is for it’s expert-friendly skiing and dry, fluffy snow. Last weekend we did a road trip to give Red Mountain a try for variety’s sake.
Rossland is a mining-town-turned-outdoor-recreation-hub about 3 hours’ drive north of Spokane (so, ~7 hours from Seattle) just across the border into Canada. It’s remote and hard to get to from anywhere, which has kept crowds of second-home buyers away and prices in check. Unlike so many ski towns in the States, Rossland is still the kind of place where average people can actually afford to buy a house and raise a family.
In fact, that’s exactly what the family that runs the excellent Black Bear B&B was doing – in a historic but nicely-renovated home. The house was very comfortable, breakfast was great, and we enjoyed chatting with the friendly owners. I’d for sure stay there again next time I’m in Rossland.
The ski area, Red Mountain, is less than 5 minutes’ drive from downtown Rossland. It’s spread across two adjacent mountains: one small but steep, and the other large and varied. The lifts are old and slow, which undoubtedly contributes to the overriding feel of the place: relaxed. There weren’t any queues, no mad rush to get as much vertical as possible, and the slopes were almost empty. There’s no party scene and no traffic jams, just a laid-back local’s vibe where people say “hi” to each other and, in many cases, seem to know each other. It was a nice change of pace from the busier places we normally ski.
The only disappointment of the weekend was the snow; skiing conditions were marginal. It hadn’t snowed in a while, and the snowpack had gone through a number of freeze/thaw cycles. It was basically impossible to ski anything other than the groomed runs. There was, however, lots of really nice-looking advanced/expert tree skiing enticing us from all around. In good snow conditions, I could see that Red would be a great skier’s mountain with lots of opportunity for fresh tracks through the forest. Despite the long drive, I’d like to go back and give it another try sometime when conditions are better.