Sunday, March 13, 2011

Using Winter Logging To Your Advantage

In the West Kootenays, unless you own a snowmobile, most tours originate out of one of three areas, Highway 3B between Strawberry Pass and Rossland (and occasionally off the Old Cascade Highway), Highway 3 over Kootenay Pass, or the Whitewater Ski Hill Road. A few people, who are more energetic and willing to explore will also tour out of Sandon (most, however, are sled tourers) or off Highway 31A between New Denver and Kaslo, and a few hardy folk will even ski out of Sheep Creek FSR (plowed all winter to Waldie Creek), the Little Slocan FSR or a scattering of other logging roads in the area.

Most people - despite the fact that there are innumerable options even if you never leave the three main access points, - go to the same places time after time after time after time - well, you get the picture. I consider myself to have a short attention span, and, although I have my favourite areas for making turns on big powder days or when the snow stability is poor, I prefer to explore new areas. And that's where winter logging comes in.

With a little bit of work, a few contacts, and a willingness to explore you can ski lots of new areas by taking advantage of winter logging. This year, there were and still are, lots of logging roads open to relatively high elevations to accommodate winter logging. You've got to put some time in finding out which roads are open, you've got to be willing to drive a fair distance (sometimes up to 1.5 hours each way), you've got to be willing to explore, and, above all, you've got to take a chance, because sometimes even the best information doesn't pay out (although this is rare and hasn't happened this year).

The benefits are many, the pitfalls few.

Jen, at just over 8,000 feet on the SE Ridge of Pontiac Peak accessed via winter logging

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