This coming weekend be ready for the full Nelson, BC Kootenay Cold Smoke Powder Fest at Whitewater Resort. The 5th annual four-day fest draws all the kooks in the Kootenays as well as skiers from across Canada and the US for a grassroots backcountry festival rife with beginner to advanced clinics, contests, films and revelry—all bound together by the pursuit of wild snow. “It’s an event that brings together like-minded people who love the many aspects of backcountry, and gets them all under one roof,” says local Robin Hartikainen, “a concentration of people who love skiing, and have the desire to earn their turns.”
However you do the backcountry, the Cold Smoke Fest has your number. Several clinics offer all levels of backcountry how-to, from beginning protocols and safe travel practices to steep skiing techniques with skiing legends like Eric Pehota.
There’s comps too, including a slopestyle freeriding contest, wherein competitors must hike for their line of choice, as well as Nelson’s own ROAM outdoor shop’s Randonee Rally on Saturday the 27th. Competitors rip and snort up and down the Kootenays in a ski mountaineering race that’ll easily burn off the previous night’s alcohol consumption. Depending how much experience you’re looking for, the race offers a professional course with over 4000 vertical feet of elevation gain, and 2800 vert for the rec class. Also will be a crowning of the Cold Smoke King and Queen, so if you feel you blew it in high school, there’s still hope.
For those who prefer playing cards to busting a lung, SCARPA will host the Poker Run 2011 on Sunday the 28th, best described as “a ski tour that’s a poker game that’s really a ski tour, that’s really not a race.” Based on Five Card Stud, contestants form teams of two and follow a predetermined course, hit five checkpoints, obtaining a card at each. After all teams have finished, the one with the best hand wins a pair of SCARPA boots for each member. There will be 2nd and 3rd place prizes as well as beer, too. There’s really no reason not to enter.
“All these facets have their place,” says Hartikainen. “And they’re all related because it’s skiing in the backcountry—working for it, and working for it shows that you love it.”