I spend a hell of a lot of time going on about how I feel trapped by routine these days— going to work, coming home, frequenting the only bar in town, occasionally grocery shopping, and doing “what everyone else does” for fun. But really, I’m selling poutine to tourists over small talk about travel and snow, hanging out with awesome people all the time, and on my days off, shredding the pow, as they call it around these parts. I should really shut the hell up, so after almost 3 full months of skiing Red, here’s my proper travel blogger review— Some reasons why, when I think of my mountain, I get butterflies in my stomach.
It’s fucking gorgeous
At Red, it’s really obvious that you are not simply on a mountain, but IN the mountains. (Shoutout to Will & Wes from North Carolina!) There’s the 3 mountains that are officially skiable, chairlift accessible and all that good stuff: Red, Granite and Grey. Then there’s the one’s people with backcountry gear are always talking about hiking: Kirkup and Roberts. And then there’s the endless peaks in every direction, none of which I know what to call. It would take a lifetime of looking around to get all their names down. But who cares? They’re pretty.
It’s our little secret
“Ditch the Crowds” is Red Mountain’s big slogan for trying to attract… the crowds?
Before I got here, I didn’t quite buy it, but it’s true. The other day at work, a man with a young son said to me, “We didn’t wait to get on a lift once!” like he was telling me something I’d never believe.
He was in town on a bit of a slow weekend, but as far as week days go, 90% of the time I can literally ski straight up to the load line, coasting off the speed of my last run.
Take a look around you on just about any run (groomers not withstanding), and you probably won’t see anyone. Maybe not even the buddy you were skiing with. Hopefully they’ll be at the bottom when you get there.
It pushes your limits
When I first got here, I had no interest whatsoever in skiing trees. Trees are scary and turning just slows you down anyways. I was the teenaged skier who spent every weekend bombing the same run over and over, and I basically planned to turn back into that animal for my season in Rossland.
However, what actually happened is that I got real bored, real fast. With over 50% of the runs rated black or double black, that happens to just about anyone like me. I’m pleased to report that I now shred Mini Bowls on the regular, as a warmup even. And, when pressured, I drop a double black every once in a while.
There’s so many surprises
Everything from the entire ridge that you’re not sure how you overlooked the existence of for so long, to fresh tracks days after the last snowfall, to the picnic tables on skis next to the large supply of firewood. I’m not even going to try and pretend I’ve seen a respectable fraction of the crazy stuff, but I’ve seen enough to know that this is not your average mountain.
It’s chill as fuck
Pretty much anyone you ever load a chairlift with could be your new best friend at Red. It doesn’t matter if you’re a skier and they’re a snowboarder, or if they’re born and raised local and you’re a rookie, or even if there’s a 50 year age difference between the two of you. It is not at all unlikely that someone cruising past their 70th birthday without even noticing with ask you to smoke a joint with them.
Really hip mothers are probably the largest demographic to pick me up when I’m hitch hiking to and from work. And the fact that I hitch hike to and from work isn’t even sort of weird.
The vibe is built right into the infrastructure, with runs named things like “Beer Belly” and “The Chute Show”. The free shuttle bus, which has a capacity of something like 25, will cram easily double that amount of people on it if there’s a party happening at Rafters. And speaking of Rafters, the managers actually condone an activity known as “table crawling”, which is the act of maneuvering one’s body under and around the surface of a very tippy bar table without touching the ground.
Also— Yes, you can just hang out in this random cabin in the woods. No, nobody leaves it trashed every Monday morning. And YES, this place is real!