Kootenay Ski Touring Guidebook Combines With Website


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | October 5, 2010      

If there is a Jacob’s Ladder of powder skiing, southeastern British Columbia (The Kootenays) is one of the top three rungs on the climb. Kootenay locations such as Nelson and Whitewater are legends in our backcountry skiing powder obsessed minds. The place is on any serious backcountry skier’s dream list.

West Kooteney backcountry skiing guidebooks.

West Kooteney backcountry skiing guidebooks.

Lists are nice, and knowing the pow abides is good for the soul (the power of positive thinking, uh huh), but what if one wants to do a real skis-on-the-ground backcountry skiing pilgrimage? Where is the info for Kootenay acolytes such as myself?

Enter backcountryskiingcanada.com and its companion printed guide pamphlet titled “West Kooteney Touring Guide.” I’ve always wondered how you could successfully publish a guidebook in the ‘net age. I tried to do something at hutski.com, but it never got legs (though I’ll probably keep adding content over there and see how it goes for at least another few years.)

Seems like paper and ink are still viable, yet publishing is most certainly not like it used to be. Now, in most information based publishing endeavors the website is key no matter how much you try to promulgate on paper. To that end, the guys at Backcountry Skiing Canada have combined both formats in a way that looks quite viable. They’re growing, having tripled the number of routes they present as well as managing a fairly active discussion forum.

The staple-bound 30 page Backcountry Skiing Canada printed guidebook is brief, and supported by included advertising. It mostly focuses on touring and sidecountry routes you get from Whitewater ski area. A couple other chapters cover Kootenay Pass and several routes near Red Mountain Resort. More of these printed guides are probably planned, or perhaps they’ll just keep expanding this one.

The website is designed to work with the book, but what I found surprising is that the printed book has much more information for each route than the website provides. I would have done it exactly opposite, but then, I’m somewhat of an internet publishing fan. The printed info appears adequately detailed, but two things are obviously missing from both book and website: Essential GPS cords would be nice, and maps with more detail than those included would make a visit from a first timer such as myself run much smoother. Those minor gripes aside, my take is Backcountry Skiing Canada is a good effort with a lot of potential, so we’ll be watching — and hopefully be up there backcountry skiing some of that pow sooner or later.

(See Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Festival for a fun reason to visit.)



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Comments

8 Responses to “Kootenay Ski Touring Guidebook Combines With Website”

  1. James October 5th, 2010 10:01 am

    First – I love the Backcountry Skiing Canada team and the knowledge they are sharing with the world through their efforts. I’ve been on their forums and website for some time when I ordered their leaflet last spring. Lou says it well that there is allot of potential for this booklet but for right now the entire thing can be downloaded and for $24 i’m sure you will be as shocked as I was at the thin content and page count.

    To reiterate – I am really looking forward to where this project is going, they just have not printed anything useful yet.

  2. Murray October 5th, 2010 11:34 am

    I purchased a copy of the guide online, without having a clear sense of its contents. I was surprised to find then that quite a few of the routes are very short side-country routes, adjacent to ski resorts or alongside highways (as in Kootenay Pass). If I were to travel any great distance to get to the Kootenays I wouldn’t spend my time in the terrain described in this book. There is much better touring at hand.

    So I can’t really see the need for ski touring guide, and given its price, one would be better off purchasing Chic Scott’s “Summits and Icefields: Alpine Ski Tours in the Columbia Mountains.” Scott is a highly regarded mountain guide who knows these mountains as well as anyone. My copy cost $17.50 CAN

    Scott’s guide will point you to the sort of terrain for which the Selkirks are justly famous.

  3. kevin October 5th, 2010 2:54 pm

    Their website is excellent! Can’t speak for their book, but the website has plenty of ideas to get the ball rolling..

  4. Marian October 5th, 2010 3:22 pm

    This is a welcome update for the area. It’s local predecessor was well over 10 years old and selling for a only few dollars less from memory. As a slackcountry guide I think it’s all the area needed – it would suit people not familiar with the west kootenays or new to touring. Locals around here can be fairly protective of their stashes, so I would say this keeps them happy too. I looked at the forums last year and found they had some up-to-date beta on specific routes. The web seems the way to go with these things as the info can be current and new routes are popping up all the time. Their photo comp is a hook for me too, I like the peace and quite of touring but would be happy to land two days of free cat-skiing.

  5. Aaron Trowbridge October 5th, 2010 7:36 pm

    Your posts cross link! The Smithers project discussed in the sidcountry entry is covered in the backcountryskiingcanada.com link you posted: http://www.backcountryskiingcanada.com/index.php?p=page&page_id=Smithers.

  6. Murray October 5th, 2010 8:11 pm

    Kevin,

    Thanks for re-directing me to the web site. I haven’t visited it since last spring. Now that I’ve seen what is posted under Tours in the Interior ranges I’d say there is even less reason to buy the book, unless this year’s version of the book is different from last year’s version. The tour descriptions and maps found at the website appear identical to those found in the book. No need to buy the book if what you want are directions for some lift-accessed slack country.

    Scott’s Alpine Ski Tours in the Columbia Mountains is 200 pages long, as compared to 30 pages for the West Kootenay guide. Pages 77-88 cover the Nelson area, including Whitewater slackcountry and Kootenay Pass. It also covers Rogers Pass and epic multi-day tours such as the Monashee Traverse. There are even photos of Bill Briggs and Barry Corbet standing with their antique skis in front of the Bugaboos in 1958.

    It’s great that the West Kootenay website offers this sort of information gratis to anyone who wants it. But even with that information being freely available I still think visitors to the area would find Scott’s book invaluable, especially for its descriptions of the more remote backcountry and wilderness tours.

  7. andrew C October 6th, 2010 10:22 am

    Hello everyone….Andrew here, editor of the aforementioned website, at http://www.backcountryskiingcanada.com, and guidebook. My ears were burning so I thought I’d join in. Thanks very much for the write-up Lou and thanks to everyone else for the input. We are just starting out so it’s all super helpful. Regarding your comments Murray (and some others I guess) we are huge Chic Scott fans and love his books. Buy them, for sure. I have.

    With the guidebook, we are responding to a different need, and it’s mostly slackcountry. The website, on the other hand, has grown into something entirely different and includes routes from all over BC (including Smithers and Shames) and some in Alberta. Most of the route descriptions come from professional guides–we just tweak them a bit so they fit within our format. Chic will actually be contributing a couple routes to the site this season.

    We too are curious about where it’s all going and are trying to continue nudging it in the right direction. We are looking forward to more-and-more contributions from backcountry skiers–the site’s success depends, in part, on sharing.

    Lou–if you ever make it up here, we’d love to take some turns with you. I like the Jacob’s Ladder comment BTW… Where are the other two rungs? That could be a good quiz for your readers!

  8. Trevor Holsworth October 6th, 2010 11:57 pm

    I’m the author of the previous guide which was based in some part on a previous guide written by Tom Van Alstine and my own tours. I decided not to get re-involved in the guidebook writing business partly because of the difficulty making money doing so and partly because of the difficulty to represent the changes in the backcountry ski scene in British Columbia. I support the new guideboook and online guide ( for the record my little booklet sold for $7-$10 ). In an area such as the West Kootenay’s where ultimately there are thousands of possible tours and access is the major issue.
    Access is easiest for most people through the highway, ski areas or ski touring lodges however there is also a multitude of local people using snowmobiles to access terrain. There are a huge variety of touring possible from slack country to day tours to multi day tours. The possibilities are really endless and the number of people venturing far from the ski areas is really quite small. Probably 90% of the day touring in the Kootenay’s is covered by the new guide. Word of mouth, Google Earth and maps can help everyone else explore the vast ski touring potential of the rest of the Kootenay’s. I don’t think anyone in the Kootenay’s has skiied in even 25% of the possible terrain available.
    The guide is unabashedly designed for slack country users which these days are 90% of ski tourers and probably those most in need of guidance. To be truthfull it also suits a great deal of the other ski tourers that come up and maybe do a week at a lodge, a day at Whitewater or Red and perhaps a quick slack country descent. The guidance provided on the website and in the booklet suit the market very well.

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