With names like "Bonanza," "Motherlode," and "Yankee Girl," the runs at Whitewater Ski Resort evoke the mining heritage Nelson. In many ways, Whitewater's history resonates closely with that of Nelson.
Whitewater's First Ski Facility
The ski-jumping success of Nelson's Danny McKay inspired the creation of the community's first ski facility. In 1934, a primitive rope-tow and a lodge were constructed on the side of the valley at the north end of town. Parts of old Model T Fords played a key role in getting those pioneering skiers up the hill.
Silver King Ski Hill
By the mid '50s, a move was afoot. With McKay still very much in the driver's seat, a new location had been secured on the side of the mountain below the site of the Silver King Mine – a mine that had been the economic engine of Nelson in the 19th century.
While a little less primitive than its predecessor, the Silver King Ski Hill still relied on community participation. Friday evening would see club members out on the slope, side-slipping and boot-packing in anticipation of a weekend of skiing on this steep, but still very compact hill.
A New Ski Hill Location
In 1975, the club hired a Spokane developer and planner to create the layout of runs in a new, higher elevation location below Ymir Peak. Determined to avoid the European model of barren white slopes, Sam Wormington was innovative in his approach. His vision called for the retention of the trees that have come to define the resort as it exists today.
Upgrading and Expanding
While Whitewater is now privately owned, and upgrading and expansion are once again in the works, the essential qualities of simplicity and authenticity continue to guide the decision-making process.
A huge proportion of Nelson's population skis at Whitewater. This is a community that combines a love for sport and recreation with a passion for the natural environment. Young people from all over the world come to Nelson to spend their winters skiing and boarding Whitewater, becoming temporary, and sometimes permanent members of this unique culture.
The Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Festival, staged in March, is the cultural zenith of the season and a celebration of all things backcountry.