POWDER ALERT: Big White Ski Resort’s daily ski report on Tuesday morning announced 20 centimetres (eight inches) of new snow had fallen during the previous 24 hours.
However, experienced downhill skiers/boarders know there is more to memorable conditions than that. The morning temperature was -5 C, perfect for creating powder. Winds, calm.
The alpine snow base was 130 cm (51 inches), more than enough to cover any rocks or undergrowth. New snow during the past seven days, 79 cm (31 inches). Merry Christmas, Okanagan.
A quick look at the webcams — brilliant sunshine — and the Ski Sheriff and Constant Companion Carmen were racing to the car.
Long-time Okanagan skiers also know conditions will depend on when the snow fell: before, during or after nightly grooming. If it’s before, grooming is perfect on the runs with lots of soft snow in the trees. If snow fell during grooming, there will be soft powder on top of compressed snow. After grooming, there will be even more soft powder on top of older compact snow.
The reward for earlybirds with the latter two is great first tracks. Latecomers, like us, will find that new soft powder pushed into small piles by skis and boards. The later it is, the more lumpy-bumpy it becomes.
So we stuck to the Black Forest and Ridge Rocket runs with later grooming for a perfect first day of cruising.
On Wednesday morning, Big White reported another 17 cm of fresh snow and on Thursday, another nine cm. As a result, the Gem Lake Express quad chair and Cliff Chair opened on Friday. Thank you, Mother Nature.
A followup to last week’s news about a new Alpine trail map. Olympic gold and silver medalist Kelsey Serwa will be outside in the Village 1-3 p.m. today signing them. Big White teamed up with Telus and Boundary Country to print 5,000 24x36 souvenir maps available for free at seven retailers in Kelowna until Monday.
In other news, Santa’s Mailbox is now set up in the Village and ready for Christmas wishlists. Santa’s helpers will collect letters to Santa 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. until Dec. 23 and ensure a personalized note comes back.
In order to preserve snow on lower elevation trails, Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club held off on grooming Wednesday and Thursday.
Telemark Nordic Club is looking positive for its official opening on Monday. You can check out what biathlon is all about at Telemark’s first race in nearly three years on Sunday, said Teresa Pavlin, with the Telemark Race Team parent committee.
The 2021 Okanagan Candy Cup Regional Biathlon Race and Zone 2 B.C. Winter Games Trials will start at 11 a.m.
After nearly two years without official racing, Team Telemark kicked off its 2020-21 season with a series of races across B.C. resulting in a range of podium, top 10 and top 20 finishes
Sovereign Lake Nordic Club has “absolutely amazing ski conditions.”
It opened Trapline Short for snowshoeing “but many areas are still underwater from last month’s deluge of rain. Please use caution and do not attempt to ford water. Do not go on the lake! Someone fell through on the weekend.”
Apex Mountain Resort opened for the season with its T-Bar and Magic Carpet. The Quad and Triple Chair opened Thursday with the skating rink and tube park open Friday night, weather permitting.
The annual series on XC ski areas and downhill resorts in the Okanagan continues today with the smallest XC and snowshoe area: McKinney Nordic Ski Club located at KM 27 on McKinney Road (aka the road to Mt. Baldy) east of Oliver.
“McKinney Nordic Ski Club is still alive. Last season, we had a record 83 paid members, far surpassing our record of 49 members. We have 30 paid members to date this year,” said club director Al Coates. “Our president has resigned and we are looking for new volunteers to fill a few positions. We are counting on some of our new (or old) members to step forward to take on executive positions in order to keep the club alive for the 2021-22 season and beyond.”
The club has nine kilometres of groomed cross-country ski trails, five kilometres of marked snowshoe trails, and a Facebook page.
Their website is: mckinney nordicskiclub.com.
When created in 1990, it was called Inkameep X-Country Ski Club and located at KM 21 on McKinney Road. In 1995, the club moved to KM 27 to take advantage of better snow conditions. Most of its ski trails make use of old unused logging roads. In 1997, the name changed to McKinney Nordic Ski Club.
“Olena Lennox and I volunteered to put in a snowshoe trail for the club about 10 years ago,” added Al Bernardin. “Since then, we have laid out a trail to the Junction Shelter and on to the Lookout Shelter with a loop return. We signed the trail with about 600 trail markers. The entire loop trail is five kilometres long. People have the option of going to the Junction Shelter at the halfway point and using a connector trail to return in a loop shortening the trip to 2.5 kilometres,” he said.
“We do maintenance on the trail about eight times throughout the year — mostly removing blowdown trees — so it’s in good shape. The trail starts at the parking lot with a map and markers, and returns to the parking lot. The trail is well used so the signs are redundant after the first few tracks are laid down.”
J.P. Squire, aka the Ski Sheriff, is a retired journalist.