"The difference between the steep skiing here and the steep skiing in Alaska," proclaimed one guest from Anchorage, "is that in Alaska you can see the steep runs because there are no trees. In the Kootenay we ski just as steep, but it doesn't look so steep because it is all in the forest."
The famous ski areas of Snowbird and Alta are almost indistinguishable from the surrounding backcountry, indicating minimal tree cutting was necessary to create a ski resort compared to the famous resorts in Colorado and other areas where many runs are virtually clear-cuts in thick forest. Likewise, the Kootenay region could be home to dozens of massive ski resorts, and not a single tree would have to be cut to make fantastic runs. CMH claims 230 runs, but the number is utterly irrelevant. The names are for reference rather than indicating any sort of boundary between the runs. There are hundreds that have never been skied, and it could just as accurately be said that the Kootenay region is one big ski run.
Some areas can become skied out during periods without fresh snow, but in Kootenay "skied out" is an unused phrase. Features like the huge Empress Bowl beg to be skied again and again. A frequent Kootenay guest remembers his group counting a thousand tracks down Empress bowl by the end of a day. The southern Kootenay ski terrain takes time to learn. There are few big peaks to stand out as landmarks in the middle of the tenure, and every face of every ridge appears to be the best ski run around. A typical day includes so many different valleys that all but the most seasoned Kootenay skiers become lost within the maze of ridges and valleys.
From Bugaboo Dreams by Topher Donahue
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