my Mountain News

Snow Man

Wed, 26/01/2005 - 12:00 am

Silver Star, B.C.

The best place to sink your skis in Canada right now is probably in the B.C. Interior. Slopes already fully coated were further topped with a white deluge last Wednesday, leaving me whooping and hollering in boot top powder on steeps at Silver Star.

I hung on the backside, in the Putnam Creek area, which is an immense domain loaded almost exclusively with single and double black diamonds. The fresh snow, its subsequent cushioning, seemed to make all things possible, and it wasn’t long before I was hucking joyously into depths over my head, out of my league.

Funny though, one does not typically think of Silver Star as a resort that delivers dare. Rather, it’s got a family reputation with playful runs in the sun, a colourful village and cheerful, charming façade.

Yet while Putnam Creek opened about a decade ago with a cascade of advanced runs, the resort’s image somehow never changed. It seems the spirit of Putnam is overlooked like a really good book judged by its cover.

Forget Disneyland. Think formidable and feisty. Picture ridgelines with drop-offs. White shoelaces tacked on a green wall. Pouring milk. Runs as far as you can see. Chutes among pines, hairball gullies, glades, mogul fields, and winch-cat groomed steeps, all provocatively spread out and isolated from each another.

Putnam is not so much the resort’s backside, as it is a long, long traverse to the Jekyll’s “Hyde”, a place unto itself with the kind of stuff that’s too tough for 80 per cent of the skiing public. It’s the deep end, and not a place to venture without a buddy. Buy the book. Check it out.

Tips: West jet has just launched direct, non-stop service from Toronto to Kelowna, seemingly with skiers in mind. With flights departing at 9 a.m., arriving in Kelowna before 11 a.m. given the three hour time difference, it allows for an afternoon on the slopes on arrival. By the same token, with the return flight departing at 4 p.m., skiers can also get in a full morning.

Directions: Silver Star is located one hour from the Kelowna Airport, serviced by frequent shuttles.