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Posted: March 16, 2015

Fresh snow great news for skiers and snowmobilers

By Chris Conway

Columbia Valley residents awoke Monday morning to the beautiful and welcome sight of new snow on the Rockies and Purcells.

A Pacific storm system brought precipitation through the weekend with freezing levels dropping to near 1,200 m on Sunday night. After weeks of unusually warm weather, the fresh snow in the mountains, with none in the valley, ensures almost everyone, except for maybe the snow-clearing contractor, is happy.

Fresh snow again covers the Rockies by Invermere. Photos by Chris Conway
Fresh snow again covers the Rockies by Invermere. Photos by Chris Conway

On Monday morning (March 16) Panorama Mountain Resort was reporting 27cm in the past 24 hours and a total of 41cm over the weekend with great skiing and snowboarding conditions top-to-bottom.

At nearby Toby Creek Adventures, General Manager Scott Barsby confirmed that the Paradise Bowl snowmobiling area had also received a large and welcome dump of snow.

“It’s still like winter up there,” said Barsby. “The new snow means excellent conditions for our tours.”

Despite an unseasonably warm winter that has forced other resorts to close, Panorama and Toby Creek are on track to operate until their planned closing dates in April.

Forster Creek, near Radium Hot Springs, still offers relatively good access for snowmobiling. Spring conditions have affected the lower access trail to Forster, but the weekend snowstorm was generous in Forster Meadows.

Avalanche Canada recommends a very conservative approach to backcountry avalanche terrain in the Purcells due to the weekend storm. Monday’s avalanche bulletin for the Purcells shows high hazard in the alpine and warns that new snow sits over a variety of surfaces including moist snow, crusts, wind affected surfaces, and/or old wind slabs, which may still be reactive.

Meanwhile down in the Columbia Valley, the early spring is great news for golfers.

Windermere Valley Golf Course opened last Friday and reports good early season golfing. Eagle Ranch and Copper Point golf courses expect to be open April 3. Fairmont opens on March 27.

On Lake Windermere the ice is now in full retreat with a large expanse of open water at James Chabot Provincial Park (pictured above).

Environment Canada forecasts warmer temperatures returning through the coming week.

Chris Conway is a freelance photographer and writer in Invermere. He also guides for a local ATV and snowmobile outfitter. View his photography at

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