SNOWWATER PRE-TRIP PACKAGE
Snowwater operates in a region known as the West Kootenays of British Columbia. We chose this area as the quality of snow is like few other places on earth. The unsurpassed consistency, quantity, and lightness of our renowned ‘white gold’ is sought after by powder connoisseurs the world over.
Snowwater is located on 21 private acres in the Bonnington Range of the Selkirk Mountains, roughly 24 km southwest of Nelson. Nestled in the trees below Snowwater Peak, the lodge sits at ‘a mile high’(5400ft/1640m) and is approximately 1 hour from our base office, via snowcat and truck.
REQUIRED BEFORE ARRIVAL
After giving it all you’ve got on slopes, there is no better way to sooth your muscles and get the most out of your vacation than by treating yourself to a massage. Our therapists have extensive sports therapy experience and are guaranteed to ease the pain.
Due to the high demand for massage appointments, we ask that you pre-book to ensure you get the massage you need.
Appointment times are:
- After dinner
WHERE TO MEET
All trips begin at our Snowwater Clubhouse (in the Kootenay Smokehouse).
997 Dogwood Dr.
South Slocan, BC, V0G 2G0
WHEN TO MEET
Arrival time: 4:30pm
Guests should meet at our Snowwater Clubhouse before making the trip to the lodge. The shuttle trucks leave at 5:00 pm sharp. Feel free to arrive early!
GENERAL ARRIVAL SCHEDULE
- Arrive at our base office by 4:30 pm, park vehicle and turn in your keys to our staff at the Clubhouse.
- Get your bags tagged with room names and sign your paper waiver.
- 5:00pm transfer to the lodge.
- Arrive and settle into your room with your luggage and come on over to the main lodge when you’re ready.
- 6:30 is the orientation talk in the bar.
- Organize your heli groups for day 1.
- Gourmet dinner at 7:00pm.
It is the responsibility of the guest to be on time. Please call our base office if you are running late so we can be aware of your situation. Guests who miss a scheduled departure will need a private shuttle to the lodge and will be subject to a late fee of $250 per person. We do not bring in guests past 6:00 pm. If you are later than this, you will have to spend the night in Nelson and incur extra accommodation and food expenses.
If your entire group is late and misses 7:00pm dinnertime, then the full course dinner will not be served. A group late fee of $500 is applied in this case to account for transportation staff working overtime.
Purchasing insurance for your trip is a crucial piece of the heli-ski puzzle. You have invested in an expensive adventure, and we HIGHLY recommend getting the appropriate coverage so that you are completely reimbursed should something go awry either before or during your trip.
There are three main types of insurance you should have for a trip like this:
- EMERGENCY MEDICAL INSURANCE – NOW INCLUDED! Your trip now covers you for acute, sudden and unexpected sickness or injury. Thos coverage includes ambulance evacuation to a hospital as well as hospital and physician charges. Medical claims do require that you see and get signed off by a local physician. The insurance company will make direct billing arrangements with the hospital as quickly as possible, however hospitals in BC may require a credit card deposit upon admission. Further coverage details are available by contacting
- TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE – NOT INCLUDED reimburses you for travel costs if the travel plans are cancelled prior to departure, or on the way to the destination. Airline tickets are excluded from this.
- TRIP INTERRUPTION INSURANCE - NOT INCLUDED. This covers your trip and unexpected out of pocket expenses if your plans are disrupted after the trip has begun.
We recommend you take an extra day and come early to avoid feeling pressured by the constraints of winter weather traveling.
Drive times to our base office:
- From Spokane, WA: 3 ½ hours North
- From Cranbrook: 3 hours East
- From Kelowna: 4 hours South
- From Vancouver: 8 hours East
- From Calgary: 8 hours West
- From Nelson: 20 minutes South
- From Rossland (Red Mountain): 45 minutes North
- From Castlegar airport: 15 minutes North
Spokane International Airport, WA
Most Americans choose to fly to Spokane and either rent a car, or book a shuttle, and drive to our base from there.
Crossing the Border
The two local border crossings are:
- Nelway: Between Metaline Falls, WA and Salmo, BC. This border is smaller and closes at 4:00PM.
- Northport/Patterson: Between Northport, WA and Rossland, BC. Customs are open 24 hrs a day.
- A passport is always required to cross the Canadian border.
- If you have a DUI or criminal record you will need to arrange for permission to enter Canada. DO NOT try to drive across the border without pre-arranging it in this case. You should always FLY into Canada if you have ‘a prior’ conviction of any type.
Border Information Service:
- Within Canada: 1-800-461-9999
- Outside Canada: 1–204-983-3500
If you prefer to get a shuttle please contact Kootenay Gateway.
Castlegar Regional Airport (YCG)*** currently CLOSED as of May 2021 Canadians or International guests generally drive or fly directly from Calgary or Vancouver. You can fly via Air Canada into Castlegar, only a 15-minute drive to our base office. Please be warned, flights are often cancelled due to stormy weather so we recommend coming a day early.
- Shuttle Bus A shuttle van or rental cars are available from this regional airport but call ahead to reserve: Kootenay Gateway
- Private Aircraft
Castlegar Airport is now open for international flights! All heli transfers are dependent upon weather. Castlegar is the only local airport to accept international private aircraft. You can then arrange a heli transfer directly to the lodge for an extra fee with us or arrange a shuttle to our base and join the regular transfer at 5:00pm.
Cranbrook International Airport (YXC)
This is another option with international landing capacity and is a 3-hour drive to our base. We recommend pre-booking a luxury shuttle van with Resort Tours.
Trail Airport (YZZ)
This airport is 1hour drive from our base office, but can be worth it as the success rate for arrival in the winter is about 15% more reliable than Castlegar. Trail is serviced by Pacific Coastal Airlines, which flies direct from the South Terminal of Vancouver International Airport. You can prebook a rental car and pick it up right at the Trail airport now with Practicar.
Kelowna International Airport (YLW)
Many Canadians choose to fly Kelowna when coming to the Kootenays, if they can’t make it to Trail or Castlegar. Rental cars or a shuttle are available. It’s a 4-hour drive - not ideal – but it is an option.
- Highway cams
- 24 hour road information for BC Highways: 1-800-550-4997
There is an ATM machine located across the street from our office if you need Canadian cash. Once you arrive at Snowwater, there is no need for money. All expenses at the lodge will be added to your account and paid for at the end of the trip. Credit cards may also be used for leaving gratuities – of course US or CND cash is always preferred.
SNOWWATER TERMS AND CONDITIONS
It is expected that you have both read and understand our terms and conditions before coming on your trip. Please visit our website link to read about them or download the Terms and Conditions.
WHAT TO BRING
- Airline Tickets
- Passport/ID – make sure it is current!
- Visa (if applicable)
- 1 carry-on luggage including ski or snowboard boots. ALWAYS bring your ski boots or snowboard boots as carry-on items on airplanes. Most regular combo touring/alpine boots are now compatible with our bindings. TOURING boots are NOT compatible. You will need to bring your own skis if you bring these types of boots.
- Mid layer (insulation or fleece)
- High-quality outerwear (Gore-TEX or similar)
- Gloves or mittens
- Base layers
- Warm headwear
- Ski Socks
- Goggles (extra goggles can be a very good idea as well in case yours get fogged with tons of powder snow (common!)). We also sell some in our shop if you’re in need!
- Buff/face protection
- Lodge clothing (comfy)
- Slippers (or you can use our crocs)
- Regular boots (mud/snow – or use our insulated Dryshod boots!
- Bathing suit (hot tub)
- Sunscreen/lip balm
- Basic toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, medication, Advil, etc
- Laptop – yes we have high-speed wireless Internet
- Cell phone and charger. We have reception at the lodge for Telus, Verizon and Bell cell phones
- Earplugs – if your friend likes to snore
- Airbag and associates rescue gear. TSA will confiscate your canister if you try to bring it on a plane. An airbag (BCA 22 L) is included in your trip, so there is no need to bring one.
- Touring Boots. Rossignol rental bindings can only accommodate GRIPWALK soles. If you plan to bring touring boots to heli ski in, please bring your own skis.
- Alcohol. We have a full bar at Snowwater and do not permit guests to bring their own alcohol. If you have any special requests, please let us know and we will be happy to make sure that your expectations are met.
- Wine. If you really need to bring some unique wine, we do allow 2 bottles max per person with a corkage fee of $50 each. But we have two wine cellars and lots of unique and wonderful wine!
WHAT WE SUPPLY
- High Speed WIFI. Thank you Starlink.
- Rossignol Powder skis and poles or snowboard are included in your package to ensure the best powder experience. If you want to bring your own skis or snowboard, please only bring one set of gear only. We highly recommend that your skis should have a waist width of at least 100 mm or greater for easy turning and better endurance.
- House wine with dinner and Draft Beer on tap! Wines from the cellar, or cocktails are extra.
- BCA 22L Airbag. Each guest receives a BCA airbag backpack containing your personal shovel and probe.
- Digital BCA tacker S avalanche beacon. You will be trained on its use and are responsible for its intact return to your guide.
- Personal ICOM radio with external mic. You will be trained on its use and are responsible for its intact return to your guide.
- Luxurious Bath robes – makes travel between hot tub and bedroom cozy and warm!
- Crocs for lodge life – or bring your own slippers to feel really at home.
- EO bath products. Natural, organic shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and hand cream.
- Dryshod winter boots. The snow is deep up here! We have a large selection of boots for you to cruise around between buildings.
- Boot and glove dryers in each guest lodge.
- Rossignol powder snowboards, Rossignol fat skis and powder poles.
- Emergency Medical Insurance is now provided with your trip! If you get hurt on your trip and see a doctor locally to sign the paperwork, your associated medical costs are covered while in Canada. However, If you do not see a local doctor, the coverage doesn’t work. If you want to avoid costly emergency evacuation heli flights, you need to see a local doctor.
- A great retail store. Want to bring gifts or memorabilia home? We have lots of things to choose from.
- Snowwater Water Bottle – for you to keep at the end of your vacation.
YOUR FIRST DAY
Your first day is a little different than a regular day due to the extra training, gear set up and group organization.
- Fill out ski/snowboard waiver so we can set you up with your gear while you train. Please bring one boot to breakfast so that we set up your skis.
- 8:00am: Lead guide talk and introduction to personal safety gear assigned to you.
- Sign the paper waiver after hearing the lead guide talk. This is a new industry standard, even after having signed the on-line waiver before booking your trip.
- Everyone is weighed for the helicopter, and daily groups list are selected.
- 8:30: Avalanche training is given by our professional guides to ensure you are ready and equipped to enter the backcountry. Our pilot will also brief you on the helicopter. While this is happening, your skis will be set up for you, ready to go when you are.
- Once you are fully trained, gather in your group of 4 on the heli pad and prepare to lift off!
- Gear up your morning with yoga, a hot tub, a COLD PLUNGE, a steam room or a spin in the gym!
- A buffet breakfast is served at 7:30am every morning. Choose from freshly baked goodies, assorted, fresh fruit platter, oatmeal, eggs to order, or our daily breakfast special. We have a wide selection of tea, or enjoy any type of gourmet coffee from our new macdaddy JURA machine, all made with locally roasted OSO coffee.
- 8:30 - All guests meet at the heli to get ready for lift off.
- Lunch. Eventually our heli has to refuel during the day. This is when we eat lunch in the field, or occasionally return to the lodge for hot lunch if conditions permit.
- Shred pow, take pics, make memories. Repeat.
- Massages begin at 3:45pm. We have two therapists on staff. There are 4 daily time slots unless you come home early and would like an earlier time. Pre-booking is recommended to prevent disappointment.
- 4:00-5:00pm Après hour! Don’t forget to check out our tasty snacks in the main lodge before you disappear into the SPA land of hot tubs and steam rooms. Please be sure to remember when your massage is booked!
- You can also pre-order cocktails or canned beverages, so they are ready to go for you when head off to the Tub.
- 7:00 pm. Dinner is 4-course gourmet affair in the main lodge. House wine or draft beer are included with your trip. You can also enhance your dining experience with a selection from one of our two wine Cellars. After desert pairings are also available. Simply ask our bartender.
- 9:00ish. The after-dinner massage. Or indulge in various other evening festivities.
The backcountry is exciting and exhilarating, but can also be unpredictable. We strongly urge our guests to act responsibly and listen attentively to their guides and the pilot. Guests are expected to always follow their guide’s instructions and act appropriately around the helicopter.
Avalanches are part of skiing in the backcountry. These are a normal occurrence in the mountains as nature finds a way to stabilize the strong potential energy created during storms. Many western ski areas have avalanche control programs protecting their inbound terrain, but in an area as vast and untamed as ours, this task is virtually impossible. Our guides have years of experience in evaluating people, snow stability and assessing where it’s safe and where it is not. While it is our goal to take you to the best available snow and terrain each day, safety is our main priority and it may dictate where and when we ski. Please listen to and follow your guide at all times.
**The use of drugs and alcohol are strictly prohibited before and during the ski day. Music listening devices are also not allowed during your ski day.
- Please note that cell phones must be in airplane mode when carried in the backcountry as they interfere with your beacon signal when turned on. They must be carried at least 30cm away from your beacon and your radio.
- Go-pros cannot be mounted to your chest.
RETURN TIME TO BASE
We plan for all guests to be back from skiing by 2:30, leaving time to shower in the spa, have one last frosty beer, sign the guest book, and say goodbye.
You can expect to be at the Snowwater Base Office by 4:30pm where you can visit our retail shop and will finalize all additional expenses.
If you happen to be skiing the Valhallas on your last day, you will be driven directly to the office and your luggage will be brought down for you. A post-ski shower will not be available in this case.
Finally, if you are flying via private aircraft, you will finalize your lodge bill at the lodge before being flown back to Castlegar airport for your flight home.
Gratuities have not been included in your trip. If you feel you received exceptional service and your trip made memorable by the efforts of those who work at the lodge, all staff members will be made aware of your contribution.
Thank you again for choosing to spend your holiday with us. If there is anything we can do to make your trip more enjoyable, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Saying goodbye to everyone at the end of your trip is always a sad time – but we know you’ll be back soon!
We look forward to seeing you in the mountains and we sincerely hope that you enjoy your stay with us.