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Powder to the People

Backcountry snowboarding in British Columbia


What better antidote to the winter blues than snowboarding on a private 5,000-acre mountain range of divine powder? Island Lake Lodge, the renowned and much photographed British Columbian backcountry ski resort, has recently expanded its snowcat operation to the other side of the Lizard Range Mountains -- the western side of the Rockies. (The resort begins taking reservations for 2002 in April, and for 2003 in September, so book now before the secret's out.) With only twelve guests and two guides, fresh tracks on every run are practically guaranteed. The terrain ranges from tight and gladed to open powder bowls that give you that warm-and-fuzzy Warren Miller–must–be–near feeling. The snowcat magically beats your descent every time and sits purring at the end of each run. This is real backcountry riding, and there is a certain amount of risk (avalanche transceivers are worn at all times), but where else can you log more than 15,000 vertical feet of greedy powder turns each day, with limited hiking and not a man-made object for miles? Cabins sleep four and the snowcat seats twelve, so it's best to go with a group of friends as you'll be spending all your time in tight quarters. The guest rooms are log-cabin-style with no TV or phones. Nightlife consists of a hearty meal and cold beers in a beat-up hot tub under the bright stars.

Details Island Lake Lodge, 888-4-CATSKI, www.islandlake (three-day packages start at $945); connecting flights to Cranbrook, British Columbia, available through Air Canada, 888-247-2262.


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