White Queen
While staying in Nelson, British Columbia over the Christmas long weekend, Zosia Zgolak and I hooked up with Philip Walters on 25 December 2016 and visited nearby Whitewater Ski Resort to do some AT skiing.  Although the resort is renowned for its backcountry skiing opportunities, it is surprisingly restrictive in allowing uphill skinning within the resort boundaries.  According to Whitewater's website, a single cat track on the northern margins of the ski resort has been designated for uphill travel, and this was where we chose to climb up even though we had no specific objectives in mind when we started the day.  After an easy and somewhat mundane climb to the top of Silver King chairlift, we continued up a signed backcountry access trail which eventually turns west and makes a long rising traverse to a broad saddle.  From this saddle, we climbed the ridge to the west and eventually topped out on a spacious summit which, I would later learn, is known as White Queen.  Although there were some discussions about continuing westward and descending to the nearby Nordic ski trails, I was not in favour of this option since it would entail having to skin uphill at the end of the day to return to our starting point.  Instead, I convinced everyone to ski back down the ridge we came up and then continue eastward past the broad saddle and over another minor high point.  From looking at the resort's trail map, I was convinced that there was another backcountry access trail just east of the minor high point leading back to the top of Silver King chairlift.  When we dropped down the east side of the minor high point, we spotted a few ski tracks descending into thick forest but nothing resembling an obvious access trail.  After some fruitless searching, we eventually decided to try and drop down through the trees in order to get back to the ski resort.  The terrain here is both steep and challenging with hidden cliff bands and narrow breaks between trees.  While this was not an issue for Philip who is an expert skier, Zosia and I had a lot of problems descending here.  At one point, I lost one of my skis in deep powder after a small wipeout, and I had to dig quite extensively to find my missing ski.  To his credit, Philip exhibited a lot of patience in waiting for Zosia and me to muddle our way down the slope, and we all felt relief in one form or another upon regaining our original up-track.  Returning to the resort area, we enjoyed an uneventful ski back to the parking lot.  Despite all the grief Zosia and I endured on descent, this was still an enjoyable outing and a great way to spend Christmas Day.
Because it was Christmas Day, the resort did not open until just before noon. The cat track designated for uphill travel begins just beyond the orange fence and heads out of the photo to the left.
Water or egg nog? Philip stops for a drink on the cat track while another skier and Zosia come up behind him.
Backcountry blah, blah, blah, whatever... Philip and Zosia arrive at the signed backcountry access trail near the top of Silver King chairlift.
Little did we know that we would eventually descend through the steep forested slope straight ahead! The backcountry access trail is easy to skin up.
Still not sure where we are going, but this is still skiable! The backcountry access trail turns west here and makes a long rising traverse.
We're finally getting somewhere! Philip climbs up to a broad saddle.
The snow is awesome here! Philip follows Zosia westward from the broad saddle.
I'm dreaming of a White Christmas... It truly is a winter wonderland up here.
Hmmm...I thought there was supposed to be sun in the weather forecast for today... Zosia and Philip continue to climb westward up a ridge.

 This summit has a name?? Bonus!

Sonny, Zosia and Philip stand on the summit of White Queen (2179 metres).


This is where the fun begins! Zosia and Philip prepare to ski back down the ridge they came up.
Second summit of the day perhaps? After returning to the broad saddle, Philip and Zosia climb up the other side to a minor high point.

 Is this photo in colour or B&W??

The mist clears briefly to allow this partial view of White Queen from the minor high point.  Note the skiers at the broad saddle (left) and on the summit.


We probably should have turned right here and headed into the trees sooner... No access trail is immediately obvious on the east side of the minor high point.
Who's idea was it to come this way?? Zosia resorts to sliding down one of the steeper sections in the challenging terrain below the ridge.
Great ski tour except for that challenging bit through the trees east of the minor high point! Total Distance:  9.7 kilometres
Total Time:  5 hours 46 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  554 metres

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