Face shots at ROAM Randonnee Rally – ski mountaineering race at Whitewater (Nelson, BC)

With Whitewater’s excellent ski resort terrain, backcountry and an original vibe it is only logical that it hosts an event from Canada’s skimo racing calendar. The race is also one of many events that take place over the weekend-long annual Cold Smoke Powder Fest.

And why ROAM? Simply, ROAM (Rivers, Oceans and Mountains) is a great store with the best outdoor equipment in the center of Nelson, BC.  It is one of the main forces behind the whole festival and the skimo race, to which the store lends its name.

The race the strongest man won

After about 30h of snowfall, combined with a newer (longer) course, the race was set to be a “skins’ glue game” and a great endurance challenge. These conditions also meant that the pack of front hounds was kept somewhat together until the second to last descent.

ROAM randonnee rally race course 1

This shows the first loop of the course dominated by a long traverse on a wide ridge leading over the top of White Queen. The descent (marked red) under the big alpine basin brought racers back to the ski area.

From the very start Andrew McNab took it by the horns. Only on few occasions I (Stano Faban) was able to bridge up to him and break the trail. Others were always very close; among them Canada’s fastest girl Melanie Bernier.

First climb was a short 3min sprint up a cat track road. Then a quick treed descent onto cross country trails for about 5min of on-and-off skating. After that a long climb (500m) in the trees took us up on the shoulder. We followed it up and down (about 200m) for another 20+ minutes. Then finally a proper descent with lots of face shots brought us to the heart of the ski area.

Andrew left this bottom transition with 1-2 minute lead with another 5 of us closely together. From here on he marched like a man possessed. I managed to keep his lead in check and shed the others but only by following in his tracks. This climb (about 350m) was split with a tough boot-pack and delivered us on top of a great powder run called Elevator Shaft.

ROAM randonnee rally skimo race course 2

The start/finish are was just below the skins-on transition Andrew left with some lead. Course lead up Mother Load, boot-packed to the ridge, ski down Elevator Shaft and the drainage below. Then back over the long ridge, ski down through the saddle and Mother Load to the finish.

Throughout the whole race, especially on the last climb (about 500m), Andrew did huge amounts of work and even though I caught him before the top I was totally happy to let him ski for glory from this last top transition. And that is not to say that he needs any head start when it comes to skiing ;)

Behind us, over the last hour of racing, positions were exchanged regularly until the very end. Peter Knight bested Melanie Bernier and Nick Elson to the line and rounded the men’s podium while Melanie took the women’s top prize in front of Julie Matteau and Alexandra Dubois.

The race was long (new snow and 1610m of climbing in total) with Andrew winning in 2h 47min and the rest of us trickling in behind him in about 1-2min intervals.

Full results

» Men’s Race course

» Women’s Race course

» Men’s Rec course

» Women’s Rec course

Training Plans for Skimo Racing

Skimo Racing Manual


  1. Peter, we stayed for the prizes, they pretty sweet. I am not sure what they are doing with “no show-ups” but I believe if you email the ROAM store guys you can definitely arrange something.

    And yeah, a great course ;)

  2. It was a good time, with an awesome course. Anyone stick around for awards? They gave out some pretty solid prizes last year, but I had to hit the road to get back to Champion City. Did anyone pick up my prize or are they mailing it out or am I SOL?

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