© Submitted photo
Jamie Graham has been skiing the Blow Me Down Mountains for more than 40 years.
During the Haywood Ski Nationals in Corner Brook from March 15-22, we got to chat with a number of athletes and coaches about other types of cross-country skiing in Newfoundland.
Since the Blow Me Down Mountains were visible on many days from the trails, we pointed out that they are a great place for ski touring in the spring.
“They look like they are pretty flat on top,” remarked a coach from Thunder Bay “but how easy is it to get up there?”
We told him that there were a couple of steep routes up where we would usually carry our skis and walk, but after that you can pretty much go anywhere.
“Since there are few trees on top your options are wide open” we told him.
And with all the snow this winter we suspect that the spring skiing season in the Tablelands or the Blow Me Down Mountains should be very good.
We are often asked about what ski skills and gear are needed to be able to do a trip on top of the Blow Me Down Mountains. Likely the most difficult aspect is finding your way to the top if you head up via the Copper Mine Brook road. First of all, this route is not to be confused with the Copper Mine Cape hiking trail that climbs to the top of Blow Me Down Mountain. To reach the start for the ski route, drive roughly 39 kilometres from Corner Brook on Highway 450. Unlike the hiking trail, Copper Mine Brook “Road” is not marked at the start but the coordinates for the trail head are: 49 03.712 N and 58 18.599 W. The Copper Mine Brook road is more like a wide rough trail and the route continues past the evidence of old mining activity. If you go in the early part of April the entire route should be snow covered and you should be able to ski up using skins from the parking area. Later on you will likely be walking with your skis over your shoulder for the first couple of kilometres until you reach consistent snow cover. From there the route finding becomes trickier, but if you turn right off the road at 49 02.821 N and 58 18.349 W and work your way through the open trees you will get to a small valley which takes you to the upper barrens where you can pretty much ski anywhere. The views as you break out into the open are spectacular, especially of York Harbour and the surrounding hills.
Since the upper plateau is relatively flat your ski skills do not need to be that fancy. A solid snowplow is useful for some of the steeper descents and most people do a diagonal stride on the flats and on the uphills. If the conditions are right, you might be even be able to do some ski skating. In the early years we simply used our regular cross-country skis and boots, but now most people use waxless metal edged light touring skis with higher boots since they give more control. Destinations are varied but in the past we have skied to Round Hill, the top of Blow Me Down Mountain and even to Simms Gorge.
Contributors Keith and Heather Nicol live in Corner Brook and are avid explorers of Newfoundland. Keith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org