Keeping it real at Revelstoke is a bit tougher on a budget, but a lot easier if you ski like the Murray Brothers.
Life on the road for New Zealand’s latest Freeride World Tour star Craig Murray is no free ride fueled by truckloads of sponsor’s cash. Still, at least he and bro Charlie Murray scraped together $150 each for the 1991 Ford truck that (just) got them from the FWT comps at Golden to Revelstoke for this story.
After watching Craig ski some impressive lines in the first two stops of the World Tour in Golden BC we stumbled across the deal of the century. The night after the comp we forked out $150 each for a “perfectly running” 1991 Ford F-150XL V8. We were stoked on this bargain, and for not having to pay hundreds of dollars for a rental.
Heading over the hill to Revelstoke we were nervous in anticipation of whether or not we would make it, finding “perfectly running” to mean something along the lines of ticking time bomb. Taking it easy, we chugged up Rodgers pass. By the time we reached the top it was dark and about -20 degrees. We were stopped by road workers who informed us that massive avalanches had come down from the mountains on each side of the road, leaving snow and tree debris up to 10m deep across the valley.
All we could do was settle in and wait while heavy machinery cleared the road. Not wanting to turn the car back on until absolutely necessary, we bunkered down for the night, putting on every piece of clothing we had, and taking turns in our one sleeping bag. Ice slowly formed thicker and thicker on the inside of the windows and we began to struggle to keep warm, resorting to putting our feet under each others legs to stop them going more numb.
It was about four hours later, after our laptops had died and our head torches were getting dim, when we finally got the go ahead. The trusty old girl started up first pop and we were off down the pass towards Revelstoke.
As we passed the avalanche paths we could see enormous mounds of snow and trees snapped and splintered like matchsticks littering the side of the highway. We finally rolled into to Revelstoke at around 2am, cutting fresh tracks through 20cm of fresh powder down the main street. With relief and excitement for the days to come we jumped into bed on a friend’s couch hoping it would keep dumping overnight.
Our prayers were answered, for the next week it snowed and snowed. Revelstoke, Revy, Revelstoked, The Stoke, whatever you want to call it, there’s no place like it. Celebrating it’s 10th birthday this year it’s very young in terms of ski fields. This is great for a number of reasons: high speed lifts, warm modern buildings, and a welcoming vibe with general stoke from the locals.
It feels like people in Revelstoke are in a sort of disbelief that one of the best resorts in North America or even the world has appeared in their back yard. Talking to a few old timers in town I came across a recurring theme. Many people used to ski in Revelstoke in the old days, but it was only hiking and touring. One middle aged lady said she’d been touring and skiing there since she was a little girl, the town was always in favour of a resort, and when it finally went ahead there was lots of support from the local community.
The terrain and accessibility of the field is incredible. Riding to the top of the gondola you have a short ski down to the base of the Stoke Lift, a perfect warm up for what’s to come. Riding the Stoke Lift to the top of the mountain you emerge above the treeline and are welcomed with 180 degree views of the mountain and the river and town below.
At the top you can drop into a number of different zones, with terrain and snow to suit anyone. With over 1700m of vertical, every run gets the legs burning.
We managed to find epic glades and cliffs for storm skiing and then got into some bigger alpine stuff when it began to clear. Some of our favourite runs were down Gracias Ridge and into Greely Bowl.
This is a benched north facing ridge which has a number of steep pitches, with flatter sections in between. The ridge descends like a staircase down into the bottom of North Bowl and holds fresh powder for days after a storm.
At the bottom of North Bowl you make you way down to the Ripper Chair.
The Ripper is a fun chair with some flatter terrain perfect for intermediate skiers or to avoid crowds on a powder day. Once riding the Ripper, we usually head back up to the Stoke Lift where we take a few laps out in South Bowl, these laps are faster with less traversing and some steep runs to the bottom of the chair. After a few hot laps it’s back over to Gracias Bowl to find some freshies.
After a big day trying to track out the endless terrain we would make our way to the resort village. Usually, this involved a race from the top down the kilometres of steep groomed runs, seeing who could clock the highest speed. Craig and I managed to crack over 110KM/Hr on our fat powder skis.
Once reaching the base we embraced the après ski. La Baguette had amazing bagels and gelato, while the beers and wings were incredible at the Rockford Bar and Grill. Insiders tip: Monday is cheap wings night with a ½ a pound of wings for $4.
It’s easy to either hitch or jump on the bus back to town. In town some good after skiing activities include the Aquatic Centre with a sauna, hot pools and laps pools, or The Cabin, which is a cool 5pin bowls alley and bar. While we were in town we tried to limit the beers to take advantage of the epic snow, although that was harder than it sounds.
After 10 days in town we decided it was time to move in the direction of Whistler. In hindsight we really should’ve stayed in Revelstoke a bit longer because old blue F150 decided she didn’t like Whistler much and packed her engine in about 3hrs from anywhere in a tiny farming settlement. After some drama getting rid of the truck (legally), we finally made it to Whistler, where the skiing didn’t quite compare to our incredible week in Revelstoke.
You don’t have to ski/ride at the Murray boys level to enjoy Revi either – Travel Editor Dave Windsor who juggles a day job and young family with more intermittent snow time had a ball here too last year, check that story on the link.
Revelstoke is part of the awesome Mountain Collective and IKON pass too, which work great for Aussie and Kiwi skiers now thanks to the inclusion of Coronet Peak, Remarkables, Mt Hutt, Valle Nevado and Thredbo in those.
Getting to Revelstoke from Australia – take Air Canada non-stops to Vancouver from Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane, connect to Kelowna, then Revelstoke Stoke Shuttle from there www.aircanada.com
Calgary 4.75 Hours 413km/257 miles
Vancouver 7 Hours 631km/392 miles
Kelowna 2 Hours 199km/124 miles
Kamloops 2.5 Hours 210km/130 miles
Packages www.mogulski.com.au www.travelandco.com.au www.travelplan.com.au www.mysnow.com.au www.snowcapped.com.au
Revelstoke area info www.seerevelstoke.com
to stay www.suttonplace.com/hotels/sutton-place-hotel-revelstoke-rev
rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>www.hellobc.com www.canada.travel