Revelstoke boasts North America’s biggest vertical and a whole lot more. It’s one for your all time must ski that list, and with another great early season on the cards why not this year?
Dave Windsor dropped in for Snow Action in March.
“Do you wanna get a little scared Dave?” asks Revelstoke guest relations ambassador Chris Pawlitsky. “Sure!” I reply with a touch of trepidation, and off we go on our three day expedition around this beast of a mountain.
On the gondola ride up the affable Chris declares his mission, “I’m going for a million vertical feet Dave”. I take the hint and promise not to be a dead weight. Chris is a freight train engineer by profession, hauling two mile long trains, so with a full time job and season pass it’s a bold ambition.
“Revelstoke has got the most vert in North America,” Chris explains, “it’s also the best place to ski. I just love it here.” Following Chris’s standard warm up, down Snow Rodeo onto Hollywood Boulevard to the Stoke express quad, the options to ski are so vast and amazing it’s like an endless amusement park on steroids. The glades, the pow, the bowls, the chutes, the groomers and the 1,713m/5,620 feet of top to bottom vertical.
In three days we notched up 75,000 feet. Chris was happy and closer to his goal; I was shattered and looking forward to sleep.
The blues are actually dark blues (aka Revelstoke Blue), the blacks are as potent as a double shot espresso with a Red Bull chaser, and the double blacks are simply scary.
Unlike other Interior BC resorts I saw a lift queue in Revy. One queue, of a hundred or so very keen, capable and amped riders, who begin their wait about an hour before the Revelation Gondola starts rolling out of the base.
Alternatively, you could beat the rush and sign up for first tracks “It was so amazing, all of the ski instructors that bring you up are such shredders,” enthused a girl who had done it in the gondola, “they bring you up and let everyone loose on the mountain. We met up around 7:30, got up and ripped 3 or 4 laps off the Stoke Chair before anybody else!”
Chris knew his line-up. “Don’t worry Dave, there’s soooo much snow, we’ll find fresh lines.” So we waited till 9am, when the line was gone. Once up the hill the crowd disperse, and no further queues ensue.
The grooming and groomers keep the piste demons happy, but that’s not what Revy is about. It’s about finding fresh, gliding through glades, traversing knife edge ridges to get to the goods, and hitting bowl after brilliant bowl. It’s side country, back country, tree country, wild country.
The intrepid and fit hike up to the 2,340m sub peak so as to ski over to the legendary North Bowl. Chris and I opt to hike for 362 paces on the Lemming Line above Separate Reality to access North Bowl via the appropriately named Drop In, and traverse across to the equally powder rich Greeley Bowl. ‘Yahoo’ and ‘Wow’ echo throughout the bowl as the hard core punters rip up this massive ungroomed area. We hit some sweet knee to thigh deep pow lines, and avoid the Gully of Death by sneaking into Goldilocks Traverse and back to the Stoke chair.
We hit it again and make our way to the bottom of Greeley Bowl, this time past Spilt Milk and Brown Shorts, a pair of 45°+ chutes off the top that’d be right at home in any Warren Miller film. It’s an hour or so hike to take it on. Not for me, but good on those who do.
On the other side of the mountain, between the South Bowl and Montana Bowl, serene and secluded Terry’s Dream is the untracked goods, on a pretty cruisy pitch funneling into more glades, that lead to a wicked chute down to Ninja Traverse leading back in bounds.
The trees are second to none and seemingly endless. Glades of Glory, Stihl Life Glades, Clyde’s Secret Glades, Big Woody to name but a few, they could have you skiing different tree lines all day every day for a week. If chutes are your thing, then they’re here too. Some requiring nerve wracking traverses across ridge lines that have me wondering will I make it. Chris boosts my confidence and urges me on as we make our way to the likes of Mama Bear, Papa Bear and Holy F^@%.
As for laying your head at night there are two choices. Stay in town (about 7 – 10 minutes drive/shuttle), or at the base of the hill at the luxurious Sutton Place. I stayed in the latter in a fabulous self-catering apartment. The Resort, built in 2008, has a ski shop, day spa, outdoor pool & hot-tubs, La Baguette patisserie & café, Mackenzie Common Tavern, and Rockford Wok-Bar-Grill serving Asian fusion and classic Canadian cuisine, like Szechuan beef, Caesar salad, miso glazed salmon and chocolate espresso mousse. Chicken wing Mondays is a hit too.
In town are plenty of lodgings, B&Bs and rentals of varying budgets and styles, along with a great variety of drinking and dining establishments from pizza to Tex Mex to fine dining. Craft Bierhaus serves up an array of Mac n’ Cheese (a Canadian favourite), and has two dozen beers, ciders and kombucha on tap, or The Village Idiot Bar & Grill makes a mean taco and has plenty of après atmosphere.
The mountain resort has been a game changer for this once sleepy logging and railway town, which, in little under a decade, has transformed into a vibrant mountain town with a bunch of new restaurants, bars and cafes. Though a few old favourites remain popular, like The Regent and Cabin 5 pin bowling alley, bar and snowboard shop.
Revy is otherwise known as Revelstuck. 7,500 locals and visitors alike have a hard time leaving on account of the awesomeness of this place, or due to being snowed in and the Trans-Canada Highway being closed. There are few places I’d rather be stuck, alas, I wasn’t.
So, following three of the toughest and most rewarding ski days in my life I headed home with one final drive past frozen lakes, barren plains, empty RV parks and granite cliffs into the setting sun and onto Kelowna Airport for a quick jet across to Vancouver and the Air Canada hop home.
Revelstoke is part of the awesome Mountain Collective too.
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
Revelstoke area info www.seerevelstoke.com
to stay www.suttonplace.com/hotels/sutton-place-hotel-revelstoke-rev
Revelstoke Mountain Stats – these are impressive!
Lift-Accessed Vertical 1,713 metres/5,620 feet
Lift Top Elevation (The Stoke Chair) 2,225 metres/7,300 feet
Bottom Elevation (The Sutton Place Hotel) 512 metres/1,680 feet
Sub Peak Elevation 2,340 metres/7,677 feet
Mt. Mackenzie Summit 2,466 metres/8,058 feet
Terrain Breakdown 1,263 hectares/3,121 acres
Runs & Areas 69
Longest Run The Last Spike 15.2 km / 9.5 miles
Bowls 4 alpine bowls – South Bowl, North Bowl, Powder Assault and Greely Bowl