I just returned for a weeklong trip to British Columbia in search of that white stuff that has eluded the Sierra Nevada Mountains so far this ski season. I was determined to take action in 2014 so I started hatching plans, sending out texts, and found a willing and awesome partner in my friend Lizet. We scoured the forecasts and it seemed like the most sure bet was Revelstoke, BC, a sleepy town that comes alive in the winter with bountiful snow, a resort that towers with vertical, numerous catskiing and heliskiing operations, and famously beautiful backcountry. We also have some friends there, which makes sleeping and getting a local’s tour of the ski possibilities easy. So, we met up in Reno on January 1st and flew to Seattle, since we both had free flights and made the 6 hour drive to Revelstoke after a bite to eat in Seattle and stocking up on groceries and gas in the USA.
It was snowing as we drove east and when we showed up in Revelstoke, snow piles were over 10 feet tall at every driveway. We woke up the next morning to snow falling steadily from the sky and got on the hill at the leisurely time of 10:30 AM – we knew we needed sleep to start the trip off right. I also knew my legs wouldn’t last all day.
We were lucky that our friend Stephane had a day off to show us around. He is an awesome telemark skier that heads up Tough Guy Productions. He showed us all the goods that day and we both knew we had our best turns of the year. It snowed all day and so the next day would be a legitimate powder day.
We awoke early knowing we needed to get to the hill prior to the 8:30 opening. Much to my chagrin, when we arrived, there was a huge line for tickets. Stephane and Lizet got in line for the gondola while I waited to buy a ticket. I watched the line grow and grow. Even though the mountain itself is huge, it only has 3 lifts – the main gondola from the base, the Stoke Chair to the top, and the Ripper Chair for some additional terrain. This may have been the most skiers they’d ever seen in one day. I got my ticket at 8:40 and ran to try to find them in line catching them 10 people before it would’ve been too late. I was relieved to have a posse to shred with and to avoid the 2 hour line.
We skied all day – tight trees, pillows, more open trees. The visibility up top wasn’t great, but the snow made up for it. Our final two runs, slightly out of bounds were my best runs of the year and I returned home with crushed legs and a huge smile.
The next day we decided to explore more of the Revelstoke Mountain sidecountry since it was clearing up – we were able to ski more powder, see more of the options for out of bounds skiing, and even make Allie’s yoga class for some leg restoration at 4pm. After yoga we were able to meet up with some other friends in town and meet some really fun locals. My legs were turning the corner and I was starting to feel more and more at home in this town.
On the fourth day, I had made plans to ski with Anne Keller from Alpine Finishing School. It was an all-female crew including Kellie, Kim, and Lizet. Anne literally took us all to our best run of the season. It is a 4,000 foot climb, but the snow was perfect the whole way and the views were even better. The run down was full of pillows and open lines – everyone was smiling at the end and wishing we had time to do a second lap. If you’re up in Revelstoke, look Anne Keller up. She works for Selkirk Tangiers and will take you to good skiing!
On the 5th and final day in Revelstoke, I headed out with our friend Rory to ski Mt. Begbie – the mountain most visible from Revelstoke and one that the local brews were named after. We used Rory’s sled to climb 4,000 ft and then skinned an additional 3,000 into the alpine. The snow was a bit wind-affected on our first run, but on the 2nd we nailed the right aspect and it was great skiing. The bonus was skiing all the way back down to the car. Some was on a snomo track, but there were occasional powder cutoffs.
After a change of clothes and rallying the troops, we headed to a Revelstoke establishment The Village Idiot with twelve of our friends for some food and beers. We even ran into new friends we made. It seemed harder and harder to ever leave this place! By the way, do not miss the Village Idiot if you go to Revelstoke. The food is delicious – not bar food, just good food. The scene is classic mountain town bar without a corporate influence. I wish there was something like that in every ski town.
Not being able to pry ourselves away from Revelstoke, we decided to leave at 3 AM the next morning to use one of our free tickets at Whistler. Lizet had never been there and I hadn’t skied there since 2002. So, we busted out the 6 hour drive and were able to spend a day exploring a bit. We called it “gaper Whistler day” since we were not raging powder turns, but just cruising around exploring. The skiing highlight was the new Symphony bowl area because it had soft turns and good visibility and the gaper highlight was taking the peak to peak gondola. Happy with our Whistler experience, we took off for Vancouver to meet up with a college friend of mine and enjoy delicious and inexpensive sushi. We ended the trip with a solid ukulele jam session for another early departure to catch our plane. Below are some of my favorites from the trip:
Find a local and have them show you around on day 1 – it will be worth it!
Kill the Banker (skiers right) at Revelstoke
Rogers Pass Backcountry
Village Idiot, Revelstoke
Le Baguette, Revelstoke
Modern Cafe, Revelstoke
Avenue Bread Breakfast Sammies, Bellingham
Metropolitan Market for a quick lunch, Seattle
Get Revelstoke tickets at Costco in Vernon, BC or Bellingham.
Random help/ride share, etc:
The Stoke List – a craigslist for Revelstoke, but better. 2 awesome people we met run this site.