Mountainwatch |Nat Segal
The fifth stop on the Mountainwatch Ikon Tour is Revelstoke, BC, a Canadian resort renowned for its powder, the most vertical in North America at 1713metres of vertical and the near-by historic town of Revelstoke, located on the banks of the Columbia River which was founded in 1880.
For a young resort, Revelstoke garnered an international reputation quickly, and it is known for powder snow. Big mouthfuls of the stuff. It’s the kind of snow that makes you want to relinquish your Australian citizenship and become a Canadian. While I haven’t gone that far (just yet), last year I followed in the footsteps of many Aussies before me and packed my bags for British Columbia, Canada.
My expectations were high. Located in the middle of interior BC, Revelstoke was literally made for powder skiing. Sandwiched between the Coast Mountains (Whistler) and the Rockies (Banff, Lake Louise) this region gets to share in a mix of the large amounts of precipitation coming in from the Pacific storm systems with the added bonus of colder temperatures, leading to annual snow averages of over ten metres.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort is located a quick drive from the heart of downtown Revelstoke. On paper, RMR is a pretty sweet resort – 1713 metres of vertical, one long gondola, three chairlifts (including the new Stellar quad chair which will open this upcoming season) a mix of advanced and intermediate runs and two areas for beginners. In reality, it is hands down one of the best ski resorts for powder snow and glade skiing that I have visited. Over the winter the accumulation of snow turns the place into a veritable playground of pillows, cliff drops and steep trees.
Don’t be put off by the small number of lifts as from the top of the Stoke Chair (2225m) the options can be endless, meaning that you can lap the same lift all day without getting bored. Up high there are four inbound alpine bowls that with a quick hike will offer enough steep turns and chutes to get you nice and puckered before your après. Alternatively, you can punch into cruise control and take on the groomers. From the top of The Stoke Chair to the lower lifts there is access to a variety of green, blue and black groomed runs including the Last Spike, 15kms of green groomed slope that runs from the top of the mountain down to the base.
Revelstoke also has several unexpected gems that make it stand out as much more than just a powder skiing mecca. Here are a few that I learned about last winter:
Sunny side up
On a negative twenty degrees day, the one place you want to be is in the sun. It took me a little while to get into skiing on those frosty days. It’s all about layers, strategy and motivation. Layer up – I am a merino convert – wait for the sun to rise and if in doubt, remember how lovely it will feel as you reach the top of the Revelation Gondola above the cloud inversion into the sun. On cold days at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, sticking to the southern, sunny side is the way to go. I recommend starting off on Hot Sauce or Jalapeno for some groomer hot laps followed by either some steep and deep bumps down Separate Reality or Tally Ho Glades. If you have a touring set up and backcountry gear, the best way to spend the afternoon is touring along the southern ridgelines towards Montana Bowl. Even during long breaks between snowfalls, you can still find plenty of fresh tracks in this backcountry. Even if the skiing is sub-par, the views are worth it. Just mind the cornice on the ridge.
Close To Home
Ski touring is by far the best way to fight off chilly days in the mountains. However, not everyone has the gear or the experience. If backcountry skiing isn’t your thing and you are looking for an activity off the resort, make sure you check out the Revelstoke Nordic Ski Centre at McPherson. The trail network is extensive and is a great alternative to frosty chairlift rides. The Nordic trails are also a gateway to some quick action backcountry ski lines including The Fingers and Burnt Knob. If you only have a few hours to spare and don’t have time to ski the resort or drive to Rogers Pass this is the perfect place to earn your turns, take in a different perspective of the valley and get a few surprise face shots all the way home.
I was first drawn to Revelstoke for a freeride competition and when it comes to freeride terrain, it has a whole lot. In the resort one of my favourite places to ski following snowfall is North Bowl. As the wind often blows in from the south, the snow will amass on the north side of the ridgelines, creating powder stashes, even after the smallest dump. North Bowl, however, is only the beginning of an extensive zone. Following thorough exploration of the first bowl, push out onto the adjacent ridge, Three Bears, which can be accessed from Sweet Spot or the Lemming Line. Here you will find unique, steep tree skiing and quick access back to the Stoke Chair. If you are looking for more adventure, traverse from Lemming Line to Gracias Ridge. If drops or steep chutes are more your thing, take a few laps to explore this zone. I always like to do a fast lap down Cinco chute and traverse back to the Stoke chair before heading further afield. Followed by some longer laps via The Ripper Chair. These tree bowls are what make RMR so special. Learning every twist and turn can take years but the variety of expert tree skiing, chutes and jumps make it unlike any ski resort I have visited. Just make sure you don’t miss the Ripper Chair! It closes early, and the hike is not desirable after a long day skiing (even with skins, I have experimented).
The Ikon tour is staying at the Stoke Hotel, located a short 8ks from the mountain and a few minutes from downtown Revelstoke. The Stoke is a boutique hotel with a laidback mountain style, communal area, outdoor hot tub, free Wi-Fi etc. There is a free shuttle bus to take you to the mountain and downtown where you find a character-filled town with bars, restaurants, cafes and shops. http://www.stokehotel.ca
Revelstoke is a destination for people whose primary motivation is to go skiing or snowboarding and it is a resort you’ll want to go back to again. For more information check out the Mountainwatch Ikon Tour.
More info: https://www.revelstokemountainresort.com/
Revelstoke Mountain Stats
- – North America’s greatest vertical 1713m
- – 10-year Average snowfall is 10.5m
- – 3121 acres of fall line skiing, high alpine bowls, renowned gladed terrain and endless groomers
- – Longest Run – The Last Spike – 15.2km
- – 4 lifts, 2 magic carpets
- – Lift Top Elevation – 2225m (Stoke Chair)
- – Bottom Elevation – 512m
- – Sub Peak – 2340m
- – Mt Mckenzie Summit – 2466m