Good up high in Revelstoke

20th March 2013, by Dave Watts

Dave (right) with Dan, head of the Revelstoke ski school. Behind is part of North Bowl

Dave (right) with Dan, head of the Revelstoke ski school. Behind is part of North Bowl

Before we arrived in Revelstoke, warm wet weather was forecast and we feared the worst. Indeed it was raining as we checked in to the smart new Sutton Place hotel at the foot of the slopes and right by the gondola. The hotel was finished last season and is very comfortable with much better built and furnished apartments than you find in the Alps – or in many other North American resorts. The only problem is that facilities such as bars, restaurants and shops are very limited and it meant a 10-minute drive (or $20 taxi ride) into town for dinner each night.

But Wednesday dawned dry and our hopes rose again – especially when we saw the long queue of locals building up for the gondola from 30 minutes before it was due to open. They must know there’s going to be good powder at the top, we thought. In the rental shop, it was noticeable that most people were walking away with fat skis – mainly over 100mm wide underfoot to make the most of that powder. I took a pair of Dynastar Cham 107s.

Good choice I soon found out as our guide Dan, the head of the ski school, showed us green and blue runs, followed by glades and then the vast ungroomed North Bowl. We took the easiest entrance (Meet the Neighbours) which was fine, though some of the others looked gnarly with drop ins and cliffs to avoid – not surprising because as you can see from the photo above the only ways in involve negotiating a cliff band.

Revelstoke suits advanced and expert skiers best, with its steep runs, huge bowl and numerous glades for excellent tree skiing. But you have to know your way around – I recommend taking the ski school’s full day programme where they show you the best terrain for you as well give you tips on how to ski it.

Revelstoke ski area as it is now is Canada’s newest resort – formed five years ago by the building of a gondola and two fast chair lifts in what was formerly cat- and heli-skiing terrain. It has the biggest vertical in North America (over 1700m), some of the longest runs and heli- and cat-skiing direct from the base.

The snow while we were there was best high up as unseasonably warm temperatures meant that the lower half of the mountain had heavy snow or icy patches (a great contrast to my previous visit four years ago when December temperatures were –48ºC with wind chill). But the upper half had more than enough to keep us interested for our stay.

The town (or city as they call it) is a real working town rather than a ski resort or tourist town – though there is lots of accommodation there (mainly budget and mid-market) and summer rather than winter is high season, so prices are reasonable.

Next stop: Whistler

Our trip was organised by Frontier Ski which specialises in tailor-made holidays to Canadian (and a few American) resorts.

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