Revelstoke ski resort and its infrastructure have changed somewhat in recent years. It’s always been a great mountain to ski - if you had a helicopter, or didn’t mind hiking - but after much investment, Revelstoke Mountain Resort re-opened it’s ever so snowed-on doors for the 2007/8 season.
Then crash; the banks all imploded, taking most of us with them - and lots of the fast and furious plans of taking on the big boys of BC, such as Whistler, were put on hold.
But what’s bad for some is great for others, as if you head to Revelstoke you’ll be one of the lucky few who make their way over Rogers Pass on the Trans Canadian Highway 1, to reach this totally fantastic and still under developed ski resort.
Now the economy is looking up, building work has started afresh and the condos and on mountain facilities are being added to, but even with the upturn, Revelstoke gets a fraction of the skiers that Whistler gets, presumably because of its isolated location, and yet it has a vast ski area for you to explore.
Revelstoke ski resort has the longest vertical in North America - 1713m - and a whopping great big 3,121 acres of skiable terrain. The best bit of all the stats is that it only has 65 pistes, so for those who love what we in Europe would call off-piste, have quite literally miles and miles of the stuff.
The piste skiing here is aimed at the strong intermediate and advanced skier. Beginners are catered for with some well-groomed blues, but with only 7% of the mountain graded as beginner, you can see what we mean.
There are some perfect groomers for intermediates to tackle at speed, with most of the pistes winding their way down through the legendary trees of Canada, and with such trees laden with snow it would be a shame not to get in amongst them.
The tree skiing here is truly world class, and with an annual snowfall of between 9-14 meters, once you’ve mastered your turns through them you won’t be back on the pistes again. If you’ve never skied in trees then don’t worry, as you can take one of the Cat/Heli prep days, which will help no end.
Now with all this mountain on offer you’d expect a large lift system, but no; not here. There are just 3 lifts of note, a long gondola from the base station which then links up - via an easy ski- with two chairs which are perfectly placed to open up this great mountain. If the resort were ever to get busy then the lack of lifts could cause a problem, but you’ll be very unlucky to ever have to queue.
Another truly excellent part of Revelstoke’s mountain is the adjacent cat-skiing. A large bowl directly adjacent to the inbound terrain is set aside for the exclusive use of Revelstoke’s cat skiing operation and we’re not joking when we say it’s probably the best cat skiing operation on the planet.
Firstly there’s no long drive in, as you use the lifts to gain height and simply duck the rope to meet your cat. The terrain on offer is varied as most runs start with a wide open powder face before heading into the trees for some shredding. The return drives are long enough for you to be fit and raring to go again, but not so long to make you chomp at the bit. Be warned though - 80% of the cat days are often booked up by Dec 1st.
If the cat skiing isn’t hard-core enough, then let the helicopters of Selkirk Tangiers whisk you up to the mountain tops from nearby Rogers Pass for an epic day of powder adventure.
The ski resort of Revelstoke has a couple of condo blocks for accommodation, a wine bar and a good sports bar, the Rockford Wok, which has a good selection of local beer and serves up some great Asian food.
The town of Revelstoke, about a 15 min drive from resort, has more to offer with lots of local bars and good eateries - but really, chilling out is the best option here, as it would be a waste of such amazing skiing to go out and have a skin full of ale, and not be on top form the next day.If you really want to party then you could try the Burner Bar and Grill, a restaurant with bar built in a saw mill waste burner, or if you’re a little homesick, try the Last Drop Pub offering real British fare such as bangers and mash.