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Sidetrip: A Powder Stop At Revelstoke Mountain Resort

BY: Lori Knowles

 

What a difference a day makes. The cliché spins through my head as we plow over Rogers Pass. Having left the comforts of the Fairmont Banff Springs and the sun over Lake Louise, we’re headed west on Highway 1 (the TCH) to snowed-in Revelstoke.

“The sun never comes out there.” This from a seasoned local in Golden sipping his second coffee in a roadside McDonald’s. “I’ve lived in these parts for 50 years. Moved here from Thunder Bay, Ontario.” He looks at us over the rim of his paper cup. “You know Thunder Bay?” We all nod our heads. “Anyway, that’s why I live in Golden,” he says. “There’s a cloud all winter over Revelstoke.”I see what he means. Our climb over Rogers Pass is dark and fraught with rain, ice, waning windshield-wiper fluid, and a lumber truck tipped on its side, cedar planks spilled over the pavement. We skirt around the mess soon after it happens, just as the flares are placed on the road to warn oncoming traffic. We slither down the backside of Rogers Pass and slide into Revy.

I see what he means. Our climb over Rogers Pass is dark and fraught with rain, ice, waning windshield-wiper fluid, and a lumber truck tipped on its side, cedar planks spilled over the pavement. We skirt around the mess soon after it happens, just as the flares are placed on the road to warn oncoming traffic. We slither down the backside of Rogers Pass and slide into Revy. Indeed there’s a cloud, one heavy with snow, hanging over mountain and valley.

We pull into The Sutton Place Hotel, the luxe lodge—perhaps Revelstoke’s only luxe lodge—at the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort. There’s a fireplace the size of a Volkswagen in the middle of its lobby, but that’s not what immediately catches my attention. The men do that. Dozens of men, all over the lobby. Some are aged about 25, with beards and drooping ski pants and stickers on their helmets. Others are aged around 50, oozing success and cash, dressed in black-and-red ski suits by Spyder and Halti, helmet cams perched on their foreheads.

Where are the women?

 

Laundry & Homework

Our room at Sutton Place is perfect. Really, for a family on the road for six weeks, this room is perfect. It has two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a kitchen, and best of all… laundry. Oh my gosh, the place has a washing machine. The first thing we do is wash our undies.

The next thing we do is homework. It spreads over the dining room table: math texts, geography, spiral-bound Hilroy notebooks, pencils, sharpeners, and erasers. The kids aren’t jazzed about doing geometry in perhaps the snowiest region of Canada, but we persevere. There’s whining and, at one point, some crying. “Yeah, it’s real tough being us,” I tell them.

Revelstoke Skiing

The next morning there’s another cloud. Another very large, heavy cloud with snow falling from it in great big fat luscious Revy-style flakes. We meet a guide named Julie and consider adopting her not long after. We really like Julie. She’s friendly and smart, and knows a lot about Revelstoke. Plus she’s good with my daughter Gracie, who’s faced for the first time with powder and bumps and steep terrain—the kind you have to hike into.

“Want to come along on the rest of trip, Julie?” I ask her.

I also ask her: “Where are all the women?”

Revelstoke is known as a hub for off-piste skiing. You can cat-ski, heli-ski or ride a lift, all from the base of the resort. Even when you ride a lift and ski a marked run, you feel as though you’re in the backcountry. It’s a dream destination for adventurers, and I guess men consider themselves adventurers more often than women. The gals I do see can really ski. I love that. “Look!” I tell nine-year-old Gracie. “See how that woman jets off the bumps? I’m gonna try that. Amazing.”

My son especially loves Revy. I think: It’s right up his alley. There are glades everywhere. Nature’s terrain park. Plus loads and loads and loads of powder—so much that it buries small slopeside buildings; Emmett skis onto the roof of one of them. Julie assures us there are groomed runs somewhere. We do not encounter a groomed run… but anyway. No matter. You don’t go to Revelstoke for corduroy; you go to it for pillow-like powder.

Our fat-and-friendly Head skis—Great Joys for me, Monsters for Peter, Ethan Toos for the kids—get a chance to show us what they can do. “I can float!” Emmett tells me, drifting over a puff of snow, steering around an evergreen.

My take: Revy’s a fun, fun place. For adventurers, both men and women. The girls in Toronto and Vancouver and Montreal just haven’t made it here yet. Or if they have, I’m not seeing them. I have an idea: I’m going to return to Revelstoke Mountain Resort with my girlfriends—my sister, my sisters-in-law, my hot-skiing pals Holly and Lisa, their daughters, my daughter. We’re gonna ride cats and helicopters and snow-covered lifts and show these Spyder-suited guys how it’s done. We’ll even wear helmet cams, even though I’m vain and pay too much attention to what I’m wearing, and am stressed about pasting a helmet cam on my forehead. Honestly guys, they make you look dorky.

 

Next stop: Vancouver for a city break, followed by Whistler and a cushy stay at the Four Seasons. Then we pick up an RV and drive to Sun Valley. Help me.