It turns out that the extreme cold was only in the Bow River valley, and that temperatures to our West were much, much milder. We were familiar with the phenomenon from Denver, where under certain circumstances the East is bitter cold with Canadian temperatures, while the mountains of Summit County are relatively balmy, despite being a full mile higher up in the air.
We had skipped Revelstoke on our first attempt, but it was going to see a high of 32 instead of -10. Was it worth the two hour drive in potentially frosty conditions on potentially slick roads? You betcha!
We packed in the car way too early and drove off. By opening hour, we were in the parking lot at Revelstoke, obviously stoked.
Now, Revelstoke is famous for one thing, internationally, and one thing only: it has the highest vertical of any resort in North America. I won’t bore you with the details, because nobody cares, but I was seriously unimpressed with that factoid. I was even less impressed when I saw the place has even fewer lifts than Kicking Horse, clocking in at two lifts and one gondola. So, it’s like Kicking Horse with the beginner lift taken away.
The ride up was nice. We were in a gondola with a local snowboard shop owner who could give us pointers, and we ended up following his directions to Ripper chair, on the North side of the resort. It took a lot of cat tracking to get there, not a lot of fun. The chair itself was a relatively slow affair that visibly got to some amazing terrain. There were a few runs to the left and right, marked blue. There was a lift line, also marked blue, but very much not a blue run at any resort I’ve ever seen. And trees, trees everywhere.
Ripper was novel. The terrain there is as difficult as you’d like it to be, with chutes and cliffs and moguls. I found myself doing a wrong turn and boxed into a 6×6 depression out of which I have to laboriously crawl, hoping nobody else was kooky enough to follow my trail. I got to a cliff with 20 people sitting in the snow, slowing waiting for the courage to make it down. I went down moguls on the lift line (Denver Dollar) and had an amazing time.
Tim was not as lucky: it seemed the place was oddly either too flat or too steep for him. The runs were all either like the flat cat track from the gondola, or the “blue” Denver Dollar. There seemed to be nothing in-between.
Eventually, and after hours of looping, we moved on. Same story here: to get to the front side, an infernal cat track, mysteriously marked as blue. It was remarkable, in that it looped around the mountaintop, but ended in a flat section despite the blue marking.
We got ourselves to the lodge, and I felt for the first time on the trip in a pure bro world. I have never seen any resort that is so bro-centered. The runs are meant for adrenaline rushing, the vibe was very Millennial, and there was a strange concentration of concentration. People meant business: they were there to refuel and get back out, because they only had this much time before the resort closed.
Tim was done for the moment, so I slinked myself out to experience the famous vertical. I took the third chair, Stoke, to get to the mountain top. Ish. A pure winter wonderland, with everything covered in windswept snow, down to every single needle on every single branch of every single tree. It was cold, that much was true, but sunny.
Sadly, the runs were no good. They had been scraped off all morning and by the time I hit them, there was only the ice sheet that comes with Western exposure (and afternoon sun) left. I slinked down on Snow Rodeo and Pitch Black, not enjoying myself much after such a fun morning.
I picked Tim up and we continued on the longest vertical. Another few rides, looking at the steep drops of Kill the Banker, and then the final rush down to the parking lot.
All in all, a solid effort by the resort. Great snow, good runs, great company.
We drove into town and stopped at the local grocery store, buying necessities. Then we continued on to Field, where we had a quiet evening. Not much of a party in Field, especially not at -25!