THE REVELSTOKE SUPER SAMPLER
A five-day visit to the land of powder and snow machines.
Words and Images by Jeff Cricco
The Columbia River runs directly through the town of Revelstoke, on the west bank the Monashee range and east, the Selkirks. Both ranges receive massive amounts of snow and provide endless options for ski touring, snowmobiling, cat, and heli operations. Revelstoke Mountain Resort lays to East of the massive Columbia on the edge of the Selkirks. RMR is 5,620’ vertical feet of incredible skiing with inbounds terrain that you could ski for years without skiing the same thing twice and the side-country accesses a wonderland. We were there for five short days with a mission to try to sample all Revelstoke has to offer. Jake Teuton, Revelstoke local and long-time Strafe ambassador acted as out tour guide for our five-day stint.
The view of the Columbia River from the top of the Stoke chair is nothing short of epic. Frost coated trees known as “snow ghosts” litter the high alpine terrain creating wintery forms seldom seen in mountains of Colorado. After a few minutes of taking in the view from the top, we followed Jake on a short hike out to North Bowl. North Bowl has an immense breadth of terrain and is filled with so many good features to shoot; it’s hard to decide what to ski. Luckily our tour guide knew the mountain well and had us set up on awesome features in no time. We progressed down the center ridge of the North Bowl known as Gracias Ridge playing on cliffs and wind lips; big smiles stretched across everyone’s face. Reaching the bottom of the ridge we found a couple small features to cap the day off and end on a strong note. The gully that you have to follow on the way out to the Ripper chair (the only way out from North bowl) is long and filled with big moguls and after skiing and hiking around for the day the burn in our legs was real. Following Jake’s line made things a lot easier as long as you had the right speed. From the top of the Ripper chair you have one hell of a descent down to the base with the longest groomers in North America.
Day two started with a 5:30 a.m. wake up, but the early alarm came with excitement rather than lament. A day of cat skiing with RMR in their cat terrain was good reason for high stoke levels at such an uncomfortable hour. After some last-minute gear prep and a quick breakfast, we were out the door. It was lightly snowing and cold as we entered the gondola with our guide Simon. Chatter of deep snow and soft landings made the ride to the top go by quickly. After the ride up the Stoke chair and a short powdery run down, we met our cat and driver, Dale. Inside the cat was warm and cozy with a substantial sound system. We all agreed that cat skiing is by far the plushest way to ski powder. Jokes and laughter filled the cat as the massive machine crept out to the cat skiing tenure. After a brief avalanche conversation, we jumped back into our rolling refuge and made our way to the top. Several laps of powder and capturing media had all of us fatigued. The ski down the monstrous groomer at the end of the day was especially daunting with fading light, blasting snow guns and 5,620’ vertical feet.
5:00 a.m. alarm buzzed again. With tired, but eager eyes, we loaded backpacks, tossed our gear in cars and drove over to “Goon Acres”, Jake’s residence. Located just outside town this little farmhouse has become home base for Jake and his friends. A true sled neck’s retreat, the driveway was full of trucks, each with a sled in the bed. There were even more sleds scattered around the yard. Looking into the old farmhouse, figures zipped across the window, back and forth. It seemed like a lot of commotion for 5:30 in the morning. Walking into the little farmhouse we were pleasantly greeted by Jake, his roommates, and the five other kids crashing there. Everyone was up and anxious to get out there and get into the deep. After a few minutes of conversing with Jake and the crew we were on our way to Sail Mountain, a popular sled skiing zone a half an hour outside of Revelstoke towards the famous Micah Creek. British Columbia is an awe-inspiring place. We passed massive dams and huge rivers on the drive towards Sail that made the Colorado landscape look small. After thirty minutes of jaw dropping scenery we pulled over, unloaded sleds, loaded up and set off. The snow kept piling up the higher we went; finally at the top the snow was incredibly deep for the end of December. We sledded down to a good viewpoint where we could inspect our lines and made decisions on what we wanted to ski. After hours of crushing the first pillow zone and a small fire break we decided head back towards the front side to play in the trees due to the deteriorating light quality. We were able to find a little face to lap that had all sorts of fun poppers and slash opportunities. After a couple hours skiing our zone the daylight started to quickly dwindle so we headed back down to the trucks, loaded up and retreated back to Revelstoke for the evening.
Both the Selkirk and the Monashee ranges report incredible amounts of snowfall, but for some reason the Monashee’s always seem to get a little more. This made our decision to venture into the Monachees easy when Jake proclaimed that skier traffic is far less than the popular touring area of Rodger’s Pass. On the way there Jake informed us that this location is coveted local secret spot so we were sworn to secrecy. If anyone asked, we found this place on our own. After a short sled and about a two-hour skin we got the gist of why. The snow quality in this old growth forest was incredible. The type of snow that you can only dream about, snow that you can float through effortlessly and when you lay a turn it explodes. After every run hooting and hollering broke the silence of the motionless forest. Cliffs, poppers and powder, it was enough to make you go crazy with how much absurd skiing was available in this “little” zone.
It was a hard call, but we had such a good time we decided to head back into the Monashees for our final day. Again, a short sled and few hour skin we were right back in the glory zone. It had snowed the night before so all of our tracks from the previous day were gone. When we got to the top of the skin track the excitement levels were high as we discussed hitting all of the features that we missed the day before. Again, the snow quality was out of this world, explosions at every turn made breathing difficult, but no one was complaining. It just kept getting better on the way down finding new features we hadn’t spotted and hitting things we had missed the day before. After several hours we collectively agreed that we should all move to Revelstoke. Upon our mutual agreement sadness came over the group as we realized we had to pack it in and head back south the next day. Revelstoke is a one-of-a-kind powder paradise. It has the kind of terrain and snow quality that skiers dream of. Get there if you can.