Category Archives: Ski Resorts

Revelstoke Mountain Resort

I had 2 absolute EPIC days of powder skiing over closing weekend at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.  Revelstoke boasts the highest vertical in North America at 1713 meter or 5620 feet! But I almost didn’t get to ski Revelstoke Mountain Resort this holiday.

As the end of the season approached I wanted to take a road trip west to check out some more BC ski resorts.  After I’ve finished the CSIA Level 2 course in Fernie, many of the other resorts were already closed.  Some friends that we met on the Nonstop course wanted to head to Whistler, so I decided to join them. Whistler is about a 12 hour drive from Fernie so we started to search for a resort about half way that was still open.

Lucky for us, Revelstoke Mountain Resort was closing that weekend and was almost exactly half way to Whistler.  So with an early start on the Saturday morning, and with the bonus of an hour time change as we change to Pacific Time, we were on the gondola short after opening.  The drive through Rogers Pass was spectacular.

Playing in the powder at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Graig, Kayti and I had sooo much fun in fresh powder at Revelstoke Mountain Resort!

The relatively hot weather during the early days of April necessitated the closure of the lower part of the mountain, so that meant that we would not be able to ski the 1713 meters in vertical. But we did not care; there was about 20-30 cm of fresh powder and heaps of tree runs to play on.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort is only about 6 years old, so the infrastructure is brand new, the lifts are quick and everything was in perfect condition.  It looks like they have big plans to expand the resort and try and compete with Whistler in the long run.  They are planning more than 20 more lifts and heaps more skiable area.

We got an end of season special at The Sutton Place Hotel at the bottom of the hill, which was world class. The rooms were modern, fully equipped condo units, with washing machines and driers.  We did not have time to try out the heated pool or gym, but they looked superb.  They are aggressively marketing the real estate opportunity, selling Revelstoke as a four season’s mountain resort.

Since the lower part of the mountain was closed, there was not many beginner runs open.  The upper mountain offers a great mix of double blacks, blacks and blue runs.  There are countless glade runs, and the lifts are so fast you can get some big mileage.  We had some great fun in the North Bowl, I even found myself in a deep tree well.  Luckily I got out pretty easy.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort also offers Cat and Heli skiing from the resort. One nice thing about starting the cat skiing from the resort is that you can gain 2225 meter in elevation before your day starts by taking the resort lifts.  They also have Ski touring from the resort and there is a tube park next to the bottom beginner area.

Apparently, Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s opening in 2007 was the biggest ski resort opening in North America in 20 years.  Unfortunately a ski instructor from Edmonton fell in a tree well over opening weekend that December, and was found dead a few days later.

Everything I saw at Revelstoke Mountain Resort showed that they have very big ambitions, and they are doing a great job.  I am keen to see how it develops over the next 20 years or so.  It will be interesting to see if they can make the airport work and appeal to the Calgary and Vancouver markets better that way.

If you ever find yourself close by make sure you visit Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Castle Mountain

This weekend we had one of our best ski days ever while on a road trip to Castle Mountain, AB. More than 20 cm of fresh powder helped to make this a really memorable road trip!  Castle Mountain is tucked away in the South West corner of Alberta, close to the BC border. It is about a 2 hours drive from Fernie.

After we’ve finished our CSIA level 1 course this week, everybody on the bus to Castle Mountain was very keen to play in the powder that had been accumulating all week.  As we were getting of the bus, a guest services representative announced that there were more than 35 cm of powder at some spots on the mountain.

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Not even the extremely slow lifts or long lines could damper our enthusiasm. We wanted to get to the top to explore one of the many black and double diamond runs on the mountain, but after riding up the blue lift, we found the red lift still closed.

We were still hearing some explosion being set off by the ski patrol to make parts of the mountain safe.  So we did a quick run down to the bottom to warm up. This time around we thought we should try the T-bar up, since the line was much shorter, which was a big mistake. The T-bar is very long and steep, and my legs were burning by the time we got to the top.

But then we had our first real taste of powder of the morning, skiing some fresh lines down to the red lift, which had since opened.  The red lift was an even slower two person’s chair with long lines all day.

But the wait was worth it, we skied fresh powder all day.  Every time we were going up the slow lifts, I would wish for a faster quad lift, but every time we skied fresh powder I realised the slow lifts keeps the really big crowds away,  which allowed us to still make fresh tracks at 1600.

Had my best ski day ever in the POWDER at Castle Mountain. Photo:

Had my best ski day ever in the POWDER at Castle Mountain. Photo:

The resort has some amazing runs, steep black and double blacks are all over the mountain. My personal favourite was one of the dense tree runs we did on the right hand side boundary of the resort, thigh deep in fluffy fresh snow!

It is unfair to really try to compare the day we had in Castle Mountain to the time we have spent in Kimberly or Whitefish. On a powder day like we had, Castle Mountain was the best place in the world to be! Castle Mountain also have ‘the best’ cat skiing in Alberta, but there was no need to get a cat to make fresh tracks on Saturday.

There are two lifts servicing the lower parts of the mountain where beginners can ski green and blue runs. There are also a few blues from the top part of the mountain, but you should be a confident intermediate before attempting them.

If there is powder around Castle Mountain it is worth the drive to go and have some fun!

Whitefish Mountain Resort

We had a great time filled with fun and adventure at Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana last week.  Whitefish is about 175km from Fernie, and if all goes well with the border crossing it takes about 2 hours 15 minutes drive.  The ski resort is about 15 min drive up the mountain from the town.  A big part of the resort is located in Flathead National Forest.  Part of the resort closes on 31 March every year to make sure the Bears residing in the forest are not disturb when they start to wake up from their winter nap.

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The resort is great for intermediate skiers.  There are 15% beginners, 35% intermediate, 40% advance and 10% expert runs.  Whitefish Mountain Resort has three main parts: Front Side, North Side and Hellroaring Basin. Three of the ten lifts are very fast quad lifts that serve the front and north side of the mountain.  The Summit that offers spectacular views has an elevation of 2078m and the vertical drop to the base is 717m.

The view at Whitefish Mountain Resort are spectacular!

The view at Whitefish Mountain Resort is spectacular!

We managed to do a substantial amount of distance at Whitefish Mountain Resort, thanks to the many nice long runs and fast lifts.  After a tasty lunch from the restaurant on the summit, we went to do one of the free mountain tours with a Snow Ambassador.  But just as we were about to leave there was a huge amount of commotion at the summit.  Somebody had a heart attack, and all the staff was needed to secure an area for the helicopter to land.  Another Snow Ambassador skiing with his family on his day off, offered for us to tag along.  Everything happened really fast, and the helicopter came and went while we did one run on the North side.

More great views from the Summit of Whitefish Mountain Resort

More great views from the Summit of Whitefish Mountain Resort

Overall we found Whitefish Mountain resort excellent.  We had a great lunch, we quickly got orientated on the mountain after the help from the off duty ambassador.  The views on most part of the mountain are really spectacular! The terrain offered great intermediate and expert terrain, including a few mogul and many open ski areas among the trees.

If you ever find yourself in this part of the world it is well worth a visit. If you have ever been to Whitefish Mountain Resort, tell us your experience below:

Kimberley Alpine Resort

Kimberley Alpine Resort is every beginners dream, and it is ideal for family fun with all the kids. Confident intermediary and advance skiers and snow boarders will most likely get bored after a few days.  The green and blue runs are wide, long and not challenging.  There are a few nice blacks but only three very short double diamonds.  There are four mountain faces in Kimberley Alpine Resort: NorthStar Mountain, Tamarack Ridge, Vimy Ridge and Black Forest. These are serviced by three lifts: North Star Quad, Easter and Tamarack. Kimberley Alpine Resort is only about 40 min from Cranbrook, in south east British Columbia.

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NorthStar Mountain:

The North Star Quad running through the centre of NorthStar Mountain is the fastest and longest lift in Kimberley Alpine Resort.  This part of the Mountain has mostly blue and green runs. I wish I had come to Kimberley Alpine Resort on my first trip, it must be an absolute pleasure to learn to ski or snowboard on these wide-open runs on NorthStar Mountain.  They are also nice and long, giving you lots of time to practice before getting back on the high-speed lift again.  These runs are also relatively flat and quiet. There were very few people when we visited in early January.  All three the double diamond runs in Kimberley Alpine Resort is located on NorthStar Mountain, they are: Jack the Bear, White Pine and Robinson’s Ridge.

viewed from NorthStar Mountain

Kimberley Alpine Resort viewed from NorthStar Mountain

Tamarack Ridge:

Tamarack Ridge is more of a challenge. About 90% of the runs are black, with only a few green and blue runs, mostly going across the face of the ridge.  The Tamarack Double Chair is a very old and slow lift starting at the very bottom of Tamarack Ridge.  There are few longer and more challenging blacks on Tamarack Ridge: Good Luck, Tamarack, Tusk and Upshot.

Vimy Ridge:

Vimy Ridge is the smallest of the mountain faces at Kimberley Alpine Resort.  There are 10 runs, three of them are nice fast blacks leading to the bottom of Easter Triple Chair.  They are: Flapper, Fuzzy and Flash.

my favourite part of Kimberley Alpine Resort

Black Forrest, my favourite part of Kimberley Alpine Resort

Black Forrest:

My favourite part of Kimberley Alpine Resort is Black Forrest. It has a bunch of steep black runs all through the trees. There are some great parts for glade skiing and having fun. The biggest problem is to get back to the top you have to ride the two slower lifts in the resort: Tamarack Double Chair followed by Easter Triple Chair.

The resort is entirely below the tree line, so it must be a great place to be on days when visibility is very bad.  I am looking forward to visiting it with the kids.

Have you been to Kimberley Alpine Resort? Tell us your experience below: