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Sun Peaks, B.C.

Sun Peaks, B.C.

Travel Pacific
By Sam Moulton
posted: 11/03/2003

Elevation: 6,824 feet Vertical Drop: 2,891 feet Acres: 3,678 Snowfall: 204 inches (at 6,100 feet) Getting There: Fly to Kamloops, B.C. Shuttles run to Sun Peaks, 45 minutes away. Info: 800-807-3257, sunpeaksresort.com

Beta: Sun Peaks used to be called Tod Mountain, but Tod Mountain means Death Mountain in German, so when developers bought the place in 1992, the first order of business was to liven up the name. The second order of business was dropping 380 million bucks on a complete makeover that culminated last season with the opening of 600 acres of intermediate slopes on Mount Morrisey. The pine glades and high-alpine bowls on three summits now outsize every B.C. resort save Whistler, but they attract only 15 percent as many skiers. And while the place isn't nearly as steep as Whistler, there are some good pitches—and untracked snow abounds. Virtually no one hits the off-piste, rolling powder lines beyond the Top of the World summit. All of which is to say, this girl-next-door resort is all grown up and just waiting for a date.

Powder DayMost guests frequent the cruisers, so you can roll out of bed at 10 and still get fresh tracks. From the Crystal Chair, head skier's left to Chute, a sheltered, snow-hoarding 45-degree shot. Midway down, follow the trail over to Head Walls. From there, drop into the tight glades of Bluff. After lunch, seek out stashes in the steep trees of Kukamungas.

3 Days LaterExplore any of the mountain's 12 gladed areas, or hike five minutes to the ridge above Inner Gils, where the powder in the trees lasts for weeks.

Proving Grounds
Marquee route: The Burfield Quad takes an agonizing 22 minutes before it delivers you to 1,400-foot Expo, a slightly off-camber, 36-degree bump run under the lift.

Off-Broadway: Successfully slalom Freddy's Nightmare, a 42-degree vertical lumberyard, and you'll end up in the Challenger drainage looking for the exit bridge that crosses the creek.

Backcountry AccessThe resort runs cat-skiing tours in the north-facing, 800-foot bowls of Mount Tod (US$96 a day). Or sweat for a half hour off the back side of Top of the World Peak to Executioner and Elevator Shaft—two steep OB chutes that spit you into tight trees after 700 vertical. A cat track leads you back inbounds.

Local's Take "Sun Peaks takes remarkable care of their glades, says Allyson Bower, a former Whistlerite and the current proprietor of the Village Market, "and because they're not too steep or tight, the runs have all the beauty of tree skiing, but without the scary commitment.

Weather Because Sun Peaks sits far inland, snow comes in light and dry—if in less generous portions. March is ideal: The resort averages 40 inches and temps remain in the thirties.

Don't Miss Spectacular wipeouts are de rigueur every March at the annual Velocity Challenge speed sking comp. Sign your buddy up for the novice division, and enjoy.

Essential GearTrue to its name, Sun Peaks averages around 2,000 hours of sunshine a year. Still, this is Canada: You'll need Smith's lightweight Sequels ($99). They've got interchangeable yellow, rose, and gray lenses for when the skies turn moody.

Scene: Go Molsen-for-Molsen with amiable (and iron-stomached) Canucks.

ApresThe bartenders at Bottom's Bar and Grill in the base area pour drinks while hanging upsidedown wearing Moon Boots and staff shirts with sayings like hold my beer while i kiss your girlfriend. They also routinely ignite the bar with lighter fluid. Break out the marshmallows.

FuelThe Polish owners of Bolacco Café serve up the best cappuccinos outside of Vancouver. At the top of Sunburst quad, helmet-size cinnamon rolls sell for just $1.75. For dinner in the village, try a Tyrolean Jà¤ger schnitzel (homemade noodles in a mushroom sauce) at Servus, an eight-table joint with hearty European fare.

Up All NightDark and swwanky Mackdaddy's is the only dance club in the village. Slam a Shaft—their trademark vodka, Kahlúa, espresso, and milk concoction—dance your tail off, and pray you can sleep in tomorrow.

DigsFat wallets head to the newly opened Delta Sun Peaks Resort (from C$199—C$299 a night; deltasunpeaksresort.com). It has a ski-valet service, fluffy white robes, and hot tubs indoors and out. The Heffley Inn (from C$99; heffleyinn.com) attracts a less pampered crowd.

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