Reviewed by Kevin Fedarko
Aug 06, 2009
Trace a line formed by Maine's State Routes 16, 27, 4, and 142 and you will encircle some of the state's highest mountains. In the southern part of the circle you'll find the long, impressive mass of Saddleback Mountain, from whose summit drop the twisty, wooded trails of Saddleback the ski resort.
Sugarloaf boasts 138 trails, 15 lifts, and a bustling village at the base.
Even on the biggest dump days the place is peaceful: Lift lines barely push four minutes, and locals take leisurely dips into untracked shots all day.
Following Revelstoke’s grand opening last winter, first-time visitors identified a series of problems that the resort’s developers had failed to anticipate when they created a ski destination integrating 500,000 acres of cat- and heli-skiing with North America’s longest lift-served vertical. Among the quibbles: (1) The runs are “too long.” (2) There’s “too much powder.” (3) The absence of lift lines “prevents skiers from resting between runs.” This may sound like a joke, but these are actual complaints logged by management—and they underscore the stunning enormity of Revelstoke’s terrain. Our advice: If you aren’t prepared to go huge, don’t go at all.
Quick Tip: On powder days while the crowds sprint for The Stoke quad, follow the locals to Kill the Banker, directly under the gondola, where snow stays untracked until noon.
Start Here: Lay your first turns down the center of Critical Path, cruise the alpine rollovers, and then head left through the Tasty Glades to the base of The Stoke quad.
Must Hit: Snow Rodeo starts in the alpine, threads through gladed conifers, and merges into groomers with pitches pushing 31 degrees. It’s 5,580 feet of relentless fall-line skiing.
The Stash: Break right off the top of The Stoke quad and follow the high traverse beyond the ski-area boundary, skirting the rim of South Bowl until you reach Montana Bowl. This area isn’t patrolled, so bring your gear and play it safe.
Powder Day: Head left at the top of The Stoke quad and follow the traverse to Vertigo, a wide ridge that rolls through well-spaced trees before threading onto an open, 40-degree bowl at the bottom.
Three Days Later: As the front side of the mountain gets tracked out, find fresh lines in North Bowl, where you can pick off stashes among the well-spaced glades and scary-steep chutes.
Park and Pipe: They don’t exist. Yet. The resort is so new, it’s still putting up lifts, mapping out new runs, and building the main lodge. But when the park finally arrives in the 2009–2010 season, we expect it’ll be massive. There are no plans to build a pipe.
Backcountry access: Endless backcountry bowls lie outside the ski-area boundary, offering steep, untracked, 1,000-plus-foot lines. Access this enormous terrain on your own (if you have the requisite skills and gear), through Revelstoke’s cat- or heli-skiing operations, or with the resort’s backcountry guide service, which starts up this winter. Check conditions at avalanche.ca.
Weather: The Selkirks receive as much as 60 feet of snow each winter, most of it arriving in back-to-back storms in December and January. In February and March, temps hover around 25 degrees and the snowpack fills in the trees and the steepest couloirs.
Après: Grab a pint of Attila the Honey Pale Ale at the day lodge at the base of the gondola. Then sit on the deck with views of the Columbia River and the Selkirk and Monashee ranges.
Fuel: The Modern Bakery has the best coffee in town and a tasty breakfast bagel. For lunch, try a bison burger and sweet-potato fries with chipotle aioli in the day lodge. Your best options for in-town dining are Kawakubo’s, which bills itself as the local sushi-sake-steak joint, and the Woolsey Creek Restaurant.
Up All Night: Revelstoke is still working on its nightlife. Nelsen Lodge’s 150-seat restaurant and bar opened in November. Or have a drink at the River City Pub at the Regent Inn, then head down the street for late-night bowling at Alpine Lanes on First Street.
Digs: Rob Alford’s Mt. Mackenzie Log Chalet offers some of the closest rooms to the resort, plus snowmobile rentals and an eight-person hot tub ($125; logchalet.com). For something more posh, reserve a condo or the four-bedroom penthouse at the brand-new Nelsen Lodge at the base of the resort.
Elevation: 7,300 feet Vertical Drop: 5,620 feet Snowfall: 600 inches Acres: 3,031 this year, with 7,000 more on the way. Info: revelstokemountainresort.com