Every time I return to Revelstoke something has changed. A new neighborhood, a number of new restaurants, a new bar. A new chairlift was even opened in December 2019. This Stellar Chair gives the mountain the much needed extra runs for beginners. One thing has not changed in recent years. Revelstoke is still Canada's most challenging ski resort.
Although it seems that change is the only constant in Revelstoke in recent years, it has not always been that way. Revelstoke Mountain Resort is still a pretty young ski area, which was opened at the end of 2007. Before that time there was a little and old two-seater chairlift going up the hill and the area was called Powder Springs. Revelstoke at that time was a lot rougher than it still is today and it was mainly visited by catskiers, heliskiers, ski tourers and sledders, a lot of sledders.
We get in the Revelation gondola which brings us towards the MacKenzie Outpost, which is approximately located mid-mountain in terms of vertical. With 1710 meters, Revelstoke has the most vertical in all of North America. So when you descend peak to creek, you will definitely feel your legs. January 2020 was a great month for Revelstoke. It has snowed almost every day and the base is more than two meters thick. On average, Revy gets around 15 meters of snow per year. Do not make any illusions, as in every area in North America you have to be there when the snow falls, because on a powder day there is a line at the gondola early in the morning. Locals simply stop working for the day and ride powder. Lots of powder.
The Stoke Chair takes us to the highest reachable point in the area within the boundary. Although the visibility is not optimal, we hike the last bit up to the North Bowl. This great bowl has a good pitch and here we still find untracked powder. Inbounds and therefore fully checked by the ski patrol. Don't expect a lot of groomers in RMR. I estimate that about 20% of the slopes are groomed. Not much compared to any resort in the Alps, but not necessary either, because the level of riding in Revelstoke is high. This means that every square centimeter of the mountain is tracked.
Fortunately, there are still plenty of options to reach with a short hike, such as the North Bowl. You will find even more options in the backcountry of Revelstoke. On the flanks of Mount MacKenzie you can find enough lines to keep you busy for a couple of seasons. You are, of course, responsible for your own safety.
However, we stayed within the boundaries of the resort. The descents from both the Stoke and the Ripper chairlift (the best names for chairlifts ever) have a lot of possibilities and we discover new zones every run. It's even better when you ride down through the snow-covered trees. Add to that the views of the Columbia River and you realize how big the mountain is and what the endless possibilities are.
Revelstoke changes and grows, but it happens in a very organic way. Revelstoke Mountain Resort is only a few minutes' drive from the old town and a lot of development is taking place here. For example, we stayed at the Sutton Place Hotel, a beautiful place to stay next to the gondola. Perhaps a little less authentic, but very practical, simply because you are lift in no time (which is very nice on a powder day).
An absolute must in the evening is to visit a match of the Revelstoke Grizzlies. Here you see the other side of Revelstoke and the skiers and boarders, sledders and ski tourers and the saw mill workers, loggers and others come together to shout the local team to victory. A beer, a large bowl of poutine and you instantly feel like a local. We were lucky that a benefit match was played between the local heroes and former NHL players from the Montreal Canadians who showed their class in a naturally unequal battle. Afterwards, a drink in the Village Idiot is always a good idea.
The next time we visit Revelstoke it will undoubtedly have changed even more. A new ski shop has been opened, perhaps a new yoga place, a residential area has been added or perhaps even a new lift. However, one thing will never change. Revelstoke is raw and rough, with an occasional polished edge. If you call yourself a skier or snowboarder then you simply should have been here.