New high for skiers in Canada

Bri­tish Columbia has back­coun­try runs to suit all com­ers, whether you take to the air or ride the chair

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - MATT BARR

FOR many skiers and snow­board­ers, rid­ing per­fect pow­der runs far out in the back­coun­try is the holy grail. The dif­fi­cult bit is find­ing them. In the world’s big­gest re­sorts — Cha­monix, Ver­bier, Whistler — crowded slopes are mak­ing this in­creas­ingly chal­leng­ing. As a re­sult, many skiers are head­ing to iso­lated, snow-drenched towns far off the beaten track . . . towns such as Revel­stoke, in Canada’s Bri­tish Columbia.

Revel­stoke was es­tab­lished in the 1880s at the height of the re­gion’s gold rush. Nowthe moun­tains are at­tract­ing a new breed of hardy pi­o­neers. They come to ski and snow­board on the ridicu­lous amount of snow that falls here (the record is 24m in a sea­son) — a thick, win­try blan­ket of white that is trans­form­ing this ven­er­a­ble old min­ing and log­ging com­mu­nity.

Not that ski­ing is new here. Lo­cal guides have been ex­plor­ing the 2000sq kmof ski­able ter­rain in the nearby Selkirk and Monashee ranges since the early 1970s, ei­ther by hik­ing or tak­ing ad­van­tage of sev­eral heli-ski op­er­a­tions.

Two changes marked a new era for Revel­stoke and broad­ened the ap­peal of the town for pow­der-hun­gry skiers on all bud­gets. The first was the open­ing of Revel­stoke Moun­tain Re­sort in De­cem­ber 2007. It has only four lifts (there are plans for 21 lifts and 115 runs), but the area to which they of­fer ac­cess is vast, and the re­sort’s 1800m ver­ti­cal drop is the largest in North Amer­ica. Per­haps more im­por­tantly, RMR gets the same amount of snow as the rest of the re­gion, only here there are chair­lifts and gon­do­las.

And now an­other new fron­tier is be­ing opened to cater for an ex­clu­sive co­terie of very rich skiers who can af­ford to live out their fan­tasies by pay­ing for heli-ski trips of ever more rar­i­fied lev­els of so­phis­ti­ca­tion and ex­clu­siv­ity. It’s a trend that the re­cent open­ing of Bighorn Lodge, just out­side the town’s ski re­sort, per­fectly demon­strates. The hefty price tag — $212,000 for you and 15 equally deep-

Selkirk Tang­iers’ he­li­copter (top), Bighorn Lodge (top right), and the area’s waist-deep pow­der

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.