Winter has finally arrived in Revelstoke in the form we know it — a blanket of white covering the city.
This weekend is opening day at Revelstoke Mountain Resort and pretty much the official start of winter in Revelstoke, even though people have been out playing in the mountains and on frozen ponds for several weeks now.
To mark the occasion, we touched based with all of Revelstoke’s major winter recreation groups to see what’s new this winter.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort is opening this weekend, and in a big way, with all terrain above the day lodge set to be open, the resort announced.
The development is a stark change from a week ago, when snow was minimal and conditions were bleak.
A week ago the cover on the upper mountain was thin. There was a metre of snow at the top of the Stoke, 60 centimetres at the top of the Ripper but only a few centimetres at the top of the gondola.
Fortunately, more than a metre of snow has fallen in the past week, with more in the forecast. The result — all terrain is except the lower mountain will be open on all natural snow.
What’s new on the mountain this year? More glading was done on the upper mountain. The Tally-Ho Glades on the southside were doubled in size, meaning more tree skiing over there. On the Ripper Chair, more glading was done in the Glades of Glory. The resort also modified Chopper to cut out the flat bit half-way through.
The resort has expanded its backcountry offerings with the new BCA Avalanche Ranch at the top of the gondola. The ranch is a new transceiver-testing area where people will be able to learn and hone backcountry skills before heading out of bounds.
At the base, the retail store has doubled in size and the resort will now be offering bootfitting to customers.
Expect the trails to be a little bit smoother this year thanks to the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club’s brand new groomer — a Prinoth BR 350.
According to new president Daniel Kellie, the club is the first in western Canada to purchase a new groomer. It is expected to show up in town in early December. The machine was purchased for about $300,000, with $100,000 coming from the tourism infrastructure fund and the rest through a loan from the Revelstoke Credit Union.
The club installed a webcam on the Boulder Cabin, allowing sledders to get a look at conditions before they head out. The Yamacam is sponsored by Yamaha and can be seen on the club’s website.
Visitors will also be happy to know the club now accepts debit and credit cards, making it easier for buying and selling tickets.
The club is hosting its annual fundraising dinner with Team Thunderstruck this Saturday, Nov. 29, at the Hillcrest Hotel. In addition to the dinner there will an auction, raffle, and a screening of Thunderstruck 13. Tickets are $33 for dinner, or a donation to the food bank if you just want to see the movie. All proceeds will go to Avalanche Canada.
The snowmobile club has three other events planned:
— Ride for Dad at the end of January, to raise money for prostate cancer research.
— Vintage Ride on Saturday, March 14, and Snowarama on Sunday, March 15. Snowarama will include drag races at the Glacier House Resort.
— The ladies ride is scheduled for Saturday, March 28.
Lights were installed on the Mickey Olson Loop this fall, meaning it will now be possible to ski at night without a headlamp.
The Nordic club put up 89 light standards over a six-kilometre loop at a cost of $220,000, with funding coming from the Columbia Basin Trust, tourism infrastructure fund, and Economic Opportunity Fund. The lights are programmed to turn on as it gets dark and turn off at 9:30 p.m.
The club has a full-time manager this winter. Natelle Fitzgerald will be running the ticket office and handling marketing for the club. She’ll also look after the club’s new fleet of rental skis, which was bought in collaboration with the Revelstoke School District.
The club is entering the big time by hosting a BC Cup race on Jan 24-25. The BC Cup is the highest level of racing in the province. Up to 400 racers are expected to show up, with double that many people cheering.
The winter permit system for Glacier National Park goes into effect this Thursday, Nov. 27. In order to ski in restricted areas, you’ll have to get an annual winter permit from Parks Canada at the Rogers Pass Centre. It requires passing a 25-question quiz, which you can take online at home or at the Pass. Otherwise, you can get a day permit.
The rules for overnight parking in Glacier National Park have changed. You can only park overnight at the Asulkan parking lot with a valid wilderness permit. Overnight camping will be allowed outside the Rogers Pass Centre, but only in a vehicle and not in tents.
If you’re new to the pass, you should check out Uptracks, Bootpacks and Bushwacks, the incredible Rogers Pass guidebook put together by veteran ski mountaineer Douglas Sproule. It was released in a digital format last year and a print version is expected soon after Sproule raised more than $32,000 (and counting) in a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Avalanche Canada (formerly the Canadian Avalanche Centre) is back in full swing, with the first avalanche forecasts put out last weekend.
The organization is launched its new website on the weekend, with a front page that features an interactive map that forms the basis of your backcountry needs. Starting off, it shows avalanche danger levels for all regions and more features will be added as the season progresses, such as remote weather station information, mountain water forecasts, and observations from the new Mountain Information Network.
Unfortunately, due to new anti-spam regulations, avalanche bulletins are no longer being sent out by e-mail.
— CMH Revelstoke is offering day heli-skiing for the first time ever from Dec. 27 to Jan 4. Three runs is $799, five runs is $959, and each additional run is $89.
— Elevate SnowCamps is a new non-profit launched by Al Clark and Seb Grondin to make snowboarding more accessible for local youth. They have been collecting new and used snowboard gear to help get kids out into the mountains and will be holding camps and clinics. Find out more on their Facebook page.
— There won’t be an official Spirit Fest this year after several funders didn’t come through, but some of the events associated with Spirit Fest will still be taking place, like the Carousel of Nations. The Revelstoke Arts Council also has several shows booked for that week — the first in February.
— The Revelstoke squash club is offering free lessons to new members. They have player development night on Tuesday and league night on Thursday. Find them in the basement below Mica Heliskiing on Mackenzie Avenue.