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Driving Kelowna to Revelstoke Feb 2015

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

I will be travelling from Kelowna Airport to Revelstoke and back at the end of Feb next season. There will be me, my wife and my 3 year old daughter. I cant decide what the best option will be in terms of transportation - i.e. airport transfer or SUV hire.

First question - what is the drive like - are there any mountain passes to negotiate or is it an easy drive on good highways?

What will this route be like to drive if a storm hits?

Are hire vehicles in BC kitted out with winter tyres as standard?

I've driven quite a bit in the Alps and in the US Rockies so have some experience driving in the mountains in snow. However, I've also been caught out whereby I thought I was getting a 4x4 with winter tyres and in actual fact the vehicle had neither. It was "all wheel drive", which I understand is different from a 4x4 and handled very poorly in snow - I would not want to be in a situation where I have a car which is unsuitable with my daughter in tow.

Any info would be appreciated.

Thanks


_________________
nickr
post #2 of 19

Welcome nick to EpicSki.

 

The drive from Kelowna to Revelstoke takes about 3 hours and has some hills and twisty sections but no white knuckle mountain pass switchbacks. To someone with winter mountain driving experience it is an easy drive.

 

I think the shuttle bus is about $80/person each way. There is a free shuttle from downtown Revelstoke to Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) but mid week it only runs one round trip/day. Check out RMR's website for details.

 

As far as rental cars go I do not know what kind of equipment that they come with so i would check with the rental company when you make the reservations. I would not worry about the difference between AWD and 4X4 as you will most likely not be driving in severe conditions. Having said that, there is a very slight chance that HWY #1 (the Trans-Canada Highway) just west of Revelstoke near Three Valley Gap could be closed for avalanche control work so check at the Kelowna airport before departure. East of Revelstoke in Rogers Pass is where the most frequent closures occur and that will not effect you.

 

One other thing, unless you and your wife are black diamond skiers, then Revelstoke is not for you. While the RMR trail map shows intermediate terrain, the intermediates that ski there need to be strong enough skiers to ski long, easier groomed black diamond runs at the very least.

post #3 of 19

I've never rented a vehicle that had anything other than the OEM tires it came with from the factory.

 

I'm a strong skier and I was surprised by the difference in snow quality between the top and bottom of RMR, in January.

post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
 

I've never rented a vehicle that had anything other than the OEM tires it came with from the factory.

 

I'm a strong skier and I was surprised by the difference in snow quality between the top and bottom of RMR, in January

 

You shouldn't have been surprised. Reliable season long skiing in British Columbia starts at around 4000' asl and RMR has a much too low base elevation of 1700'asl and a very respectable top elevation of 7300'asl.

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys, sounds like the drive should be fairly straight forward, assuming a big storm doesn't close the highway.

Do you know if you legally have to carry snow chains along that route?

Regards my wide and I - we're ok skiers I guess, we won't be dropping cliffs but we like pretty steep, ungroomed terrain, bumps and trees so hopefully should be ok. We've skied Jackson, Squaw, kirkwood, Winter Park, Fernie, Chamonix etc and always enjoyed it.
post #6 of 19

The drive from Kelowna to Revelstoke is a relatively easy drive. With a storm, though, it can be a little challenging. If you rent AWD, the tires on it should be sufficient to not be a concern.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
 

I've never rented a vehicle that had anything other than the OEM tires it came with from the factory.

 

I'm a strong skier and I was surprised by the difference in snow quality between the top and bottom of RMR, in January.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post
 

 

You shouldn't have been surprised. Reliable season long skiing in British Columbia starts at around 4000' asl and RMR has a much too low base elevation of 1700'asl and a very respectable top elevation of 7300'asl.

 

I'm with Dano on this. Revy is low (the town is at 1500' plus or minus) but the mountain has lots of vertical. Whistler/Blackcomb, too, is low but not as low as Revelstoke and W/B is known to have rain at the village and dumping pow up top on a fairly regular basis. Of course, W/B is a Coast Range area but still, size matters.

post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickr View Post

Thanks guys, sounds like the drive should be fairly straight forward, assuming a big storm doesn't close the highway.

Do you know if you legally have to carry snow chains along that route?

Regards my wide and I - we're ok skiers I guess, we won't be dropping cliffs but we like pretty steep, ungroomed terrain, bumps and trees so hopefully should be ok. We've skied Jackson, Squaw, kirkwood, Winter Park, Fernie, Chamonix etc and always enjoyed it.

 

You should be fine. I don't believe there's any requirement for chains. I've never had them and I drive in BC a lot through lots of passes. If you have AWD, you're good to go. As for the skiing, with your other experiences, you'll have a great time at RMR. Enjoy!

post #8 of 19

If you are able to ski down from the Tram at Jackson, then you are fine at RMR.

post #9 of 19

I live 10min north of the Kelowna airport and have a pass at RMR. I make the drive under 2hrs most of the time. AWD, winter tires, i don't carry chains and have never seen they checking. 

 

If it snows more than 20cm, expect the highway to be closed. They have to use helicopters to bomb for avalanches, so they will do this at first light. So it's usually closed from like 7am-11am the morning after any significant snowfall. Drive BC has been very good last season with updates letting you know ahead of time when it will be closed and for how long. Although probably 50% of the closures are due to motor vehicle accidents which can't be predicted.

 

Winter Tires at the kelowna airport. I've never rented from there. But I'd be pretty shocked if they didn't have winter tires in Jan. I've rented a car 2x in kelowna in the winter while mine was in the shop and both had winter tires, no questions asked. Cheap FWD cars. 

 

For what it's worth in "winter" Revelstoke the town, receives more snow, less rain, has a deeper snowpack and colder temps than Whistler. Whistler has better shoulder seasons.  With that said, you won't be skiing the lower mountain except for once at the end of the day to get back to your hotel room/car so don't worry about it.  

post #10 of 19

In the not likely chance that the road is closed it will likely just be the part near Three Valley Gap so the solution for the OP would be to just ski at Sliver Star for the day as it is only a 20 minute drive from Vernon which the OP will be driving through to get to RMR.

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Ok, so booked a Chevy Suburban (or similar) and have been told the vehicle WILL have winter tyres. Nice one, that's one holiday sorted, now to think about what else to do next season.

Thanks for input guys
post #12 of 19

Good call, have a great time! While at RMR, you might want to consider heli or cat skiing for a day. Don't do the cat skiing at RMR, though. I would suggest K3 Catskiing: http://www.k3catski.com/ as they're close and do one day, single-seat trips and have better suited terrain. RMR's cat skiing is essentially side-country at the resort. As for heli-skiing, RMR owns Selkirk-Tangiers http://www.selkirk-tangiers.com/ which I highly recommend as it's convenient and will get you into some great terrain. In any case, have a great time.

 

Here's some video of both: K3 first, S-T second

 

 

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice on cat skiing Goldmember, we have thought about it, but since we have our daughter with us have ruled it out. We need stay in bounds in resort so if we need to get back for any reason we can do so easily and quickly.

Looking at the RMR website they do a heli/cat prep day or something called 'inside tracks' where you essentially get a guide for the day so we'll probably do something like that instead, which would be good to get to know the mountain on day 1.
post #14 of 19

I've never done the first tracks program. From what I've heard you have to follow your guide. Are not allowed to ski the trees and the guide takes you down Pitch black/snow rodeo. Giving you 2-3 laps of the stoke chair lookers right before the crowds show up.  I do think its a great idea on a powder day. If it's a pow day, the locals tend to line up early for the gondola, like an hour+ before opening. Skipping this line would be great, the real benefit is it allows you to stay ahead of the flow for the rest of the day. 

 

The cat skiing, you get what you pay for and it's the cheapest option out of the local ops. It's intermediate terrain and the tree spacing is better in the cat area than most of the inbounds area. The area gets hit pretty hard, since it's slackcountry. But if the timing is right it would be worth it. Especially if you are uncomfortable leaving the boundary without a guide. I've had some good times with K3. 

 

There is a display board at the base that tells you how many spots are available for First tracks/cat/heli. Seems like there are plenty of last minute openings. 

post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickr View Post

Ok, so booked a Chevy Suburban (or similar) and have been told the vehicle WILL have winter tyres.

 

  OEM all seasons will have a M/S(mud & snow) designation, but they're not snow tires. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by surfacehoar View Post
 

I've never done the first tracks program. From what I've heard you have to follow your guide. Are not allowed to ski the trees and the guide takes you down Pitch black/snow rodeo. Giving you 2-3 laps of the stoke chair lookers right before the crowds show up.  I do think its a great idea on a powder day. If it's a pow day, the locals tend to line up early for the gondola, like an hour+ before opening. Skipping this line would be great, the real benefit is it allows you to stay ahead of the flow for the rest of the day. 

 

I got there an hour early,  on the 1st big snow is a couple of weeks and the lines were big.  Maybe they did some control work that delayed first tracks, but they were just finishing they're first run when we got to Stoke.  It's not like you can really stay ahead of the flow for very long.  You might hike out sooner, but everybody pretty much end ups back at Stoke eventually.

post #16 of 19

I remember you posting about that day Shred. I was up there too.  Days like that one the line can stretch past the end of the parking lot. Not just the first lot. All the way down the road. I know it's taken me an hour or more to make the long approach to the stoke chair. If I can show up fashionable late and skip that line on a big powder day, seems like it would be worth it. Driving for 2hrs to stand in line sucks.

 

That is what I mean about the flow. If you're late or at the back of the line, the low hanging fruit is gone and you'll have to start hiking for your first run. Powder Saturdays at least. 

 

Side note - they are spinning the stoke chair this weekend. Too bad it's going to be raining Saturday and then dust on crust Sunday. Telemetry says base depth should be in the 100-120inch range.

 

Top of The Stoke Webcam View


Edited by surfacehoar - 5/16/14 at 4:32pm
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
 

 

  OEM all seasons will have a M/S(mud & snow) designation, but they're not snow tires.

In BC, actual snow tires are required on most highways in the winter. Or you have to carry chains. And yes, I've seen RCMP out checking tires. The tire must have a snowflake logo on the sidewall regardless of brand or manufacturer claims. If it doesn't have the snowflake, don't take the vehicle.

 

The Suburban, by the way, is an enormous American beast, with seating for eight. It seems a bit much for a party of three, but, whatever. Even the lighter-duty "half-ton" model weighs over 3,000kg and comes with a 5.3L V8. It is based on a pick-up truck chassis. Make sure you're actually getting a 4x4 model; the Suburban also comes with just rear-wheel-drive, and the reservations clerk may not really understand the difference. Something with the power and torque of a 'Burban with just rear-wheel-drive in snow would be pretty awful.

 

You may want to consider a GMC Acadia or a Chevy Traverse, either of which will still have plenty of size and power. These are also available with either all-wheel-drive or just front-wheel-drive - but at least it's front-wheel-drive.

 

Have fun!

post #18 of 19
I second @jhcooley about doublechecking what you are getting - you especially don't want rear wheel drive. I also rented a car here once which the assured me would have winter tires, only to find out they were all seasons. When I asked about this, they assured me that they were 'rated for winter.' But you definitely want winter tires - with those you should be fine. They do a pretty good job of keeping highway 1 clean. It's a major thoroughfare.


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post #19 of 19

i hope you get some snow! its been thin there too this year.

you'll be fine with the drive, don't worry. its the other side of revy that's the issue most often.

if you do want the names of babysitters, i can try to help as we've been using some local peeps

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