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Mt MacKenzie, Revelstoke

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
From what I hear, it looks like this resort is moving forward. They're cutting trails now and starting to install new lifts in the Spring. I understand the vertical drop will exceed 6000'.

What is the terrain on the mountain like and how will it compare to neighboring areas like Kicking Horse in Golden? Are snow conditions be expected to be good despite the South/Southwest exposure of the terrain to be opened in the initial phases? I hear that the North-facing side of the mountain is slated for development, but supposedly not for quite a while. I would think that the Northern latitude of the area, combined with traditionally heavy snowfall totals would imply good snow conditions despite the exposure.

Would love to get the inside scoop from people familiar with the area. I'm thinking of buying a place in B.C. and Revelstoke looks intriguing.
post #2 of 17
I hope they don't get rid of that legendary chairlift (which was also the ONLY chairlift, in fact the only lift, when I was there). The Powder Slug Express.
post #3 of 17
I have skied a couple of times with Cat Powder Skiing, which takes off from the existing small ski area and utilizes the terrain above it that I believe will all become part of the Mt. MeKenzie development. It is about 1/2 hour drive out of downtown Revelstoke. From the top you are looking across the Columbia River at CMH's Monoshees terrain.

Both trips were in January, the first was in a bad year and the next was in a good snow year when they said they already had more snow by Dec. 31st that the entire preceding season. Over the course of the two trips I skied most of the aspects of the cat terrain. The runs started above treeline and averaged around 2,000 vertical. At the end of the day they let us ski all the way back down to the ski area which was over 5,000 vert, the last 1,500 being on roads.

I my opinion the terrain potential is excellent and comparable to Kicking Horse. I am not familiar enough with Canadian weather patterns to compare the snow, but Mt. McKenzie is on the west side of Rogers Pass, as opposed to Kicking Horse being on the east side, so I think the former would normally get more snow. Compared to the US Rockies ski areas the elevation is not that high, but with the massive vertical I would think that the snow on top would stay fairly dependable.

I love skiing that area but it is presently about a 6 hr. drive from Calgary and not real close to any other population centers. Between Kicking Horse and McKenzie they must be planning to improve the airport, but with the constant foggy conditions along the river on the Revelstoke side I'm not sure where they would put it.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the informative post. I think I'll go out there and take a look around.
post #5 of 17

More on the development

The full plan for development is located on this site:


There is some talk of upgrading the local airport into a regional airport, but I don't know if that has gone beyond the rumour stage. You might check Tony Crocker's site to see if he has the stats on relative snowfall between the two mountains:

post #6 of 17
TBay: I don't know if you are into backcountry skiing, but Rogers Pass on the Trans Canadian Hyw. separates Revelstoke (Mt. MacKenzie) and Golden (Kicking Horse). It crosses literally hundreds of avalanche chutes but also is one of the premier places in the world for easy access backcountry skiing. Incredible skiing but potentially incredibly dangerous. With just the Pass and Kicking Horse I think it is already one of the best ski locations you can find (if you aren't into night life). Revelstoke presently adds cat and heli skiing opportunities, and if Mt. MacKenzie gets developed you will have a ski mecca with everything within 1 1/2 drive on the TC Highway.

I found the people in Revelstoke to be very nice. The place is starting to get that buzz feel of being on the verg of big change (for better or worse). Right now snowmobilers ("sleders") seem to drive the winter industry. Other than Nelson with Whitewater, Red Mountain and huge backcountry opportunities, I think Revelstoke is definitely worth looking into if you are a serious skier. The only drawback is the Canadian weather. It can get pretty dreary in the river valleys with fog a lot of the time.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks Mudfoot. You've pretty much articulated why I'm interested in the Golden/Revelstoke area. Although I live in NJ, I grew up in Canada and was fortunate to live 10 minutes from a ski area where I skied at every opportunity. My wife is Canadian, the kids have dual-US/Canadian citizenship and we have decided to retire in Canada. We're all avid skiers, outdoor-oriented and keenly interested in the environment. We're looking for a laid-back area with similarly-oriented people. Believe me, they're hard to find around here. We already have some property on the Great Lakes in Ontario and now we're looking for a place to eventually call home for a good part of the year in Western Canada (and vacation at in the meantime).

I have some backcountry experience, but not enough to go without a guide. I'd like to learn more about it. Although I'm an advanced skier, I usually ski with my wife and kids (with the exception of one guys trip out West per year) and they are most interested in in-bounds skiing. Therefore, I'd probably be looking at Golden if it weren't for the Mt. MacKenzie development. Golden seems like a nice town, property prices are somewhat cheaper than Revelstoke at the moment, and Kicking Horse is already operating. Revelstoke seems to have more potential over the long term, however, especially if Mt. MacKenzie is developed as planned. They certainly receive a lot more snow than Kicking Horse and the terrain seems to be high quality.

I'm planning to head out there in November to look around. Probably hard to go wrong with either location. I'll let you know what I find out when I return.
post #8 of 17
Mt mackenzies development has been rumored for a long time. THere's another thread about this archived that's discussed this in epicski.

The best places in REvy are FSBO. THe realtors I've talked too - remax - are shills that seem to want to fleece out-of-towners. They're interested in showing you overpriced crap.

300k plus will get you into something decent but not close to town.

Like someone said. Mt Mackenzie blows compared to Rogers Pass. Frankly i could care less if the ski hill is developed as i think it will wreck the backcountry and flood it with clueless newbs/

Looking at mt Mac from an investment perspective purely and not as a backcountry skier or as an overprotective user of rogers pass I have a very hard time with the economics. My experience is that of an experienced investor in recreation real estate and has already been posted in various threads in epicski and another website -www.realestatetalks.com in their British Columbia section/ I won't bother reposting here since if you're really an interested investor doing due diligence then you'll make the effort to investigate those sources independantly as well as to formulate your own opinions
post #9 of 17
I went snowcat skiing for 2 days on Mt. MacKenzie in February 1999 and I was not that impressed. We started at the small existing Powder Springs day lodge around 2,000 feet and spent over an hour climbing to the top at about 7,500. During the day we yoyoed runs down that front (south) face to a horizontal cat road a little above 6,000 feet. Terrain was about half above treeline but the trees closed in around the time we reached the cat pickup, surprising because they remain well spaced to much lower elevation at the other 4 cat/heli operations I have visited between Revelstoke and Nelson.

1999 was a record snow year up there and I saw sun about half a day of that week, so obviously snow quality was outstanding on these runs. That's why they kept us on the south side, where they had about 6,000 acres. They also had 2,000 acres cat terrain on the north side, but they save it for when the south side snow deteriorates. At the end of the day you ski all the way down that south face. Snow was good to about 5,000 ft., OK to 4,000, ugly between 4,000 and 3,000, and a relief to hit Powder Springs' groomers from 3,000 to 2,000. Note again that this was in a record snow year.

I suppose you can say I'm spoiled, but I just liked the other places (Selkirk-Tangiers, CMH Kootenay, Great Northern, Retallack) for terrain a whole lot more. I have heard the 1,800 vertical of back side (north-facing) terrain on MacKenzie is better, but until that part is accessible I wouldn't be in a hurry to get up there. Kicking Horse's terrain, even with its current layout flaws, is better than what I saw at Mt. MacKenzie.

No snow stats in the immediate area, except for the 493 inches on Mt. Fidelity, which is at 6,000 feet near Rogers' Pass. Kicking Horse gets 250-275 inches on the upper mountain and about 100 at the base. I would guess the top of MacKenzie gets around 400. You will want to stay above 5,000 feet because everything below that faces directly south and will usually only be skiable where intensely groomed. Like Kicking Horse, most of the time only the top 2,000 will be worthwhile skiing. So it depends on how they set up the lift system and how soon the north side is accessible.

I'm hoping a lot more for Jumbo than Mt. MacKenzie. I've skied there too with RK Heli, who is fighting the Jumbo proposal because it's the center of their current domain.
post #10 of 17
I did get to ski the north side while cat skiing and my impression was that the terrain and snow were better on that side. As Tony Crocker states, the cat skiing operation utilizes only the top of the mountain. Much of the terrrain that the new ski area will use is lower and covered with thick trees at this point, so until they cut the runs it is hard to compare it to Kicking Horse, but from what I could tell it is potentially good ski terrain. I agree with TC, because of the low elevation it will probably ski similar to KH with the bottom being only good on the packed runs.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Jumbo seems to have cleared another environmental hurdle in the last few days.


Based on some preliminary research, I'd lay odds on the remaining hurdles being cleared (with some compromises) and the resort eventually happening. The terrain and snow quality appear to be outstanding and some of the concerns voiced by the readers of this forum about Mt. MacKenzie may not be relevant at Jumbo. Invermere is also closer to Calgary than Revelstoke and property therefore might be more attractive over the long term than in Revelstoke/Mt. MacKenzie.

That said, I'm in no hurry to make a decision about where to purchase property. The real estate market feels a little top-heavy to me and I'd like to visit the areas before plunging in. As my wife weighs in with her priorities (she loves to ski but doesn't live for it), I am also expanding my criteria to non-skiing factors (heaven forbid). From that standpoint, the Comox/Courtenay/Mt. Washington area looks intriguing. We'd sacrifice a little on skiing quality but, on the other hand, we'd have the ocean, windsurfing, kayaking, etc. Also decent weather for gardening, golf, and puttering around once I'm an old codger.

Gotta start working on that BC trip.....
post #12 of 17
Some more random comments:

- Golden the town itself is a hole. The air stinks and the ambience blows. Culture is limited to fresh meat mondays. Outside Golden north towards the FSRs headed to the Freshfields Glacier is better. Sled-accessed bc skiing is unreal.

- Revy the town itself is much nicer then Golden but property is priced accordingly. Its not just Rogers Pass itself which has the best skiing but lots of other areas close by. Not so many bike trails as Golden

- Comox/Courtenay is gorgeous but is priced even higher. Its COLD windsurfing off the spit - most of the best sailing is 5.0 - 6.0 and is on storm front southeasters so bring your 4/3 steamer. I like it but its not for everyone. There are nicely priced acreages at the base of mt Washington. The bc access to Strathcona is pretty good Lots of good bike trails.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks LeeLau. Very good info. Can't wait to get out there and look around. I've skied W/BC, Big White and Fernie, but none of the other places yet. I'm used to windsurfing in the dry suit. I learned on the Great Lakes where the best sailing was in the Fall when the cold fronts blew through. Usually packed the gear away when the temps dropped below 5 degrees Celsius (and headed back out if the temps warmed back up to that range).
post #14 of 17

Mt. Washington

I'll be heading out to Comox/Courtenay next week to take a look at real estate for retirement in 2009. What's the skiing like on Mt. Washington? Is there any sort of shuttle from Horsehoe Bay up to Whistler (for walk-on skiers on the Nanaimo ferry)? I'm used to having Sunshine within an hour from my driveway to the parking lot, just how much of a change is this likely to be? :
post #15 of 17
Originally Posted by gnjantzie
I'll be heading out to Comox/Courtenay next week to take a look at real estate for retirement in 2009. What's the skiing like on Mt. Washington? Is there any sort of shuttle from Horsehoe Bay up to Whistler (for walk-on skiers on the Nanaimo ferry)? I'm used to having Sunshine within an hour from my driveway to the parking lot, just how much of a change is this likely to be? :
Skiing is highly dependant on temps. They get lots of PRECIPITATION.

No shuttle from H-bay. There is a Nanaimo to Vancouver downtown ferry and buses or shuttles to Whistler.

The snow will be a good deal heavier then Sunshines';
post #16 of 17
[/quote]I'm used to having Sunshine within an hour from my driveway to the parking lot, just how much of a change is this likely to be?[quote]

Pretty much the end of day trips.
Worst year of skiing of I've had in my life as far as # of days went was during the year and a half I lived on the island. Just way too much hassle getting back to the mainland to do it often.
Edit: Not that Mt Washington doesn't provide some good days, it just has a short, inconsistent season.
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
How many days did you get out on skis while living on the Island? Interesting that you feel that moving to the Island pretty much spelled the end of day trips. Are conditions on Mt. Washington so inferior/unreliable that you felt compelled to ski on the mainland? I'd be very interested in hearing more color on the length of season there, frequency of rain, etc.
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