As good as expected!Skied Kicking Horse on Christmas day, bc a couple days at Rogers Pass, and then Sat-Monday at Revelstoke. KC has pretty good coverage top to bottom and was about the same as this time last year. No wait on the 25th, but we heard that the gondola line was 20+ minutes later in the week.
We were concerned about booking 3 days in Revelstoke since KC claims to have 104 runs and Reve only 27, but it skis almost as big. You don’t have the 70 inbounds chutes like KC, but the trees on the west side of the Pass are broader and more widely spaced making a huge portion of the between run areas skiable. The bottom line is that we enjoyed the heck out of Reve and skied from one side to the other without finding much we didn’t like. Since many of you have skied Kicking Horse, some of my comments will be comparative.
Lifts: The gondola seats 8 and is like KC, except you take your skis and boards inside with you making it more crowded, but simplified loading and unloading. It is faster than the one at KC and ascends about 3,000 vert in 6.2 minutes. There is no skiing off the gondola yet* except by going over to and past the bottom of the chair by cat track. The chair is a high speed quad that rises 1,900 vert in about another 6 mins.
Runs: Grooming was excellent, but no green runs off the top. You could rip 3,000 vert of packed if you wanted to play downhill racer, as the Canadians seem to like to do. The bottom of the mountain has a nice consistent pitch (old Powder Springs area), which I liked much better than KC where bottom ¼ is pretty flat. We were skiing good snow and good pitch on all runs right to the gondola. Top of the mountain has “runs” marked on the map but virtually every inch is skiable from the chair. North Bowl required a 5 min. side step or boot pack for the top entry, or you could traverse right in at lower spots. South Bowl had fantastic glade and tree skiing but only lasted less than 1,500 vert. Unless you were right under the chair, or one run over, everything on the South side put you on Devil’s Club, which had not had the trees cleared off after it was cut. This sucked because you could not help hitting wood and rocks. You can do a 15 min. 65 degree kickstep climb above the chair, which puts you on the area boundary above the North Bowl, but you cannot enter there without a beacon, probe and shovel, and there were reports of people not making it back onto the area. Not worth the climb unless you are going OB and know where you are going. The other major drag was that getting out of the North Bowl required a luge run track through the tress and a 100 yard climb on a cat track. Not a big deal but it got tedius after a couple of runs.
One of the biggest problems I found at RM were the unmarked road cuts. There were numerous places with unmarked major drops that I hope are the result of hurrying to open and not their usual procedure. You can't trust any of the road cuts, even on the run under the chair. We constantly encountered major obstacles that were not marked, giving the place a untrustworthy feel. If you are not paying attention you can catch major air just skiing the middle of the run from the gondola to the bottom of the chair.
*“Kill the Banker” is the gondola lift line run. It was open but looked extremely gnarly and I did not ski it. Only saw 4 people on it in 3 days. They had not cleared much of the timber and there is a pretty good cliff band. With a bit more snow this will be a true classic. 3,000 straight fall line with no bail out opportunities.
Crowds: Reportedly there were about 2,000 people there when we skied. Never had any lines more than two minutes, except waiting for the first gondola in the morning. It turned out to be a great choice for no crowd holiday skiing.
Lodge: They rebuild the lodge in the original Powder Springs location. Simple and nice, with a big deck overlooking the Columbia River and across to the Monoshees. Speaking of which, heli ski choppers flew over a couple times every day just to tease us area skiers. I did not see any other on mountain services.
Parking: They do not have adequate parking and had cars down the road for about ¼ mile, with a shuttle bus constantly circulating. The gondola extension set to open next year goes almost down the edge of town and looks to be a resolution to the parking problem and for ski-in, ski-out condos.
Transportation. It is about a 2 hr. drive from KC to RM, depending on Rogers Pass road conditions. There is a shuttle from Reve to the mountain for $2 each way.
Snow: The snow quality and coverage top to bottom was slightly better at RM than KC. Quality was good on all aspects all the time. We had no big dumps but it snowed some every night, and RM got more than KC each time. I like the way they round off their average annual snowfall at “40 to 60 feet.”
Future: If they put in a couple more chairs this place will easily rival any major resort, and the plan is to make it 8 times as big as it is now. There is a display at the Mica building in town with a model of the proposed improvements, but we did not see it. Other than completing the lower portion of the gondola for next season, no one we talked to seemed to be sure of how many or where the next chairs were going in.