Pacific Northwest Ski blog (and a few other places!)

Lots or reports from skiing around the Pacific Northwest, with some East Coast excursions thrown in for good measure

A week at Sun Peaks

After a fairly hectic four months skiing all over western Canada and USA, we decided to do something radical – ski at the same hill for 5 days! As usual, snow-forecast.com was our guide, and it told us to head far north into British Columbia where warmer weather from California wouldn’t penetrate.

We obeyed, looked for deals and ended up at Sun Peaks Resort. ‘5 nights for the price of 4’ at the very pleasant Sun Peaks Lodge sealed the deal. A ski in-out location, nice restaurant and rejuvenating spa and sauna made it an offer too good to refuse.

Monday was a decidedly spring ski day. The excellent visibility, deep soft snow cover and small crowds made for perfect conditions to reacquaint ourselves with the terrain. It’d actually been six years since our last visit, and a lot had changed with two new chairs and a whole new mountain, Mt. Morrisey.

Tuesday dawned cold and vaguely threatening. After a warm up run on a groomer, we ventured down the ungroomed Cruiser, a blue run with a good, consistent fall line. Unfortunately the slush from the previous day had frozen to form rock solid ridges interspersed with death cookies that made the whole experience extra unpleasant. We traversed out as soon as possible, slid to the lift and studied the grooming map. It was not a day to venture off machine prepared snow.

Until the next run.

On the chair ride up, a few scattered snow flakes brushed our faces. By the time we’d skied down, it was dumping snow at an incredible rate. Two runs later there was 3 inches of fluffy powder blanketing the whole resort. By the time we got out of lunch, a full on powder day was declared. It was one of those magical transformations that occasionally the snow gods choose to bestoy upon us.

With so few people on the hill, there was no competition for fresh lines, even on the trails. The gladed areas, where Sun Peak’s terrain really excels, remained lightly tracked all day. In fact, they remained lightly tracked all week, as regular snowfalls and cold temperatures topped up the cover every day until Friday. It made for an absolutely excellent five days of skiing.

Terrain highlights included the many gladed areas around the peak of Tod and the ones cut between the runs off the Sunburst chair. There’s endless lines to explore, easily enough to keep an advanced skier happy for a week. The new black diamonds down from Morrisey are superb, steep, bumpy runs. I lapped Static Cling every afternoon to make sure I earned my apres beers in Bottoms bar at 4pm. And there’s some challenging off-trail runs down through the trees below the Burfield chair mid-station. Start on Freddie’s Nightmare, make your own tracks and see where you end up. It’s great adventure.

Sun Peaks has a lot to offer. It gets light, dry snow, even in March, and there’s plenty of terrain to keep skiers of all abilities happy for a week. It seems to be regularly a little foggy up high on Tod, and the Burfield chair is glacial, but that has the effect of limiting the number of people who venture on to some of the mountain’s best terrain. I personally don’t mind slow chairs and a bit of fog if it means I get fresh snow for days after a storm.

The village is quaint and tasteful. There’s a few decent bars and restaurants, and the locals are friendly and colorful, especially in Bottoms Bar. Overall, it made for a hugely enjoyable, and even slightly relaxing week of skiing.

Trip Summary: 8200m, 8900m, 9100m, 8200m, 8000m

Season totals: 48 days, 21 powder days, 378,500 verts

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