Words and Photos:: Bradford McArthur
It’s fall again. You got hyped, waxed your skis or board, watched a few ski films and now have nothing but three runs at the local hill to ride. We’ve all done it, maybe you even just got home from a day at the resort. You woke up early, uploaded to the few available runs with your closest 10 billion other friends, skied a couple times and then waited in line to download and drive home.
Was it worth it? Maybe. Would you do it again tomorrow? Probably not. Have you given up until more snow comes? Sigh…
What if I told you there were other options? That a winter wonderland of powder stashes, snow packed main streets, skiable terrain fully covered, and long fresh groomers was only a few hours from your home. Last weekend I actually visited this Shangri-La of winter dominions and almost didn’t return home. True story.
This magical place is called Sun Peaks, though it was quite a misnomer this time around as it only snowed the whole time. 🙂
I’m like you and was chomping at the bit craving some real skiing, not crowded hills with rain and long download lines. So during work on Friday (let’s be honest, we all do it) my girlfriend Ebba and I hopped on the internet and noticed Sun Peaks had a much larger base than the west coast ski hills and it was only going to continue and snow over the weekend. That’s all we needed. With the hill only 4 hours away and only $190 online for a two-day lift ticket it was a no brainer. Grab the skis, jump in the car, weekend skiing here we come!!
Having lived on BC’s west coast for 5 years now I can’t describe the nostalgic feeling of driving into a town like Sun Peaks that is fully embraced by the old Jack Frost. Sidewalks and roads covered in snow, actual cold on my face, why did I move to the Raincoast? Life decisions aside we slept for the night and were up and ready for the first uploads.
That next morning, giddy and rosy from the cold we’re shouting “give me the summit!”, and hop on the first lift to be whisked up up and away.
Linking up with our friend Corry Bondini we are taken to her secret/not so secret powder stashes. Turns out there just aren’t the amount of crowds out here lapping runs like we’re used to on the coast. We proceed to spend the rest of the day flowing down powder runs that finish with a great high speed groomer runout. Take the lift up, powder turns, groomer blasting, pinch yourself (is this real?), repeat.
I think of my friends getting rained on and waiting in the hour long download line I see on Instagram. So glad we drove the extra 2.5 hours.
The next day was Sun Peaks’ famous $5 dollar day. We had been warned it’d be super busy. Turns out it was a bit like waiting for the freezing level on the west coast to come down, it never happened. All we noticed was more smiles, and an ambient increase in winter stoke. While tightening our boots before a run we bumped into Luciano and his friend Adrian from Ecuador who were actually enjoying their first day ever snowboarding.
Luciano couldn’t contain his excitement. “Yeah it’s amazing, first time snowboarding and yeah it’s fun. I’m going to try to come back every week.” His friend Adrian cuts in, “It’s really amazing, I’m coming from Ecuador and this is the first time I try this. We really enjoy it, I had some fun in the powder up there.” Luciano, “Yeah we hiked all the way up there and had some fresh powder, it was amazing.”
Victoria and her boyfriend Chris also came up and couldn’t help but join in the stoke. “It’s just amazing snow here and an amazing village, alpine trees too, better than Australia. There we just have a few sticks and trees, here we got the alpine you know what I mean?”
Oh we definitely know what you mean Victoria.
Saying bye to our new friends we buckle up and spent the rest of our day ripping groomers and seeking out a few more powder stashes. The hot tub and beer from the night before at our hotel combined with all this powder skiing has our legs asking to end the day early. We resist and stay out for “one more run”, followed by, “one more run”, oh ok fine, “let’s just keep skiing”.
All too soon the sun gets lower and we rush to catch the last lift up right at 3:30. Having spent the whole day up high we look forward to one final long wind screaming groomer to the bottom. As we reach the top we smile at each other and head straight to the nearest run gaining speed as we tighten our boots. We’ll be home in a few hours, but right now it feels very very far away.
Faces Of Sun Peaks
Hop on Google Maps and see for yourself, Sun Peaks is definitely the way to go early season. Check it out!