Friday the 11th, after a great week in Banff, Tim and I packed up Jackie Moon and drove 2 and a half hours to Rogers Pass. It was about 7 pm but already pitch black. We knew there were gigantic mountains all around us, but could only see the dense snowy pine trees along the roadway. It was actually a little intimidating heading into the dark, rugged Rockies.
Once we passed through a few Snow Sheds (Rogers Pass has the largest mobile avalanche control operation in the world), things changed dramatically and it was like we’d driven into a lightbulb. We’d reached the Rogers Pass Discovery Center.
While it feels like it should be remote and desolate, the top of Rogers Pass was brightly lit with a beautiful visitors’ center, an army encampment stationed for avalanche control, and lots of camping backcountry skiers & boarders. We were impressed with the rigs, standard popups with full wood stoves! There was a split board festival going on so the parking lot was busy with boarders eating dinner and talking about their ski days.
Tim and I made some friends, but declined the invite to go to the army camp “bar” for a drink. Instead we tucked into our parking spot near the other campers for a good night’s sleep before our morning backcountry adventure.
The next day the parking lot got very crowded. After multiple days of snow, the sun was out, and people were excited to start hiking. Tim and I went to get our backcountry passes and go exploring.
That afternoon, we drove the remaining 40 miles into Revelstoke. This has long been a bucket list place for Tim to visit. Known by some as “Jackson Hole 20 years ago,” we were eager to check out the town.
Having had good luck with street parking in Banff, we decided to test out a few nights in “Revy” (as the locals would say). Parked just one block from Main Street, we blended in just fine.
Once we’d established the lay of the land, we needed something to eat. We were starving. And it was time to finally try some Poutine! So we walked to Chubby Funsters, the first of many delicious restaurants that we would experience in Revelstoke. Chubby’s had it all, a creative menu, great cocktails, and the NFL playoff games. We met some enthusiastic Canadian Dallas fans and enjoyed the game.
And of course we ordered Poutine! Here is a little write up from Wikipedia on this treat which is best enjoyed after a winter day in the mountains.
Poutine (/puːˈtiːn/ is a dish originating from the Canadian province of Quebec in the late 1950’s, consisting of French fries and cheese curds topped with a brown gravy. For many years, it was negatively perceived and mocked, and even used as a means of stigmatization against Quebec society. Later, poutine became celebrated as a symbol of Québécois cultural pride, and its rise in prominence led to popularity outside the province, especially in the rest of Central Canada, in the Northeastern United States and even Japan.
Annual poutine celebrations occur in Montreal, Quebec City, and Drummondville, as well as Toronto, Ottawa, Chicago, and Manchester, New Hampshire. Today, it is often identified as quintessential Canadian food and has been called “Canada’s national dish”…
After a huge meal and celebratory evening, we were slow moving the next day. But it was Sunday and our chance to ski a full day at Revelstoke, so despite the gloomy, gray skies, we rallied to the mountain. Everyone had told us to go immediately to the top of the mountain, so we hopped on the Gondola…
Revy isn’t known for its inversions, but WOW did we ever luck out. Halfway up the mountain, we broke through the clouds. It would be a bluebird powder day at one of Canada’s best ski resorts.
That night I had one request. We had skied for several days and all I wanted to do was find a place to stay with a hot tub. Boulder Mountain Resort – camping open year-round – couldn’t have been better.
That week we explored the great places to stay and eat in Revelstoke. We spent a few nights at an AirBNB, skied during the days and worked during the evenings. We felt right at home in this vibrant town. It was full of passionate skiers, mountain bikers, hipsters and incredible food. This page from the Rogers Pass Ski Book sums up the ethos of Revy:
Dose Coffee, our new favorite coffee shop, was yet another great discovery:
On our final night, we decided to take Revelstoke Mountain up on their generous “free camping for one night” offer. This is actually fairly unusual, but the Mountain has a designated lot for camping.
After another phenomenal Revy ski day, it was time to leave town. We had another yummy meal at the ski bum bar The Village Idiot to celebrate our last night.
The next morning we drove back to Roger’s Pass. This time it was daylight and we were better able to capture some of the amazing peaks on the way.
I took a hiatus from skiing the next day, but Tim ventured far into the hills, with some amazing views and even better powder skiing!
Our Canadian ski adventure was winding down, but we were in no hurry to leave. We decided to make one last stop. Though it wasn’t included on our Ikon Passes, we couldn’t drive through Golden BC and not spend a day skiing Kicking Horse. So we drove down from Rogers Pass and located the restaurant with the best poutine reviews in Golden.
We were not disappointed by the Wolf’s Den, “unrefined dining at its finest”. I know it seems like we keep talking about food…but who knew Canadian cuisine was this good? Another well-kept secret about this magical place.
After a night watching the NFL (Canadians like their football as well), enjoying open mic night and learning about the area from the locals, the waitress came up to us. “You all are from Jackson Hole, right?”
“Yep”, we responded.
“So are those guys.” She pointed to the corner. We walked over to the table and sure enough, saw our friend Don who’d just come back from a heliskiing vacation. Small world.
That morning, we woke up early and drove to the resort. Just as we arrived a helicopter lifted off with a crew of clients. Maybe next year :).
We had another sunny day at the mountain. Kicking Horse is known for its many bowls and hikeable terrain. Tim explored the entire mountain, while I played inbounds.
We wrapped up the day with a bloody Mary at the highest restaurant in Canada, the Eagles Eye. We’d met the builder the night before. This was not an easy place to get to. Building this in the 60’s was an impressive accomplishment and he was justifiably proud.
That evening it was back to the States. We had Palooza to plan for…