POSTCARD FROM SUN PEAKS
- Kisia Cove, Sun Peaks
Tuesday April 4, 2017 - Email this article to a friend
Some people are happy to see the back of winter, but not us. Quite simply we cannot get enough. PlanetSKI has been in Sun Peaks, Canada, for a spot of spring skiing.
My base for my short trip to Canada is Sun Peaks, or Tod Mountain as it's referred to locally.
It sits at the foothills of the Rockies, slightly inland from Vancouver.
It's the second largest ski area in Canada after Whistler with 4,270 acres (16 square kilometres) spread across three peaks, and it's a popular spot with British skiers.
The three peaks are Tod Mountain, Mount Morrisey and Sundance Mountain.
In 2012, 500 acres were added bringing the skiing terrain up to 4,270 acres, providing more fun on ungroomed terrain.
It's a thing in US and Canadian resorts where you can ski vast terrain of ungroomed slopes that are "inbound ", enjoying the ungroomed powder and knowing that if something goes wrong your insurance remains valid and the slopes have been decreed safe by the authorities.
And, there's a lot to be said for late-season skiing at Sun Peaks.
The slopes are quieter, the days are longer, and the temperature is meant to be milder - though I'm not entirely convinced on that score.
In the last couple of days of March the temperature varied from a warm +5ºC at village level, to a cold -10ºC at the top of the mountain, but I imagine it gets much colder in the heart of winter.
Luckily I had put on extra wool layers of Icebreaker kit for added warmth.
-10ºC among the Snow Ghosts at the top of Sun Peaks - Late March 2017
The conditions, especially this year, are snow sure and I'm loving being in British Columbia in the spring.
So what's the downside?
Frankly, I can only think of one - jetlag, and for me, that was manageable.
Armed with my Arnica 30, a homeopathic remedy for jetlag, I seemed to be doing OK.
Sun Peaks - empty slopes, and plenty of snow (March 2017)
Sun Peaks - empty slopes and plenty of fresh snow (March 2017)
We saw more clouds and snow flurries than sun, but it peeped out momentarily.
Winter did not want to leave.
The weather cycle was like groundhog day, and I loved it.
Every morning was like deep winter, with either snow falling or a fresh layer of snow on the ground, then by mid to late afternoon the snow became softer and the air warmer, with the snow becoming almost slushy at the bottom.
By early evening there were tell-tale signs of a gentle thaw.
But, the next morning we were back in the depths of winter with another 6cm-10cm of fresh snow.
I checked back on the daily snow reports I've been receiving all season and this seems to be the norm.
They have been getting similar daily top ups for weeks.
Sun Peaks village is at 1,255m and its highest point is at 2,080m.
Its terrain is 16 square kilometres, (4,270 acres) and offers a great mixture of blacks, reds, and greens - something for everyone.
Its longest run is 8 km long, it's a gentle green run that meanders for 5 miles down to the village - it's called the 5 Mile run!
Easy green or something more challenging?
We explored all three ski hills, attempting most of the runs the mountain could offer in the short space of time we had in the area.
With poor visibility on occasions, we even ventured in among the pine trees for a spot of adventure with some very deep powder in places.
The resort hosts FIS Speed Skiing, Dew Tour and, for the first time in 2017, the Austrian Snowbombing music festival is taking its festival over to Canada.
It's got one infamous black run, 'Headwalls", that is the annual slope for the FIS Speed Skiing competition.
This year the race took place in the first week of March, but it had to be delayed for a couple of days until the weather lifted.
Sun appeared for a moment - Heading to 'Headwalls'
We stood at the top of Headwalls and looked down.
Looking down Headwalls.... steep!
Looking up at Headwalls - it looked even steeper
Looking up at Headwalls - it looked even steeper!
Posing for effect in a monochrome landscape
Sun Peaks is accessed by two airport gateways - Kamloops (45 minutes drive to resort) and Kelowna (2.5 hours) and also by car - only a four hour drive separates Sun Peaks and Vancouver, British Columbia.
We flew in from Vancouver to Kamloops on a short flight on a charming yet noisy Bombardier Dash 8-300 aircraft with twin propellers, and then had an easy transfer up the mountain.
It snowed as we arrived at Tod Mountain as it's called affectionately by the locals, and it snowed as we departed. During our stay we saw a little sunshine, but not much.
As well as the lovely skiing, one thing that will stick in my mind was the unusual massage I treated myself to one evening after skiing - a Hydro-Massage.
It was probably the most relaxing 15 minutes of my season.
Somewhat naively, I was expecting to get wet as it's a hydro-massage!
But no such thing.
I lay down fully clothed on an inflated water-bed complete with my heavy walking boots and I was to remain... dry!
Fully clothed enjoying a Hydro massage - March 2017
For 15 minutes, powerful waves or jets of hot water travelled up and down the water bed beneath my torso, pummelling my body.
Head phones were necessary to block out the hydro-noise and to offer some relaxing water-music. 😎
A touch screen was handy with controls so I could target parts of my body needing more treatment and I could manage the intensity of the pummel from the gentlest massage at level 1, to a vigorous pounding at level 10.
I opted for level 6 and then relaxed for 15 minutes of bliss, and at $20CAN it was a bargain not to be missed.
The Express Spa offers other beauty treatments including speedy mini-manicures and pedicures and quick facials. All the treatments were quick.
You are in a ski resort after all, and don't want to waste or spend (depending on your view) too much valuable ski time being pampered, so a quick treament is the perfect answer.
I'm now back in the UK and reflecting on my brief sojourn to the beautiful hills of Sun Peaks.
I'm still checking the daily snow report and the snow gods continue to provide a regular daily top up of powder - I wonder if the lift operators might consider extending their closing date beyond April 17th?
I look forward to returning again soon to explore Sun Peaks a little more.
Sun Peaks Village (March 2017)
PlanetSKI's editor, James Cove, visited Sun Peaks in February 2016 - Read more here on his epic Road Trip.
Base elevation: 1255 m (4,117 ft)
Longest run: 8 km (5.0 miles)
Top elevation: 2,152 m (7,060 ft)
Vertical: 882 m (2,893 ft)
3 mountains accessed from the village with 4,270 acres of skiable terrain
12 chair lifts and 135 trails with 16 gladed areas
Over 37km groomed & track set Nordic trail
Over 2,000 hours of sunshine annually - we think the sun hours probably refer more to the summer as we didn't see much of it in March.
Sun Peaks, Canada
Crystal Ski Holidays (crystalski.co.uk; 020 8610 3123) offers a week's stay at Nancy Green's Cahilty Lodge and Suites in Sun Peaks from £950 per person (four sharing), from £1048pp (two sharing) including Air Canada flights from London Heathrow via Vancouver to Kamloops and transfers, departing during January 2018. Free ski carriage included.
Connecting flights from all major UK airports available (at a supplement starting from £35).
Special offer: Two-for-one lift pass for selected dates* during 2017/18 season if you book before 15 November 2017 saving from £262. * 3-27 Jan & 3-14 Mar 2018
More information about Sun Peaks
Before travel to Canada, Crystal Ski recommends to download its Ski Explorer App, providing:
- Latest snow reports, piste and resort maps, recommended routes
- GPS tracking
- Find my Friends feature
- Contact details of Crystal Ski team in resort and resort information
See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.
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