If you, like many others, want to venture into the backcountry next season there really is no place better to go than Revelstoke Mountain Resort in B.C. The resort boasts some incredible raw terrain - it is the resort with the highest vertical in North America (1713m). With only 7% of the terrain being aimed at beginners, it is a playground for powder hounds that seek fresh lines, moguls and alpine bowls and is aimed largely at riders looking for that backcountry experience. We had a chat with Angus McLean-Wilson, a tail guide for cat/heli-ski operations, come guide, come snow addict to find out what he had to say about the incredible mountain firsthand.
What makes Revelstoke's backcountry stand out?
It has to be the access and the amount of snow. We are pullled in the columbia valley between the Monashee and Selkirk ranges quite literally surrounded with options. This helps us choose the best aspects and elevations so we can almost always have an objective where there is good snow to be found.
What has been your most memorable backcountry experience in Revelstoke?
It's hard to pick one! Being able to tour up by head light and have a fresh lap at dawn before work is pretty great. Hiking up to glaciers on Canada Day (1st July) and riding in shorts is pretty fun too. I really think that getting some friends together and heading to a backcountry hut or winter camping is about the best though. It's pretty great to have a base camp where you can really un-plug and just go out and explore, either that or shredding lines with selkirk-tangiers heli-skiing - that definitely doesn't suck.
What can you expect on a cat-ski day in Revelstoke?
Cat skiing is fun. We meet in the morning and head up on an avalanche safety briefing. This is a good way to get to know the team and get an idea of how we will move as a group out there. The atmoshpere changes from group to group and throughout the day. In the back of the cat after a run or two everyone is full of laughs, then later in the afternoon everyone is quite mellow as they chill out and have some food between runs. We don't stop for lunch, we just ride powder until the lifts are almost closed, then we take a run down North America's largest vertical and head to the bar. Apres snacks are taken care of and we grab a few pints!
What level of rider would suit the Revelstoke terrain/whole backcountry experience?
You should be comfortable riding in trees, getting up out of deep snow and fine with keeping a bit of speed. You should be a team player since the group safety and the pace of the day is a shared responsibility. Most of all you should just try to enjoy it. It's a fantastic experience. As far as fitness goes, cat skiing can be strenuous so give yourself some time to get your mountain legs at the beginning of, or before, the season. Some people can find some parts challenging out there and that's normal. A good attitude can go a long way!