It’s been almost a year ago that we’ve chosen Revelstoke as our first destination of our round the world trip. We’ve been sitting on a balcony in Italy late in May 2015, looked at the various candidates and thought: let’s go to Revelstoke. Our criteria? Decent skiing (well, Revelstoke boasts the highest vertical drop in all or North America – check. Four lifts? Hmmmm.), a proper village (the population is a bit less than 8000 people – check.), good schooling for Molly and Max (three elementary schools in Revelstoke – check.) and affordable accommodation (we found a place to stay on Airbnb for an acceptable rate – check). We got in touch with schools and skiclub with very encouraging exchanges – it started to feel good. Nevertheless, we tried to manage our expectations, particularly with regards to the ski resort (thinking if it’s not that great we can still hop around to other places) and had hopes that we and the kids would meet a few nice people.
Boy, were we up for a surprise! We arrived on Friday, the 18th of December 2015. Saturday was a training day at the ski club, so Max was quite keen to meet the boys and girls he was going to ski with for the next few months. I drove him to the hill and met his coaches: Gill, Filip, Ben and the two Mikes from Ontario and Austria. The following day was Molly’s first training day and we met a whole bunch of people from the ski club and other parents. Pleasantries were exchanged with a few “uh, we have to meet up for dinner/beer/skiing” – I took that for the usual make-you-feel good, but unfortunately rather superficial approach of your typical US American. Little did I know that Canadians are different! Much different! Phone numbers were exchanged and when we came to the ski hill on Monday it took just a few minutes until the first SMS arrived: “You at the hill? Wanna meet up?” – ‘course we did! That was when Darrell gave us a first rated tour around Revelstoke Mountain Resort and we got a first impression of the incredible possibilities on this ski hill. Anna and I were so delighted – we couldn’t believe our luck. Everything was there: enormous amounts of snow and great skiing all around with everything from wide pleasant meadowy lines to steep, narrow couloirs. But – above all: an incredible friendly, enthusiastic, ski crazed community, with all people open, fun and – my impression – happy with their choice to live the ski life in Revelstoke. Thus, my little review starts with the aspect, that I loved most here – the people! Shendra and Chris arranged a fantastic farewell BBQ for us at their incredible place right at the Columbia river – and all our friends, who we had the pleasure to meet in this quarter of a year in BC were there!
It was quite hard to leave Revelstoke after this intense period – our little family had grown to a very relaxed and happy team with a fun driven life powered by new friends and an incredible ski hill.
When we arrived in December it pretty much snowed every night between 5 and 15 cm – and since it was pretty cold (minus 18 in the village was quite tough) the snow was the total powder dream. It looked great in the village:
And even better on the hill:
The photo above shows clouds hanging over the village, but the view on top was fantastic. While I don’t usually suffer driving to work in my normal life in Munich I have to admit that here in Revelstoke I usually got into the car with an extra spring in my step.
Usually it wasn’t very crowded at the workplace – but we had the odd exception:
One note about queuing in Canada, or at least in the ski resorts we had the pleasure to ski in: it’s civilised. If two lines merge into one everybody will make sure that people move alternately from the two merging lines. In general, if somebody started queuing behind oneself this order will be observed. The European (certainly in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France) style of pushing oneself through a row of enemies to the top of the queue doesn’t happen. To me that takes a lot of stress out a line: if I don’t have to put out my elbows to prevent a group of drunk Dutchmen to sneak past me in the lift queue, if I don’t have to make sure that I close the smallest gap at a turn in the queue to avoid a Bogner clad Westphalian sneaking past me I feel so much better.
Talking about feeling better: I remember with fondness (leave aside the fact that a lot of people showed up) the family weekend in British Columbia and Alberta. Monday was a bank holiday to create a long weekend which allowed families to spend some time together – what a nice and contemporary type of bank holiday! Not that I really mind a day off to celebrate the fact that 2000 years ago a guy ascended to heaven, even though I struggle with the fact that a society that supports such believes penalises the recreational use of a certain type of mushroom or other substances which stimulate the perception of miracles.
As opposed to this sort of hypocrisy the approach to natural recreational substances in British Columbia is much more straight forward. Nobody seems to give a flying monkey about the occasional reefer or the hemp forest in the back yard – having seen societies where even a drop of alcohol has been criminalised (leading to limitless excesses) I surely appreciate a sensible take on human’s desire to broaden or numb one’s mind.
Revelstoke, albeit not as pretty as, say, Zermatt in Switzerland, has its beautiful sides. The solid brick buildings in downtown Revelstoke give the village a very nice flair.
And, of course, the Columbia river is a rather dominant part of this part of the world and adds a lot of beauty to landscape and towns.
While Revelstoke is mostly about skiing let’s not kid ourselves: Canada is about hockey! With the mountains and skills I have seen Canada’s alpine team should be unbeatable – but alpine skiing is far from being the hot sport – hockey rules.
Seeing these youngsters playing was impressive – despite the fact that everybody told me that it was “just” the Junior B league.
Now, that was a long and rambling post. I didn’t even get closed to remotely describe the excitement and fun we had in Revelstoke – to a large extent due to this fantastic community with its great people. Thank you, Revelstoke. Just like my Austrian neighbour who moved to California I’d like to say: I’ll be back!