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by Vicki Andersen   February 1, 2010

  We emerged from the hut at the Top of the World into a muted atmosphere surrounded by ghosts, their heads bowed low beneath a deep mantle of white. Before us, a plethora of black diamonds beckoned us onward and downward, making our hearts race in anticipation.  
  Sun Peaks   Sun Peaks  
The ski patrol hut at the Top of the World photo by Vicki Andersen
From 6,824 feet at the Top of the World, snowsliders can choose among 180-degrees of descents photo by Vicki Andersen
  As tens of thousands of sports enthusiasts make their way to the Coastal mountains of British Columbia for the 2010 Winter Olympics, in the interior of BC snow-sliders-in-the-know will indulge in many of the same activities but without the hype or crowds. They'll find better weather, drier snow, gorgeous scenery, and a tranquil ambience.  
  Sun Peaks village   Sun Peaks village  
Nearly all the runs drift artlessly back to the base areas (photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort & Adam Stein)
The clock tower serves as a point of reference for much of the Village (photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort & Adam Stein)

The first lift and day lodge went up in 1961 at a day-skier destination known as Tod Mountain. Nothing wrong with that name unless you speak German, in which “tod” translates as “death” or “doomed”. Not too endearing a moniker for a place you'd like to expand and cultivate into something that takes central stage in a winter sports-lover's fantasy.

Thirty years later it was renamed Sun Peaks, and some of the folks who helped put Whistler on the map took part in developing it into a beloved destination resort.

  Mt. Tod   Mt. Morrisey  
The upper reaches of Mt. Tod are cloaked with black diamond trails and bowls (photo by Vicki Andersen)
Mt. Morrisey features a network of cruisers carved through the glades (photo by Vicki Andersen)
  Lifts ascend three mountains in a semi-circle from the Village. Aptly named 5 Mile Run meanders down the draw between the peaks of Sundance and Tod Mountains. Snowboarders love how the trails flow together without pesky, flat traverses.  
  Sun Peaks Coquihalla   Sun Peaks Crystal Bowl  
With122 runs, two bowls and 12 gladed areas spread across 3,678 acres, there's enough terrain to satisfy a week of exploration, but not so massive as to be confusing (photo by Vicki Andersen)

Powder-encrusted snow-ghosts decorate the entrance to Crystal Bowl's expanse of black diamond delight (photo by Vicki Andersen)



Uphill capacity exceeds 12,000 people per hour thanks to three express quads, two quads, a triple and five surface lifts. About the only lift line I encountered was the morning after a 6” deposit of fluff as light as I've ever encountered in Utah or Colorado.

Eager sliders started gathering at the Sunburst Express about 20 minutes before they cranked up the bullwheels, and within a few blinks of the eye, the lift line had disappeared. These sliders didn't seem to be on the trails either, as my first three runs garnered me first tracks on three different black diamond delights. Skier's left off the Sunburst Express, black diamond runs drop in enchanting procession, while skier's right reveals a march of blue cruising trails.

  Sun Peaks Terrain Park   Sun Peaks Snowboarding  

A nine-acre terrain park includes separate zones for novice, intermediate and expert riders (photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort & Dom Koric)

Because of its location in the interior of BC, snow falls lighter and drier than in the Coastal Mountains (photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort & Corey Wiwchar)

  Park stylers - you can start out in the beginner section with five rails and two small jumps. When you're comfortable with that, progress to the blue-level area with at least eight rails and a variety of other features. Once that is mastered, try the back-to-back 60-foot jumps. Or pat yourself on the back, wipe the grin off your face, and go find some more powder stashes.  
  Sun Peaks Nordic skiing   Sun Peaks skiing  
Nordic enthusiasts have 28 kilometers of track set trails and 21 kilometers of ungroomed backcountry paths (photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort & Adam Stein)

Annual snowfall averages 220 inches, usually of the powder variety (photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort & Adam Stein)

  The Morrisey Express lift provides access to the groomed and track-set Holy Cow cross country trail, winding its way off Mt. Morrisey towards McGillivray Lake. Here you will find the lakeside Outpost, open daily as a rest stop and warm-up cabin.  
  Sun Peaks fondue   Sleigh ride at Sun Peaks  
After a fondue dinner at the Sunburst Restaurant, don headlamps, grab your glow sticks and follow your guide back to the Village along a torch-lit trail (photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort & Adam Stein)

A leisurely outing by horse-drawn sleigh meanders through the valley and along the golf course (photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort & Adam Stein)

  Sun Peaks has thoughtfully provided day lodges in strategic sites so a break for downhill snowsliders isn't out of reach. The mid-mountain Sunburst Lodge has great food and a sizable outdoor deck. The Village day lodge includes restaurant, bar, retail and rental shops, Adventure Centre, and ski school and guest services desks. Bento's offers a cafeteria and boot change area. The Burfield day lodge contains restaurant, bar and boot change area. Most importantly, all have restrooms  
  Sun Peaks snowmobiling   Sun Peaks snowshoeing   Sun Peaks tubing park   Sun Peaks snowbiking
Snowmobilers are enticed with an assortment of trails as well as play areas including Cahility Meadow and McGillivary Lake (photo by Vicki Andersen)
An extensive trail system invites snowshoers to explore off the beaten path (photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort & Adam Stein)
Work off excess energy in the Tube Park or on the Bungee Trampoline (photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort & Adam Stein)
The snow biking adventure is truly a "must-do experience" for skiers and boarders. (photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort & Adam Stein)
  Sun Peaks broomball   Sun Peaks velocity skiing   Sun Peaks Wine Festival   Sun Peaks village

The Sports Centre includes a lighted outdoor ice rink, perfect for a fast-paced game of broomball or hockey, or a chance to show off your choctaws and toe loops(photo by Vicki Andersen)


The only such event in North America, the Velocity Challenge FIS World Cup Speed Skiing has been drawing competitors from nearly a dozen countries for the past two decades, whose competitors reach speeds of 175 kilometers per hour in just seven seconds (photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort & Adam Stein)

Winter Wine Festival: With culinary events, wine tastings and educational seminars, the Winter Wine Festival pays homage to the Okanagan region's Ice wine and other renown varietals (photo courtesy Sun Peaks Resort & Adam Stein)


Village: Evening transforms the ski-through Village into a magical kingdom (photo by Vicki Andersen)




  Ski season runs Thanksgiving to mid-April, conditions permitting. Lifts include three express quads, two quad lifts, one triple chair and five surface lifts. Skiable vertical is 2891', base elevations 4117' (Village) and 3,390' (Burfield base area), top elevation 6824' (Top of the World), summit elevation 7060' (Mt. Tod). Longest run 5 miles. 122 runs including 12 gladed areas plus two bowls on 3678 acres. Alpine terrain rated 10% green-novice, 58% blue-intermediate, 32% black-expert. Nordic terrain rated 33% green-beginner, 50% blue-intermediate and 17% black-expert. For More Information: Central Reservations 800-807-3257, Guest Services 250-578-5474, Adventure Centre 250-578-5542, Kamloops snow phone 250-578-7232, Web Site, E-Mail  
  Vicki Andersen can be reached at:  

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