Revelstoke Mountain Resort is increasing its lift capacity by almost a third after once again setting a new record for skier visits this winter.
“We saw some good visitation increase. We really saw growth in our mid-week visitation,” said Peter Nielsen, the resort’s vice president of operations. “It really indicates the shift in demographics to destination skiers. That’s where you saw our growth, that’s where our growth has to come from.”
RMR had a banner 2016-17, not only in terms of visitors, but also in terms of snowfall. According to the resort’s own historical snowfall tracker, this has been its snowiest winter yet, with 1,215 centimetres of white stuff falling on the mountain — just edging out the winter of 2010-11.
It was also colder than usual, and the mountain was skiable to the base right up to closing day — a far cry from last year when an unusually warm spring melted most of the snow below the Stoke by season’s end.
RMR doesn’t make any of their numbers public, but the feeling everywhere you went in town this summer was that the resort and the community was busier than ever.
Photo: A line of hikers ascends to the summit of Mount Mackenzie on the final day of the season at RMR.
As Nielsen put it —think of what it was like trying to get a table at a restaurant on a Wednesday. “If we can fill Wednesday’s, that’s when we’re doing our jobs well because Wednesday’s are hard to fill.”
The other way to look at it was to wait in line on a powder morning and watch as it routinely stretched into the middle parking lot, and sometimes beyond. On Friday, Dec. 30, the resort had its busiest day ever, with more than 4,000 skier visits — and you could tell.
“It can be shocking to see a big lineup in the morning,” said Nielsen. “Honestly, after people have skied it, you don’t hear a lot of complaints.”
As a result of the numbers, RMR said it is adding 24 new cabins to the Revelation Gondola and 21 chairs to the Stoke Chair. Combined, the additions will increase the resort’s lift capacity to 9,700 skiers per hour from 7,299 skiers per hour.
Nielsen acknowledged the new gondola cabins cost $60,000 each. “This is a multi-million dollar investment in infrastructure. It’s a vast increase when it all adds up,” he said. “It’s going to address bottleneck concerns, particularly on our busiest days.”
The resort also announced it is looking at cutting a run that will connect the top of the gondola to the Ripper Chair to help spread out skiers. There is a road that goes that way, but it includes some uphill sections and is only used as an access road by mountain staff.
When asked, Nielsen said they are looking at more glading and possibly opening up new terrain, though nothing was certain.
Photo: Colin and his father David Labonte get a chocolate from the Easter Bunny at RMR on Sunday.
Summer operations expanding
As part of its announcement last week, RMR said it will be opening up the gondola to the top this summer. There, visitors will be able to walk a trail to a viewing platform that overlooks the Columbia River valley and the Monashee Mountains.
Nielsen said options, including mountain biking, will expand over the years. “We’ll be trail building all summer long to keep expanding that. The hiking and biking product is going to be an evolution over time.”
A ride up the gondola will cost $35 for an adult and $18 for children 6-12. A package including a ride up the gondola, a breakfast buffet and a ride on the Pipe mountain coaster will be $69 for adults and $36 for children.
The price of a ride on the Pipe has increased to $25 from $19.