Sponsored by Tourism Sun Peaks
Words by Aaron Theisen
From the top of the Sunburst Express “bubble” quad at British Columbia’s Sun Peaks Resort, my ski partner, Marlie Marchewka—a local snowboarder and unofficial Sun Peaks ambassador for the day—watch morning light stream over Mt. Morrisey, on the far side of the resort.
The lifts don’t start spinning for the public for another hour, but we’ve signed up for the First Tracks program, which offers early-bird access to the mountain.
Cold, dry powder lies underfoot, but I’m almost more excited about the warm sun on my cheeks.
Vitamin D-deficient skiers—and in the Northwest, that’s most of us—have few opportunities for bluebird powder days.
Photo by Bob Christian
Winter storms tend to park in the rows of peaks that comprise the Cascades and Rockies, so socked-in conditions often accompany snow.
Odd as it may seem, sun-seeking skiers should look north for their fix.
Thanks to its location as a high-elevation mountain “island” in the South Thompson region of interior B.C., Sun Peaks lives up to its name; with few surrounding peaks to trap them, storms tend to dump snow, depart, and make way for sun.
As Canada’s second-largest ski area, Sun Peaks sprawls, with more than four thousand acres of skiable terrain and an expansive village. Despite the generous amounts of sunshine, there’s still only so much daylight in which to explore it all.
Photo by Kelly Funk
Thanks to a pair of unique offerings at the resort, skiers can schuss from sun-up to sun-down—and beyond.
The First Tracks program, offered Monday, Wednesday and Saturday throughout the season, is limited to 50 participants each day, so skiers can count on untracked lines in Crystal Bowl. It’s the equivalent of inbounds cat skiing, for only $36CAD—about $27 at current favorable exchange rates.
Offered Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the ski season, the Alpine Fondue and Starlight Descent begins with a twilight chairlift ride to the recently renovated Sunburst Bar & Eatery at mid-mountain. There, guests partake in a three-course Swiss-style fondue dinner: a rich three-cheese blend with bread, potatoes and pineapple (the surprise star); shrimp, steak, chicken and pork, with housemade dipping sauces; and Swiss chocolate with fruit and shortbread. Afterward, they ski back down to the base village via headlamp.
Photo by Kelly Funk
After a fuller-than-average day of skiing, Marlie and I finish off our Sun Peaks circuit on the Mt. Morrisey side of the resort. Revered by the locals, Mt. Morrisey is the best-kept secret of the trio of peaks that comprise the resort. Fast, fall-line black diamond runs hold powder even late in the day, thanks to their north-facing orientation. No matter which of the laundromat-inspired runs—Lint Trap, Tumble Dry, In Tatters—you choose, it’s a white cycle every time.
As I walk through the charming, ski-through (and closed-to-cars) village back to my hotel room, after a ski day that’s spanned from dawn to dark, a young woman flags me down. “Can you take our picture? My boyfriend just proposed to me!” I gladly oblige. Not every day at Sun Peaks ends with diamonds, but every day shines.
Photo by Reuben Krabbe