Alpine ski touring / split boarding : The Gorge
Beautiful snow, perfectly spaced trees and often easily accessible alpine touring! The Gorge brings together three key ingredients for a fantastic winter adventure on touring skis or splitboards!
Located between Revelstoke and Sicamous, about 14km up a forest service road, the location is accessible in a day trip from towns and cities in the Okanagan. The major catch is – only when winter logging operations are active, meaning the forest service road will be plowed. If there is no active winter logging, it is possible to access the area by sledding up the unplowed forest service road. Since there is active logging when the forest service road is plowed, avoid weekdays unless you have a VHF radio to indicate your position on the road to industrial traffic.
There are four common starting points. The most used is at the 14.5km point on the logging road. Watch for the yellow kilometer markers posted on the side of the road to track the distance as you go. 16km and 17km are also great options, 19km is the final access point. The road is wide enough at these points for the plows to clear a parking area for recreation users on the shoulder of the road. All starting points provide slightly different variations for playing in the area, and you can reach a common summit from all of them. If it is your first time to the area, stop at the 14.5km point and find a small kiosk with avalanche terrain information. Most of the area is rated either simple (green) or challenging (blue), with small pockets of complex (black).
The slopes closest to the road have scattered patches of younger trees, but what makes this area special is the Engelmann Spruce perfectly spaced for powder turns! Sprinkle in some Monashee powder and this place becomes truly magical!
There are steeper and less steep options, making this a great area for all levels of alpine ski touring and split boarding. As a bonus, this is one of few areas where you do not end up skiing on your up track for the final descent back to the parking area. Study up a topo map of the area to plan your route and/or go with someone who is familiar with the area. Generally speaking, from the road it takes about 1.5hrs of skinning to reach a primary summit with several descent options, and there is also a further secondary summit with a few more options. Two or three laps is typical for a day trip. Of course, there are many more options than just those – The Gorge is your oyster!!
RAD adventure tip: call the Louisiana-Pacific office in Malakwa to find out the current forest service road conditions – (250) 836-3100.
When to go: early December to early April – when the forest service road is plowed.
Trip rating: B3
Access: Travel east from Sicamous on Highway 1 for 31km (about 20 minutes), turn left off the highway onto Lybarger Rd. (see coordinates below). Or, travel west from Revelstoke on Highway 1 for 50km (about 40 minutes) and turn right on Lybarger Rd. Stay on Lybarger road until you reach the obvious Forest Service Road start on your right (see coordinates below).
Turnoff from Hwy 1: N50.96968°, W118.73142°
Start of the Gorge Forest Service Road: N50.96715°, W118.73622°
14.5km Trailhead: N51.03771°, W118.81390°