Exiting the Great Divide chair at Sunshine Village on a bluebird day I turned right and there it was: Mt. Assiniboine, also known as Canada’s Matterhorn. It towers above the surrounding mountains in a stunning show of pointy peakiness and skiers are lucky to see it — most days Sunshine is snowed in and the peaks that surround the ski resort on all sides remain hidden. I stopped and admired the view, and repeated that act of grateful acknowledgment at the top of every run.
It had been a couple years since I last skied at Sunshine (if skiing one run in a snowstorm while interviewing Olympian Jan Hudec counts), and I had forgotten about the ski area’s beautiful scenery. Skiers tend to focus on snow conditions — not necessarily views — so I had filed the mental postcards of Sunshine somewhere far back in my long-term memory, along with powdery descents down Delirium Dive and knee-bilitating runs down the bumps on Goat’s Eye Mountain.
But a trip there last weekend to check out the resort’s latest improvements, including Canada’s first heated chairlift, brought all those memories bubbling to the surface. Here are my Top 5 favourite things I’d forgotten I love about Sunshine:
Did I mention the views?
In case you didn’t take the above photo of Mt. Assiniboine seriously, there are similar Alps-like mountains in every direction. It’s like skiing inside a spectacular peaks snow globe.
Best people movers in the Rockies!
New this season is the Teepee Town Luxury Express Quad. Yes, they actually call it that. Each chair has a heated seat that warms your tush and also an orange bubble guard that can be pulled down to protect skiers from the wind. It’s like goggles for the chairlift. The whole experience is rather spa-like, but leaves a girl craving a glass of cucumber water to rehydrate.
Prior to this new chair Sunshine rocked it in the lift department. It also has an awesome rainbow gondola and a moving walkway that helps skiers board the Wawa Quad. The remaining seven chairlifts are also quads (and six of them are high-speed) so you can basically ski the equivalent of a full day in three hours.
There are still steeps and bumps, but these days I prefer to hurtle down the wide-open runs off the Great Divide. It hadn’t snowed in a while when I was there, but Sunshine’s altitude (ranging from 6,000 to about 8,500 feet) helps the snow stay winter-like up high.
Haute cuisine at altitude
Forget about refuelling with burgers and fries. The Eagle’s Nest Canadian Bistro has delicious dishes such as pesto panko-crusted rack of lamb and cedar plank salmon. I loved my west coast black cod with olive tapenade.
Yes, please. I love the convenience of skiing to my room at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge, and savouring mountain views from the balcony. The renovated rooms are comfortable (the lodge is trying to attain 5-star status) and the giant hot tub is the best for apres ski.
I’ll be back Sunshine (and maybe next time I’ll bring the kids)!