I went to Canada in December for a work trip up in the mountains in British Columbia. It was at Sun Peaks Resort in Bear County, 40 minutes from Kamloops. The place is known as the second Whistler, but with twice as many slopes and half as many people. I could not believe how much space there was and, how much snow. While we were there they’d had the ‘dump of the decade’ meaning that overnight 40cm of snow had fallen, a recent record.
We had a lesson from Olympic Gold medallist Nancy Greene. My lifelong skiing tip from her is to always look ahead. As she shouted up the slopes at me to do so, I realised I was staring at my skis rather than the slope which was scaring my brain as well as my body. That, along with my ‘skis like chips not pizza’ lesson I’d had on the first day from Veronica definitely made me leave a better person, and skier.
One of the many brilliant things about Sun Peaks is that every lift can end in a green run, if you like. Of course there are blue, red and black ones too, but not for the likes of me. On the first day I stuck to the main mountain and on the second I went up to explore The Sticks – the gnarliest one they have for green skiers, so they said. It was beautiful. Almost untouched, the snow was like icing on a cake and a good half metre high. At one point I was having to ski through snow up to my knees. We saw another five people at most for the three miles it was down and it was at least 100m wide. I was going in and out of the trees and had to stop a few times to take the Narnia view in and wonder what I’d done to deserve this.
We stayed in an apartment in the Kookaburra Lodge, which was so amazing I’d love to be able to call it home. The showers had steam room facilities in, there was an amazing kitchen, a huge TV, Wi-Fi and a hot tub. Speaking of the hot tub we tested the rule of no drinking and soon realised why. Drinking in a hot tub gets you pissed and rowdy, I’ll leave that one there.
Another major highlight was dog sledding. We walked up to the Mountain Man Dog Sled Adventures kennels to be greeted by 48 over-excited dogs. I was overwhelmed and slightly terrified. I’m not a good dog person – it’s their unpredictability that freaks me out. I did warm to them by the end, especially after they’d lugged my weight round BC, but still I was apprehensive about cuddling them like my friends did, in fact they wouldn’t let go.
After a 30-minute meet, greet and chat with the dogs and owners I was strapped into the sled and mushed off to explore what the forests of Canada look like. It was absolutely amazing. I had a go at driving and once I relaxed into the dogs rhythm it felt incredible to be pelting along at full speed with just the dogs panting in my ears and the beautiful countryside in my ears.
Just to warn you though, the drive up to Sun Peaks was literally terrifying. I’m talking 1000m drops down the side of enough road for just two cars at a squeeze. The snow was falling and the fog was thick. Signs for random Canadian creatures warned us of the dangers lurking – no room for driver error there. Thankfully we made it up, and back down, with just a little help from a snow plough.