Nic Harvey and Roland Morley-Brown loaded up the sleds and hightailed it to Revelstoke, Canada to explore a new sled area and find a real redneck.
When one thinks of sledding in Canada it’s quite hard to look past the Whistler backcountry. With all of its glory, professional crews in abundance, celebrities frequenting the village and nightlife areas it’s easy to see why so many people get caught up in the bubble that is Whistler.
The interior of British Columbia on the other hand is the inbred little brother of whistler. For every pro snowboarder in Whistler, the interior has a flannelette-wearing, sorrel-stomping, heavily bearded maniac that no one has ever heard of, that sends it equally as big, parties twice as hard and skins his own squirrels for dinner.
Our trip started off when Roland Morley-Brown (RMB) arrived in Whistler and linked up with fellow rider Nic Harvey (myself) and photographer Ryan Anderson (Ryza), with plans of heading to Trout Lake, BC for a few days of sledding, and to hopefully find this elusive mountain man and his squirrels.
Our first roadblock in the trip was figuring out how to load two sleds onto the back of Ryza’s truck. After googling “two sleds, one truck” and getting autocorrected to a strange site with girls and cups, we resorted to plan B – a little bit of Aussie ingenuity.
I was surprised how quickly Kiwis, RMB and Ryza, bought into the Aussie ingenuity method and we were quickly on our way to the gas station with the sleds scissoring on the back of the truck.
While I brought the brains, the Kiwis brought a bit of luck with them as Ryza’s mate and local Whistler pro Andrew Geeves was filling up on gas next to us and was kind enough to offer his sled trailer after noticing our sketchy setup.
With trucks and sleds full of gas, a new trailer and our Tinder radius set to 100 miles we were off to Trout Lake via the windy mountainous roads north of Whistler.
Talk in the truck was minimal as Ryza’s two 12” subs did most of the talking; pumping out the sweet sounds of Lil’ Debbie, Riff Raff and Gucci Mane, getting us through the majority of the journey.
We were greeted by roadblock #2 in the small town of Cache Creek. With wifi a valuable commodity, and hard to find in the sparse winter wilderness of interior BC, a strange motel carpark was our first stop.
While RMB and I filtered through our Tinder matches Ryza greeted us with the bad news that our Trout Lake guides had to cancel at the last second. With nowhere to go, and nowhere to stay we decided the best option was a six pack of Colt 45s and to continue east, deeper into sled territory.
With the shot clock running out we managed to hustle a room in Revelstoke, two hours north of our original destination. We rolled in at 2 in the morning and after winning Roshambo RMB got the bed to himself while I spooned Ryza.
An early wake up and sledding was the plan for our first day. RMB had organized Kiwi turned Revy local, Scott Heale, to show us around.
We first saw Scott at the gas station in town. He rolled up in his big truck with his big sled, and while he wasn’t wearing a flannel or sporting a large beard, we hadn’t heard of him so could Scott have been the mysterious mountain man we were looking for?
Scott had been living in Revy for the past six years, working the oil fields in the north of Alberta for the summers so he can sled and snowboard all winter. Almost an enigma to the “scene” Scotty has been nestled away in this small mountain town, sending it off big cliffs, charging down pillow fields and making Canadian girls weak at the knees like a seasoned pro. Word is he even brews his own moonshine out of maple leafs and beaver tails.
After stocking up on Tim Hortons (Coffee shop) Scott took us up to the Boulder Mountain sled access point, an “easily accessed area with plenty of zones.” He wasn’t wrong about either of those and as we emerged from the groomed cat track we were exposed to the sound of brand new turbo charged sleds as far as the eye could see.
People take their sledding seriously around these parts as can be seen by their setups; six-wheeled trucks with massive trailers, carrying between 4 and six sleds. Most of these guys don’t even bother with taking their boards up as they are here strictly for snowmobiling. This really made our setup look rookie in comparison.
Scott took us to a zone with multiple cliff bands curling around a large bowl. With Scott doubling us up and down RMB quickly spotted a pat down and sent a front 3 and front 5 off a couple spots. We worked our way around the cliff bands both hitting lines we picked out.
We could tell Scott was getting edgy to hit some features so after a few laps ferrying us up he picked out his own lines and showed us how the locals do it. You could definitely tell he had been here before and hitting natural lines was his area of expertise.
he picked out his own lines and showed us how the locals do it. You could definitely tell he had been here before and hitting natural lines was his area of expertise.
The clouds rolled in and we decided to go check some other zones where Scott had built a jump a few days prior. Our timing seemed off all day and as we rolled in the sun came out for the build but disappeared when it was time to hit it. That Kiwi luck had worn off. We all hit the jump and made our way down as the sun was setting.
With the American college basketball tournament well under way we made our way to the Village Idiot in Revelstoke for dinner, beers and sports. The town itself seemed like a ghost town but the Idiot was filled to capacity.
Crammed into the corner of the bar we all ordered the “Kitchen Sink” burger. A vegans worst nightmare, a chicken breast, a beef patty, turkey bacon, pig bacon, egg and salad, all with a side of fries. A must do for any visit to Revy.
Day two saw a 5:30am wake up to head out to a new sled zone of Sale Mountain. A drive out to the north of Revelstoke Dam and if you blinked you would have missed the access point. Light rain greeted us at the entry but as we climbed higher the rain stopped and turned to light snow and we even found some patches of sun.
We had heard of pillows in this area and it didn’t disappoint with the first zone we saw a number of pillow line options, as well as a natural hip and a bowl. Again the word of the day was “window shopping” as we waited for the rare patches of sun that showed itself between the cloudy periods.
While chilling at the bottom of the zone a sled poked its front over the top of the pillow lines. The driver briefly scoped his line before charging down the pillows. One miscalculation later and he was thrown into the air with his sled doing a full flip, narrowly avoiding a decapitation.
With a bit of a dig he made his way down to where we were standing. “Kinda gnarly eh?” said the victim as he removed his helmet. A fresh faced, 19 year old boy, is not who I was expecting to be dropping a line like that on a sled.
After dusting himself off and making a few adjustments to his sled he decided to make his way back up and get redemption on the line that almost left him severely injured or worse. We all decided to move our sleds and ourselves well away from the run-out area in case of another likely mishap.
The boy proceeded to send it even bigger off one of the pillows, landed it clean made his way to us and cracked a beer to celebrate his achievements. We went on to find out that it was his first season on a sled, and his mum had asked one of the more seasoned locals to give him a job and look out for him as she feared he would kill himself if he had no one watching over him.
While this kid is not what we expected, in a way it summed up the classic Canadian sledneck. He may not have had the mountain beard but he definitely had a screw or two loose, which you need to have if you want to take your sled down pillow lines.
While Scott didn’t quite have a screw loose he knew his way around his sled. Between doubling RMB and myself up to the spots and digging our sleds out he was kept quite busy. Ryza somehow managed to get his sled stuck in the famous 12’oclock position while charging up a face.
After milking the pillow lines for all they were worth the crazy slednecks less crazy friend gave us a turn on his home made ‘Noboard’. A few pieces of ply glued together, with a couple pieces of an old thermarest glued to the top for grip. We both rode down the pillow face; or tumbled down could be a better way to describe our attempt.
We went for a bit of an explore to finish the day off and found our way down to a frozen lake at the bottom of another bowl filled with cliffs and lines. Some local kids had been riding the area all day. Ryza was looking for a photo of a big deep sled turn and appeared to have found the place for it, an untouched pocket just above the lake.
Scott was the man for the job and proceeded to lay a deep turn in the pocket. Exiting the pocket onto the lake was a different story with a steep section into a flat lake not an ideal exit point. A full front flip over the sled, a busted wrist and half the sled sitting in the lake after breaking through the ice ended our day.
The kitchen sinks burgers were calling our names again and we found ourselves back at the Idiot ordering the regular and watching ice hockey.
Day three saw heavy rain at the motel and a substantially slower start to the morning. We had decided to do a day on the resort and made our way up for a perky midday start. We timed our resort day with the famous Revelstoke ‘Gnar Day,’ a day dedicated to the late Shane McConkey.
Countless one-piece suits, animal costumes, nudity and even a human dressed as a giant penis was the order of the day.
We snuck away from the crowd to an inbounds cliff band with multiple options. With Scott as our eyes he sent us off blind cliffs that we had no idea what was below but his knowledge was spot on, yet again.
our eyes he sent us off blind cliffs that we had no idea what was below but his knowledge was spot on, yet again.
RMB managed to sweet talk the ski patrol into letting us stay beyond close and we headed down late in the day, past multiple parties on the way. We even passed a guy hitting a rail on a snowskate, with about ten people taking photos. We all joked how excessive this was, until we were told it was Terje Haakonsen. How dare we!
To finish our trip we were upgraded to the luxurious Sutton Place Hotel at the base of Revelstoke gondola. New white robes, Crown Royal and private hot tubs were on the cards for the night before we planned to party in town with the locals.
While Whistler has its famous night scene filled with clubs and pubs, Revelstoke has kegger parties and bonfires. The pubs were empty and we found out there was a kegger party in town but we made our way back home empty handed and back into our robes.
With heavy weather coming in we decided to leave a day early and make our way home. I couldn’t leave without a cheeky fly fish in the mighty Columbia River, and Scotty took us out to his favourite spot. With tall tales of monstrous fish we were ready for some action, however it was not to be.
to his favourite spot. With tall tales of monstrous fish we were ready for some action, however it was not to be.
We left Revelstoke with no fish in our bags, but an appreciation of how things work in the interior. It appeared Scott was every bit the man we were looking for when we started our trip. Humble and unassuming, not fussed over the ‘scene’ or anything else, just wanting to send it big with his buddies and have a good time. He was the definition of what snowboarding should be about and was a refreshing change to some of the egos that often float around the industry.
Photos By Ryan Anderson