Just outside the ski area of Sun Peaks, off of a little-traveled road, is a small clearing that has drawn local shredders for years.
Surrounded by snow dusted trees, it was described by one rider as “something you might just stumble on one day.”
Which might have been how it was found, but nobody knows exactly how it was discovered or just how long early season keeners have been heading to the spot. That’s just part of its charm.
The hideaway, known as Green Gate, is home to handmade park features from small jumps to pipes and rails. As soon as snow falls in early season, riders make their way up until lifts turn or enough snow piles up that it’s dismantled until the following year.
Skiers and boarders who bring friends are careful not to reveal the location. Rumour has it in recent years riders have had passes taken away and attempts have been made to dismantle the retreat.
With even just a few inches of snow the group gets to work putting together new set ups each day.
Aut-Lin Foster has spent time there for three seasons now, taking the time to build features with friends.
“We built a wooden rail feature one year,” he said. “There were some old box features from Oronge (Boardshop) and I got two giant PVC pipes from my work.”
Both new and experienced riders get together to enjoy the escape.
“Every time I’ve been able to go I’ve learned something new,” he said, adding the pipes are softer and often lower to the ground than those in the terrain park, making for an easier landing.
“My favourite part, and what makes Green Gate special to me, is that it’s a place where riders of all levels in the community gather for a singular purpose, to ride and have fun,” he said. “It’s a place where riders can ride without being judged on their abilities, and where they don’t feel the pressures you would normally get from riding the terrain park in the resort. You ride, try something new and fall down, and everyone still cheers you on because you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and trying something new. You go and try it again and you land it, and everyone cheers harder, stoke level rising in everyone there. No judgements, no drama, just riding and having fun.”
That environment helped another rider, a snowboarder in her 20s, who wanted to learn more in a park setting.
“They change it up everyday,” she said. “The best park riders are usually riding and if you learn something great, if not then oh well, everyone is always stoked on you trying.”
She’s learned board slides and switch 180s but says she also likes to watch the pros experiment.
“It’s like watching video games, seeing a video game right in front of my face.”
The experience and community has kept her coming back for a few years.
Foster said he likes this less-polished side of the mountain and hopes people will recognize Sun Peaks for the ski town it’s becoming.
“I feel like this is something that they should be embracing, not trying to hide or trying to kick us out. Because Sun Peaks isn’t just about big family friendly events, big wine events, and ski racing. It’s also about grassroot initiatives like this that riders in the community take on,” he said. “The fact the we spend our own time setting it up come first snowfall, and now tearing it down and cleaning it up once the season starts, speaks volumes about the type of riders that are in our community.”
He said there are a lot of things locals do in that aren’t seen at other resorts, and that it’s part of the charm.
“Sun Peaks isn’t just a growing community of young families, it’s also a growing community of young adults as well. And I think we should be showcased, even just a little bit, not swept off to the side for the big name events.”