With the Gil’s area of Sun Peaks now inside the ski area boundary, some local residents question the move of opening up the area up prior to having a chairlift, while some lament over the new 2 p.m. closure and Sun Peaks Resort Corporation asks for patience as they expand into the new terrain.
Locals have shared mixed reviews about the new ski area, some saying the hikes in and out were not worth the effort, and others saying they loved the new terrain and didn’t mind the hike.
Scott Stevens said he feels the resort “jumped the gun” in opening the area to the public without lift access.
“A 40 minute round trip for 45 seconds of skiing isn’t what most people enjoy about backcountry riding. I personally don’t mind it, (but) it might not leave such a good impression on a guest if they have to hike out (after such a short run).”
The 2 p.m. closure also raised a sore spot, with some who feel they’ve lost access to a favourite part of the resort.
“Nothing beats untouched, un-bombed fresh powder,” said Aino-Maija Knuutila. “I have no problem with the area being patrolled, but what’s with the threats of taking away someone’s pass when they’ve been skiing those faces for 10 years or more?”
Jamie Tattersfield, mountain operations manager for SPRC, has asked guests to remain patient as SPRC adjusts to having a large portion of new terrain under their jurisdiction.
“To some extent we’re asking people to bear with us as we work through a new operating system,” Tattersfield said.
“In the past, areas that have been more marginal to our central ski area, like the West Bowl, have always closed earlier than other areas, and the reason for that is two things: The hours of daylight that we have, and to some extent, our manpower. When you put those things together, we only have a limited time to do a proper and diligent job of sweeping the mountain at the end of the day.
“Now that Gil’s is within our boundary, operating norms and best practises say that the area needs to be swept, so we have to allow adequate time to do that, so that’s why it’s closing.”
Tattersfield says the 2 p.m. cut-off for entering Gil’s may be extended later in the season.
“We may be able to adjust the time in February when we start getting a little longer daylight hours, but for the time being we’ll be sticking with it, and we’ll just see how we go.”
Tattersfield said there would be no leniency extended to anyone entering Gil’s when avalanche control measures were taking place, and any guest in the area at these times would have their pass immediately terminated.
Details on Gil’s opening times and avalanche control can be found on the Sun Peaks Resort website each morning before the lifts open, as well as at the base of the Burfield and Crystal chairlifts and at the three access points to Gil’s.