Sun Peaks Resort

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Sun Peaks Resort
Feb 7 full moon.jpg (1).jpg
LocationBritish Columbia, Canada
Nearest major cityKamloops, 56 km (35 mi)
Coordinates50°53′38″N 119°53′35″W / 50.89389°N 119.89306°W / 50.89389; -119.89306
Vertical882 m (2,894 ft)
Top elevation2,152 m (7,060 ft)
Base elevation1,255 m (4,117 ft)
Skiable area4,270 acres (1,730 ha)
Runs137 including 17 gladed areas
10% beginner
58% intermediate
32% expert
Longest run8 km (5.0 mi)
Lift system13 total
3 detachable quads
4 quads
6 surface lifts
Lift capacity12,000 riders per hour
Snowfall559 cm (220 in)

Sun Peaks Resort is an alpine ski resort located in Sun Peaks, British Columbia, Canada, 56 km (35 mi) northeast of Kamloops.

The summit of the ski area is at an elevation of 2,080 m (6,820 ft), with an 881 m (2,890 ft) vertical rise from the base of the peak. The resort has 16 square kilometres (6.2 sq mi) of skiable terrain (second largest in Canada), and receives an average of 5.6 m (18 ft) of snow per year. Sun Peaks area averages over 2000 hours of sun a year.

The resort has 13 lifts with a total capacity of 13,400 riders per hour, with the Burfield chair being the longest at 23 minutes total ride. There are 137 runs, including 16 gladed areas and 40 km (25 mi) of cross country trails. The ski area comprises three mountains: Tod Mountain, Sundance Mountain, and Mt. Morrisey.


Built on the traditional, unceded territory of the Secwepemc people, the resort was built in 1961 without consultation or consent. Members of the Secwepemc nation were violently removed by the RCMP after the company refused to meet with them and used the media to stoke racist backlash and violent threats against the land defenders.[1][2]

The founding of Tod Mountain Resort[edit]

In 1958, skiing pioneers Donald Whyte and Donald Munro were making the commute back from Silver Star ski resort in Vernon. This was a common procedure for skiers living in Kamloops, as, although there was much land to capitalize upon, there were no operative ski resorts within the municipality.[3]

On the drive back, the two saw a direct view ahead to pristine Tod Mountain. After examining the terrain from afar, the pair concluded that there were ample skiing opportunities to be had in the mountains northeast of Kamloops. On the 9th of May 1959, both paid a visit to Whitecroft Village, at the base of Tod Mountain. On the 16th of May, Munro, Whyte, lawyer Reginald Humphreys, ski resort operator Sam Warmington, and doctor James Osborne once again drove to Whitecroft. A nearby ranch owner rented the men horses and led them up the towering peak. An hour and a half after setting off, the party reached what is now known as the West Bowl, on the northwestern side of Tod Mountain. The group spent two nights in a shepherd's cabin. Once they set out again, they trekked to the crest of Tod Mountain, now known as the Top of the World (the location of the current Burfield and Crystal chairlift top terminals). Ahead of them lay the Crystal Bowl, pristine and bearing ideal geological features for a chairlift and ski resort.[3]

On the 29th of May, Tod Mountain Ski Resort Ltd. and Tod Mountain Ski Village Ltd. were incorporated. In early 1961, construction commenced[4] on the original Burfield (at the time called Tod Mountain Ski Lift) chairlift. Constructed in Vancouver by Murray-Latta, surveying and design was carried out by Robert McLellan of McLellan and Co.. Bregoliss Construction, based in Kamloops, was awarded the contract for clearing of the runs and lift line, construction of the top, midstation, and bottom terminals, and the erecting of the lift poles. Munro was appointed President of the two resort companies.[3]

On the 18th of November 1961 the Tod Mountain ski resort finally opened to the general public. The original chairlift was a double-person capacity, 9,300 foot diesel powered system boasting a capacity of 400 people/hour. At the time, it was the longest chairlift in the entirety of North America. Five runs had been cut: Crystal Bowl, Ridge, 5 Mile, Chief, and the latter half of what is now known as 7 Mile Road.

Closure of the resort 1968-1970[edit]

In July 1968, seven years after the opening day, a crew was conducting maintenance work on the top terminal of the Tod Mountain Ski Lift, when a spark from a welding job flew into the sump pump, causing the wooden building housing the machinery to alight. The fire ignited the diesel drive which was directly linked to the bullwheel, causing the entire lift line to part from the wheel, dropping to the ground. Although the weight of the chairs dragging and colliding with the ground and obstacles arrested the motion of the rampant lift cable somewhat, significant damage was inflicted upon the lift. Repairs and insurance matters prevented the re-opening of the resort until the 1970-1971 ski season.[3]

Acquisition by Highland Development[edit]

In December 1969, Highland Development, owned by Drake Cummings, purchased all shares of both resort companies. The company took responsibility of Tod Mountain Resort's expenses, and intended to develop a division of Highland Development upon the mountain. The original cost proposed by the company was $750,000 (approximately $5,126,865 CAD in 2021).[3] Cummings' goal was to transition Tod Mountain into a year-round venture, providing activities for citizens and visitors throughout the summer months as well as the traditional winter portion. Highland Development's first goal was to repair the incapacitated Tod Mountain chairlift. Once again, this task's contract was awarded to Bregoliss Construction, and by the summer of 1970, the chair was operational once again. The cost for this task as well as routine maintenance and the spiffing-up of facilities was $200,000 (approximately $1,367,164 CAD in 2021).

Cummings hired Mel Borgeson as a consultant for future development. In May 1970, his report detailed the possible building of a 40-acre village at the base of the chairlift, a ski lodge midway up the hill, and strongly suggested that another chairlift be constructed farther east of the current lift. In late 1970, plans were proposed to build this new chairlift and Bob Forrester, an engineer and surveyor working for the Whistler ski resort at the time was hired as director for this project.[3]

Death of Harry Burfield[edit]

On the 12th of June 1971, Harry Burfield, a prominent ski racer/jumper who was a pioneer of the Tod Mountain ski area and had constructed and operated a lodge/shop, boarded a Cessna 180 light aircraft and took off on a sightseeing journey for the benefit of Wolfgang Ehmann, a passenger, who was intrigued in investing in the resort. The plane was piloted by Harold Palmer, and other than Burfield and Ehmann, had onboard one more passenger, Ehmann's partner, Christine Saunders.

During a sharp 30-degree right-hand maneuver, the plane crashed on the northwest side of Tod Mountain, at around 6,500 feet.[5] All onboard were killed instantly. "Harry's Run", a run stemming off the present day West Bowl network, is cut near the crash site.

In his honor, the lodge he previously operated and the Tod Mountain chairlift were renamed to the Burfield Lodge and the Burfield Chair, respectively.[5]

Construction of the Shuswap Chairlift and expansion east[edit]

In the summer of 1972, after lengthy planning, the Shuswap Chairlift was installed.[4] Like the Burfield, it was a two-person chair. The base of the chair was located near where the current Sun Peaks Alpine Club building stands. Cariboo and Cahilty were new runs cut, the latter of which connected to the original 5 Mile, which now ran to the bottom. Exhibition was the run cut below the lift line. A road-like flat run connected the summit of the Shuswap Chair and the Midstation of the Burfield Chair. The new chair was in operation for the 1972-73 ski season.[3] This development marked the start of the eastwards push for the resort, which eventually resulted in the modern-day facilities currently in operation (the village and main chairlift center).

Divestment of Highland Developments and financial struggles[edit]

By the end of 1972, Highland Developments expressed their intentions to disassociate themselves with the Tod Mountain group. After the breakup, Petric Recreation Co., owned by Rick Robertson and Peter MacKay-Smith and Klapstock Holdings, owned by Ernest Klapstock, formed Tod Mountain Recreation Ltd., and the two companies apportioned equal shares.[3] Peter Pocklington, the then-owner of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team, purchased Klapstock Holdings' shares in 1974, which instilled hope in the financially struggling community and consortium. Yet, because much of Pocklington's money was being diverted to the Oilers hockey team, only a small percentage of his total cash was being allocated to Tod Mountain. However, due to Pocklington's prominent standing amongst the bureaucracy, the Royal Bank of Canada loaned him and Petric Recreation Co., which enabled Tod Mountain to maintain their status until the 1976-77 season. Then, already on a shaky financial basis, the snow levels flunked. With virtually no snow and an extremely late season start, the Royal Bank cancelled the loans. On the 20th of December, 1976, Tod Mountain ski resort entered a voluntary receivership status.[3] The following two seasons (1976–77, 1977–78) seasons followed suit, until in mid 1978 Tod Mountain was disposed of by the Royal Bank. The highest bidder, a private group of businessmen based in Calgary, bought the resort and its holdings on the 19th of October, 1978. The resort was renamed Tod Mountain Developments Ltd.

Reconciliation and revamping of facilities[edit]

In the summer of 1979, the new owners announced their master plan: a massive $10 million project which would see the mountain receive an 18-hole golf course, a large (300 acre) village, community tennis/basketball courts, a new warming lodge midway up the slopes, but most relevant at the time, a brand new chairlift. During the summer of that same year, the Crystal Chairlift was installed east of the Burfield, with its bottom terminal at a similar elevation to the summit of the Shuswap Chair. This new three-person fixed-grip lift was manufactured by Doppelmayr and ran along the east ridge of the Crystal Bowl. It was in operation for the 1979-80 ski season.

In the late months of 1980, allegations from unnamed sources pummeled Tod Mountain, citing that the company could no longer manage to pay its employees. This evoked rumors questioning if the resort would even open for the 1980-81 season. Luckily, Tod Mountain Developments Ltd. had begun selling their package and advertising the resort as a prime location for the Pacific Western Airlines (PWA) Pro Ski Tour. Starting in 1980 through to 1984, Tod Mountain was a regular stop on the calendar.[3] At the same time, Masters races, sanctioned by the Canadian Masters National Alpine program, began to be held at Tod Mountain in 1986. In the mid-1980s, the Headwalls run became the chosen course for the annual Velocity Challenge. In this event, skiers "tuck" into a special, aerodynamic position and ski down the daunting, black-diamond difficulty Headwalls Run. Speeds of up to 175 km/h (109 mph) are reached. The last time the event was held was in 2018.[6] These three main events which commenced in the 1980s not only helped to keep the resort afloat, but also boosted the reputation of Tod Mountain.

Throughout the 1980s, a noticeable shift in main operations had been transpiring. The base of the Shuswap Chair, the proposed site of the eventual village, was quickly becoming the "place to be". After the road was extended past the base of the Burfield chair to the base of the Shuswap, the "restaurant" quickly gained popularity as a food supplier. A rental shop and the relocated ski school also formed up near the chairlift. 5 Mile (then referred to as Dynamite), the run from the top of the Burfield/Crystal chairs to the base of the Shuswap Chair, gained popularity. Between 1986 and 1989, almost 10 entirely new runs, branching from the top of the Shuswap Chair, were cut and another 20 were flagged as future development.[3]

On December 24, 1989, a fire broke out in the engine room of the Crystal Chairlift. Fred Ahrweiler, the head of Mechanical Engineering and head lift operator, received the news the next day. However, by February 1990, the Crystal Chair was running once more thanks to the tireless work of Ahrweiler and his team.

New Ownership through Nippon Cable and current developments[edit]

However, by the end of the 1989-90 season, Tod Mountain Developments Ltd. was up for sale once more. Nippon Cable of Japan, partnered with Ecosign Co., purchased the resort in April 1992.[7] In late 1992, the new owners held a re-naming contest for the resort, using ballot boxes, as "Tod" in German translated to "Death". Over 2000 ballots were deposited. On the 13th of August, 1993, the new name was announced: Sun Peaks Resort.[7] In the summer of 1993, two chairlifts, the Sunburst Express (detachable system), replacing the aging Shuswap Chair, and the Sundance Chair, east of the Sunburst Chair, were installed, opening access to a diversity of new terrain. In 1995, the Sundance Chair was extended and turned into an Express (detachable) lift. The village platter and Magic Carpet lifts were installed, and the Lower Exhibition T-bar was transplanted to the West Bowl, opening up yet more terrain. In the summer of 1997, the old Burfield double chair was replaced by a Doppelmayr quad lift, using the old top terminal of the non-express Sundance chair as the bottom terminal for the new chair. Planning for a massive alpine village was started.[3]

Many beginner facilities were constructed in an attempt to promote the mountain as a "family resort for all ages". Terrain was expanded enormously with the transplanting of the Lower Exhibition T-Bar to the West Bowl and, primarily, the opening of Mount Morrisey in 2002, when a Doppelmayr high-speed quad was installed adjacent from Sundance Mountain, yielding many new runs and opportunities for future expansion, both residential and ski-wise.[4] In 1999, the first trails for a massive network of summer bike paths were cut. Currently, the Sun Peaks bike park, serviced by the Sunburst Chair (half-converted to bike carrier chairs in the summer), boasts nearly 2,500 feet of vertical terrain, as well as ample beginner facilities, serviced by the Magic Carpet lift in the Village. Terrain varies from machined flowing cross-country trails to complete downhill singletracks.[8] Sun Peaks Bike Park is a permanent fixture on the BC Downhill Cup Series[9] and has hosted the BC Downhill Championships and the Canadian National DH Championships in the past.[10] Since the late 1990s, Sun Peaks Resort has worked to extend a massive web of Nordic/Cross-Country ski trails. Today, the extensive paths stretch nearly 37km (23mi) around the resort, primarily Mount Morrisey.[11] This is in addition to a luxurious 18-hole golf course (completed in 2005), a massive residential/guest oriented ski-in village, and many more amenities built under the guiding eye of Nippon Cable.

In 2006, the Elevation Quad Chairlift was completed and opened for the 2006-07 season. Its base is midway down 5-Mile on a raised outcropping, and its summit is directly beside the top terminal of the Sunburst Express chairlift. This and further run-cutting opened up a brand-new race center. The Austrian National Ski Team signed a five-year contract in 2005 to train at Sun Peaks in preparation for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.[4]

In 2014, the previously out-of-bounds area known as Gil's was added to the in-bounds area of the resort.[12]

In the summer of 2020, a replacement for the 41-year-old Crystal three-person chair was built and was operational for the 2020-21 ski season. The new Crystal Quad boasts a 20% uphill capacity increase, and follows a slightly different line to the original Crystal, providing access to the Top Of The World from the Crystal chair, as opposed to solely from the Burfield.[4]

The Burfield chair is the longest fixed grip chairlift in North America, and is the 9th longest in travel length (9,510 ft (2,900 m).[13]

Nancy Greene Raine is the Director of Skiing at the resort.

Downhill ski trails[edit]

Green Blue Black Double Black
5 Mile Alley 5th Avenue Challenger
Anticipation Ausfahrt Agitator Challenger Glades
Burfield Outrun Back In Time Back Door Chute
Cahilty Blazer Bluff Expo
Connector Blazer Glades Bluff Glades Green Door
Cowabunga Blue Line Broadway In Tatters
Crystal Lane Cahilty Glades Bug Out Glades Kookamungas
Downtown C.C. Riders Cariboo Offset
East Village Ski Way Ça M'a Fait Plaisir Cariboo Glades Static Cling
Fairways Ski Back Carpe Diem Chief Terrain Park- Black Zone
Gentle Giant Chikamichi Chief Shoulder
Home Instead Cruiser Coquihalla
Home Run Cruiser Glades Coquihalla Glades
Homesteader Crystal Run Cover Shot
Mt. Morrisey Connector Cześć Crystal Bowl
Rambler Distributor East Bushwacker
Sunbeam Exhibition Father Tom's
Sundance Return Exhibition Glades Hat Trick
Terrain Park (Green Zone) Fair Dinkum Headwalls
The Sticks Fall Line (West Bowl) Highway 22
Grand Return Highway 22A
Grand Return Glades Highway 22B
Grannie Greene's Inner Gil's Glades
Grannie Greene's Glades Intimidator
Harry's Run (West Bowl) Juniper Ridge
Hot Shot Lint Trap
Hully Gully Main Face Glades
Lone Fir Centre Nose of the Chief
Lone Fir West Peak-A-Boo
Lonesome Fir Glades Pink Flamingos
Long Draw (West Bowl) Rice Bowl
Lunch Time Roller Coaster
Mid Mountain Sacred Line
Mid-Life Crisis Spillway
Munro Ridge Spin Cycle
OSV (Race Training) Sting
Out Of The Woods Sunny Side
Round A Bout Tighten Yer Boots
Runaway Lane Toilet Bowl
Runaway Lane Glades Tumble Dry
Second Growth White Rabbit
Shiner Wringer
Short Draw (West Bowl)
Still Smokin'
Sun Catcher
Sun Downer
Telly Gram
Terrain Park- Blue Zone
The Other Way
The Spine
Three Bears
Three Bears Glades
Trans Canada
West Bushwacker

Other facilities[edit]

Sun Peaks golf course at sunset

Sun Peaks Mountain Bike Park[edit]

In addition to skiing, Sun Peaks also operates a downhill mountain bike park with over 2,000 vertical feet of terrain. The Sunburst Express quad chair takes riders to a trail park at the top.

Golf course[edit]

Sun Peaks has a 6,400 yard, 18-hole golf course. It is the highest elevation course in British Columbia, at over 1,200 m (3,900 ft) above sea level.[14]


In 2003 Sun Peaks opened "Tube Time" to allow for recreational tubing at the resort.

Banked slalom[edit]

In 2016, a new permanent banked slalom course was opened alongside the Sundowner and Suncatcher runs.

Sun Peaks snow ghosts

Ski lifts[edit]

Sun Peaks has an all-Doppelmayr fleet of twelve ski lifts on all three mountains, Tod, Sundance and Morrisey.

Lifts at Sun Peaks Resort
Name Lift type Opening date Location
Sunburst Express High speed quad 1993 Tod Mountain
Sundance Express High speed quad 1995 Sundance Mountain
Burfield Fixed grip quad 1998 Tod Mountain
Crystal Fixed grip quad 2020 Tod Mountain
Elevation Fixed grip quad 2006 Tod Mountain
Morrisey Express High speed quad 2002 Morrisey Mountain
West Bowl T-Bar Surface lift 1993 Tod Mountain
Village Platter Surface Lift 1993 Sundance Mountain
Village Carpet Magic Carpet [citation needed] Sundance Mountain
Tube Time Carpet Magic Carpet [citation needed] Sundance Mountain
Morrisey Platter Surface Lift Surface lift 2002 Morrisey Mountain
Orient Fixed grip quad 2018 Sundance Mountain, Orient Ridge

Removed ski lifts:

  • Original Crystal - triple chairlift - Doppelmayr - 1979-2020 - Tod Mountain (replaced by Crystal)
  • Original Burfield - double chairlift - Murray-Latta - 1961-1997 - Tod Mountain (replaced by Burfield)
  • Shuswap - double chairlift - Mueller - 1972-1993 - Tod Mountain (replaced by Sunburst Express)
  • Original Sundance - fixed grip quad - Doppelmayr - 1993-1995 - Sundance Mountain (replaced by Sundance Express and relocated to Burfield)
  • Broadway T-Bar - Doppelmayr - 1979-1993 - Tod Mountain (relocated to West Bowl)



  1. ^ Manual, Arthur, et al. Unsettled Canada: A National Wake-up Call, 2015
  2. ^ Manuel, Arthur; Derrickson, Grand Chief Ronald (2017). The Reconciliation Manifesto: Recovering the Land, Rebuilding the Economy. James Lorimer & Company. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-4594-0961-3.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Scherf, Kathleen (2011). Sun Peaks Resort: An Evolution of Dreams, Sun Peaks Resort, Sun Peaks, Canada ISBN 978-0-9878771-0-9.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Sun Peaks Resort History". Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Burfield, Marion Ann (2012). Flight was in his Spirit: The life of Harry Burfield, September 10, 1915-June 12, 1971, Consignment publishing ISBN 978-1-9273715-1-0.
  6. ^ "Velocity Challenge-FIS Ski World Cup". Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Sun Peaks Corporate Info". Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  8. ^ "Sun Peaks Bike Park". Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  9. ^ "2021 BC Cup Downhill Series,". Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  10. ^ "Sun Peaks Bike Park". Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Sun Peaks -Explore Nordic Skiing". Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  12. ^ Hill, Cale (22 December 2014). "Locals not loving Gil's access".
  13. ^ "Top Ten Longest Chairlifts in North America". 25 July 2015.
  14. ^

External links[edit]