I tried my first BeaverTail in Canada … and loved it!

I tried my first BeaverTail in Canada … and loved it!


Pam LeBlanc enjoys a treat from BeaverTails at Sunshine Ski Resort in Alberta, Canada in February 2022. Chris LeBlanc photo

Add BeaverTails to the list of Canadian food specialties I taste tested during last week’s trip to Banff.

First, I tried poutine – a mound of French fries topped in cheese curds and doused with brown gravy. Then I tried a BeaverTail – a ball of dough hand stretched into the shape of a beaver’s tail, then fried and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.

If you want, you can get your BeaverTail topped with banana slices. Perhaps you’d prefer maple cream. Or try vanilla frosting and crunched up chocolate cookies. Or Reese’s pieces. You can even order what’s called a PouTail, a BeaverTail crowned with French fries, cheese curds and gravy.

Trying BeaverTails at Sunshine Ski Resort

While skiing Sunshine Ski Resort a few days ago, I stopped by the new BeaverTails trailer that opened on the mountain this season. People told me this was a big deal. And I have to say, I’m a fan. Imagine eating a broad, flat donut, hot out of the fryer, during a break in a day spent whizzing down frozen mountain slopes.

RELATED: Poutine: French fries, cheese curds and gravy combine for national dish of Canada



Chris LeBlanc picks up his order at the BeaverTails trailer at Sunshine Ski Resort. Pam LeBlanc photo

I ordered the classic – just cinnamon and sugar. While I watched from a safe distance, the BeaverTails’ technician stretched out a wad of dough into an oval about 12 inches long and 5 inches wide. Then he dropped it in hot oil, plucked it out when it had bubbled to perfection, sprinkled it with the goods, and served it to me piping hot.

I washed it down with a side of hot cocoa.

BeaverTails originated in Ontario in 1978. The chain has expanded throughout Canada and into the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, France and, yes, the United States.

So far, though, BeaverTails has not made its way to Texas.

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Today’s theme at Red Mountain: Strong women

Today’s theme at Red Mountain: Strong women

Passengers unload from the snowcat at the top of Mount Kirkup. Pam LeBlanc photo

It turns out that the world is filled with bad-ass women who like to do the same kind of stuff that I do – and I found a bunch of them at Red Mountain.

I met Cristi Sullivan and Drue Kerns in a wooden, barrel-shaped sauna at The Josie Hotel where I stayed this week. We sweated together for a few minutes, and the women, both from Missoula, Montana, invited me to ski with them yesterday. Without a moment’s hesitation I said yes.

I quickly discovered they’re experts. Cristi, an anesthesiologist, used to compete in ski racing. Drue, a horseback riding instructor, likes to go fast and steep. I spent the day trying to keep up with them, and it made me a better skier.

Drue Kerns, left, and Cristi Sullivan ride a lift at Red Mountain Resort. Pam LeBlanc photo

I caught my first lift at 9 a.m., and we didn’t stop skiing until almost 3 p.m. (Lunch? Who’s got time for that?)
In between, we caught a ride on the mountain’s snowcat, which hauls skiers to the top of Mount Kirkup, where they can swoop down through steep gladed terrain. (The cat wasn’t running earlier this week, because the freeze-thaw cycle had wreaked havoc on snow conditions; an inch or two of fresh snow made it doable Tuesday.)

Red Mountain, in British Columbia, is the only place I know where you don’t have to fork over hundreds of dollars for a cat-skiing experience. It’s refreshingly no-frills. You ski to a designated meeting spot, climb onto the cat, and hand the driver $10 Canadian.

The snowcat attendant collects $10 Canadian from the passengers. Pam LeBlanc photo

We happened to pull up just as it was loading. The cat – kind of like a big tractor – holds about a dozen folks. A 15-minute ride delivered us to the bald top of the mountain, where we clambered out, popped on our skis, and dove into 200-acres of ungroomed snow.

The cat operates, weather permitting, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. daily, and accesses only advanced terrain. Skiers should be capable of making tight turns and handling off-piste trees and powder. No reservations are needed.

Since I survived that just fine, we stepped it up a notch. Cristi and Drue escorted me to a place called Capt. Jack’s Trees, a never-ending double black run that I’d never have gone down had I been skiing alone. I tipped over a few times, but bounded right up, made a bunch of tight turns, and got myself down the gnarliest slopes I’ve ever navigated.

Cristi Sullivan skis down a gladed run at Red Mountain Resort. Pam LeBlanc photo

I love hanging out with strong women. They spurred me on; I regaled them with stories. We finished with beers on the outdoor patio of The Josie Hotel at the base, where a trio of French Canadian women, also tough and spirited, pulled up chairs. They’d spent the day hiking up to terrain that’s not served by lifts. Their husbands were off at the grocery, getting food to cook dinner.

We got a laugh out of that, and talked about how Red Mountain seems to attract athletic, independent women, and how we liked the low-key vibe of the place. We just wished we’d gotten to experience the massive dumps of snow for which the mountain is known. (The forecast calls for some later this week. My timing’s off.)

“And the $10 cat skiing was pretty cool,” Drue said. “To return here on a powder day would be dreamy.”

Passengers unload the snowcat at the top of Mount Kirkup on Tuesday. Pam LeBlanc photo

We all liked the lack of crowds, the sprawling size of the place, and the down-to-earth, friendly people.

“The mountains are legit,” Cristi said, noting that we saw tons of ski tracks leading down out-of-bounds, extremely steep gullies and faces. “The lift-access back country is plentiful, and there’s every type of terrain.”

If I hang around with women like this often enough, I’ll be making some of those tracks myself soon.

Cristi Sullivan and Drue Kerns enjoy a plate of poutine – french fries, cheese curds and gravy – at The Josie Hotel at Red Mountain Resort. Pam LeBlanc photo




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Red Mountain: $10 cat skiing, a barrel-shaped sauna and no crowds

Red Mountain: $10 cat skiing, a barrel-shaped sauna and no crowds


Cristi Sullivan skies the glades at Red Mountain. Pam LeBlanc photo

I love the modesty of Red Mountain.

While every other ski resort I’ve ever visited (and I’ve been to at least 25 places, from Aspen to Wolf Creek) tells me why I should get my turns there, Red Mountain does the opposite.

In 2010, they created a video titled “Red Sucks,” during which an obviously hung-over guy in a business suit laments “this crappy ski hill I’m staying at,” and complains about the slow lifts (well, maybe a little, but who cares), the crowded slopes (far from it) and the “fake trees” (they are not). It went viral and it’s hilarious. (Watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7Z0MBLHF20).

Since then they’ve opened a modern and affordable hostel at the base of the mountain that’s called The Nowhere Special hostel. (It is quite special.) And I overheard last night that they’re considering a new marketing campaign dubbed “Nothing to See Here.”

It all fits the personality of the place. It’s huge, full of powder stashes, free from crowds, and the town of Rossland, a 5-minute drive from the mountain, started as an actual mining town, so it’s got real grit and character. (Plus an amazing chocolate shop and a wonderful little museum.)

I caught one of the first chairs up the mountain at 9 a.m. yesterday and skied until after 3 p.m., and just grazed the surface. Glades, secret cabins in the woods, trees encrusted with snow and wearing furry green coats of lichen – it’s not like anyplace I’ve been before.

I’m not done with this mountain yet. I’ve got more terrain to explore, and more post-slopeside fun to find. One my list after I pop off my boots? A trip to the Rossland Beer Company in town, followed by dinner at the Flying Steamshovel, built at the site of the crash of an early version of a helicopter.

 Drue Kerns and Cristi Sullivan relax in a wooden, barrel-shaped sauna at the Josie Hotel at Red Mountain. Pam LeBlanc photo

Without further ado, things I love (so far) about Red Mountain Resort in Rossland, British Columbia:


  1. The “snow host” program. Local skiers and snowboarders have given free mountain tours to visitors daily for the last 40 years. Just head to the base area to meet one at 9 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. It might be a few folks in your group, or it might be just you. Seriously, do this. It’s fantastic.


  1. Powder stashes. Red Mountain Resort is the first stop on what’s known as the Powder Highway, and it’s known for never ending pow.


  1. No crowds. All that pow and so few people translate into what’s known locally as Powder Per Person, or PPP. “You get up there and it’s like you’re the only person on the mountain,” says Kylie Lakevold of Rossland Tourism, who grew up in this area and brought me to dinner (Canadian pickerel and champagne marinated mushrooms!) at Gabriella’s. “You can always find something that hasn’t been skied yet.”


  1. Great

    Staghorn lichen grows on tree trunks on the mountain. Pam LeBlanc photo

    terrain. The mountain spans 3,850 skiable acres with eight lifts. The breakdown? 17 percent beginner, 34 percent intermediate, 23 percent advanced and 26 percent expert. I peeked over the edge of some of the gnarliest couliers I’ve ever seen – and then backed carefully away.


  1. The wooden, barrel-shaped saunas located on the back steps of the fabulous Josie Hotel at the base. After a day of skiing, change into a swimsuit, wrap yourself in a robe (provided), and slip inside one of these cozy, steam-filled cocoons, where you can heat up your sore muscles and look out a round, bubble-shaped window at the mountain.


  1. The glades! Red is known for its glade skiing, and in some areas the lower branches have been trimmed off the trees. That makes it easy to slice and dice your way through zippy little tree-packed swathes without getting hung up on twigs and berries.


  1. The Nowhere Special Hostel. This modern, industrial-looking hostel opened two years ago and offers a super affordable option for staying right at the base. (Think lift ticket and bed for less than $150 per night.)


  1. Stories about the Winter Carnival , the oldest winter carnival in Canada (and there are lots of them) held here each January. A highlight of that event is the bobsled race, in which locals make homemade bobsleds out of everything from canoes and cardboard boxes to old snowmobiles, then race them down the steepest street in town.


  1. Summer in Rossland. Winter’s a bigger draw, but this area is known as the mountain biking capital of Canada. More than 200 kilometers of single track crisscrosses the mountains here. Explore Magazine named it the number one outdoor town in Canada.



  1. The Exchange rate! A Canadian dollar is worth about 75 cents to the American dollar. It’s like getting everything on sale!



About Pam

I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

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