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Where to Go West this Xmas - suggestions for an European?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

European needs advice :) I do not know much about skiing in America. 

 

 

Have seen SLC last Xmas and loved it (thanks to this Forum!):

Epic Powder! Easy access to 10+ resorts, no crowds, no hotel hopping.

Loved Snowbasin, Snowbird, Alta.

Deer Valley, canyons were nice.

Park City not my style.

 

Given that snow is scarce and the no major storm system expected for the next week: where would you go for 22 - 31 DEC? 

 
Advanced European rider, 50% slope / 50% powder, would not mind a cat skiing day. 

Want to see more than one mountain. 

Don't mind driving 90 min every morning or switching hotels 1-2 times.

I hate long lift lines.

 

Any recommendations what might be similar to my Snowbasin/Snowbird/Alta experience?

 

Options:

Colorado

Banff area (Louise, Kicking Horse?)

Or SLC again.

Or maybe Jackson + Big Sky + x ?

 

Thanks!!!

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 24

Any chance on changing the dates? I'm not sure how other parts of the country are fairing, but I've seen a whole lot of "Terrible Early Season" threads floating around. It's been a slow start here in Utah, and it seems to be the same elsewhere. Also if you hate long lift lines, that is a rough time to schedule.

 

Of course, it could pick up, but it seems like you might be better off waiting till later in the season. Especially coming all the way from Europe.

post #3 of 24

My favorite snow pillow is reading 550mm SWE. Putting the snow pack at an all time record(recording started 2001). About 4 weeks ahead of schedule.

post #4 of 24

Have you considered heli-skiing? Utah has one of the best heli-ski operations in the world thanks to Wasatch Powderbird Guides. They will be operating in late Dec. and can take you to the best snow. You are also guaranteed no lift lines!

 

You can buy a single seat, and the guides will match you wtih a group of similar ability. Check them out at powderbird.com. It would definitely be an unforgettable trip!

 

post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hi guys,

I actually moved to the US, so not a long flight. Still have no clue about where to ski on your beautiful continent.

The dates can't be moved, my company's end-of -year closure. Free vacation days I have to leverage smile.gif Lift lines have not been an issue last year in UT in the week after X-mas.

Coming back to the question: If I like Snowbasin and Alta, but not Park City, which other resorts in USA or Canada could I like? Banff Area? CO? Should be at least three resorts within decent driving range to justify flying there for a week. Spending two days in Jackson and driving up to Big Sky for 2 days would also be an option.

Thanks so far!!


P.S.

Heli - skiing is an option, a bit pricy. I am from Europe, so I am not used to excessive powder skiing smile.gif That's why I thought I start with cat skiing for a day or two. But I will look into the Powderbirds, for sure!

If I win the lottery I go to Baldface Lodge biggrin.gif
post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by surfacehoar View Post

My favorite snow pillow is reading 550mm SWE. Putting the snow pack at an all time record(recording started 2001). About 4 weeks ahead of schedule.

Where is this magic place?
post #7 of 24

My suggestion would be Aspen.  You've got great steep skiing at Highlands, Aspen Mountain, and Snowmass.  More terrain than Snowbird and Alta combined.  Great food and apres ski.  Personally, I think it is the best skiing in Colorado.

 

My favorite ski areas are Jackson and Big Sky.  It is, however, a long way between the two particularly in winter.

 

Mike

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

My favorite ski areas are Jackson and Big Sky.  It is, however, a long way between the two particularly in winter.
Mike

Due to road conditions or snow? I saw it's about 5 hrs, that would be ok if you only drive it once.
post #9 of 24

I wpuld suggest Aspen also. Four separate mountains with a lot of variety. If you don't mind driving, less exepnsive accomodations are available in Glenwood Springs, 40 miles away, but Vail and Beaver Creek are also abolut 1-1/2 hours from Glenwood Springs. Can't predict the snow conditions, however.

post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by eppentorf View Post


Due to road conditions or snow? I saw it's about 5 hrs, that would be ok if you only drive it once.


It's a pretty long drive anytime of the year, but can be pretty nasty in winter.  Teton Pass can close, but the real issue is the flats driving through Idaho, where the wind often causes pretty severe drifting, ice, and whiteout conditions.

 

That being said, if you don't mind a 4+ hour drive, Jackson, Big Sky and Bridger are a nice choice.  Personally, I'd pick the convenience of Aspen with the vast amount of terrain as opposed to the driving that will accompany the Wyoming/MT trip.  However, Jackson has enough challenge that it easily can entertain you for 4-6 days, and you can always throw a short trip to Grand Targhee in as well.  Or do Big Sky/Bridger.

 

Mike

 

post #11 of 24

From what I heard, British Columbia has already some decent snow and terrain open.

 

Usually December is one of BC's snowiest months.  So If I had to plan a trip that early in the season, I would definitely check Whistler and interior BC out.

Actually I've skied BC during this time of the year in 3 different opportunities and always had a great experience - great snow and most terrain open.

 

Banff areas can be drier than other places in BC interior though.

 

My sugestions:

 

Whistler

Sun Peaks

Big White

Revelstoke

Kicking Horse

Fernie

Whitewater

 

Since you don't mind driving, you could ski many of these areas in one ski trip.

post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by eppentorf View Post


Where is this magic place?


 

Closest lifts would be Whitewater. It's been a good start for the kootenays. Most places are close to average, or above. As for the weather, december is normally snowy, but it's been dry for the last week, and will be for a few more days at least. That hopefully means it's going to be dumping the second half of the month. Who knows, mother nature is on her own schedule.

 

 

post #13 of 24
Hi There,

I have just published a book named The Powder Bible and it's available on http://powderbible.com - it's a travel ebook designed to help answer the exact questions you are asking.

Based on the current snow conditions this year I would look towards British Columbia. Do you mind being flexible and following the snow or do you prefer to stay put?

That said a lot can change in the next couple of weeks! And if you don't mind taking a chance, the Jackson / Targhee combo is hard to go past. Not much snow at the moment though so the risk remains.
post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

 

Quote:

Whistler

Sun Peaks

Big White

Revelstoke

Kicking Horse

Fernie

Whitewater

 

Since you don't mind driving, you could ski many of these areas in one ski trip.

 

Like the idea! 

 

Where would you start an interior BC trip? Fly into Calgary or from Vancouver? Given that DEC is the snowiest month, how good are they with keeping the roads open, espc. Highway 1. 

 

Would you need to reserve Motels in advance, or can you always find a room for let's say around $100?

 

 

post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks Mike, sounds doable... Flats and whiteout reminds me of Fargo (movie) :)

 

Convenience is hard to beat. Even though I would probably not stay in Aspen for >$200/night but go for the 1hr drive (and I could check out 1-2 other resorts). I guess for Aspen you fly into Denver and rent a car. Would I need a 4WD or does a regular with snow chains will do the job? (For SLC people recommended 4WD, but actually it was not needed, not even the day after the snow storm). 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post


It's a pretty long drive anytime of the year, but can be pretty nasty in winter.  Teton Pass can close, but the real issue is the flats driving through Idaho, where the wind often causes pretty severe drifting, ice, and whiteout conditions.

 

That being said, if you don't mind a 4+ hour drive, Jackson, Big Sky and Bridger are a nice choice.  Personally, I'd pick the convenience of Aspen with the vast amount of terrain as opposed to the driving that will accompany the Wyoming/MT trip.  However, Jackson has enough challenge that it easily can entertain you for 4-6 days, and you can always throw a short trip to Grand Targhee in as well.  Or do Big Sky/Bridger.

 

Mike

 



 

post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by eppentorf View Post
how good are they with keeping the roads open, espc. Highway 1.

 

Problems on Hwy 1 are extremely rare, unless there is an avalanche somewhere where it's unprotected.  Avalanche sheds protect the highway in the areas that are susceptible to slides.  On the occasions when the snowfall is heavy (not that often) the highway crews remove the snow immediately.  It's extremely rare that you would not be able to get to where you need to be on a Canadian highway due to the weather.

post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by eppentorf View Post

Thanks Mike, sounds doable... Flats and whiteout reminds me of Fargo (movie) :)

 

Convenience is hard to beat. Even though I would probably not stay in Aspen for >$200/night but go for the 1hr drive (and I could check out 1-2 other resorts). I guess for Aspen you fly into Denver and rent a car. Would I need a 4WD or does a regular with snow chains will do the job? (For SLC people recommended 4WD, but actually it was not needed, not even the day after the snow storm). 

 



 


Most of the time, you do not need 4wd in Colorado.  In fact, I'd probably say that it is very rare to need it, because if the conditions are bad enough to need it, the traffic will be at a dead stop anyway and you'll be looking for a place to get off of the road.  My regular ski car for the past 10 years has been a BMW rwd.  I bought a new BMW with xDrive, but it's not like I think it is mandatory.  Of course, I do have snow tires, and that can make all of the difference.

 

So, a regular rental and chains is probably sufficient.  Depending on when you are thinkng of going, you can sometimes find deals in the Aspen area.  I go for a week every year, and stay for free in the St Regis as I have a lot of Starwood hotel points.  If you have an American Express card, you can trade Membership Miles for Starwood points.  The St. Regis is one of the top hotels in Aspen and usually goes for 1000-1500/night.  Free nights cost lots of points, but you can combine points and cash to get a room for $150/night.  Of course, the spouse's spa bill quickly negates the concept of free...  

 

Mike

 

post #18 of 24

Anywhere but here.

post #19 of 24

Having been to most of the places you mentioned in your post, the place I am most anxious to get back to is Banff/Lake Louise. It has good mountains (Lake Louise, Sunshine, Banff Norquay) right there and a few others not too far - Nakiska about an hour away (a race oriented mt. site of the GS and SL events of the Calgary olympics, I liked it very much, when I was there, they kept it in race condition with injected trails, etc. ), Castle (near Nakiska) with cat skiing from the resort, Kicking Horse (much farther, I did not get there), Marmot Basin in Jasper (about 2 or 3 hours north of LL as I recall). There is also some serious heli in the area.

 

What really makes me want to go back though is not just the mountains. I found it to be one of the most beautiful areas I have ever been to. Ski Can used to run a combination trip that we enjoyed that included Jasper, LL, and Banff and a car. The drive from Jasper to Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway is spectacular. We stayed at the Fairmont hotels and the room at Lake Louise was one of the best views I've ever had - tough to get to sleep watching the moon over the lake, mountains and glaciers. Great food too.

post #20 of 24
The problem with Banff/Lake Louise is the OP said that they like Powder, and unfortunately that area has notoriously low snow levels.

The cold temperatures preserve what does fall, and I'm certain the scenery makes up for a lot, but as a powder skier the numbers just don't stack up.

I devised an Index in The Powder Bible on Tony Crocker's stats and Lake Louise & Norquay areas fared terribly - ranked 48 & 50 respectively (Out of 50), separated only by Sun Valley.
Edited by CM - 12/11/11 at 5:50am
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by eppentorf View Post

 

 

 

Like the idea! 

 

Where would you start an interior BC trip? Fly into Calgary or from Vancouver? Given that DEC is the snowiest month, how good are they with keeping the roads open, espc. Highway 1. 

 

Would you need to reserve Motels in advance, or can you always find a room for let's say around $100?

 

 


Since it's a early season trip, IMO it's a better idea to fly into Vancouver and rent a car there.

Then you could reach Whistler for a few days and head towards the interior where it's much less crowded than Whistler during x-mas and holiday season.

 

Resorts in interior BC are not super close to each other like Utah or Colorado's Summit County, but they are reasonably easy to get to, what means that you can ski one resort one day, drive to another one, sleep there and ski it the next day.

 

The Okanagan ski resorts (Sun Peaks, Big White, Silverstar etc) have fewer rocks, which means that they ski pretty well early in the season even with a thin base, besides that, they get good dry snow in frequent small-medium dumps.

And the best thing is that they get much less skiers per inch of snow, than Whistler so you can find good snow days after a storm.

I'm a little biased but among them, Sun Peaks is my favorite, Bigger, more vertical, varied terrain and very few crowds even during the busy holidays.

 

If you keep driving east, Revelstoke is a real steep powder mountain, you can have some of the best tree skiing there, but since there are only 3 lifts and it's located in a kind of powder hound community, you may get more lift lines on powder days. But it's definitely worth a trip.

 

 

 

post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 

Folks, thanks so much for the replies. I will make up my mind and book something in the next days. Really difficult to decide.

 

Leaning towards SLC or DEN at the moment since Southwest flies there and their tickets are fully refundable, just in case smile.gif

post #23 of 24

Well, where did you end up going?

post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 

I ended up in CO. Very little snow, but Keystone, Breckinridge and Copper did an outstanding job of snowmaking and grooming. Snowmass and Aspen Conditions on the contrary were poor, tons of stones web on the groomers. 

 

We added in some hiking and hot springs and blue skies to get a pretty successful trip overall

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