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British Columbia Ski Resort Information

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Looking to make a trip to British Columbia this coming winter 2013.  Currently looking at Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, and also Big White as possibilities. Looking for some comments at any of them. When is the best time to go? Thanks.

post #2 of 23

What kind of terrain are you looking for?

post #3 of 23

Check out the "Resorts" section of the site, too. It looks like  there are some reviews for those mountains.

post #4 of 23

yes check the resort info -but you  post a better idea of what you want/like/expect i am sure you'll get lots of advice. I ski those resorts every year and they all have some better aspects than another. And you also pass coming from the west Apex, Silver Star, Sun Peaks, from the south  Red, White Water, Fernie, Panorama & Castle and from the east Sunshine and Lake Louise in Alberta all are also good hills well worth visiting. Lots of choices and not much distance between them. Take a look at their sites as well .  

post #5 of 23

Lots of TR's about BC, here is mine from 09'

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/82314/tr-kicking-horse-revelstoke-b-c-2-25-3-7

 

JF

post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by serendipity9c View Post

When is the best time to go? Thanks.

 

 

When it's snowing! 

 

If you can swing it, go at the last minute and wing it!   BC is paradise!

post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 

We would like to hit up a couple mountains if possible. Planning probably 8 nights.  For terrain: steeps, bowls, ungroomed, above tree line access, less tree skiing than more. Lot of mountains out there and I don't know much about them. I do know we would like to stay away from Banff, Lake Louise, Sunshine.

 

Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Big White were some that came to mind....just don't know. Right now we are planning last week in February (not sure if this will matter on which mountains to hit or not hit).  

 

Thanks.

post #8 of 23

I used SW, into Spokane.  If the snow wasn't looking good, I could cancel at the last minute and not be out a dime.

We went without any reservations, except a for a mini van, which I could also cancel last minute.   It was a fantastic trip and I'm already looking forward to doing it again next season, if the snows good.

 

Just make sure everyone in your party has a clean record!

post #9 of 23

From mid Jan to early March is the most reliable weather and conditions for B.C. Whistler has the best/most bowls. Fernie has bowls that often get closed, Kicking Horse has lots of upper mountain bowls but with no mid terminal on the gondola you have to ski top to bottom, Revelstoke has hike/traverse to/from bowls with North Bowl being kinda short vertical and Greely Bowl is very steep. I never recommend Big White as it's nick name is Big Whiteout and you guessed, it gets too much fog.

 

Here is what I recommend for a 8 day trip:

Flying to Canada from the USA is pricey so instead, fly to Spokane and rent an SUV, drive about 2 (or more?) hours north to Rossland, B.C. and ski Red Mountain. Even though the OP does not like trees, Red is considered by many to have the best tree skiing in Canada and if the OP is a back country skier, there is bc skiing accessable from the resort. Biggest negative on Red is that being in southern B.C. and kinda low elevation it can be susceptible to rain.

 

Less than an hour and a half north of Red is Whitewater ski area near the town of Nelson B.C. Nelson is the cultural centre of the region and is populated by hippies, young and old. Whitewater has no on hill accommodation and is the anti Whistler, but it gets the most snow of any major resort in Canada. I define major resort as having at least 3 chairlifts and 2000' vertical. Three years ago Whitewater bought Vail's old #5 chair (a 1970's vintage Dopplemyr fixed grip triple) giving the place it's third chair and 2000' vert. Even though the OP does not want tree skiing much, how does 2000' vert of continuous fall line black diamond trees that turns into double black trees part way down with the option of bailing onto a ski way to avoid the double black trees sound? Also excellent back country access from the resort. Biggest negative: the ski area is kinda small, but no problem for a couple day visit.

 

From Nelson it is about 4 hour drive north to Revelstoke and includes a free ferry boat ride across a lake. Ferry shuts down at midnight. This is the most reliable route to Revelstoke as access to Revelstoke from the East thru Rogers Pass on the Trans-Canada Highway is often closed for avalanches or avalanche control. Access from the West on the Trans-Canada is sometimes closed, but from the South (Nelson) the road is almost never closed.

 

Revelstoke (RMR) is the biggest vertical is North America but with a base elevation of only 1700' above sea level it is very low elevation and sometimes they get rain at the bottom and snow on the top 3000' or 3500' of RMR's 5600'. Biggest negative: they didn't set up the mountain's lift system very well for skiing the upper mountain as the top Stoker Chair is only 2000' vert on a 5600' mountain and it only has 6 runs that lead back to the chair. (Excellent runs though with the lift line being my favourite). Also there is too much traversing due to poor lift layout. Oh, another mountain with great tree skiing.

 

While in British Columbia you might want to try Cat or Heli Skiing since you will be in a region that has the biggest and best Cat and Heli operations in the world. The better Cats have an operating area of 30,000 to 40,000 acres and Heli operators about 160,000 to 200,000 acres of terrain to chose from.

 

DO NOT GO CAT SKIING WITH RMR. Their operating area is small and adjacent to the lifts, so skiers can buy a lift ticket and hike up and over from the Stoker Chair and poach lines beside Cat skiers paying $500/day.

 

That is all for now. I will do another post later outlining a slightly different trip
 

post #10 of 23

Very nice summary DanoT.

A note to the OP - None of these resorts are really high enough to be above the tree line. For that you have to go to Whistler, Lake Louise, Sunshine or Castle. If you are interested in something different you might consider Castle Mountain in southwest Alberta as it is 1000 feet higher than Fernie which is two hours west on the other side of the Continental Divide. Few people midweek, lots of powder and big bowls above tree line plus the Chutes start at 38 degrees/1700 vertical and get steeper from there. Deserted on weekdays. Negatives - a long way from any where, very old lifts, brutal wind (keeps the posers away) and zero nightlife. Definitely not the place to go for a resort experience as it is only about skiing. Check Epic resort site for reviews.http://www.epicski.com/products/castle-mountain

Here's a couple of Youtubes -

2010 was a poor year for snow and the video was taken three weeks after the last snow. Note the wind and crowds. The terrain you see represents about 1/8 of the mountain

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fku-oIBqks

They have a small relatively cheap (>$300) cat operation. Got lucky with a truly bottomless day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-QASwg-ZtU&feature=relmfu

You really can't go far wrong with any of DanoT's suggestions.

post #11 of 23

cliffcam_orig.jpg

 

Today up at BW. 

post #12 of 23

DanoT,

 

Notice the OP didn't say where he is located, so it's entirely possible that he's in Canada, probably in the east since he used "out there" to indicate BC.  What would you suggest if they're flying domestically?

post #13 of 23

Regarding end of February - I forgot to mention if possible avoid university reading week/Family Day long weekend around that time.

post #14 of 23

last week of feb will be good for all those areas, used to always do road trips up to the end of second week in march but have found in the last 10 years March is starting to become more variable and can be much warmer.. If your doing a road trip (which is the best way for b.c.) post your leaving city, I am sure I've done what ever route you thinking of at some point . 

post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post

DanoT,

 

Notice the OP didn't say where he is located, so it's entirely possible that he's in Canada, probably in the east since he used "out there" to indicate BC.  What would you suggest if they're flying domestically?

 

Don't know if the OP is still following the thread but lets continue the discussion anyway.

 

I was going to suggest what CastleDave has posted. Fly to Calgary, drive 3 hours to Fernie and then 2 hours to Castle. I have not skied Castle or Fernie but did visit last summer as part of my truck camper ski area parking lot tour, summer addition. I plan on checking both off my ski area bucket list in 2013 on the way to/from the Big Sky Gathering.

 

The word on Fernie is that during a typical storm pattern it snows like crazy for a day or two, then gets warm (Fernie is kinda low elevation) and sometimes turns to rain, then freezes. With good timing it can be fabulous, if not then it is any easy drive to Castle.

 

A little bit more about Castle: there are some private condos/homes that might be for rent by the night, there is a hostel, and there are RV plug-ins and an old looking shower room/wash room/laundromat. There is one bar. The nearest town, Pincher Creek, is a farming community that is the farthest thing from a ski town that you will ever find. And to underscore CastleDave's comments about the wind, the Pincher Creek area is the windmill capital of Canada. Skiing wind sift can be fun as you can get fresh tracks in the morning even when it hasn't snowed over night.yahoo.gif

 

Best way to deal with weekend crowds from Calgary is to book Cat skiing either with Castle or Island Lake Lodge which is near Fernie and long established and highly regarded for steep terrain.

post #16 of 23

the original poster has left the building. However Castle. Great hill, fabulous continuous  fall line chutes plus dry snow with drift fill between storms but again check the wind first. The issue is not so much the the mind numbing cold nor the scree in your face but the fact that the upper lift which accesses the best runs often gets shut down in high wind. That will make the hill ski small. For a good three mountain trip when the snow is falling in that region also add Whitefish into the mix. "bc/alberta/montana " resort information. 

post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post

 

The word on Fernie is that during a typical storm pattern it snows like crazy for a day or two, then gets warm (Fernie is kinda low elevation) and sometimes turns to rain, then freezes. With good timing it can be fabulous, if not then it is any easy drive to Castle.

 

My bud and I have had some amazing days at Fernie in the early 90's and he even got married at Island Lake.  We were originally heading in that direction, but conditions turned us toward Nelson/Revelstoke instead.    While at Revey, we road up with a 10 year former Fernie skier,  that had just moved to Revelstoke.  He moved because under RMR, Fernie is extremely slow to open terrain after a dump and that by the time they did, it's already turned?  

 

I think RMR was putting in the Polar Peak chair to alleviate this problem? 

Did it help and has anyone skied off of Polar since the new chair was put in and how much was it open this year?

post #18 of 23

IMHO Polar Peak did help open up the bowls quicker but it's tough to judge. Pre Polar Peak 2010/11 was a huge snow year and it seemed like things were closed for days at a time. This year was not as big a snow year and things opened fairly quickly. Maybe that's Polar Peak and maybe it's just less avalache issues. The other reason for the new chair was to open more runs but I was disappoined. If it was running It was fogged in (clouded in?) much of the time and coverage on the interesting runs was sketchy until later in the season with wind blowing away much of the cover. Other Fernie skiers should comment regarding their experience with Polar Peak.

A quick Fernie vs. Castle comparison - I have passes for both Fernie and Castle with about 25 days at each last season. I missed upper mountain 4 days due to wind closures at Castle  and probably 10 days I couldn't ski were I wanted at Fernie due to closure.

post #19 of 23

glad to hear you only missed 4 days on upper chair out of 25 at Castle. We only hit it as a single day stop while on road trips and have had issues with the upper chair. It always eventually ran but spent down time waiting for it. Guess we just have bad timing, thought it occurred more often. Love the straight shot fall lines off same. Must be among the longest consistent pitches of any area.  
 

post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by noncrazycanuck View Post

glad to hear you only missed 4 days on upper chair out of 25 at Castle. We only hit it as a single day stop while on road trips and have had issues with the upper chair. It always eventually ran but spent down time waiting for it. Guess we just have bad timing, thought it occurred more often. Love the straight shot fall lines off same. Must be among the longest consistent pitches of any area.  
 


4 out of 25 days is like 17 or 18% of the time isn't it? That is a fair amount of time but hey every single ski resort in western Canada has a flaw of some sort, but when all is totalled up the skiing is amazing. And the best news is that most of the out of province skiers go to Whistler and a few go to Banff, leaving the rest of western Canada's major resorts very uncrowded..

post #21 of 23

your right about every resort having some flaws but thankfully also right about the great skiing in general -can't think of a better region.

post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post


4 out of 25 days is like 17 or 18% of the time isn't it? That is a fair amount of time but hey every single ski resort in western Canada has a flaw of some sort, but when all is totalled up the skiing is amazing. And the best news is that most of the out of province skiers go to Whistler and a few go to Banff, leaving the rest of western Canada's major resorts very uncrowded..

 

 

Castle was my home hill when I lived in Lethbridge. It is a great mountain, but the wind issues are really serious.

 

The Red chair was closed about 15% of the time, and had delayed openings of early closings at least as often. This is serious because Red isn't "a chair", it is "the chair". The main part of castle is served by a chair that gets you to mid mountain (and a parallel t-bar) and another chair that rises to the summit directly above the mid mountain lift. This means that you get to a high point and traverse out to your selected run, and back to the base. These long collectors aren't a big deal when you are using the full 3000 vert, but lose more than half of that (due to wind closures), and the mountain becomes really small.

 

Castle is a great hill when it is on. I have managed to convince my Calgary ski buddies to make the trip down a couple of times, but after hitting 4 wind times in a row, we've kind of crossed it off our list. I still go solo every once in a while, but my friends don't want to waste a hard earned ski day on the lower slopes of castle. For this reason, i am a little hesitant to recommend it to tourists.

post #23 of 23

manchester81 is right. Going to Castle and not being able to ski the top would be a drag. I have the dual luxuries of being retired and living only 30 minutes from Fernie so I can pick and choose my Castle days. I find http://www.snow-forecast.com/resorts/Castle-Mountain-Resort/6day/top to be reasonably accurate regarding wind forcast on top and if it looks bad I just turn right.

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