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Whitewater/Red Mountains in December? Kicking Horse?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

A few of us are planning on a christmas trip and are trying to make up our minds where to go. We're definitely staying in BC, and we all live and ride in the Okanagan/Revy so we're hoping to go somewhere we don't get to see as much.

 

I've been to Whitewater a bunch and Red once, but never even close to early in the season. Wondering if it's worth the trip in December or better to do a trip later in the season even if it will have to be shorter. Maybe there's a few locals around that can fill me in on how the decembers are out there, and maybe some inside info on accommodations. I've always just watched the weather and gone last minute since I used to have family in Nelson, but now we'll need somewhere to stay and I have a feeling you can't just show up at christmas with no reservations.

 

Somehow i've never been to Kicking Horse, but in fairness i've not heard many good things about it. The terrain is interesting to me, big lines for sure but I feel like it could be a parking lot at a busy time like christmas break.

 

The irony here is the Okanagan has big decembers, but we really want to do a road trip while we have the time off. Your thoughts and knowledge are much appreciated.

post #2 of 12

Considering a trip out there around the same time as well.  Interested in hearing what people have to say.  Whitewater/Red seems like it should be one of the better choices that time of year.

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

That's my thinking too.

post #4 of 12

As you're certainly aware, early season is always a crap shoot.

 

Of the three areas mentioned, I believe Kicking Horse is the least likely to have adequate snow by Christmas. It has some excellent terrain, but it needs a lot of snow. It often doesn't have it by February, let alone Chirstmas.

 

Whitewater has had some very good early season years (last year was incredible), and a few bad ones. There are no guarantees. Even in good years, some of the best terrain may not be open yet or may still be quite hazardous at Christmas. There are many areas that become much more fun once the base reaches 250cm. Of course, the fact that we regard a base of 250cm as just adequate tells you that we might be a bit spoiled.

 

Red might be OK, but much of it is warmer than Whitewater. It sees more rain and ice as a result. It does not get the same micro climate as Whtewater. If their snow is good, they've got some great terrain. If their snow isn't good, well, Whitewater is not far.

 

Whitewater is probably your best bet for early season, but I'll say it again: No guarantees.

 

For lodging there is the Best Western or Prestige in Nelson. I'm not familiar with lodging options in Rossland or Trail. I think there's a cheap motel in Salmo... :dunno

post #5 of 12

With Whitewater adding a new lift  a few years ago that opened up a large amount of previously hike to and hitch hike back terrain to easy access, and Red Mt. adding 1,000 acres of new terrain this season, I think you are going to the right spot.

 

http://unofficialnetworks.com/red-mountain-add-1000acre-201314-ski-season-125141/

 

Kicking Horse has some fantastic terrain, including some easy hike to stuff and 70 inbounds ski to steep chutes, but the lift set up sucks. 80% of the skiing requires you to ski all the way to the bottom (4,200 vert) and use the gondola.  Normally the crowds are not bad there, but from my experience at X-mas it'll be long lines at the bottom.  KH is definitely worth hitting, but not over the holidays.  If the season is off to a weak snow start there are no good options for just skiing the top of the mountain.

post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PoisonTheWell View Post
 I have a feeling you can't just show up at christmas with no reservations.

 

Since your driving, I would wait as long as you possibly can. 

 

Or:

 

What about one of the higher cat ops,  Baldface or Mustang?    Or even better Heli.     Christmas is still low season.

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
 

 

Since your driving, I would wait as long as you possibly can. 

 

Or:

 

What about one of the higher cat ops,  Baldface or Mustang?    Or even better Heli.     Christmas is still low season.

 

The problem is if we wait and the conditions are good everything is booked. Everything decent i've found is mostly booked already. Unfortunately I get violently ill sitting in a Cat, even pumped full of gravol. Heli is our back up plan, I don't know that i'd go to Nelson for it but I don't know much about heli in that area. I'm pretty picky when it comes to heli, I mean if i'm paying for Heli i'm expecting big lines. There may be nothing that irritates me more than going heli tree skiing, I can find the same stuff off my sled.

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhcooley View Post
 

As you're certainly aware, early season is always a crap shoot.

 

Of the three areas mentioned, I believe Kicking Horse is the least likely to have adequate snow by Christmas. It has some excellent terrain, but it needs a lot of snow. It often doesn't have it by February, let alone Chirstmas.

 

Whitewater has had some very good early season years (last year was incredible), and a few bad ones. There are no guarantees. Even in good years, some of the best terrain may not be open yet or may still be quite hazardous at Christmas. There are many areas that become much more fun once the base reaches 250cm. Of course, the fact that we regard a base of 250cm as just adequate tells you that we might be a bit spoiled.

 

Red might be OK, but much of it is warmer than Whitewater. It sees more rain and ice as a result. It does not get the same micro climate as Whtewater. If their snow is good, they've got some great terrain. If their snow isn't good, well, Whitewater is not far.

 

Whitewater is probably your best bet for early season, but I'll say it again: No guarantees.

 

For lodging there is the Best Western or Prestige in Nelson. I'm not familiar with lodging options in Rossland or Trail. I think there's a cheap motel in Salmo... :dunno

 

Thanks, this is the info I was after. It sounds like most years things aren't fully open by christmas, I hope it's another great snow year like last year but I can't rely on that. I'm thinking we may just plan nothing and go wherever the snow is and hope for the best. Or go Heli.

post #9 of 12
Quote:

Originally Posted by PoisonTheWell View Post

 

 



It sounds like most years things aren't fully open by christmas, I hope it's another great snow year like last year but I can't rely on that.





Well, they might be open, but you wouldn't necessarily want to ski Sprouler's on a 150cm base. Some of the best OB stuff is up to you, in any case.

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhcooley View Post
 
Quote:
 
Originally Posted by PoisonTheWell View Post

 

 

 

It sounds like most years things aren't fully open by christmas, I hope it's another great snow year like last year but I can't rely on that.

 

Well, they might be open, but you wouldn't necessarily want to ski Sprouler's on a 150cm base. Some of the best OB stuff is up to you, in any case.

 

Yeah I hear ya, it's looking more and more like Heli and Revy. I'm definitely making a whitewater/red trip this year but I want to hit it at the right time.

post #11 of 12
Quote:
What about one of the higher cat ops,  Baldface or Mustang?  

Mustang's average snowfall (550 inches at the 5,700 foot lodge) is so high they open Dec. 6.   So Christmas there is probably as reliable mid-January most places.  But there are only a few slots open, even in December. http://www.mustangpowder.com/availability.htm  

 

Quote:
There may be nothing that irritates me more than going heli tree skiing, I can find the same stuff off my sled. 

Not much you can do about that if the alpine has bad vis or windblown conditions, impossible to predict even a few days in advance.

 

Whitewater is one of the better bets for December, but of course there are no guarantees.   Kicking Horse should be avoided anytime it might be crowded with that lift system.   I've been there 6x, never seen it, but all midweek, non-holiday.  Living within drive distance, I wouldn't commit to Red until I knew it was good.

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

Mustang's average snowfall (550 inches at the 5,700 foot lodge) is so high they open Dec. 6.   So Christmas there is probably as reliable mid-January most places.  But there are only a few slots open, even in December. http://www.mustangpowder.com/availability.htm  

 

Not much you can do about that if the alpine has bad vis or windblown conditions, impossible to predict even a few days in advance.

 

Whitewater is one of the better bets for December, but of course there are no guarantees.   Kicking Horse should be avoided anytime it might be crowded with that lift system.   I've been there 6x, never seen it, but all midweek, non-holiday.  Living within drive distance, I wouldn't commit to Red until I knew it was good.

Appreciate the info. I'd love to go to Mustangs but I just can't do a Cat trip again so soon, I get so ill in those things I need seasons in between trips. There are a lot of people that come to my area for tree skiing so that's all you end up doing regardless of weather and conditions. Especially in Revy, the only way you see good alpine is if you do private and I don't know enough people that are into it. Tomorrow i'm going to start looking around to see what I can find in the Kootenays and other areas. 

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