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Canada questions

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi,

We're a couple of Swedes flying in to Calgary in the end of February for our first Canadian ski experience, really excited!

What route would you recommend? We get in to Calgary late Friday and leave late the next Sat. Ideally we'd like to see 2-3 resorts with easily accessible powder, good snow and a nice vibe. Also, we're a pretty mixed group, so would be preferable if there is some easier terrain available as well.

We'd prefer not to have to allocate any ski-time to driving but be able to do the driving early mornings/late afternoons. Am I right to assume that this rules out doing e.g. KH and Red Mountain in the same trip?

Does one typically need to book lodging in advance, or can it be found upon arrival?

Thanks in advance guys!

post #2 of 18

We once did this trip out of calgary (8 days/7 nigths):

 

drive 6 hours to revelstoke, ski three days

drive 2.5 hours to Kicking horse, ski three days

drive 3.5 hours back to clagary

(might be a bit off in my driving times)

 

Those two resorts were awesome and uncrowded (at least when we were there) and It didn't feel like too much car but there might not be that much easy terrain for the beginers in your group.

 

Maybe you can do kicking horse with panorama and the banff area this way you cut down driving times a lot. as it's all in rougthly the same area and has plenty to keep you occupied.

post #3 of 18

If you leave from Calgary early morning you can get to Kicking Horse in time for half-day skiing.  The time change is weird because you cross into BC Province going to KH, but the time zone change does not happen until the top of Rogers Pass on the way to Revelstoke.  If it snows they often close Rogers Pass for avalanche work, so I suggest skiing KH and Revelstoke first and then come back east to Lake Louise and Sunshine so you do not take a chance of getting stuck in Revelstoke when you are trying to catch a plane home in Calgary.

 

A word of caution, the Trans-Canadian Highway can be in nice condition with little traffic, so it is easy to drive too fast.  They have speed cameras along the way, so even if the police do not stop you, a week after you get home you can get a notice from the car rental company that they are charging your credit card for a speeding ticket.  Also, they gravel the roads for ice and snow, which causes rock damage to the cars, so inspect your rental car closely and document any existing damage so you do not get charged for it when you return the car.

 

I would suggest booking your lodging reservations in advance if possible.  Golden does not have too many motels (it is not necessary to stay at the ski area), and even though Revelstoke is not crowded with skiers they get a lot of snowmobilers.

post #4 of 18

Wait until a few days prior to your arrival to make an itinerary, based on the current conditions.   I would seriously consider a Castle, Fernie, Kicking Horse and Lake Louise loop if conditions were good.  Red's too far.

Weekends you might need reservations.

post #5 of 18

What I did last year was drive from Calgary to Golden, that's about 3 hrs.  I skied KH the next day, then drove to RS to ski the next day, i think it's about 2 hrs, and after skiing drove back to hotel at Golden, and you get an extra hr with time zone change to get to Revi in am.  Then the next day i got up and drove back east towards Calgary and skied Lake Louise.  It's nice not to have to switch hotel rooms, you could ski KH 2 days, Revi 1-2 days and then LL & Sunshine Valley, but if you skied both SV and LL you would have to switch hotel rooms and stay a night in Banff.  But that would give you 4 nts in the same hotel room.

 

Here's my trip report

http://epicski.onthesnow.com/t/119242/from-golden-bc-kicking-horse-revelstoke-lake-louse-march-9-11#post_1562372

post #6 of 18
Quote:
Wait until a few days prior to your arrival to make an itinerary, based on the current conditions.   I would seriously consider a Castle, Fernie, Kicking Horse and Lake Louise loop if conditions were good.  Red's too far. 

+1 I've done this loop trip twice. 

 

With clean roads:

Calgary to Castle 2.5 hours

Castle to Fernie 1.5 hours

Fernie to Fairmont Hot Springs 2 hours.  Panorama is 1/2 hour up the hill from there. OR

Fernie to Golden 4 hours.   Kicking Horse is ~15 minutes up the hill.  Most of us would choose KH over Panorama despite the extra drive for expert terrain and more snow.  Panorama is better for intermediates than KH.

 

Panorama or KH to Lake Louise 1.5 - 2 hours.  Add another 30-40 minutes if you're staying in Banff.  Sunshine is 15 minutes or so from Banff.

 

I still prefer this trip to the out-to-Revelstoke and back itinerary.  I like both Fernie and Castle much more than Revelstoke.  All 3 are better for advanced than intermediate skiers.   Lake Louise is big and has good balance of terrain.  Sunshine is more intermediate except for some very extreme stuff that requires avy gear and may or may not be open.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #7 of 18

there are a lot of choices. With a week to ski out of Calgary you can easily do 7 different areas. All having fairly minimal driving between each. However when my friends come from Sweden they prefer to stay in the area that has the most natural beauty, spend more days in one hotel for less bag moving and have a bit of night life.

 

If that's your style

base yourself in Banff (book rooms on weekends I wouldn't don't worry about Revy or Golden both have lots of very uninteresting but cheap motels)

Ski Sunshine to get your legs in (closest to Banff or Lake Louise 45 min away) When your ready for something different after skiing at Lake Louise take the 1 hr drive to Golden (Yoho Park in daylight) and stay there (no night life to speak of ) ski Kicking horse (which is a must ) then do the drive to Revelstoke after your day there (Rodgers pass is also worth seeing in daylight and has a lot fewer chances of  closures in the afternoon).

That gives you 4 good hills all are better than Are and not a lot of driving.

 

If you prefer to max the number of areas and don't mind more driving head south from Calgary hit Castle (reserve a room  first not much in the area ) Fernie (crowded by Canadian standards on weekends) Whitefish is possible (if you have a US visa) then up to Panorama, Kicking Horse,Revy, Lake Louise and Sunshine or even Norquay's bumps for half a day then a short drive to flight home. REd and Whitewater are just to far to add in as well

 

I recommend option 1. You also have a 9 hr time difference to adjust to and generally I find the most reliable hills for snow conditions are Kicking Horse Lake Louise  the upper part of  Revelstoke and Sunshine  But no hill is perfect. For the bigger route Castle is a great hill but its best skiing can get shut down when windy  Fernie can get very warm and can be crowded on weekends, Whitefish does get fog (but has a nice little town ) Panorama many find pretty mellow and does not get a great amount of snow. If you do the bigger route make sure you check conditions first don't make a bigger drive then wind up with poorer conditions  

 

While I highly recommend reservations in both Banff and Fernie on Friday/Saturday nights I don't bother and have never had a problem getting a room.

Castle has a very limited number of rooms in area  without a reservation I wouldn't show up and expect to find something. 

post #8 of 18

I live between Fernie and Castle, have passes at both and have skied all the resorts you are considering many times.

- Forget Panorama - mostly cruising and half the snow of Fernie

-Castle has a separate mountain for beginners and intermediates. They also have a very civilized hostel right across the parking lot if you are on a budget. Strictly just about skiing with no day spas, fancy bars, etc. Night life means going to bed early. Deserted midweek. BIG BIG mountain skiing.

- Fernie is more resortish. Night life in town 5 km away. Lots of accomodation options and also has a hostel (the Raging Elk). No shortage of Scandinavians.

- Long drive to Golden (Kicking Horse)  at about 6 hours but doable after skiing as long as the weather is good. No mountain passes. If the weather is bad and snowing hard don't leave Fernie nor Castle. 

post #9 of 18
In terms of what resorts to visit...Revelstoke is amazing! So is Kicking Horse. The glades in Kicking Horse are awesome. For powder, and off piste skiing, go to either of these two. Fernie was good, so was Banff, but they just didn't blow my mind the way Revy and KH did. Just my two pennies.

Ps. I skiied whistler on a 50cm pow day after 48 hours of snowstorm. I then skiied Revy on a pow day. No lift lines, easily accessible backcountry and bowls. I won't be going back to whistler now I know that Revy is so good! Just so happens it's 1 hour from my Aunt's. Lucky me:)
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot for your replies so far guys. So it seems as though Banff and KH should be penciled in regardless of if we then choose Revy or Castle. Any suggestions on accommodation?

post #11 of 18
Yes, but mostly for logistics. Current conditions trump everything!
I really liked the Best Western in Revelstoke, but there are cheaper places.
post #12 of 18

Another recommendation is stay in Banff which gives easy access to Sunshine, Louise and Norquay all as part of a lift/bus pass package.  No driving other than to Banff and that can be done by bus.

 

Sorry haven't been there in a while and other areas may also be accessible this way.

post #13 of 18

you can access Kicking Horse by shuttle from Banff - about 2 and half hours (Revy is 2 hours further too far for single day and return) but if your planning on doing any skiing other than the three local areas of Banff  (Sunshine, Lake Louise, Norquay)  a vehicle is much more practical and will allow you to see more of the region at your own pace.

Lots of nice sight seeing in addition the skiing in that part of the world.

post #14 of 18

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kleinstiefel View Post
 

Hi,

We're a couple of Swedes flying in to Calgary in the end of February for our first Canadian ski experience, really excited!

What route would you recommend? We get in to Calgary late Friday and leave late the next Sat. Ideally we'd like to see 2-3 resorts with easily accessible powder, good snow and a nice vibe. Also, we're a pretty mixed group, so would be preferable if there is some easier terrain available as well.

We'd prefer not to have to allocate any ski-time to driving but be able to do the driving early mornings/late afternoons. Am I right to assume that this rules out doing e.g. KH and Red Mountain in the same trip?

Does one typically need to book lodging in advance, or can it be found upon arrival?

Thanks in advance guys!

Any of the place you will visit on this trip are great with an awesome scenery around. The problem with visiting too many places over one week period is that it is overwhelming and tiring. It is also potentially counterproductive if you are going to places you have never been before. It is similar to a Euro-trip that some american students do after graduating college, trying to see  8 different countries in 12 days. I would recommend to choose  2 or three resorts and spend at least 2 days at each. Also, it seems that you are looking for some intermediate terrain. Beware that KH and Revy are predominately expert mountains, with their main offering being steep chutes for KH and steep tree skiing for Revy. Also most of the Canadian skiing is at pretty low altitude (unlike US) and conditions at the lower part of the mountain cand become crappy fast especially in spring, but also at the end of February -beginning of March. unfortunately it where most intermediate/ beginner terrain is. And this terrain is quite limited at the both mountains to start with. 

   I would recommend to stick with Banff area (great views, easy access, variety of terrain for every taste, two mountains to spice things up) and Kicking Horse. Staying at the resort (KH) is far more convenient but definitely requires booking lodging in advance (try to get Glacier Lodge). You can stay at Banff 3 nights and KH 3 nights. This way you can ski two or 3 days at LL or SSV and move to KH (2 hours drive). while at KH you can ski there 2 to 4 days or choose to drive one day to Revy ( i would not do it). KH definitely requires at least 3 days to learn the mountain to truly enjoy it, especially if you like to hike ridges and ski supersteep tight chutes. Snow at the top is one of the best and stays deep and fluffy in these chutes for days after storms.

 

 

This year I am going to Revy for 4 days of skiing . On the way there and back I will hit either LL or SSV (depending on visibility, it is better in LL on flat light days) or KH. I will need only one day at KH, because I have been there a number of times and know my way around. I would never recommend to go KH or Revy for less than 3 days for the first time .

Also, I would wait to see how the season develops and book my lodgings depending on conditions. Conditions trump everything else in these places. There is not much else to do but ski. It is not Austria or France skiing. If the snow base is low in Banff area (which often happens, although less so when you are coming ) I would go to KH and Revy. If conditions are OK I would go to Banff and KH.

post #15 of 18

try getting to lake louise. I would rather ski 2 days there than 2 days at sunshine. It is much nicer than sunshine (which has a lot of runs above the treeline and if you are not use to it you may get dizzy).

 

Banff is the place to stay and the nice part is that it is considered off season so the rates are better than summer

 

Norquay looks like the local mtn.  We only drove there and looks like fun but it was steeper than I thought it would be

post #16 of 18
We used to stay at the Post Hotel at Lake Louise. Views at the top of the chair are absolutely gorgeous. Love Lake Louise.
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by kleinstiefel View Post
 

Thanks a lot for your replies so far guys. So it seems as though Banff and KH should be penciled in regardless of if we then choose Revy or Castle. Any suggestions on accommodation?


Whats more important to you price, best access to slopes, maybe your own kitchen or even some pampering try the Chateaus. It's a bit like telling you what slope to ski. You will find all of the motels in region will be clean and cover the basic needs even the cheapest ones. A bit more will gets you a nicer room and more ammenities. In Banff/Lake Louise area be sure to stay where there is decent breakfast included, the extra cost is worth it will save you time in the morning.  Kicking Horse and Revy have slopeside condos but do cost more than in town. You need a reservation and often requires a minimum stay - There we usually stay in motels in the adjacent towns, more to do in evening (although not a lot) and it's just a short drive up to the hill.

 

Hejdo 

post #18 of 18

Keep in mind that KH requires a lot of snow, and they don't always have it.

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