or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Best western spots for last week of January?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Best western spots for last week of January?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

We just realized that my teenage son has only one end of term exam next week, on Monday, and has the rest of the week off.  Rather than have him at home surfing the net all week, we might do a short trip (4 ski days) out west.  Seems that western Canada and US are all on the low side for snow.  So the question is, which areas have the least rocky base?  He's skied double blacks at Whistler before, and we'd like to ski the steeps if we can, but with the current low snowpack, which areas have the best alpine skiing without trashing the skis?

 

We're flying on airline points from Ottawa, so it may be easier to have only a single flight like to Vancouver or Calgary, and with the short trip, closer spots like Whistler, Banff, Fernie, Kicking Horse (or Montana?) might be easier.  I know little about Colorado, Utah etc, but if there are areas that are easily accessible and not super pricey, I'm open to anywhere with good snow.

 

With luck there is new snow next week, but the long range forecast shows not a huge amount, so I'd prefer to find a spot that will be good with or without snow next week.

 

Thanks,

Peter

post #2 of 21
Utah is in good shape and if you don't want to rent a car they have ski buses that run to the resort from slc
post #3 of 21
We've got an 81 inch base at Whitefish, but it's been like ten days without snow and none in the forecast. If you like groomers, the snow quality is good. But off groomed is decidedly firm. (And I don't really want the sun to soften it because I don't want us losing base.) It is sort of doable to get here from Calgary, as there are hundreds of those guys down here all the time, but you'd be driving past Fernie, which has 71 inches, perfectly acceptable. Other than that you'd have to fly in to Kalispell, which is close to the mountain, but not so doable on a direct flight.
post #4 of 21

while it's not as good as usual the base is ok at Whistler too. Spring like conditions right now and no new snow expected until next week at earliest If the snow does come in your your time frame we always get it first.

However you have done Whistler - there are a lot of easy options out of Calgary I would do a different mountain each day and see something different. If the snow conditions limit any areas terrain

the views are still spectacular and at least new runs every day will be a nice change up. Don't worry

about booking rooms ahead unless arrival is late at night.  

post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies.  My brother put me onto this website, with a clickable map where you can find snowpack stats in BC

http://bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca/data/asp/realtime/index.htm

I had looked at some resort reports and saw no sign of snow in the last week+ at most, or forecast snow in the next 5 days but it looks like not all areas are below normal in coverage.  Browsing the map it looks like a very variable and localized snowpack with some at near record lows and others at near record highs for this time of year.  (my father in law near Prince George has had structural roof damage to one of his barns due to snow load, but they're not near big ski areas)

 

I lived in Vancouver for 11 years so know Whistler well and their numbers do look pretty low, so I think we're leaning more to the interior.  I have a lot more homework to learn about the western US and figure out where might be good and if we can get flights on points, and whether prices are comparable.  Maybe when I'm not at my desk and supposed to be working......

 

At places like Fernie, Kicking Horse, or the Okanagan, I know it's been a while since there was new snow, but off of the groomers, has there been a thaw and re-freeze making things ugly, or is it just packed dry snow?  Is the Whistler alpine also spring-like and likely to freeze and be no fun at all, or is it just spring like lower on the mountain?  These are the things that are a bit harder to figure out from the resort ski reports!

 

Thanks again,

Peter

post #6 of 21
US snow pack

west_swepctnormal_update.png
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for that map.  It seems to fit with the numbers I'm seeing near the border on the north side.  Looking into flying on airline points, I'm limited to Vancouver or Calgary.  No Kelowna, no SLC.  Denver is possible on points, but Aspen does not work for our limited timing.   I think those are all the big airports worth checking with this years snow.  I might check some other spots in the BC interior like Kamloops of Cranbrook but haven't yet.

 

Any more input on best bang for buck and best snow conditions for next week would be great.  We'd prefer powder (duh) but otherwise are happy on alpine packed snow or happy enough on groomers if the option is just staying home! 

Peter

post #8 of 21

I would pick Calgary as your gateway airport.  In terms of snow preservation, no melt/freeze most of  Kicking Horse and the back of Lake Louise should be safe.  In terms of terrain my personal favorites are Fernie/Castle, which are easily doable on a short trip from Calgary. Castle tends to get wind reloaded soft snow, which is not a bad alternative to the powder you're not likely to get.  Fernie's main exposure is east but the north sides of ridges will be packed powder with no melt/freeze in January unless it rains.  If it rains at Fernie, then go for the the colder areas at Banff and Kicking Horse.  All 4 of these areas have plenty of steeps that your son will love.  Depending on how many days you have, Whitefish is a viable add-on to Fernie/Castle, 2 hours beyond Fernie.

post #9 of 21
Plus we're cheap. :-)
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 

Good points, thanks.  We're waiting to hear from a couple friends in Vancouver, but I suspect we'll pull the trigger on Calgary flights before the free flights disappear, and finalize plans once we have flights and see what the weather does closer to then.  We might push back a couple days and miss the first day back at school so my daughter can also come. (Her exams go a bit later) That would mean being out there over the weekend of Feb 1,2.  Are there any spots that get more crowded than others on weekends that we should consider when making plans? (i.e. Kicking Horse vs Louise vs Fernie)

 

Awesome info , thanks,

Peter

post #11 of 21

Kicking Horse's bottom to top gondola is very sensitive to overcrowding, though I suspect the locals overrun it mostly on powder days.  Lake Louise has the most lift capacity. Castle is most "under the radar."  I hear conflicting reports about lift lines at Fernie, have not experienced many of them personally, though with only 5 ski days there I'll defer to local opinion.

post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by peterw View Post
 

Thanks for the replies.  My brother put me onto this website, with a clickable map where you can find snowpack stats in BC

http://bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca/data/asp/realtime/index.htm

I had looked at some resort reports and saw no sign of snow in the last week+ at most, or forecast snow in the next 5 days but it looks like not all areas are below normal in coverage.  Browsing the map it looks like a very variable and localized snowpack with some at near record lows and others at near record highs for this time of year.  (my father in law near Prince George has had structural roof damage to one of his barns due to snow load, but they're not near big ski areas)

 

I lived in Vancouver for 11 years so know Whistler well and their numbers do look pretty low, so I think we're leaning more to the interior.  I have a lot more homework to learn about the western US and figure out where might be good and if we can get flights on points, and whether prices are comparable.  Maybe when I'm not at my desk and supposed to be working......

 

At places like Fernie, Kicking Horse, or the Okanagan, I know it's been a while since there was new snow, but off of the groomers, has there been a thaw and re-freeze making things ugly, or is it just packed dry snow?  Is the Whistler alpine also spring-like and likely to freeze and be no fun at all, or is it just spring like lower on the mountain?  These are the things that are a bit harder to figure out from the resort ski reports!

 

Thanks again,

Peter

 

 

Just back from Lake Louise. They got a nice dump of snow early last week. No issues with freeze/thaw while we were there. But the wind blew away a lot of snow on top. Tuesday was good underneath the Top of the World chair. Winds picked up on Tuesday, and Wednesday. The backside off the Top of the World Chair meant it was breakable wind crust when they finally opened up the bowls off the backside Wednesday afternoon.

 

I ended up doing a day heli trip with RK Heliski at Panaroma, BC last Friday as they ended up having one slot open that day. There was warm air aloft, with an inversion in the Purcells. What that ended up doing with the snow pack up high was to just soften the wind crust enough to make it very skiable. No issues with stability. Down in the trees, and lower elevation, the snow was soft, cream cheese conditions about 3rd or 4th buckle deep, which was way better than the wind crust off-piste at LL. 

A couple pics, but my battery died on my camera, and no spares!

 

 

 

Surprisingly good down lower in the trees. Boot top deep for the most part. Our guide did an awesome job of finding really good conditions for us!

 

 

Our Bell 204 on the way out to get group # 2. 

 

 

We flew over the Panorama ski resort on our way back to the lodge, and the conditions looked good but did not ski there. Hoping to get back there though!

post #13 of 21

from my experience -if you like the steeper terrain, a few items to watch out for. But all are great places to ski 

Fernie is pretty busy on weekends and rooms seem to be pricier than others often can be the effected by freeze thaw which can make the ridges accessing some of the steeper stuff really nasty - pay attention to freezing levels and Chinook forcast 

Castle has very limited options for rooms close by If it's windy you can get nice drift fill in but the upper chair which is what you require to access it could be closed I wouldn't go there if it is, watch the wind forcasts

Whitefish gets fog - but the hill is mostly below treeline. As your an ex Whistler skier that shouldn't be any trouble. Skis better in fog or low cloud cover for snow preservation - not at it's best in warm sunny days    

Sunshine - initial upload can be slow if your a late starter - best skiing is on Goats Eye no crowds there and you can get drift in fill by fences and ridges but unfortunately the best snow blows down much less interesting terrain  

Lake Louise - for steeps  backside chutes or off Poma - even on weekends no lines there. Preserves it's snow well but not a lot of it. If you like steeps you can find some good skiing there. even with no fresh. Arrive early not for the lifts but for closer parking on weekends. 

Kicking Horse - can be a bottle neck first lift if your  late but rare to have more than 10 minute wait for 4000' after - very good snow preservation best of the bunch in my opinion - you will get more vertical in a day than you likely will be able to ski even when it's crowded with Calgarians . Unlimited steep options  

Revelstoke - you'll still find some powder on top 2000 (with a bit of a walk) even if it hasn't snowed in 2 weeks -and a lot of it is plenty steep, Bottom is like

Fernie often subject to freeze/thaw  so watch for warm temps and don''t plan on skiing the full 6000 vertical more than for lunch and end of day. 

post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hi, thanks to everyone for all the info.  We've never had such a quick decision about a trip like this before, but I think we got the tricky bits sorted out.  We got an offer for a place to stay near Silver Star with friends (gotta like that!), plus have extended family in Kamloops and also found a flight on points into Kamloops (Kelowna was not available).  So, we'll for sure get a day at Sun Peaks, and a couple at Silver Star, and not sure how day 4 will work, could be one of those two or Big White-out.  I've skied them all before, but many years ago, and my son has skied none of them, so we'll do some reconnaissance and figure out where the family trip will be next year. 

 

Not the massive bowls and chutes that I like at some areas, but hopefully we'll get some good skiing and good snow.  Forecast looks to by fairly dry, so while it should be good skiing by current eastern standards, I'm not expecting epic powder, but you never know I guess....

 

Peter

post #15 of 21

you say you like the steeps. If you haven't skied Silver Star for a long time now there is the backside where you can do a different double back all day long.

Apex is also plenty steep. If you haven't been there.   

post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by noncrazycanuck View Post
 

you say you like the steeps. If you haven't skied Silver Star for a long time now there is the backside where you can do a different double back all day long.

Apex is also plenty steep. If you haven't been there.   


Does Silver Star have enough base to support those backside steeps?  I've seen it pretty sketchy there in the past, but maybe there is enough coverage.  Anyone been there lately?

post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 

My former neighbour who is retired and living and skiing there tells me it is good.  Good coverage with no rocks or ice.  He did say he skied all over the mountain yesterday, and once he took off his western rose coloured glasses and put on the eastern glasses he said that the conditions are awesome.  I'll let you know next week if you like.

 

He was told that Silver Star has the best snow in BC right now and that Big White and Whistler are rocky, but I can't help but wonder if you get told the same thing when skiing at another area.  People might be just thinking where they are is best.  Then again, from what I know of some of the steeper top stuff at Big White and a lot of the steeps in Whistler they may well have a rockier base underneath

 

Peter

post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 

I should add that he said the double blacks were "getting pretty moguled up", so yes, he is skiing them, and no mention of rocks.

 

Peter

post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by peterw View Post
 

I should add that he said the double blacks were "getting pretty moguled up", so yes, he is skiing them, and no mention of rocks.

 

Peter


That's a good thing.  They have had bumps every time I've skied them.  If you like things steep it's a great place, lots of places to ski and very few people.

post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 

We just figured out that Revelstoke is not too far so hope to hit it too.  Big White has a mid-week deal where if you buy two adult lift passes they give you free accommodations, but its a 2 day/2 night minimum.  It would be nice to have a ski-in ski-out place, pool hot-tub etc for no extra price, instead of mooching off friends and driving more, but we were not planning to be there 2 days.  In my mind its more of a cuiser mountain and is good for the family, weaving through the trees on mostly less steep stuff.  My friend in Vernon says skied-out Big White with 200cm coverage is not very good.  Has anyone been there recently and have a snow report?

 

Thanks,

Peter

post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 

In case anyone is wondering, here is a quick report from Jan 29 to Feb 1.  We skied Revelstoke, Silver Star and Big White.   All of them had gone a while (10 days)with no significant snow and the base had setup somewhat, particularly on south facing areas.

 

Revelstoke - we only had about 2 cm new on the 29th.  North Bowl was good, south facing not much fun.  Ticked a couple rocks on a groomed run, but decent coverage.  Looks like a great spot for advanced skiers when there is new snow everywhere.  $106 for 2 adult tickets bought at Costco in Kamloops.  Kelowna store might have them too

 

Silver Star - Had about 8 cm in 2 days up to the 30th.  Better fluff on top but similar firm base underneath on south.  Backside was steep and mostly bumped, some wood showing through but not rocky.  Saw a gravel spot or 2 on main side where groomer dug deep but no big deal.  $59.99 for adult ticket from Costco in Kamloops.

 

Big White - Had about 22cm the day before we were there.  Made a big difference, clearly the best on these days.  Definitely rocky up top where wind scoured, but saw no rocks on groomed runs below the alpine area.  The cliff was intermittent between hard and icy and snowdrifts, despite the new snow, and it was mostly closed on Feb 1st since conditions on it were crap. You could also see a lot of rocks on it.  So, yes, Big White did have the most rocks, but only in wind scoured areas at top.  It also had the best snow and coverage a bit further down the mountain.  We stayed there on day 4 for the snow.  Also $59.99 at Costco

 

Hope that helps someone,

Peter

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Resorts, Conditions & Travel
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Best western spots for last week of January?