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Okanagan at Easter

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I’m getting ready to book a 5 day trip to the Okanagan region in Canada over Easter weekend.  The plan is to book flights soon but delay accommodation booking until right before.  We’d likely ski several areas staying in one or two locations.  We’d also have the option to change destinations completely and ski only whistler if conditions were better there.

 

We’re a mixed group.  Half the skiers like blue and black groomers with occasional off piste.  The other half enjoys skiing everything and will ski 30% of the time on the hard stuff.

 

I’ve skied Whistler, Banff, KH and Fernie but never these particular areas.  Looking for any tips including:

 

  • Snow: April is late but bases look pretty good despite recent warm spells.  There is always freeze thaw risk in April but I’m thinking risk of run closure is pretty low?
  • Midweek lift closure: Is this a concern at any of these areas seeing as some days are midweek in the late season
  • Other tips?

 

Recommendation on which places to ski:  (currently ordered in likelihood we ski there from most to least)

  • Sun Peaks: 60” base, good groomers but lower/south exposure
  • Apex: 70” base, good mix of runs, good elevation but a little out of the way
  • Silver Star: 75” base, good mix of runs, north facing but low elevation for the best lift
  • Revelstoke: 90” base and good elevation for upper lifts but limited groomed runs and far
  • Big white: 80” base and good elevation but runs seem uninteresting and south exposure
post #2 of 22
For April I'd suggest biggy, revy or sun peaks... really depends what you want more of. Most black runs wont be groomed. Sun peaks has great groomers, big white has great tree skiing ans alpine skiing, revy is steep and has more advanced/technical terrain. Apex is fun but small, silver star best terrain is a bit low for spring... if it snows yah a north aspect will be ideal, if it doesn't then you're going to want sun facing aspects to soften the snow. It can snow a lot in April but also expect a daily freeze/thaw all over the mountain regardless of the aspect if it aint snowing. Lift closures would only likely be due to wind if anything... likely nothing to do with snow coverage
post #3 of 22

Check each place's operations calendar for closing dates and reduced operations.  Most or all of these places close after the first week of April in my experience.

post #4 of 22

Easter is the first weekend of April at any rate, but yes most places will close after this weekend... Big White is the only resort open beyond the easter weekend.  Also, hopefully conditions improve by then, BC interior and coast is currently having the worst season on record due to lack of snow and warm trends.

post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips everyone.

 

I'm not sure what to make of the below quotes (contradictory?).  I’m having second thoughts about this trip.  Visions of rain and closed runs.  Am I being overly negative?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kulharin View Post
 

BC interior and coast is currently having the worst season on record due to lack of snow and warm trends.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kulharin View Post

Lift closures would only likely be due to wind if anything... likely nothing to do with snow coverage
post #6 of 22

You are in luck my friend because I happen to know it will be cold and dumping feet of powder this Easter.

 

 Seriously though, it's way to far away to know what conditions will be.  The resorts close before the snowpack reaches it's maximum. So I hope that eases your mind. 

post #7 of 22

Flying into Kelowna?

 

 

 

If you book Southwest into Spokane you can cancel right up to your flight time and not be out a dime.

post #8 of 22

I think SH has a really good point.  Even though it's 5 hour drive from Spokane to Kelowna, the flights are usually cheaper and you're most likely taking connecting flights with a lay over. I'd rather be driving than sitting in an airport waiting for my connecting flight. Especially in april when odds of snow/ice on the roads is pretty rare.  Plus you can make a powder highway trip of it. 

post #9 of 22

I don't think you'd have much in the way of closed runs other than perhaps the lowest terrain on the mountains; the snow pack doesn't really dissipate that quickly until May or June and typically March and even April can be strong snow months for the BC interior... but this year has been an anomaly... warmer than average + a barrage of weather systems coming from the sub tropics and the pattern has continued from November until now... could it break down and stabilize into a more normal pattern?  Sure, but who knows...  Regardless there will likely still be decent coverage in the Okanagan at Easter, the quality of the snow is the bigger question.

 

Coverage isn't that bad right now, it's currently below average... and the cycle has mostly been 1-2 days of good snow, then warm up for a few days, then freezing and dry for a long spell...  The base layers are rock solid... that's part of the problem.    add 30-40cm of decent snow and conditions would be quite awesome.

post #10 of 22

The Okanagan had the best skiing in western Canada until the warmer storms pushed through there starting late January.

 

So from the base depths shown coverage should not be an issue through closing dates. 

 

All of the areas besides Apex have disproportionate sunny exposure, and Apex's closing date is April 6. I do not think the Okanagan is a great destination for April.  I strongly recommend Banff/Lake Louise for western Canada in that time frame.  Kicking Horse and Panorama, 1.5 hours and 2 hours west of Lake Louise, also have colder climates like Banff and quite a bit of north exposure that could retain winter snow.

 

Banff like Jackson is primarily a summer resort, so it's easy to find lodging in ski season.

post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips everyone.  I went ahead and booked flights, car and hotel.  Nearly everything is refundable but we’ll probably go on the trip regardless.  A few follow ups to past posts:

 

We’re skiing mostly before Easter so all ski areas are scheduled to be open.  We’ll likely stay in Kelowna for most of the trip with options to ski Apex, BW or SS on any given day.  Depending on the that day's and past weather we may prefer different aspects and elevations.

 

We’re flying into Seattle (will spend some non-skiing time there too).  Got a good deal, direct flights.  It’s a  bit of a drive but hopefully traffic won’t be bad.  (leaving Seattle 7pm on weekday, returning to Seattle weeknight around 9.)

 

Any local knowledge is appreciated, such as:

  • Tips on discount lifts or lodging deals
  • Dinner suggestions (tasty not fancy)
  • Non-skiing things to do near Kelowna if we get rained out a day
  • Tips on where to ski (I know conditions will have to be accounted for last minute)
  • Is Revelstoke worth the extra drive?
post #12 of 22
Sun Peaks starts to seriously wind down first week in April. Runs are closed and sometimes chairs.

It's a gamble I wouldn't take.
post #13 of 22

Lots of smaller local organic places downtown kelowna that are easy to miss.

 

The Curious is new, lots of beer on tap and local wines by the bottle. Best pizza in town. Kinda Euro style.

 

Raudz,   the RJB is a tenderloin burger with buttered crab, cured bacon and duck fat mayonnaise. Wines and Cocktails. 

 

Bacaro,  I get the coffee seared bison.

 

Salted Brink is good. 

 

If you want to take a day off of skiing, some of the golf courses will be open and I would think the boat rentals would be for easter so you could enjoy the lake. Bike a trail or something.  I'm not really interested in winery tours but there is that. 

 

i buy a pass so i don't know much about ticket or hotel deals. If I was visiting kelowna, i'd want to stay at the eldorado or the delta - grand. no idea on $ though. 

 

When driving from seattle, check the highway pass, and if conditions are bad it's only an extra 40miles to take the low road. 

 

It's 2.5 hrs downtown kelowna to Revelstoke. -in april you're only skiing the 2 upper chairs so you will miss a lot of the terrain. Even so it's still a better than the okanagan hills. worst crowds by far. 

post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by joe strummer View Post

Sun Peaks starts to seriously wind down first week in April. Runs are closed and sometimes chairs.

It's a gamble I wouldn't take.

 

SP is staying open an extra week (until the weekend after Easter) with "four strategically placed lifts; Sundance, Elevation, Crystal, and Village Platter."  We'll ski there before this "bonus week" and I'd expect those lifts or more to be open which seems decent.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by surfacehoar View Post

 

When driving from seattle, check the highway pass, and if conditions are bad it's only an extra 40miles to take the low road.

Thanks for the tips.  Which low route are you referring too?  i90 east and then north on 97?

post #15 of 22

If conditions are good then Revelstoke is absolutely worth the drive.  Revy's upper two lifts are usually fairly reliable and have the mountains best terrain, the lower half of the mountain has been pretty bad all season long either way.  Crowds on the weekend are stupid if there's been a good dump of snow, mid week is much quieter.  Revy has superior terrain to Sun Peaks and Silver Star if you're looking for steeps, bowls, trees and technical.  But if it hasn't snowed and your dealing with spring conditions, mine as well just stick with Silver Star or Sun Peaks... Revy is not well known for it's groomers.

post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 

So I went ahead and booked flights a while back but I wont book hotels until the day before I leave. 

  • Anyone ski these areas lately? 
  • I really like the idea of skiing several areas, likely SP, Revy and Apex.  I could switch and ski Whistler which is has a monster storm predicted.  I'll likely miss the powder but maybe it will stay cool enough to ski off piste in winter conditions.  Thoughts?
post #17 of 22

if you want to change plan, skiing is usually better at Whistler than the Okanogan in April. The interior warms up faster than the coast and has less vertical to find that sweet spot. Seattle to Whistler is a little less drive than to the Okanogan.

 

Staying with original plan April looks like it will start cooler. I've had some great snow on closing weekends in the Okanogan  Note that Sun Peak's lower Burfield has been closed for a while now and the other ok hills are closer together.  I would do those instead and add Revy.

post #18 of 22

Driving to our Okanogan the "low" road is hwy 3. Going via the US to your Okanagan then up the valley to ours is slower.

Just watch for the electronic signboards just before you get to Hope. Will advise of the road ahead. Section most likely to have problems is the connector between Merritt and Kelowna. If board says dense fog on 97c it's a nicer drive to go Hope to Penticton via the lower hwy 3 and start at Apex.   

post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by noncrazycanuck View Post
 

if you want to change plan, skiing is usually better at Whistler than the Okanogan in April. The interior warms up faster than the coast and has less vertical to find that sweet spot. Seattle to Whistler is a little less drive than to the Okanogan.

 

Staying with original plan April looks like it will start cooler. I've had some great snow on closing weekends in the Okanogan  Note that Sun Peak's lower Burfield has been closed for a while now and the other ok hills are closer together.  I would do those instead and add Revy.

Hmm, I'm torn on where to go.  I think I'm more likely to stay with the original plan.  Odds are a lot of Whistler will not be good to ski (due to rain or refrozen ungroomed).  The other areas will have these problems too but by skiing 3 or 4 Okanogan ski areas I'll have a lot of variety, even if it's just groomers that's fine with me.  I suspect that I'll ski groomers 80% of time with the lower levels skiers in my group.

 

noncrazycanuck, which areas were you recommending? (I didn't follow your last paragraph).  I'm thinking SP and Apex for sure.  BW has the gem lake chair closed which is a big downer. (Not sure if it will reopen)  SS say the Powder Gulch conditions are super icy, so I think I'd only ski there if we got a real warm day.  Revy is probably not worth the drive unless conditions there were way better.

 

Any thoughts on the crowds Easter weekend at these areas?  I'm thinking whistler may be crowded.  Maybe Revy would be crowded too, but no real crowds at the others?

post #20 of 22

I'm not recommending anything.

 

Your plan of doing multiple ski areas in the Okanogan is the way to do it, if you decide to go there. They are already in wind down mode and some sections on different hills are already closed, more limited terrain than usual. A different hill a day will help keep it interesting. 

All will be busy (its a holiday weekend) but generally crowds are lighter in April

Revy as already mentioned will still be fine up on top.  But it is not a groomer destination. 

 

Exact same info about crowds applies to Whistler. although there you will have more terrain.  

 

if your planning on staying on any of the hills look into getting rooms fast or you'll wind up in towns up to 45 minutes away.   

post #21 of 22

Pretty shocking how little snow there is left. Usually this time the snowbanks are around 10-15 ft high in the gem lake parking lot. There is none.

 

Whatever is open will have plenty of coverage, so I wouldn't be worried about that. It's really just the lowest elevations that are suffering. 

 

Even with the gem closed, I think the grooming is better at big white than apex or silverstar. Can't really comment on Sun peaks as i've only skied their once or twice. 

 

Revy is a step up in every way, bigger, steeper, more snow, more scenic. Personally I like the groomers at revy the best too. but i can see lower level skiers preferring the okanagan resorts.

 

 

 

sun peaks and apex in the same trip is the most driving.  To connect 3 resorts, the least driving is BW, SS, Revy. If your committed to staying in kelowna - i'd do apex/bigwhite/ss. If you are changing hotels, add sun peaks or revy. 

 

when are your flights? 

post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips everyone.  I had a great trip, full report at:

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/134587/apex-big-white-silver-star-and-sun-peaks-over-easter

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