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Apex, Big White, Silver Star and Sun Peaks over Easter

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I had a great Canadian ski trip to Apex, Big White, Silver Star and Sun Peaks over Easter.  Not only did we not have crowds, we had most runs to ourselves.  Pictures below and a few random thoughts:

  • Hard to choose the best ski area of the group because they were all good.  All had good grooming and lots of advanced terrain.  Not a ton of expert stuff but each had a handful, except Sun Peaks.  Each area is a lot bigger than you might think with only a handful of lifts but tons of runs.
  • Great natural beauty.  Lots of lakes, good views (best views from Silver Star)
  • Good snow but some closures.  We got a powder day and lots of warmer clear conditions.  Lower parts of mountains were completely void of snow.  Percent open:
    • Apex 100%
    • BW 80% (gem lake closed)
    • SS 70% (lots closed in Powder Gulch)
    • SP 80% (lower Burfield closed but lift open)
  • Roads were high quality except the ski area access roads which were narrow, steep and curvy, more so than nearly everywhere I’ve skied (I’ve skied at over 100 ski areas)  Some were worse than others.

 

Day 1: Apex  There were probably under 100 people skiing the whole mountain.  Lots of fresh powder left over from days before although it was sometime very crunchy underneath.  North facing and high elevation kept the snow fresh.  Some runs took a lot of traversing to get to and get back to the lift but they were generally worth it. 

 

 

Day 2: Big White  It was 5" powder day and a Saturday which made it the busiest day but we still never waited in a line more than 2 minutes.  The "Cliff" chair was closed but the skiing in this area was good expert stuff (took 2 lifts to ski)  The Falcon chair also had some good expert stuff.  There were a lot more runs than the trail map indicated with the high alpine stuff being great.

 

 

 

Day 3: Silver Star  The combination of sun and lower elevation resulted in a lot more slush and lots of bare spots but overall the skiing was very good.  There is some decent skiing on the front side, but all the good stuff is in Powder Gulch, but half of PG was closed.  A lot of what was open, was still untracked from the day before despite being a holiday weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4: Sun Peaks  Snow was a big issue at the base with just a few narrow ways down.  That said, the upper mountain snow was as good as anywhere.  I really liked the new Gil glade area.  Be warned that Gil has two traverse exits, the 2nd of which requires 20 minutes of uphill hiking (A warning on the trail map would have been nice but the run was worth it)  A few runs also required walking over dirt which is fine with me but again, a sign at the top would have been nice.  Despite these minor issues, Sun Peaks was well run and was likely my favorite place of the trip.  It was a bit bigger, SP also kept everything open despite there being only 100 people on the entire mountain.  (even the t-bar was open, which we were the only people skiing while there)

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 8

Nice TR. That last pic is the lower Burfield chair and is the first thing one sees when arriving at Sun Peaks. Not a snowflake in sight so it kinda scares people but there was actually very good coverage on the upper mountain all season. You can see from the pic that there are no stumps and almost no rocks at the Burfield Base that need to get covered and this is true for the rest of the mountain as well.

post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanvg View Post
 
  • Roads were high quality except the ski area access roads which were narrow, steep and curvy, more so than nearly everywhere I’ve skied (I’ve skied at over 100 ski areas)  Some were worse than others.

You obviously haven't skied in this part of the world before.  Those roads are pretty normal.

 

Glad you had a good time.

post #4 of 8

Interesting report.  We had a similar choice as you, flying into Seattle from Iceland March 31, then back home to SoCal April 7.   We booked a hotel at Whistler in advance and cancelled in mid-March after the PNW had a month of little snow and quite a bit of rain.  After Whistler got 43 inches of snow in the second half of March, we reinstated the original plan and are pleased we did.  TR's and pics:

Apr. 2: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11787

Apr. 3: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11788

Apr. 4: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11789

Apr. 5: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11790

Apr. 6: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11791

 

I have skied all of those Okanagan areas and Revelstoke, so that was an option if Whistler had stayed bad.  However, I was at Big White mid-February, it had just had rained to the top, groomers were firm and skiing off the groomers was out of the question. The same Pineapple weather degraded ski quality at both Whistler and the Okanagan, and it's likely that the same late March storms would have improved both. Altitude/exposure are key in April, so it does not surprise me that Apex had the best snow of the group.  The high alpine at Whistler/Blackcomb preserves snow somewhat better than anywhere in the Okanagan or Revelstoke.  You need to go farther east into the colder Canadian Rockies climate for the best spring snow preservation in western Canada.  I know someone who was planning a spring break trip to Banff and it will be interesting to compare.

 

Whistler is far more interesting skiing for advanced/expert terrain, most of that terrain was well covered on our trip, and at least at Blackcomb the snow up high was very good.    Whistler was quite busy Apr. 2-4 due to BC and UK spring breaks.  The lower mountain was bare and needed to be downloaded at the end of the day.  There was about a 10 minute line for that at Olympic and Excalibur but I could see it was much longer at the Roundhouse or to get down to Creekside.   Mid-mountain groomers on Whistler were congested and the snow got scraped down quite a bit.  Therefore I think intermediates would have been happier at the Okanagan areas.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post

You obviously haven't skied in this part of the world before.  Those roads are pretty normal.

Hmm, roads to somewhat nearby whistler, fernie, kh, banff were all better. Apex was probably the worst with 20 kph ( 10 mph) or slower narrow steep swithbacks. No issues for my trip but in bad conditions I wonder if cars often get stuck, roads close or chain 4x4 limits imposed frequently.

In the US maybe the roads to ski sante fe or Schweitzer is similar but I think even these are better

Glad you had a good time.
post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

Interesting report.  We had a similar choice as you, flying into Seattle from Iceland March 31, then back home to SoCal April 7.   We booked a hotel at Whistler in advance and cancelled in mid-March after the PNW had a month of little snow and quite a bit of rain.  After Whistler got 43 inches of snow in the second half of March, we reinstated the original plan and are pleased we did.  TR's and pics:

Apr. 2: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11787

Apr. 3: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11788

Apr. 4: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11789

Apr. 5: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11790

Apr. 6: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11791

 

I have skied all of those Okanagan areas and Revelstoke, so that was an option if Whistler had stayed bad.  However, I was at Big White mid-February, it had just had rained to the top, groomers were firm and skiing off the groomers was out of the question. The same Pineapple weather degraded ski quality at both Whistler and the Okanagan, and it's likely that the same late March storms would have improved both. Altitude/exposure are key in April, so it does not surprise me that Apex had the best snow of the group.  The high alpine at Whistler/Blackcomb preserves snow somewhat better than anywhere in the Okanagan or Revelstoke.  You need to go farther east into the colder Canadian Rockies climate for the best spring snow preservation in western Canada.  I know someone who was planning a spring break trip to Banff and it will be interesting to compare.

 

Whistler is far more interesting skiing for advanced/expert terrain, most of that terrain was well covered on our trip, and at least at Blackcomb the snow up high was very good.    Whistler was quite busy Apr. 2-4 due to BC and UK spring breaks.  The lower mountain was bare and needed to be downloaded at the end of the day.  There was about a 10 minute line for that at Olympic and Excalibur but I could see it was much longer at the Roundhouse or to get down to Creekside.   Mid-mountain groomers on Whistler were congested and the snow got scraped down quite a bit.  Therefore I think intermediates would have been happier at the Okanagan areas.

 

Great trip report Tony. I guess i just missed you and Liz as I was at WB March 28-31. I was about to head to Banff and ski on my MC Pass but changed  at the last minute as the forecast for late March for WB was for 33cm for March 29 and another 34cm for the 30th.

 

In reality they got about half that overnight on the 28th. The Peak to Peak Gondola didn't open until around noon and then only the Harmony 6 Chair on the upper mountain. It didn't really matter as it was ankle deep with some boot top all morning on the Solar Coaster, Jersey Cream Chairs with the snow only getting heavy for the bottom 300' on Solar Coaster.

 

The next day saw some rain that turned to snow up top overnight. I did a shopping day and hooked up with Spindrift (Joel and his wife Karen) for dinner and the next day for lunch and some afternoon skiing at Blackcomb. The morning was another ankle deep day on Solar Coaster, Jersey Cream and Glacier Chairs.

 

I did make it to Lake Louise right after Easter. No fresh snow but they got 27cm on Good Friday night and Easter Saturday in addition to another 10cm that they had received earlier in the week. So, with their snow making and generally excellent snow preservation the coverage and conditions were very good to excellent, mostly winter conditions. Conditions were softer and better than the spring skiing that I did at LL a few seasons earlier. And it was sunny.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

 

Whistler is far more interesting skiing for advanced/expert terrain... Mid-mountain groomers on Whistler were congested and the snow got scraped down quite a bit.  Therefore I think intermediates would have been happier at the Okanagan areas.

 

I've skied Whistler before too and the above advice is spot on.  I think I made the right choice based on the intermediates in our group and since we like exploring new areas. 

 

While Whistler clearly has the better expert terrain, I greatly value no lift lines and untracked snow.  Even if we would have been all experts, I might have preferred the crowdless slopes of the Okanagan areas.  For example, I skied long untracked glade runs at Sun Peaks on the third day after the last snowfall.  Crowdless is really an understatement.  Imagine not only no lift lines but while riding the lift, you can't see anyone else on it at the same time (common while I was there) 

 

Whistler has great terrain.  I'll ski both regions again

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanvg View Post
 

 

I've skied Whistler before too and the above advice is spot on.  I think I made the right choice based on the intermediates in our group and since we like exploring new areas. 

 

While Whistler clearly has the better expert terrain, I greatly value no lift lines and untracked snow.  Even if we would have been all experts, I might have preferred the crowdless slopes of the Okanagan areas.  For example, I skied long untracked glade runs at Sun Peaks on the third day after the last snowfall.  Crowdless is really an understatement.  Imagine not only no lift lines but while riding the lift, you can't see anyone else on it at the same time (common while I was there) 

 

Whistler has great terrain.  I'll ski both regions again

 

One of my favourite things about Sun Peaks is being able to look down a run and see no one and realize that you are the only one skiing the run, so you can go as fast as you want. The flip side of this is that when I go to other mountains I get freaked out when there are other skiers all around me on a run.

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