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another 2017 when and where... kinda.. [3 weeks in Jan, coming from New Zealand]

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

Hi, 

I'm planning a ski/snowboard trip to the US next year (I'm from New Zealand) and I'd love some feedback on where's good to go in January.

 

My dad lives near LA  so I'll be there some time, also his gf's family in Montana -I understand there's good hills there to.  

 

We'll be in the US 3 weeks and I'm really looking for big lines. and powder. You see NZ does some excellent quality ice, hardpack, slush and sweet sweet rocks - but I'm willing to try powpow, just once, ya know - for science. My daughter's not so keen on big things and prefers cruising around taking it easy, in contrast to my son who is still exploring the harsh reality of physics.

 

Ideally I'd like to go somewhere close to (in order of priority) Los Angeles, Montana, San Francisco or Chicago. (because that's where my people are -none of them skiiers) 

I'd love to check out Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah but just not sure if its feasible - maybe it's worth it because they're most likely to be good in january compared to other places? I have no idea about that...

 

It's a once-in-a-lifetime trip for my kids and I want to make it count. I know January is not quite deep enough into the season, but that is too bad for us.

So -Where is most reliable for good conditions and big lines in January? 

Thank in advance for any feedback :)

 

Cheers,

Rob

post #2 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by r99r View Post
 

Hi, 

I'm planning a ski/snowboard trip to the US next year (I'm from New Zealand) and I'd love some feedback on where's good to go in January.

 

My dad lives near LA  so I'll be there some time, also his gf's family in Montana -I understand there's good hills there to.  

 

We'll be in the US 3 weeks and I'm really looking for big lines. and powder. You see NZ does some excellent quality ice, hardpack, slush and sweet sweet rocks - but I'm willing to try powpow, just once, ya know - for science. My daughter's not so keen on big things and prefers cruising around taking it easy, in contrast to my son who is still exploring the harsh reality of physics.

 

Ideally I'd like to go somewhere close to (in order of priority) Los Angeles, Montana, San Francisco or Chicago. (because that's where my people are -none of them skiiers) 

I'd love to check out Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah but just not sure if its feasible - maybe it's worth it because they're most likely to be good in january compared to other places? I have no idea about that...

 

It's a once-in-a-lifetime trip for my kids and I want to make it count. I know January is not quite deep enough into the season, but that is too bad for us.

So -Where is most reliable for good conditions and big lines in January? 

Thank in advance for any feedback :)

 

Cheers,

Rob


Hi Bro

I'm from the other side of the ditch and have visited the US to ski a number of times. Closest to LA is Mammoth and then the Tahoe resorts. You'll have a choice time at either and January should produce at both spots.

Of course there's options in Montana too but I've not been there so I won't comment.

Only problem is once you've skied the big mountains of Nth America it really makes it hard to ski in NZ and Australia after that. The terrain and snow just doesn't compete.

Cheers.

post #3 of 33
Where are they in Montana? It's a huge state, compared to most of our other states, but maybe not compared to Australia's. Don't want to discuss something that's not day trip material.
Edited by sibhusky - 4/14/16 at 9:42pm
post #4 of 33

Big lines and powder?  Sure, you might get lucky at Mammoth or Tahoe, but if there is powder, it will likely be gone in relatively short order.  Of course, you could also get big (lift) lines quite close to LA at Big Bear...

 

Your best bet for big lines and powder is in Utah at Snowbird/Alta.  There's big lines there.  And they tend to get more snow than just about anywhere in the US.  The powder, presuming you are lucky to be there when there's a dump, won't last long as a ton of people will descend to devour it just like at virtually every resort in North America.  At least the ones with big lines.

 

In Montana, your best bet is Big Sky. It has the real deal in terms of terrain.  And there are generally fewer people than at many resorts, so powder, presuming there is much, does tend to stick around a bit longer.  Bridger, about 50 miles north in Bozeman, also has some incredible terrain, but you will need a shovel, transceiver, and probe to access the lift that takes you to those lines.  You can also drive to Jackson from Big Sky -- it is about a 3-4 hour trip.  There's a few big lines there as well.

 

Mike

post #5 of 33
When you talk "big lines", are we talking Warren Miller movie stuff or are you just being facetious? Because I'm not clear how much adventure you're seeking with the kids along. Are you planning on skiing together or are the kids free range?
post #6 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post
 

Big lines and powder?  Sure, you might get lucky at Mammoth or Tahoe, but if there is powder, it will likely be gone in relatively short order.  Of course, you could also get big (lift) lines quite close to LA at Big Bear...

 

Your best bet for big lines and powder is in Utah at Snowbird/Alta.  There's big lines there.  And they tend to get more snow than just about anywhere in the US.  The powder, presuming you are lucky to be there when there's a dump, won't last long as a ton of people will descend to devour it just like at virtually every resort in North America.  At least the ones with big lines.

 

In Montana, your best bet is Big Sky. It has the real deal in terms of terrain.  And there are generally fewer people than at many resorts, so powder, presuming there is much, does tend to stick around a bit longer.  Bridger, about 50 miles north in Bozeman, also has some incredible terrain, but you will need a shovel, transceiver, and probe to access the lift that takes you to those lines.  You can also drive to Jackson from Big Sky -- it is about a 3-4 hour trip.  There's a few big lines there as well.

 

Mike

 

The part in bold must be a typo because Bridger Bowl is about 15 minutes north of Bozeman and Big Sky is about 1 hour south of Bozeman.

post #7 of 33

For that time of year, best bets in terms of good snow conditions and great terrain are Jackson Hole/Grand Targhee (Wyoming) and Snowbird/Alta (Utah).  Only problem...not close to any of your locations (except for maybe Montana...which is a ridiculously huge state).

post #8 of 33
I think OP needs to get back to us.

-Are you planning on staying with the family the days you ski? Need the towns you'll be in, then. Unlikely we'll send you to any place near Chicago, though. Some places you'd say drop in, hi and then stay elsewhere, some you can crash on their couch and drive minutes the next morning.
-Ages of the kids and their skiing ability. For all I know they are in their twenties.
-More info on your ability and experience with powder and big lines. Most of the Rockies will give you powder. Some places it dumps by the foot, some places it dumps by the inches. Some places are sprawling and not ideal for families of mixed abilities, some are great for that.
post #9 of 33

OP,

 

Are you going to be driving from LA or flying?  If driving, you'll need to consider time lost out of your trip as MT, UT and CO are a loong drive from LA and that's not factoring in any bad weather conditions which could add on.  

 

Drive time from LA:

  • Big Sky, MT  15hrs
  • Whitefish, MT  19 hrs
  • Alta, UT  10 hrs
  • Vail, CO  13hrs

 

 

 

Driving does offer more flexibility to go when powder is predicted.  You'll just have to leave a day or two ahead of storm to get there in time.  The good snow won't last long in CO or UT resorts with all the powder chasers here.


Edited by breilly - 4/16/16 at 7:29pm
post #10 of 33
That sort of depends on the acres per skier.

Looked for one of the old threads about skier density, here's one: http://www.epicski.com/t/128770/most-visited-us-ski-areas/0_10

It's not the one I was looking for, which had a chart from Tony with acres per skier, but it's okay.

Found it: http://www.epicski.com/t/115614/forbes-top-ten-us-ski-resorts-2013/70_70#post_1795544
Edited by sibhusky - 4/16/16 at 9:52am
post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post
 

 

The part in bold must be a typo because Bridger Bowl is about 15 minutes north of Bozeman and Big Sky is about 1 hour south of Bozeman.

 

I think you're reading that other post wrong Dano... The poster talked about Big Sky. Then says that Bridger is in Bozeman, 50 miles north of Big Sky; So that's pretty much correct.

post #12 of 33

 I think you may have to choose something / somewhere completely different.  I  just read on the interweb (reliable sources!) that the supervolcano in Yellowstone is going blow to this summer. It may have an effect on the snowfall next winter.

Just a thought    :D 

post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 

Hi All, 

Thanks heaps for all the replies; some good info and food for thought.

To answer some questions raised - yeah, ah, by big lines I don't mean _actual_ big lines a-la warren miller. Not going to backflip off anything, I'm more of a mid-life crisis kind of guy talking big but actually I'm not all that, and nowadays my injuries take months to get over so maybe I'd should calm the f..k down and take the B-line .. (not that I could, or would, drop off some big-arse cliff anyways)

 

I do quite enjoy climbing and back/side country and peaks/couloirs etc. Big Couloir at Big Sky looks like fun, and Corbets Couloir jackson hole seems to be the kind of thing we'd hit.

 

My son (14) is into freeride / slopestyle snowboard and goes mostly where-ever I go (except the climbing bit, for some reason he prefers lift-accessed). and my daughter (15) would rather take it easy and cruise on intermediate/easier black runs. Both happy free-range - but its a family trip so.. also Dad will likely come along to, and he's in his 70's

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by sbooker View Post
 


Hi Bro

I'm from the other side of the ditch and have visited the US to ski a number of times. Closest to LA is Mammoth and then the Tahoe resorts. You'll have a choice time at either and January should produce at both spots.

Of course there's options in Montana too but I've not been there so I won't comment.

Only problem is once you've skied the big mountains of Nth America it really makes it hard to ski in NZ and Australia after that. The terrain and snow just doesn't compete.

Cheers.

Sweet, yeah Mammoth is looking good. We have friends in San Fran so Tahoe fits to - but I hear Tahoe is for the beautiful people and expensive. Not sure the duct-tape 'accents' on my clothing and general agricultural appearance will be accepted on entry. ;)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post
 

Big lines and powder?  Sure, you might get lucky at Mammoth or Tahoe, but if there is powder, it will likely be gone in relatively short order.  Of course, you could also get big (lift) lines quite close to LA at Big Bear...

 

Your best bet for big lines and powder is in Utah at Snowbird/Alta.  There's big lines there.  And they tend to get more snow than just about anywhere in the US.  The powder, presuming you are lucky to be there when there's a dump, won't last long as a ton of people will descend to devour it just like at virtually every resort in North America.  At least the ones with big lines.

 

In Montana, your best bet is Big Sky. It has the real deal in terms of terrain.  And there are generally fewer people than at many resorts, so powder, presuming there is much, does tend to stick around a bit longer.  Bridger, about 50 miles north in Bozeman, also has some incredible terrain, but you will need a shovel, transceiver, and probe to access the lift that takes you to those lines.  You can also drive to Jackson from Big Sky -- it is about a 3-4 hour trip.  There's a few big lines there as well.

 

Mike

oh :(  re mammoth and tahoe.. :/ although to be expected I guess. Like anywhere over here to when conditions come up nice. Not sure what big lift lines over there are like, at my local field 10 minutes is a too long queue for a ~300m (~1000foot)  vert chairlift (we don't have super long runs...)

 

mmm Utah you say... best bet for powder and big lines... hmmmm I'm supposed to be narrowing my choices not opening them up! but you say powder and nice lines.. tough life this..

Bridger looking encouraging for a side trip from Montana base -thanks

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

When you talk "big lines", are we talking Warren Miller movie stuff or are you just being facetious? Because I'm not clear how much adventure you're seeking with the kids along. Are you planning on skiing together or are the kids free range?

answered above -I was being a bit facetious.. :) attached pic of a favorite of mine when it's on -Pinnacles at Whakapapa, you can see the lower lift accessed traverse and the upper part is bootpack access. tbh its usually very icy and crap skiing - better ice climbing than skiing. and its probably not as vertical as this pic makes it look...

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

I think OP needs to get back to us.

-Are you planning on staying with the family the days you ski? Need the towns you'll be in, then. Unlikely we'll send you to any place near Chicago, though. Some places you'd say drop in, hi and then stay elsewhere, some you can crash on their couch and drive minutes the next morning.
-Ages of the kids and their skiing ability. For all I know they are in their twenties.
-More info on your ability and experience with powder and big lines. Most of the Rockies will give you powder. Some places it dumps by the foot, some places it dumps by the inches. Some places are sprawling and not ideal for families of mixed abilities, some are great for that.

ok cool thanks -

to start with we''ll be staying a week in Palm Springs -google tells me Mammoth is about a 5:40 hour drive so maybe drive there stay motel for a few days and return.

 

other than that order of priorities is chicago and Montana. san fran has faded a bit as a priority since last week. I'll find out the town for Montana. I suspect it is close to Big Sky.. gee i hope so - big sky looks good :D

 

kids info above as well - I guess sometimes its fun for us to ride together, but son and I still want to hit some exciting things. maybe 50/50 easier-cruise-in-soft-snow / steep and gnar. I guess mixed family... I would also be keen on some day-trip ski touring/mountaineering if it was possible wherever we were.

 

none of us have really skied powder much - it's too warm here. The snow is about 5 hours drive away, and we get about 15-20 days a season. We get 3-4 days  a season of fresh and powder-like snow usually about 6-8 inches, and frozen solid by the next day. But by crikey we've had enough to know where it's at: powder! :) Dont want to fly all the way over there to ride slush, hard pack, ice, and rocks just like home... 

 

 Where in the Rockies does it dump by the foot that would offer mixed family skiing and some not-extreme-but-kinda-big lines or even heli-skiing? Re the heli skiing - I've considered it but would only go down that rabbit hole if it was really worth it - the $ is a stretch for me. The New Zealand dollar doesnt go far over there - basically everything is twice the price for me. 

 

Thanks again for the help guys -really useful and interesting for me.

 

Cheers,

Rob

post #14 of 33
Since we're eliminating Chicago...

There are two main ski areas in Montana and quite a few smaller, but still excellent, ski areas. The majority are clearly in the left (Western) half of the state. The two big areas are in the northwest and southwest corners, roughly six hours apart. Big Sky, southwest, is close enough to Bozeman to do day trips, but really you'll get sick of the long winding hour drive after a few days. So, fortunately, if your friends live in Bozeman, there is also Bridger. Totally different price ranges between the two, and massively different in size. But Bridger has a serious terrain thing going if you equip yourself with shovel, beacon, etc.

In the northwest corner, you've got my area, but the likelihood of your friends being in Whitefish is low. Good intermediate area, but not as death defying in the big lines department. Sure we've got NBC and Picture Chutes, and access to Canyon Creek, but the challenge here is more tree skiing. We get more snow than Big Sky and we're cheaper. See my website for more detail. We're about three hours north from Missoula. Missoula also has Snowbowl and you can get to Lookout and Discovery and Lost Trail.

Here's a bit about other areas: http://www.visitmt.com/places-to-go/ski-areas-and-resorts.html

And a map: http://www.onthesnow.com/montana/map.html
post #15 of 33

Someone has already mentioned Alto/Snowbird in Utah. I can confirm that is sounds like it would fit the bill for your crew. Mammoth would also offer plenty.

I wouldn't say that the Tahoe resorts (generally) cater for the beautiful people more than Mammoth from my experience.

Montana seems like it will tick the boxes for you.

post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by r99r View Post
 

Where in the Rockies does it dump by the foot that would offer mixed family skiing and some not-extreme-but-kinda-big lines or even heli-skiing? Re the heli skiing

 

1) Snowbird

2) Grand Targhee

3) Jackson Hole

 

But I repeat myself...

post #17 of 33

Get the mountain collective pass for yourself and the kids with the 3rd day at Mammoth.  Real cheap pass for the kids and decent price for you.  This will give you Mammoth, Squaw, Snowbird/Alta, Taos, Sun Valley, Jackson Hole and Aspen for options.  There are lots of smaller areas that are fun to ski at and many have discounts, but this gets you to the big ones.  Make hotel reservations for a loose trip that you can cancel.  Build plans around mountain collective and then modify as the snow dictates.

post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maineac View Post
 

Get the mountain collective pass for yourself and the kids with the 3rd day at Mammoth.  Real cheap pass for the kids and decent price for you.  This will give you Mammoth, Squaw, Snowbird/Alta, Taos, Sun Valley, Jackson Hole and Aspen for options.  There are lots of smaller areas that are fun to ski at and many have discounts, but this gets you to the big ones.  Make hotel reservations for a loose trip that you can cancel.  Build plans around mountain collective and then modify as the snow dictates.


Note that as of early April, the MCP is $389 and a child's MCP is $99.  The original price was $379/$1 when the 2016-17 version went on sale in March.  That was a real bargain for parents planning far ahead.  Still can get the bonus day at one pre-designated destination.  In theory, could go for Mammoth.    That could easily mean at least 5 days for $379, then 50% off any additional days at an MCP destination.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/146012/mountain-collective-2016-17-12-destinations-including-whistler-stowe-taos-alta-snowbird

post #19 of 33
Clearly I'm the only one thinking he'd prefer to live for free with the relatives and drive to and from skiing each day?
post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by r99r View Post
 

Hi, 

I'm planning a ski/snowboard trip to the US next year (I'm from New Zealand) and I'd love some feedback on where's good to go in January.

 

My dad lives near LA  so I'll be there some time, also his gf's family in Montana -I understand there's good hills there to.  

 

We'll be in the US 3 weeks and I'm really looking for big lines. and powder. You see NZ does some excellent quality ice, hardpack, slush and sweet sweet rocks - but I'm willing to try powpow, just once, ya know - for science. My daughter's not so keen on big things and prefers cruising around taking it easy, in contrast to my son who is still exploring the harsh reality of physics.

 

Ideally I'd like to go somewhere close to (in order of priority) Los Angeles, Montana, San Francisco or Chicago. (because that's where my people are -none of them skiiers) 

I'd love to check out Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah but just not sure if its feasible - maybe it's worth it because they're most likely to be good in january compared to other places? I have no idea about that...

 

It's a once-in-a-lifetime trip for my kids and I want to make it count. I know January is not quite deep enough into the season, but that is too bad for us.

So -Where is most reliable for good conditions and big lines in January? 

Thank in advance for any feedback :)

 

Cheers,

Rob

 

Quote:
My son (14) is into freeride / slopestyle snowboard and goes mostly where-ever I go (except the climbing bit, for some reason he prefers lift-accessed). and my daughter (15) would rather take it easy and cruise on intermediate/easier black runs. Both happy free-range - but its a family trip so.. also Dad will likely come along to, and he's in his 70's

Somewhere the OP said the family would spend a week in Palm Springs.  That leaves two weeks for skiing somewhere in the Rockies that has a good variety of terrain.

 

@r99r : do you expect to fly from LA to the next destination?  If so, do you know the advantages of booking flights with Southwest for people who are willing to make changes to a ski trip plan in order to go looking for fresh powder.  Do the teens have opinions about what they want to do besides ski?  For example, doing a day trip to Yellowstone is easy when staying at Big Sky.

post #21 of 33
Quote:
Clearly I'm the only one thinking he'd prefer to live for free with the relatives and drive to and from skiing each day?

That's not a realistic option.  He's not daytripping from L.A. or Palm Springs to Mammoth.  Big Bear is far less exciting skiing than his home in NZ.  As I'm sure sibhusky knows, Montana population is diffused among numerous towns in the 50-100K population range, spread over a vast area.  Therefore we can't answer any questions about daytrip skiing in Montana until the OP tells us EXACTLY where in Montana his friends live.

 

If one of the 3 weeks is going to be in Palm Springs, that leaves only 2 weeks for skiing.  Given the time frame (January) and the OP's request:

Quote =r99r:
I'm really looking for big lines. and powder.

I think the answer is quite straightforward.  Buy the Mountain Collective and divide the two weeks between Alta/Snowbird and Jackson.  He's coming from a long distance and knows what he wants.  Your friends have to be exceptionally well placed to expect that quality of skiing within daytrip distance.  I'll also point out that both Jackson and Salt Lake have lots of very reasonably priced lodging options vs. the vast majority of ski destinations.

 

The alternative would be Squaw/Mammoth, in the ballpark for terrain quality but a big step down in powder quality/frequency.  Raw snowfall is similar, but in the Sierra it tends come more in massive dumps that will close lots of terrain during storms.  And the new snow is more likely to be high water content and/or wind affected, similar to NZ snow actually, just a lot more of it. Lodging will also be more expensive than in Salt Lake and Jackson

 

Since the Mountain Collective applies to all 4 of the above suggested areas, you could wait until you're here to decide where to ski, as long as you're willing to drive the 10 hours SoCal to Salt Lake, and the 5 hours beyond that to Jackson.  I've done the LA-SLC drive many times. It's easy Interstate all the way but you will use up a day in each direction doing it.

post #22 of 33
Thread Starter 

Hi All, just a quick reply -

so many options! Once i really start looking decision gets harder - spoiled for choice....

mountain collective pass looks pretty sweet, and includes ski fields in NZ which I'll be near later this year.

 

My Montana connection is in Kalispell - so real close to Whitefish. and also, I see, close to Banff... and Banff is Canadian $ so basically same price as NZ$. and also -it's Banff! 

 

Unfortunately I  need to more-or-less lock in the itinerary - can't just go where the snow dumps closer to the time... 

So I'm looking at three options, only a few days in palm springs now -

 

1. Mountain collective pass and drive: (3.5-4 days driving):  Palm Springs - Snowbird/Alta - Jackson Hole - Kalispell/whitefish - Banff (for at least 2 days in delerium dive ) then fly to Chicago and see the peeps for couple of days there.

2. Palm springs direct to Kalispell (fly/drive), then ~12 days in montana / banff

3. Palm springs  - alaska -  (forget visiting the people - we're here to do mountains. suspect we might upset the friends... of course they could come visit us in alaska?)

 

Basically I need to put all the numbers together  (prices of things, time frames, etc etc) and see what is actually feasible. I suspect option 1 is too busy. maybe drop snowbird or jackson hole..

 

Couple of questions I have (maybe answered elsewhere ion this forum apologies if so):

1. Is there a website that everyone uses to find air tickets and/or accommodation over there? I usually use Webjet for flights..

 

2. If I was to drive everywhere what are your thoughts on the vehicle to hire- winnebago type thing, 4wd truck, Subaru Outback? etc. Winnebago solves accommodation issues but maybe too big and a PITA/dangerous in snowy/ice type places?

 

Again- thanks for your time helping me here -invaluable local knowledge.

 

Cheers,

Rob

post #23 of 33

Websites for flights and accomodations include Expedia, Orbitz and Kayak. VRBO typically offers condos for rent directly from the owners. Local and/or resort websites often offer accomodations.

 

Would not reccomend a Winnebago or other RV. Expensive to rent, expensive on gas, difficult to drive, especially in inclement weather, and a big problem with water and waste systmes in cold weather. Something like a Subaru might work depending on availability (questionable) and number of people in your party and amount of baggage. Be aware that SUV's for rent in the U.S. are not necessarily 4WD/AWD and probably will not have good winter tires.

post #24 of 33

I use Kayak the most for flights - it searches a lot of other sites, including the major ones. It does NOT search for Southwest Airlines flights though, so you should check their website separately.

 

VRBO/Homeaway, Flipkey, and AirBnB are the most common options for rental-by-owner lodging. 

post #25 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by r99r View Post

Hi All, just a quick reply -
so many options! Once i really start looking decision gets harder - spoiled for choice....
mountain collective pass looks pretty sweet, and includes ski fields in NZ which I'll be near later this year.

My Montana connection is in Kalispell - so real close to Whitefish. and also, I see, close to Banff... and Banff is Canadian $ so basically same price as NZ$. and also -it's Banff! 

Unfortunately I  need to more-or-less lock in the itinerary - can't just go where the snow dumps closer to the time... 
So I'm looking at three options, only a few days in palm springs now -

1. Mountain collective pass and drive: (3.5-4 days driving):  Palm Springs - Snowbird/Alta - Jackson Hole - Kalispell/whitefish - Banff (for at least 2 days in delerium dive ) then fly to Chicago and see the peeps for couple of days there.
2. Palm springs direct to Kalispell (fly/drive), then ~12 days in montana / banff
3. Palm springs  - alaska -  (forget visiting the people - we're here to do mountains. suspect we might upset the friends... of course they could come visit us in alaska?)

Basically I need to put all the numbers together  (prices of things, time frames, etc etc) and see what is actually feasible. I suspect option 1 is too busy. maybe drop snowbird or jackson hole..

Couple of questions I have (maybe answered elsewhere ion this forum apologies if so):
1. Is there a website that everyone uses to find air tickets and/or accommodation over there? I usually use Webjet for flights..

2. If I was to drive everywhere what are your thoughts on the vehicle to hire- winnebago type thing, 4wd truck, Subaru Outback? etc. Winnebago solves accommodation issues but maybe too big and a PITA/dangerous in snowy/ice type places?

Again- thanks for your time helping me here -invaluable local knowledge.

Cheers,
Rob

Actually, Fernie has big lines and is way more accessible to Kalispell than Banff. It would even, as a "long day" be a day trip from Kalispell. In addition to Whitefish, there are Blacktail (smallish) and Turner (small, but supposed to be a great place in terms of terrain) that are day trips. I think as an overnight, Castle and Schweitzer are also easy drives. You could definitely fill up your time between here and Canada. The current long term outlook for next winter is excellent for this part of the country.

For your viewing pleasure, my Locals Guide should get you in the mood.

And a blog from another Kiwi about skiing here: http://ajsskitrips.com/2015/01/
Edited by sibhusky - 4/18/16 at 5:01pm
post #26 of 33
Quote = r99r:
1. Mountain collective pass and drive: (3.5-4 days driving):  Palm Springs - Snowbird/Alta - Jackson Hole - Kalispell/whitefish - Banff (for at least 2 days in delirium dive ) then fly to Chicago and see the peeps for couple of days there.
2. Palm springs direct to Kalispell (fly/drive), then ~12 days in montana / banff
3. Palm springs  - alaska -  (forget visiting the people - we're here to do mountains. suspect we might upset the friends... of course they could come visit us in alaska?)

First let's rule out #3.   The "big lines" in Alaska are heliskiing and the season doesn't even start until late February due to limited daylight hours before then at that latitude.

 

You have a misconception about Sunshine/Delirium Dive as a magnet for steep skiers.  The Dive requires avalanche gear for each person, is not easily repeated for multiple runs per day and is often not open until later in the season due to coverage and/or snow stability issues. Sunshine is overall a mostly intermediate area. Lake Louise has more steep terrain overall, but both mountains can be bitterly cold in January and due to modest snowfall (see below) some of the steeps may not yet have adequate coverage until later in the season.

 

You are still spending a week in Palm Springs + Chicago, leaving only 2 weeks for skiing + driving.  As far as #1 and #2 are concerned you need to get out a map and check drive times.   SoCal - Salt Lake = 10 hours.  Salt Lake - Jackson = 5 hours.  Jackson - Big Sky = 5 hours. Big Sky - Kalispell = 5 hours. Kalispell - Fernie = 2.5 hours.  Fernie - Banff = 4 hours. All of these times assume clean roads and good weather.  Some road warriors can ski a full day, drive 5 hours to new lodging and get up to hit more big lines early the next morning, but I'm guessing this is not a realistic plan with 2 kids, one of whom likes "cruising around taking it easy."

 

sibhusky's advice on #2 is sound:

Quote:
Actually, Fernie has big lines and is way more accessible to Kalispell than Banff. It would even, as a "long day" be a day trip from Kalispell. In addition to Whitefish, there are Blacktail (smallish) and Turner (small, but supposed to be a great place in terms of terrain) that are day trips. I think as an overnight, Castle and Schweitzer are also easy drives. You could definitely fill up your time between here and Canada. The current long term outlook for next winter is excellent for this part of the country.

 

For steep terrain from most to least: Kicking Horse (but lift layout limits how much of it you can ski in a day), Lake Louise, Fernie, Castle have a lot.  Panorama, Sunshine, Whitefish, Schweitzer have some.

 

For snow, season average in cm: Fernie 953, Whitefish 826, Schweitzer 704, Castle 671, Sunshine 653, Kicking Horse 645, Panorama 478, Lake Louise 429. By comparison Mt. Hutt, reputedly the most reliable NZ South Island area, averages 485cm.

 

So the #1 option to me remains dividing the ski time between Alta/Snowbird and Jackson Hole.  If you polled knowledgeable North American skiers on "who has the best/most extensive lift served steep terrain in North America, you would of course get differences of opinion, but I suspect Jackson Hole would get the plurality vote as #1 and Alta/Snowbird would definitely be in the top 5.  Kicking Horse, Lake Louise and Fernie/Castle would be contenders to make the top 10.

 

As for snow Jackson Hole's 935cm is similar to Fernie, the snowiest area on the Montana/Canada trip.  Alta/Snowbird's 1200+cm is on a completely different level. Alta/Snowbird's high snowfall not only increases powder odds, but also increases the likelihood that the "biggest lines" will have adequate snow cover in January.  If you do get new snow, there will be less powder competition at the Montana/Canada areas than at Jackson or Alta/Snowbird though.

 

Despite having friends in Kalispell, the Alta/Snowbird/Jackson alternative rates to be no more expensive:

1) All of the lift tickets will be on Mountain Collective

2) Kalispell is an expensive airport to fly into. You may want to look into Calgary as an alternative if you choose that trip.

3) Due to drive distances you may be staying with the friends in Kalispell only the days you ski Whitefish.  Fernie is possible as a daytrip but the other places are too far. As noted before, Salt Lake and Jackson lodging is reasonably priced.

4) I would definitely say #1 is cheaper than #2, but the Canadian dollar is low now, which will bring the costs closer. Canadian lodging will still be no less than Salt Lake and Jackson IMHO.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 4/21/16 at 9:07pm
post #27 of 33
Thread Starter 

This message just to acknowledge I'm still working on this - 

Thanks for the website details, and really appreciate the location details given, especially Sibhusky and Tony C -cheers Rob

post #28 of 33

Tell your rels in Chicago and Kalispell to meet you at your dad's in PSP, ( if they can.. they will), then do one or two road trips from there. That would keep your costs down and give you a lot of flexibility if ski conditions are good or bad. Do an Alta/Snowbird/Jackson up and back, then a Mammoth/Tahoe/San Fran loop back to LAX for your NZ return flight. Any of this could be trimmed or altered very late in the game. BTW, PSP is an expensive airport to utilize and is not serviced by Southwest airlines, but Ontario is, and not far away. 

post #29 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by r99r View Post
 

This message just to acknowledge I'm still working on this - 

Thanks for the website details, and really appreciate the location details given, especially Sibhusky and Tony C -cheers Rob


Tony C helped me plan road trips in 2015 and 2016 around cat skiing at Mustang Powder Cats and was with me for part of both trips. His knowledge was especially helpful when unusual for BC rain to 8,000' elevation required some re-routing to avoid being limited to groomers at ski areas we planned to visit. So try to be flexible  and have extra days if possible in case you need to sit out  a day of bad weather (sometimes will close most of some mountains in CA) or change your destination. We booked most of our lodging within an hour or two of checking in using hotels.com

 

He estimates 5 hours from Big Sky to Jackson, but according to Google maps, it is more like 3.5 hours. (It is closer to 4 hrs Jackson to Bozeman) I was lucky that after skiing Big Sky I only drove as far as Driggs, ID as EpicSki Gathering was going to ski Targhee the following day. But even though my drive after skiing was under 3 hours, I was still tired. So if you can ski Targhee on way to Big Sky, besides getting to a great place with good chance for powder, you can reduce your drive. He also lists Big Sky to Kalispell as 5 hours, when according to google maps, it's closer to 6.

 

While you can beat Google maps times for some trips, they are usually realistic and for a longer trip, you need to add some time for food, gas and restroom stops.

post #30 of 33
It's six or slightly under. But really, I thought we were talking flying into Kalispell from Palm Springs, then driving:
Quote:
Palm springs direct to Kalispell (fly/drive), then ~12 days in montana / banff
So I thought it wasn't important to correct at the time. But I've done that drive quite a few times back when my daughter raced, and with winter you've got to assume six hours. The road from Big Sky up to the interstate can be endless in bad weather, as can route 93 between Missoula and Polson.

It looks like flights from PSP to FCA in January are roughly $309 each round trip and take 6.5 hours. Not sure how well that compares monetarily with driving to and from, but the exhaustion factor has got to be lower (19 hours of driving each way).
Edited by sibhusky - 4/20/16 at 9:42pm
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