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1 week ski holiday in western Canada/US suggestions (not Whistler) ?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

Have had the chance of living close to interesting terrain (8 years in Quebec: Massif, St-Anne, Stoneham, ..., now in Vancouver), but have been going back every year since living in Canada to Austria (Arlberg-Lech-St-Anton) for the yearly 2-week ski-holiday.  We are expert skiers skiing all over the mountain.

 

We`re considering to stay in north america this year for the holiday, and looking for input on interesting destinations, preferably in Canada or but would also consider the US.

 

We go to Whistler/Blackcomb in the weekends and consider it 'okay' compared to the Alps (but way too expensive for what is offered).

 

Any mountains/destinations in North America would have interesting terrain to spend a week and that have an authentic feel ?  Read interesting things about Revelstoke, Kicking Horse ?

post #2 of 21
Whitefish has good value, but the terrain tends to be more blue than black. There is plenty of tree skiing, but not much in the way of extreme terrain. Half the size of Whistler, only 3000 acres. As "authentic" goes, it certainly beats Whistler on that score easily. However, given your Canadian bank account and the exchange rate, Castle, Fernie, Kicking Horse, et al, might make more sense.
post #3 of 21

If it were me, for 2 week (well actually it is me because this is somewhat close to what I am going to be doing for 2 1/2 weeks although I will be almost all back country) I would do a powder highway tour.  Revy, Red, WW, Fernie, Castle, KH, Revy again or some iteration with LL and Sunshine as possible add ons.  Take your car and save on rental and airfare to be put towards better food and wine.

 

Planning a car trip also allows for flexibility.  If the weather ends up sucking at these places during your vacation time it most likely will suck everywhere.  Hope a cheap flight to LA, rent a car and go to Death Valley, the Grand Canyon and Catalina Island.

post #4 of 21

Definitely do the western Canada tour or a variation of it as recommended by Maineac.

post #5 of 21

Agreed with @Maineac and @DanoT - for expert skiers, I  would definitely recommend the tour (with an emphasis on Red, Whitewater, Revy, KH. If you don't want to travel as much, you could base yourself out of Golden (very low key feel, not as nice as Nelson or Rossland), and hit up Kicking Horse and Lake Louise. And then, when you're tired of that, hit up Revelstoke. KH is an expert's paradise for sure.

post #6 of 21

I do this often. Whistler is also my "local hill" but I do like my road trips.

 

a short road trip is a 4 day Okanogan loop

Apex Big White Silver Star Sun Peaks return or the other way but if your looking for expert skiing

only Apex and Siver Star will excite you much so you may wish to spend more time there

 

If you have a week from Vancouver its an easy drive  to Revy then 2hr to Kicking Horse which has

the best expert skiing in BC then 1 hr  to Lake Louise  (which  I think is equal to either Blackcomb or Whistler, but not both)  then choice of  either a rest day in Banff or try  Sunshine which has decent skiing on Goats Eye and D Dive.

possible side trip to Panorama's Tayton Bowl if conditions warrant.

Reverse based on conditions

 

Aside from  first and last day hills are all fairly close. And now that your last day can be as close as Revelstoke you can fairly easily do the drive after a full day skiing

 

If your up to a grand tour, from Banff head down to Fernie 2hr Castle 2hr end at WhiteFish and return via US interstate (hard to do make that last 11 hr drive in a single shot after a days skiing )

 

Red and White Water also offer good expert skiing but because of their more remote location

I would plan to stay there as its a full 8 hr  drive from Vancouver

 

I find the interior hills are best done in conjunction with all the other areas adjacent rather than  more than a couple of days at each but that's just my opinion

post #7 of 21

My bad I read it as 2 weeks.  1 week does shorten things up a bit.  The above plan sounds better.  

post #8 of 21

Some clarification will help.

If Whistler is just 'OK' because it is too small then nowhere else in North America will compare to the Alps. On the other hand if it's just 'OK' because it feels like Las Vegas with snow then definitely consider interior BC ski hills.  

 

'Authentic' also has different definitions. Authentic in Europe might mean fondue on the deck with a fine Cabernet  but 'authentic' in BC interior hills usually means hard core locals who live to ski ripping ultra steep trees, chutes and powder and maybe sleeping in the back of their 4x4s to be first on the lift. Red, Whitewater and Castle meet this definition with Fernie and Kicking Horse as a slightly more resort vibe.

If the latter definition applies and you only have one week then I would suggest you fly to Calgary and do Castle and Fernie. Quick and easy to maximize ski time and minimize travel time. 

 

 http://www.epicski.com/a/unofficial-guide-to-castle-mountain-resort

 

http://skifernie.com/

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maineac View Post
 

My bad I read it as 2 weeks.  1 week does shorten things up a bit.  The above plan sounds better.  

 

Yeah, the thread title says 1 week but the OP refers to 2 week vacations in the Alps in the past.

 

So my best recommendation: Stay in Rossland and ski Red with side trips to Whitewater.

 

Or stay in Fernie with side trips on non windy days to Castle.

post #10 of 21
Yes, with only one week you might want to minimize the traveling between resorts. It's not like the alps where the resorts are fairly close to one another.

I like Red Mt and Whitewater for this reason as each are only an hour away from the other, so you don't have to relocate accommodations if you don't want to. I would have trouble deciding whether to stay in Rossland vs Nelson. Both are great towns, Nelson is bigger, has more and better restaurants and hotels and other stuff to do. In Rossland, locals go to the Rafters bar in the Red Mt lodge for nightlife, there isn't much else going on in town. Also the Ainsworth Hot Springs 45 minutes NE of Nelson is totally worth it.

But, Rossland is an outdoor enthusiast's Mecca, year-round.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pieter View Post
 

Hi,

 

Have had the chance of living close to interesting terrain (8 years in Quebec: Massif, St-Anne, Stoneham, ..., now in Vancouver), but have been going back every year since living in Canada to Austria (Arlberg-Lech-St-Anton) for the yearly 2-week ski-holiday.  We are expert skiers skiing all over the mountain.

 

We`re considering to stay in north america this year for the holiday, and looking for input on interesting destinations, preferably in Canada or but would also consider the US.

 

We go to Whistler/Blackcomb in the weekends and consider it 'okay' compared to the Alps (but way too expensive for what is offered).

 

Any mountains/destinations in North America would have interesting terrain to spend a week and that have an authentic feel ?  Read interesting things about Revelstoke, Kicking Horse ?

Since you all are expert skiers, and terrain should be paramount, would suggest you try one of the following to whet your appetite and also experience different environs than WB as you are familiar with it. You did say open to Western USA or Canada so here are a few USA options quite easy to get to from Vancouver and rather snow sure. Note are  much, much higher in altitude than WB or the Arlberg trio you ski often at. (The bases are higher by a long margin I believe but do check for yourself please)

  1. Jackson-Hole/Grand Targhee : Expert terrain central and Grand Teton views are majestic, different from the Alps or BC mountains but terrain, well, many here will tell you all about it.
  2. Alta-Snowbird : Ski both for sure, Alta is Skiers only and Snowbird is for all. Great terrain, Snowbird , once fully open is quite something and Alta has lifelong expert skiing adherents. Both are known for their snow quality ("Greatest snow on Earth" is an Utah Trademark I believe) and expert terrain. Alta has a few traverses but they are powder heaven, not groomer-amas (I like groomers so no criticism implied, just informing you)
  3. And if you want to go to a real ski town : Aspen, CO is it, and the skiing in Aspen (Ajax), Highlands and Snowmass are all good, all different, and there is considerable challenging terrain.
  4. Telluride, CO : The hors-piste in Bear Creek, and the San Juans from Telluride rivals La Grave. Enjoy, as that is Expert only terrain with a capital 'E'.
post #12 of 21

I never have gotten the Grand Targhee love for experts thing.  The only real steep part is short and it is either a huck or a peppery, icy chute that you need to take 2 runs to get to.  The hike to is not big deal.  Sure there is great touring country out back, but that is not what people are talking about.

 

If you like scary car rides take the Duffy Lake Road back to Whistler at night.

post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 

Great, thanks for all the input.

post #14 of 21

If your budget permits, you might want to consider a day of cat or helicopter skiing. There are multiple options around both Revelstoke and Nelson.

post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 

Just bought us some Mountain Collective passes, so planning to do something like Banff - Lake Louise - Kicking Horse - Revelstoke.

(they're not all in the Mountain collective, but still). Also gives 2 days at Whistler...

 

Any suggestions for timing when looking for great weather, snow and a bit less people on the slopes ?

 

Thanks again for all the great input.

post #16 of 21

I like the suggestion of starting off in Golden. That way you can get two days in LL, two or three at KH, and then head to Revy for the remaining days. I would also suggest going touring in Rogers Pass - hire a guide if you don't feel safe doing it yourself.

 

As for timing, January and the first few weeks of spring are my favourite times of year and the least crowded. January usually makes for the best snow, with a pretty good base by that point and you miss the holiday crowds. Early spring means the deepest base, but fresh pow is less likely. At Revy, you can ski the whole mountain in January, but that's unlikely in spring. At the same time, there's more likelihood of sun and great spring corn if it doesn't snow.

post #17 of 21

I love February here - January can be frigid sometimes, and its been fairly dry the last few seasons (though I'm told that historically January is not dry) - anyway, tha tis my experience here. February is when you really start to get pow days in Alberta, and it's got a great base so everything will be open at Louise, Sunshine and KH. Earlier than the end of January/beg of February and you're taking a risk with the possibility of expert terrain still being closed. One thing to remember about Alberta/Interior BC is that there is very little snowmaking, so allowing a good base to form is critical for the mountain. January is pretty deserted, February will be as well save for the famliy day weekend ( in BC and in Alberta, on different weekends) so I would just avoid the weekend. Otherwise, you're good to go - mid-week is pretty deserted for Alberta resorts. On the weekend it will be slightly busier with Lake Louise the busiest. Even at Lake Louise, I've never waited more than 10 minutes for the gondola - and that's usually first thing in the morning - or for Top of the World chair - and again, that's when it first opens. Most other lifts are just ski right on.

One advantage of January is usually the prices are really good for accommodation - so Banff, Golden etc will all have lower prices for hotels than Feburary (BC and Alberta family days tend to make prices go up). 


Spring skiing is also really great here because it's warmer, everyone is outside of drinks, music...it's great. Lots of live events, parties. And, at least Sunshine, but probably a few other resorts will have mid-winter oonditions until about mid-April, before you get into freeze and thaw. March, April and May can be really fun.

post #18 of 21

I would take February for that combination.  As noted Revelstoke is best midwinter, low and bad exposed terrain doesn't preserve well. 

 

Kicking Horse and the Banff resorts are the opposite.  They are cold and preserve snow well, but it takes time for snow to accumulate, particularly on the steeper terrain.  March is best for those places.  With the majority of your trip in the latter group, I would go for late February, and March before January.

 

It's a pleasure to be assisting sensible ski vacation plans.  Usually at this time of year I'm trying to talk people out of taking their destination trips in December.

post #19 of 21

Echo Alex C.   Slight addition.  Stay in Golden as he says for LL/KH and then Revelstoke for skiing Revelstoke and Rogers Pass.  Also worth checking in with heli in both towns if you have the change.  Flight alone is worth it.

 

Check BC and Albert vacation weekends.

post #20 of 21
If you are an expert revelstoke has to be on your list, if you are looking for authentic it doesn't get much more authentic than Whitewater.
post #21 of 21

Ditto on avoiding Family Day weekend.  We went to KH on that weekend (to miss the Colorado President's Day weekend crowds) and instead found them there.  That being said, KH rocks!

 

Mike

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