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Sunshine Village Dec 2016

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

I'm a new member and this is my first post.

 

I'm planning a trip out to Alberta the first week in December 2016 and I'm planning to ski Sunshine Village.  I'm looking from some insight to plan my trip.  Historically, would there be enough snow to ski at that time of year?  Last year, it they got a lot of snow.  I'm not sure what this year will provide but I'm hoping for some decent snow.  I normally ski in Vermont (Smuggler's Notch, Sugarbush).  I'm hoping Sunshine Village will be a challenge in comparison.

 

Any suggestions on lodging?  I will be renting a car so I will be able to get around. 

 

Would I have better chances of snow at Lake Louise?  I considered the SkiBig3 pass but I'm only have 3 ski days and I didn't want to jump between mountains.

 

Any advice would be appreciated.  Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 25

Sunshine a challenge.......well, it depends.  The greens are really flat.  The blues are very tame and no tougher than the blues here in the east.  And the blacks aren't bad either, especially if you ski Smuggs and Sugarbush.  (I've been to Sugarbush).  Skiing the east is more about rain, ice, etc.  Skiing the west is more about finding the terrain you want.

 

Thing about Sunshine is that time of year, the "challenging" stuff might not be open (Wild West, Delirium Dive).  I'm not a snow forecast expert, but I think it's iffy based on history.

 

As for Lake Louise, DEFINITELY go there.  Honestly, I'd do Sunshine 1 day, Lake 2 days.  BUT.......depends on the snow.  Don't listen to anyone who says the Lake is "icy".  They don't know ice like us easterners. Their idea of icy is our notion of packed powder.  Snow conditions at the Lake will likely be moderate coverage at that time, but the views are breathtaking, and you should have some top to bottom runs.  Hard to say if the back bowls will be open, but the chances the Lake bowls will be open is likely greater than Delirium open at Sunshine.

 

Don't hit Banff without hitting both resorts.  Do Sunshine and Lake Louise, you won't be disappointed (even if it's low snow it'll still be better than VT).  Pass on Norquay, it's a locals hill and not worth spending time there if you only have 3 days, trust me.  You can do nighttime snow tubing at Norquay though for something different.  And be sure to hit the Upper Hot Springs in Banff.  Buses are free and shuttles are included with your Big 3 pass. 

 

Once in town, you literally do NOT need a car.  Especially if you're taking a shuttle from Calgary airport?  A car will sit there, seriously.  Might be easier for you to take the shuttle to/from Banff.  You can enjoy the postcard views around every corner, and let someone else do the driving there.  The scenery will blow your mind.

 

Plenty of places to stay in Banff, just find something for your budget/wants/needs.  Most are on the main strip, all have shuttles to the slopes at the front door or literally a 2 minute walk to the shuttle.

post #3 of 25

Hi: @gottagetta 

 

I concur everything @GunnerbobI said above.   You really do not need a car, shuttle is very convenient.   Icy at LL compares to Sugarbush (East coast skiing in general) is nothing.  I skied 1 day at Mt Ellen last year, I felt I was skiing at a skating rink,  you will not experience such condition at LL.

 

I visited Banff last Feb for skiing (1 day each at LL and SSV), I loved the place so much and I decided to go back next March.  Scenery wise, both places are stunning.  I felt like, after I've seen the scenery at LL and SSV, everywhere else I go, it will feel "secondary".  But then perhaps I have not visited enough places.  

 

There are 2 threads below (from recent discussion about LL and SSV), you might find both useful and can help w/ answering your questions.  

 

 

 

2) Big 3 ski area -- Sunshine, Lake Louise, Norquay

http://www.epicski.com/t/147167/big-3-ski-area-sunshine-lake-louise-norquay

 

Hope you will enjoy Banff, I know I did.

post #4 of 25

First week of December is very early for most ski areas and the Canadian Rockies are not the best choice for early season most years. The annual snowfall at most areas there is low, but they preserve snow well so later in the season (late Feb/Mar/early Apr) is usually much better. You would also have more daylight hours and less chance of sub-zero temps.

 

See http://bestsnow.net/luisguid.htm for some details on Lake Louise snowfall. I agree with fosphenytoin about the scenery.

 

We found very nice and reasonably priced motel at Lake Louise in late Feb 2015 using hotels.com without advance reservation.

post #5 of 25

Hi, @gottagetta - like others have mentioned, early season is dicey. Last year, it was spectacular, this year...who knows? I would say visit both Sunshine and Lake Louise and decide where to spend time based on where the snow is better. Sunshine has basically no snowmaking - so the coverage has to be good for things to open, and, in early December, I can guarantee that the whole mountain will not be open.

 

Lake Louise has lots more snowmaking, so most of it will probably be open - back bowls there is also a good chance they will be open, but we'll see about coverage as we get closer. The views will be spectacular at both, and you'll have a good time skiing no matter what. 

 

Expert terrain at Sunshine will not be open - that is almost a guarantee. The Dive hasn't been open in the first week of December since...since I don't know when. So if it is expert terrain you are looking for, early December is not a good bet.

 

The ratings, in my opinion, are harder at Louise than at SSV. I find most of the blues and blacks at Sunshine to be pretty tame pitch wise - I do know some eastern skiers find the lack of grooming at Sunshine challenging. I've never skied in the east though, so I can't comment much beyond that. I have heard that a 'Louise blue is a Whistler black' - but I've never skied Whistler either :) 

 

If you don't plan on having a car, I would recommend the skibig3 tickets - it includes the shuttle and that is super convenient, so you can pick the resort based on the snow. The other cheap option is stopping at Costco on the way in (if you have a costco card - American ones work here too). 

 

The threads @fosphenytoin mentioned have lots of info on lodging. I'd also be more than happy to answer any other questions you have about lodging or transport - feel free to post here or to PM me. 

 

I will, of course, also be skiing there first week of December - so let me know when you're out here!

post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thank you for all the great advice and comments.  This will be my first time skiing out west so I want to try and get the most out of it seeing that I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to come out again.  Timing of the first week of Dec isn't the best but I had too many other facts to get this date.  Sounds like I may go with the SkiBig3 pass to give me the chance to ski at both SSV and LL.  I've heard that icy hills out west aren't the icy hills we have out east.  I don't mind skiing on packed snow.  I think I do it every year out here. :)

 

I didn't even think about the hot springs but that sounds very interesting. I may hit that the first day before skiing since I have some time.  Thanks @Gunnerbob for the suggestion.

 

I was initially thinking of swing by Costco to pick up a SSV or LL lift tickets package but I don't think they normally have a combo pack that offers both.  I believe last year they had 3 days SSV and 2 days LL.  Anyone know when Costco will start selling their ski passes?

 

I'll bring my ski boots and helmet but will need to rent skis and poles.  Would it be better to rent from one of the resorts or should I rent them from a local shop off the mountain?  Any recommendation on which shop?  I read about companies that come to your hotel room and size you up and bring you your rentals.  Anyone ever try this?  I found blacktieskis.com services Baff. I've never rented skis and the thought of lining up in the rental area is not something I'm looking forward to.  I don't want to waste time in that mayhem.

 

I have a super early flight back home at 6am in the morning.  I'll probably book a hotel near the airport my last night.  I just hope they have airport shuttle service that early.

post #7 of 25

"Anyone know when Costco will start selling their ski passes?" - I believe @albertanskigirl mentioned to me once, only Costco stores in Calgary, Alberta will sell their ski passes.  You will not be able to purchase this ski passes at Costco in other locations.  

 

Your question about shuttle bus: you can check out Brewster Shuttle, which offers airport shuttle to and from Banff.  It is the same company that 1) runs the ski shuttle buses to SSV/LL/Norquay, 2) owns few hotels in Banff (e.g. Mont Royal Hotel).  

Their website shall have the shuttle bus schedule from Banff to Airport. If too early, you might need to spend the night before in Calgary to catch 6 am flight.  

 

http://www.brewster.ca/transportation/brewster-banff-airport-express/

post #8 of 25

 I saw Fernie and Lake Louise passes for sale at the Kelowna Costco last Sunday

post #9 of 25

This is funny - I was just at the South Calgary Costco today, and sent these to another friend. Ticket prices for 2016/2017 - SSV is in packs of 3, Lake Louise in 

packs of 2...

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

One thing to note - the Lake Louise discounts aren't as good as before. they used to have a 40% of full-day group lessons for adults, now its 25%. They also used to do 50% off children's tickets, ow it's 30%. They still have have the good deal on the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. 

 

All of the packets have gone up about $10, or about $5 per ticket. 

post #10 of 25

@gottagetta - i don't know about Blacktie - I don't know anyone who has used them before. There are plenty of ski shops in Banff that will rent - all for about the same price ($50 high performance, $35 for regular skis). I would say that Snowtips/Backtrax and Soul Ski and Bike have the best selections - Snowtips has plenty of Volkls, Soul has lots of Blizzards, K2s, Icelantics. There is also Ultimate Ski - they have a huge selection but I find their models are a couple of years old often. There's also Banff ski hub. Both SSV and LL have shops on site as well. SSV does only Salomon skis. If you rent on hill, you will lose time there for sure - line ups can be long.

 

I've rented before from Snowtips and Soul - and for a couple of days, they'll give you a better rate, and they'll both let you switch out skis as often as you want (if you want to try different ones). 

post #11 of 25

Trail ratings tend to be a bit  high at Sunshine. Other than Delirium dive (which the most difficult part can be having your gear and it being open at the same time) just a few other pitches mostly on Goat's Eye are true black or double black. 

but I also doubt they will be open that early

 

As an aside Whistler and Lake Louise's  black and double black runs are very similar rated but Whistler has more involving difficult or obscured entries

Lake Louise's double blacks while mostly straight forward for entry and sight lines often have additional hazards either exposed or just below the surface.

All three are great hills   

post #12 of 25

These days a lot of resorts are selling attractively discounted lift tickets from their websites. You have to pay in advance for the specific days and get a better discount if purchased say 2 weeks in advance as opposed to 2 days (just a random inaccurate example). I think most do it through Liftopia.

post #13 of 25

Rent skis in town, not at the hill.

 

Snowtips: http://www.snowtips-bactrax.com/Downhill_Skis.html

 

Ultimate: http://www.ultimatebanff.com/rentals/our-skis-and-boards

 

My travelling companion used Ultimate because of the chance to demo Kastle.  Snowtips, on the other hand, has some excellent choices that can satisfy for 3 days no problem.

 

Be sure to check the short range forecast before you go.  Doubt it'll get stupid cold in December, but it could.  Pack appropriately.  And as for the Hot Springs, if you don't have time during arrival day, just go after dinner one evening.  It's awesome at sunset, but night time is still pretty neat.  Better for you to walk around town on arrival day and soak in some of the atmosphere and ambiance, visit some shops, etc.  Settle in, enjoy the sights, then get a good sleep to hit the slopes early in the morning. 

 

If you've never been out west before, Banff is like jumping into the experiential deep end.  It'll blow your mind.

post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by gottagetta View Post
 

Thank you for all the great advice and comments.  This will be my first time skiing out west so I want to try and get the most out of it seeing that I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to come out again.  Timing of the first week of Dec isn't the best but I had too many other facts to get this date.  Sounds like I may go with the SkiBig3 pass to give me the chance to ski at both SSV and LL.  I've heard that icy hills out west aren't the icy hills we have out east.  I don't mind skiing on packed snow.  I think I do it every year out here. :)

 

I didn't even think about the hot springs but that sounds very interesting. I may hit that the first day before skiing since I have some time.  Thanks @Gunnerbob for the suggestion.

 

I was initially thinking of swing by Costco to pick up a SSV or LL lift tickets package but I don't think they normally have a combo pack that offers both.  I believe last year they had 3 days SSV and 2 days LL.  Anyone know when Costco will start selling their ski passes?

 

I'll bring my ski boots and helmet but will need to rent skis and poles.  Would it be better to rent from one of the resorts or should I rent them from a local shop off the mountain?  Any recommendation on which shop?  I read about companies that come to your hotel room and size you up and bring you your rentals.  Anyone ever try this?  I found blacktieskis.com services Baff. I've never rented skis and the thought of lining up in the rental area is not something I'm looking forward to.  I don't want to waste time in that mayhem.

 

I have a super early flight back home at 6am in the morning.  I'll probably book a hotel near the airport my last night.  I just hope they have airport shuttle service that early.

Welcome to EpicSki!

 

Listen to those who know the area about rentals.  Blacktie is a premium service that I've read about.  My sense is that the people who use them regularly may be the type who spring for slope side lodging at destination resorts and like to be pampered.  Not sure where you usually ski, but I doubt you need to worry about long lines for renting gear around Banff.

 

When in doubt, call the hotel directly to find out details about airport shuttle service hours. 

post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 

Okay, so I'm slowly gathering all the very helpful information that you have all graciously provided.  Thanks I really appreciate it.

 

So I'm going with your advice and I'm planning to do 2 ski days at LL and 1 ski day at SSV.  Thanks @albertanskigirl for the Costco images.  I think I'm going to pickup the 2 day LL pass from Costco when I come in from the airport.  I've decided to stick to the car rental.  I got a decent rate and I'm hoping the roads won't be too bad the first week of Dec. I'm hoping on doing some sightseeing off the mountain.

 

@albertanskigirl, any chance you could send me an image of just the LL pass card from Costco.  I'm curious to see the fine details of the package.  I wasn't able to see it from the image posted.  Thanks.

 

I couldn't seem to find the winter hours posted on their website but does anyone know what time the lift hours are during the first week of December?  Their sites appear to still have the Summer hours.  Do the ski lifts close at 4pm daily? 

 

I read through the threads that @fosphenytoin posted about Banff Hotels. Thanks. :) I ended up booking a room at Banff Aspen Lodge which looks very quaint. 

 

How does the National park admission work?  Do I need to pay a daily rate for the time that I will be in the park?  ie. $9.80 x 4 days x # people.

 

Thanks.

post #16 of 25

@gottagetta

For your question about: "How does the National park admission work?  Do I need to pay a daily rate for the time that I will be in the park?  ie. $9.80 x 4 days x # people." 

Next year is the 150-year anniversary for Canadian national parks, so they are waiving the national park admission fee. Therefore, you won't need to worry about it.   

Banff Aspen Lodge is a very fine choice. 

post #17 of 25

Hi @gottagetta - actually, because you are arriving for your trip in December 2016, you will have to pay park fees. The 150th anniversary free entry doesn't kick in until Jan.1 2017 for daily passes. So yes, the entry will be $9.80 x 4 days x # people.

 

I will try and PM you a full size pic of the LL discounts, but they are: 

 

20% off child and youth tickets

25% off adult ski and snowboard group lessons

10% off kids ski and snowboard group lessons

10% off Lake Louise Merchandise

10% off ski/snowboard rental

10% off ski/snowboard tunes

10% off Whitehorn Bistro food

45% off Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

25% off rooms and 15% off food at the Lake Louise Inn

20% off snowshoeing at Lake Louis

65% off sunny tube park (snome restrictions apply)

 

Banff Aspen Lodge is a great choice :)

 

Have a great trip! I'm sure it will be awesome!

post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by albertanskigirl View Post
 

Hi @gottagetta - actually, because you are arriving for your trip in December 2016, you will have to pay park fees. The 150th anniversary free entry doesn't kick in until Jan.1 2017 for daily passes. So yes, the entry will be $9.80 x 4 days x # people.

 

 

 

Don't recall how many of you were coming but there is a group family rate of 19.60 per day for park entry. So if more than 2 of you in the car you are good.  If you are renting a car, some of the rental car companies will rent you a pass, or at least some of them used to.

 

Some of the sweetest terrain at Louise requires a hike but is not likely open in Dec unless we have an epic year.(and you shouldn't ski it without avy gear and a partner)  There is enough great lift access named runs that very few skiers go to the trouble.  Lots of good stuff off eagle ridge all the ER runs, fallen angel, witches tit,  etc etc which should be open. as well as a, b, c, d, e, f ... chutes OOB and BOOB although some of these may not be open in Dec. 

post #19 of 25


Yup - that's right. I forgot about the family/group rate. It's good for up to 7 people.

post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by twa2w View Post
 

Don't recall how many of you were coming but there is a group family rate of 19.60 per day for park entry. So if more than 2 of you in the car you are good.  If you are renting a car, some of the rental car companies will rent you a pass, or at least some of them used to.

 

Some of the sweetest terrain at Louise requires a hike but is not likely open in Dec unless we have an epic year.(and you shouldn't ski it without avy gear and a partner)  There is enough great lift access named runs that very few skiers go to the trouble.  Lots of good stuff off eagle ridge all the ER runs, fallen angel, witches tit,  etc etc which should be open. as well as a, b, c, d, e, f ... chutes OOB and BOOB although some of these may not be open in Dec. 

 

Thanks for the terrain tips @twa2w.  I don't think I'll do anything crazy. I'm going to play it conservative.  I don't want to get into any trouble especially since this will be my first ski trip of the season. I got to work in my ski legs.

 

@albertanskigirl, thanks for listing the Costco Lake Louise info from card.  No need to send me the picture.  I get the idea of what is being offered. Thanks.:)

post #21 of 25

Banff is a great place to ski and you have gotten a lot of good tips above.

 

I hate to be negative but I think you need to set your expectations much lower.  Early December is early season with typically less than half of runs open.  The half that opens first is almost entirely green and blue.  So if you're goal is to ski stuff more challenging than the best eastern ski areas, you likely will be disappointed.  If you were skiing in Jan-April, you would have very good odds of challenging skiing.

 

I'd still go on the trip if I was you.  The scenery is great, the runs are long and the conditions are much better than the east on average.  Just go in with proper expectations.  You might get lucky with more open, you might have less.  It's impossible to predict but it's very unlikely that significant amounts of challenging terrain will be open.

post #22 of 25
Have ended up skiing Banff some in the past few years. IME, Lake Louise is far more mountain, hard to beat those back bowls and faces. But also less predictable conditions. More exposed, more chance of ice (and yes,I'm from the east but ice is still not what I pay big $ to travel to), more chance of bare ground in Dec.

That said, Sunshine is very nice if you can accept the politics of the owner (was that stuff with the patrol ever resolved, Canadians?), and the snow's more reliable.

This season should be solid for central Canada, according to their version of NOAA, but first week in December is still a dicey time to plan a ski vacation. Anywhere.
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post

Have ended up skiing Banff some in the past few years. IME, Lake Louise is far more mountain, hard to beat those back bowls and faces. But also less predictable conditions. More exposed, more chance of ice (and yes,I'm from the east but ice is still not what I pay big $ to travel to), more chance of bare ground in Dec.

That said, Sunshine is very nice if you can accept the politics of the owner (was that stuff with the patrol ever resolved, Canadians?), and the snow's more reliable.

This season should be solid for central Canada, according to their version of NOAA, but first week in December is still a dicey time to plan a ski vacation. Anywhere.

 

Lake Louise has quite a bit of snow making and early December is when it is likely most appreciated. Any LL regulars know which runs or how many runs or acres have snow making?

post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post
 

 

Lake Louise has quite a bit of snow making and early December is when it is likely most appreciated. Any LL regulars know which runs or how many runs or acres have snow making?

 

I have heard 1000 acres, but I they don't have all of it going all the time.

 

One of the issues with early season snow making is the concentration on the ski course for the World Cup events. This is a huge priority for November.

 

You will see snowmaking on the "homerun" area on Top of the World. Everything on the lower front side other than meadowlark, the green runs off the gondola, Pika, and the larch run. I think Ptarmigan run might also have snow making, but I am not sure. 

 

It is almost impossible to predict the open terrain, but you won't be limited to a couple of green runs. Lake Louise and Sunsine open with marginal coverage though, so watch for rocks.

 

Interesting to note that the dive has opened in November 2 of the last 10 years. We don't always need to wait!

 

We're off to a good start too!

post #25 of 25

I have a feeling things will be pretty good in December this year (fingers crossed) - it's been snowing for the past few weeks, and things are looking good. We're getting hammered this weekend.

Most of the front side at Louise will be open - Lookout, Larch on Larch will be open. I don't think Ptarmigan has snow making. Last year, we were skiing the back bowls at Louise end of November. Sunshine should mostly be open. The dive may likely not be open - but a lot of Lookout, Standish and Wawa are open in December - Goat's eye may be half open. It definitely won't be only beginner terrain. I guess we'll see in the next few weeks!

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