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recommendations for Canada

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Hi there,

Me and my gf are contemplating taking a trip out West for early April skiing. We're looking into Canada to save bucks with the exchange rate. Probably Whistler though I'm not sure what else is worth it out there. Can anyone recommend sites or packages for lodging/lift tickets. I've been to the Whistler site but I'm not too sure those are the best rates and their spring speacials deals are not all that flexible.
Possibly leaving on Wed. March 31st and planning a 4/5 night stay at the mountain in a studio.
Most likely flying into Seattle International and driving up to Whistler unless we find a cheap flight to Vancouver. But so far no one seems to beat the price Southwest airlines gets us to Seattle.

Thanks for the input.
post #2 of 33
If saving some cash is a concern, Whistler may not be you're best bet now that the exchange rates aren't quite as friendly and deals aren't really common for W/B. Depends what you're after in your trip, though.
If the skiing is the focus some of the interior resorts are amazing at a much lower cost, but it is tough to beat W/B for the apres.
Take a look at: Kicking Horse in Golden KHMR
Red in Rossland Red
Apex in Penticton Apex
Sun Peaks in Kamloops Sun Peaks
Fernie F.A.R.
For Alberta: Sunshine Village SSV
Lake Louise The Lake
Jasper Marmot
post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 
thanks for all these ideas. Going to look into each one of them. Yeah money is a concern. We already spend a week in the Alps this year so we to watch oursleves. Is the snow on all those mountains wirth it in April or is Whistler really the only place to consider for big mountain and good snow conditions at that point in time ?

post #4 of 33
Spring is by far the best time to hit the Alberta side, W/B is big spring ski destination and will be busy.
The Rocky resorts - LL, SSV, KHMR usually get lots of snow in March(powder days likely) and the crowds are thinning out by then (golf courses starting to open around Calgary).
Fernie, Red are a little lower and further south - should still be awesome, but rain could be a factor at Fernie.
Haven't skied the interior resorts (Apex, Sun Peaks) for quite a few years and am not totally sure about their spring conditions.
I don't think you'd be disappointed with any of the options.

Reread you're 2nd post - If big mountain terrain is what you're after, Golden may be a good call. Accomodations are fairly cheap, you're only ~1/2 hr from Lake Louise, <1hr to Sunshine and looking up at Kicking Horse. KHMR has awesome bowls, chutes and steeps, steep trees and big bowls at the Lake.

[ February 18, 2004, 10:23 AM: Message edited by: PlayHarder ]
post #5 of 33
I'm from the U.S. east coast, as well, and am taking a similar trip in mid-March. I found that airfare cost is the main issue with Whistler, as well as Sun Peaks or Big White, in which you may as well be going to Whistler, as you have to take about three flights, and usually via Vancouver.

Stick to the resorts already mentioned that can reached via Calgary. A lot less money (and travel time). We're headed for Fernie, ourselves. We wanted on-mountain lodging, which isn't available, to any extent, at Lake Louise or Sunshine. Most of my group consists of intermediate skiers, so that knocked Kicking Horse off the list, though I'm anxious to check KH out down the road when their lift system opens more terrain, etc..

As you're considering April, though, Fernie might be problematic, and if you don't care about on mountain lodging, perhaps Banff would be the better April bet?

You know, staying in Salt Lake City and skiing Little Cottonwood Canyon (Alta, Snowbird) are strong April bets, and the air to SLC is usually VERY inexpensive. Another possibility.
post #6 of 33
Thread Starter 
well, my concern is going to a "big" mountain. I learned to ski in the Alps and skied there most of my life until I moved to New England. I like Cannon and Loon and smaller mountains you can ski at in NEw England but if I'm flying across the country, I want something BIG. I've heard that some West Coast mountains rival with the Alps and I want to make sure I go to one of those. Which ones in your recommendations would you recommend in that regard ?
post #7 of 33
Which ones in your recommendations would you recommend in that regard ?
The coast range is big, but so are the Rockies. With cost factored in I'd go with Golden, really only two lifts -gondy, Chairway to Heaven (the lower chair accesses the little bit of beginner terrain available). From the gondola you get ~4300' vertical(no midpoint), lots of good inbounds stuff and a very euro outlook to b/c access if you're into some short hikes.
Lake Louise is huge (4300 acres inbounds) with a ton of good terrain. A little more groomed than KHMR, but still lots of off-piste and easily accessible from Golden for a day trip. You're also close enough to hit Sunshine for a day if a big storm hits. SSV is a fairly big hill with some good terrain both in and out of bounds, but likely only worth a trip from Golden if you could catch one of their huge dumps.
I grew up skiing Banff and spent 7 years at W/B, with KHMR I would opt for the Golden/Banff combo now (don't get me wrong, though - W/B should be experienced, its awesome - with a big bankroll).

[ February 18, 2004, 11:06 AM: Message edited by: PlayHarder ]
post #8 of 33
Thread Starter 
and when you mean big you don't mean Killington, VT big, right ?
post #9 of 33
Originally posted by kelly001:
and when you mean big you don't mean Killington, VT big, right ?
As a reference, click up above on epicski.com, then under the "Focus" banner at left, click on Resorts & Travel. What you're looking for is "skiable acres." For example, Killington has 1,182 skiable acres. Sunshine, in comparison, is listed at 3,168 skiable acres.

Killington's is actually on the high side for the East, when you consider Stratton has just over 500 skiable acres. I've found that Alta's 2,200 acres was MORE than enough to keep my interest for a week, so don't use Sunshine's high number as a benchmark for minumum acceptable. I just tossed it out because it's one of the resorts that's been suggested.
post #10 of 33
Thread Starter 
I'll check it out. You see Killington couldn't hold my interest for a full week. It's considered a big resort here in the northeast but after two days, I'm tired of doing the same slopes and most of all, I'm tired of the crowds. Runs are too short overall. Sure they have 200 of them but none of them are all that long... Hopefully places out West are not like that...
post #11 of 33
I'll check it out. You see Killington couldn't hold my interest for a full week. It's considered a big resort here in the northeast but after two days, I'm tired of doing the same slopes and most of all, I'm tired of the crowds. Runs are too short overall. Sure they have 200 of them but none of them are all that long... Hopefully places out West are not like that...
Sounds like this will be your first trip out here? You're in for an experience. Any one of the hills - KHMR, Louise, Sunshine, Fernie, Red, W/B would likely have enough terrain to amuse you for a month. As Aaron mentioned, Alta's 2200 acres can easily keep most people occupied for a week - now double that and you get Lake Louise alone, then imagine KHMR's 2750 acres added and Sunshines 3100+ acres all within an hour of Golden.
As for the crowds - compared to eastern resorts and even alot of western US destinations, there are none. Getting away from the base at Louise is worst case 10 minutes in line and from there you hardly wait. The mountain is big enough that even on a busy day, you can leave the people behind pretty easily and feel like you're alone on the hill. I used the Lake for this part because it is the busiest of all the ones I mentioned apart from W/B.
As for the length of the runs - Kicking Horse is 4100'+, all good, with a 12 minute ride back to the top. Even going flat out for a day, it would be tough to do 10 runs.
I'd wish you good luck with the decision, but you're faced with a win-win choice. [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ February 18, 2004, 11:59 AM: Message edited by: PlayHarder ]
post #12 of 33
When in April. I think KH closes April 10. Now thats not for lack of snow as skied there opening year closing weekend and it was like winter at the top though a bit sloppy at bottom. BC interior and Fernie you'd have to check closing dates. Sometimes best skiing in Banff is in April. Only closing weekend at Sunshine , May 24, did it get a bit sloppy. Shaded areas was still winter snow. Though have skied Lake Lousie at that time and the snow was rotten, wet snow avies going down mogul fields.
post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 
thanks again for all the input. I'm trying to go through all the options. Weirdly enough I'm having a hard time finding an air deals to Calgary from the Boston area. Everything is in excess of $450 a piece while I could fly to Seattle/Tacoma for $240 or Salt Lake for about the same price. So that might also dictate where I decide to go too... If anyone knows about air deals to Canada or packages I'm all ears...
post #14 of 33
My cousin usually drives from Boston to Montreal and catches a flight to Calgary on Westjet for ~$300can(return). I do remember him saying prices from anywhere NE US to Calgary were pricey. Although, $240 to SLC and a week at Alta sound pretty sweet to me.

[ February 19, 2004, 08:11 AM: Message edited by: PlayHarder ]
post #15 of 33
Thread Starter 
yeah, I might reconsider and shoot for Salt Lake if the Canadian Rockies are so pricy to fly out to in late March or April. Is Alta pretty much the place to go for skiing around Salt Lake City ?
post #16 of 33
Thread Starter 
I looked into Westjet yesterday but their prices for that period were not good either. Maybe $10 less per ticket if that... And it's a good 5-6 hour drive from Boston to Montreal so in gas and parking alone, I probably wouldn't save any cash.
post #17 of 33
Yeah, get the Alta/Snowbird pass so you have both mountains. You can stay at Exteneded Stay Sandy or Midvale for about $35.00 a night! If you are not susceptible to altitude sickness, Park City has a deal where you show your airline boarding pass, and get to ski free the afternoon you arrive.

Have fun whatever you do, and remember, we want trip reports! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #18 of 33
Thread Starter 
Yeah. so far I'm moving back to the States for this trip. Can't beat the prices Southwest offer across country. $240 with all taxes to SLC or Reno, NV.

What are the options for a big mountain resort in Reno ? And which destination would you choose, Reno or SLC ? Southwest also flies to Seattle/Tacoma and Jackson, MS.

Lisa, how far are the hotels you mention from the airport and from the actual slopes ? Is there public transportation or do I need to rent a car ? thanks for the ideas!
post #19 of 33
Originally posted by kelly001:
What are the options for a big mountain resort in Reno
Reno makes you accessible to most of Tahoe, with Heavenly or Norstar probably being the closest. Lodging and food in Reno is also very reasonable. Look into hotel/casinoa like Harrahs, etc. and ask about their gaming package deals. These are usually much better deals than skiing deals. A lot of times you can purchase discount lift passes right in Reno. A rental car is probably a necessity, though.
post #20 of 33
Its about 30 minutees by car. If you rent, you will need an all wheel drive. There are buses, but I'm not sure where they are. Maybe post the question as a separate topic, since the Utah locals seem to know the details.
post #21 of 33
Originally posted by Lisamarie:
Its about 30 minutees by car. If you rent, you will need an all wheel drive. There are buses, but I'm not sure where they are. Maybe post the question as a separate topic, since the Utah locals seem to know the details.
Might even look into costs involved staying at one of the Alta lodges (Snowbird is pretty "toney"). If it's not much more, you eliminate the hassle of schlepping up Little Cottonwood Canyon every morning, not to mention insuring you're out early after a big snow, as well as avoiding delays getting there if the Canyon is closed for a time...

As to Calgary, the advantage is really in the lift tix and lodging, where the exchange rate will help. But, you definitely need to use a tour operator, such as www.moguls.com, or www.snowventures.com, for some sort of package, so you're not killed by the over the counter air fares. It was Snow Ventures that got me decent air out of Philadelphia.

On the other hand, as I said earlier in this thread, if it were my first western trip, and it had to be in April, Alta and Snowbird in Utah are the odds-on favorite for the best conditions.
post #22 of 33
OK so this thread is a geting a little old but what the heck! Here is my .02 ... Fernie and Red are great hills in February or early March - April is too late those peaks are maybe 7000 feet ? That is too low ofr htat time of year in that part of the world.

Your single best bet SLC. the Big & Little Cottonwood canyons are high enough to have decent conditions then and SLC is easy (read in-expensive) to get to from Bean-Town.

CDN to UDS is running at about .75 to 1 so you get a 20 percent discount in Canada (they tend to round the actual rate as listed at oanda.com when they exchange unless you have a very nice credit card company). You'll chew through that pretty quickly gven the differences in transport to Calgary (an expensive air market) or Vancouver, then on the Whistler. In Whistler (great hill) there are relaively few in-expensive lodging options. I haven't done an exhaustive study on that so someone else might know of an option there. We usually ski Red & Fernie but earlier ...

SLC - you'll want a car. Budget was $300 for an Explorer for a week in early January. Hertz and Alamo were much, much higher ... There is a Residence Inn just about in-between the two canyons, check marriot.com for the address. You can get those pretty reasonably and then you have a kitchen ... not to mention pool and hot tub.

Finally - given the access to the SLC airport, you'll get a half day on the hill your last day in town.

So - my take on April - SLC, hands down ...

Where ever you end up - take the sun screen and have fun!
post #23 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks a lot. I'm really eager to discover the Canadian Rockies but it won't be on this trip. The airfares were just too much. Hopefully next time.
As it turns out we are going to Reno instead if SLC. The airfare was the same but we more conveniant flying times going to Reno.
Plus you can't beat the deal Heavenly is having starting March 28th. 4 nights + 4 full day tickets for $250 a piece. There's another package for 5 nights + 5 full day tickets for roughly $300. If anyone is interested. Sweat deal...

Thanks for everyone's input, you really helped me make an informed decision.
post #24 of 33
Bring your RAINCOAT!!

post #25 of 33
Thread Starter 
How often does it really rain in late March / early April ?
post #26 of 33
Anytime there is precipitation for the vacinity, it will have a 90+% likelihood of being rain except for the alpine elevations. The alpine is also subject to rain that time of the year, but is just moving into the season when they will be getting rain consistently. It is springtime everywhere except the higher elevations by that time and those springtime fronts pass through the Sierras to get across the continent.

Bottom line -- Unlikely you will get much winter skiing in! ..Canada was a different matter that time of year, but for a couple hundred dollars less you will get to deal with weather that the vast majority of skiers have already decided is not worth bothering with.

Good Luck!!
post #27 of 33
Yeah, first time out west... I hope you get some better conditions... but Alta and Snowbird would have been the far better bets for April.
post #28 of 33
Thread Starter 
Is someone trying to rain on my parade ?

Well we'll be skiing there as of April 1st so hopefully it won't be too bad. I was told that generally at that season 100% of Heavenly should be open. Would you disagree with that ? Perhaps the snow conditions won't be 100% but I don't see how it could be much worse than the ice fields we have in the North-East this year... If money wasn't that tight this time around, I would of opted for the Canadian Rockies but at twice the cost of Heavenly, I guess, I'm willing to take the gamble. And what better place to do so than Nevada, right ?
post #29 of 33
Sorry that response hit you wrong!

I'm just trying to give you as honest a 'heads up' as I can. My only trip to Tahoe included rain every day, ...and that was in mid January. The skiing was crap by most western standards: but we were lucky enough to have chosen to stay in the casinos in downtown Reno, so even though we left skiing behing about noon each day; my brother and I still consider it to be one of the best ski trips we ever took. Reno is a killer place to be 'stuck' in!

I just don't think there is a real good chance you will find the kind of conditions eastern skiers dream about for a western vacation. I am in full agreement that Tahoe can be a wonderful place to ski, but if conditions warrant that you ski only the upper reaches of the ski areas; and that includes riding a lift through the first 500 vertical feet in rain, and the last 500 vertical feet in snow; only to be greeted by unbelieveable howling winds at the top: ...I just don't see how that can be construed desirable. I do hope you encounter conditions better than that, but I did encounter conditions of that nature two days out there; and made a firm decision that I would opt for places where the odds of finding excellent skiing conditions were in my favor.

Skiing the higher resorts of Canada and Colorado are the best bets for good ski conditions that time of the year, but I am sure a good time can be had at any open ski area if you are prepared to be flexible. Good Luck!
post #30 of 33
Too bad a few of you had bad experiences in Tahoe. That hasn't been my experience, but I live 3 hours away, so if it's going to rain, I stay home. Thanks to numerous weather reports, I haven't been rained on in Tahoe for 6-7 years.

Years ago, I would go to Tahoe (South Shore, i.e. Heavenly, Kirkwood) every year for a week right around Easter, and would get always sunny skies & awesome spring conditions. Bring sunscreen.

Last April (around the 12th), a cold storm blew through & I got a cold bluebird day at Squaw with 8" fresh.

Just go & enjoy! Hit Kirkwood for a day. Even better, spend a day or two on the North Shore & hit Squaw.
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