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Interior BC trip info please

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm looking for suggestions. We've got a bunch of guys, (probably 5 -8 of us going) all good skiers, second or third week of January. Looking for info. and suggestions.

Red Mountain is a definate. (Just checked out Carvemeister's site!) We're thinking about booking some heli, and/or cat skiing days as well.

So besides Red, what should we not miss and what should we pass on? Oh, places to stay too?
post #2 of 16


If your looking for Heli-Skiing RK Heli Skiing out of Panorama are excellent and a very good value. Panorama itself is a nice hill, but unless the Tayton Bowl is open there are better choices for expert skiers available, as Panorama tends to get less snow. Fernie is probably the best choice if the weather is cold as it has very good terrain and gets snow in big dumps. Its low altitude means if it isn’t cold you can get rain but that shouldn’t be a problem near the end of January. The ski hill is less than 20 minutes outside of Fernie if you want to save a little money and have a car the Super 8 is good choice it located at the edge of town towards the ski hill cut 5 or more minutes from your drive time. The world cup freestyle is held in Fernie Jan 21st which effects the amount of accommodation available, but the Hill was not crowded last year during the event. Kicking Horse in Golden is well worth the trip, but only if you are all experts there really isn’t much for intermediates or beginners. If you plan on Heli Skiing Driving from Red to Panorama then on to Golden would make for a nice route. With out the Heli Skiing I suggest driving from Red to Fernie with a possible stop in Kimberly as it is on the way. If you do stop at Kimberly Chef Bernards is worth having dinner at.
post #3 of 16

More Info needed

How many days do you have and how are you travelling? From Red Mountain you could head west for Big White, Silver Star, and Sun Peaks; or you could head east for Whitewater, Kimberley, Fernie, and even Castle Mountain in Alberta. If you head north from Kimberley you have Panorama, Kicking Horse, or Lake Louise and Sunshine. There's plenty of heli-skiing and cat skiing in the area. Try this URL for cat skiing:

and this URL for heli-skiing:

If you provide a bit more info I'm sure folks in the area can give you some specific suggestions.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your help. Here's a little more background:

We'll have 7 - 9 days depending on flights. We don't know where we're flying into, probably Calgary. We will have a couple of SUV's rented.

With this group there are often some that make it for the first part of the week and some who come in halfway through. Because of this I'm thinking we should book heli or cat skiing or both right in the middle of the week.

Kicking Horse looks great, so does Fernie and so does Castle. It looks like our plan, right now, is to book the heli/cat skiing, and a couple of places to stay near those activities, and try to keep it open from there. We don't mind driving for the best snow. This is a group, based in the east, that often books trips west last minute based on where it's snowing.
post #5 of 16

Revised advice

I’d check the snow reports before you arrive of course, but with 7 to 9 days if your flying into Calgary to maximize your time skiing I’d suggest driving west hitting Lake Lousie or Sunshine for a day then drive on to Kicking Horse and spend a day there. Drive south to Panorama for as many days of Heli Skiing as you can handle at RK Heli Sking 1-3 days. At the end of your last day of Heli Skiing drive south to Red Mountain then back east to Fernie before driving back to Calgary. Splitting your remaining time between the two resorts. For full disclosure I Haven’t skied either Lake Louise or Sunshine, which I intend to rectify this season, but the people I know who have skied them highly recommend them both and it seems like it would be a shame to drive by them both with out at least sampling one. Also I don’t have any connection with RK Heli-Skiing other than as a very happy consumer of their services. I took their Heli-High 3 Day Elite Package last January and was truly impressed. If your exhausted after your last day of heli-skiing and want a day off drive south to Fairmont after you finish heli-skiing about a 40 minute drive and stay at the hotel there for the evening before continuing on to Red the next morning the ski hill at Fairmont isn’t anything worth staying for, but the Hotel has good food and is right next to a natural hot spring plus it will make for a leisurely drive the next day to Trail while you rest your legs.

If you decide on another route look at flying in to Castlegar it is closer to both Red and Fernie and depending on where you end up Heli/Cat Skiing may be more convenient.
post #6 of 16
There is a certain risk to flying into Castlegar. It's commonly referred to as "Cancelgar," on account of the frequent cnacellations due to weather. (I'm batting 500 there; one of my trips was totally FUBAR due to flight cancellations both coming and going).
post #7 of 16
since you're going to be in rossland, i would be sure to head to nelson and hit whitewater for at least a day... it gets tons of snow, and is only about an hour north of rossland if i'm not mistaken. personally i liked whitewater better than red mountain.
post #8 of 16

Fernie from Calgary

Actually Calgary is as close as Castlegar to Fernie, so I wouldn't advise adding the complication and travel time of a second flight to Castlegar (in the unlikely event that there is a scheduled flight that doesn't cost you another full day of travel). Dec_12 has given you a good timetable for taking the west route out of Calgary, if snow conditions are better to the south you may want to head down to Fernie first (about 31/2 hours from the Calgary airport--Sunshine is just over 2 hours and Lake Louise about 25 minutes longer depending on traffic and road conditions). Castle should also take just over 3 hours to get to if snow was better in that neck of the woods than up Banff way. Panorama resort is about 31/2 hours from Calgary by the Radium cut-off just past Sunshine.

It looks to me like you are looking at a 3 1/2 to 4 hour drive to get from Fernie to Rossland/Trail for Red Mtn. (same time roughly to Nelson and Whitewater). Coming back it would be close to 4 hours to get up in the Panorama area. Keeping the 3 days heli-skiing from Panorama you would have two different routes that could be done in any order or repeated if the snow is really bad along one route for the whole trip. The BC folks can help me out if my travel time estimate is badly out of whack.

South: Calgary to Castle/Fernie (1 or 2 days) to Red Mtn./Whitewater 1 or 2 days.

West: Calgary to Sunshine/Louise (1 or 2 days) to Kicking Horse (1 day) This leaves you with one additional day that could be spent at Panorama, Kimberley or even Fernie depending on where you are spending the night.

Keep in mind that once you enter the Rockies you are going to be driving on two lane roads until you re-emerge at the end of the trip so the weather can have a big effect on travel. It is not unknown for passes to shut, or for there to be long delays in getting through to BC. The road up the Columbia Valley (Cranbrook to Golden) is probably the most dependable. I've done the Fernie, Kimberley, Panorama, Sunshine loop twice and have always enjoyed it. In fact I would be tempted to make Kicking Horse a day trip from the Panorama area just to avoid driving through the Kicking Horse Pass which is widely regarded as the worst piece of driving on any major road in Canada.

The good news is that there are so many good hills, and so much good heli and cat skiing around in the area, you're sure to have a super time!
post #9 of 16

Cat Skiing Videos from Powder Springs (Revelstoke)

I just found some real KA videos on the Powder Springs site. Powder Springs is the small local hill in Revlestoke, but they also have a Cat Skiing operation that looks pretty incredible. This would open up another possible loop from Red Mountain through the backroad north to Revelstoke (three or four other cat skiing operations along the way in the Kootenay back country). All the videos are entertaining. The last big one also shows an impressive avalanche besides the usual big air scenes.

URL for Powder Springs:
post #10 of 16
If you are looking for info on cat or heli skiing. Powder Mag's last issue (Oct) just had a great article on Heli and cat skiing providers, typical costs, vertical per day, pro's and cons etc. They also provided Phone and web site for contact info. It would be a great source for you to see what is available near the locations you are going.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Anybody been skiing with Wilhorse Snowcat tours? How's the terrain? the snow? the guides, etc.? We're thinking about doing a 3-day package with them. Looks like there's going to be 9 of us now and we can probably fill our own cat.
post #12 of 16
I have not heard great things myself, , but have never skied there,, all the buzz right now is about chatter creek in golden,, but i think u have to book and stay in the backcountry for atl east 3 days not sure... there r alot of others down between nelson and revelstoke, baldface, valhalla powdercats, catpowder ,, depends on how good of skiers,, who is in your group/ what can they ski? there are atleast 2 heli operations in golden aswell,, and a good hill
post #13 of 16
Ditto on the Castlegar flight. It is a notoriously tough approach and I'm betting scheduled flights bypass as often as land. You could do Fernie then on to Red and Whitewater. Maybe back to Fernie for a day to break up the drive back to the airport. Retallak is another cat ski outfit in the area but I'm not totally sure of where. Another option is to come up from Nelson to Revelstoke and then over to Golden and on to the Calgary from there.
post #14 of 16
Originally Posted by crank
Anybody been skiing with Wilhorse Snowcat tours? How's the terrain? the snow? the guides, etc.? We're thinking about doing a 3-day package with them. Looks like there's going to be 9 of us now and we can probably fill our own cat.

I did a wildhorse last year on a last minute day thing. Good terrain and snow though nothing that supper steep but nicely spaced trees. Guides and driver were really good. Had a great hero snow powder day. If a mixed group it would be a good place to go.

Did a loop last year similair I think to what your thinking of. Calgary/fernie/ whitewater/ wild horse/whitewater/ powder cats in Revelstoke two days/back to calgary.

You can get from whitewater /nelson to revelstoke after skiing but its a long drive. ( golden even longer)
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info. Looks like it's going to be Valhalla Powdercats. Flying into Spokane.
post #16 of 16
I never think of Spokane. I'm sure you can fly in from the States cheaper to there and it's supposed to be just 2 hours drive to Red from there.
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