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Best place for a mid-Dec long weeked?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
This is a rewording of an earlier post on GTarghee....

I want to take my g/f somewhere around dec 15 for a three day weekend of skiing. Requirements: easy to/from Seattle; good dry snow; relatively inexpensive; oh, and good snow.

I'd love folks input... I dont have a good feel for snow in December in say, the canyons above SLC or Tetons. I know Whistler is too dicey (that would be an obvious choice)... so, what ya'll think?
post #2 of 15
post #3 of 15

Utah would be my pick

Unless I am mistaken they had an assload of snow early last year. Granted things are not always like that but you also have many great mountains within a short drive of SLC. I would have to say as far as easy accsess goes SLC is the place and lodging can be had cheap in the city to. Only down side you need a rental car I would not rely on public transportation but I am kind of a snob like that and impatient.
post #4 of 15
Targhee is not that easy from Seattle. you fly into either Jacksonhole, and drive over Teton Pass, taking a chance it wont close on you, or fly into Idaho Falls,id and drive 70 miles. Roads this way are good. And i think the veiw cant be beat on a clear day.(via Rexburg to Driggs)
SLC or Tahoe would be the best for you. Colorado, you have a 2 hr drive,min from Denver on a good day, if you don't fly into Eagle County.

Park city has awesome free local transportation. Just would need a shuttel up to PC.
SLC has the UTA and Trax light rail that runs north south thru the valley. UTAH SKI Buss runs up the Cottonwoods every hr or so.Alot of the lodging companies in PC should still be offering early season deals.
www.skiutah.com can handle everything your wondering about.
Tahoe,, fly into Reno, a short 65 mile drive up to the lake. (or stay in Reno)But with this you have to plan it so you don't have to chain up. NVand CA. are anal about the chain law.(why do you think i-80 is so rough?) Roads could be bare for 60 miles, but you still have to chain. There are also shuttle from Reno to Lake Tahoe
can handle your needs and questons
Stay at Lakeland Villge on the south shore, and they have a free shuttle directly to Heavenly,and you can buy lift tickets here, or catch the shuttles to other Tahoe Resorts. I even think the two steam ships on the lake offer some type of deal to get you over to Squaw from the So. Shore.
If you do go to Tahoe, go in the early to middle of the week. This is when it isn't all that busy, Friday thru Sunday it gets insane witht he population of Sacamento and San Fransico coming up for the weekend. Tahoe also has a local transit system in place on the so. shore. Don't know how well it is, cause i don't use it. Maybe the other Tahoe locals can anwser.(wedding chaples, also located here

Conditions in the Tetons can be dicey as well this early in the season. Actually alot of places can be that way. Last year was a differant story.
post #5 of 15
I live in Bellingham, just north of you, and we go to BC's interior every year at that time (Sun Peaks, Silver Star, Big White). We've never been let down.

The early snow has always been good, with few crowds and low prices. Plus, it's an easy 4 hr (5 hr for you) highway drive.

The terrain at Sun Peaks, especially, is vast and varied. Lots to chose from, and it's never wet - over 2000 hrs of sunshine per year. This year, we bought a season's pass.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions. I do know now that there are three places on my list for must-see: Grand Targhee; Alta/Snowbird (well, they've been on my list since high school); and inner BC (sun peaks, etc.). And I only get three weeks vaca per year. sigh.

Cap'n Strato: of the three inner BC resorts you mention, which has the best (driest powder) and the best terrain vs. not crowded balance going. I'm more into the low key places (e.g., I love Baker and hate Whistler) without crowds.

For Mid December, do these place have reliable snow? I'm really intrigued by Sun Peaks... it's huge, with varried terrain to boot. Can't believe I didn't even consider these places.

Anyway, everyone thanks for your suggestions. Definitely helped
post #7 of 15

Sun Peaks is our favorite of the 3. It's large with the most varied terrain.

All 3 have dry snow and are relatively uncrowed. Silver Star is least crowded, and lowest key, but is also the smallest - still a great place.

Big White is large, with lots of variety, intermediate groomers and family orientation. Lots of boarders there. Thick fog (2 days out of 5 in our experience) is the downside.

Sun Peaks is the largest and most challenging. It reminds us of Whistler 20 years ago, but with dry snow.

None of the resorts gets a huge amount of snow - average is about 220 inches per year - but it's plenty for good coverage and a healthy dose of pow days.

But, they're not Fernie or Alta.

Regarding early December, it's always worked for us. Last year was the diciest. However, some PNW resorts didn't even open last year, so it's all relative.

The trip up depends substantially upon the weather. In good weather, 4.5 hrs from Bellingham is a breeze. If it's dark and snowy, it can take longer.

Our ski club has become a Sun Peaks regular. We've been many places, and it's the best local experience we've found.

Good luck!
post #8 of 15
I've gotta disagree with the Capitain about Sun Peaks. I'm not much impressed by it. My favorite, so far, has been Silver Star. It has some great steeps on the back side and the front side is super for the intermediates in your group.

My problems with Sun Peaks revolve around the Burfield chair. It takes you to the best terrain but it is very S-L-O-W even for a fixed grip, and the chairs seem to be a half-mile apart. If you want to load at the mid-station you can wait forever because the chairs from the base are coming up filled. When you get on it you crawl along at this unbelievably slow pace and are very exposed to the weather. If there is wind along the ridge to the summit you can freeze into a skiercicle before you get to the top. You should know that I don't mind regular fixed-grip chairlifts at all (hey, I ski at Baker), but this one is hard to believe.

There is some decent terrain there, but it doesn't wow me.

Our ski club is going there again this year and I'm staying home.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks Pheft. Here's something I forgot to include when I asked the original question: my g/f is a boarder and I ski (kills Alta, crap)... but do either Silver Star or Sun Peaks have a better spin for skiers vs. boarders (she likes wide steep intermediate groomers)?

(I like meandering narrows... but that's another story).

She also hates steep offloads (for example, taking her on Chair 1 at Baker gets me in big shit with her) and therefore she prefers detachable lifts....

And Silver Star looks like it's about an hr farther from Seattle than Sun Peaks?
post #10 of 15
Mt. Bachelor is usually a good bet for early season coverage and is relatively inexpensive. Also, there are usually some cheap direct flights from Seattle. However, you will probably want to rent a car if you go.

Ditto for Alta
post #11 of 15

Silver Star grooms some pretty steep runs on the backside and it also has the type of run you prefer. Sun Peaks also grooms some fairly steep terrain. I don't think off loading is an issue at either place.

You're right, it's about an hour farther and one more mountain pass to Silver Star.
post #12 of 15
Pheft's observations re: Sun Peaks are valid. Burfield lift is slow and there's exposure to the elements. However, neither was big issue for me (maybe I just needed the rest). Everyone views such things differently.

Silver Star is a wonderful, "undiscovered" gem. The backside is plenty challenging and village is quaint. It's just not as big, and it's a longer drive.

Regarding Bachelor, we used to live in Ashland and ski it regularly. IMHO, it has outstanding terrain and the best snow in the PNW. It's dry and there's lots of it. Great pow days. In addition, the lift system is outstanding and crowds are minimal.

The downside, and it's a biggie for me, is the wind and fog. Virtually every winter day we went to Bachelor, we got pummeled with high-speed, granular winds (especially on the top of Outback and Northwest), and limited visibility. After a while, the sand-blasting gets fatiguing.

Our club also has a trip scheduled for Bachelor in January, and I'm sitting that one out.

Spring skiing on Bachelor, however, is some of the best we've ever done. Lots of bluebird days at a perfect mountain.

Again, ask 100 people and you'll get 101 different opinions.
post #13 of 15
Big White and Sun Peaks.

We're from Seattle and frequently go to both Sun Peaks and Big White (can't comment on Silver Star). Never a bad trip yet. Both have very affordable ski-in ski-out lodging, especially in the pre-Xmas season. In our experience Big White seems to have slightly better/drier snow conditions although it does sometimes suffer from fog.

Travel/driving time may be a bit much for a three day weekend.
post #14 of 15
It used to be popular with locals to ask for a magazine at the Burfield load! It is a very long very slow chair.
post #15 of 15
Nobody has automatic reliability in mid-December. Despite what happened last year the Pacific Northwest, and Whistler/Mt. Baker in particular, probably have the best historical snow record anywhere for first half of December.

Since you live in Seattle, save your airfare advance commitment for a more reliable time of the season and retain flexibility for December. Whistler, Sun Peaks, Big White, Silver Star, even Bachelor (same as L.A. to Tahoe, which I do often for 4 days) are all driveable for you. You can decide within a week or two ahead and choose based on current conditions.
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