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Skiing in BC in jan

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hello,
I'm an Aussie looking for a good week skiing out of Vancouver. I first and foremost looking for a good amount of powder (ain't everyone! - Australia doesn't know what that is and I skied Chamonix in Feb and the snow was average). I don't wanna go to Whistler because of the crowds and the price. Can anyone suggest a resort that is accessible by public transport from Vancouver that is good value, has good quality hostel (not hotel) accommodation, is friendly and has will give me an opportunity to learn to ski powder (I am a good intermediate skier).

Cheers for your help in advance.
Rob
post #2 of 26
I can't think of any areas near Vancouver that fill all of your needs. However, if you give up on the accomodations you could just watch the weather reports and hit the hill at one of the local "urban" areas that are served by the city bus line, like Grouse Mt. You would be able to stay at home in the city.

"Powder" is a bit of a misnomer for what you run into most of the time at these areas. "New snow" is a better name. While there may be powder from time to time most of the new is more like mashed potatoes.

You might have more luck on the snow angle by going to Mt. Baker which is in the US but not too far from Vancouver. The only problem: no public transport and no lodging.
post #3 of 26
Yeah, really the only serious area near Vancouver will be Whistler. If you weren't restricted to the Vancouver area, I would suggest Big White in Kelowna. It's about a 4 hour drive from Vancouver, I'm not sure if there's bus service available or not, you might have to fly. It's a great resort however, plenty of good terrain for an intermediate, and it tends to get nice dry snow compared to Whistler since it's in the interior. I believe there are also a couple hostels right at the hill, don't know how good they are though.
post #4 of 26
If by public transport you mean by scheduled bus (motor coach), Big White may be your ticket (half-day bus trip to the interior), but I'm not sure of the shuttle schedules from Kelowna. There's a hostelling international hostel in Kamloops that offers ski packages to Sun Peaks. Kamloops will probably be a little longer bus trip from Vancouver.

Another possibility might be Mt. Washington on Vancouver Island, but I don't know the feasibility of public transport or hostelling (would require city bus trip to Horseshoe Bay, Ferry to Nanaimo, bus or train to Courtenay, and then shuttle to mountain if available).
post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hi,
thanks for the ideas. Let me throw another angle at ya. Besides whistler, was it the dream resort (for good skiing) in bc. Where has been getting good consistent snow for the last few years. I have heard of Big white, that sounds a good option, any other suggestions like that. Also skiing directly out of vancouver, is there lots of mountain possibilities ie. Is there always a good chance of a good fun day doing it that way?
Cheers again,
Rob
post #6 of 26
Besides Big White there is also Sun Peaks and Silver Star that are similar distances from the Vancouver area. All have good snow, but not nearly as much of it as the coastal areas. They style themselves as destination resorts.

The areas around Vancouver are close, day use areas but at a fairly low elevation so if the weather is moderate the snow isn't so great. If there is a cold snap with precipitation they can be quite good. No guarantees about consistency. Some years are amazing and others are, well............not.
post #7 of 26
All Big White, Silver Star and Sun Peaks are great places to be, snow is much better then at Whistler and way less crowded. They all have hostels - ski-in-out hostels on Big White and Silver star and probably the same on Sun Peaks, I never stayed there. Check their websites for hostel information.
All three places worth visiting, Big White normally has more snow but there are not so many steep runs, Sun Peaks has best lifts and great terrain but not so much snow, Silver Star - good snow and terrain but smaller then other two - still big enough to spend several days.
I would be very interested to hear how others compare those places - I like them all and can not choose my favorite.
post #8 of 26
Is there a reason for Van as your base or are you flexible?
post #9 of 26
If you are not dead set on BC/Vancouver I would recomend SLC. It seems to fit all of your other criteria i.e. cheap accomodations (many inexpensive hotels in the city) and public trasportation up both LCC and BCC. Oh and the powder well it is Utah
post #10 of 26
Agreed! SLC would fit the bill much better than Vancouver. Vancouver's a wonderful place (were I was raised), but it's coastal. Therefore, even the local resorts - Grouse, Seymour and Cypress - receive coastal, heavier, snow.

Whistler can have fabulous snow, and lot's of it, but it's also often wet.

For dryer snow, you've gotta go inland - Sun Peaks, Big White and SilverStar. I prefer all to Whistler due to pricing, dry snow and sun. But, they get less snow than Whistler or Mt. Baker.

If you really want the goods in BC, you've gotta hit the south east: Fernie and the other areas near Nelson BC. There you'll find the deep sweet stuff ('cept for last year).

SLC gives you cheap housing options, and proximity to the best lift-served deep powder on earth. I'd suggest Solitude (used to have a pass there) in BCC. The same phenomonal snow as Alta and Snowbird, but without the crowds.
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffW
Is there a reason for Van as your base or are you flexible?
Hello,
do you mean car? I am looking to use public transport/ coach to get to just the one destination for a week.

Cheers,
r
post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by powderhound24
If you are not dead set on BC/Vancouver I would recomend SLC. It seems to fit all of your other criteria i.e. cheap accomodations (many inexpensive hotels in the city) and public trasportation up both LCC and BCC. Oh and the powder well it is Utah
Yeah, I have to go to Vancouver as we have prebooked plane tickets already. I'll do that one next time.

Cheers,
R
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Strato

SLC gives you cheap housing options, and proximity to the best lift-served deep powder on earth. I'd suggest Solitude (used to have a pass there) in BCC. The same phenomonal snow as Alta and Snowbird, but without the crowds.
Now your just making me sad....

Tell me a bit more about Mt Baker, ie. transport from vancouver and distance 5 hour bus trip is fine for me. Howe does the snow differ there?

Chees,
R
post #14 of 26
Mt. Baker isn't that far from Vancouver - 2 hrs Max if you don't hit heavy traffic on Hwy #1.

Baker is likely your best bet. It's an authentic mountain (no Disneyland), with huge snowfall (650 inches average) excellent steeps and some phenomonal back-country terrain.

The resort isn't huge (about 1000 acres), but it features abundant variety, and lots of great pow shots, if you know where to go (tag along with some locals). Although, real powder does occasionally happen at Baker, "fresh snow" is a more accurate description - like Tahoe.

Blue cruisers are mostly limited to one area (White Salmon Day Lodge), and there's a lot of blacks.

Most people stay in Glacier (about 15 miles away), but there are regular buses from Vancouver, Seattle and Bellingham.

Snowboarder density is huge, propably the largest of any mountain in NA - 70% to 80%. This is partially due to the fact that nearby Bellingham has 3 colleges (about 20,000 students), with lots of younger people.

The real reason, though, is the snow: it's coastal with 14% water content (high), amazingly abundant and grooming is rare.

For a mountain with lots of kids, many of whom are novice sliders and like to hang with their posse, snowboards are a faster learning curve, especially in Baker's heavier, deep, ungroomed snow, and more advanced terrain.

If you're a decent skier, and have skies with a bit of girth (I always use fat skis on Baker), it's a great mountain. I love it!

Be prepared for a bit of weather. All that snowfall comes with frequent storms.

If you want to ski deep snow, close to Vancouver at a cheap price, Baker is The One!
post #15 of 26
Nice description, Capitain.

The one problem that still is a hangup here is lodging. There is no public transport from Glacier to Mt. Baker. He might be able to get to the mountain, but he can't get to his lodgings.

If you look at the options and decide that Baker is what you want to do and you're adventurous, you might want to think about hitching to and from Glacier. It's done a lot by people in your situation (no car). You might even run into employees who commute and work out a deal (beer is well received by most).
post #16 of 26
Whistler gets the crowds, but the lift system does a remarkably efficient job of spreading people all over the mountain. So even on the busiest days, there is still plenty of solitude! Now if only they don't get a repeat of last season. . .

The accommodation tends towards the high priced side, but there are a couple of hostels in Whistler, and cheaper motel lodging in Pemberton or Squamish. Also there's a hostel in Squamish that was decent and not too busy. You will probably need your own rental vehicle (preferred). Also I was able to get decent lodging at Whistler (Cascade Lodge) for about $100 CDN / night.

I will be visiting at the end of January.
post #17 of 26
Another plug for Alberta, Canada Skiing. If you want lots of ski access, 99% chance for powder, hostel accomadation, public / bus transport.

Stay in Banff or Canmore, Alberta. Set right smack in the middle of the Rockie mountains. The towns are real mountin towns with all you would expect. YOu would likely feel right at home due to the huge amount of Aussies that work and live there (scammed free accomodation) You will have:

Sunshine Village http://www.skibanff.com/

Lake Louise http://www.skilouise.com/index.asp

Fortress Mountain http://www.ultimaterockies.com/activities/fortress.html

Nakiska http://www.skinakiska.com/

all within 20 - 40 minute drive of Banff or Canmore. Both towns have hostels and daily bus transport to the hills.

To the North via the Banff / Jasper Hwy (bus transport and hostle available) is:

Jasper, Alberta Marmot Basin http://www.skimarmot.com/home.html

Just up the road 1.5 hours from Banff / Canmore is (transport may be a daily issue, but the Greyhound bus system picks up in Both Banff and Canmore and goes to Radium, Kimberly, Golden, Nelson with cheap accomadation or hostels at most locations.)

Panorama http://www.panoramaresort.com/index.htm

not far from there is Kimberly, Fernie, Silver Star, Kicking Horse

A little further is Big White.

Finally hitting Vancouver on the coast.

There are likey a bunch of hills I missed.

Powder in Jnauary is all but a sure thing. It just depends which day it WILL happen. Lift tickets are around $50 Canadian a day at each of the hills.

if you need any more info, phone numbers etc just ask.

Mark
post #18 of 26
If you're intested in staying in (well, near enough) Whistler... check out Shoestring Lodge for some reasonably priced accomodation. I'm staying there in early January and you can bunk down in the 4 bed dorm styled rooms.
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blaise
If you're intested in staying in (well, near enough) Whistler... check out Shoestring Lodge for some reasonably priced accomodation. I'm staying there in early January and you can bunk down in the 4 bed dorm styled rooms.
Man, does that bring back memories. We used to do exactly that back in the 60's, when it was the Ski Boot Inn - and I was in high-school.

It's cheap, functional and a handy crawl from the in-house pub.
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marmot mb
Another plug for Alberta, Canada Skiing. If you want lots of ski access, 99% chance for powder, hostel accomadation, public / bus transport.

Mark
I just took a trip up Highway 93. Marmot looked pretty darn white when I got to Jasper and the white stuff has been falling up top for the past three days. I didn't bother to drive up the Sunshine access road, but it looks like reasonable snow accumulations up at altitude. Lower Lake Louise was still pretty brown, but maybe things have improved over the weekend.

Less than four weeks to opening.....
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnjantzie
I just took a trip up Highway 93. Marmot looked pretty darn white when I got to Jasper and the white stuff has been falling up top for the past three days. I didn't bother to drive up the Sunshine access road, but it looks like reasonable snow accumulations up at altitude. Lower Lake Louise was still pretty brown, but maybe things have improved over the weekend.

Less than four weeks to opening.....
Marmot webcam is showing less and less brown every day. I am praying for a big snow fall so I can use my 8800's opening day with out destroying them. What a burn to buy new skis and then still ski the old boards for fear of wratching the new ones first time out.

I should get a few runs in on the new boards at the local hill, as my daughter is taking lessons this year leaving me a few hours to spare.

Sunshine webcam is looking rather tasty

Panorama is still brown and not looking promising at all. I am hoping to do a xmas trip there so I am really holding my breath.

4 weeks and peeing my pants in anticipation
post #22 of 26
I would have to agree with Captain Strato and Posaune.. Baker will definitely work well for you.
Another cool thing about Baker is that the people are sooo mellow and probably for a few beers be more than willing to help you out with your transportation quandry..

This link will have all the info you need.

http://www.mtbaker.us/info/transportation.html
post #23 of 26
Thread Starter 

I like options

Cheers all.
Lots of good stuff to think about there. Will make some enquiries and probably come back with questions.
Thanks,
Rob
post #24 of 26
If you don't want Whistler I think you need to rent a car. Lots of options and flexibility. Mt. Baker (2 hours) and the Okanagan group (Big White, etc., 4 hours) are your closest options. You'll pay for the car with what you save on cheap lodging. Plus you can chase fresh pow even farther (Red Mt., Whitewater, also cheap places to stay) if you want.
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by robnairn
Hello,
do you mean car? I am looking to use public transport/ coach to get to just the one destination for a week.

Cheers,
r
Van=Vancouver

I hope you have a fun time in BC but if you are flying all the way from down under for powder, you should have tried Utah. Powder during a week stay there is pretty much a given. Have fun and goodluck!
post #26 of 26
It's hard to argue with Mt. Baker's 639 inches annual snowfall. Just make sure you have FAT skis for the high water content snow there. If you're learning to ski powder you should have them no matter where you are.
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