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First Canadian Trip

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I and my Tahoe ski partner are planning a trip into Canada, accent on powder. How does the following sound? Any suggrestions? I live in St. Maries Idaho (50 miles east/south of Couerdlene. Monday pick up partner at Spokane Airport, drive to Red Mountain, ski there Tue, drive to Nelson and maybe go cat skiing (wildhorse cat ski will pick us up in Nelson for a day of powder) but its $300 a day which I think is too high., drive to Whitewater, drive to Kimberly and gthen complete the loop with Fernie and then back home either Big Mt in Montana or Schweitzer ijn Idaho. We were thinking about the lst full week of FeB. Feedback on snow, if we just stay loose and flexible will there be any trouble getting a med. priced motel room in the adjacent towns etc. Does this week in Feb fall on any Canadian holidays ( which we want to avoid if poss. chg dates etc.) Also if any of you know how we can save some $ on lifts etc. Do any of the mountains give PSIA guys a break etcx. etc. How about a little cheaper Cat Skiing? Anyway - any advice/help you can give would be appreciagted. Pete
post #2 of 14
I've done Wildhorse but on a last minute thing to fill the cat and I'm pretty sure it was $250 a day. Feb is not low season and your not filling up a cat so don't think you can do better than that in Nelson area for a day ski with reservations ahead of time.
post #3 of 14
Red, Whitewater, and Fernie should certainly be on your list to visit. Kimberley is probably the weakest of the resorts in terms of powder skiing. If you find the cost for cat skiing a little much you might want to do a little bit more travelling and hit two other resorts.

Whitewater and Red are close enough that you could easily do them from the same centre (Rossland/Trail or Nelson). After your last day of skiing in that neck of the woods, head east on the Salmo-Creston route (3) towards Kimberley (2 1/2 hours by this route) or Fernie (3 1/2 hours). (Remember that you will lose an hour as you cross the timezone boundary, so it is much better to do this after skiing rather than the next morning.)

Fernie is the biggest of the resorts you've mentioned and may well be worth two days. Another possibility from Fernie is to take a day trip to Castle Mountain on the Alberta side of the continental divide. Or you could head North a couple of hours from Kimberley and work in a day at Kicking Horse and/or Panorama. Just make sure that you finish up in Kimberley or Fernie the day before you ski Big Mountain which is an easy trip from either town.

The first week of February is not a holiday period so you should be in good shape for any of the mountains in this neck of the woods. Be aware that the Presidents' Day weekend sees a fair number of Americans heading up to Kootenay powder as well as a large influx of school kids from Calgary who have teachers' convention on the Thursday and Friday before the weekend, and a holiday Monday as well.

You may want to wait to see what the snow conditions are like before making a final determination. Chances are most of these resorts should have good conditions that time of the year.
post #4 of 14

How do you know all that stuff?
post #5 of 14
I'd suggest you skip Kimberly all together. It is basically a family resort that doesn't have any "big mountain" skiing.

Fernie is definitely worth a couple of days, but be sure to pay attention to the weather. It can often rain then freeze in Fernie, making the off-piste stuff unskiable. And Fernie isn't known for its groomers. My advice would be to have a roughly loose schedule and follow the snow/avoid the rain.

Red is an outstanding hill, enjoy.
post #6 of 14
Peter: I have skied most all of those areas and have done a similar loop. A few thoughts: Definitely hit Red and Whitewater. When going east from there, depending on which way you go, you may have to take the ferry across Kootenay Lake. Make sure you get the schedule because it only goes a few times a day, and you can end up with a very long wait if your timing is bad. Fernie, Big Mountain and Schweitzer are all worth checking out if they have good snow conditions.

At Whitewater be sure and talk to the locals about skiing off area down to the entrance road. It is some of the best skiing and easy to do.

If you get down to Missoula be sure and check out Snowbowl. It has excellent terrain, cheap tickets and no crowds. It is not a "destination resort" so it is under the radar. It used to have the most vertical in Montana until Big Sky went expansion crazy. I think Snowbowl's steep terrain surpasses Big Mt. and Schweitzer, but I'm predjudice because I used to patrol there.

The only Canadian cat skiing I have done has been a couple of times in Revelstoke, which is relatively cheap, but is sounds like you will not get that far north. Check out the new Powder Mag, which has a pull out map of all the area you will be covering and shows most of the cat skiing locations.

I think Canada skiing is the best. It is like skiing in the US 35 years ago before all the grooming and high speed lifts jacked the prices up. The people are friendly, they love their skiing and serve it up without any BS, and the price of everything is better than down here. I'm heading back there again this year myself.
post #7 of 14
Originally Posted by paul jones

How do you know all that stuff?
Many years of tramping around the Kootenays in summer, and a few long skitrips up and down the Columbia/Kootenay valleys over the past few years. The whole area is a really nice, unspoiled, low-key vaction spot.

I suggested the Salmo-Creston route just to avoid the vagaries of the Kootenay Lake ferry (a nice trip but the possibility for multi-hour delays exists and the road on the east side of the lake is not high speed).
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks epic skiers I appreciate the advice. Looking forward to trip. Anyone else more info ? Pete/thanks
post #9 of 14
Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho
Thanks epic skiers I appreciate the advice. Looking forward to trip. Anyone else more info ? Pete/thanks
Wait until you get into Canada to get your pocket money. If you use an ATM in Canada, you'll do better on the exchange rate than if you had stocked up on your toonies and loonies in a bank, say, in Bonner's Ferry or some other U.S. semi-border town.

Also, although you can get over the border with your U.S. drivers licenses, the Canadian border patrol would much prefer that you had a U.S. passport. A passport will soon be a requirement, I believe, for U.S. citizens returning back to the states from Canada.

Finally, not all of the international border crossings in that neck of the woods are open 24 hours. Some open at 7 am and close at 10 or 11. Just a heads up if your travel plans include an early-morning or late-night border crossing on a lightly travelled highway.
post #10 of 14
Originally Posted by Gnarlito
Also, although you can get over the border with your U.S. drivers licenses, the Canadian border patrol would much prefer that you had a U.S. passport. A passport will soon be a requirement, I believe, for U.S. citizens returning back to the states from Canada.
If you don't have a passport bring your birth certificate. It's not absolutely required, but it makes things easier at times.
post #11 of 14
Regarding entry to Canada, the Whistler site has some information regarding what you'll need and what you can take in here. The passport requirement for US citizens comes into affect December 31 2006.
post #12 of 14
It's so much easier if you have your passport, really, it's worth it.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hey Bears, Sincere thankyou for advice and help, makes a lst trip better already.
post #14 of 14
If at Whitewater, ask locals for directions to 'Sprollers' and 'backside'. Skiing the 'backside' is what takes you to the main entry road. If conditions are right, you're in for some good skiing. It's been a few years since I skiied Whitewater - used to be my home hill - so I can't remember names of runs. If you want to ski inbounds at Whitewater, 'Catch Basin' is always nice. In then funnels down into a few chutes at the bottom. If there is lots of fresh the night before you go, they will be blasting. I recommend that you are waiting for them to open it, and get in there quick. Little bit of work to get over there, for quite a bit of payoff.
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