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Oh dear, Banff region or Red Mtn?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
So I thought I was all decided for my three-yearly USA-Canada trip, after all the gobs of advice from you kind folks over the past few months. Two weeks staying in SLC (2/25-3/11) and sampling the four Cottonwood Canyon resorts, then two weeks staying in Canmore (3/11-3/25) and sampling Norquay, Louise and Sunshine.

Then a friend says, "We have a house booked in Rossland for all of March and April, why don't you swap Red for Banff?"

I haven't paid a deposit on my Cannmore accommodation, and I don't have any flights booked yet from SLC onwards. So, I could do it.

<sound of cat being set loose amongst pigeons>

I've done a heap of research today (much of it in the archives here), and I just can't decide! So I figured why not ask for some help...

I'm a strong intermediate skier. I can do steeps but I don't do them very often, I'm very new to powder (we don't tend to get it where I ski here in New Zealand), I've never skied trees, and when I'm overseas I tend to ski quite conservatively...I may have travel insurance, but that doesn't mean I want to use it! I'd say I'll be skiing groomers 90% of the time no matter where I am on this trip. I get cold easily (and hate it), but I do have merino sweaters and decent underclothes, plus a windproof vest and (of course) Goretex outers. I enjoyed Sun Peaks very much in late March - early April of 2003.

On the transport side of things, I can't afford to rent a car. So ISTM there are three options: fly into Castlegar, fly to Vancouver and bus from there, fly to Calgary and bus from there. I've already read in the archives that Castlegar is best avoided due to frequent weather-forced closures, so a bus looks like the best bet. Currently schedule-wise, going via Vancouver is the better option.

So, what's the consensus, Bears? Would I be happier skiing the Banff 3 or Red, in mid-late March? And what is the bus trip from Vancouver like? Are road closures a possibility between Vancouver and Trail, or between Calgary and Trail for that matter? (I have an international flight to meet late afternoon on the day after I'd leave Red.) Are there issues with going Greyhound that I wouldn't be aware of, having never travelled on the busses in North America? Are there other ways of getting to and from Rossland that would be better?

Any and all advice gratefully received
post #2 of 26
I am a huge fan of Red. If all you want to ski is groomers, this isn't the resort for you. They aren't known for their grooming, they keep most of it it au natural, and the folks who ski/ride there like it that way. I think you need to be an "adventurous" skier/rider to enjoy it here. It's best for advanced-intermediates and better. Solid intermediates are definitely pushed to their limits and lower-intermediates tend to get discouraged. There is some nice beginner and lower-intermediate terrain, but not a lot of it. If you're there for two weeks, you'll get bored quickly if you only stay on that terrain.

However, it IS an excellent resort for getting you to venture off the groomers because of its variety. Red is known for its tree skiing, and for good reason. You can find everything from "newbie" glades to "scare the pants off of you" glades. The evergreens are gigantic, so there's a lot of space in between them for turning--definitely removes the intimidation factor. Unless you are among the smaller pine trees (think "skiing among the Christmas trees") the branches and canopies are high above you. You can start out in glades that are more like trails with a few clusters of trees strategically spaced for getting comfortable in the trees. There are glades that get increasingly more difficult from there, so lots of room for progression. Red also has some nice steeper terrain that helps people push themselves a bit without being overwhelming. If you're there at the "right" time, there will be lots of powder. Since you're not terribly comfortable in powder, I'm not sure how you'll feel about that.

If you decide you want to spend time with your friends, you could always take a lesson or two so you can feel more comfortable on the mountain. But if you're not likely to take a lesson, and you're likely to wish you were just skiing groomers, I don't think you'll be happy for two weeks.

Thatsagirl
post #3 of 26
The resorts around Banff have great skiing, but it is a day skiing and weekend area for Calgary. Lots of people and lots going on. Red Mt./Rossland is a way mellower scene because it is not near any big population centers and is not as "resorty" feeling as Banff, and without as many nite life or restaurant options. If you go to Red you should be sure and also hit Whitewater by Nelson. It can be done as a day trip from Rossland.

If you go to Red you can fly to Spokane and then an easy drive. It would be a very long bus ride from Vancouver. I love Red and Whitewater because they are more "old school" without all the high speed lifts and hype. (Last time at Whitewater I saw mothers sitting in the lodge knitting and playing checkers while the kids skied.) Banff definitely offers a bigger variety of skiing options. The Banff area is a year-round international resort destination near a city of millions. Rossland is a mid-sized town that has a ski area nearby but is not a resort town. I think they are really the two ends of the ski vacation spectrum, but if the weather and snow are good either one would be a great vacation.
post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiAddict1
I'm a strong intermediate skier. I can do steeps but I don't do them very often, I'm very new to powder (we don't tend to get it where I ski here in New Zealand), I've never skied trees, and when I'm overseas I tend to ski quite conservatively...I may have travel insurance, but that doesn't mean I want to use it! I'd say I'll be skiing groomers 90% of the time no matter where I am on this trip.
Red is 90% NOT grommed, banff has 3 differnt resorts so more options

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiAddict1
On the transport side of things, I can't afford to rent a car. So ISTM there are three options: fly into Castlegar, fly to Vancouver and bus from there, fly to Calgary and bus from there. I've already read in the archives that Castlegar is best avoided due to frequent weather-forced closures, so a bus looks like the best bet. Currently schedule-wise, going via Vancouver is the better option.

So, what's the consensus, Bears? Would I be happier skiing the Banff 3 or Red, in mid-late March? And what is the bus trip from Vancouver like? Are road closures a possibility between Vancouver and Trail, or between Calgary and Trail for that matter? (I have an international flight to meet late afternoon on the day after I'd leave Red.) Are there issues with going Greyhound that I wouldn't be aware of, having never travelled on the busses in North America? Are there other ways of getting to and from Rossland that would be better?)

bus will be a full day between banff and rossland or between vancouver and rossland.

sounds like banff is more what you want, If you want to change Red will be great, but if you are happy skiing what you are currently doing keep banff
post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hmmm, it's a more difficult decision than I thought! I figured I could probably be happy on the groomers with the occasional try of something off-piste. I'll have to weigh the likely ski situation against the plus of being with friends.

Many thanks for the info folks!
post #6 of 26
Can't speak for Red other than when it snows it snows good, lots of POW, but Banff I can.

Vancouver to Banff is about 9 hours I think on a bus. One has to consider the timing using Greyhound as there may be a big time gap between so be aware. As long as the highway is open that bus will roar on through. I think you can go Van to Banff on Greyhound. Check all schedules thoroughly prior in regards to bus and flight.

http://greyhound.ca/en/

Once in banff transportation to any of the close three SSV, LL, Norq. would not be hard. Kicking Horse and Panorama are also reasonable transport out of Banff as well. All of these I am sure have out of Banff transports, likely daily. KH and Pano maybe only weekends.

Bang for buck and diversity Banff/Canmore is hard to beat in this area.

The hills all have great expansive groomers, easy off piste and hardcore off piste. LL is a two day affair almost just to ski all the groomers and who knows how long for off groomer a week maybe. Pano fully open is the same. Norquay is a blast for a day and Sunshine is a day for groomers and weeks for the good stuff.

tough choice but I would go with the for sure deal if travelling in from so far and go Banff / Canmore.
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks Marmot I should have been more specific, if going to Banff I will have to rent a car because the shuttle situation to LL/SSV is so awful from Canmore (that's what I've been told anyway). So I was going to fly into Calgary and rent the car there. Sorry about that...

But the info about the bus is useful anyway, since it must be similar to Trail as to Banff. And the advice is very welcome!
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiAddict1
the shuttle situation to LL/SSV is so awful from Canmore (that's what I've been told anyway). So I was going to fly into Calgary and rent the car there. Sorry about that...
If you can rent a car this will make your life so much easier and then you can have a much more relaxed vacation. Rental cars are pretty cheap here. Make sure you take the insurance as there are alot of animals and the roads can be tricky sometimes. Even the most experianced drivers get their turn in the ditch now and then.

Don't let this deter you from driving though, it isn't that bad but it has it's moments where patience and taking your time is all thats required.

I would be extremely suprised if there was not a number of shuttle services out of Canmore to LL, SSV. Canmore battles for the tourist buisness directly against Banff (20 minutes away) without a strong shuttle service they would loose significant amounts of buisness to Banff on a regular basis. I am sure all the major hotels, plus a few private companies exist for transport.

Canmore is slightly cheaper than Banff but isn't as touristy nice as Banff either. nice town and all but it isn't Banff. In my mind both should be equal for shuttle services.

If you have a car and are here for two weeks for sure make the effort to take in Panorama and Kicking Horse, would be a shame to come all this way and not go 1.5 hours to either. Heck I drive 4 hours one way for a day of skiing on a regular basis and I live here.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiAddict1
But the info about the bus is useful anyway, since it must be similar to Trail as to Banff. And the advice is very welcome!
Not sure what you're saying here but I'd watch the assumption that Trail on bus would be anything like Banff. First I think Banff in 9 hours is optimistic. Even an express will stop in Kamloops and probably Golden for coffee and such for the driver at least. Might do it in 9 but 10 or more might be more realistic.

Trail will not have an express I wouldn't think and it's a roundabout way anyway you do it. I'm sure a bus change would have to happen and I'm not sure where. You could fly into Castlegar but that is a notorious crap shoot in winter. If you're talking about car rental and then drive to Trail or even fly to Cranbrook or Kelowna and then drive to Trail.

Another thought is flying into spokane and drive to Trail (about 2 hours), with border grief to be considered.

Mid march in Banff is prime, at red it's getting into late season.
post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks Marmot, I hadn't considered KH or Pano but will add them to the Banff list if I get a car. You're right I may as well hit as many "local" areas as I can. I will also look more carefully into shuttles, my initial research indicated there weren't any but I do see your point about the competition with Banff township. Unfortunately the cheapest rental car I could find (4WD because what's the point of having independent wheels if you can't use them) would cost me over $800 for the two weeks, which is quite a chunk of change! So if I can do it without a car I'd prefer to.

L7, thanks for the advice, actually I've since found that Red has a shuttle from Spokane and other places, getting to Spokane from SLC is surprisingly easy, so I'll be going that way. I've never crossed the border on land before, but I'm assuming it's not exactly difficult.
post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiAddict1
I'm a strong intermediate skier. I can do steeps but I don't do them very often, I'm very new to powder (we don't tend to get it where I ski here in New Zealand), I've never skied trees, and when I'm overseas I tend to ski quite conservatively...I may have travel insurance, but that doesn't mean I want to use it! I'd say I'll be skiing groomers 90% of the time no matter where I am on this trip. I get cold easily (and hate it), but I do have merino sweaters and decent underclothes, plus a windproof vest and (of course) Goretex outers. I enjoyed Sun Peaks very much in late March - early April of 2003.
Given the above, Red is the wrong mountain for you. There are not many groomed runs - you can probably ski all of them in a day. The lifts are old too. It's not a huge place really.

What makes Red special are the steep tree lines all over the mountain. And Rossland is a very cool town. But you dislike trees - so avoid!

On the other hand....Banff

Sunshine is a great intermediate hill. It's a wide open with numerous chances to go off-piste without dealing with trees. Very consistently pitched. Can't really get over your head here.

Lake Louise. Lots of front-side groomers. Also a few groomed paths in the back bowls. This place has great scenery too - perhaps the best in North America.
post #12 of 26
So, SkiAddict, it sounds like you've decided to go to Red after all? I'm rather surprised, given that several of us have said Red is not the right mountain for you. Perhaps you've decided to take lessons so you can feel more comfortable?

I would also point out that Kicking Horse isn't a great choice for you either, but you'll probably like Panorama. Panorama is largely an intermediate mountain. Kicking Horse is certainly not a groomed intermediate heaven.

If you're going to spend all your money on a trip, you should spend it where you'll be most happy.

Thatsagirl
post #13 of 26
Skiaddict1: I just returned from Sunshine and it was off the hook great. Fresh everywhere, all of it soft even after being skied by the masses.

SSV, LL are ready for buisness, the groomers will be perfect with lots of base and great edging. Havin been at Pano over xmas and seeing their snowfall since, it is also ready and would be outstanding. THere is no lack of snow at this point, all the voids are filled in and ready for more.

thought I should say something as we haven't had normal snowfall amounts and some may take this as not worth the visit. The last two weeks of snow have rectified this and they are in great shape and worth the visit.
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 

Yup, I'm going to Red

Thanks so much for all the advice, and yes, I have decided to go against it and go where my friends will be. Also the trip to Red is so much cheaper than going to Canmore/Banff that I can afford to rent powder skis and have a couple of lessons, and still come out with money to spare.

Thatsagirl, I appreciate your advice so much about Red, I've printed it out and will take it with me! I intend to spend my time there getting gradually used to stuff like tree skiing, it sounds ideal for a gradual introduction. And I can always dial back the intensity on the groomers.

Re all the advice on Canmore/Banff, I've saved it away for the next trip, when I will definitely go there!!! Also Marmot mb, I've searched and searched, and can't find a shuttle from Canmore to LL/SSV that isn't tied to a specific accommodation place, and I really wanted to stay at the Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge. So I would have to rent a car...

Thanks so much everyone
post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiAddict1
Marmot mb, I've searched and searched, and can't find a shuttle from Canmore to LL/SSV that isn't tied to a specific accommodation place, and I really wanted to stay at the Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge. So I would have to rent a car...
I am going to have to look into that. It seems impossible to me, that someone wouldn't cash in on such a opportunity. Thanks for mentioning, I will research before I reccomend that option again.

Perhaps one can just pay the charge at one of the hotels. I wouldn't think you have to stay there to be allowed to pay for it.

Have a great ski trip, be sure to let us know how it was and what you thought of that area as I have never been.

Ski your tail off, leave the cryin for the ride home.
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marmot mb
Perhaps one can just pay the charge at one of the hotels. I wouldn't think you have to stay there to be allowed to pay for it.
I did wonder about that, but never got as far as emailing them to ask whether it was possible. (I'm the type who plans things well in advance, in case you-all hadn't guessed by now... )

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marmot mb
Have a great ski trip, be sure to let us know how it was and what you thought of that area as I have never been.

Ski your tail off, leave the cryin for the ride home.
Thanks, and I sure will! (post a TR, and cry on the way home)
post #17 of 26
Have fun at Red. I love the place. Learn to ski the trees though, or you'll be missing the whole reason to go there. You can start by checking out the Mini Bowl glade area just above the Paradise Lodge. Not too steep and not too tight, but usually a blast when the snow is good.

Here are a bunch of photos I took at Red 2 years ago: www.skiswami.com

Do yourself a favor and hook up with one of the Snow Host ambassadorrs. See if Rick Green is around, he's a great guy and knows the place as well as anybody - tell him the SkiSwami sent you.
post #18 of 26
carvemeister: Thanks for the pic link you did a great job of showing what the place has to offer. Wow snow what a concept for a ski hill. I remember when we used to get snow, it was 1912..........

I am so jealous.
post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 
carvmeister, I found your skiswami site in an archived link on this site, I love the pictures! Yes I will look up Rick Green, isn't he the guy that owns a B&B or somesuch? I seem to remember the name from my initial web searches about Red. I didn't realise Red had Snow Hosts.
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiAddict1
Thanks so much for all the advice, and yes, I have decided to go against it and go where my friends will be. Also the trip to Red is so much cheaper than going to Canmore/Banff that I can afford to rent powder skis and have a couple of lessons, and still come out with money to spare.

Thatsagirl, I appreciate your advice so much about Red, I've printed it out and will take it with me! I intend to spend my time there getting gradually used to stuff like tree skiing, it sounds ideal for a gradual introduction. And I can always dial back the intensity on the groomers.
SkiAddict, if you go with this attitude, I have no doubt that you will have fun! Yep, Red is really affordable, isn't it? I'm glad you can rent fat skis and take some lessons. It will make all the difference. Take those lessons as soon as you get there, so the rest of your trip is more enjoyable (some people wait till the end of their trip, which makes no sense to me...the lessons are so you can take real advantage of the mountain!). After a few lessons, you can have a great time exploring with your friends.

That's so kind of you to say you liked my advice enough to print it out. You are most welcome. I was going to PM you, but notice you aren't set up for that. So, here's a link to what I've written about Red to give you more of an idea about the mountain (I am a ski writer and editor of a ski site):

http://www.skisnowboard.com/redresort/index.html

Have a great time!

Thatsagirl
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiAddict1
carvmeister, I found your skiswami site in an archived link on this site, I love the pictures! Yes I will look up Rick Green, isn't he the guy that owns a B&B or somesuch? I seem to remember the name from my initial web searches about Red. I didn't realise Red had Snow Hosts.

Why stop only at the Red, which is my favorate. But Kimberly, White Tooth or even Fernie are reachable on a day trip from Rossland. Explore a bit more and the rewards are there.

post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackwan1
But Kimberly, White Tooth or even Fernie
i think u mean Whitewater in Nelson not Whitetooth. Whitetooth was the name of the hill in golden before they changed it to Kickinghorse,, whitewater is a great hill but i dont know how much terrain they would have for an intermediate.
post #23 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thatsagirl, thanks for the link -- strangely enough, I was reading that entire section of pages just yesterday!! Some of it has me a little scared, but I know my friends will look after me...and here in NZ I ski the same mountain for 9-10 weeks every winter. So I'm not easily bored! I am going to try the tree skiing, and definitely the groomed steep slopes (can't remember what they're called off the top of my head), but Long Squaw also looks like a good cruise and I'm sure I'll be there and similar a lot of the time.

Thanks again everyone who contributed to this thread, you've given me lots of details that will be useful this trip and next (Banff)!
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiAddict1
Thatsagirl, thanks for the link -- strangely enough, I was reading that entire section of pages just yesterday!! Some of it has me a little scared, but I know my friends will look after me...and here in NZ I ski the same mountain for 9-10 weeks every winter. So I'm not easily bored! I am going to try the tree skiing, and definitely the groomed steep slopes (can't remember what they're called off the top of my head), but Long Squaw also looks like a good cruise and I'm sure I'll be there and similar a lot of the time.
Well, I'm glad you found what I wrote without hearing it from me first! As for the stuff that has you a little scared, the great thing is you can AVOID that stuff until you're ready (if you ever think you're ready). At Red, you really cannot "suddenly come upon something" that you can't handle. The gnarly stuff is something you have to go looking for on purpose: You have to do long traverses, or drop in through steep trees, and so forth. Don't worry, you'll be fine. Another good reason to take a lesson: the instuctor can help you figure out how to get around the mountain.

And you're right: Long Squaw is a good cruise -- even better than a good cruise! And when you're tired of it, partway down you can cut over to Stagger By! I'm sure you will enjoy the groomers marked intermediate and advanced as well. You can definitely do laps on groomers off the Paradise chair. But, as I said, most of the resort's terrain is not groomed. Hopefully your lessons and fat skis will help you enjoy the ungroomed terrain too so you can ski more of the mountain!

Thatsagirl
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyzee53
i think u mean Whitewater in Nelson not Whitetooth. Whitetooth was the name of the hill in golden before they changed it to Kickinghorse,, whitewater is a great hill but i dont know how much terrain they would have for an intermediate.

You are absolutly right. My typo.....

:
post #26 of 26

Can't go wrong!!!

I live in Alberta so Jasper and Banff are close to me and where I grew up skiing. Having said that RED Mountain is my favorite ski area.IMHO it is a true "skiers Mountain" with incredible Glades,steeps and lots of snow. You don't go to Rossland if you are looking for major nightlife but it is a very cool Funky town with great resturants and cool funky people many who ended up there because of the skiing!.
Landing in Calgary and skiing Banff area will give you the most convieniance and flexibility. Mt. NorQuay has steeps and The nightlife in Banff is literally almost at it's doorstep. Sunshine Village has great snow Quality and a good allround mix of terrain from extreme to mellow. one and a half hours from Canmore is Lake louise a truly big mountain resort with multiple mountains ,aspects and again terrain from one end of the spectrum to the other. All three Banff area resorts have good snow this year while still not really recognized as great POWDER skiing destinations. For you I would recommend the Canmore Banff option for it's flexibility. If you ever get to the point that you Hunger for the POW and the trees and the steeps then you will owe it to yourself to come back and try the Rossland ,Nelson ,and Fernie B.C. areas because while relatively small ,they are incredible. Have fun, either way you can't go wrong!!
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