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Fernie, Banff, Panorama or Kimberley for powder?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
It looks like I can get a good deal to any of these 4 resorts from the UK mid January.

Given that I'd prefer to spend all my time away from groomed runs, which of the 3 resorts would offer me the best chance of doing that for a week, and which would offer me the best chance of powder?

I read a few threads on here which seemed to suggest Fernie could get rain top to bottom, is that likely in mid Jan?


post #2 of 12
Fernie is definitley your best option of the 4. The terrain in Kimberley and Panorama is lame (if your an advanced skier), and they don't get near the snow Fernie does. I've skied Lake Louise but not Banff. They always get dry snow up there but not near as much as Fernie. It seems any time I've skied Louise, I always hit rocks, They get a lot of wind in that area, so a lot of terrain tends to blow off to the ground. Fernie can turn to rain in Jan, no doubt about it, but it can turn back to snow just as fast. A dump of 50cm overnight is not uncommon.
Another option you might consider is Castle Mountain. If you don't care about the resort glitz and just want to ski some serious terrain for about 1/2 the price, go to Castle. The only on hill accomidations is a hostel. But it's not far from the town of Pincher Creek, where you'll find cheap accomidations and food etc.
I live in Fernie, but ski at Castle several times a season. It's serious terrain with no crowds. If you hit it on a powder day mid week, you'll have fresh lines all day long. It'sw like lift serviced heli skiing. It simply rocks... and your only an hour and a bit from Fernie if conditions are better there.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
thanks alot, if I do go, I won't have a car, so can I get a bus to Castle Mountain for a day trip from Fernie?


post #4 of 12
I really like Fernie. They have some of the best tree skiing I have ever seen. Stay at Lizard Creek. If it rains go to Castle Mountain.
post #5 of 12
Fernie's the obvious best choice. Both for terrain and potential for fresh snow.
Castle is a solid day trip option if it rains at Fernie, but Calgary crowds have discovered it and the lack of chairs can mean serious lines. Don't think there's any transportation f/ Fernie to Castle, so a car would be needed.
Kimberley doesn't have the steep terrain, but can actually be pretty good with some nice glades hiding powder for days after a storm.
Panorama and the Banff areas definitely get less snowfall, but have some sweet terrain if you catch a big dump.
Either Lake Louise or Sunshine have lots of good, ungroomed terrain, but they are in the Rockies so ptex work is a given.
You really can't lose with any of them, but I concur with Fernie being the safest bet for a good trip.
post #6 of 12
Another vote for Fernie. :

If, for some reason, you decide you'd rather go to Banff, then Sunshine is the snow hog in the region.

post #7 of 12
You might also want to check out Kicking Horse. They have plenty of incredible non-groomed terrain and the powder can be about the best going. Early signs are that this could be the season KH has been waiting for ...

post #8 of 12
As said above, Fernie is the #1 choice for terrain and potential of powder. Lake Louise and Sunshine do get a few storms of 30-40cm a year but not with the same regularity/volume as Fernie. As said above, Fernie can experience rain (to the peak) which ruins the snow (which then freezes to crust/ice).

Sunshine/Louise are much more consistent, you will probably have a 150-180cm base by then (it's already 90cm) with all terrain open.

Kicking Horse is a great bet as JB said. You will want to be a strong skier/group to really enjoy it, there is a gondola from the base to the peak and runs start off with steep chutes/bowls/trees and then you have to meander down 1500+ vert feet of cat tracks/groomers to get back to the gondola (there is a quad in the Alpine but you miss good terrain if you run laps on it).

Overall I'd recommend Fernie.

Don't bother with Kimberley/Pano unless they somehow get a storm that doesn't hit the other areas (never seen this happen).
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
kicking horse ain't an option, but it is on my list of places to try someday!!
post #10 of 12
banff is the safe bet,

fernie is boom or bust. you will have the best turns of your life or some of the worst

KH has a shuttle from banff daily.

banff is bigger then fernie, has more to do on days off, or after skiing, shorter shuttle from calgary (90 min, vs 4-6 hours)
post #11 of 12
Fernie is 3 1/2 hours from Calgary. I strongly recommend you reconsider getting a car. That gives you flexibility. I'd vote for Fernie, but as mntlion points out there are many instances where you would be better off in Banff. With the car you can adjust at the last minute if necessary. I have twice done one week loop trips to ski both Fernie and Banff. You also need the car for the Castle option. Castle's limited lifts do get clogged with Calgary weekend skiers, but it's still empty midweek.
post #12 of 12
It looks like this is the year to go to Banff, they are having a great early season, and the snow will stay around. I am seriously considering a trip to Banff this year.

The thing that sucks about Banff is the daily commute esp. to Lake Louise, but the busses are reliable and easy.
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