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Calgary trip Yeeehaa! - Need some advice

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Well, the time has finally come. I planned to get out to the Alberta/BC area five years ago, but couldn't pull it off. This time we're finally going after scamming some great $300 airfare from LGA last week.

7 (or 8) of us will be landing in Calgary on 2/29 and returning on 3/8, so we have 7 days to ski. The preliminary plan is to spend half the time in or around Fernie and the other half based out of Golden/KH. We'll try to possibly hit a day at Castle, a day at LL and maybe a day at Panorama. But are probably going to concentrate on Fernie and KH.

Question #1: How essential is a 4wd in getting around? We have 3 major trip legs - YYC to Fernie, Fernie to Golden and Golden to YYC. My understanding is they do a great job on the roads so we were thinking of just renting 2 minivans to accommodate all our gear since the standard size SUV's can be tight on luggage space and overpriced as well.

Question #2: Looks like Fernie has a good number of lodging options, but does Golden have any decent hotels? We may do a condo for one half our trip and hotel for the other half, etc.

Question #3: Any other tips?

We're really pumped up for this trip. Looks like a La Nina winter is shaping up - should be good for Fernie (they say). Bring it on! :
post #2 of 17
Sounds like a great trip. Since I'm based in Calgary, I do it a couple of times a season.

1. No need for an AWD or SUV, minivans with good snow tires should do the trick just fine (note that good snow tires or chains are a requirement for most mountain roads in this area. The worst road you will be travelling on is the 15 km stretch just east of Golden which is narrow, twisty, a steep up-grade, and posted for 25 km per hour in the worst section.

2. What do you mean by a decent hotel? Golden was originally a lumber town and a stop on the TransCanada highway so there are a number of budget and mid-range motels, but the only real high-end accommodation is on the mountain. I usually stay at the Sportsman's Lodge when I'm at KH which is a budget motel, but does have Internet and a decent hottub. The Best Western or the Prestige Mountainside Resort are probably the best motels/hotels and there are a large number of lodges squirreled away on rural back roads in the area. Food and bars betray Golden's very blue-collar roots so don't expect too much that is trendy in town.

3. You might want to take a daytrip from Golden to Revelstoke Mountain Resort which is slated to have 6000' vertical in a couple of years. This would entail going over the Rogers Pass which is sometimes problematic, but you'd be one of the first to ski on what may become a pretty major resort (debate continues on the economic viability of a major resort in Revelstoke, but they have sold out their first three years of condo construction on presales this spring).

4. The Yamagoya sushi restaurant in Fernie is one of the best I've ever eaten at. The last time we were down at Fernie we had supper there two nights in a row. Here's a link to their menu: http://ferniedining.com/PDF/yamagoya_2007.pdf
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I'm pretty certain that sushi tip is going to come in handy.

By good tires on a minivan, do you mean I might have trouble with what they rent us at the airport (Alamo for example)? Maybe I should continue to keep an eye out for SUV rental prices to drop and hope to find 2 large ones like a Durango at a reasonable price.

We also have a possible day trip from Golden to Revelstoke on our list but I read some things in another thread you actually started HERE that have me thinking it might not be worthy until the lifts make it to the top. The posts by chrisc and Tony Crocker in particular sound like it would have to be an exceptionally good snow year there to justify the trip since the base is unusually low (~1500') and the current terrain faces mostly south.
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by carvemeister View Post
We also have a possible day trip from Golden to Revelstoke on our list but I read some things in another thread you actually started HERE that have me thinking it might not be worthy until the lifts make it to the top.
My wife and I skied at Revelstoke last year at Xmas. It was pretty neat - ungroomed and decent terrain, but unless you're looking for something "unique" for your trip, I'd suggest staying at Kicking Horse (I'm planning to get back there this winter) and the other places you've mentioned. Save Castle as an option until you get a snow report locally - it can vary greatly day to day depending on the wind.

Cheers,
Bryan
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canuck View Post
My wife and I skied at Revelstoke last year at Xmas. It was pretty neat - ungroomed and decent terrain, but unless you're looking for something "unique" for your trip, I'd suggest staying at Kicking Horse (I'm planning to get back there this winter) and the other places you've mentioned. Save Castle as an option until you get a snow report locally - it can vary greatly day to day depending on the wind.

Cheers,
Bryan
Thanks. Castle and Revelstoke will probably just remain as considerations for a day trip if conditions are favorable. What's your take on vehicles/driving?
post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by carvemeister View Post
What's your take on vehicles/driving?
I would check with the rental company you plan to use. I know some companies (incl. National / Alamo, which I use) will provide vehicles at some locations with winter tires - though I can't speak for the Calgary Airport locatoin. If you can get the rental company to confirm winter tires on minivans, that's what I'd use for your group. Even the SUVs aren't going to come with winters unless it's specified - so you'll just end up with a bigger vehicle to try to keep between the ditches.

I hope your trip plans come together. Let me know if you need any more info - I've only lived out west for a couple years, but I've tried to hit most of the popular spots since I've been here.

Cheers,
Bryan
post #7 of 17
I usually go with Hertz and you can specify snow tires (at an additional charge) but I can't vouch for the others. It is quite possible that you would be able to get by with the usual all season radials that rental cars have (and I really haven't heard of a tire check by the RCMP on any of the roads you'll be driving on), but the potential for snow and ice are always there.

As for Revelstoke, I'm sure that curiousity is going to win out and I'll spend at least one or two days there sometime this season. If the snow is crappy at Revy, both Louise and Panorama are within daytrip range of KH.
post #8 of 17
I'm from calgary, I'll try to help you out.

Question #1: How essential is a 4wd in getting around? We have 3 major trip legs - YYC to Fernie, Fernie to Golden and Golden to YYC. My understanding is they do a great job on the roads so we were thinking of just renting 2 minivans to accommodate all our gear since the standard size SUV's can be tight on luggage space and overpriced as well.

4WD I don't see essential. I get around fine in my 99 Saturn 4 door car with no power steering, mabey I'm a good driver though? Minivans would be just fine for the trips you are doing. They do take care of the roads very well. However there can be some nasty black ice time to time.


Question #2: Looks like Fernie has a good number of lodging options, but does Golden have any decent hotels? We may do a condo for one half our trip and hotel for the other half, etc.

I have been to Fernie and they have great lodging options, I can't speak for Golden because I have yet to go there. Id imagine with kicking horse in there now, It wouldn't be hard to find a decent place to stay.

Question #3: Any other tips?

If there is a lot of snow when you guys are here, and got all the gear, I would really recommend skiing Sunshine and hitting the Delirium Dive, great snow in there and if your into the hucking cliff thing, there are some really nice spot. Did I mention waist deep powder?

Well good luck to the conclusions you come to and ENJOY your stay!
post #9 of 17
Whether or not you will need a 4x4 at that time of year will be totally dependent on the forecast on your day of travel.

Alberta roads are generally better maintained than BC roads and if there hasn't been snow in less than 12hrs you should be OK.

That time of year is VERY unpredictable and usually thick wet snow......the worst kind for driving.

The ironic part of skiing is that the best days are usually accompanied by the worst white knukle drives.

Go with the van and change plans later......even at increased cost.....if the weather looks tricky or you may jeopardize your safety and trip,

A bunch of guy ski tourists in a couple of minivans around here is like a trailer park in Texas.
post #10 of 17
Send me a PM for an update on Fernie conditions, and let me know when you'll be here. What sort of skiing do you do? You seem to have some real enthusiasm, so a Newfydog mountain tour may be available.

Plan on going to Gabriellas on the mountain for the "Tour of Italy menu one night. You won't need to eat for a day.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan47 View Post
If there is a lot of snow when you guys are here, and got all the gear, I would really recommend skiing Sunshine and hitting the Delirium Dive, great snow in there and if your into the hucking cliff thing, there are some really nice spot. Did I mention waist deep powder?
Since it has been written that skiing Delerium Dive requires a beacon and other AVY gear, and none of have any of that, I'm not sure we'll get to see it although I could certainly handle some waist deep powder!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deemo View Post
That time of year is VERY unpredictable and usually thick wet snow......the worst kind for driving.

Go with the van and change plans later......even at increased cost.....if the weather looks tricky or you may jeopardize your safety and trip,
Sounds like the kind of snow we're used to driving in here in the east. I think we'll stick with that type of vehicle plan also. Thanks for the input.

Quote:
Originally Posted by newfydog View Post
Send me a PM for an update on Fernie conditions, and let me know when you'll be here. What sort of skiing do you do? You seem to have some real enthusiasm, so a Newfydog mountain tour may be available.
We'll probably be there for about 3 days. Not sure yet which three, but possiblly the tail end of out trip. We're all advanced skiers, some more adventurous than others but at least a few of us will be looking for some good steep terrain and semi-secret stash tree skiing! Some of our most memorable skiing was in the trees at Red Mountain a few years back if that's any clue.

When our plans are set I'll let you know. A tour would be great! :
post #12 of 17
How about zipping over to Red Mountain and Whitewater as part of the Trip - also then you could take in a day of cat skiing as part of the overall experiece.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by happypowderskiman View Post
How about zipping over to Red Mountain and Whitewater as part of the Trip - also then you could take in a day of cat skiing as part of the overall experiece.
Well, Red takes us pretty far away from Calgary which is where we have to return to. Makes more sense to do a Fernie - KH loop, that way we stay close to Calgary and avoid a big journey back.

Red is much better done from Spokane, which we did a few years ago. It remains one of the most enjoyable trips I've ever taken but I'm dying to see Fernie and KH this time around.
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Since it has been written that skiing Delerium Dive requires a beacon and other AVY gear
You can rent that gear at Sunshine if you so choose.

Golden....try the Golden Rim Motor Inn, they have soft water and a colour TV....sorry couldn't resist
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DedReer View Post
You can rent that gear at Sunshine if you so choose.

Golden....try the Golden Rim Motor Inn, they have soft water and a colour TV....sorry couldn't resist
Must be some of that legendary Canadienne humour there. It'd probably be a hoot if made any sense to me, eh? :
post #16 of 17
Sorry man, it's a lyric from a Tragically Hip song called "The Luxury!", the hotel is legit though.

I hope you enjoy your trip, hopefully we'll get some big dumps so you get good conditions out here. If you are serious about doing the Dive at Sunshine look into the rentals, it's not that expensive when you consider that it could be the only thing that saves you life.
post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by DedReer View Post
You can rent that gear at Sunshine if you so choose.
Are you sure? I heard sunshine doesn't rent out beacons on the hill so people would be less likely to decide to ski the dive on a whim. You can sign up for their delerium dive tour which includes equipment rental. I think it is pretty expensive though.

You can rent beacons in calgary for sure though.
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