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Advice needed for 2 weeks around Christmas...

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm an East Coast teacher who lucked out with my school Christmas vacation this year: off from Dec. 20th until Jan. 4th...I've gone to SLC the past few years during this time, but this year I'd like to try something new. I have in mind Whistler/Blackcomb, but I'm open to other places. I'm a level 7/8 skier, don't need great mogul runs or gnarly terrain, but I appreciate big mountains with lots of options...(Sunshine/Lake Louise is my favorite destination-I'll be there in April).
I'll being going solo. I need accomodation that I can afford-no slopeside condos-and relatively easy trasportation. SLC had both bases covered. Lack of nightlife not a deal breaker.
Any ideas/tips? I'll being flying out of NYC. Would Whistler be too crowded/expensive? Any Colorado/other options I should consider?

Thanks for any tips/suggestions!
post #2 of 15
Lake Tahoe??.....I mean they got some nice ski area's to be considered there.

I am not sure of snow coverage at that time??
post #3 of 15
I'm a recently retired teacher and I've skied Whistler a fair amount became it's close to where I live. I don't recommend it for you at that time. The prices are high and the crowds are big at Christmas time. There is no close in urban scene like SLC where you can find a Motel 6 for reasonable rates. Nothing is reasonable at that time of year. Try Tahoe and stay at a casino instead.
post #4 of 15
what Pos said:

"nothing is reasonable that time of year"; most of the places mentioned are 50:50 as to even mediocre coverage - plus you will be paying double for rooms that whole period. Big mountains plus no snow does not equal alot of options. It equals some man-made snow at the highest elevation, 10-20% open, and there you have it. Even if there is alot open, the base isn't that good....so bring your rock skis.

Holiday crowds are sometimes not that bad; many of the local passholders (like me) are blacked out during that period - and who wants to drive 1-2 hours for mediocre snow?

On the other hand; there could be a 15 foot dump by then, in which case I'll see you there.
post #5 of 15
I went to Whistler during that time frame once. I thought it was much more crowded than Utah at that time. Actually, Whistler almost always seems more crowded than Utah. maybe that's just me.
post #6 of 15
I know what the problem you have with needing to go when you can go. You don't have any choice. Those are the weeks you're given and it doesn't matter how big the crowds are or how low the snow cover is, that's the only time you have.

How about trying something really outside the box? This is an example based on my own local knowledge. You could change this to fit any locale that you might find that you want to try.

First assumption: Everything is crowded at that time.
Second: Snow cover is low in many areas.
Third (a big one): You don't mind driving a bit.
Fourth: The Pacific coast areas will have the best coverage at that time.

OK, If Whistler is too expensive and crowded, you could decide to tour a region. Take mine for instance; the Washington Cascades. Start in Seattle, rent a vehicle (4WD would be nice), and head for the hills. While the ski areas in Washington are not "resorts" because they don't have lodging, they are all close to urban areas and you can get lodging close and drive to the hill relatively easily. You could make it a bit of a road trip. I would follow a path that would go north to south, or the opposite, doesn't really matter.

Here it is:
Get your vehicle and drive to Bellingham from Seattle, head into the hills and stay in Glacier at one of the places that are for rent there, if nothing is available, stay in B'ham at Motel 6. Spend two days at Mt. Baker, then hit the road.

2.5 hours south is Stevens Pass. Get a room in one of the small towns along Highway 2. Gold Bar would be a good choice, though Skykomish would be best. Spend one or two days at Stevens and then head for Mission Ridge, east of Stevens near Wenatchee.

Mission might be a problem at that time of year, it isn't coastal so it may not have enough snow. Bring rock skis if it looks marginal. The rocks there are the worst I've ever seen. You could shave with them. The skiing is fun, though. Not real steep or challenging, but there is interesting terrain and a great vibe. It's the best chance you'll have of having sunny weather. Ski here one day. Stay in Wenatchee.

Head for Yakima, get a room. While you're here it's the weekend, take a break and do a winery tour. Some of America's best wines come from the Yakima valley. You'll be missing the massive Chistmas break weekend crowds at the ski areas, resting your legs, and enjoying some great wine.

On Monday pack up and go to White Pass. This is another small area with a local feel. Not too challenging, but the Mahre brothers came from there, so it can't be all bad. Spend one day.

Crossing over to the wet side of the range again take a long drive around Mt. Rainier (the direct route is closed in the winter) and go to Crystal Mountain. Try to arrange on-mountain lodging. This is the closest WA comes to a destination area. The only reason it isn't a big name is that lodging is restricted in size, so not many out-of-towners can stay on the hill.

Crystal surprises people because it's bigger and knarlier than they imagine it will be. This area is worth several days. When you're ready to leave, SeaTac airport is only about 1.5 hours away.

While it was fun making up this ininerary, you could probably do this kind of trip in Oregon or California as well, I just don't know them well enough to tell you much. Have a great time wherever you go.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for replies...


An option opened up today that I'll have to look into...

My sister lives in Everett, WA...she asked me to come out during that time (free lodging!)...from there I'm going to see what I can drive to-I have no problem driving up to 90 minutes each way. She said she thinks Stevens Pass is close. She lives near a highway...I have to consult a map.

Cost for me would be rental car plus lift tickets...and a flight!!

If any of you live in that area and can shed more light for me with regards to driving times, I'd appreciate it.
post #8 of 15
From Everett, Stevens Pass is a little over an hour one way on US 2. Mt. Baker is 2 hours one way. Alpental is around 1.25 hours or so, and Crystal would be about 2 hours. I ski at Stevens and Mt. Baker a fair amount, and so do several others on this board. Let us know when you're going up and maybe we can get together for a few turns.
post #9 of 15
Kicking Horse through Dec. 25th, then jump over the pass to Revelstoke = maximum crowd avoidance and good skiing. Pretty slim on nightlife, but good terrain and chances for early season snow. No need to make reservations until the last minute, except for the plane.
post #10 of 15
Tony Crocker's site, bestsnow.net, has early season recommendations. But given the availability of free lodging, I think Washington State sounds like the way to go. For some of the more distant places, you might be able to mix it up with a midweek overnight or two without completely blowing your budget. (There's slopeside lodging at Crystal, but I think you'll still be a drive away from Baker.)
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 


Thanks again, drive times don't sound too bad.

Posaune-I'll post again if I'm definitely going. I went to a few of the resort websites-they look good!
post #12 of 15
I know you're looking for an alternative to Utah, but it's going to be hard to find an alternative with snow that's as reliable that early.
post #13 of 15


Mr G. Oprtions

Tahoe mentioned but can be a ZOO at Christmas. Check out Tahoe Biltmore Hotel and Casino on Google for lodging, north shore.

Washington a good option especially with wife in Everett.

Another Option. Fly to Spokane and then you can ski at Silver Mt., Lookout, Snowbowl, 49, Schweitzer and Mt. Spokane.
Silver Mt. is never crowded even at Christmas, you have to take a 28min gondola ride to get up to area and they just can't put enought people up the hill to get crowded. Work there teaching and never saw a lift line over 3-4 minutes max. even at Christmas. Can get lodging for 50 bucks a night.

There is also cheap motel lodging at Red Mt. in Rossland BC, Fernie and Whitefish.
post #14 of 15
Originally Posted by JimH View Post
I know you're looking for an alternative to Utah, but it's going to be hard to find an alternative with snow that's as reliable that early.
Coverage in WA at Christmas is usually complete and we have no snowmaking. I'm sure Utah is great, but we do just fine. Often Baker has over 100 inches of base by then.
post #15 of 15
Originally Posted by JimH View Post
I know you're looking for an alternative to Utah, but it's going to be hard to find an alternative with snow that's as reliable that early.

Mt. Baker is more reliable than Utah for early season snow base.

What may not be reliable is short term weather patterns at that time of year. In my 16 seasons here, we've had 0 where the mountain wasn't open by December 15, and 2 where the weather at christmas simply sucked.
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