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Big White or Panorama in mid-end of January

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Typically I usually go to Jay Peak every February, but this year I have decided to go out west. I am trying to decide where to go for a week during the 2nd or 3rd week of January with a couple of friends. The main issue is that they are both beginner to intermediate skiers and I am advanced to expert; so I am looking for something with a mix a terrain and ski-in ski-out as we wont have a vehicle with us and don't want to deal with shuttle buses everyday. I would like there to be some good glades and a powder bowl would be nice too. Also open to suggestions of other resorts to consider.

Thanks for any input.
post #2 of 21
Don't know about Big White, but I did go to Panorama a couple of years ago. I only skied there one day, but they had a nice base village with lots of slopside accomodations. The mountain is served with mostly a series of high speed lifts & about 4000' vertical. Lot's of long groomers & Taynton bowl on the backside for a little extra off piste powder adventure.

I don't know if this is typical for them, but while the other mountains I skied in the same region had tons of snow, it was pretty sparse at Panorama.

I would also consider Fernie, for a resort with lots of variety.

JF
post #3 of 21
I have never been to Panaroma, I have been to Fernie and own a place at Big White (this will be our first season there ) I am a lower level intermediate skier.

Big White, in my opinion, is a great place for the beginner to Intermediate skier. There are plenty of wide open groomers, glade skiing and lots of snow.
The village has a variety of restaurants and bars, and most importantly it is primarily all ski in ski out. If you are a really high level skier, you may not find it challenging, I cannot really comment on that as I am no where near that ability.

Fernie is spectacular, it was my first trip skiing out west, I thought I was a good skier, but was very quickly humbled by Fernie. I think your beginner friends may not enjoy it, whereas you would be in Heaven. The ski village itself for Fernie does not have much going on, there is only 1 bar and it closes around 8:00 pm. The town of Fernie is quite nice but a 20 minute drive away. The other concern with Fernie is getting there. The drive from Calgary can be quite treacherous and around 3 hours. By comparison Big White is a 45 minute shuttle ride from the Kelowna Airport.

I am by no means an expert,I am sure you will get lots of feedback from others, but given the choice between Fernie and Big White for your group, I would recommend Big White.

And welcome to the board!
post #4 of 21

Big White or Fernie or Panorama ?

Haven't skied Big White. Have skied Panorama and Fernie.

2 yrs ago skied Panorama with wife (her choice for resorts) she chose Panorama for its groomers. My opinion she is a groomer only intermediate, I am adv. Great groomer skiing, long, wide, uncrowded runs, lots of fun. For you yes there is Taynton Bowl. Go to the top (takes 3 chairs), hike out the ridge as far as you want and drop in. Choice of trees, semi open or open good steep stuff, then thru a small canyong/ravine moguls onto a road and back to main area-all down hill. We really enoyed Panorama, had ski in out lodging, nice condo, hot tubs everywhere. Best food (price and taste) in the bar. Wolf deal wasn't worth it save your $. Sleigh ride to chili feed - neat fun.

The really good impression was LONG runs, speed, no people (midweek) and fun.

Fernie, skied two days two years ago. Great skiing, good snow lots of expert and adv terrain. Would not recommend for beginners or low intermediates. Also a group with different abilities,I think you would lose your group, to a new person the lift system could be confusing.

Haven't been to Big white but know people who love it.
post #5 of 21
Why not whistler, it will have something for all. And at that time of year really quiet. Probably get a condo for a good rate.
post #6 of 21
I think Big White is one of the best intermediate resorts in the country. The snow at Big White is much better than at Pano, unfortunately, it is often quite foggy. The name Big White-Out is fitting. But it is usually quite soft, and there are a lot of easy glades. Expert terrain is quite limited to some of the steeper glades and the cliff area (which is a lot of fun, but really short). I wouldn't recommend Big White for an expert, but for an intermediate it is tough to beat.

Pano has a lot of long cruisers, but doesn't get much snow. Expect the funs to be smooth and fast. There is real challenge in the taynton bowl for experts, but an expert skier would be off at Kicking Horse (terrible for lower intermediates) or Lake Louise (very balanced terrain-no village-intermediate areas can be busy on saturdays).
post #7 of 21
We've skiied both.

For you, Panorama has some challenging stuff in Taynton and a few other steeps in the trees. All good, so long as there's snow, but Panorama does suffer from the donut effect -- everywhere around it gets more snow than it does (which is why they make a lot on the novice-intermediate areas). There's a nice low-intermediate "sun bowl" too. And if it's sunny, truly spectacular scenary! No crowds.

Snow is more plentiful and reliable at Big White; often gets cloudy and fogged in though (Big Whiteout), which is when you stay lower down and hit the glades. I think there's enough to keep an advanced skier happy, though there's nothing really wicked there (our teens - experts - got a bit bored). There's an easy run down for your friends from every chair, no matter what trail you take. Lots of accommodations to choose from, and the village is much better than Pano. Minimal crowds. Also, very handy to take the shuttle bus from the Kelowna airport if you have no car.

Of course, Whistler's got plenty for everyone, although the size of the whole resort can be a bit intimidating for novices,
post #8 of 21
I've skied just about everywhere in Western Canada, with the exception of Red, and I concur with both manchester81 and D3TO. Both places have decent base facilities (restaurants are a bit lacking at Panorama), so base your decision on whether you want better quality snow, but less challenging terrain (Big White) or whether you want long groomers on machine made snow, with the opportunity to get into some more challenging areas off the top (Panorama).

Regarding Whistler, I've probably been there at least a dozen times for 1-2 weeks at a time, and it's very 'hit or miss' in my opinion. More often than not you're stuck in the clouds/fog or getting poured on with rain (rain is a common problem at Fernie as well), and depending on whether the rain has washed out the bottom half of the mountain, you may find yourself taking the lifts down the bottom half. When the conditions are good and the sun is out, though, it has great terrain and is well worth the visit, but it's a crap shoot in my opinion. Your 'higher percentage' play is Big White as far as conditions go (or Pano if you like firm, groomed cruisers). On the up-side, Whistler is the best of the bunch if partying is high on your checklist; good restaurants and bars second to none.
post #9 of 21
Ah Panorama....so much potential, so little snow.....As the others have mentioned Big White is a great hill for beginner/intermediate skiers with more limited options for advanced/experts (the cliff and a lot of tree skiing). The village has a fair number of bars and a few good eating choices. If you go there, you'll want to take the shuttle bus to do a day at Silver Star, which is a similar hill with a lot more black terrain. You might want to consider Silver Star as an alternative. Not only would that give you a bit more to do, but it also would open up the option of doing a day trip to Revelstoke (2 hours drive each way from Silver Star--5600 vertical feet--up to 60 ft of snow on top...ah...powder...). A third option in that general area would be Sun Peaks--an enormous area, lots of variety, and enough black terrain to keep you satisfied. I'm probably going to do five days or a week at each of them this year and I expect to enjoy every one.
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies; I've got some more research to do.
post #11 of 21

whee to ski out west

Quote:
Originally Posted by nfa View Post
Typically I usually go to Jay Peak every February, but this year I have decided to go out west. I am trying to decide where to go for a week during the 2nd or 3rd week of January with a couple of friends. The main issue is that they are both beginner to intermediate skiers and I am advanced to expert; so I am looking for something with a mix a terrain and ski-in ski-out as we wont have a vehicle with us and don't want to deal with shuttle buses everyday. I would like there to be some good glades and a powder bowl would be nice too. Also open to suggestions of other resorts to consider.

Thanks for any input.
Here are my $.02

Airfares?? where would you fly out of?
Boston
Hartford

My wife and I have skiied many of those BC resorts...Neither of us are experts just strong intemediates

Fernie is simply the best.
I do disagree with Pete who stated that an intermditae cannot have fun at Fernie.

Pano is a great place to ski....however...a real crapshoot for having enough snow

Big White...I have never been there but most people say that it may not make a skiier of your ability happy for a week.
I have a freind who is an instructor at Kicking Horse who calls Big White ........ " Big Flat"

Have you thought about Lake Louise and Bannf?
You could stay in LL and take a shuttle bus to Kicking Horse for the day.

Canada is cheap right know.
We are going to Quebec in December and I got a suite at the Marriot in Quebec City for $113.00USD
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldefarms View Post
Have you thought about Lake Louise and Banff?
You could stay in LL and take a shuttle bus to Kicking Horse for the day.
The other advantage of skiing the major areas around Banff (SSV, LL) is that accomodation is at its cheapest during the winter. Unlike virtually every ski resort in North America that charges high season rates during ski season, winter is actually low season in Banff (there is 500% more tourist traffic during the summer), so you can enjoy world class skiing at bargain prices. There are more acres of ski terrain in the Banff area than anywhere else in Canada. Out here, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise are considered Tier 1 ski areas. Areas like Panorama, Kicking Horse, Fernie and Big White are viewed as secondary or tertiary, niche ski areas, with some of them struggling to keep their doors open.

You will be able to check out Lake Louise on television shortly, as they host the opening men's and women's World Cup Downhill and Super G events beginning at the end of November (assuming they are televised in the U.S. they same way they are in Canada and the rest of the world).
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by exracer View Post

You will be able to check out Lake Louise on television shortly, as they host the opening men's and women's World Cup Downhill and Super G events beginning at the end of November (assuming they are televised in the U.S. they same way they are in Canada and the rest of the world).
Sadly, little or no ski racing is televised in the U.S. anymore. It has gotten worse every year. I have been watching races on the Universal Sports Network website. Hopefully, at least that continues.

JF
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldefarms View Post
Here are my $.02

Airfares?? where would you fly out of?
Boston
Hartford

My wife and I have skiied many of those BC resorts...Neither of us are experts just strong intemediates

Fernie is simply the best.
I do disagree with Pete who stated that an intermditae cannot have fun at Fernie.

Pano is a great place to ski....however...a real crapshoot for having enough snow

Big White...I have never been there but most people say that it may not make a skiier of your ability happy for a week.
I have a freind who is an instructor at Kicking Horse who calls Big White ........ " Big Flat"

Have you thought about Lake Louise and Bannf?
You could stay in LL and take a shuttle bus to Kicking Horse for the day.

Canada is cheap right know.
We are going to Quebec in December and I got a suite at the Marriot in Quebec City for $113.00USD
Actually I would be flying out of Toronto, as I live about 30 minutes outside of it. Due to the lack of mountains around here I usually drive the 7-8 hours to Jay Peak; probably my favorite mountain I have skied to date due to the low key vibe there and everything is about the skiing there ... not selling condos and ski gear. I've been to Tremblant and Ste Anne; I much prefer Ste Anne over Tremblant any day!

I haven't ruled out LL/Banff area; I was just looking for ski-in ski-out preferrably. There is something to be said about being able to come into your hotel/condo for lunch and kick off the ol' boots and relax for a bit.

I will most likely hold off on booking anything until mid-late December.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by nfa View Post
I haven't ruled out LL/Banff area; I was just looking for ski-in ski-out preferrably. There is something to be said about being able to come into your hotel/condo for lunch and kick off the ol' boots and relax for a bit.
I agree. I sometimes borrow a friend's condo at Panorama for a change of pace, and it's great to be able to pop in for lunch, or take a break. On the flip side, you give up a lot in terms of things that are available to do and see when you aren't at the slopes. The town of Banff is as great a resort town to spend time in as you will find anywhere... and it's a real town that grew from its early roots, not a manufactured, plastic resort.
post #16 of 21
You can probably get a package deal for Big White and Silver Star, as they are under the same ownership. Both have good terrain for your friends, and visiting both in a week will provide more interest for you. Accommodations are ski-in ski-out at both.

I agree with other comments about Panorama's snow issues and Fernie's expert orientation. I share the favorable opinions of Banff/Lake Louise, but in January Big White/Silver Star are a safer bet for snow cover and more comfortable weather. I like Banff/LL in February and later.
post #17 of 21
Banff is a great place to go. Sunshine is probably the best overall mountain in the national park, with lots of great cruisers and some good steep runs at Goat's Eye and the Teepee Town area.

For experts, Lake Louise is far and away the better of the two. The back bowls there are amazing and rival almost everywhere in North America for sustained steepness. LL doesn't get as much snow as Sunshine, but it holds up much better, especially in the back bowls. For intermediates it's not as good because most of the intermediate terrain is on the front side, which gets skied out quickly and ends up really icy.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex C View Post
For experts, Lake Louise is far and away the better of the two.
Unless you have the gear for DD and WW.
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Unless you have the gear for DD and WW.
Which are often not open before February.
post #20 of 21
Why not Red? When the Deslauriers bros. gave a ski clinic here they said, "This place is just like a huge Jay Peak".

NEVER crowds, 4 minutes from REAL ski town to lifts.

Steeps and trees and two mountains with 360 skiing on each.

Fly into Spokane
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by worldfishnski View Post
Why not Red? When the Deslauriers bros. gave a ski clinic here they said, "This place is just like a huge Jay Peak".
Yup.....Red is my favorite place out west, Jay in the east..... (although west = canada+vail/bc and east is sugarloaf, stowe, Jp)

I don't think either place is a good choice for beginner/lower intermediates though
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