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Banff or Utah: need advice to plan short ski trip

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
 My wife and I are intermediate skiers who have just "restarted" after a decade of not skiing. I've only skied PNW concrete (Stevens Pass, Snoqualmie Pass, Whistler/Blackcomb). Neither of us is in great shape.

We're trying to put together a brief (4 or 5 days) trip out of the Cascade Concrete. Short list right now is Utah (Alta? Snow Basin?) or Banff (Lake Louise? Sunshine?). We live near Seattle.

We're mid 50s, not in great shape, trying to reclaim what little mojo we used to have on the slopes. Goals would be somewhere easy to get to from the airport, cost effective, good quality snow, lots of intermediate terrain (no DD tree-filled rocky cliffs for me, not just yet anyway), decent snow, no rain, also no fog, and some good snow would be nice. Did I mention snow quality??? Also our skis are ancient, so we figure to just do demo days while we're there adn thus a well stocked demo shop is a requirement.

I've done ski-in/ski-out lodging at whistler and that would be ideal, but I realize some places like Snow Basin don't have any local accomodations, so I would be willing to rent a car if necessary.

I'm looking for suggestions from people who are familiar with these places at this time of year. Any input will help!

Thanks,

John
post #2 of 15
You'll love Snowbasin. Solitude and Brighten are also great options. I'm not exactly sure what intermediate means, so your own personal definition of that will change a lot. Alta is nice if you're fine with moderate (easy black/harder blue) off trail terrain. Their groomed runs are nice but they get icy/choppy very quickly.
If something like this looks appealing to you, you'll love it.
hpim0006.jpg
post #3 of 15
IMG_0839.jpgIMG_0905.jpgYou can't go wrong with Utah. The mountains are soo convenient to the airport and it usually provides good cold snow. I bet you would love Solitude. Snowbasin is really great, too.

I think in terms of weather alone which would point me to Utah.

Here's a picture from Solitude and Alta....
 
post #4 of 15
That's a beaute of a picture MonkeyDog. 
I just wrote a guide to Snowbird which discusses some of the logistics of a Utah trip.
Scroll down to the bottom.
http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/91083/snowbird-contest-official-entry-thread#post_1181310
post #5 of 15
I'd go to Utah for another reason:  Less travel time from the airport.  The resorts are at most 45 minutes away, and that is with traffic. The flights are probably cheaper unless you have free tickets from Alaska or Southwest.  No Customs, either.  Besides, you can visit the Olympic Park, have a choice of more ski areas, etc.  Both places have great choices for dining and lodging.  You can get ski-in/ski-out at the PC resorts but not at Lake Louise.  The plus for Lake Louise is that area of The Rockies is geologically  "older", more jagged and, IMHO, absolutely stunning.  Even prettier than our Rockies.

Around PC, The Canyons, PCMR and Deer Valley are all loaded with intermediate terrain.  Deer Valley is, IMO, over-groomed should you like the smooth runs.  The Canyons is the largest of the three, and less skied.  PCMR allows you to ski from and back into Park City.  All three are great mountains, and the debate between the best one of the three to ski (or all three) has been documented on this site many times.

There is no excuse for being out of shape since you can train at home in front of the TV.  If you can afford it, start using The Skier's Edge before your trips.  It will get you into "at least my legs won't hurt" shape very quickly and is an effective anaerobic and leg strengthening device used long term.  It might even get you out of the intermediate rut.
Edited by quant2325 - 3/1/10 at 5:05am
post #6 of 15
I like Banff, but it's a lot of travel time for a short trip.  It's at least a couple of hours on a bus from Calgary, and the ski areas are almost an hour by bus from Banff.  Plus you need to go through customs as well.
Utah is easy.  If you arrive in the morning, you can ski in the afternoon.  If you want ski-in accommodations, you can stay in Park City or up in Little Cottonwood Canyon.  I usually stay in Sandy or SLC, because it's cheaper, less altitude and close to LCC, but you don't get the nice ski town atmosphere you get in Banff, or even Park City. 

BK
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
 thanks for all the great input! Looks like Utah gets the nod. And Quant2325, thanks for mentioning The Skier's Edge--I've been trying to remember the name of this thing all season because I remember it from about 15 years ago and wanted to check it out. We also have a rowing machine coming today, and I'm determined to do some serious quad damage before our trip...

Now the question is where in Utah--I've found some great threads (thx SnobirdDevotee) so I'll start the research. I'm leaning toward staying in Midvale in a cheap motel and getting the superpass. Does that sound like a good plan?
post #8 of 15
Depends on whether you want to stay in a ski resort or drive to the ski areas each day. Midvale is convenient to the Cottonwood Canyons, but definitely not charming. You said you were an intermediate. Assuming you like mostly blue and black cruisers, there is probably more terrain in PC area for you. Also, it is a ski town as opposed to midvale. 
post #9 of 15
I agree with Steve.  There are plenty of quality condo rentals around PC, close to The Canyons, and Park CIty with Deer Valley 5-10 minutes away.  If you can afford it, I'd stay closer to PC and save the driving.  If you have to stay far from the slopes, I'd stay in SLC rather than Midvale because there is much to do there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnbro View Post

 thanks for all the great input! Looks like Utah gets the nod. And Quant2325, thanks for mentioning The Skier's Edge--I've been trying to remember the name of this thing all season because I remember it from about 15 years ago and wanted to check it out. We also have a rowing machine coming today, and I'm determined to do some serious quad damage before our trip...

Now the question is where in Utah--I've found some great threads (thx SnobirdDevotee) so I'll start the research. I'm leaning toward staying in Midvale in a cheap motel and getting the superpass. Does that sound like a good plan?
 
post #10 of 15
Lake Louise is one of the most stunningly beautiful destinations (skiing or otherwise) on the planet, and for a traveling couple has a lot to offer.

That being said, they're not having the best snow year (though they had a great start)-but the snow lasts a long time up there and they serve up some of the best...and least talked about...Spring skiing on the continent.

Park City is a pleasant place, too, for sure.  You can't go wrong-Utah is probably more tailor made for a short trip.  
post #11 of 15
 I'm a fan of Brighton because of the terrain parks and night skiing. I didn't get a season pass this year so I've paid for every lift ticket. So it's nice to be able to ski for really cheap. 
post #12 of 15
 Though Mt. Bachelor is not in the geographic area you mentioned, it's an easy drive from Seattle and would fit the terrain and snow you're looking for to a T.  The only problem is that you would have to drive there every day because there is no on hill lodging, but Bend is close and the road is wide and straight.
post #13 of 15
I rode up the chairlift today with a Sun Peaks Resort patroller who said her friend just returned from a trip to Banff and reported that Sunshine and Lake Louise are not very good right now.

At Sun Peaks and most of western Canada it has been a very mild winter and the snow here is not up to its usual Utah like dryness, but there is very good coverage and very little rain.

Sun Peaks is a 6 hour drive from Seattle and about 15% of the skiers here are from Seattle. Once you get to Sun Peaks you will find an intermediate heaven with award winning grooming. ( There are also some world class double blacks).There are tons of ski in/out accommodation and with 122 runs 2900 vertical feet the runs are never crowded. A ten minute chairlift line up on busy weekends is considered a long wait.

The mild weather this year has brought more fog than normal, but the fog is usually on the top third of the mountain, leaving 4 chairlifts below the fog on most days.

Jardines, McSporties, and Elevation all rent performance skis.
post #14 of 15
Check the Alta snow report. Nuff said.
post #15 of 15
Unless we start getting some snow dumps in Banff pretty soon, this is probably the year to go to Utah. Sunshine (as of today) is in ok shape for late April (keep in mind that it's early March), and I don't think Louise is even that good. I've heard Kicking Horse and Marmot are still doing well, but found Revy to be very late spring like last week. Best conditions are probably in the Okanagan (Big White, Silver Star, Apex) or Shuswap (Sun Peaks). I'm crossing my fingers for my pre-booked trip through the Kootenays (Red Mtn. & Whitewater) and Okanagan late March. Might have to take my bike and golf clubs....
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Banff or Utah: need advice to plan short ski trip