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Canda Easter 2018

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'm booked and good to go.... flying into Calgary and back from Vancouver.

We are thinking Banff/Lake Louise then Big White and being told to avoid Whistler (thoughts?) that time of year. Any MUST DO/MUST SEE/MUST SKI recommendations would be very welcome, please.

Thanks in advance.
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@Langers Utd, why are you being told to avoid Whistler?
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Probably because it's coastal so tends to be winding down then. The local cat/ heli operator closes at the end of March, for example. But I would not personally avoid it, especially if it's your first visit, I would instead see what the conditions are like and then either go there or don't go there depending on how good it is.

Big White is ok, although there are lots of other places to visit and personally for example I prefer Silver Star in that part of the world, depending on how long you're intending to be there and the conditions...
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I imagine it's temperature/rain related. Just a guess.

In Banff Sunshine/LL are the two real ski hills. Norquay is small and with little variety. LL is prettier and a little more sensation of travel. Sunshine holds the snow in better shape. I really like Sunshine. Common practice is to travel around the bowl following the sun, starting on the Wawa chair ,moving around to Mount Standish, Continental Divide to Goats Eye. Obviously if you do the opposite i.e. start at Goats Eye it can be incredibly quiet. If there's some freshies, South Chutes on Goats Eye are great.

Eat in Saltlic for the best steak (pricey), Block (for bearded hipster 'modern tapas' - really good), Nourish if you don't like meat (king kong noodles are great), Magpie and Stump for Mexican (must have a jam jar margarita with a beer in it).

Don't know about big white, sorry.
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I'd prioritise where is open with storms hitting if possible rather than prebooking an itinerary. This may involve driving into bad weather of course. Lake Louise is a solid bet as it gets powder days into May. From there Kicking Horse is an obvious stop and then your options are broadly Revy/Sun Peaks/Silver Star or Panorama/Fernie/WH2o/Red.

Don't forget that dipping south of the border may be an option - Whitefish, Schweitzer a bunch of smaller hills and Baker are all options.

I'd still plan on at least a couple of days in Whistler if they've had a decent season the spring skiing should be great.
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@intermediate, As others have said - the advice to avoid Whistler was because it is toward the end of the season, the snow can be wet or even rain. I've never been, but I'm told it is affected by the Pacific weather patterns and therefore milder. Whilst the resorts in-land and towards calagary are more likely to have the champagne powder and clear days for off-piste.

Not sure how true that is and the advice to 'play it by ear' is noted.
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@Dave of the Marmottes, Good point on dipping south, would the weather patterns down there differ?

Thank you for the other pointers. I'm keen to ski Whistler, I've just been put off by others 'in the know' Happy
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@rogg, I might only get 3 days in Banff, so would you skip Norquay in that case and do two at sunshine with one at LL?

Thank you for your help and advice.
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@philwig, Thanks for the pointers.

I liked the look of Big White, as it is ski in/out and I have (intermediate) kids in tow (three pairs of skis to carry myself!!). Is Silver Star or any of the others around there the same? Puzzled
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Yeah, Silver Star is also ski-in-out, and has a very small/ safe feel to it. Ski schools at both (with whom I worked) seem excellent, especially for kids who they actually seem to like. Sun Peaks is ski-in-out these days and also has a small feel (although the resort isn't small).

The thing with the coastal stuff... if you're asking, it really doesn't matter. Further south tends to be wetter, which is not a problem, but sensible people always check the forecast. If you hire a car in Canada you may need to be clear it can cross the border, but I wouldn't bother as BC/AB is huge enough for a first trip.

Norquay is probably not great for kids - it's kind of a town hill/ race place with some serious steep bumps, but you'll have plenty in the other two places, albeit almost none of it ski-in ski-out. That is probably not a problem as the ski busses are civilized, or drive.
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Langers Utd wrote:
@rogg, I might only get 3 days in Banff, so would you skip Norquay in that case and do two at sunshine with one at LL?

Thank you for your help and advice.


pretty much what I'd do if I was there.
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Langers Utd wrote:
I might only get 3 days in Banff,

Why only 3 days at Banff if you got the time?

If you have a strong liking of another resort, fine. Otherwise, both Sunshine and Lake Louise are quite large. I would strongly recommend 2 days each at the minimum.

Unless, your personal preference is to get a glimpse of as many resorts as possible. If that's the case, I would strongly recommend including Whistler as well. Whistler is quite large, even 2 days will be barely enough.

The only reason to skip Whistler is to leave it for a future visit when you can spend a week there.
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@abc, Thank you for responding - I could go to 4 days but the feedback I've had is that it is a pain being based in Banff and travelling to the hills.

Any Thoughts/experience yourself?
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@philwig, Great info, thank you.

So, as you worked out there, can I ask - if you had ten skiing days in AB and BC (fly into Calgary/out of Vancouver) with two intermediate kids (10 and 12) what would be your itinerary?

Thanks in advance.
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@Langers Utd, I had a hired car so getting there wasn't difficult at all.

I assume if you're doing a road trip, you'll be hiring a car too? The scenery along the way was quite spectacular.
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@Langers Utd,
We've been to Banff twice for a week & didn't mind the travelling at all to the skiing.

It beats travelling to work! wink
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
I'd prioritise where is open with storms hitting if possible rather than prebooking an itinerary. This may involve driving into bad weather of course. Lake Louise is a solid bet as it gets powder days into May. From there Kicking Horse is an obvious stop and then your options are broadly Revy/Sun Peaks/Silver Star or Panorama/Fernie/WH2o/Red.

Don't forget that dipping south of the border may be an option - Whitefish, Schweitzer a bunch of smaller hills and Baker are all options.

I'd still plan on at least a couple of days in Whistler if they've had a decent season the spring skiing should be great.


Depending on if this is the week before Easter or the week after Easter, Whitefish may have nearly half of the average closed. Hellroaring Basin, where a lot of the more advanced skiing is, closes April 1 because of it being grizzly bear habitat.

Conditions could be just about anything at that time. This year we closed with near record snow depths on April 9. But some years we've been limping.
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Langers Utd wrote:
@philwig, Thanks for the pointers.

I liked the look of Big White, as it is ski in/out and I have (intermediate) kids in tow (three pairs of skis to carry myself!!). Is Silver Star or any of the others around there the same? Puzzled


How warm does it get in the interior in April? Not sure of the answer, but you might want to check it out. Think the Kootenay resorts are winding down round then.
Not really the case for Whistler
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PS. I wouldn't do a road trip with kids if I only had 10 days.
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IMO the beauty of skiing in north america is the in bounds off piste. The problem is it usually takes a bit of time to find all the best spots. Doing 2 days at places like lake Louise or whistler is just scratching the surface. You are not really seeing them at their best. Spending longer at a place allows the intermediate skiers to get comfortable with the runs and take some lessons. The most direct route from Banff to Vancouver goes by revelstoke and kicking horse, but these are not the best resorts for intermediate skiiers.

With 10 days I would personally either storm chase for powder or focus on a smaller area rather than trying to ski as many resorts as possible. With kids I probably wouldn't want the hassle of constantly moving, so would lean towards one area.

Unless money is no issue its also worth looking at lift passes. Buying individual day tickets is pricey. Staying in one place is cheaper, as you usually get discounts for multiple day passes. Or depending on what resorts you visit something like the mountain collective pass may make sense. Right now you can get the mountain collective pass for £350 which would get you 2 free days at each of lake Louise, sunshine, and revelstoke, plus a free 3rd day to pick at any one of them. Then any further lift tickets at those places are 50% off.
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stuarth wrote:
PS. I wouldn't do a road trip with kids if I only had 10 days.


Yeah that changes things from wing-it fun adventure to serious ballache.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
stuarth wrote:
PS. I wouldn't do a road trip with kids if I only had 10 days.


Yeah that changes things from wing-it fun adventure to serious ballache.


Nicely put Toofy Grin Toofy Grin
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Look at the stats for the inland resorts and the closing date. Silver Star closed earlier than big white and sun peaks, they were hosting a snowmobile contest over Easter instead of skiers.
Most resorts close on Easter Monday. Then start moving snow out of the way for golf (sun peaks).
Ski schools max kids per class 6 average 4 . Sometimes 2.
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endoman wrote:
And I thought Rodeo suits were coming back wink


not just me then Laughing
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Langers Utd wrote:
... if you had ten skiing days in AB and BC (fly into Calgary/out of Vancouver) with two intermediate kids (10 and 12) what would be your itinerary? ...

I don't have kids but I think that would be a significant issue. The bigger interior resorts are less busy, closer to "real Canada", and their ski schools seem exceptionally good for children.
If you have to relocate, perhaps that's not so easy with children.

I've done Calgary to Vancouver (or the other way) many times and I think you just need to plot your way across. Easter is late, so I'd always check the conditions, but if that's your goal then something like...

Fly into YYC. I like it, but it's not really a tourist town and it can be very cold. The "plus 15" stuff is interesting, but it's probably not great for kids. So hire a car and schlep over the Banff and stay there. It's a resort town so lots of shops and restaurants, and as mentioned multiple hills which you can get the free bus to or drive to. The mountains are quite pretty.

Then plot your route, possibly depending on where the best snow is. Most places are easy to get into without booking.

You could drive to Golden and do Kicking Horse, then keep going to Kamloops (a real Canadian town which is worth seeing but don't plan on staying too long....) and bag Sun Peaks, then drive down past Cache Creek (the Duffy Lake road should be clear then) to Whistler and finish up there.

Or start the same way and then drive south from Kamloops to Kelowna (Okanagan, wine country...) and bag Silver Star and Big White before driving back to Vancouver. Take a day there, then drive up to Whistler to finish off.

Or keep to the East and drive through those small resort towns...

All these places have decent well maintained pistes and open access to everything in-bounds. To me they feel very safe for kids. Whistler is the biggest and busiest and I'd want to be sure my kids knew how to deal with that. The other places feel super safe and friendly to me.
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@Langers Utd, Whistler. Each year is very different; this season end they had a powder day on the last day of Whistler skiing and that still leaves all of Blackcomb to play on for all of May. Ok so the year before the ski out was terrible but that still meant loads of skiing. Now we have not had a problem finding a place to ski, note it is a mile vertical but yes I do tend to just down load if I don't like the lower snow late on. The runs off the mountain are pretty boring anyway so you have not missed anything. The base this year when they stopped skiing was over 3m deep. That is the send of season base not the snowfall. The only reason the close Whistler down is so that they can scrape off the snow and get the bike park open.

Having been 10 times now generally at Easter (when ever that was each year) I never once had the rain people mention. Yes it obviously does happen but as the local experts say you can always see what the forecast is like before committing.

We kept looking at going elsewhere in USA and/or Canada but when it came down to the actual decision kept just going back. Pedestrian Village that you walk everywhere in 10 mins, loads or great food at all prices from crazy to cheap and a huge mountain (or 2) that I still have not seen all of. Also short(ish) transfer [why they do not have a bypass for Vancouver for Whistler from the Airport is a mystery].

Also as mentioned here the ski school over there is brilliant and our kids we certainly very happy in it as they got to ski what they wanted and at a pace we can't keep up to. So much so daughter now works in ski school there. So I maybe bias.

Now a big issue to us non locals is the cost of everything is soooooo much cheaper if you book well in advance. i.e. August. Then there is another cutoff of November for discounts. So maybe worth thinking about and planning ahead to get the best deal. The snow will be fine.
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Jake43 wrote:
... why they do not have a bypass for Vancouver for Whistler from the Airport is a mystery ....
wink it's called "geography" I believe.

But driving through the city is usually fluid at the start of the season at least. I'm more likely to hit issues with lots of snow above Squamish, or lots of tourists and snow in the worst case, but they follow predictable and avoidable patterns wink
FWIW the highway was upgraded for the Olympics and used to be much more sporting.
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Jake43 wrote:
... why they do not have a bypass for Vancouver for Whistler from the Airport is a mystery ....

I think it's probably because majority of people using Vancouver airport are going to stay in Vancouver!

Unlike Denver or Salt Lake City which has not much appeal to tourists using the airport, so they would prefer to get through the city as quickly as possible. The main reason for tourists arriving at Vancouver airport is to visit Vancouver itself.

Strangely, I never really noticed the trip through the city of Vancouver arriving, but only noticed the length of the transfer when leaving. Because typically by then, I was already done with the "city" activities (best Asian food in all of North America)


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Mon 5-06-17 15:36; edited 1 time in total
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Langers Utd wrote:
........ if you had ten skiing days in AB and BC (fly into Calgary/out of Vancouver) with two intermediate kids (10 and 12) what would be your itinerary?


I'd fly in and out of YYC, drive straight past the Banff trio, and do Revvy & KH, looping back into Fernie for the last few days, maybe Panorama too if there's snow.

Ten days isn't enough otherwise for what you seem to be planning, I've had some good times at BW, but even it's a bit far, unless you're absolutley determined to fly back from YYV.

Get geared up, chase the conditions by booking on the fly and getting off the trails by around 3pm and driving immediately to the next hill on transfer days.
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@abc, Thanks again.

Yep, I will have a hire car. Are you saying it is easier to drive to LL and park under my own steam, rather than take the ski-bus?
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Bergmeister wrote:
@Langers Utd,


It beats travelling to work! wink


Ain't that the truth! Laughing
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@philwig, Thanks again for taking the time to put together a detailed response. Some good food for thought. Very Happy
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boarder2020 wrote:


With 10 days I would..... focus on a smaller area rather than trying to ski as many resorts as possible. With kids I probably wouldn't want the hassle of constantly moving, so would lean towards one.


Which one?
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@Jake43, I really do fancy Whistler, but the dire weather-warnings put me off. Sounds like the warnings are somewhat over-egged?

Thank you for the pointer on cost saving cut-off dates.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
stuarth wrote:
PS. I wouldn't do a road trip with kids if I only had 10 days.


Yeah that changes things from wing-it fun adventure to serious ballache.


Spot on! Laughing
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On a "good day" in march we drove from silver Star via Cashe Creek and Penticton took us 6 and a half hours. With a stop for lunch. It's taken between 8 and 10 hrs on bad days. There was one section of road that was single track dirt through a land slide area in the fraiser valley. The rocks on the road from lillooet up past Duffy lake make for interesting driving and it's not a journey I would make in the dark.
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[quote="BCjohnny"]
Langers Utd wrote:
..

Ten days isn't enough otherwise for what you seem to be planning, I've had some good times at BW, but even it's a bit far, unless you're absolutley determined to fly back from YYV.

.


Cheers for the tips.

I'm in country 15 days, 10 days skiing and a couple in Vancouver (I was out-voted by the Boss on that one!), so I have to fly back from YYV.
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joneski wrote:
On a "good day" in march we drove from silver Star via Cashe Creek and Penticton took us 6 and a half hours. With a stop for lunch. It's taken between 8 and 10 hrs on bad days. There was one section of road that was single track dirt through a land slide area in the fraiser valley. The rocks on the road from lillooet up past Duffy lake make for interesting driving and it's not a journey I would make in the dark.


Hmmmm... you aren't selling this to me! Laughing Laughing
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Then YYC > KH > Revvy > Kelowna for BW, with maybe last day or two in Whistler, leaving YYV.

Everyone has to go to Whistler, at least once .......
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