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Best boarding destinations.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hey guys. Probably heard this a million times but, best resort for boarding in either u.s or Canada? Considerations as always are how busy, quality of runs and of off piste/tree runs, cat boarding options, basically it’s all about the best boarding and best chances of good snow. Nightlife is not a factor. Seasoned European holidayer looking for something more. Thanks for any advice.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
It depends what you want, but if you're asking, then probably you'd be best starting with a large destination close to an international airport.

  • The resorts you can get to from Denver are good for anyone.
  • SLC is good for more serious types.
  • Whistler is probably the closest to a European resort and works for all abilities/ aspirations.
  • Banff is another option worth considering: less snowfall than Whistler but dryer (better) snow.
Avoid the East coast irrespective of country.

There are one or two places in the US you can catboard, but Canada's generally better for cat and heli.
Powder Mountain Catskiing in Whistler is owned and run by snowboarders, and the software's run by one too: me.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Philwig thanks. Great info. So Aspen isn’t somewhere to consider?
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Aspen is a cool place, accessible from Denver...
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Japan?
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I’d look seriously at Salt Lake City as a base. Snowbird,Brighton and Solitude all within a short drive and Powder Mountain and Snowbasin within driving distance for a day too. If they have even a relatively normal season you’ll not be disappointed.
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Squaw Valley
Few other resorts (Alpine Meadow is in spitting distance) in North Tahoe as well.
Can fly into Reno or Sacramento.
Also Heavenly in South Tahoe
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Snowbird fits the bill. Few flat sections and they can be avoided. Some epic off piste and it gets its share of powder. I like it when I want a more challenging day out.

I am not sure I would recommend Snowbasin to a boarder as there are lots of flats especially around Strawberry.
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Snowbird, that's where I mostly go when I'm around there. But I'd not really recommend it as a destination. Unless you have local contacts people may find it a bit small and funky, plus competition for powder is fierce. If you don't know your way around then you may well wonder what the point of it all is. Well I did when I first went.

I'm a boarder, but there aren't that many boarders there. Ask them why not me, but it's a fairly technical place and although there is apparently to be a park I can't remember noticing it. Brighton (I haven't been for a year of 5) tends to be more popular with boarders and has easy runs which aren't traverse lines across expert pistes. But if you stay in SLC you can go where you like. Even then, people may be more comfortable starting out in more of a resort-environment - Park City is popular with tourists for that reason I think.

--
I like Utah because the terrain is steeper than Colorado and the snow is a little dryer. I like Whistler because although the snow's wet (it's coastal), it's significantly further north than California or Washington State, so the snow quality is generally better. Perhaps if you're coming at it from Europe you may find it all excellent anyway, or if you're park people then it doesn't matter. Banff too is effectively a resort and has cold snow which is excellent, but there's less precip there overall so you've less chance of powder. Costs vary a fair bit depending on currency fluctuations. You'll get tree skiing which at least blew my mind when I first discovered it pretty much anywhere, all accessible.
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TQA wrote:


I am not sure I would recommend Snowbasin to a boarder as there are lots of flats especially around Strawberry.
Just mentioned it by way of saying there are other resorts nearby that are driveable. I only lasted 45 minutes there as fractured L1 vertebrae on a small cliff drop.... they sent me a get well postcard though which I thought was rather nice.
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bigtuboflard wrote:
TQA wrote:


I am not sure I would recommend Snowbasin to a boarder as there are lots of flats especially around Strawberry.
Just mentioned it by way of saying there are other resorts nearby that are driveable. I only lasted 45 minutes there as fractured L1 vertebrae on a small cliff drop.... they sent me a get well postcard though which I thought was rather nice.


Lots of good things about Snowbasin.

The little bus from the car parks to the lifts.

Jean Pauls the best mountain restaurant in the USA.

Strawberry if you are in to hooning down some pisted runs.

Best loos

Amazing views from the top of Strawberry and some seriously good off piste runs.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
bigtuboflard wrote:
TQA wrote:


I am not sure I would recommend Snowbasin to a boarder as there are lots of flats especially around Strawberry.
Just mentioned it by way of saying there are other resorts nearby that are driveable. I only lasted 45 minutes there as fractured L1 vertebrae on a small cliff drop.... they sent me a get well postcard though which I thought was rather nice.


I fractured my tib plateau there - no card for me Sad To be fair I'd told patrol I was going in the lodge to ice it which in a medical first failed to work.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
In 2015 me and my crew headed out of Europe for the first time and went Utah. Stayed at park city and hired a car for certain days where we went to Snowbird, solitude and Brighton.

2017 we went to Banff and rode kicking horse along with the big 3 resorts. Had a Heli day too.

2018 went Japan and rode niseko united and half day cat at Mt Weiss.

The Utah trip was the most special as it was a dream of ours to go to the US and it delivered even though the snow wasn't the best. When it did snow it was amazing and the food and drink was effing awesome. The whole experience was second to none. But Canada has Heli and that was worth the entry alone. The resorts were great though small compared to Europe. The food and drink was hit and miss tbh. Japan was just bad luck with snow so was expensive without the legendaryness.

2019? We're going whistler and booking a cat half day (or maybe 2).

For boarders I would say Utah as you can't go wrong especially if you can drive around which is dead easy is the us. If you want a bit of adventure then Canada as you can heli. Hope this helps.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Your question is a little too vague to give a specific answer (which would explain the range of perfectly suitable suggestions above).

When do you intend to go? Makes a difference regarding snow and crowds.

Are you happy driving to and from the resort each day or is staying near the lifts important?

How are you defining quality of runs? Perfect groomers? Steeps? Same for off-piste: wide open bowls, steep tight chutes etc? I take it you know that everything off piste but in bounds is controlled, or perhaps you want backcountry?

Best cat-boarding tends to be at lodges based outside resorts.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Sundance1791 wrote:
Nightlife is not a factor.


Go to Fernie and stay on the hill, you won't be disappointed ........
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Whistler.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
BCjohnny wrote:
Sundance1791 wrote:
Nightlife is not a factor.


Go to Fernie and stay on the hill, you won't be disappointed ........


Fernie definitely has some things going for it. However, I wouldn't think of it as one of the best ski hills in n America. Although it goes back to the ops question being too vague. For example if you want a park fernie is a terrible choice as rcr banned building jumps.
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Some additional comments on the above.

Whistler can be miserable if the pineapple express is running. Rain and cloud. I would only go booking at the very last moment on a good forecast.

Fernie in early season can be bitterly cold minus 25 c for days is not unknown. Lots of good light snow but brrrrr.

Starting off with some days in Brighton then switching to Snowbird would be good. Stay in Salt Lake City and rent a car. Powder mountain might be a good alternative if you get a powder day at the weekend PM will be much quieter than Snowbird or Brighton. I ski/board 3 to 4 weeks in Feb in SLC most years and avoid Alta and Snowbird on powder days preferring Canyons which will be quiet even with the new link to Park City. The queues in Little Cottonwood Canyon which leads to Alta and Snowbird are the stuff of legends on weekend powder days. No queues accessing Canyons from SLC and Parleys Canyon is almost always open.
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Quote:
Whistler can be miserable if the pineapple express is running. Rain and cloud. I would only go booking at the very last moment on a good forecast.


Pineapple express can happen, but honestly it's not that frequent and it's usually reset within days. The whole rain at whistler thing is a little overblown. Yes, rain in the village does happen, but that usually means dumping snow in the alpine (where all the good skiing is anyway). Whistler is as good a bet for anywhere outside Japan regarding weather, you really don't need to only consider it as a last minute thing. If it was that bad all those pros wouldn't choose to base there
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What he said. Whistler, or other major destination resorts, are exactly the sort of place you should go if you have to book in advance.
They are a much lower risk than any small hill, anywhere, conditions-wise.

Small hills sound macho to some tourists.
When they're good they're good, but when they're ice or top-to-bottom rain, no one wants to be there.
And once you've lapped that one lift a hundred times, you may think a bit more scope isn't a bad thing.

"Rain events" (top to bottom rain) are rare in Whistler and quickly pass. That's a crock.
The village isn't high so you may well see rain there. Most people don't ride down to the village in those circumstances.
The lift system is designed for precisely that.

--
Snowbird: yeah, not a place for tourists to chase powder.
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boarder2020 wrote:
BCjohnny wrote:
Sundance1791 wrote:
Nightlife is not a factor.


Go to Fernie and stay on the hill, you won't be disappointed ........


Fernie definitely has some things going for it. However, I wouldn't think of it as one of the best ski hills in n America. Although it goes back to the ops question being too vague. For example if you want a park fernie is a terrible choice as rcr banned building jumps.


Sorry .... it was a kind of off handed comment relating to the quote .....

If 'nightlife is not a factor' definitely go to Fernie as you won't be disappointed (by the complete lack of it) staying on the hill ...... late starts caused by hangovers are not really an issue unless you're seriously determined ....... in the town it's much easier. But I did read the OP :

Quote:
Considerations as always are how busy, quality of runs and of off piste/tree runs, cat boarding options, basically it’s all about the best boarding and best chances of good snow. Nightlife is not a factor. Seasoned European holidayer looking for something more. Thanks for any advice.


Ok, and not in asked order ....... as a 'seasoned European' you might just like the refreshing contrast a more genuine west coast area will offer. Whistler is fantastic, but a bit plastic, and the nightlife is almost unique ...... the place to do a lot of partying, and some boarding, IMO, so depends what your priorities are. But everybody needs to go to 'Whistlerland', at least once .......

Fernie offers serious mid week quietness, a massive variety of inbounds, the chance of heavyish regular snow, and catboarding. The rain issue is overstated, as with Whistler.

Was there in March for a couple of weeks, ten years after the last visit there, and most likely be going back next season, maybe for a couple of months or so ....... so take this as my opinion.

Now ...... and I know this is going to upset a few people ....... but the only fly in the ointment is it's increasingly morphing into a 'ski bum' town, which in itself is not a problem, but some of the service and standards are slipping ...... and it's not going unnoticed. AAJMHO
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Would agree with your points on fernie, it's got plenty of positives. Personally, I don't really like the lift layout there. Also the setup of the mountain means some of the terrain was rarely (or not at all) open last year due to avalanche risk (not a knock on ski patrol!).

If I'm flying to Calgary would much rather head to kicking horse, but realise that's not everyone's cup of tea and also has its own negatives.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
boarder2020 wrote:
Would agree with your points on fernie, it's got plenty of positives. Personally,[i] I don't really like the lift layout there[/b]. Also the setup of the mountain means some of the terrain was rarely (or not at all) open last year due to avalanche risk (not a knock on ski patrol!).

If I'm flying to Calgary would much rather head to kicking horse, but realise that's not everyone's cup of tea and also has its own negatives.


Kicking Horse, has great terrain, but the lift system is much, much worse than that of Fernie. No sense of variety or travel.

You either end up lapping the upper chair, or the gondola, and it gets old ...... fast.

Likewise Revvy, but slightly better.
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Quote:

Kicking Horse, has great terrain, but the lift system is much, much worse than that of Fernie


I dunno. Personally I quite like the system at kicking horse. The gondola gives you access to 75% of the resort, 1 chair the other 25%. Nice and simple. There's an argument that gondola mid station would make things better. Personally I can't say I'm too bothered about no mid station. Sure it would let you lap the best terrain at the top more, but the downside is it would get tracked out faster. Plus I'm not going to complain about laps being "too long".

Fernie on the other hand is really disjointed imo. For example if you ski cedar bowl you are looking at 2 lifts just to get back to base, 3 to get to more interesting terrain. Other than siberia bowl you are looking at at least 2 lifts to really get get anywhere.

Quote:

No sense of variety or travel


Meh, nither compare to Europe mega-resorts for that. If you want that experience I would head elsewhere.

Quote:

and it gets old ...... fast.


Done over 50 days there and know plenty of people that have done numerous seasons there. I didn't get bored and they all seem more than happy. There's a lot of not so obvious terrain and places to discover and explore if you have time.
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You carefully edited this quote out :

Quote:
You either end up lapping the upper chair, or the gondola


Whilst not wanting to get into any sort of p*ss*ng competition about 'days done' there, mine run into about 8 months, over the years, so IMO I've a fair handle on the skinny, for an old tourist ......
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I didn't carefully edit it out. It's not really an issue to me to lap a lift or gondola, as long as the terrain is different each run what difference does it make? Would rather lap a single lift than have to take numerous lifts each time to access decent terrain (like fernie). Like I said before I would go to kicking horse if flying into Calgary but its not everyone's cup of tea. I probably wouldn't recommend kicking horse for a first trip to North America, unless someone was looking for something very specific. I definitely wouldn't recommend fernie (unless partmof a longer road trip). Somewhere like whistler which does everything well would be a better intro.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
No, on the contrary, you did purposely chop up the quote to leave it out ......

And 'Whisterland', whilst being an epic place everyone should go to at least once, is most definitely not 'a better intro' to NA than anywhere else ....... rolling eyes

But I'll leave this now, and agree to disagree ......
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
It would have been nice to get your opinion on why lift layout is better at fernie, and what the issue is with lapping a chair/gondola if you are skiing different terrain each time. However I accept you are leaving it now.

This is why Imo whistler is a good intro:
- direct flight to Vancouver and Easy transfer for someone not looking to deal with hire cars.
- huge area with an abundance of every type of terrain, ideal for people experiencing in bounds off piste for the first time to work out what they like. Also no need to do multiple resorts (see above regarding hire cars).
- possible to stay in village by slopes

In these ways it offers a nice transition from Europe to North America. Of course you could go somewhere "more Canadian" but staying in a small town and having to drive out to a resort each day may not sound so appealing to people that are used to staying in a village with direct access to lifts for a week in Europe.

Places like fernie and kicking horse are more niche, and not going to appeal to such a big crowd.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Sundance1791, Fernie is either . . . 'OH FOOK I'M GONNA DIE' Shocked . . . or . . . This little bit is lovely Madeye-Smiley . . .

There's boogerall between . .. . I'll be back there 2020 Twisted Evil . . . but I'm senile Madeye-Smiley
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Go where the best deal is - Ive done Whistler, Fernie, Banff, Breck, Vail, Winter Park, Steamboat, Canyons, Park City, Keystone, Beaver Creek and A-Basin - had a blast at them all. Had rain, sheet ice and serious powder at Whistler, -40 at Banff and -30 at Fernie with fresh snow, and empty slopes at Louise/ Sunshine. Loads of powder in Utah and Colorado for 2 years, but unfortunately only fresh snow for 3 days in 3 weeks last year.

Each one will give you a massively different experience to Europe - with the added advantage of there being no French people there!!! Some of the mountains will feel and look very small compared to Europe, and with the exception of Whistler, not many long runs if you fancy racking up a few miles top to bottom.

The snowfall will probably depend on El Nino or the other fella who does the opposite, oh and you have until Sunday to buy your Epic Pass if you are going to it!

Edit - just noticed that you havent posted since 1st July so assume you have went off the idea already.
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