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Considering USA or Canada - recommendations/things we should know

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Very good summary!

altaski8 wrote:
Only a few consistent differences between European and NA skiing come to mind:
- Lift lines are more chaotic in Europe.
- Lift prices are more expensive in NA (insane in some cases (in the USA))
- the ratio of trails (pistes) to lifts in higher in NA
- In-bounds off-piste terrain is generally avalanche controlled in NA
- km of trails is not a good indication of the size in NA. Look under acres
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Vail prices are shocking and the Epic pass is the only sensible option. We arrived on Saturday and the area seems to get quieter each time we come, so those prices may be starting to bite? When we first came here, maybe 20 years ago, the lift queues were often crazy, especially in the back bowls on a snow day. Now the place seems empty apart from a few hot spots. Hardly any queues during the week. I don't think we've waited at all.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
altaski8 wrote:
An unconventional idea would be to consider Quebec Province (Canadian east coast)... Mount Tremblant or Mount St. Anne outside Montreal and Quebec City, respectively. The area is extremely pretty around Christmas-time and has an earlier start to winter (on average) than many other parts of NA. But these resorts are small compared to the big names in the Alps and western NA.


Unconventional not because of the size of the resorts but because of the weather. Just as we could get into the old "does it rain at Whistler" discussion, east coast skiing for Europeans means quite a lot of money on plane tickets for not guaranteed pleasant conditions, and this time involving ice. Great for those who can check the weather beforehand and pop up/in for the weekend, but I would prefer to block a week or two of precious holiday in a more sure destination.
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Orange200 wrote:
altaski8 wrote:
An unconventional idea would be to consider Quebec Province (Canadian east coast)... Mount Tremblant or Mount St. Anne outside Montreal and Quebec City, respectively. The area is extremely pretty around Christmas-time and has an earlier start to winter (on average) than many other parts of NA. But these resorts are small compared to the big names in the Alps and western NA.


Unconventional not because of the size of the resorts but because of the weather. Just as we could get into the old "does it rain at Whistler" discussion, east coast skiing for Europeans means quite a lot of money on plane tickets for not guaranteed pleasant conditions, and this time involving ice. Great for those who can check the weather beforehand and pop up/in for the weekend, but I would prefer to block a week or two of precious holiday in a more sure destination.

That's true. But early season is not a time for guaranteed pleasant conditions really anywhere. Some years you will have to rely on snowmaking just like nearly anywhere else. But the snow season up there starts about a month earlier on average than the northeast US.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Bergmeister
We were Air Canada out but it was actually a United first leg. Skis were just a payable 2nd checked bag and ok with 2 pairs of skis. Air Canada first leg of return and that was the same.
I did see somewhere about booking equipment, I asked them but got a standard answer to check here. All was fine and easy anyway.
https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/plan/baggage/checked.html
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
<shrug> from London to Calgary or Vancouver at least AC carry snowboards and skis for free in winter. If you have an internal flight on the same coupon, the same thing applies, although sometimes it's cheaper to buy the internal flight separately in local currency etc.

altaski8 wrote:
But early season is not a time for guaranteed pleasant conditions really anywhere
That does not make it remotely likely that you'll find better conditions in the east rather than the west, especially early season.
The fact that eastern Canada is likely better than the eastern US is not the point which was being made.

It's still in my opinion terrible advice suggesting people fly trans Atlantic specifically to ski east coast stuff.
That's like living in Innsbruck and flying to Helsinki to ski: it's possible, but it's expensive and stupid and no one would make the mistake twice. I dare say internet people would advise it all the same.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
philwig wrote:

It's still in my opinion terrible advice suggesting people fly trans Atlantic specifically to ski east coast stuff.
That's like living in Innsbruck and flying to Helsinki to ski: it's possible, but it's expensive and stupid and no one would make the mistake twice. I dare say internet people would advise it all the same.

Advices, internet or not, are base on people's experience. So if the person offering the advice are biased or limited due to their own experience, you'll get unsuitable advices.

That said, say if you happen upon a sales promotion that makes a flight to Montreal dirt cheap. And you can see they've got a ton of man made snow on the trails already, it's not as terrible an idea after all. Still, Tremblant in Christmas will make you feel like you're back in the Alps, crowded slopes, madhouse lift queue (well, at least there will be queues).
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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!
VolklAttivaS5 wrote:
For those of you who flew with Air Canada and took skis did you pre-register them or just turned up at the airport with them?


Company Name: Air Canada.
Contact Number: 00800 669 92222.

This is the UK telephone number. Both visits to Canada I called in advanced and booked ski bags. Both the hold and ski bags were free but it was needed to call (according to them). At the airport its all computerised so self check-in do NOT add a 2nd bag you will be charged. Just check ski bag and you'll get a bag tag or ask someone to help. Enjoy but take plenty a thermals wid ya!!
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Having read this thread with interest and just having returned from my first N America (Canada) trip to Jasper/Marmot Basin, which we absolutely loved, I thought I'd add a mini trip report here. We hadn't originally planned to go to Canada this year – we'd been looking at going to Europe and had a week booked off work accordingly, but Crystal were doing such good deals to Canada that we couldn't resist. The price we paid for the package inc. lift passes (hotel accommodation upgraded from room only to ‘luxury suite’ so that we had full kitchen facilities plus free tea/coffee all week) was the exact same price as we paid for a half-board holiday to France last year... It was obviously a lot of travelling for a week, but it really wasn't that bad, and although going for longer would be great, I'd happily go for a week again if that was all the time I had available as per this year! We didn't have any less skiing time – obviously longer travel days, but in some ways the long-haul flight felt less manic than some of the short-haul budget ones. The transfer from Calgary to Jasper is long, but you do get to experience the absolutely stunning Icefields Parkway.

Here are some observations from my perspective (poor intermediate piste skier; most previous ski holidays having been in large French resorts, with the exception of La Thuile):

Marmot Basin resort was amazing and very different from anywhere I’ve been before. The resort isn't huge, but the snow was great everywhere all week, and (for me the biggest bonus) it was SO quiet – which of course also meant that the snow stayed in good condition for ages. I have no idea about lift etiquette there because we skied straight onto every single lift without exception, and the thing I really liked was the fact that I had so many runs more or less to myself – this was even happening on a Sunday after a big snowfall the day before – any resort I’d been to previously would have been rammed!
If you’re someone who likes a real sense of travel to totally different areas and who likes to ski different stuff every day, this resort wouldn’t be for you. Having said that, I thought I liked these things, but actually I realised I’d rather ski some of the same perfect quiet runs every day than different crowded runs every day! Also, particularly if you like off piste, there’s more than you'd think from the map – loads of parallel-ish ‘runs’ down the mountain but then loads of stuff in between the official runs too, and of course it’s all inbounds so no need to worry about avalanche control. It worked out brilliantly for me and my snowboarding OH – I prefer the nice wide pisted runs, and he likes the steep ungroomed fresh stuff, so we could get down the mountain using our preferred options and meet at the bottom! Everything that was groomed was perfect (loads of really nice wide treelined blues) – most blacks were left untouched, but they did groom a couple of different ones each day and would list these first thing in the morning on the website, so I enjoyed trying those ones out. Some of them felt at the limit of my ability (steepness wise), but they were so perfectly groomed and so wide that it was fine! Actually, all greens, blues and single blacks were wide – I barely saw a narrow run all week (which was great) – there were only two blues that had very short narrow sections. Views over the Canadian Rockies were stunning, and there’s a lot of tree skiing there. The main green run for beginners (after graduating from the tiny nursery slope) looked great – wide, quiet, with its own (very slow!) chairlift and fenced off from the main runs above it to discourage people from speeding through to the bottom.

On the subject of food, I wondered if I’d miss the more charming/rustic mountain hut experience – but self-service pizza slices and poutine have their own appeal – I know people have mixed opinions about poutine, but I’m definitely a fan. The two restaurants at the resort (bottom station and mid-station) were a mixture of café/restaurant/bar and picnic room, with several locals dumping huge cool boxes full of lunch at the bottom station at the beginning of the day! Actually they were both good relaxing places to spend time, with plenty of seating and good views of the mountain, and we enjoyed our many visits.

The whole experience just felt really relaxed/chilled out compared with most of my previous European trips – I kept finding myself thinking this throughout the holiday. I love proper ski-in ski-out and don’t find the idea of a packed bus appealing, but getting the bus from Jasper town (where everyone stays) to Marmot Basin was not an issue at all (the bus stops right outside the main hotels, always plenty of seats, skis went on a rack on the outside, pleasantly scenic journey etc), then when you arrived, there were loads of free cubbyholes/shelves at the bottom station (or alternatively paid lockers to rent) where you could leave bags, normal boots and so on, which really minimised the need to clump about in ski boots. Jasper itself is also a great town, with everything you’d need – loads of good bars/restaurants, including Jasper Brewing Co. which does food as well as its own beer, supermarkets, shops, leisure centre etc – scenic, friendly people, elk wandering around the streets and hotel grounds – fun to be there! There are also unusual trips on offer, such as ice walks in the frozen canyon, which would be on my list for a future holiday (didn’t get round to it this year for one reason or another).

It was cold, but nice-cold – no wind and didn’t get colder than around -15 when we were there. I put one more layer on than usual plus wore a new merino balaclava/face mask and made use of those tea bag handwarmer things – that seemed to be enough.

All in all, if other N American resorts/experiences are anything like this one, I think I’m now spoiled and will be looking to return!
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@Gipfel, great report and glad you enjoyed it so much. I really liked Jasper though only visited in summer.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@Gipfel, nice report thank yoi
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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.
PeakyB wrote:
@bambionskiis, it’s not worth going just for skiing, IMO, is the one thing I’d offer in the ‘things we should know’ part.

If you’re adding some skiing on to a broader travelling adventure, that’s different.
Smile


Thank you Peaky, I could not agree more.

Inasmuch as our family have maintained a place in Colorado (Snowmass) since the late 1970's, I appreciate every two years or so the European experience over about three weeks and take two days off per week to hop on a train and/or bus and visit a not-too-far-away city or two such a Venice, Zurich, Vienna, etc. What a treat. And, many European ski stations/towns, of course, have charm. This is not always the case with many North American venues; the charm factor.
The "experts" on this board will appropriate endless pejorative when I say Quebec Provence, centered around lovely Montreal and ALL both so v. much wonderfully offer is a waste of time. Hey, they know it all, they're the "experts". I know nuthin'.
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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
@Gipfel, that deserves to be copied and pasted into a new thread so more people can see it.

You found Canada the same way I did, 20 years ago. Travel agent: “I can do you a week in France or 10 days in Canada for the same price. Which would you prefer?”
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@arcsinice, thanks, yes it would be a shame to miss out on great European cities and other highlights when skiing nearby.

In USA I combined:
- New York & Boston with skiing in several small areas in Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine.
- Denver with Colorado ski areas
- San Francisco and Yosemite with Lake Tahoe area skiing.
- Las Vegas (2 nights was plenty) and Grand Canyon with small ski areas in New Mexico.

I really enjoyed these travels. Exchange rate for me was favourable; wouldn’t do it at current levels. Struggle to believe transatlantic skiing is cheaper than Europe, from UK, comparing like for like, given the higher travel costs and much higher lift pass prices.
snowHead
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