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Banff or Whistler

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We’re off next season to either Banff or Whistler which 1 shall I choose and why thanks Very Happy
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Did you use the search?

Banff horribly cold in Jan-Feb. Whistler more chance of rain when it gets warmer.
Banff touristy, Whistler a younger crowd.
Both are fantastic.
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No I asked the question on a ski forum thought that’s what it’s for
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Not really a lot to go on. WB you are close to slopes, good action in village and a big mountain to ski. Banff you're a bus ride from the hills and yes can be crippingly cold and I've been around NY when hills were actually closed for day as too dangerous.

Banff probably a bit cheaper all round, storms maybe not as deep but longer season.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
charlie26 wrote:
No I asked the question on a ski forum thought that’s what it’s for


Think the search question was probably in relation to on this forum as its a topic that's cropped up a few times.

To help people give you some info, might be worth explaining your situation etc?

I've not been to whistler but have been to Banff as part of a road trip of a few places. If you're OK with travelling every morning to the slopes then it'll be great, if you want the convenience of a town at the bottom of the slopes then it's not what you're after and whistler might be a better option.

Can't imagine you'll be having a bad time in either though!
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If you are planning to do the whole season Whistler seasonal accomodation is crazy expensive. Banff is not cheap either, but something to consider if budget is of concern. For a short trip I don't think there's too much in it Whistler is probably a little more expensive, but lift pass cheaper so probably evens out.

If you want to combine skiing with a few days in city Vancouver (Whistler) is much better option than Calgary (Whistler).

You are most likely going to need a season pass. The epic pass covers Whistler and also gives you some free days in Europe so a nice bonus if you plan to also do a Europe trip. Just be aware some of these "free" days can be restricted (i.e. you must stay in certain accomodation), but for example on this year's pass you could ski 7 days at 3 valleys for free with no restrictions.

Both are excellent ski areas, with a huge variety of terrain. Whistler tends to have better snow conditions early season than banff, so it's a Christmas trip or early January I'd probably favour it. If you are worried about cold Whistler is much more mild on average.

Whistler village is a little more lively than Banff and offers a bit more in off ski activities (taking a ride down the Olympic bobsleigh track is recommended!). Banff has enough to keep most people busy. But if nightlife is huge concern Whistler definitely has the advantage.

Probably the big difference is distance to skiing. Banff you will need to take the bus each day, can be around 45min journey to lake Louise. Whistler the lifts are straight from the village. Banff you are picking either sunshine or lake Louise each day, Whistler you can access both mountains easily - which sounds like a minor thing but can be an issue I.e. after storms when terrain is slow to be opened due to avalanche control.

Both are excellent and I suspect most would enjoy either. One might be better or worse for you personally depending on your personal preferences.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Whistler.
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Choose whichever you like best, I suppose. They are different places, see, so they're different when you visit them. That's kind of how places are. Like Huntingdon or St Ives.... which you choose to visit depends on stuff which it's beyond anyone else to really intuit. If there was an answer to your question, you could work it out easily enough because obviously would go to the place which they ought not to choose.

Seriously, if you have to ask then it most likely will makes very little difference either way. If you have to ask without providing any data on what you're looking for it definitely makes zero difference.
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I went to Whistler in 1996. The bar underneath our apartment block had the most beautiful barmaids I've ever seen. Does that help?
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@Yoda, I assume that means you have no idea what the song was like...
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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.
@pieman666, our group consisted of about 10 iirc. On one day 7 decided to go heli-skiing, but 3 of us (including me) looked at the cost/itinerary and decided not to do it. The 3 of us had a word with the girls at the bar and outlined our cunning plan - when everyone gathered in the bar at the end of the day and the heli-skiers asked how our day had been, we would nonchalantly say that we had been out skiing with the girls Toofy Grin The girls were up for it and the plan materialised - turned out even better than we had hoped because the heli-skiers had been outnumbered by a large group of Japanese and had actually made far fewer descents than they had been expecting. As the girls brought drinks to the tables they would remark on what a great day out it had been with us Laughing

Wish we'd had phone cameras then to record the looks on the others' faces.
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Laughing I hope you never told them
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Yoda, Love it Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Yoda wrote:
I went to Whistler in 1996. The bar underneath our apartment block had the most beautiful barmaids I've ever seen. Does that help?


Clearly you never went to Pacha , Buenos Aires in the early 2000s [/creepylech]
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
charlie26 wrote:
No I asked the question on a ski forum thought that’s what it’s for

If you've done the search, you would have found out what exactly to you should have been asking more specifically!

Should I snowboard or ski? Wink

Or should wear pants or skirts? Shocked
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
The difference between them both is vast - Whistler is right on the slopes vs. a bus ride to the 3 resorts in Banff. However, its a bloody beautiful bus ride and if you approach it with the right mindset, its becomes a really lovely part of your day - I love the de-brief on the bus ride back!
Whistler is more expensive, both the cost of the holiday and eating out there. The pedestrianised village is lovely but has a very purpose-built feel, whereas Banff feels more authentically Canadian.
Banff can be REALLY cold (1 day on my last trip, the lifts didn't run as it was too cold). The snow in Banff is glorious, dry and fluffy - full disclosure, I went to Whistler on a bad year but the groomers were brain-judderingly hard first thing (this was early March), I've never had that in Banff, even though its been colder.
More laid back eateries and nightlife in Banff and I'd say more high-end dining in Whistler (although Banff does have some great options if that's your thing).
Beautiful scenery in both but it would be hard for anywhere to beat the rocky mountains.
If you tag on a city break at either end, Vancouver beats Calgary most beautiful city.

I'd choose Banff as my favourite but you can't really go wrong with either!
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Banff, did a season there and a few 2 week hols, Yes it is cold in Jan and early Feb. The free coaches to each area are not a bind, the short to Nqy is fine, or the long journey to LL is amazing, and after a long day at Lake Louise skiing the backbowls and mushroom gardens its nice to have a power nap on the way back to Banff, ready for a few beers and some great food in the town. Def the Rockies.
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Quote:

Whistler is more expensive, both the cost of the holiday and eating out there


I don't think Whistler eating out prices are that bad really, there is something for all budgets. El furnies does $8 mains, which is cheaper than you would pay for similar pub food in London. Araxi which is top end for whistler, is around £25 for a main, which again I don't think is much different to a comparable restaurant in UK.

I find food in general (restaurant, but particularly supermarkets) is more expensive in Canada than UK.
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Whistler every time if it's just for 10 days/a fortnight, a bit more nuanced if a season.

Whistler base area has a lot more going on and it's car free. Plus once you've got there, you don't need to take (long journey) transport. The mountains are way better.

On the down side it's busier and you'll get every kind of weather.

Bannf is OK but it's a pain getting to/from the ski areas. Overall the ski areas (Sunshine/LL) feel a lot 'flatter' or limited (Norquay). There is some not to be underestimated terrain but purely for skiing, I'd go for Whistler. And as everyone rightly notes, it can be fm cold.

Banff itself isn't as great as Whistler and you've got a busy road running right through the middle of it.

If for a season, then I'd probably edge toward Bannf, well actually a road trip and have stays at quite a few more places: Revelstoke, KH, Panorama, Kimberley etc.
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I agree with @Nickski, particularly the last sentence.
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No comparison in terms of size and variety of terrain. Whistler is more like a European mega resort.

No comparison in terms of scenery. Lake Louise is jaw droppinglh beautiful.
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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!
+1 for what Nickski said; Whistler wins hands down for a stay but Banff for a season as closer to more and better alternative resorts.
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Interesting hear other people's views. Personally I'd go the opposite and pick Whistler for a season and Banff for a short stay (at least hypothetically, in reality Whistler is accomodation is just too expensive). I've done one season at Whistler and after 100 days on snow I was still finding new lines to ride. There's so much terrain you can just park yourself there and don't need to consider road trips or other resorts. Also as beautiful as the commute is from Banff to the ski resorts I can't help but think it would get old doing it everyday.

I've done 2 seasons at kicking horse and while the idea of road trips and visiting other resorts is nice in reality I barely bothered. The high cost of day tickets puts you in a bit of a dilemma. You don't want to spend £70 on a day pass if conditions are bad, but on the flip side if conditions are excellent you'd rather be at your "home" resort where you know how to make the most of a powder day. (Generally the conditions are not different enough between the resorts in that area that one is excellent and one is bad,name even when it happens it's rarely predicted). By the time you add on accomodation a 3 day trip (let's face it you need at least a couple of days at a resort, the first day is lost just trying to work out the lay of the land) is going to cost over £300,which is a lot considering it would be "free" at "home" resort (season pass and season accomodation already paid for).

The exception is probably if your into touring in which case icefields parkway and Rogers pass are too good to pass up,but you'd probably opt for kicking horse or revelstoke as your base over Banff.
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I’ve done two road trips around that area and the experience is so much more than ‘just’ skiing. Maybe if you’re on your own, then a fixed base allows you to make friends but the op. says ‘we’ so he/they will be more self-contained.

On my first trip (7 weeks in total) did a ski instructor course, just L1, at KH, then worked my way down to Yellowstone via various ski areas and back, with my gf at the time. Tried ski areas that very few Europeans will have, plus I quite liked the feel of some of those ‘smaller’ areas: Bridger Bowl, Big Mountain. If you got talking to someone in a bar, they weren’t a tourist, they lived there. To repeat, whole experience is so much more, plus Canada/US, away from the big name resorts, is a lot friendlier for just finding a hotel/motel on spec.

Back to the op., if 10-14 days Whistler, if a season, Banf as an initial base but try and fit a road trip in. You won’t regret it.
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Quote:

I’ve done two road trips around that area and the experience is so much more than ‘just’ skiing


For me it's all about the snowboarding. I can't say I find the little towns of BC particularly interesting. I don't dislike them - they are perfectly pleasant, they have all you really need (although some more Indian restaurants would go down a treat snowHead ), people are friendly, even some cool events (winter carnival in rossland, world freeride tour at kicking horse, local hockey games etc.). But they are not places I would choose to visit if it wasn't for the snowboarding. Your preferences may be different to mine though.

For me it's not so much about making friends. I quite enjoy snowboarding on my own and if I was to do a roadtrip would be staying in hostels so pretty easy to meet people. It's more the cost, which is much more for road trip than staying in one place. Plus I know I can do a season in kicking horse and the resort, plus slack country touring, plus backcountry touring in Rogers pass and icefields parkway has more than enough terrain to keep me busy so there is little interest in travelling.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I sorta agree and disagree - the interior towns of BC are a the same time nothing special and perfectly agreeable little places. But going to the hockey, name that tune night at the pub, having a pool to go to for downtime can all add up to quite a decent extracurricular portfolio on your day job of skiing/boarding.

But it's definitely a good idea not to spread yourself too thinly - flitting through a place is very different from spending a couple of months there. By all means do a road trip as a "holiday" but I think it would be tiresome for a season plus the factor of leaving good snow to find snow is a risk.

After spending a season in Fernie I remember saying to a work colleague who was contemplating a holiday - it's a brilliant place if you're prepared to seek out every line but I wouldn't recommend it for you for a holiday if you just want to ski pistes. That's the same problem with road tripping - it can take a while to seek out the gems.
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@charlie26, Whistler is closer to the slopes, more conveenient for skiing and has IHMO the better skiing, though I found the lift queues long when we went (about 15-30 minutes to leave the village after that about 5-10 minutes on most lifts). However, these are likely to have improved since I was there. With Banff the big hassle was the morning busses to the slope. To say they were unreliable is an understatement. Then if you were going to Lake Louise for example it was a 30 minute bus ride, fortunately I have big pockets in my ski jacket to stuff a paperback novel. The scenery arounf Banff is very impressive and if you hire a car then day trips out are possible.
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Quote:

That's the same problem with road tripping - it can take a while to seek out the gems.


This is a good point. Some of the best areas in n American ski resorts are not obvious or even named on the piste maps. For example Dutch wallet at kicking horse is one of the resort classics (little rope climb down into a nice tight chute that tends to hold good powder), but as a tourist you would never find it nor is it mentioned on the trail map. This whole area is simply listed on the trail map as ozone https://powdercanada.com/2019/02/ride-ozone-like-big-boy/ after a season I still haven't done half the lines down it. With zero markings at all,you need a few rides down just to get your bearings. I meet a lot of people that skied a lot of resorts but when you speak to them you realise it was a pretty superficial day or two, where they spent most of the time not exactly sure where they were. Moral of the story - get chatting to people on the lifts, a lot of people are friendly and will give you some good tips, if you are really lucky they might even show you a few runs.

Edit: also short trips you risk terrain not being open. (Delirium dive at sunshine and polar peak at fernie are obvious examples).
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Whistler...You could get munched by a cougar in Banff.

https://www.thecragandcanyon.ca/news/local-news/cougar-warning-in-place-for-the-town-of-banff?fbclid=IwAR2wKg5ZMSH93_MQr1autZgYgyvW14dlPsr3IyNikFeg48K_TuGYr05yGbE
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Charlieehr wrote:
Whistler...You could get munched by a cougar in Banff.

https://www.thecragandcanyon.ca/news/local-news/cougar-warning-in-place-for-the-town-of-banff?fbclid=IwAR2wKg5ZMSH93_MQr1autZgYgyvW14dlPsr3IyNikFeg48K_TuGYr05yGbE


More chance of that in Aspen wink Madeye-Smiley

Cougars generally only attack humans if cornered or feel threatened, its a defensive mechanism - I think you'll be fine in Banff.

I'd take Banff over Whistler, having been to both - but you'll need to give more info as other folks have asked above.
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What a decision...both are great!

More info would make the decision easier, such as do you have a car, what sort of accommodation, family etc?

However, overall I prefer Banff, and that is just personal preference. The variety with Sunshine and Lake Louise (not to mention Norquay or an excursion to Kicking Horse) and the town of Banff has a great feel with some good restaurants and bars. Can't go wrong with Whistler, but Banff just edges it for me.
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Thanks for the replies I won’t have a car we are both advanced skiers but in our fifties so wild apres is not required but we do like a good drink they both sound great the ease of skiing into the village of Whistler seems to be favourable less travelling more
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If you do go to Whistler it's well worth getting the guidebook. It will save you so much time and direct you to plenty of great areas you would be unlikely to find on your own. Trying to navigate spankys ladder without it would be "interesting".

https://quickdrawpublications.com/product/advancedexpert-ski-and-snowboard-guide-to-whistler-blackcomb-3rd-edition-ebook/
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To be fair Spankys is easy to navigate its the convex rollovers the other side that would be intimidating. Not that I'd recommend the gemstones to anyone on holiday - a bit too much jeopardy plus number of locals on full send when they are in best condition.
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Yes I was referring more to the bowls than the hike up, which is fairly straightforward. I mean you can drop in keep heading left following the majority of tracks to ruby bowl which is fairly risk free, bit will be the most tracked. Alternatively you can end up like this guy https://www.theinertia.com/mountain/instagramed-snowboarder-rescued-at-whistler-filmed-clinging-to-cliff/

I met two guys who were clearly way out their depth at the top entrance to sapphire bowl asking me where the easy way down was. Would have been a good 20min+ hike back up for them to get to a spot they could traverse over to ruby.

I wouldn't go as far as saying I wouldn't recommend them to anyone on holiday. They are great fun, and you can find great snow in them days after a storm providing you avoid main bit of ruby bowl. You would want to be pretty sure of your line though before entering (hence the guidebook), or try find a local to take you in. But there are plenty of places you would struggle to find on your own (pakalolo, Christmas trees, ladies first, excitation etc.).
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The best way to "learn" about the less obvious lines in Whistler is to sign up for a day (or two) of Extremely Canadian. It may look steepishly expensive on first glance. But keep in mind it includes lift pass for the day, and hired planks more suitable for the terrain.

The "course" basically focus on touring of the mountain's expert terrain, with bits of skills/tactics thrown in to bring the terminally intermediates up to the level to not kill themselves in those terrain. For truly advanced skiers, you'll be shown the "how the hell I'm going to get down" terrain and be encouraged to give it a go! Very Happy (and assured you won't end up clinging onto some cliffs)
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Yeah extremely Canadian are highly recommended. However, they can't cover everywhere in 2 days (you are not even guaranteed all the terrain is open if there has been a storm) and not everyone enjoys the structured group kind of thing.

There's also the ullr maps which have GPS and are supposed to be good tool too.
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boarder2020 wrote:
However, they can't cover everywhere in 2 days

You don't need to be "shown" every single line though. They do try to move about to give you a taste of the different POSSIBLE lines you can later tackle on your own.

Quote:
(you are not even guaranteed all the terrain is open if there has been a storm)

That's definitely an issue. But that's not so much the issue with the course. It's more of a concern in general. For a tourist being there for only one week (or even 2), the high alpine may only be open for 3 days due to avi danger. And 2 of the 3 may be totally socked in you can barely see your partner 3' below. Route finding in that kind of condition can be really challenging.
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Quote:

You don't need to be "shown" every single line though. They do try to move about to give you a taste of the different POSSIBLE lines you can later tackle on your own.


Yes but in the book or using ullr map you have (pretty much) every line to do at your pleasure. I've had people show me around mountains, and it's hard to take everything in even with the best guides. Whistler is such a big area I just think it would be hard to cover in 2 days - even with weather and snow conditions playing ball.

It's not a dig at extremely Canadian, most people love them, and doing their two day course is not a bad idea - in fact it would be a great intro (although probably want a couple of warm up days finding your ski legs first).
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