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Canada (or USA) - help me sell it to the other half!

 Poster: A snowHead
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achilles wrote:
Quote:
Canada (or USA) - help me sell it to the other half!


I can't really. In terminable flights. Jet lag going out - sort of manageable if you stay up till your standard bed time (in North American time). Horrific jet lag on return. Sod all alpine charm. Grim to non-existent mountain eating palaces (OK that's based only one trip to NA skiing, at Fernie some years back. Expensive lift passes.

Very few positives. Stay in Europe.
Well, you did ask Toofy Grin

Just be mindful of who you ask Toofy Grin
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Only speaking from Whistlers point of view having been there many of time (suspect its many other canadian resorts as well) the queuing even during busy times seems so much friendlier and organised. 4 / 8 rows and pairs of row takes time about until you get to the lift. It just works, no hassle no-one cutting over your board/skis trying to push in in front of you. This just makes the whole experience so much more fun that having to push your way onto the lifts that I have experienced in AlpeD, Tignes, ValT etc
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Quote:

We may look to go away over either Christmas or New Year as well. Is this time of year fairly safe for snow in North America?

Between Christmas and New Year isn't the best time to go skiing anywhere, but I'd much rather take my chances in North America as compared to almost anywhere in Europe. We've had a poor season here in the US, but even still conditions were fine at Christmas in Colorado and other high altitude destinations.

10-14 days is enough to break even on season passes. There are three main options:

https://www.epicpass.com/passes/epic-pass.aspx
https://www.ikonpass.com/en/ikon-base-pass
https://mountaincollective.com/

The Epic Pass is expensive, but probably makes the most sense for you. I'd fly into Denver, there are five Vail Resorts ski areas within a two hour drive. That's enough skiing to keep you interested for a month let alone two weeks. If budget isn't an issue base yourself in Vail. Unless you've only skied L3V I guarantee you won't find it small. The Epic Pass also includes days in L3V, Verbier, Lech/St Anton, VdI, Paradiski, Italy etc so if you're planning to ski in Europe as well it offers an additional way to save money.

Best times to go are January, February (avoid President's Day Weekend/similar to half-term, school children have the entire week off so the slopes are a zoo). Avoid spring break also, pretty much the last 3 weeks of March. Drunken college idiots all over the place. As an American skier who's made 5 week long trips to Europe (in all four major alpine countries) here's my ledger:

Positives

-The snow is much better. Drier to begin with and altitudes are much higher, so during winter you don't get nearly as much of the freeze/thaw cycle that is so prevalent across the alps.
-Tree line is much higher, so snow days that would close lifts in Europe are powder days here.
-Generally much more snow sure.
-As others have said, areas are less crowded. Lift lines are more civilized.
-Off piste areas in NA are avy controlled and patrolled. So, you don't need to hire a guide or be so concerned about avy equipment. Great for confident intermediates looking to make initial forays off piste.

Negatives

-Most places are pretty soulless compared to your average European village. (Exceptions Aspen, Sun Valley, Jackson Hole)
-Skiing in America is very expensive compared to Europe. Hotels, lift passes, ski hire, especially instruction, food and alcohol all cost a lot more.
-Food can be horrible, both on mountain an off.
-Altitude sickness can be a problem, especially in Colorado.
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Rob_Quads wrote:
Only speaking from Whistlers point of view having been there many of time (suspect its many other canadian resorts as well) the queuing even during busy times seems so much friendlier and organised. 4 / 8 rows and pairs of row takes time about until you get to the lift. It just works, no hassle no-one cutting over your board/skis trying to push in in front of you. This just makes the whole experience so much more fun that having to push your way onto the lifts that I have experienced in AlpeD, Tignes, ValT etc


But that’s part of the fun Madeye-Smiley
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abc wrote:
achilles wrote:
Quote:
Canada (or USA) - help me sell it to the other half!


I can't really. In terminable flights. Jet lag going out - sort of manageable if you stay up till your standard bed time (in North American time). Horrific jet lag on return. Sod all alpine charm. Grim to non-existent mountain eating palaces (OK that's based only one trip to NA skiing, at Fernie some years back. Expensive lift passes.

Very few positives. Stay in Europe.
Well, you did ask Toofy Grin

Just be mindful of who you ask Toofy Grin


Seems to be pretty accurate, though Little Angel
From experience at Fernie, you are not guaranteed good snow - and from what I have read and heard, that applies to Whistler, too.
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@achilles, Fernie is a bit of a backwater place, mostly catering to Calgary locals.

Whilter has decent on mountain eating places. Deer Valley and Park City both have excellent on mountain eating places. There maybe others, though I'm not one for stopping for long lunches.

You're quite brace to say "Very few positives" when you only been once. It's clear you didn't find it in your one and only trip. But to conclude it doesn't exist is quite a stretch.
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@abc, flew back with a chap who had done a lot of skiing in Canada, and thought it overrated. That said, I did point out that I had been NA skiing but once. The comments about jet lag are based on more trips to North America than I care to remember, though.
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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!
@achilles so he thought skiing in Canada was overrated, but also kept going back?

Your problem was picking fernie. Its a bit like a canadian picking Bulgaria for their first euro trip and then saying the entire skiing in Europe is "grim".

Regarding food. Most on mountain food in north america is basic, fast, and perfectly edible (its almost like the skiing is that good people don't want to waste hours sitting around eating wink ). Although more places are putting more fine dining style restaurants on the mountain - for example whistler has steeps, kicking horse has eagles eye. What's actually quite nice (and the alps could learn from) is that the day lodges encourage people to bring their own food/drink and offer free microwaves, plastic cutlery, napkins, condiments, plastic cups, boiling water, ice etc. If you want a nice dining experience there is usually at least a few choices off the mountain (or many in the case of whistler).
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achilles wrote:
That said, I did point out that I had been NA skiing but once.

Yes, that's quite fair. I also put a goofy grin at the end of my comment too.

Quote:
The comments about jet lag are based on more trips to North America than I care to remember, though.

The OP had already considered that and had decided to go for it despite that.

It's not that your concern were not true. It's just that you didn't get the positive, in your first and only trip.

Now, had you gone to Alta, and it snowed 10" of powdery snow, and the slope were empty, yet you still don't find it to your liking (lacking good food and alpine charm), then at least you can say the skiing isn't worth the jet lag.

boarder2020 wrote:

Regarding food. Most on mountain food in north america is basic, fast, and perfectly edible . Although more places are putting more fine dining style restaurants on the mountain

Frankly, if the objective is fine dining in alpine setting, I wouldn't recommend north America. NA skiing is more an outdoor sport less a all around holiday. While that's changing, I doubt it'll ever be like the Alps.

When one is looking for the best vegetarian dish, a steak house shouldn't be one's first choice. Or if one were to order lobster in the Himalaya, one shouldn't be surprise it's the frozen kind.

North America skiing isn't for everyone. Still, I think it will suit the OP very well.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Fri 2-03-18 23:52; edited 2 times in total
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To be honest, I don't quite get why you'd want to go skiing and then spend half your ski day in a nice restaurant?
Isn't it better to go skiing to go skiing and then go to a nice restaurant when you finish your ski day? Or just not go to the expense of going skiing at all and just go to a nice restaurant if that's the main attraction?
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@stuarth, I do understand. Many people go on holidays that involves some skiing. And a lot of drinking and eating.

Different stroke for different folks.

P.S.
Now that I wrote it, I realize that's exactly my mindset when I cross the pond in reverse to ski in Europe. I'm on holiday. Skiing is only part of that holiday. Good food and good drink is an equally significant part of the holiday.
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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.
boarder2020 wrote:
... Regarding food. Most on mountain food in north america is basic, fast, and perfectly edible (its almost like the skiing is that good people don't want to waste hours sitting around eating wink ). Although more places are putting more fine dining style restaurants on the mountain ....

It's a cultural thing - most people in North America will drive to the resort. They're going there to ski. If you're riding at Snowbird then it would be crazy to stay there to eat. It's not Europe.
If you're

The vast majority of European skiers who visit North America find it a hugely positive experience.

--
From experience at Fernie, you are not guaranteed good snow - and from what I have read and heard, that applies to Whistler, too.
Nowhere on planet earth can guarantee you good snow.
The reason Fernie is a risky choice is because it's a small town with difficult communications if the weather isn't great.
You'll get two types of "review" from it, from people who visit in a poor snow time and then from people who visit in a good snow time.
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Everything in bounds is ski able. Thats one of the good things about skiing in Canada if it says out of bounds then its, if its on the right side of the boundary give it a go.
Its cold last week -22 in the mornings, The resorts are manufactured many of them purpose built but i have been to Le Courbier and i have not found anything that bad !!!!
Panorama small nice resort limited eating opportunities. Great if you want a day off to make glass beads!! Will go back and will make more glass beads.
Big White has a cloud problem from time to time but its the 3rd biggest resort in canada good eating dinning places, some great skiing. tree skiing long blues ice skating other stuff to do.
Silver Star some really nice ski in ski out places, great eating live music in the evenings. mixed runs easy ones on the village side and the serious but short blacks and double blacks over the hill on the backside.
Revelstoke over rated IMHO, hated it nice snow at the top but could not ski back to the base as snow ran out just over half way down.
Kicking horse ok but small
Sun Peaks 2nd biggest ski resort in Canada and BC, my fave. lots of glades and plenty of restaurants in village. no bus at night so lots of walking in the evening if your not in village centre.
Whistler very busy in comparison to the other resorts more restaurants buses and much bigger but .....
lift passes need to be purchased as early as possible a season pass gets you discount in other resorts.
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You know it makes sense.
@philwig, lets change ‘not guaranteed’ to ‘quite often won’t get’ then Very Happy

Barring high winds, I’d say that high altitude European glacier resorts are highly reliable for good snow - at least on piste. With jet lag for NA resorts, I don’t see the point in going to them. I appreciate others feel differently.
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@achilles, I think that jet lag must be a very individual thing. Some people, like you, find it hugely difficult. My family and I scarcely notice it, and my three lads always prefer North America if I give them a choice (note to self: now the youngest is 19, perhaps they should be paying their own way).

The mountain restaurants are only a problem if you’re expecting European food when you’re not in Europe. I’m perfectly happy with a plate of pancakes, a BBQd bratwurst or chilli in a bun when I’m skiing, as I’m keen to get back out into the powder as quickly as possible given that I’ll still be full from my awesome American breakfast and looking forward to some great casual dining in the evening.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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achilles wrote:
...lets change ‘not guaranteed’ to ‘quite often won’t get’ then Very Happy

I think you're suggesting that to go to North America is more risky from a snow perspective than Europe is, based on on one visit to a small western Canadian town with a ski hill.

Public snowfall and accumulation data would tend to suggest that your experience is not typical: https://www.onthesnow.co.uk/

My experience with North America has been the opposite: I couldn't believe the quality and quantity of the snow, the levels of service, and the easy accessibility of fine restaurants and excellent local wines.
As someone pointed out, you need a large freshly cooked (not hotel warmed) breakfast, then just a snack for lunch... and look for the fine cuisine in the evening. The culture is different from Europe.
I still ride in Europe, but I don't bother taking a powder board.

achilles wrote:
With jet lag for NA resorts, I don’t see the point in going to them. I appreciate others feel differently.

The OP was fairly clear that they do feel differently: ... I'm mega keen for a 10 -14 day trip out of Europe.. Assuming they don't intend to travel by camel then jet lag's a moot point.

--
Jet lag... I'm sure it's harder for some than others, and that's a shame. Even so, if you look at the way most people behave on aircraft, they're not trying to make it easy for themselves. They don't take any steps to help them synchronize with the destination time zone: they sleep when they should stay awake and vice versa. With a bit of planning you can be part way there before you start. Melatonin is available over the counter in many places outside the UK.
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I made it very clear in my trip report that I work with the jet lag - I get up when I wake up (5am), have breakfast, get the first coach and I'm first on the hill. I intend to use that more by getting the First Tracks cheap private lessons at Lake Louise this time so I'm really quids in. I then take the 3pm bus back so I don't have an accident with "end of day" legs (and warm heavy snow), dinner by 7, in bed at 9. Works fine for me.

Arriving back at work two weeks later - OK, we all pay the price somewhere Smile
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Thanks for even more advice and tips.

As for the jet lag, it doesn't effect us too much. We manage it quite well. Been over to the states on other holidays and just cracked on really.

As for eating out, we appreciate good food. It adds to a holiday but we wouldn't proritise it over the activity we were there to do, if that makes sense.
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Have been to a number of US and Canadian resorts and love it. There is a completely different feel skiing in North America for me and this may be, as other have pointed out, due to the fact that you can ski anywhere within the ski boundary. This has opened up lots of fun options such as glade skiing within the trees! Park City is my favourite place to base myself - not only do you have some great resorts on the doorstep but have a load of other rsorts within an hours drive. There’s also a great snowmobile place at Christmas Meadows where you can just head off in to the wilderness - this was our “day off” from skiing.

Drive from SLC airport is only 40mins or so. Wherver you go I would always check if there is a small regional airport and connect in to that rather than do long drives after a long flight - for example, when we first went to the US we went to Vail - flew into Denver and then drove! Should have connected to Eagle Vale airport...never made that mistake again. The network of regional airports does really make things easier.
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@Fridge03, you may not prioritise food, but you needn't compromise in North America:

- Breakfast: North America wins hands down over Europe. Croissants simply cannot compete with bacon, eggs, omelette, sausages and pancakes.
- Lunch: Europe is better if you want to linger, with fine dining widely available on the mountain. North America is better if you want a quick snack.
- Dinner: It's a wash. Fine dining and casual dining experiences are widely available.
- Booze: North America is unimaginably superior. Every hamlet has a microbrewery these days, and the quality and variety of beer blows Europe (UK excepted) away. Wines are pretty much equal either side of the pond.
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Went to the Dolomites once - there was literally no natural snow therefore all Italy is poo-poo forever.

Went to Zermatt -whiteout and gale force winds meant I couldn't get up top - all CH is gash.

Went to CHX it rained then the Foehn turned all remaining snow brown so France is off the list.

Sounds a bit daft making sweeping generalisations doesn't it based on a tiny sample size.
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Plus anyone dissing US skiing. Tahoe has had 91 inches in 7 days. Guess where I am?
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@Dave of the Marmottes In a Casino?
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You are correct that no resort in NA is big enough to keep intermediates interested for 10-14 days. Not even Whistler, which also has shaky weather owing to its proximity to the Pacific and its base elevation of 650m. I saw a comment above about powder being close to the coast; this is incorrect. I live on the coast in question and there is a reason all the major heli operations are inland. Not sure intermediates are seeking pow as their first choice anyway; I think you want nice long blues (reds in EU) with enough variety to keep you interested. I therefore suggest a BC sampler. Sure, hit Whistler, but then try any of Big White, Silver Star or Sun Peaks, all of which have true ski-in ski-out accommodations and endless groomers with interior BC snow. All you want except maybe culture....these are ski villages, near nice towns but nothing special. The other way is to fly to Salt Lake City and stay in Park City. Decent town, though Utah is not party central. But they do have the best snow in the world, and several great ski areas. You'd be best at Park City and Deer Valley, with Snowbasin as a sleeper. Alta and Snowbird are favorites of any expert, but their intermediate terrain is pretty lame. Worth checking out while you're there, but not your best bet. Check for snow first; US has been shaky this season with some recent improvement, while Canada has been good. Then next trip back to NA when your skills have improved you can do a Sun Valley/Jackson Hole/Grand Targhee trifecta and thereby see (IMHO) the best cruising area/expert terrain area/sleepy & remote great pow area in one fell swoop. This would be a killer trip for you this year too, but snow has been an issue especially at the Valley. As noted above, get ready for lift tix to cost 2x what you're used to; higher lodging costs; equal food costs but lower quality. You will also be below treeline much more than you're used to; helps in the fog. Finally, you will need to consult a grooming map each day. In EU, a named, numbered piste is always groomed by definition. In NA, a named piste ("run") may or may not be groomed, they keep us guessing (though there are some runs that are reliably groomed daily, you just don't know this as a visitor). This way you will not find yourself and the OH at the top of an icy egg carton! Good luck.
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Scooter in Seattle wrote:
You are correct that no resort in NA is big enough to keep intermediates interested for 10-14 days.


Intermediates with ADHD maybe, but I'm going back to Banff for the fifth time, as do a few of us here.

Why is it people take one experience and then make a worldwide statement out of it?
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I don't know why; perhaps its their only frame of reference. However, my comments are based on 40+ years of skiing at all of the places I mentioned. Enjoy Banff, a beautiful spot.
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Scooter in Seattle wrote:
You are correct that no resort in NA is big enough to keep intermediates interested for 10-14 days.

It depends on your intermediate.

Many years ago, I went to tiny little Panorama in BC for 10 days. I wasn't remotely bored, and I came back a much better skier. In fact, I enjoyed myself so much that I went back for two more trips of a similar length. I'd love to return again but the opportunity hasn't arisen.

Some intermediates want to pound the reds all day and ski as many different runs as possible. Personally, I have always found that kind of skiing to be rather dull - all ski runs are essentially the same so what's the point in novelty? In my view, it's much more fun to ski the same run repeatedly until you properly understand it.

It's much easier to progress on familiar runs, and seeking new runs risks hindering development. When I first tackle a run that's a little beyond my pay-grade, I often make a complete hash of it. Repeated trips give me the chance to learn from my mistakes.

I went to Panorama as a piste skier who occasionally dabbled in bumps. I came home confident on double blacks, loving powder and excited by glades and easy chutes. That's a pretty successful trip for an intermediate.

@Fridge03, ignore the naysayers. As an intermediated, you don't need a big resort. You need a great one. And North America has very many great little resorts.
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If by intermediate you mean skier that only wants to ski groomers and not repeat any twice OK whistler maybe doesn't have enough to keep them busy. Although for any intermediate interested in improving, pushing there boundaries a bit, and happy to try some off piste whistler is a dream destination. Areas like crystal, seventh heaven and emerald are as good as intermediate terrain are as perfect intermediate terrain as I can think of.

Quote:

Kicking horse ok but small

I've done 40 days at kicking horse and still finding new stuff. Perhaps its not got the biggest area in terms of size (although pretty similar to Jackson hole), but 1200m vertical and
75 chutes over 4 ridges (thats not included the unmarked/named ones) is plenty of terrain. I'm not really sure why kicking horse got bought up though as its a terrible mountain for intermediate skiers.
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DrLawn wrote:
@Dave of the Marmottes In a Casino?


Nah tits deep at the Heave this am. Getting back out there to blow poo-poo up like a powdah gangsta.
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Fwiw fernie just got 44cm overnight - 385cm base depth, 989cm total snowfall this season snowHead
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I was at Fernie for a couple of weeks last month and had a week of utter iced shoite and a week of ok to good snow. I like the place but the skiing is not for the faint hearted and the lifts not for the cold of feet nor fingers. It's a place for serious skiing and not really for a holiday experience. It's a bit like Blackpool . . . quite fun to live there but there are better destinations for a holiday . . . But if you like small and a bit eclectic places and are willing to imerse yourself in the local vibe along with the 'challenging' terrain? I'll be going back, if only to overcome my failures from this last visit Sad
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achilles wrote:
@philwig, lets change ‘not guaranteed’ to ‘quite often won’t get’ then Very Happy

Barring high winds, I’d say that high altitude European glacier resorts are highly reliable for good snow - at least on piste.

Are you confusing "good snow" with just "having snow"? Toofy Grin
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You cannot go wrong with the big Utah or Colorado resorts. Can't speak for Canada. But you won't be in over your head.
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I would definitely say Park City in Utah. Very large ski area for USA/Canada. Great town with a mining history. Great for confident intermediates.

Get the Epic ski pass EARLY it is a big saving. Read the small print.

I think Delta do a direct flight from the UK.
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I went to Park City and Tahoe (Kirkwood, Heavenly) last season (16/17) - Jan 19 to Feb 4 or so. We hired a car from Salt Lake and drove it to San Francisco.

I'd go back to Utah but Tahoe seemed pretty freeze-thawy and not that great. Without off-piste it was quite small. There was shedloads of snow all over the town though and the views were nice from Heavenly. We stayed in South Lake Tahoe, which was a weird mix of grim and depressing casino-land (mostly towards the stateline, NV) and sort-of nice woods with cabins.

Salt Lake City was surprisingly better than expected, some decent bars and restaurants in the city, and only a shortish drive up to skiing daily.

YMMV by season though
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IIRC Delta stopped the direct to SLC from Heathrow, however they still do AMS to SLC and if you can get to AMS easily it works Smile

The front side of the Wasatch tends to get more snow, and is much steeper than the back side in general, but if all you want is a large ski area and tourist treatment stay in Park City.
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Orange200 wrote:
Scooter in Seattle wrote:
You are correct that no resort in NA is big enough to keep intermediates interested for 10-14 days.


Intermediates with ADHD maybe, but I'm going back to Banff for the fifth time, as do a few of us here.

Why is it people take one experience and then make a worldwide statement out of it?


We spent 14 straight days riding in Kimberley. Some would say a very small place. It never got dull!! How any one could get bored out on a hill covered in snow is beyond me.
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So did we. Kimberley was great. As above if you get bored skiing then maybe it's not for you.
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Lot's of good advice here. North American skiing is a very different experience to Alpine skiing, many pros/cons.

One point I don't see addressed is the lack of sunshine in U.S./ Canada. In my experience you don't get anything like the same number of sunny high pressure days that you do in the Alps. A lot more overcast days, even if it isn't snowing. This may put your other half off. Banff has been mentioned a lot, it's a great resort, but Sunshine Village (one of the three ski areas) is right on the continental divide. It gets a lot of weather.

One other thing to watch out for is the stated vertical range of the skiing. The top of the resort may be quoted as the highest point in the ski area, not necessarily the height of the highest lift.

If you do go, maybe think about a two centre trip, a week in one resort, a day off on transfer day and then a week somewhere else. A few years ago we did this with Steamboat/ Breckenridge which worked pretty well.

Also, a lot of runs tend to be fairly similar, parallel tracks cut through trees spaced along a mountainside.

Best reasons to go-

-good piste grooming.
-friendly efficient service
-safe 'off piste' experiences
-English language
-greater chance of good snow conditions (depending on location/time of year)
snow report



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