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North America April advice

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Mrs Doccam's 50th is coming up early next year and we are thinking about a big ski jaunt from 5th April as an option. We're not too keen on spring snow conditions and we've skied loads in Europe and will do earlier in the season anyway so we are thinking about N America . Grateful for any experiences of/advice on-
1- Is European "spring snow" type conditions likely in early/mid April, and which resorts is it least likely at?
2- where would be good for off-piste?
3- How strict are the drinking laws applied (US- I think the oldest Canadian limit is 19- we will have a 20 & 19yo with us and they will definetly not be happy if they couldn't have a beer or two!) Apres ski not a high priority but some would be good!
4- Best to do Hotel DBB/accommodation only or apartment and eat out?- and that's not just about the budget
It's a pretty open query as we have no idea about what we can expect!
Thanks
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Colorado might be you best bet Fly into Denver rent a car stay in Dillon or Silverthorne and ski Breckenridge and A Basin. Copper Vail and Keystone are all within easy reach.

OR Fly to Salt Lake City rent a car and stay in SLC or possibly Park City. Ski Alta Snowbird and Canyons. In the past Delta have had a direct flight to SLC from the UK.

NB If it is a weekend powder day start off EARLY
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Thanks TQA. Obviously not too late season for reasonable prospects for powder days then?
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I would look at historic weather patterns, but spring is spring.

I've ridden in BC a lot in April. Usually you get spring conditions mid/late April... it's spring. This year I was over in AB and then back to BC, and conditions should have been spring but weren't. I'm not really familiar with European conditions (I live here, mostly ride elsewhere). In the North I had winter-quality powder days, but then I was paying for heli lift. In the South I had a couple of powder days in that week, the others were all good snow but not fresh. Banff resorts are more tourist oriented; if you go further west a bit to smaller places you can find more challenging things to do, but the restaurants may not be so fancy.

Coastal places like Whistler still have plenty of snow much later than that, but they are coastal so my cat/heli mates there shut down at the start of april, because they're not selling spring snow. If you were heading that way, you'd probably go to Calgary, because it's colder over there. Of if you're more intrepid, then the further North you go the better... everyone will have lots of snow, it's just colder snow is better.

No one gives a stuff about drinking age stuff in Canada, at least I've never seen anyone checked but then I'm no longer 14 and don't go places 14 year olds do.

"off piste"... you can generally ride anywhere within the boundary, it's all patrolled and controlled.

I use hotels and eat out, but you can rent "Condos" most places through the resort. I've never not "eaten out": it's North America. Resorts do have super markets and Condos have kitchens though. It's nothing remotely like Austria where they try to sell you dinner with the room. With some honourable exceptions most places you'd just eat in the local restaurants.
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Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But “after 5 April” is spring in much of North America just as in much of Europe.

Weather is such you can have very cold spring and almost midwinter like condition anywhere. But the odd is not in your favor. Your best bet is to head to the interior and high altitude resorts. (Colorado would have been a possibility but see below)

Also, drinking age is drinking age. So all of US will be problematic. Don’t know enough about Canada. It looks more promising up there. Combine with weather, I’d say focus on interior Canada.

Hope others more familiar with Canada will join in.

How about the Scandinavia countries?
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Thanks Philwig. BC British Colombia AB Alberta I guess?
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There’s loads of great spring skiing all over North America but if chasing winter snow think high and north facing. I’ve skied cold chalky snow in early April at Sunshine near Banff, Snowbird in Utah and the alpine areas of Whistler. Other good bets would be A Basin, Copper Mountain, Telluride and Crested Butte in Colorado.
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BC = British Colombia, AB = Alberta, correct, sorry. And what they said, really: in general, go north and inland for the best late season conditions, although it varies season by season of course.

Last season was a bit different from most, in that the snow was exceptionally good at the end, resulting in a weird combination of long days (good light...) and fresh snow. That isn't what you'd normally expect (it's usually schmoo before the light's done).
The last time I was in BC in late April it was more traditionally spring, and you'd need to hit the corn at the time time etc.

All that said, it depends what you mean by "spring snow conditions". If you mean "rocks and brown patches", I've really never seen those in BC/AB (although I tend to drive where it's best). "Spring conditions" means corn snow, not no snow.

I ride Snowbird a lot too, but didn't bother last season (earlier it hadn't been as good as further north). If you're looking at Utah or Colorado it's probably worth understanding why they're very different and working out what you want.
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If it isn't storming most places will get pretty springlike on anything other than pure north facing pretty quickly. Your best chance would probably be the Banff area where you get both latitude and elevation.

Don't think April is really for you if you are mad enough to not like spring snow which is awesome. # poormanspowder #spraynpray
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Guys that's all really great info. Yes appreciate it is spring in N America and I do like the corn- Mrs D's less keen though! Brown and rocky is though the real fear so that's reassuring. Alternative is safari but definitely no snow corn or otherwise so looks like a plan!
Thanks again- that's been an enormous help 👍
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1- yes, and as philwig says
2- 'off piste' is slightly different in Canada. Most hills have large ungroomed areas or 'unpisted' as it might be called in Europe. They're usually on the backside of mountains or near the area limits, often involving some hiking. They're patrolled but should be treated as you do 'off-piste' in Europe. Out of bounds is backcountry, much more serious than in Europe, more dangers involved and only advisable with a guide. But April might not be the best month for 'off-piste' unless you like moguls and slop?
3- Drinking age varies by province, 19 in BC and 18 in Alberta. Unless things have changed recently it's very strict for bars, so bring ID everywhere.
4- Totally depends on your budget and if you like eating out. Now that I've got a family I prefer condos Smile
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Canuck wrote:

2- 'off piste' is slightly different in Canada. Most hills have large ungroomed areas or 'unpisted' as it might be called in Europe. They're usually on the backside of mountains or near the area limits, often involving some hiking. They're patrolled but should be treated as you do 'off-piste' in Europe. Out of bounds is backcountry, much more serious than in Europe, more dangers involved and only advisable with a guide. But April might not be the best month for 'off-piste' unless you like moguls and slop?


Not sure about this. Anything in bounds but not groomed is essentially off-piste, plenty of which is not near the area limits or involve hiking. If it's controlled you don't need to treat it like off-piste, inbounds slides are extremely rare. Saying out of bounds is extremely dangerous is simply not true. It might be, but plenty of places have mellow low risk touring opportunities. Just as plenty of euro places have extremely dangerous off-piste areas. You can't simplify one as being a lot safer - it's completely dependent on terrain and conditions which both vary hugely in each place. Although I like the idea a mellow day touring rudis at kicking horse is way more dangerous than some crevassed chamonix/la grave line snowHead

USA is strict with drinking laws. Canada less so, but depends on the place - whistler for example is pretty strict. The smaller towns don't care as much.

As said above if your expecting big powder days and winter skiing you might be disappointed. Spring conditions will probably be in effect. Mud/rocks/bare patches would be unusual.
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April is late for US skiing...

There are a bunch of areas that go later but US skiing has a much earlier ski season Nov-Mar for decent some resorts start early early in October of its cold enough.

Drinking Age... US you need to carry ID when in a bar , being asked to show it is normal.. Bar Tenders can end up in court if they serve under age people (21) ...
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Head as high as poss.

Val Thorens, France.
Tignes, France.
Snowbird, US.
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Most small resorts in BC will be closing early April, snow or not. Alberta you get an extra couple of weeks. you would have to check on the resort webpages.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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The kids will be carded in the USA ime. In Utah it was pretty strict and they have some crazy laws too.
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Thanks to all for helpful responses. Plenty to work on there. Funnily enough kids saying they'd be cool not being able to drink out in US- but on summer hols at the moment and they seem to be doing pretty well on the beer and cocktail front so not convinced about that so I think Canada is going to be our best bet.
I may seek out further guidance once I've homed in on real options.
Thanks again to everyone who's taken the time to respond very much appreciated 👍
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Gainz,

"Kids will be carded."

What does that mean? Warned? Arrested? Fined? Imprisoned? Puzzled
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@Bergmeister, ID check - "let me see your ID"
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And it's no good you trying to order for them, they are onto that and will still ask to see IDs. However, a good fake euro I'd of some kind.....
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Have some respect for the US Bartenders (even if I thin their age laws are ridiculous)

They can lose their jobs, be fined or even jailtime if they serve someone under age ...
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Whistler.

We went there this April for many of the things you're seeking. It's high, so there will be plenty of dry powder in the upper bowls despite the time of year. Many interior resorts in Canada are surprisingly low or shut early due to a lack of custom. However, as a coastal mountain, you are likely to see rain low down in Whistler and, if you're unlucky, the high lifts may be closed when a storm moves in. We lost one day to weather this year, but the rest of the trip was awesome with plenty of deep, deep powder. Statistically, that's a very likely outcome.

You'll have no shortage of great off-piste there. The 19 year-old will have no trouble drinking but ID is essential. And, cash permitting (Whistler is shockingly expensive), I would eat out every night to pick up the full Canadian experience.
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Remember 21 is the legal drinking age in the USA.

This is rigorously enforced and those facilitating underage drinking can be jailed.

This is the same country that allows marriage at 14 in some states.
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SBOOKER and one or two others have it right........... Come April things are toned down. No guarantee as to how winter will shape up in any given year or region of NA. That's why you should wait to make reservations as per how a given region has received maintainable snow into April, May, June if it's a good year............ 90% of the time it'll be Spring skiing anywhere decent, in other words corn snow.
So, NO RECOMMENDATION from me. Track how 2019 plays out and about one month before, THEN make the commitment to some region that offers not just good, enjoyable, memorable skiing, but new discoveries for you and the Mrs. both scenery and general fun such as a nice metropolitan area that you can experience. And yes, if in MAGA, regardless of state, should anyone want to booze, they have to be 21 or older WITH I.D. Certain states/counties are v. strict on this to say the least.
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Jonny Jones wrote:
And, cash permitting (Whistler is shockingly expensive), I would eat out every night to pick up the full Canadian experience.


Strictly speaking Whistler is probably a very scrubbed up version of the full Canadian experience which is basically watching hockey in a pub with a bunch of loggers waiting for the stripper to come on.
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Quote:
Strictly speaking Whistler is probably a very scrubbed up version of the full Canadian experience which is basically watching hockey in a pub with a bunch of loggers waiting for the stripper to come on.


This is too true. Interior Canada is very much sled-neck (Canada's version of rednecks) country. People are critical of whistler being the Disneyland experience, but it offers tourists way more than the "authentic" places which are often not particularly nice.
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boarder2020 wrote:
Quote:
Strictly speaking Whistler is probably a very scrubbed up version of the full Canadian experience which is basically watching hockey in a pub with a bunch of loggers waiting for the stripper to come on.


This is too true. Interior Canada is very much sled-neck (Canada's version of rednecks) country. People are critical of whistler being the Disneyland experience, but it offers tourists way more than the "authentic" places which are often not particularly nice.


Not sure that's really all that true about the other Canadian ski areas, at least the bigger ones. Yeah, perhaps a bit more rustic in places, but there is civilization outside of Whistler you know.
Imho Whistler is accelerating it's distance from reality and that's not a good thing.
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boarder2020 wrote:
Quote:
Strictly speaking Whistler is probably a very scrubbed up version of the full Canadian experience which is basically watching hockey in a pub with a bunch of loggers waiting for the stripper to come on.


This is too true. Interior Canada is very much sled-neck (Canada's version of rednecks) country. People are critical of whistler being the Disneyland experience, but it offers tourists way more than the "authentic" places which are often not particularly nice.


Authentic places are perfectly nice, they just aren't glossy and the people are fine (after all they are Canadians). But yeah most ski resorts have been gentrified at least a little by now and you can find a smelly candles and nick nacks shop in the gnarliest of old mining towns.
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stanton wrote:
Have some respect for the US Bartenders (even if I thin their age laws are ridiculous)

They can lose their jobs, be fined or even jailtime if they serve someone under age ...


Thanks, I was a bartender in LA for 2 years and at the time it was a $25k fine and/or jail for first offence, jail for second (might have been exaggerated by my boss). I ended up carding everyone anyway, just to be sure!
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They are predicting a El Nino event for next winter so California, Colorado & Utah would get the most snow, if not for the El Nino I'd say Sunshine Village and Banff. Now the 14/15 El Nino was a terrible winter most everywhere so maybe put off booking till Feb or March.
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Quote:

boarder2020 wrote:





Quote:


Strictly speaking Whistler is probably a very scrubbed up version of the full Canadian experience which is basically watching hockey in a pub with a bunch of loggers waiting for the stripper to come on.








This is too true. Interior Canada is very much sled-neck (Canada's version of rednecks) country. People are critical of whistler being the Disneyland experience, but it offers tourists way more than the "authentic" places which are often not particularly nice.






Not sure that's really all that true about the other Canadian ski areas, at least the bigger ones. Yeah, perhaps a bit more rustic in places, but there is civilization outside of Whistler you know.

Imho Whistler is accelerating it's distance from reality and that's not a good thing.



Kind of agree with @stuarth, I really think its a bit exaggerated to say that. times have changed. Plenty going on in Fernie , Banff, Lake Louise, Nelson in fact all those Okanagan resorts that isn't 'sled neck'. Statign the entire interior canada is sled neck is a bit much. Calgary/Banff/Canmore.
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wink And whilst waiting for the tide I think the difference between those two positions is really nothing at all.

Most people probably don't want real. They stay at "Kicking Horse" rather than in Golden, Sun Peaks instead of Kamloops, Silver Star rather than Vernon. The towns are really not set-p for tourists, and they do have typical "small town" characteristics. The UK has lots of small towns where tourists would not have a lot of fun too.
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@Doccam, Good Friday is April 19 next year and resorts will remain in full swing until Easter has passed. In my experience they tend to close due to lack of people rather than lack of snow so snow is only a prob in a snow drought year. Personally I have always enjoyed great conditions in mid April in places like Vail, Park City, Heavenly etc.

Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado go on well into May so if you are at all concerned maybe sort flights to Denver and wait until nearer the time to book accommo. Frisco is a good place to stay if you want to take in Keystone, A Basin, Breck, Copper, Vail, Winter Park. With jet lag you'll be up early anyway so driving around no big deal.

I got ID'd at the age of 40+ in Breck so there is no escape. Best buy carry outs and drink in the hot tub. They can buy an AR-15 and ammo at a gun show but can't order a Coors Lite!
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pinhead wrote:
They are predicting a El Nino event for next winter so California, Colorado & Utah would get the most snow, if not for the El Nino I'd say Sunshine Village and Banff. Now the 14/15 El Nino was a terrible winter most everywhere so maybe put off booking till Feb or March.


El Nino would be nice, as started planning and booking for next season Madeye-Smiley Madeye-Smiley
Sorry for slight thread drift Smile
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Not sure that I entirely get the argument about Whistler being authentically Canadian. It may be different from much of the country, but it's in Canada so it's definitely Canadian unless you redefine the word to refer only to the parts of the country that meet your own preconceptions.

If you applied the same reasoning to the UK, you'd conclude that London isn't British because it's so different from Hull. Or that Cardiff isn't Welsh because it doesn't match the vibe of Pontrhydygroes.
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For simplicity I would say Whistler. Easy to get there and easy to get around.

Many options for beds & food. Can be expensive but does not have to be. El Furniture Warehouse and Spaghetti Factory are very cheap.

USA Age limit for drink is 21 Canada drink from 19 (they will be checked in Whistler and need 2 photo id!)

They are still skiing there in May for early April is no problem, just stay high and download to village at the end of the day. As previously said there is 8000 acres to ski inbounds mostly accessed from lifts and very little is actually bashed each night. All the green runs are, some blues and the odd black. If you are wanting controlled crazy they there is plenty.

If you are going book before end of Aug for the biggest discounts on everything - next cut off in November for lower discounts.
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As a guide, some years ago I skiied Breckenridge/Keystone/Arapahoe/Copper Mt first week of April and had great (spring) snow.

It was, however, sunny and warm at lift base level. I have fond memories of many young ladies skiing in bikini tops. And a ramp that had been built so people could (if they wished) ski jump into a lake of meltwater.

Whistler would be a good bet. I had some good skiing there in May. You are limited to the higher lifts, but it is pretty empty.
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Jonny Jones wrote:
Not sure that I entirely get the argument about Whistler being authentically Canadian. It may be different from much of the country, but it's in Canada so it's definitely Canadian unless you redefine the word to refer only to the parts of the country that meet your own preconceptions.

If you applied the same reasoning to the UK, you'd conclude that London isn't British because it's so different from Hull. Or that Cardiff isn't Welsh because it doesn't match the vibe of Pontrhydygroes.


Yep but you might quite reasonably conclude that Centreparcs doesn't really represent the English countryside or Portmerrion a Welsh village.

Whistler village is an artificial construct - you only have to know your way round a couple of service roads to appreciate that. Now its quite nice and good fun but isn't really as close to authentic Canada as Squamish or Pemberton either way on the road.
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Well yes.

But if you visit Whistler, I'd agree with the original person who suggested you take a walk outside and visit some of the restaurants there. If you end up eating garbage chain-food, then that's your loss and you'll end up obese... the other options are 100% authentic Whistler and the good ones are well worth visiting.

Although both Squamish and Pemberton are nothing like they used to be. Pemberton used to have one hotel which was like a cowboy "saloon bar". The TV sets were chained down, and the ashtrays (!) in the rooms were screwed to the tables. Nothing there smelled good. I think there was possibly one decent breakfast place, but that was it. And the road from there to Whistler (where the rich people were) was narrow and twisty with lots of those old bridges... these days you'd probably need to go up to Ashcroft to experience the appropriate level of naffness. Squamish wasn't much better - basically a Canadian Tire place and one model which did amazing home-cooked bread. Authentic, I guess it depends where your reference point is.
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If I were planning to skiing in April in the U.S., I would look at A-Basin. That's my preferred resort in Colorado. High base, good snow cover, lots of above treeline skiing and most of the people there are committed skiers because the mountain, aside from skiing, doesn't offer much of anything else. You can always stay further down in Keystone. I've skied there as late as late May and, that particular year, they had a base of 240 cm as the base of the resort is above 3000 meters.
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