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Convert me from decades of European skiing to the US (or Canada)

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
boarder2020 wrote:
Quote:

Whistler is simply a convenience choice due to easy flights and I personally wouldn't recommend it for a memorable epic family excursion - too much rain, cloud and heavy snow


Not the whistler rain myth again. Does it rain in the village? Sometimes, but means dumping up top. Does it get top to bottom rain? Very occasionally, but usually reset within a day or two...

Whistler is great; if it weren't, I wouldn't be going back. places like the gemstone bowls give some truly magnificent skiing that everyone should experience at some point in life.

But, yes, I have had rain there from the village to mid-mountain with all upper mountain lifts closed due to wind. Skiing was impossible that day. To be fair, I have have had similar conditions in Val d'Isere, too - but I have never lost a day skiing due to rain the eastern Rockies.

It's also about cloud and the associated flat light. I have had a trip to Whistler where I scarcely saw the sun all week, but I have never failed to enjoy a few bluebird days in places like Jackson.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Jonny Jones wrote:


But, yes, I have had rain there from the village to mid-mountain with all upper mountain lifts closed due to wind. Skiing was impossible that day. To be fair, I have have had similar conditions in Val d'Isere, too - but I have never lost a day skiing due to rain the eastern Rockies.

It's also about cloud and the associated flat light. I have had a trip to Whistler where I scarcely saw the sun all week, but I have never failed to enjoy a few bluebird days in places like Jackson.



I had the single best inbounds powder run of my life when I was first into Sun Bowl at the end of a 3 day "rain" storm that had closed out the Alpine. A no turn elevator shaft pushing a huge bow wave. Of course I had to wait in the Harmony line for 2 hours before it opened but the payoff has stayed with me for nearly 20 years .

I've missed skiing days due to storms in California, Engelberg, Cham and effectively Val T so nowhere is immune to weather IMV.

FWIW the Rockies are curiously good for sun - Coloradans like to boast of 300 days of sun per year which is a bit of a myth but kinda reflects storms that blow through rapidly rather than recycle for days and weeks on end https://www.westword.com/news/colorados-300-days-of-sunshine-claim-its-a-myth-and-states-climatologist-tells-us-why-5875821
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
... I've missed skiing days due to storms in California, Engelberg, Cham and effectively Val T so nowhere is immune to weather IMV. ...
Quite.

I've missed three days in a row at Fernie waiting for the rain to stop. You can't really have precip without precip. In my direct experience over a few decades, Whistler's much more reliable than anywhere else in BC/AB, which is perhaps why they built a resort there. Whistler's also a more pleasant place to spend any down time than small BC towns. Abbortsford in the rain, anyone? But this is all irrelevant because (a) the OP was asking about the crazy country to the south; and (b) it's mostly all good.

I was thinking of the worst season I can remember in Whistler: they happen now and then. Me and the locals were whining about conditions being "brutal". That means that it was tracked out and not as deep as usual. It occurred to me that very nearly the entire visitor population thought everything was the best they'd ever experienced. All the pistes were open; you could ride off piste; and there were no rocks or dirt or ice anywhere. These people are used to other places.
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@philwig, Yeah I forgot the day in Fernie where I put on a binbag overlayer. Took 1 lap then went in and asked for a raincheck pass (as they used to do) having confirmed that the "moist" snow was indeed dogshite.
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Any updates/thoughtsHigs? How's the planning going?
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No contest.

European Alps snow is shallow, wet, and overcrowded.

US gets deeper snow, drier snow, lighter pow, better wildlife, superior lifts, friendlier service.

1. Jackson Hole
2. Aspen
3. Alyeska
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Whitegold, you were doing so well until the end! First two lines, either debatable or true. #1 is correct. #2, not a bad choice. As for Alyeska, this is insane. 3.5 hour flight from SEA to get to a pretty good little local area with a base elevation just above sea level? Plus, Anchorage is butt ugly. Alyeska does make sense for folks from Japan looking for something different, its not a bad trip for them. Their money built the hotel and tram.
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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!
Actually Anchorage isn’t as far as you would think from the Uk. 2 hours up to Iceland then 7 hours over the Arctic to Anchorage. About the same as flying to Denver or Seattle.
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mountainaddict,

The OP isn't going for 2 to 3 years... I don't think he will have any flights booked yet wink
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@Peter S, thanks for setting me straight on that. But even though its the same flight time as to SEA or DEN.....I can't send anybody to ANC except to fish.
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Scooter in Seattle wrote:
@Peter S, thanks for setting me straight on that. But even though its the same flight time as to SEA or DEN.....I can't send anybody to ANC except to fish.

Climbing, the highest peak in North America

Sea kayaking, wild life viewing, and a whole bunch of other interesting activities.

But yes, fishing is the biggest touristy "outdoor activity" attraction of ANC, right behind cruise ship tour of Glacier Bay.
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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.
Canada/US is very different to europe as everyone has said. In europe I find theres a real sense of travelling around a ski area, ie portes du Soleil you travel long distances between different resorts all round the area. Canada isnt like that.

We did a road trip in 2017, 3 nights in banff skiing lake louise, 3 nights in golden skiing kicking horse, 3 nights in revelstoke then back to canmore with 1 day at sunshine then head home.

Banff is a really easy drive from calgary, we did that after the flight with no issues. I rented skis from a shop on the outskirts of Calgary, sports rent, it is a bit of a risk in case anything goes wrong whilst on the trip but is much cheaper than renting for a few days in every resort. The cost of renting means its virtually as cheap to just buy your own skis and fly them over.

Driving between resorts is stunning, the nicest roads you could imagine. All the journeys were up to a couple of hours from town to town, except when we did revelstoke to canmore which was more 3.5 hours.

You need to do the research on lift passes, but as mentioned theres lots of options on that.

Winter 20/21 I'm planning on canada again to visit friends who have moved to kelowna, I think we'll end up doing sun peaks, silverstar and big white, they all seem reasonable journeys between each other, and make it easy to tie in with visiting in kelowna.
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@Higs,

You are 25 to 30yrs to late...

North American Skiing used to be inexpensive ..small towns ..full of genuine dropout hippies ...just a few shacks on the hills ..

Nowadays full of Tourist and Rich LA/NYC Pseudo Hippies, fake ski towns ..fake service , crap food …
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
stanton wrote:
@Higs,

You are 25 to 30yrs to late...

North American Skiing used to be inexpensive ..small towns ..full of genuine dropout hippies ...just a few shacks on the hills ..

Nowadays full of Tourist and Rich LA/NYC Pseudo Hippies, fake ski towns ..fake service , crap food …


Comedy Gold

Please let us know when and where was this


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Fri 18-10-19 15:10; edited 1 time in total
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
With the multi passes it's easy to plan a trip to North America, with Epic, MTN Collective, or Ikon. Pick the one that has the most resorts you want to ski and plan out the road trip, heck even a RCR pass Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, gives so many options.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Higs, You have asked the exact same question I would like to know answers to - except I would like to go this coming season!
We have skied for 23 years + in Europe (always catered chalets booked independently).

Now really want to get to Tahoe - so - any advice on the quieter times to go avoiding school hols / public hols etc would be greatly appreciated??
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Dippy wrote:

Now really want to get to Tahoe - so - any advice on the quieter times to go avoiding school hols / public hols etc would be greatly appreciated??

Start your own thread?
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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?
stanton wrote:
@Higs,

You are 25 to 30yrs to late...

North American Skiing used to be inexpensive ..small towns ..full of genuine dropout hippies ...just a few shacks on the hills ..

Nowadays full of Tourist and Rich LA/NYC Pseudo Hippies, fake ski towns ..fake service , crap food …


You’re going to different places to me it seems.
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Dippy wrote:
@Higs, You have asked the exact same question I would like to know answers to - except I would like to go this coming season!
We have skied for 23 years + in Europe (always catered chalets booked independently).

Now really want to get to Tahoe - so - any advice on the quieter times to go avoiding school hols / public hols etc would be greatly appreciated??


Depends what you want. Spring skiing in Tahoe/Mammoth is great. Volatile snowfall means early season can be wonderful or terrible.
Check out -

https://www.bestsnow.net/
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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@Higs, of the places I’ve been in the US/Canada, Jackson Hole really stands out both for the skiing and overall Wild West experience. Whistler is big, well organized and the 2nd place I’d go back to. Aspen, was smart and had good skiing but somehow felt a bit soulless. Alta/Snowbird in Utah had lots of snow but small and low verticals.
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BobinCH wrote:

Whistler is big, well organized and the 2nd place I’d go back to. Aspen, was smart and had good skiing but somehow felt a bit soulless.

I like the skiing of Whistler. But I found it the most soulless ski resort in North America! Part of the problem is the crowd, predominantly casual ski ‘tourists’.

I like Aspen a lot more in term of ‘vibe’. In fact, I’d put it above many places.
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Quote:

most soulless ski resort in North America


I'm not really sure what you mean. It's very "Disney". Always thought there was quite a good atmosphere on the slopes - plenty of hardcore skiers getting after it as well as more casual tourists. (If I have to be in a queue on a powder day whistler peak chair is probably the place to be). Village is always lively.

I'd say it's got more soul than the interior BC resorts which are usually empty so no atmosphere, and the towns are outside the resorts and not always the nicest/most happening places.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
boarder2020 wrote:

Quote:

most soulless ski resort in North America

I'm not really sure what you mean. It's very "Disney".

For many, "Disney" is the definition of soulless.
Quote:
If I have to be in a queue on a powder day whistler peak chair is probably the place to be.

That's not an "if", it's only a matter of how long you'll have to queue. Laughing
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To all - overall some very helpful replies and information on here - thank you Madeye-Smiley
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abc wrote:
...I found it the most soulless ski resort in North America! Part of the problem is the crowd, predominantly casual ski ‘tourists’. ...
You mixing with the wrong people.

Whistler kind of depends on "tourists" , they're very popular with the locals for that reason.
Especially the Epic Pass people, who tend to make more use of the piste than you'd expect.

Nowhere in North America is all that old, so you're not going to get "soulful" architecture, everything's been built for a purpose.
Personally I find the soul of Whistler alive and well, it's a vibrant year-round community with real people doing real things.
That's not to denigrate anywhere else, but if you visit and don't get it, it that doesn't mean it's not there.
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philwig wrote:

Nowhere in North America is all that old, so you're not going to get "soulful" architecture, everything's been built for a purpose.

It's not so much the age. It's the "purpose".

Whistler "village" is build for the tourists (which incidentally includes weekenders from Vancouver, many of whom could be kickass skiers). Steamboat, for example, was build for people (miners) to live in. Even Aspen was also build for people to live in.

Quote:
Personally I find the soul of Whistler alive and well, it's a vibrant year-round community with real people doing real things.
That's not to denigrate anywhere else, but if you visit and don't get it, it that doesn't mean it's not there

That's precisely my point.

Tourists outnumber the locals by such a huge margin that whatever soul there is, is completely buried by the fluff.

I've also visited Whistler in the summer, TWICE. There're more Vancouver "locals" present in the summer, but can't say it's any less "Disney".

Quote:
Especially the Epic Pass people, who tend to make more use of the piste than you'd expect.

Sorry, Whistler had existed long before "Epic Pass people" came, which was only the past 3(?) years of its 30 year history. Whether it has a soul or not, or whether you can find it or not, has very little to do with Epic Pass.

BTW, I visited Whistler BEFORE Vail took over (and after too, I can't say Vail's present changed Whistler all that much just yet).

In fact, I wonder if the Vail takeover changed the visitor profile all that much. Many of the "Epic Pass people" are the same people who skied Whistler in the past using other type of passes (part of the reason being Whistler's ticket price pre-Vail wasn't that high, so plenty of people visit Whistler every year, then "converted" to Epic pass).
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I wouldn't say calling a place Disney means it's soulless. Whistler is not an authentic Canadian town, but that's a good thing! I'd much rather live in whistler village than places like golden, fernie, Kimberley etc. There are so many events and things going on (film festival, international bobsleigh races, huge number of restaurant and night club events). Plenty of good local skiers who have their communities and groups. I agree with philwig it's possible to not see it, but it's definitely there. Unless your idea of soul is very different, not really sure how easy it is to define.
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Quote:

Plenty of good local skiers who have their communities and groups.

We have the same idea of what is considered "soul".

But as I said, in Whistler they're completely obscured by the tourists. More so than most other less "resortsy" mountains.

Quote:

I'd much rather live in whistler village than places like golden, fernie, Kimberley etc.

Different strokes for different folks then.
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You know it makes sense.
Let's be clear Whistler is "Disney" because the entire village is fakery, planned as one, build in stages, complete with it's unnecessarily winding village stroll etc (Hint to get anywhere fast just walk the service roads behind). It may be very well executed Disney but it is Disney and there may still be decent spots for the locals liek Tapleys or whatever but it is Disney nonetheless.

Same goes for any modern N American resort "village" : Beaver Creek, Northstar, Telluride Mountain Village etc. Basically an upmarket shopping mall with condos above. Even older places like Vail are similar just older and a bit more worn in and a mix of architecture. But not really any different from any French purpose built resort.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
mountainaddict wrote:
Any updates/thoughtsHigs? How's the planning going?

Blimey - what a lot of replies I've missed.
This trip is pencilled in for either next season or the season after so I'll read through stuff slowly.
One question I had above was either what kind of stuff do we enjoy skiing or what are we looking for. I'll answer that by saying that we're all pretty good skiers and will ski almost anything marked as a piste in Europe whether it's pisted or not but, while me and two of the kids like to push ourselves, my wife and other kid would happily cruise round on blues and reds as long as we all meet up at the bottom. Having said that, the reason we're looking to ski in North America is specifically to ski stuff that is different to Europe.

I have skied a week (with mates not family) which was guided off-piste tuition and the kids have had some off-piste tuition too but the with hasn't. I think the latest version of the grand plan is:
this season - family and friends ski hol as already booked (Samoens)
next season - family week in the Alps with dedicated tuition for all to improve off-piste/ungroomed technique
season after that - the big one - road trip in the US with a few different resorts but definitely looking for powder.
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I booked a week of First Tracks private lessons in Louise, same price as a group lesson nearly as they are so early, and they can certainly take you off piste as it’s all inbound.
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BobinCH wrote:
@Higs, of the places I’ve been in the US/Canada, Jackson Hole really stands out both for the skiing and overall Wild West experience. Whistler is big, well organized and the 2nd place I’d go back to. Aspen, was smart and had good skiing but somehow felt a bit soulless. Alta/Snowbird in Utah had lots of snow but small and low verticals.


Snowbird vertical is all quality though with sublime snow quality down to the base.
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I think if you want to to do two easy weeks of skiing in the USA, you have two choices. Fly into and out of either Denver and Salt Lake City. Sample a few of the Colorado resorts and then hit SLC and ski Utah resorts/areas. You can buy either an Epic Pass and/or an Ikon Pass. But if you want something a little harder to get to but with good snow, then Big Sky and Jackson Hole are good options.

The ski resorts with soul have for the most part been bought and gone commercial. There are some very nice, smaller ski areas that still have that local vibe to them. I have one in my backyard in fact. And spent 20 years enjoying the soul and vibes of local ski hills in the state of WA. Mt Baker, Stevens Pass, Mission Ridge, Crystal Mtn, and even Snoqualmie Pass, all great ski areas with none of the soullessness of the corporate ski resorts.
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@Toadman, +1 on the recommendation. Pairing Grand Targhee with Jackson is fun, and GT still has the great vibe from being comparatively isolated.

As an aside: How much longer before one of the big corporations buys Mt B? I’m surprised it hasn’t already happened.
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Higs wrote:
...we're all pretty good skiers and will ski almost anything marked as a piste in Europe whether it's pisted or not but, while me and two of the kids like to push ourselves, my wife and other kid would happily cruise round on blues and reds as long as we all meet up at the bottom. Having said that, the reason we're looking to ski in North America is specifically to ski stuff that is different to Europe.

Sounds like you need a split trip between Jackson, Grand Targhee and Big Sky with a day or two in Yellowstone as you go past. Although I haven't yet tried it myself, possibly throw in a guided day in the Teton Pass back country. Plenty of cruisey blues in those resorts with alternative ways down that will terrify the bravest of souls. Targhee probably has less of the tough stuff, but - as I can testify - the powder there is legendary.
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abc wrote:
Sorry, Whistler had existed long before "Epic Pass people" came, which was only the past 3(?) years of its 30 year history.
Apology accepted. I was riding Blackcomb before snowboarding was allowed on Whistler, pal. Laughing

abc wrote:
In fact, I wonder if the Vail takeover changed the visitor profile all that much.

The Epic Pass feels like it has changed the demographic of tourists. You may not notice unless you ride every day, it's not that obvious,
but it seems that more visitors ride piste these days, and the ability profile has changed somewhat. That could be for other reasons, but the consensus is that it's related to the changes
brought to the visitor mix by the Epic Pass. It's just an observation, but as you appeared to be ignorant of Whistler I felt it may help you to understand that there has been something of a change.

I think I can see why you have had issues connecting in Whistler, but those really aren't relevant to most people.
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philwig wrote:
abc wrote:
Sorry, Whistler had existed long before "Epic Pass people" came, which was only the past 3(?) years of its 30 year history.
Apology accepted. I was riding Blackcomb before snowboarding was allowed on Whistler, pal. Laughing

I apologize nothing.

You blame the “Epic Pass people” as the cause. I merely pointed out Epic was but a minor perturbation present for the past 3 years. And since you claim to know Whistler so well, I was “sorry” (i.e. shocked) to see you’re so ignorant of that.

Or perhaps you’re just regurgitating the ignorant opinions of some of the jaded “locals”.

Last time I was there, I was skiing with 2 couples, both living in the next village just outside of Whistler. One of them was also a full time instructor at Whistler. But I guess by your reckoning, those are the “wrong people” as far as the soul of Whistler is concerned. rolling eyes
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good to see whitegold being pinged. spot on
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I have a few friends that have spent most of their lives in whistler. They say that since epic came in the demographic has indeed changed a little. Less "hardcore" skiers and more "tourists". Locals are quite happy with it, as the better terrain is less tracked and the village is busy (jobs, house prices going up, better atmosphere).
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I promised my two kids that once they had done the 'top group' in their French ski school we would take them on a 'once in a lifetime' trip to North America.

Since then we have done 'once in a lifetime' trips to Breckenridge (3 times), Whistler and Banff. We are heading back to Breck in February. We've only ever managed 1 week trips due to school and other commitments. The jetlag is a little tough on return but manageable (and worth it).

I organise the complete trip with flights, hotels, car hire, lift passes and ski hire.

Tips are as follows:-

1) Book early, especially lift passes. And ring them to get the best deal. Breck ticket office worked out that for next Feb I was better off with a 5 day pass plus a single day to avoid their highest season rates.

2) Car hire - you can book these with AVIOS if you have them and you get a decent rate. Or Expedia if you add it to flights and accommodation. For Whistler and Breck you don't need a car at all once you are there, but we liked the convenience for the transfer. Once you are in resort it v much depends where you are. We had ski-in, ski-out in Breck and a hotel shuttle bus in Whistler. For Banff you either need to have a car or get a longish (30-45min) bus ride each way to the slopes. We liked the car though as it meant we could chose between Sunshine and Lake Louise and not be dictated by pickup times. As for the transfer drive - for Breck, Whistler and Banff the drive from airport to resort is pretty easy. It was pretty much major roads the whole way. Can't remember any hairpins or scary moments. That said, we reckon it's worth getting a full size SUV just for comfort and space. You may well be driving on snow covered roads at some point.

3) Ski hire - BlackTieSkis.com - they will deliver to your hotel room on your night of arrival and collect from the bootroom on your last day. Also had great service when we broke a ski pole. I have no connection with them, just used them a lot and highly recommend them. If you are feeling cheeky, email and ask for any discount codes!

4) Jet lag - for one week, we never really acclimatized. That just meant waking up at 6 am, having a leisurely breakfast before getting the first lift of the day. We have had 'first tracks' on 3 lifts in a row in Breck, which was absolutely magical. It did mean early nights but then our apres was a few beers in the hot tub and after that a meal and bed just worked for us.

5) US/Canadian experience - we love the service culture. Lift lines (queues) are much better managed so go quicker. Lifties are friendly and polite. Some runs are prepped, others are left as powder. It all feels like a bit of an adventure. We usually factor in a visit to a large shopping mall on the way home (although GBP vs USD might make that less attractive now). We have also driven back down from Breck to Denver to go to an ice hockey game, which was fun.

6) Overall cost - comparing like for like, and given we are in peak season at February half term, to get accommodation with a pool / hot tub and doorstep skiing in a large resort, I reckon it works out only v marginally more expensive to get the week in North America. I'd say you should definitely give it a go once, just to have the experience.
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