Canada 2019/2020 Planning, all advice appreciated

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Scot_e17, Mar 4, 2019.

  1. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Hard Yards

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    After receiving incredible advice from the ski forum family last year for our Zermatt/Val Disere trip, its time to reach out once more in hope for some wisdom for our 2019/2020 Canada Trip. Here are some current thoughts;

    Dates 29 Dec 2019 - 20th Jan 2020

    1. Want to spend a week at Whistler, and from all reading on the forum, best we avoid the Xmas/NYE period to beat the crowds and higher pricing during this period.
    2. Thinking of flying Melbourne straight to Calgary via Vancouver to spend 3-4 days around NYE in Banff or Lake Louise. Not fussed where we spend NYE, not locked on Banff, open to quieter options.
    3. Taking on the advice of several forum threads, thinking best to have no locked in plans after Banff/Lake Louise and depending on snow conditions choose a resort on Powder Highway for the next 3-4 nights, and a second resort ( depending on conditions ) for the next 3-4 nights.
    4. Finish off the trip in Whistler after the peak of NYE is over, before returning to Vancouver for flight back to Melbourne.

    A few other questions;

    1. Any suggestions on passes (eg, Epic Pass etc) to cover the majority of places which are recommended
    2. Given its early season, looking for suggestions of mountains which are typically good in early Jan.
    3. Thinking Car Hire - keeping an open itinerary to travel on good weather days and ideally on weekends to avoid weekend crowds. If we have to spend a day commuting, may as well be on days when the mountains are likely to be more crowded.
    4. Any first hand suggestions of great accomodation/places to consider, must do items for a trip at this time.

    BTW - both myself and girlfriend are Boarders at Intermediate/Advanced level.

    Thanks in advance...open to all suggestions.
     
  2. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us

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    Banff best late season due to slow base accumulation.
    Fernie best early season.
    Do Whistler last because the other hills may be a let down terrain wise if you do it first.
     
  3. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty
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    Whistler is the only place you can use an Epic Pass in Canada, so not particularly useful in your case.
     
  4. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    Banff will be second only to Whistler in terms of Christmas season crowds. And light for snowpack and pretty cold in Dec/Jan. You could fly into Calgary and just drive/sightsee through Banff and the Rockies, head for Kicking Horse or Panorama for the first boarding stop. Next stop could be Sun Peaks or Silver Star. These are more friendly to intermediates and the range of on snow accoms at reasonable prices is excellent. 6 hours from either to Whistler.
     
  5. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room
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  6. tr+h

    tr+h One of Us

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    Budget guidance and what else apart from snow that you are looking for would be helpful.

    Did I read correctly that you’re considering Colorado(powder highway) and then Canada?
     
  7. northsail

    northsail One of Us
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    I thought Fernie, kimberly, kicking horse had links to the epic pass now??
     
  8. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty
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    Ah yes of course, started this season. Apologies to the OP.
     
  9. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Hard Yards

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    EPIC Pass does have some attraction given that both Mt Hotham and Falls Creek in Victoria are part of Vail, which will mean great valuer for the upcoming winter in Australia, with the same pass to get us through the Canadian Trip ( or part thereof)
     
  10. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Hard Yards

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  11. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Hard Yards

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    Budget wise, we're thinking of spending up on our week at Whistler with some great accommodation and eating out more, and for the rest of the trip we're pretty open to any ideas. Our main goal is to try and hunt down as much POW as possible, avoiding crowds and maximising our riding days.
     
  12. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Hard Yards

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    EPIC Pass details for 2019/20 get released tomorrow, but if like 18/19, the EPIC Pass included Fernie, Kicking Horse, Nakiska and Kimberley for 7 total days at any of these resorts with unrestricted dates, plus unrestricted Whistler. We'll know tomorrow what is included this year.
     
  13. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room
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    Crowds are a lot bigger at Whistler than at say Sun Peaks or Big White, and the accommodation will be more expensive

    Revelstoke is a big mountain that will thrill you, and the town is olny a 5 minute drive away with great accommodation.

    As a big money saver, book your car hire early before all the best prices disappear

    www.economycarrentals,com
    www.airportcarrentals.com

    And look for cars that include CDW, and dont pay for excess cover - it’s in your travel insurance
     
  14. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Hard Yards

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    Thanks for the tip, will start looking for suitable cars now given our dates are pretty much locked in, with a car pick up in Calgary and drop off in Vancouver.

    I think the 3 mountains which we're most leaning towards are Revelstoke, Red and Whistler, but again still completely open and given its so far out, in time we'll no doubt learn a great deal and keep our plans very fluid.
     
  15. LDJ

    LDJ Addicted
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    Give yourself as much flex as possible. I did 25th dec 2017-24 jan 2018 and flexibility was the best bit. If the snow is on do not miss Whitewater near Red it’s a powder paradise. If you are more advanced than intermediate kicking horse may have more appeal/powder lines than Revie all depends on weather. I found accom really easy to get even around New Year last minute (other than Whistler). You are best to have rough idea and then book accom 1 day ahead based on best snow or move on if you didn’t feel the love for that resort. We did Fernie, Red, WW, Rev, KH, LL and Sunshine in that time. Any which way you will enjoy
     
  16. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Hard Yards

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    Where did you fly in and out of? and where did you pick up and drop off the hire car ( assuming thats how you commuted)....I agree that flexibility is key , and to have a rough plan, but be willing to re-shape it on the fly. Thanks for your insights
     
  17. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room
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    I’d suggest on the fly accommodation is ok, except for the busy periods, so book those.

    Note “if” you get travel insurance, if you orepay accommodation that you miss, you can claim for that
     
  18. Chillybin

    Chillybin Hard Yards

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    Negative. All of the Banff big 3, Fernie, Kimberley and Kicking Horse are on the epic now. My advice. Find resorts Not associated. Once you research you will find discount options etc. Epic, Icon and the like are really making these resorts busier and busier. 3rd time on powder highway and surrounding areas this season
     
  19. LDJ

    LDJ Addicted
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    Brisbane to Calgary with quick change in Vancouver. Car from Calgary airport. We looped south first (Fernie, Red, WW) and then back to Calgary via the north (Revie, KH, SS, LL) which isn’t going to help you. Wasn’t fussed in Whistler due to crowds and can do that in another trip. One way car hire was expensive hence the loop. You could maybe even fly Calgary to Van and then to Whistler but there will be others with much better info on best options here.
     
  20. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Hard Yards

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    Very Open to doing the loop with the car hire and flying Calgary-Vancouver and doing Whistler at the tail end of the trip in mid-Jan when it may be a touch quieter than the peak of Xmas/NYE. If we can minimise the time/distance travelled in the car by looping in the vicinity of Powder Highway resorts, happy to do so.
     
  21. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Hard Yards

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    As a matter of interest, what type of car did you rent. When i look at Economycarrentals.com there are many options.
     
  22. northsail

    northsail One of Us
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    I would fly into Vancouver and then rent car from airport. One way rentals are very expensive. Drive across to red, Fernie back up to Banff then Powder highway back to Vancouver. I have booked flights on the 30th Dec with Korean air and plan on a similar drive without the Whistler stop.
    We always get an SUV and they always come with MS tires. Just take your time and avoid night driving.
     
  23. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room
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    Not necessarily. I plugged in some options recently for one way calgary to vancouver and pricing was almost identical
     
  24. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room
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    Look for SUVs
    Make sure its AWD or 4WD
    Mud and snow tyres will be enough as offered standard - dont bother upgrading to full snow tyres
    For 2 people a Ford Escape AWD will be great, but get something bigger (like a Jeep Grand Cherokee) if the extra cost is not an issue as the bigger cars tend to drive better on the road

    Read the details carefully as not all include CDW (insurance type cover) otherwise it may cost you an extra $30/day
     
  25. Chillybin

    Chillybin Hard Yards

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    Done it several times and there are several ways around it. It’s generally cheaper to hire downtown Vancouver rather than airport and that includes taxi transfer. One way is around $150-$250 depending on company. Check out Carflexi. They often will throw one way rental in for free. Do plenty of research on your trip. For example it’s just as quick to drive north/east from Vancouver to say SunPeaks, Silver Star or Big White Out and then down into interior BC as it is to drive directly to The Interior. Yes I’ve done both. 10.5 hours direct vs 5.5 and 4.5. Interior being Nelson. From Nelson you’re very central up to Revy and KickingHorse or East to Fernie, Kimberley, Panorama and then onto Castle, Banff from any of those choices. Down to Schweitzer from Nelson also is 4.5hours.

    Car wise have had Ford Escape the last 2 times for 31 & 32 days one was one way and roughly $1750 and the other was $1550. Difference was one way fee and extra day. Winter tires aren’t necessary unless you’ve never driven much but then I wouldn’t advise hiring a car.....

    I got a season pass with powder alliance benefits and worked holiday around travelling and sightseeing on weekends and skiing weekdays to make most of powder alliance. We skied 22 days from Silverstar, Revelstoke, Lake Louise, Sunshine, Castle, Schweitzer and Whitewater and our total cost was $53 a day lift tickets. Any non powder alliance resort offered discounts due to having a season pass and Lake Louise is cheap if you get the Costco tickets.

    I personally will continue to drive back from Calgary now and work holiday around it as it works out better for us rather than doing one way car hire. Quicker route home Fromm Calgary is definitely the northern side, ie Kicking Horse and Revy etc towards Kamloops
     
  26. Ret-ro

    Ret-ro One of Us

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    We will be over from around 8 Dec through 25 Jan , looks like we will flying American from Sydney to keep the Frequent taxes lower. It is 2 hours quicker from home to LAX then Vancouver, We will start in the middle with Big White , the Silver star and Sun Peaks. We may not stay on mountain for Chrissy as it looks expensive. But if we can get a white Christmas that would be great. . Back to Whistler from 4 Jan - 14 Jan or thereabouts. Get value from the Epic for max time. Hawaii on the way home.
    Probably be cheaper to jump on a quick flight from Vancouver to Kelowna and then bus to big white. The rent a car in Kelowna. Its always cheaper not to rent from airport . (< 25% in some cases) I have access to corp rate which is handy. Keen , we have to gear up a bit. Canada this year , US Jan 2021, much to enjoy. Thanks for the tips in here, picked up a few thoughts.

    Of course that 7 days in Hawaii on the way back is a must. Pack those board shorts.
     
  27. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    Gareth is right, the larger SUVs and pickups are better winter highway vehicles because of greater weight and wider wheel track. M+S rubber is all you need, it will the factory tyre for most models. Extra fuel used will be offset by more relaxed road handling and greater cargo and passenger space.
     
  28. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    I would not bother with Whistler. I've spent a lot of time in Canada and I love the place but Whistler doesn't excite. Don't get me wrong the skiing can be awesome but the whole vibe of the place doesn't sit well once you've done some of the interior BC resorts. You'll see what I mean.

    You will be very cold and potentially marginal coverage starting in Banff/LL pre Xmas. Awesome place but cold as a witches tit, so if you or your girl aren't fond of cold then be prepared.

    If you follow your nose you will find great skiing and great resorts, many have been mentioned here. Kicking Horse, Revvy, Apex, Red, WH2O, Silver Star, Fernie the list goes on.

    Do your research re lift tickets, better to try to round off your itinerary and then look at the local ticket deals. There are things like having a Revvie season pass gives you 50% off at WH2O and some other resorts. With Ikon and Epic changing the market so quickly things are moving and changing almost daily, so best to research, as what's valid today might not be tomorrow.
     
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  29. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty
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    As a counter view, I wouldn't miss Whistler (if you can go midweek in January). I like the vibe of the place whereas Big White, for example, I find dull.
     
  30. Monsta

    Monsta Hard Yards

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    That's it! You'll get a whole lot of different opinions on who likes what resort and that's all they are - opinions. Some people love Whistler, others will tell you the crowds suck, it rains half the time and it's expensive.. I love Revie, wife hates it, kids love Panorama etc

    If you haven't been to Whistler, go to Whistler and make up your own mind. DEFINITELY get an EPIC pass as it is cheaper than a weekly at Whistler. Plus you get a week now at Big 3.

    In January mid-week nowhere will be crowded. Most resorts will be next to empty on the Powder Hwy. I've never seen anywhere other than Whistler what I would call crowded, other than with late opening lifts for avy control.

    Pretty much everywhere in Canada is awesome for one reason or another. If you're intermediate ability some resorts might be a bit challenging for you. Revie, KH are worth a look but you might be pretty limited on what you can ski after a day or two depending on your definition of intermediate/advanced.

    January can be cold anywhere but the Big 3 Banff resorts can really cop it and will even close if wind and temps are too gnarly (-30ish). It's just like the snow, just another part of the weather picture but it's rare that it's super cold. We've done 4 weeks in the Canadian Rockies in January in the last two years and coldest we had was a -19 day. Had a -24 day at Whistler on one of those trips though.If you're mobile and keep an eye on the weather you can dodge the worst of it mostly, but there can be days where it's just cold everywhere. The super cold days tend to be bluebird though so the scenery makes up for it.

    Don't get an airport rental for an extended time. It's ~$26 a day extra for the airport concession fee. At both Vancover and Calgary all the rental co's have off-airport locations a few kms away in the airport hotel district.

    If the budget can handle it do a heli day! (not in Whistler)

    Enjoy!
     
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  31. Chillybin

    Chillybin Hard Yards

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    Not to rain on your parade....... I’ve neverheard or see. 50% off at Whitewater with a Revy annual pass? 5 or so years ago before all the ikon,epic and powder alliance cards many resorts use to have a 50%off with another resorts annual pass benefit. Don’t believe this is the case anymore?
     
  32. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Hard Yards

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    Thanks for taking the time on your response, some great insights there for us !
     
  33. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    You can rain on my parade. Yes it's still valid. Well it was last year and the year before and the year before etc etc and pretty sure it still is this year.

    Just because you've never seen it doesn't mean it's not available. I've used it. I wasn't there last year but my mate who skis there every year used it again last year.

    Also I did, say to check because of the changes.
     
  34. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room
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    :eek::eek::eek::eek:

    Umm ahhh you swore on the ski forum
     
  35. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Hard Yards

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    Where would you suggest to do Heli, if not Whistler. Plan on doing with a day or 2 of heli or cat Skiing. Pro’s and Cons with each I guess, Cats will go in almost all weather whereas Heli’s won’t. Interested in people’s thoughts.
     
  36. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room
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    I believe @Taipan and @Ralf_Plow have both been out with mike wiegele https://www.wiegele.com/
     
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  37. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    We have Canadian friends who swear by Cat over Heli, they said the fun between runs and the group dynamics was actually better. 1/2 the cost also and next to no cancellations like Heli. @bigwhite-rameok
     
  38. Canuckskier

    Canuckskier Early Days

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    I have never been to Whistler so I cant comment on that. I have skied pretty much all the others you mention and are interested in and our home mountain area is sunshine/lake louise. There is a saying around here that you can't count on Fernie for xmas but you always can for new years. Might be worthwhile to head there for NYE, but Banff/Canmore can also be very nice, just cold and snow pack lighter , not so much in the way of powder. Personally, I like the smaller ski towns with hills and the vibe they have rather than the large mega resorts so if that's your thing I would definitely recommend spending time in Nelson BC and hitting Red and Whitewater,especially around first or second week of January. This year Red had a tough one early on but that's a bit unusual for them. Also second Revy/Kicking Horse , Revy had a banger year dec-Jan and there is good terrain for a strong intermediate/advanced boarder. Sunshine is nice, a bit flat in areas for boarders taste and I have never really had super pow days there but all around good snow quality.

    A nice loop might be Fernie (NYE), this mountain has enough terrain to keep you busy for a few days . Then you could move down to Nelson for a few days to do whitewater/red then over to Revy for a day. then on to whistler. Only thing to note is a lot of this driving will be done on BC roads that can be rather sketchy if the conditions are bad so 4wd with mud/snow tires would be the thing to have.. I haven't factored in Banff/Canmore in this loop as you can see if you are truly keen on it you could start out there for NYE and do the loop a bit backwards: Banff/Canmore - Revy-Nelson-Whistler, and leave off Fernie. All depends on how much driving around you want to do I think
     
  39. brett gordon

    brett gordon Hard Yards

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    Hi Chilly. are you sure the Banff big 3 (Sunshine, lake Loiuse, Norquay) are included in the epic pass? could only see F, K and KH
     
  40. Crawf

    Crawf Hard Yards

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    Big 3 is Ikon.
    You get 7 days at RCR (Fernie, KH, etc) on the epic.
     
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  41. Chillybin

    Chillybin Hard Yards

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    Surely if Wh20 offered 50% off for Revy pass holders then Revy would do the same for Wh20 Pass holders? That’s the whole idea of a reciprocal resort. I can confirm that as a Wh20 season pass holder my only discount at Revy was 25% off full priced tickets.
     
  42. Chillybin

    Chillybin Hard Yards

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    Yeah sorry epic is the RCR resorts and Ikon is the Big3 and Revy with a few others
     
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  43. Chillybin

    Chillybin Hard Yards

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    I’m on the fence, Heli definitely has the awe factor. Been Heli 2 days and 1 day with Selkirk Tangier’s and 1 day with Methven in NZ. Been twice with Valhalla Cat skiing but never again.

    Cat, always seem rushed. Don’t stop for lunch. Cramped cabins. Ski outs are often not much fun to reach cat. Generally treeline and below. Although this is location dependent. Half the price. 8-10 runs a day average during my observations.

    Yes Cat doesn’t cancel but that also means you could pay top dollar with Valhalla and have wind blown crust and conditions where people sit out runs. Something to think about.

    Heli, a lot more relaxed, stop for lunch 7-8 run average but usually after 5 you’re paying for each run on top. We did 19 in 2 days and could have done one more each day. Snow pack dependant, but have spent most of time starting from alpine ridges. Ski outs tend to be not so gnarly compared to cat experience.

    I have had 1 Heli cancelled due to poor conditions. Heli could have flown but light rain overnight made conditions less favourable. I applaud the operator and returned 2 years later. I will cat and Heli again but not With Valhalla. Highly recommend Selkirk Tangier’s for Heli though.
     
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  44. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    Ok, so now it's 25%. That's still makes a day pass $67 for the best resort in Canada.

    You may be right to a degree. Perhaps it wasn't a 50% discount, we would pay $50 for a day ticket at Whitewater by showing our Revvie pass, which was still more than a 25% discount. So not sure how they calculated it but a good deal however you look at it.
     
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  45. Chillybin

    Chillybin Hard Yards

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    Next year with the new lift it will certainly help massively to disperse the traffic. Just a pity they can’t fix the gondola to prevent getting off to get straight back on......... this is Revy I’m talking about here
     
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  46. Chillybin

    Chillybin Hard Yards

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    Shhh on the best resort part too it was busy this year. Car park was often full. Still the people disperse quickly.
     
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  47. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room
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    buy a season pass at Sun Peaks and you get 50% off at dailies Whistler,

    and 25% off dailies at:
    Apex
    Big White
    Cypress Bowl
    Fairmont Hot Springs

    Grouse Mountain
    Harper Mountain
    Hart Ski Hill
    Hidden Valley
    Hudson Bay Mountain Resort
    Manning Park
    Mt. Baldy
    Mt. Cain
    Mt. Seymour
    Mt. Timothy
    Mt. Washington
    Panorama
    Phoenix Mountain
    Powder King
    Purden
    Red Mountain
    Revelstoke Mountain Resort Revelstoke
    Sasquatch Mountain Agassiz
    Shames Mountain Terrace
    Silver Star Vernon
    Summit Lake Ski Resort Nakusp
    Troll Ski Resort Quesnel
    Valley Ski Club Alliance
    Whitewater Nelson
     
  48. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    The traffic up top has never been too bad but the Gondola is the choke point for sure. Especially on a pow day.
     
  49. SnowRabbit

    SnowRabbit Hard Yards

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  50. PG2736

    PG2736 Hard Yards

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2013
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    My two cents worth. It all comes down to a bit of luck re snow conditions and who you are travelling with. We have been to Fernie, Banff, Lake Louise and the snow has been terrible and at Whistler we have also had the full mixed bag. For early season conditions (and around Jan in particular) Whistler is usually very reliable and you will get a good mix of clear days and snow. Also depends on who you are travelling with. The setup and infrastructure at Whistler is like nothing else and you have some great hotels, food options, plenty of other stuff to do and it is all very convenient...which for a family imo is particularly important especially when the wife doesn't ski all day every day! If you know what your plans are you can also get some very good early bird offers at Whistler.