Got an Epic Pass - Whistler or Heavenly or somewhere else?

Discussion in 'United States' started by SEN123, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. SEN123

    SEN123 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2014
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    3
    Hi there - need a little insider advice.

    I am considering taking the kids to the snow on the way to visit family in Florida. If we can get to LA our USA family will pay for our tickets across to visit them. Currently I can get very good flights to LA via Vancouver, so thinking Whistler would be our best option.

    Alternatively, I can fly into LA and make the side trip to SFO and ski at Heavenly.

    We would be skiing last week of Jan, 1 adult two kids (8 and 11). All intermediate skiers, though eldest child is more advanced than myself and youngest.

    My questions are in terms of logistics mainly:

    1. Given I am on my own with the kids I am wondering which option is the easiest for me to manage. I'm thinking getting there and away, travel around the resort, getting from accomodation to lifts each day etc.

    2. What is the most budget focused? I will probably opt not to self cater dinners but would like to have the option of eating breakfast in our room/lodge.

    3. Am I best to travel with our skis/boots buy when we are over there? I have skis and boots that I am very happy with, the kids have skis that will be too short and Roces boots, which I don't love but they don't complain.

    4. Will the ski clothing we use in Australia be warm enough. We currently have mainly Aldi clothing and it has never let us down, until July 5th at Perisher when it dumped 20cm on snow on us and we had damp neck lines and jacket cuffs.

    Finally does anyone have any other suggestions of which mountains to consider, given that any travel from LA to that mountain will be on me.

    Thanks, any ideas/advice most appreciated.
     
  2. Astro66

    Astro66 Still looking for a park in Thredbo
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    14,590
    Likes Received:
    7,040
    Denver is the cheapest stop over on the way to Florida. And Denver is closest to Vail Resorts. Breckenridge only 1.5 hr drive. You could hire a car cheaply.

    Air Canada doing about $1700 airfares to Denver return in January 2018. Then a short internal return to Florida.

    Breckenridge is the best Vail Resort in the US, IMO.

    We used Aldi gear at all Vail Group resorts, no issue. Hands and feet are the only issue. Don't waste your holiday. Just use hand and feet warmers. The are super cheap at Walmart in the US. My family thanked me.

    Taking your own gear is cheaper. But transportation of it is a PITA. I take our own. But I become a travel mule.

    With kids. Just stay ski in ski out. Your family will beg you to come back.
     
  3. SEN123

    SEN123 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2014
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    3
    I'll look at the flights to Denver. My concern was that Breckenridge was more expensive for food and accomodation. Is that true?
     
  4. chicski

    chicski Dedicated Member
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    1,634
    Likes Received:
    2,018
    My kids were not that much older than yours when we went to Tahoe (just me and 2 kids). We stayed at South Lake Tahoe and had a hire car. Skied mainly Heavenly. We took all our own gear. At that age I found my eldest useful finally for helping with luggage. We took 2 ski bags plus a large suitcase and smaller suitcase and managed OK. We connected at LAX to SFO and hired a car at the airport, driving to Tahoe was pretty easy. We had our normal Australian ski gear and it was fine. The snow is dry over there, so cold is the only issue and on one really cold clear day we used hand warmers, and had frequent hot chocolate stops. We loved Heavenly, and also skied at some smaller resorts in the area.
     
  5. Astro66

    Astro66 Still looking for a park in Thredbo
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    14,590
    Likes Received:
    7,040
    Not than Heavenly or Whistler for ski in ski out. If you hire a car. Stop at a Walmart or Safeway to get your groceries. Get a condo with kitchen. I paid about AUD$2100 for 7 nights right on a green run, with the chairlift 50 metres away. 1 bedroom with a fold out in the living room.

    Cereal in morning. You can come back at lunch and just have sandwiches. Whip up some chicken and mash for dinner. Takes 20 mins. You'll save thousands.

    Vail and Beaver Creek is a whole different story.
     
  6. tr+h

    tr+h Dedicated Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2008
    Messages:
    2,059
    Likes Received:
    271
    In all likelihood heavenly and whistlers snow conditions will be similar. If one has a bad year, they probably both will. Astro's suggestion is further inland so potentially more reliable snow.

    We loved heavenly a few years back and stayed in south lake, right next to the gondola. We are heading back there the week before you this coming season. We are staying over the road at starburst(?) lodge on Astro's recommendation this time. Ski in/out is a bit harder to get in both of your proposed locations. Our kids always enjoy ski in/out.

    Food in a real town in the US is cheap enough as the serves are so EPIC!

    I enjoyed the Tahoe-San Fran drive and looking forward to it again. But, have you considered Reno airport?
     
  7. SEN123

    SEN123 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2014
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    3
    Thanks for all the replies. Almost seems like I can't go wrong anywhere. May just chose the best airfare and go to closest mountain from there.

    Seems like it is worth taking all our ski gear, which is good, as it cost a lot and best to get the most out of it.

    Are any of the mountains easier to get to know in terms of getting around the mountain and feeling like you are not overwhelmed?
     
  8. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Part of the Furniture
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Messages:
    17,302
    Likes Received:
    10,518
    Across the Pacific you have ample luggage allowance. You may as well. There are ways of dealing with luggage once you arrive.
    US mountains are well signposted. They are easy to get around. Most of them have free mountain guides who can show you around.
     
  9. kimberlee81

    kimberlee81 Dedicated Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2004
    Messages:
    2,563
    Likes Received:
    414
    For accommodation, I would also recommend Base Camp in South Lake Tahoe.
     
  10. absentskier

    absentskier Old And Crusty
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    20,918
    Likes Received:
    9,765
    Not sure what you're taking about with Whistler and Tahoe conditions correlating. That is not correct.
     
  11. tr+h

    tr+h Dedicated Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2008
    Messages:
    2,059
    Likes Received:
    271
    They are essentially both coastal and not 'inland' if you know what I mean.
     
  12. absentskier

    absentskier Old And Crusty
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    20,918
    Likes Received:
    9,765
    Mate Tahoe can be in drought with literally no snow and Whistler can have a 3 metre base. There is little connection between them.
     
  13. chicski

    chicski Dedicated Member
    Season Pass Gold

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    1,634
    Likes Received:
    2,018
    If you can fly into San Francisco instead of LAX, not only is it a much nicer airport and city, it's an easy drive to Lake Tahoe (4 hours). There are direct flights from Aust to SFO. While on mountain is always nice, if budget is an issue, then you can get a house in S Lake Tahoe fairly cheaply. It's an easy 15 minute drive to Heavenly and a bit further to Northstar and Kirkwood. We also skied at Homewood, which wasn't on our pass but a few years back we got some deal where the kids were $20 or something. If you do need internal flights, Southwest is the go. Cheap, good, and 2 free bags, including ski bags. You can also change flights without penalty. I just booked 3 of us from SFO to Denver for USD100 each.
     
  14. tr+h

    tr+h Dedicated Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2008
    Messages:
    2,059
    Likes Received:
    271
    Yes, whistler can have an adequate amount of snow while Tahoe can have little or none, but the correlation exists. Climate science tells you that proximity to the coast effects temperature.

    Here is an explanation of my point. Whistler 2014 snow fall was below average.
    [​IMG]

    So was heavenly, but latitude would magnify it.
    [​IMG]

    But heading inland removed a lot of the bias we see in 2014.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So, my point is once someone arrives at LAX, is that a flight inland will result in more likelihood of snow compared to going north up the coast.
     
  15. rime noreason

    rime noreason Dedicated Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2014
    Messages:
    889
    Likes Received:
    1,390
    I have stayed at the Stardust several years running. Great place and it can’t be beaten for location, amenities & budget.









    @SEN123
    I have been to Colorado but not Whistler although I’ve looked at that and other options, but I haven’t found anything comparable to South Lake Tahoe so I’ve returned for 5 or 6 years in a row. I will be back again in February.

    Sth Lake has some very good accommodation at good prices which are worth looking into if budget is a concern. As tr says, real towns like Sth Lake Tahoe have cheap food, as opposed to ski resorts. You don’t need a car in Sth Lake and there are Amtrak buses from San Francisco and other towns. At the Sth Lake bus terminal there are also relatively cheap shuttles to some of the other ski resorts including Kirkwood and Northstar which are included on the Epic Pass.

    In Colorado, the Vail resorts are pricey for accommodation as well as food. You could stay in Frisco or Dillon for cheaper accommodation because they are general towns close but not part of ski resorts, but you really would need a car. The free shuttles to the resorts would be extremely tedious, especially with kids. The rides would be long, you have to change midway en route for many of them, and if it’s snowing heavily, you and your kids would be miserable at the bus stops. I’ve seen people in this predicament.

    If you’re skiing for more than a few days you’re better off taking your ski gear. Hiring isn’t cheap, anywhere from around $US45 – 55/day. Take plenty of layers, especially for the kids, and especially in Colorado where it will tend to be colder. The higher altitude in Colorado can really impact breathing.


    The resorts have trail maps at their ticket booths, and most of the main chairlifts have maps on the safety bars. It won’t be difficult to navigate your way around.