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Advice needed Powder Highway roadtrip

Discussion in 'Canada' started by 1dayasalion, Dec 17, 2017.

  1. 1dayasalion

    1dayasalion Hard Yards

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    Howdy all,

    Headed over to BC for the first time in Feb '18 with the Ms. We fly into Vancouver on the 4th and pick up a 4wd and fly out of Van on the 17th. I'd like to try and do a full loop of the powder highway stopping in at Sun Peaks, Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Banff Sunshine, Fernie, Red, Whitewater, Big White and Whistler. Purposefully not booking any accommodation so we can just roll with the weather/snowfall.

    Am I trying to squeeze too much in for the amount of time we're there? We have friends in Fernie and Whistler that we'd really like to see/shred with but I also really want to ride Kicking Horse and Red. Pretty much accepting the fact that we'll only get 1 or 2 days max at most resorts and there's a fair bit of driving to do but I drive to Milford from Queenstown for work several times a week and do skifield driving in winter so i'm used to long hauls and iffy conditions!

    Any advice would be much appreciated!
     
    Tanuki likes this.
  2. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yes. There are 3 or 4 days driving there, apart from anything else.
     
  3. tr+h

    tr+h One of Us

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    Yes.

    Have you done any of these before?

    Is it about the drive or skiing?

    I would rank the resorts in order of preference. Then select 2 or 3 that are suitably close enough together to reduce driving time.

    Enjoy.
     
    currawong likes this.
  4. dawooduck

    dawooduck relaxed and comfortable Ski Pass: Gold

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    That is a driving holiday not a ski holiday. Take another week off.

    Have fun, hope the snow is excellent for you
     
    The Plowking, skifree and Zeroz like this.
  5. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    IMHO you enjoy a ski hill more after you've had a chance to get to know it. First day you're in all the wrong places at all the wrong times. My preference is to go to one place that has a few options in easy distance. Spend time skiing (in the right place at the right time) not packing and driving. 9
     
  6. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    I used to go to 2 or 3 places each trip. Then I got sick of packing and moving, so I lobbed in one place and stayed. A day off every week or so. There's always the next trip if you need variety*.

    *Except Sun Peaks.
     
  7. Chillybin

    Chillybin Addicted

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    I’ve done it twice now. Once from Seattle to Nelson. Went to Red while being based in Nelson as that’s only an hour away so Day trips are easy. Drove to Fernie then Banff and onto Calgary where we flew to Vancouver, shuttled to whistler and shuttled back to Vancouver where we flew home.

    The second trip we drove to Nelson from Vancouver. Same time as from Seattle although completely different route. Again Day tripped to Red despite spending most of our time at Whitewater. Drove to Revelstoke then Kicking Horse and again onto Banff and Calgary back via plane to Vancouver and home we went.

    I’d do research and as others have said decide if your skiing first and foremost or sightseeing. If you’re heading anywhere near Sun Peaks you’d check out Big White also and even Silver Star. I think your time frame would have you better off dividing the top half and bottom half into separate holidays. You could do Red, Whitewater, Fernie and Banff. Although because time is against you, another option would be avoid Banff but that place is awesome and some great times and views out of lake Louise and Sunshine have been had.... and go to Golden from Fernie and hop back onto the interstate and head towards Kelowna. If time permits you have Siver Star, Sun Peaks and Big White. I spent 4 weeks on the first trip and 7 on the second. The second was comfortable and the first often felt rushed. Driving was easy and picturesque and only storm days were issues but roads generally clear and safe. Good luck
     
    #7 Chillybin, Dec 17, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
    Tanuki likes this.
  8. W0nkey D0nkey

    W0nkey D0nkey One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Im thinking of hiring an RV and sending it for a couple of months over there.
     
  9. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I think you need another week to do the full loop and to stop and see your friends.
     
  10. LDJ

    LDJ Addicted Ski Pass: Silver

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    IMO too much. I’m spending 25 days from calgery to fernie, Red, WW, Rev, KH and Banff then back to calgery from 26th dec to 21st jan and mine feels a little rushed
     
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  11. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Add in connecting flights to/from Calgary, rent your car there. Do the Fernie, KH, Banff loop with an out-and-back leg to Revy (provided the roads are agreeable at the time). Hits your high spots with less than half the driving, and there's Pano and Kimberley along the way if you really do get bored after a day or two in one place. You could possibly hit Whistler on the way home, but you'd be cutting yourself short on the rest of it. The Canadian Rockies are an attraction unto themselves even before you put skis on, so much to see just in the national parks highway 1 corridor.

    The other resorts on your list can be nicely done next season on a Vancouver-based loop.
     
    dawooduck likes this.
  12. 1dayasalion

    1dayasalion Hard Yards

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    Thanks for the replies everyone!

    After a bit of reflection and study of the area, I've decided to cut the amount of destinations down a bit. The plan is to go Van -> Kamloops for a couple days at Sun Peaks, then to Revelstoke for a couple days, Down to Nelson via Arrowhead lake for Red/Whitewater and then back over to Van with a trip up to Whistler if time allows. The Nelson to Van leg is the only longish day of driving but is only around 7-8 hours.
     
    The Plowking likes this.
  13. dawooduck

    dawooduck relaxed and comfortable Ski Pass: Gold

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    That will be a great trip. The Revi to Nelson leg will be awesome but subject to adverse weather and road conditions. Take water and some food and due care on the road.
     
    sly_karma likes this.
  14. 1dayasalion

    1dayasalion Hard Yards

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    Will be keeping spare food and water in the Jeep for most of the trip, I've also been advised by Canadian friends to carry a couple of bottles of washer fluid as well :thumbs:
     
  15. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    you probably won't be able to get winter tyres on your rental, but the M&S tyres will be sufficient for 99% of the time.

    You might want to consider buying a set of chains from www.canadiantire.ca as a backup in case weather goes pear-shaped and you're on a timetable
     
  16. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you haven't done so already, read my post Driving In Canada. And yes, the extra washer fluid could well be needed if you strike melting conditions. Remember the days are short in winter, and driving in the dark when there's snow on the road is making things harder than they have to be. Plan accordingly.
     
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  17. Chillybin

    Chillybin Addicted

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    It’s every bit of 8 hours
     
  18. Chillybin

    Chillybin Addicted

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    Time the ⛴ right also. We missed it by 5 minutes. Didn’t actually know what times it went...... think it was an hour and a half wait after that
     
  19. The Plowking

    The Plowking Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Is a must imo
     
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  20. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Have you got your car insurance sorted on your car rental? - lots of pitfalls if you don't choose wisely
     
  21. pedub

    pedub One of Us

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    How likely are the mountain passes between Golden>Banff and Golden>Rev likely to get closed in a storm?

    We've got a week in Rev, a 1 night stay on resort at KH then a (free) week Banff
    Is is possible to day trip KH from Banff if conditions are on?? or will the road likely be closed?
    Google says 1hr 50min trip, is that realistic in winter on a day when I would want to visit?

    What about a day trip from Rev to KH?

    Otherwise, what is the best option for skiing pow in Banff?
    To be honest i'm not so excited about Banff in terms of riding (i know the scenery will be great)
     
  22. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    We've done the trip between Rev and KH a few times, was all blue bird days so very easy. For a quick day trip from KH to Rev we leave the day before stay in town so you get the whole day on the hill at Rev. The pass is a nasty one if a storm comes in and very likely to be closed. You just need to be flexible.
     
  23. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    My rule of thumb in the Canadian Rockies is that storm = road closures. You can be lucky but expect the worst. Sometimes the closures are measured in days (rare) but often they are from half to a couple of hours while they do avalanche control work. If the control work results in a release across the road it takes longer while they dig the road out.
     
  24. pedub

    pedub One of Us

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    Sounds hopeful to try on a big powder day. Better to get there before it hits and stay a night. Although racing a storm could be a dangerous game too...

    Seeing as I hear KH has fresh lines for quite a while after a dump, could still be worth heading over on a clear day..
     
  25. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    Driving at night chasing a storm is v dangerous. Read @sly_karma on driving in Canada here and here. My experience is that driving at night with no reflectors and blowing snow over already snow covered roads is a real challenge. Remember that it gets dark at 4-00 pm as well, which means limited time to drive in daylight.
     
  26. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Simple rule: do the longer drives on bluebird days - easier driving, great views, and you're not missing good skiing conditions. If there's snow around, stay put and get fresh tracks at your current resort instead of suffering snotty road conditions, avy work closures, closures due to vehicle accidents, scenery obscured by weather, etc etc.

    Avy work follows a pattern, typically it will happen right after a storm cycle moves through, or when there is a sudden warming trend - especially if r*** is involved (causes instability in snowpack layer bonding and therefore naturally triggered avalanches). Avy work is done during daylight hours, so it may be possible to scoot through in the early dawn. As always, www.drivebc.ca is your friend, avy closures will be posted a few hours ahead of time. The most frequently affected routes are on Highway 1 from Sicamous to Revelstoke and Revelstoke to Golden, and Kootenay Pass on Highway 3 between Salmo and Creston, but other highways can and do have some control work.

    Finally, a word about ski road trips. It's fairly easy to lay out a route that involves just short drives between resorts. This is highly desirable, because it makes it possible to get some or all of the drive done in daylight without cutting the ski day too short. Check out of accoms in the morning and load your vehicle, ski the day and then hit the road for an hour or so. This works well for say the Powder Highway - Fernie to Kimberley 1 hr, Kimberley to Pano 1 hr30, Pano to KH, 1 hr30, KH to LL 1 hr, LL to Banff 1hr, Banff to Calgary 1 hr. Same thing further west with the hops between Apex, BW, SS and SP all under 2 hrs. Especially with the days lengthening nicely by Feb, you can neatly fit the transfer from resort to resort without losing a day of skiing and avoiding driving at night as well. You do need to be careful of wildlife on the move as dusk approaches, and you should have a co-pilot who can take over if the driver is fatigued from a day on the slopes, but it's the best practice on balance. For the longer transfers such as Fernie to Whitewater, or Red to Revy, plan on a non skiing day and enjoy the scenery.

    In summary, be flexible. There's no real need to book accoms more than a day or two ahead in the slow winter season, so go with the weather pattern flow and make it easy on yourself. FFS, who in their right mind leaves a resort when it's snowing? New arrivals might well have trouble getting there, so there'll be rooms available for you to extend your stay.
     
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  27. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah, nah. Rental vehicles have to provide at least M+S so you're legal to use highways in BC. 99% of the time you'll be fine with those (unless you're driving RWD). All our family vehicles for the past 25-odd years here have been FWD or AWD and I've never owned chains for any of them. If you do get stuck somewhere, it'll most likely be on a driveway or a steep residential street, not on a highway or road to a ski resort. Those have good grades and lots of maintenance. Just get some kind of AWD vehicle, they're so common these days. The factory rubber is normally M+S and you'll be fine unless you drive too fast for conditions. You certainly won't have the forward traction issues that would necessitate chains.
     
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  28. pedub

    pedub One of Us

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    So I see this sign in BC.
    Winter/M+S for cars and campers and trucks to carry chains?
    [​IMG]
     
  29. dawooduck

    dawooduck relaxed and comfortable Ski Pass: Gold

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    [​IMG]

    The sign that tells the story. :thumbs:

    Snowflake or M+S for cars, Trucks must carry chains.

    Hire a AWD or a 4WD and don't over think or over drive the conditions. Plan your travel for daylight hours, keep an eye on the weather and be prepared for delays. Relax and enjoy, its all pretty simple.

    Don't extrapolate the Australian snow chain regime with any other place in the world.
     
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  30. kylep

    kylep One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    My 2c

    Have done Whistler > Sun Peaks drive with 2 quite capable drivers and a bit of snow coming down once it got dark. We arrived by 6-7pm by memory but we were both exhausted. Small SUV with M+S tyres was fine but was hard going on us. Same story when we drove back to Van from Silver Star. Don’t underestimate how much harder it is with the short daylight hours.

    In Kelowna at the moment and our relaxed drive here was about 10am-4pm with a good lunch stop. Was much easier but still a little tiring (though I drove 100% this time). We are mostly going to Big White but might also say trip to SS.

    Off to Revy next and will be driving directly back to Van from there, that will be a long day. We also have 2 days at Whistler. I would have loved to get over to something east of Revy this trip but would have lost too much time to driving.

    Your revised plan seems reasonable though that drive back from Nelson will be long. Heed the advice from the Canadian locals in this thread, they’re very helpful
     
  31. The Plowking

    The Plowking Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Have done descent from Rogers pass in 2wd with M&S. Wet snow, concrete style compaction. Aussie GAR style. Chains were definitely necessary. Cars off the road everywhere.
     
  32. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    This, this, this. It's not that difficult.
     
  33. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Be the most vigilant in the +1 or 2 C temps, that is where you'll get slush forming, or falling as snow but compacting to ice immediately when subjected to foot or vehicle pressure. Plowking's experience on the Rogers describes that; lower speeds and very gentle steering/pedal inputs needed. This is the kind of snow that produces the funny youtube videos of low speed crashes on city streets. On the highway, use low gear for descents. In the city, coming to a complete stop on a slope might be very difficult. North American rental cars are pretty much 100% automatics, so you can't just engage the clutch to stop the engine driving you forward. But you can and should shift into neutral, makes a big difference.
     
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  34. LDJ

    LDJ Addicted Ski Pass: Silver

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    It’s all about how you drive. We came over kootney pass (Fernie to Red) after a snow storm this week with AWD and M&S and took it carefully. You can mess up anywhere if you drive poorly. I saw 2 cars off the road in ditches at the bottom of the Fernie mountain road (which is a really tame road) our friend told us it was people going to fast and then hitting breaks on the final bend
     
  35. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Very occasionally you get specific snow conditions that are unbelievably slippery. It's the snow compacting to ice scenario that is really hard to deal with. Example - went to a job site just before Christmas to pick up tools and tidy up before the holiday break. The roll a door access is up a short steep driveway, owner had pushed new snow off with a blade on his quad. I put my truck in 4WD and reversed up without problem, set the park brake and shifted to Park. Was about to get out when I felt the whole thing sliding downhill toward the street. Restarted the engine in case I needed to steer, but basically just rode it out until the grade flattened out. So that is some slippery snow! Momentum got me up there, but the surface was so steep and slick that it wouldn't even hold a stationary vehicle.

    Fortunately, you won't see grades that steep on the highways of BC, but some streets, lanes and driveways are. Be especially careful there, and out on the highway you need to continually reassess the traction conditions. Our roads are rarely level, quick elevation gains and losses are the norm rather than the exception. That means you can easily go from rain to slush to wet snow to compact snow in the 20-30 minutes it takes to climb a mountain pass - and then experience the same thing in reverse as you crest and descend. It's a good idea to occasionally test traction if possible. You need a straight piece of road and no one following too close, because the traction test is to slow down a little and then hit the brakes fairly firmly and see how the vehicle responds.

    Remember, just because all the rental vehicles here are automatics doesn't mean you can't use the gears to control speed on descents. I always use my transmission in manual mode on steep hills. Even with ABS, braking isn't completely predictable on slippery surfaces.
     
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  36. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver One of Us

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    As per ^^^.

    I've driven both ways, round and round, up and down from Calgary to Vancouver and back again in 2wd & 4wd in bluebird low snow to blizzard many times. Just drive smart. Don't overbreak, leave room from the car in front and drive to the conditions. Nowadays, I only drive it in a 4wd or awd. More relaxing. In all the years, I've never needed chains in Canada.

    The drive is amazing and the scenery is awesome.
     
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  37. Andy Ziggy

    Andy Ziggy Hard Yards

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    So How did you go? Did you make it. I want to do about 4-5 of the Kootenay mnts in 2.5 weeks. Fernie, Red, Whitewater, Kimberley and Panorama but Im wondering if thats too much.
    Im keen to hear about your journey. Ziggy
     
  38. pedub

    pedub One of Us

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    Nah I don't think so. Could be done. I did this last year, the drives aren't too long between them.
    You could include KH probably as well but Revelstoke would be pushing it
     
  39. Andy Ziggy

    Andy Ziggy Hard Yards

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    Cheers, we'll probably do KH and Revvy while my family are here, then they home to Oz and I'll be doing "the rest" of powder hiway in my remaining 2.5 weeks. Not sure how many I'll get in. That's why I'm interested in your trip.
     
  40. pedub

    pedub One of Us

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  41. Scot_e17

    Scot_e17 Hard Yards

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    Some great ideas on this thread . My girlfriend and I are doing a similar trip in Jan/Feb and received loads of great tips on this thread https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/canada-2019-2020-planning-all-advice-appreciated.84015/
    We decided on this . ...MELB-CAL, hire a car and head straight to Fernie. From Fernie we have locked in accommodation across the NYE period at The Josie Hotel for 5 nights, after which we are staying flexible to head to either Whitewater, or Kicking Horse, then finishing off in Banff, before flying from CAL-VAN for 9 nights at Whistler. 26 days in total from 26/12- 21/1
     
  42. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Have an amazing trip :)