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Where to live (min 12 months) in Canada for snow, MTB, backpacking etc.

Discussion in 'Canada' started by FNM, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    Hi guys,

    I have spent a lot of time on Google and also this forum, but can't settle on the best place to ... settle.

    I will be arriving in Canada with a 2-year work visa in the middle of October.

    My goal is to enjoy all-year-round mountain activities - downhill skiing, xc skiing, snowshoeing (and potentially mountaineering) etc in winter... multi-day hiking/camping, wilderness backpacking, road cycling, MTB (xc and downhill), rock-climbing etc in shoulder/summer seasons. Am I asking for much??? :)

    I am travelling with my brother - we are 35 and 31 yrs old. We aren't looking to party like we're 29 again ;) , but enjoy beers and socialising occasionally. I'll be honest - he enjoys beers and socialising.. I enjoy 'me' time but definitely willing to socialise more overseas. Point being, experiencing the mountain activities is the priority.

    We'll be heading over with relatively healthy savings, but we'd prefer not to have to dig into them just to get by. Plan on using savings for special treats (eg, touring Colorado/States, NYC, Quebec, lessons, special activities at the mountain etc).. Have heard mixed reports in terms of income - someone I know saved a good amount of money in her time at Silver Star.

    We are both managers at large and busy pubs, which will hopefully hold us in good stead for employment (not that we're solely looking to manage pubs - happy to return to my bartending days for a while, or enter a new or related industry). Any tips welcome.

    Initially, I was for on-mountain living, but now I'm leaning towards a township.

    My skiing level is low-mid intermediate but I intend having lessons on arrival and expect to progress fairly quickly. My brother went over many years ago to WB with slightly lower level than myself and came back well advanced. Said he progressed very quickly after a few lessons. We will also take lessons in backcountry skiing (combining our other passion - hiking), avalanche awareness etc. I expect most of our skiing after the early weeks, will be off-piste.

    If I was ranking activities by priority:
    - Skiing
    - Multi-day hiking
    - Road cycling
    - XC skiing
    - XC riding
    - The rest

    Our hearts had been set on Revelstoke but concerns about cost v income have risen. Fernie is an option (with KH etc), but concerns about snow quality (am I being ridiculous here? possibly too much reading).. Silver Star and Sun Peaks (on-mountain living might get a bit too claustrophobic for me but will to try it if they seem the best options otherwise).. Then there is Rossland and Nelson and whatever else?! ...

    I have to admit, the more I read the more Nelson is starting to look the standout, with its easy access to Whitewater and Red Mountain (although my understanding is separate ski passes for each, which could be costly). Being a regular town appeals (as there are also options like squash(!) , swimming etc) - we intend on buying a vehicle so no issue there. Given our desire to purchase a lot of outdoor gear for camping, climbing, riding etc as well as our snow gear and equipment, the vicinity to the States is appealing to save $! I understand the mountain is very undeveloped, and while I have fondly envisaged sitting up on a mountain, beer in hand, watching the skiers go by and appreciating all the glory of the mountain in the warmth of a cafe/bar, it's not essential! I'm concerned that my brother will be more concerned about the lack of apres skiing and he might take some convincing.

    My apologies for the long post... It's my first time heading to Canada and my first time heading to any international mountain resort. I'm practically a novice/totally ignorant in all respects. Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated!!

    If I can settle on a location, then we can start taking care of job applications, accommodation, early bird season passes etc.

    Cheers

    Jeepers, just saw how long my post is ...

    tl;dr

    Looking for the best overall location for year-round mountain activities: Skiing, XC skiing, multi-day hiking/camping, road cycling, XC MTB etc.
     
    #1 FNM, Aug 9, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2019
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  2. Rick Ross Da Boss

    Rick Ross Da Boss One of Us

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    So jealous...:oops:
     
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  3. Rick Ross Da Boss

    Rick Ross Da Boss One of Us

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    At 35 you can still get a working visa for Canada? Are you Aussie or qiwi?
     
  4. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum Ski Pass: Gold

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    Banff?
     
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  5. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    I have nothing useful to offer, but FK YES THAT’S A SICK PLAN. have a ball.
     
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  6. ColdNovemberWayne

    ColdNovemberWayne Early Days

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    Nelson, Nelson or Nelson. I do like Rossland and Red though...
     
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  7. buckwheat

    buckwheat One of Us

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    My sister has lived in nelson for years. Offers everything you want but is also a real town, not just a ski town, so heaps of cultural offerings to be had as well. The backcountry is endless and very accessible, esp if you befriend someone with their own sled. Mtb is off the charts, be prepared to crap your dacks. My sister took me on a blue run and i walked half of it. And i like technical riding!
     
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  8. LDJ

    LDJ One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Nelson a great spot for what you are looking for. Red not far and also Fernie & Revelstoke are also doable for 2 days trips. I loved Rossland but Nelson wins for a longer term stay IMO. That is one epic trip you will love it.
     
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  9. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I think you've made the right call in wanting to base yourselves at a real town.

    I wouldn't rule out Fernie based only on the snow quality. Yes, they can be subject to rain, but they can also get great snow.

    Nelson and Rossland are great.
     
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  10. Beerman

    Beerman One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    MTB in the Rockies has gone nuts in the last few years. Many of the ski resorts have jumped this bandwagon and put in serious tracks that are lift accessed (if that's your thing). Towns like Kamloops, Revie and Whistler also have huge MTB track networks. Nelson is a great town and I have a Canadian friend that rates Nelson as the "coolest town in B.C." Whitewater ski resort would not keep me interested for a season, although great for short visits.

    The Okanagan has plenty of ski resorts and MTB areas, so may suit you as a wider area to contemplate.
    The resident MTB and ski race volunteer in that part of the world is @sly_karma and he can add/throw his opinion into the ring
     
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  11. blowfin

    blowfin One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    As a 31 year old Australian they won't get one either. You have to have your passport stamped on entry to Canada before your 31st Birthday.

    Certainly for the skiiing, Nelson would be a great spot to base yourself, plenty of other options to hit up within a few hours drive.

    Between Whitewater, Red, and the backcountry, i'd be busy for a lifetime.
     
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  12. AWJ

    AWJ One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Rules changed a year or 2 ago. Aussies can still get visas up till you turn 35 now:

    http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/iec/eligibility.asp?country=au&cat=wh&#country_category_name_cont
     
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  13. Pink

    Pink One of Us

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    I’d put Whistler in the mix if you can afford it. It’s a year round big resort town. Huge MTB scene off-season. Great terrain for intermediate skiers and above. Striking distance to Vancouver for a culture fix. Pro-ski bum scene so not just partying holiday makers.
     
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  14. blowfin

    blowfin One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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  15. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    Yep. The rule officially changed late last year. Very lucky for me. I had a work-visa in 2013 but after 8 months of travelling US and Europe, I came home to pursue a little business idea that developed while I was in Turkey so I let the work-visa for Canada slide. Has been a regret ever since (I was 30 at the time, so no second chance, it seemed). When I heard that the visa conditions were going to change, I was absolutely stoked. Feels like it's meant to be! :)
     
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  16. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    I have been thinking about Banff as well. It's mainly the 1hr trip to Lake Louise that concerns me... I don't know if that's a valid reason or whether the mountains closer to town are good enough for the majority of the time? .. I also understand that it can be extremely difficult to find accommodation.. Does that also mean that the mountains are busy? ... This is where other people's advice could help me. I think it would be amazing for the hiking etc.
     
  17. Pink

    Pink One of Us

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    The age limit on working holiday visas is clear cut age discrimination, illegal in any other context. No likey!
     
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  18. buckwheat

    buckwheat One of Us

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    You're right, Whitewater is too small for a season - I'd be bored as well. The backcountry however is another thing - bowls and mountains in every direction beyond the resort. Access is super easy. Then there's all the other stuff not near the resort (ie Kokanee, Valhallas etc). Too much for a lifetime.
     
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  19. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    Thanks for the feedback! I appreciate it. Would you be able to suss out with your sister what the best approach to finding accommodation/work would be? There is a 'I Love Nelson' website that I've found that seems to be their local Gumtree - don't know if there are any other options. Glad to hear the backcountry seems endless! ... My MTB is around the same level as my skiing, so I might be walking a few for a while as well!
     
  20. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    I'm working through all the responses but this one from Beerman stood out. Do you think someone with my (lack of) experience will be able to explore the backcountry after a few lessons (skiing, backcountry and avalance)? By the same token, given my lack of experience, am I likely to get my kicks for a lot longer than for those who are already well experienced? ... I guess the other relevant point is Red Mountain ... Excluding backcountry, would the terrain at Red Mountain and Whitewater combined offer enough to keep entertained for a season?
     
  21. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    Thanks, that's good to hear. We are fairly interested in exploring the area, so it's good to know that Fernie and Revelstoke are within easy reach to change things up a bit.
     
  22. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    Thanks for the info. Now I know what the Okanagan region is, what would you be thinking in terms of a base location? Also, would adding Red Mountain change your thoughts in regards to being kept interested? I guess the other bonus of Nelson is the other activities on offer in the town. I do like the sound of the Nordic skiing in Okanagan at Silver Star, ice climbing at Big White, but would any of the locations offer the variety of activities that living in Nelson would offer?
     
  23. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    I had been somewhat anti-Whistler bc of the size of the place and the crowds.. But it does seem to have it all. It's at least in the conversation now. In regards to cost of living, are you suggesting that even with an income, I'd likely need to be dipping into savings just to get by?
     
  24. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    Have you spent a bit of time there?
     
  25. ColdNovemberWayne

    ColdNovemberWayne Early Days

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    Years ago I spent 12 months over there. Time of my life
     
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  26. Beerman

    Beerman One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Haven’t been to Rossland or skied Red, but have Nelson/Whitewater. The combination of Rossland/Nelson, Red/Whitewater would have many frothing, but only if you are up to the terrain, it is NOT beginner/intermediate skiing. That said, what’s stopping you from moving around a little??
    Summer in Banff/Lake Louise is fantastic, even if you spread your wings and head east to Quebec??
    Canada is The worlds second largest country so why not explore a little??
     
  27. robbo mcs

    robbo mcs One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you are considering Whistler, then I would think of living in Pemberton or even Squamish. Accomodation in Whistler is almost impossible to find, and super expensive. Squamish is also very expensive, but 45m drive to Whistler, and has awesome summer recreational activities that would tick all your boxes. Close to Van as well. Pemberton is 30m drive to Whistler, and is very small and a low key locals type town. Easy commute to Whistler.

    However, I think you will find that cost of living will make all of those less attractive that the other options you are looking at.
     
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  28. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    That is a valid point and probably something I need to consider. We've got no backcountry experience, so if backcountry is the main deal, it's probably not ideal. With general skiing lessons, as well as lessons in backcountry skiing and avalanche awareness/skills, is it likely that we'd be competent/comfortable going backcountry after a couple of months? ..We're not looking to move too much, bc we'll be working, but could definitely do a spring/summer at a different location to our winter location.

    For the winter season, where would you be sending me?
     
  29. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    Great! Thanks for that info! Given that it's a longer term stay, forking out crazy amounts on accommodation is not ideal and if I can find somewhere similar that ticks the boxes while having lower expenses, that would be preferable.. If Whistler is out and out the best option for everything I want to do, then I'd have to seriously consider it. Re Whistler, the image I have is long queues at lifts and busy runs? Is that the case or is the terrain that massive that you don't necessarily notice the number of people on the slopes?
     
  30. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    What are your thoughts on heading there as a low-intermediate with no backcountry experience (or off-piste for that matter)?
     
  31. buckwheat

    buckwheat One of Us

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    FNM, now having a better idea of your ski experience, maybe having 2nd thoughts about whitewater! Maybe not enough terrain for a low intermediate?
     
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  32. ralf_plough

    ralf_plough One of Us

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    If you are low intermediate hang out in the resort for a couple of months and develop skills. Do a Rec Avalanche course and learn a few things during that time.

    Then start small and conservative in the bc and work your way around to more ambitious stuff with some more experienced folk that you will meet in the resort.

    It’s possible to go from low intermediate to a fair bit better in a couple of months with some tuition and lots of miles.
     
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  33. Kletterer

    Kletterer Thredbo Doughnut Tragic Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Any climber/ skier worth his salt knows Penticton is the shelter you seek.
     
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  34. CarveMan

    CarveMan Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you’re young and fit just get stuck right in to skiing as early as you can in the winter and you’ll be high intermediate / low advanced before you know it.
     
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  35. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    Yeah, cool. With that in mind, where would you suggest as your next best option? ... Fernie was of interest, but then I was reading about poor snow in January, long periods between dumps etc, so it turned me off it a bit.
     
  36. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    Ok. That's good info - I do intend spending a bit on lessons as well to get me up to scratch. I'd like to think that would mean fairly quick progression to high-intermediate/low-advanced.
     
  37. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    First I've heard of it, which is probably saying something about my climbing and skiing ability! Looking into it now.
     
  38. Kletterer

    Kletterer Thredbo Doughnut Tragic Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Apex Mountain is your local. Skaha Bluffs with thousands of awesome routes in Summer . Sensational wine growing district. The Lakes for chillin and coolin off and the big ticket higher altitude stuff not far away. Ask @sly_karma how terrible it is.
     
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  39. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    very interesting!
     
  40. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    It’s a town. Closest ski resort is Apex, which is a relatively small resort with very good advanced and expert terrain. Wouldn’t be my choice for you.

    Whistler would be great assuming you can get accommodation.

    Red is actually pretty massive these days and I think the intermediate terrain is underrated. Much more suitable terrain than Whitewater.
     
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  41. buckwheat

    buckwheat One of Us

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    Trail (near red) is also a genuine town in its own right, but cant speak for culture or vibe. Second the comments about good climbing at skaha near penticton. Watch out for rattlesnakes though!. And get yourself to the bugaboos!!!!!
     
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  42. ColdNovemberWayne

    ColdNovemberWayne Early Days

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    What everyone else said. Maybe save Nelson/Whitewater for when you’re a bit more experienced. Apex is a pretty good suggestion. Maybe even Banff.

    But look. It doesn’t matter where you go, really. The skiing on offer, the MTB, the mountain lifestyle is great no matter where you end up. Just stop wherever you find affordable accommodation and a job
     
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  43. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    I guess that's something to take out of this as well. It seems I can be confident in just about any location I choose, which means that I can just choose a spot or two and start sending applications.... I'm just so damn indecisive!
     
  44. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    Sounds like I need an attitude shift re Whistler. I've had it in my head that I don't want to go there bc it's so big, busy and... because so many people go there. Was wanting to go somewhere a little more off the beaten track, so to speak.

    Regarding Red, as buckwheat said, there is Trail nearby, so to hear that that there is solid intermediate terrain is food for thought.
     
  45. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Whistler IS busy, but don’t rule it out just because of that. Nothing wrong with the quieter places either.
     
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  46. ColdNovemberWayne

    ColdNovemberWayne Early Days

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    IMO I’d aim for Red or Fernie. The mountains might be a bit intimidating at first but you’ll come good. All of BC can have fairly dry January’s, it’s not exclusively a Fernie thing. Fernie does cop the worst of the Pineapple Expresses though. But it’s a helluva mountain and a pretty cool town.
     
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  47. blowfin

    blowfin One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    There's heaps of intermediate terrain at Red, and they're adding another lift this year to smooth out access. Rossland is the closest town.
     
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  48. FNM

    FNM Early Days

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    That being the case, it sounds like if I was going down this route, Red would be the preferred option to Whitewater. Cheers
     
  49. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah the new Topping Creek chair should help and adds another batch of intermediate runs.
     
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  50. Sbooker

    Sbooker One of Us

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    Sunshine ski hill rocks.
     
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