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Advice needed Whistler and...? Jan '15

Discussion in 'Canada' started by kylep, Jul 5, 2014.

  1. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    So now we have our large group ~15 organized for Whistler and all of our flights it's time for 3 of us with an extra week to figure out what we're doing.

    Few days in Vancouver
    24/12 transit to Whistler
    8 days Whistler
    2/1 transit to Van
    ??
    10/1 back to Van- 2 fly home and I go to NYC

    So we can do another 7 days on snow. The 3 of us are snowboarders -intermediate(+?) and love to explore. We're planning to have a car the whole time- even though wasted mostly at Whistler, easier to just keep it.

    Some of the places on the short list are
    Revelstoke
    Silver Star
    Possibly Red, Apex or...
    I would have loved to check out Banff but we don't want to kill a whole day or 2 on travel.
    I think we'd like to do 2 places in that time, maybe a day somewhere else as well.

    So, I'm looking for thoughts on which places to go (have read a fair bit and I think on it's own we can figure this out), but more so if you wanted to combine 2 places, what makes sense? Is there a good spot to act as base and day trip somewhere else? What's the travel time between options?
    It would be great if we don't need to lock ourselves in and can be flexible once there.

    Thanks for all the advice about to fly my way!!! And all the TRs and comments I've already trawled through.
     
  2. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    its a day's drive to Sun Peaks. We did that last season, did a trip to Whistler, then followed by SP.

    www.sunpeaksresort.com
     
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  3. KneeDeep

    KneeDeep One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Revelstoke, Red and Apex might be too difficult for intermediates? You would limit the runs available, Big White, SilverStar and Sunpeaks offer plenty of intermediate terrain and are all in the Okanagan. Base yourself in say Silver Star, two hours to BW and SP. Check with local resident Sly Karma on the forum, he has a wealth of local knowledge.
     
    kylep likes this.
  4. cqen2l

    cqen2l Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Que MS, Sun Peaks Director of Marketing.
     
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  5. main street

    main street Doing what I want. Ski Pass: Gold

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    Concur.
     
  6. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Red actually has heaps of intermediate terrain. It's going to take a while for it to shake its 'experts only' tag.
     
    kylep likes this.
  7. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    We had a long chat with a guy from SS at one of the ski expos and based on experience including some of the side country we've done he thought Revy would be appropriate with some challenge(I could be wrong calling us intermediates, might be too humble for a boarder! We're better than beginner and not expert). Also part of wanting the flexibility so if we find somewhere too challenging we can choose somewhere else the next day.
    That option of SS base is exactly the ideas I'm after, thanks!
     
  8. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Definitely expecting that :)
     
  9. ODNT

    ODNT Part of the Furniture

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    I think he's out networking with the locals today
     
  10. Piste Again

    Piste Again Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    I reckon you'll want a rest day, and not just a day to drive from one resort to the other.

    You could also add a couple of extra days in Whistler. We've had two weeks there and we still haven't skied the whole place.
     
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  11. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yeah 8 days in Whistler Blackcomb gives a decent introduction only.
     
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  12. main street

    main street Doing what I want. Ski Pass: Gold

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    You know where to find me. ;)
     
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  13. main street

    main street Doing what I want. Ski Pass: Gold

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    Outdoor concert,..... Friends,.... Good times.
     
  14. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Blasphemy! But seriously, the day when our friends head off and we relocate will be the rest day. We also won't be going all out at WB, with the big group and enjoying Christmas and New Years. The 3 of us will be looking to make the most of that 7 days once all the wives/girlfriends/toddler head home. More likely to call the end of a day earlier than have a day off. We're all just on 30 - will use whatever youthful exuberance we have left!
     
  15. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Yep, would love to stay longer but want a taste of a couple of places. Many years left to go back for more.
     
  16. Patrick Lipman

    Patrick Lipman First Runs

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    we got a bus from sun peaks to whistler and it only took about 6 hours, do both for sure. cheers, patrick lipman
     
  17. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Head to the friendly town of Vernon and make base there. Will take you roughly 5 hours from Vancouver depending on road conditions on the day. From Vernon you can drive to:
    • Silver Star (20 min)
    • Big White (1 hr 20)
    • Apex (2 hr)
    • Sun Peaks (2 hr)
    • Revelstoke (1 hr 30)
    So a day either way for the trip from the coast to Vernon, then some day trips out from home base. Vernon is a decent size town, about 60,000 in the overall area, so it has good facilities and plenty of options for accoms and food. Remember winter is slow time in Canada, like most towns Vernon has a real surplus of motel and hotel rooms in winter because the market has sized itself for summer tourist volume. Even rack rates for rooms are two thirds of the summer price, and you can certainly negotiate them down from there. The only time I'd consider booking is during Vernon Winter Carnival in early Feb. Look for independently owned motels, good chance the guy at check in desk is the owner. He'll take almost any price offered because cash in his pocket is very scarce in January. The same can be said for any of the towns close to ski resorts in BC, they are towns in their own right and the skiing/boarding is just an extra rather than the focus. Even on hill accoms are easy to find on spec outside of holidays, spring break and festivals.

    Now you should consider throwing all this out the window if the snow isn't happening in the Interior. It might make more sense to stay on the coast and hit Mt Baker, Steven Pass, Crystal, etc in Washington, or over to the Island and ski Mt Washington. It all points to not booking anything but just scope the weather and snow reports and follow the snow.
     
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  18. KneeDeep

    KneeDeep One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Good advice from Sly, I was wondering when you would weigh in with your local knowledge.
     
  19. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks @sly_karma ! That's some really useful information, especially giving me some comfort in not needing to lock down accoms early. So if we were to base ourselves around that Silver Star area, you'd recommend stay in Vernon, rather than SS?

    Given your comments about accom availability, is it worth settling ourselves in 1 spot for the week or - as an example SS for 3 nights while we board there and move closer to other hills for 2nd half?
     
  20. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    my views differ, for different reasons.

    kyle has 7 days to spare, so I'd suggest he doesnt want to spend half of that time commuting between resorts.

    For 7 days, base yourself in a resort, abandon the car and enjoy that one resort
     
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  21. absentskier

    absentskier Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Mate there's no right or wrong answer here. Some people love staying somewhere central and then drive to different resorts each day. Others like to be in the one spot, especially if it's only a week. Wait to see where the snow is and make your decision then.
     
  22. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    The advantage in locking in accommodation early is you can cherry pick the best stuff that suits your budget, but you can often haggle a better deal by locking in earlier.

    If you leave it too late and the snow is good, you will struggle and end up paying top $ for average quality

    As absentskier said, there's no right or wrong - you have to decide what's important to you, and where to make compromises
     
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  23. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    So many choices, as others have pointed out. If you stay at SS you're getting that 'walk out the door and click in' experience, but you'll pay more for it and also be adding 20-30 minutes to any road trip you might take. Depends what you assign more value to. As some have said, you could easily drive to somewhere like Revelstoke and stay a few days, keep other resorts for a future trip. Main thrust of my post was to say you don't have to lock in anything. Aussies are used to winter accoms near snow drawing premium prices and booking out early, but this is Canada. Ummm, they have a lot of snow... not a novelty to anyone... they try hard to avoid it and complain about it A LOT. It's a guiding principle: you're walking into rock bottom low season in January, especially in the off mountain towns. Take advantage!
     
  24. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    sly and gareth, thanks for continued comments. Definitely feeling comfortable to play it a bit loose and see what happens. The 3 of us when on a trip like this are all about the snow and a bit of adventure, if we end up somewhere nice and with some life we'll enjoy that, but if we end up too exhausted or in a quiet place, as long as we can have a feed and warm up nicely we'll be happy. It's going to be a great mixed trip - craziness of a large group in Whistler over merry week into carefree trio wherever we please :)

    All these comments just help guide us
     
  25. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    So there's this little resort called Apex...
     
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  26. main street

    main street Doing what I want. Ski Pass: Gold

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  27. Crystal

    Crystal (Sly made me Cry) - Sand skier extraordinaire Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    ...and it's horrible. Don't go there ;)

    But by the sounds of it...It may be perfect for you.
     
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  28. skidiva

    skidiva Addicted

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    Great attitude - you will have fun anywhere in canada - its all great.
     
  29. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    OK, so still keeping options open, but figuring out a but better what they are given travel times etc.
    If we're too far from Van at the end of the extra week then we may lose a day due to the other guys' flights. I'm thinking of something like this as a possibility:
    2-3 days Sun Peak
    2-3 days Silver Star
    1-2 days Apex.

    What would the likely travel time be (obviously pending weather) from Apex back to Van?
    Would it typically be doable for us to make the trip between the resorts in the arvo/evening after a day on the hill?
     
  30. main street

    main street Doing what I want. Ski Pass: Gold

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    In terms of travel times.....

    Van to SP = 5 hrs
    Van to SS = 5 hrs
    Van to Apex = 4.5 hrs
    SP to SS = 2.5 hrs
    SS to Apex = 2.5 hrs.
    Sp to Apex = 4.0 hrs

    These are "Winter" travel times & can vary by quite a bit.

    A "very good run" in good conditions could see you shave up to 40 minutes off those times.

    If it's ugly,...... add up to 4 hours,....... or more.

    An inter resort trip after a day on the slopes is possible,...... But you'll be in the dark on unfamiliar roads in conditions that are extremely variable,.... & you'll be tired.

    Not sure I'd be pushing that envelope to be frank.
     
    #30 main street, Dec 2, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2014
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  31. Crystal

    Crystal (Sly made me Cry) - Sand skier extraordinaire Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    ^^ Yes we have driven all those routes and always have done them at 9 am in the morning after a quick check of the roads, you can always ski the afternoon (and generally on your day ticket for the next day). Remember some of the passes will close due to weather and accidents. We were very fortunate that all roads opened on the days we had planned for travel last season. A tip would be leave a buffer of a day or so between resorts. You may find on your transfer day that a pass is closed and there is no way around. Try to be flexible with accom and transfers, I know it can make it difficult but better to be relaxed and enjoy than stressing and losing dollars.
     
  32. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks again, great to have these bits of info at hand to figure it out along the way.
    Doing a trip in the morning and boarding afternoon is another consideration, I was thinking of potentially ending the day a little early to do the drive in the afternoon after starting first lifts.
    We're staying flexible for that week with only the car hire booked, will do accom/passes either on the day or a day out. After a week in Whistler which will I think feel very touristy, keen to keep it simple and on the fly for the second week.

    With regard to travel back to Van. Is there much difference in typical 'reliability' of the roads if we were travelling back from SP vs Apex, or Vernon for that matter? And anywhere on the route back that we could stop overnight to be a couple of hours from Van? Thinking there is if we get close enough back to Van so we can drop our mate at the airport in time for his flight and then we have most of the day to spend a bit more time in/around the city, but not need to go all the way back there the night before. Getting him to fly out of Kamloops in the morning is another option while we have all day to drive back, but $$.
     
  33. jgm

    jgm Addicted

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    You could also get the ferry across to Vancouver Island and spend a few days on Mt Washington.
     
  34. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Winter drive times for skiers are actually quite consistent. Think about it, if it's puking snow to the point where passes are difficult or closing, no skier or boarder on a road trip is going to waste a day driving. They'll stay where they are and ski powder. By the time we decide to leave and try another resort, the road crews have dealt with the worst of the mess and the roads are back to "normal" winter conditions.

    Returning from SP to the coast, you will likely use the Coquihalla (Hwy 5). It's divided carriageway 4 or 6 lanes all the way except for the first 30 minutes from the resort down to the valley. From Apex to the coast the drive time is about same but you don't hit freeway until Hope, a bit past half way. On paper the hwy 3 route looks like it winds and twists - and it does - but the Coquihalla gets a lot more snow and can be a complete bear on the wrong day. Take a look at a few episodes of Highway Through Hell to see what I mean. From SP you do have the option of Hwy 1, the Fraser Canyon. Low elevation and very spectacular, rarely has issues with snow, but longer.

    From SS you have the Coquihalla again and its Connector, 97C. Same deal, most of the time a fast and safe route. You'll be clipping along at 120 kmh with snow on both sides (and locals passing you like you're barely moving), But on a bad day you'll have fog or blowing snow for the 50-60 km high elevation portion of the connector, crawling along at 60 kmh thinking it will never end.

    In summary, not enough difference between the three drives to make one an obvious choice over the others. Whichever you choose, just be sure to leave a lot of time for the trip to the airport. Fortunately, BC Highways does an excellent job with their highways website www.drivebc.ca. It has dozens of cameras on all the passes, and constant conditions updates, alerts about road work, accidents, snow/ice conditions, avalanche work, etc. Definitive source for info before you make a decision about which route and when to go.

    As for somewhere closer to the airport, you could consider heading down a day early and going riding at Mt Baker. The drive is 1hr 15 from the outer Vancouver suburb of Abbotsford, plus whatever the border crossing takes, midweek is typically very quiet, 5-10 minutes. From Abbotsford it is an hour to YVR unless one of the bridges or tunnels screws up. Again, check drivebc. Lots of hotels/motels out that way conveniently located to freeway, prices considerably less than in the city proper.
     
  35. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Awesome info. Thanks. I think with all of this info now and shortlisted to a few resorts that we're likely to visit it will be quite easy to see how we feel after Whistler, look at conditions and just make the call, AND actually have a bit better idea of travel and what we can achieve. Hopefully I get to thank some of you in person!
     
  36. blowfin

    blowfin One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Late to the party, and Sly has kinda said this, but think about hiring a cabin in Glacier (Washington state), and riding at Mt. Baker (15-20 minutes from the cabins). You could not get a bigger contrast between two places than there and whistler. It's the most laidback hill I've ridden at, plus the scenery is world class. Lift prices are also fantastic there, as is the price of booze, plus it regularly pukes bucketloads of snow. The only things missing are the crowds and safety bars on the lifts. Also means your buddy is less far away from his flight, but you do have the added complication of crossing the border. There's also very little chance of getting screwed by weather on the drive, as the bulk of it is below the snow line. Other options like Stevens pass are also pretty close by once you're down there, but I can't vouch for the drive, as I've never done it.
     
  37. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Will have a look into the Mt Baker option and run it past him. Does anyone know if you need to do the electronic waiver prior to leaving Aus if doing this option? I already have mine because I'm going into US afterwards but not sure if my mate is.
     
  38. main street

    main street Doing what I want. Ski Pass: Gold

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    If you're going into the US from anywhere, you need that waiver. No exceptions.
     
  39. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    No visa waiver for me, I got one a them Canadian passports these days/
     
  40. KneeDeep

    KneeDeep One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Any chance you could make one for me?
     
  41. sly_karma

    sly_karma Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Don't see why not, colour scanner/printers are pretty good these days. Send me some navy blue cardboard and I'll give it a bash.
     
  42. JCK271

    JCK271 Hard Yards

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    I can attest to Baker and Stevens, did a few days at each and they were pretty cool. Baker was fantastic with only 1 slight draw back is all lifts are slow but you def do not ever have to wait in a line. The drive up is superb. Stevens is also pretty chillaxed. Visa waiver definitely. The border crossing at Sumas is a breeze, we blasted through in literally 1 minute.
     
  43. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Great, confirms what I thought. Will check that he has a valid waiver or do a new one 'just in case' :)
     
  44. benchives

    benchives I forgot how to ski Ski Pass: Gold

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    I'm excited for you mate
     
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  45. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    I'm ridiculously pumped! Just got back from a mate's 30th weekend in Adelaide which included the cricket yesterday. Melbourne for a couple of days this week for work then fly out Friday morning. Friday night in Hong Kong with a great mate and then Vancouver on Saturday. As I said to a mate at the airport today - crazy lead-up but absolutely cannot complain!!
     
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  46. benchives

    benchives I forgot how to ski Ski Pass: Gold

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    Mate I couldn't think of a better lead in. Just need a massive dump of the white stuff and you're set.
     
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  47. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    My cuz is doing the season and they opened the alpine yesterday. Some awesome photos and loads of fresh.
     
  48. blowfin

    blowfin One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Where did @kylep end up going I wonder?
     
  49. Ralph_implement

    Ralph_implement A Local

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    At least some time was in Sun Peaks.
     
  50. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Location:
    Jumped the wall to Mexico
    @blowfin the answers you seek: https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/festive-bc-kyle-in-canada-2014-15.69223/

    So obviously did Whister. Then was to Sun Peaks. Increased our stay there to 4 days, then to Silver Star for 2 days. This was based on a forecast and eventuated big dump right around the location change time. After all that time and the marginal conditions toward the end we decided to head back to Van for a final night out with friends then leisurely day around town and airport drop-offs.
     
    blowfin and Ralph_implement like this.