Powderwatch Snow Conditions http://www.powderwatch.com It's Snow Time! Sun, 22 Feb 2015 02:50:20 +0000 en hourly 1 Come Together http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/come-together/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/come-together/#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2015 02:48:06 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=755 Today was one of those days when it all comes together to make a perfect day.  In the morning I wasn’t overly stoked because a) I couldn’t find a ski buddy so I was flying solo.  b) snow-forecast was predicting 17cms so I was disappointed when I checked the report at 5:30 and it was only 6cms.  But there are some advantages to flying solo and that’s getting a really early start out of Calgary.  I hit the road at 6:30 and only stopped briefly to grab a coffee at Starbucks.  The coffee tasted really good (Starbucks can be hit and miss) so that was a minor win for the journey.  Win number two, despite hitting several snow squalls the trans Canada was dry most of the way.  Win number three, I was one of the first 20-30 cars in the parking lot and scored this sweet spot!Screenshot 2015-02-21 18.15.22

After walking straight up to the window and grabbing a lift ticket, I strolled onto my private gondola – there was zero line up, and I disembarked in the village at roughly 8:15.  I’ve never been on the mountain this early and I’m now wondering why…  I had time for a muffin in the day lodge before noticing that they were loading Standish at 8:40.  Damn!  I rushed over and skied straight onto the lift.  From the Standish chair I skied straight down to the Divide chair where maybe a dozen people had beat me to the punch and were on their way to the top.  But to my surprise they all headed straight down and I had Bye Bye Bowl to myself.  I could have gone home after that run and my day would have been a success!  It wasn’t deep powder but it was all fresh and when I hit the bottom I looked back up and there was only one person coming down behind me.  On my second run down Bye Bye I still found fresh tracks along the rope and one the third run it was mostly fresh but I had to navigate a bit to cut from untouched patch to untouched patch.  Finally, by the fourth run it was mostly tracked out.  But for me that was a fabulous opening hour.  Unfortunately, I have no photographic evidence as I was under the spell of powder fever.  But I did snap this shot skiing down from Standish to the Divide chair.Screenshot 2015-02-21 18.34.59

So by 10 o’clock (the time I normally arrive) I’d already skied 4 runs on really nice snow.  I’m starting to understand what Derek was getting at when he told me I should know better than to show up late for a day of skiing.  Now the fact that this wasn’t a major powder day definitely worked in my favour.  If there was 30cms of snow I’d have a lot more competition for those fresh tracks.  But the 5 to 10cms of light hero snow on the Divide was enough to turn a hard and crusty surface into something extremely enjoyable.  I could feel the snow pack under the fresh stuff and it was certainly sun affected from the warm week we had.

Screenshot 2015-02-21 18.43.39

The other nice thing about the day was that the lifts lines weren’t very busy until about 10:30.  As you can see there was never more than one or two people in the singles line so I was getting laps in pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, it was cold enough that I had to defrost my toes but by then the lift line was starting to build and all the freshies were gone.  Mental note: there was no line up in the cafe because most people were just getting on the hill by 10:30.  I decided to have an early lunch and then ski until my legs gave out.

Screenshot 2015-02-21 18.53.35

After my snack I did one more run on the Divide then headed over to Goat’s Eye to ski the remainder of the day.  It was now after 11 and the sun was starting to provide some warmth.  But the snow was still in mid winter condition, nice and light.  For my run on the Goat I chose to ski all the way over to Renegade (one of the chutes down to Eagle Basin.  This was not as amazing as I’d envisioned because there were no fresh lines left, the light turned a bit flat on me, and the base under the new snow had been significantly sun affected and was a little crusty and a little chunky.  The crust might have been no problem if I’d been on my DH skis but it messed up my tele-turns compared to the hero snow I’d been enjoying on the Divide.  As you can see in the picture below, the snow looks great but there was definitely some chop underneath.Screenshot 2015-02-21 18.51.36At the bottom of this run I ventured into Eagle Creek and found some sweet snow in the trees!  Next up… I skied down the rope line above Cleavage then cut into Ewe First and dropped down to the glades below.  This is often my favourite run on Goat’s Eye but today it was also a little too crunchy for my liking.  I resorted to parallel turns on my tellies and that was pretty fun but not as awesome as it could have been.  After those two runs my legs were starting to tire out so I did 4 or 5 easy laps on the front side of Goat’s Eye.  There was sweet powder on Old Chute so I hit that on every lap but on the bottom half I tried Gladerunner, Rolling Thunder, and Wildfire.  I found that Rolling Thunder had the right combination of great snow and terrain easy enough for my tired legs.  I finished the day off with a couple runs down Rolling Thunder and pulled the pin at 2pm just as the Goat’s Eye lift line was starting to build.

Rolling Thunder - Great Snow!

Rolling Thunder – Great Snow!

Driving home before the highway got busy was yet another bonus for getting up early.  Yes, I’ve always know of the many advantages to being the early bird but it isn’t very often that I actually do it.  After today I’m thinking that I should be a bit more strict about leaving before 7am.  Even if I have to get up at 5am to walk the dog, it’s totally worth it because it makes for a much more enjoyable day at the resort.


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The Challenges of Climate Change http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-challenges-of-climate-change/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-challenges-of-climate-change/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 03:06:54 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=747 I’ve heard that Alberta is a hot bed of climate change deniers but to be honest I don’t know many people that would argue the point anymore.  My brother in law was very smug a few years back when the average global temperature declined for the first time in several years.  But then it went back to setting annual records.  We don’t argue about it anymore.  But it’s the freakiness of the weather that people can’t deny.  My sister moved to Boston a little over a year ago and after receiving 7ft of snow in the last 3 weeks she’s saying things like, “I don’t remember winter ever being this bad in Ottawa”.  On the east coast of Canada they’ve suffered massive snowfall, then rain, then 80km/hr winds, and then temperatures approaching -30C.  Toronto apparently was pushing -40C on the weekend- with wind chill?  Meanwhile in Calgary we’ve had the mildest January/February that I can remember and I’ve been here over 20 years.  Last Friday I was sitting outside in my T-shirt and the sun was hot on my face.  But we did have some sub -20C temperatures in January but those were relieved on short notice with false springs.  This is nuts!Screenshot 2015-02-17 19.57.40

On Thursday last week, I wrote in the Cdn Rockies Outlook that there would be a beautiful spring skiing for the family day weekend.  I wasn’t quite right – although I heard there was sweet spring conditions at Louise on Friday.  Sunshine actually had winter powder conditions on Saturday – I encourage you to catch up on the Ryder report to see what you missed.  But west of Banff park the resorts were punished with torrential rain on Friday.  A group from work had their Cat skiing cancelled in Revelstoke this weekend because it rained all night on Friday and didn’t stop until 5am.  As they drove through Golden Friday night it was pouring there as well.  A few of the would be cat skiers stopped in to ski Kicking Horse but it was heavily rain affected (and I’m trying to phrase it nicely).

Now here are a few shots from Kicking Horse early last week:

Screenshot 2015-02-12 19.26.10Going from amazing powder to pouring rain must be a real punch it the gut for the resort operators who are already struggling with a tough season.Screenshot 2015-02-12 19.25.10That’s insane powder!  But don’t expect great conditions like that until it snows again.Screenshot 2015-02-12 19.24.46Seriously deep powder that is all gone now.  But have hope!  It can go the other way just as quickly.  Two weeks ago Kicking Horse wasn’t looking that great.

I think this is the perfect segue for the Ryder Report’s, “Ski Tips #7″.  Despite the woe’s many resorts have been having during what is normally powder season, Sunshine has been enjoying winter as usual.  It’s very typical for rain to spoil the fun at more southerly resorts like Castle, Fernie, and Whitefish.  Calgary is also known for having warm Chinook weather several times each winter and this year it seems like there have been more warm days than cold in Jan/Feb.  I don’t have the data to back up my assertion but I believe western Canada must be setting records for warm average temperatures.  But Sunshine has been dodging the bullet and Mr. Ryder has a theory to explain why.

I leave you with very depressing news from Castle Mountain’s snow report today:

Screenshot 2015-02-17 20.00.48



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Lesson Re-Learned http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/lesson-re-learned/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/lesson-re-learned/#comments Sat, 07 Feb 2015 20:33:32 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=735 I’ve been skiing in Calgary for twenty years now and this is the second time I’ve had to abort a day trip to the mountains.  The first time was many years ago and it was due to heavy snowfall on the TransCanada.  About 20 minutes outside of Calgary we turned back because the snow was so deep that driving was slow and treacherous.  I had a panic attack when my buddy Sammy decided to turn back – it was going to be an insane powder day.  But if the driving was that bad all the way to Banff he would have been exhausted by the time we made it to the hill.  We found out the following week that the weather cleared about 15 minutes beyond where we turned back.  Such is life :-)Screenshot 2015-02-07 12.35.22Today was a different story.  There wasn’t a lot of snow in January and Calgary area skiers are itching for some good turns.  I was just discussing this at work yesterday.  My snow boarder buddy was adamant that I’d have to leave before 7 or we’d be stuck in some crazy line ups.  I checked the snow report this morning and Louise had another 15cms so it was going to be a good powder day – the hordes would be on the move.  I took all the necessary precautions last night: ski clothing laid out at the front door, boots in from the garage and warming in the house, skis and poles preloaded in the car, and Louise cards registered.  Check.

Saturday morning we awaken at 7am – oh oh.  Off to a poor start, we had slept in by 30mins.  Next error, we decide to have a quick coffee and toast.  We were running late anyway so what’s another 15mins.  Just as we’re sitting down to breakfast my sister skype’s us from Boston.  I told her it would have to be short because we were on our way to Louise.  Thirty minutes or so later we finally hang up and I still haven’t walked Rio.  Out for a fast walk with the pup and we run into his best buddy Sonny.  They have so much fun together I couldn’t help letting them romp for a few minutes. Dave invites me into his house while the dogs play in the back yard and 15-20 minutes later I’m running home as fast as I can.  Once in the house, Estelle is flustered because her credit card is missing and she can’t find her ski goggles.  The card is put on hold and I dig out a spare set of goggles.  We are on the road by 9am.  Not good.  At this point we were considering pulling the pin but foolishly neglected to consider what it would be like arriving at 11 on a day where every Calgary skier is racing for the mountains.

Screenshot 2015-02-07 12.53.08

From that point on, it’s smooth sailing until we hit the Sunshine turn off.  The traffic is backed up onto the highway.  I’ve heard of that happening but never actually seen it until today.  Estelle comments, “I hope Louise isn’t this bad”.  Two km’s down the highway, traffic is stopped (show above).  We’re still 20mins from Louise (at 90kms/hr) so we’re looking at an hour delay.  I’m guessing it was an accident and not traffic backed up from Louise.  But I wasn’t sticking around to find out.  The mission was aborted and I now find myself back in Calgary.

What did I learn today?  Always leave early when you’re going skiing.  A lie in followed by a slow paced breakfast is great on the weekend but not when you’re skiing.  It’s just not worth joining the line up with the rest of the chumps that can’t drag themselves out of bed in the morning.  What did I miss out on?  A great day of skiing of course.  Even if we’d carried on and managed to make it onto a lift by noon, half the day would have been gone.  As you all know, on a busy day at the resort the best turns are first thing in the morning.  Screenshot 2015-02-07 12.21.17

I took a look a the web cam when I got home to see just how crazy the crowds were and it actually wasn’t that bad.  Big lines at the base but nothing out of the ordinary for a weekend.   Actually, the chair line is shorten than normal.  Perhaps the accident on the highway was holding back the arrival of the masses.  This is an ideal situation on a powder day!!  Greedy yes, but there is much truth to the “no friends on a powder day” mantra.  After checking the web cam (I must be somewhat masochistic) I proceeded to look at the photos from yesterday.  The shot below and the post featured image are both from Lake Louise on Feb 6th.  Yes, Friday would have been the day.  I’m definitely slipping.Screenshot 2015-02-07 13.12.29On that rather off key final note, I have to admit that I’m no longer the powderwatch guy and I’ve become the lame old guy that doesn’t get to ski much anymore.  If you are young, care free, ridiculously good looking, and ski or snowboard like your hair is on fire, then I could really use some help.  Enjoying writing and taking photos are other prerequisites, probably more important than my first list of qualifications.  If you like powderwatch and would like to see more posts that are actually about skiing then drop me an email at websitename@gmail.com (websitename being powderwatch) and we can talk about how you can help out.  Derek Ryder is still doing an awesome job on the Ryder report but quite frankly I’m not contributing much.  First hand information on snow conditions and intimate knowledge of the resort and its terrain are what you can find on the Ryder report.  I would like to provide you with the same level of quality but it’s probably not going to happen until I retire or take a season off to ski.  That’s just not on the radar yet.


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The Powder… The Powder http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-powder-the-powder/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-powder-the-powder/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 05:30:12 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=728 My post last Thursday under Canadian Rockies Snow was admittedly dismal.  Then as January ended the conditions took a major turn for the better.  Judging by the Ryder report the snow at Sunshine last weekend was really good and continued to improve all week.  Today I received a powder alert from Sunshine stating that 38cms had fallen in the last 4 days.  I also received an email from Derek Ryder informing me that I’d missed a ton of fun today.  Well I’ll have you know that I had a pretty awesome day at work today…  yeah, whatever.  It was a great day but nothing can compare to an amazing powder day so, yes, I’m jealous.

Screenshot 2015-02-05 21.59.30

Anyway, I’m not going to steal the thunder from the Ryder Report.  Head over there and you’ll be stoked to ski Sunshine on Friday.  I’m planning to ski Louise on Saturday and this will be my second outing of the year.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve had such a lame ski year – and I can blame it on conditions to some degree but the reality is that having a puppy changes your life.  I have a couple buddies at work that have new born babies this year and the impact is very similar.  These are guys that were out every weekend and have now scaled back to my current level of snow consumption.  But enough lamenting :-)  Let’s have some fun like they do down at Solitude!!

Solitude, Utah - Woot!!

Solitude, Utah – Woot!!

Lake Louise should be pretty good this weekend but maybe not quite as good as Sunshine.  They’re reporting 26cms in 7 days and 16cms in the last 48hrs. There’s snow forecasted all day tomorrow so if I were a smart man I’d be heading out tomorrow to enjoy the freshies.  But I’m a big dummy so I’ll go to work and ski Saturday with the rest of the working stiffs.  But it will still be fun because it will only be my second time out.  I can’t wait!!


Louise on Jan 24th.  Wait a minute... I thought conditions were poor in Jan.

Louise on Jan 24th. Wait a minute… I thought conditions were poor in Jan.

Kicking Horse is reporting 13cms today, 36cms for the week, and their weather data shows that snow has been accumulating all evening.  Could a sweet sweet morning in Golden tomorrow.  But if you care to spend a couple more hours on the highway you’ll find even more snow in Revy.  They’re reporting 24cms in 24hrs and 54cms for the week.

Kicking Horse always posts amazing powder shots!

Kicking Horse always posts amazing powder shots!

There’s plenty more to talk about this evening! It’s been snowing from Whistler to F

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The Horror… The Horror… http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-horror-the-horror/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-horror-the-horror/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 13:27:06 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=696 Sometimes when you’re skiing you get in over your head and find yourself crapping your pants on a piste that will likely end your life or cause certain injury – like the one that dude is skiing in the post header.  It’s a shot from Whistler, maybe Sudan Couloir?  I’m sure everyone has found themselves in that situation at least once or twice.  There was a time when I almost skied off a cliff heading through some trees on our way over to Harmony Bowl at Whistler.  I turned hard and grabbed the last tree before the precipice that was only about 6 feet away.  Another time I took my wife down a run at Revelstoke that had a nasty cliff.  She was gripped when she saw the ‘Cliff’ warning sign and I tried to calm her fears by saying if it was a big cliff they’d have it roped off instead of a tiny little sign.  I insisted it was probably just a little drop.  Well I was wrong and anyone one skiing off that cliff would likely be air lifted off the mountain.  To add insult to injury… when I finally coaxed her down a safe route the run spit us out on ‘Kill The Banker’ – way above her skill level.

Screenshot 2015-01-23 05.54.36

Last week I experienced what I consider one of life’s little cliffs and I’m still working my way down the safe route.  The whole experience has left me feeling very small and vulnerable in a way very similar to when I’m skiing across a big avalanche slope.  It’s quite amazing what life can throw at you sometimes to test your strength.  Now I’m not saying any of the events I’m about to describe were beyond ‘nuisance’ level but the sheer coincidental nature of them makes me wonder how you can sometimes attract negative incidents like an electro-magnet.

Groomers at Jackson Hole - the horror!

Groomers at Jackson Hole – the horror!

It all began with a personal conversation with a very dear friend that was the kind that nobody wants to have.  I was accused of having too much negativity regarding his life situation.  Of course I was being negative, but I thought I was providing him with a warning and some advice that would help him out of a difficult life situation of his own.  That conversation was disturbing enough on its own.  Then in the middle of the night a pipe burst in our bathroom and flooded the second floor.  It was extremely lucky that it happened while we were there but there was still hardwood floor damage and drywall damage to the living room ceiling.  That same night our pup, Rio, started to vomit.  This continued in the morning until we rushed him to the vet hospital.  They fixed him up but it was expensive to say the least.  Other minor calamities that occurred in the days that followed:  breaking a key off in the lock to our garage, losing a half day’s worth of work due to a word document crash, and the Ryder Report blog database disappearing.  I’m still in the process of repairing the Ryder Report and I sincerely hope I didn’t lose any of his posts.  But in my panic I also corrupted my main Powderwatch blog and I’m having to rebuild it – hence the missing images that you may have noticed.

All the things I described have been dealt with or are in a state of repair, including this website.  Please bear with me though.  I have friends visiting from Ontario this weekend so it may not be until next week before I get everything back to where it was.

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Ski Whitewater – Pride and Joy of the Kootenays http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/ski-whitewater-pride-and-joy-of-the-kootenays/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/ski-whitewater-pride-and-joy-of-the-kootenays/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 03:59:18 +0000 http://powderwatch.com/?p=680 I haven’t been posting many videos this season (none actually) because it can bit a bit tedious watching a whole bunch of bad videos before stumbling across a real gem.  But I had a bit of time to kill tonight and I think I found a few good ones for you.  My focus is one Whitewater tonight because they always have great powder days and they had 42 cms in on Jan 5/6.  A couple powder days will usually result in a few Go Pro videos popping up in Youtube or Vimeo.

Let’s start with this video from Jamie Perchie.  Sweet, sweet powder!  I’m a little jealous because it’s been a few years since I had a day like that.  They are few and far between – for me anyway.
Winter Break from Jamie Perchie on Vimeo.

Next I have a more polished and professional piece from North Cascade Productions.  This was posted one month ago.  Did they really have snow like that in early December?

Whitewater from North Cascade Productions on Vimeo.

And for a bit of fun I’m going to drag up a video I posted back in October of 2013.  It’s a segment from Sweet Grass Production’s ‘Valhalla’ movie.  If you’ve never tried diving naked into the snow then you probably don’t have a true appreciation for just how cold it would be to crash in deep powder without any space age fibres between you and the white stuff.

Naked Ski and Snowboard Segment from VALHALLA from Sweetgrass Productions on Vimeo.

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Cold Weather Skiing http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/cold-weather-skiing/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/cold-weather-skiing/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 02:49:18 +0000 http://powderwatch.com/?p=673 We had some good snow in the mountains this week and I had several people asking me if I booked a day off work to get some pow pow.  But to be honest the thought never crossed my mind.  The 24hr snow report didn’t crack the 20cm mark at Louise or Sunshine and that’s just not enough for me to take a snow day.  However, after looking at some of the shots posted earlier this week I was wishing I’d braved the cold weather. Screenshot 2015-01-11 19.15.43

We were visiting friends in Canmore last weekend and on Saturday it was -25C.  It would’ve been a great opportunity to head up to Louise and cut an hour off the drive from Calgary but I’m sorry, that’s just too cold.  I’m not a cold weather wimp either.  On Saturday morning we had coffee on the patio at The Good Earth coffee shop because dogs aren’t allowed inside.  On Sunday, we took Rio for a 2 hour walk in -18C.

I can dress for the cold such that I’m perfectly comfortable in a frigid -25C.  But when I’m trying to ski in that kind of weather I just can’t escape the following sources of discomfort:

1. my toes freeze.  This is the most painful problem I have.  Even on a good day my toes are frozen by lunch and when it’s hyper cold I’m toast after about three runs.

2. my face gets frost bite.  It’s hard to cover up every inch of skin on your face – especially the nose.  I have a tube but it’s hard to completely cover the nose.  Tucking the tube into your goggles helps but then wind sneaks in around the eyes.  And I hate the wet soggy tube that develops.

3. I freeze on the chair.  Todays high speed chairs move pretty fast to begin with and at the top of the mountain it’s pretty rare when there isn’t a stiff wind blowing.  Sitting immobile while wind sucks the heat from your body is excruciating.  I usually attempt to get into the fetal position but this is difficult with the safety bar in the way.

Screenshot 2015-01-11 19.11.04

That said, I have a few tips for venturing out in extreme conditions.

1. wear your puffy down jacket – the big one, 800 fill.  Yes, you will look wimpy but you’ll be a lot warmer.  I also wear a down sweater underneath and a sweater if it’s really cold.  You can look stylin’ in the spring.

Screenshot 2015-01-11 19.36.01

2. wear snow pants.  I have a heavy pair of polar fleece snow pants with a nylon wind break material on the front.  These are the cats ass.  I’ll wear long johns, a light wind pant and my snow pants.  I’m amazed at how much of a difference it makes to keep your legs warm.

3. snowboard.  Hard plastic boots are kinda ridiculous when it comes to keeping your toes warm.  Having no air circulation is also pretty dumb.  There a reason Sorell’s -30C boots are big, floppy, and have zero plastic.  Snow board boots are just way better.  

4. big down oven mitts.  I have one pair of ridiculously fat down mitts that I picked up at MEC one year.  When I’m wearing those babies my fingers don’t get cold – ever.  Forget gloves when it’s that cold.  They just don’t work.

5. wear a toque.  I have a helmet that adjusts enough to allow me to wear my fleece line nordic nerd hat.  On a frigid day those thin ninja caps just don’t cut it.  I don’t like a super warm helmet because on most days I don’t need it.  So rather than have two helmets I have one that adjusts big enough to squeeze in my favourite toque.Screenshot 2015-01-11 19.46.55

6. wear a tube or scarf.  No explanation required.  You just have to cover up the skin on your face.  A balaclava is probably the best idea but I hate those things.  I just find them really uncomfortable and the mouth hole gets disgusting.

That’s it.  If you have the gear you can ski in pretty much the coldest weather Mother Nature can throw at you.


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Happy New Year from PW! http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/happy-new-year-from-pw/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/happy-new-year-from-pw/#comments Fri, 02 Jan 2015 00:34:20 +0000 http://powderwatch.com/?p=662 Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2015.  I hope everyone out there has at least one epic powder day this season.  But to date we aren’t having one of our better snow years so far.   Does that really matter?  There are so many ways to have winter fun in the mountains and ripping up some hero snow is just one of them – admittedly one of the better ways to have fun :-)

Screenshot 2015-01-01 16.38.15Apres ski is often every bit as fun as enjoying fresh air and exercise on the mountain.  In fact, some of the best Apres Ski I’ve experienced has been after an amazing snow day.  There’s so much excitement in the lodge that the place is just humming.  I’m thinking of the Griz Bar at Fernie where I’ve consumed many a pitcher listening to great music and shouting about the days exploits amongst close friends.  The Valley of the 10 Peaks lodge at Lake Louise has also provided some great memories but there does seem to be something magical about the energy level when I’m at Fernie.

Screenshot 2014-12-31 17.44.32

Spending Christmas and/or New Year’s Eve at a ski resort is also something you need to do at least once in your life.  For me, family and friends always come first this time of year which precludes running of to a resort of any kind.  But my dream would be to some day rent a big chalet and get everyone together for a ski vacation over Christmas.  Many years ago my wife’s family arranged Christmas in Chamonix and it’s one that I’ll never forget.   There wasn’t a ton of snow but the skiing was still fun and the dining was absolutely awesome!

Fireworks at  Squaw Valley

Fireworks at Squaw Valley

Screenshot 2014-12-31 17.46.23

Sunrise at Kicking Horse Resort

Now if I had my choice of any resort in Canada to spend my Christmas vacation, the top two would be Whistler and Le Massif.  Whistler is an obvious choice because of the incredible variety of terrain between Whistler and Blackcomb but the village get’s two thumbs up for nightlife and dining opportunities.  Le Massif get’s my pick because of the charm and coziness of the resort.  There is also the possibility of some awesome pow pow and amazing Quebec cuisine is guaranteed.  You also can’t beat the night life.  Sorry Whistler but Quebecers really know how to party.

Since I live in Calgary, Whistler and Le Massif are rather expensive options.  Ditto for US destinations, although I dream of a ski vacation in Utah, Wyoming, or Colorado.  The more affordable Christmas ski vacation would lie closer to home and that puts Fernie and Kicking Horse at the top of my list.  Both places offer rentals of large ski Chalets right at the base of the ski area. Fernie has the added benefit of a reasonable drive into town to provide some better dining options.  Staying in Banff or Canmore would provide a lot better night life and options for shopping, pubs and restaurants but I prefer the feeling of staying right on the mountain.  We do that every year at Big White and we have enough fun with our friends that we don’t really need any night life.  And not having to drive anywhere for a week really adds to the relaxation quotient!



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