Banff - Mount Norquay.
|This is a review for Banff Mount Norquay only.|
This is in
my opinion a great little local hill which is situated only a short 10 min drive from the town of Banff.
If we are driving
to a resort for a day we normally start of in the daylodge with a hot chocolate and a muffin. Well Norquay scored real high
marks here...infact we think they had the best blueberry muffins we tasted this Canada trip. They were really warm and had
just come out of the oven after being baked on the premises at Cascade Lodge.
Norquay is not a big area by any means as
it only has a vertical of 503 metres with 31 runs inside just 190 acres but it has excellent trail grooming and lots of good
steepish pitches for carving.
There are 4 chair lifts, 3 quads and a double. The double chair on the left hand side is
the North American fixed grip chair and it serves an area of black diamond runs which on this visit were mostly heavily mogulled
so we gave that side a miss. The next chair just along from the daylodge is the Cascade quad which is only about 500m in length
and takes you up above the snowboard park. The park was definitely suited more to better freestyle riders as some of the kickers
and jumps were huge...well i thought so anyway.
You can then traverse over to the Spirit chair. This quad is a bit longer
and lets you access some nice blue runs with names such as Phantom and Hoodoo. These were really nice gentle cruisers which
early intermediate riders would find great for building confidence on.
The farthest away quad chair is the Mystic Express
and it was over here that we spent most of the day. There were very few people around on this warm sunny Sunday in late March
and as the runs were between the trees the sun was not able to do too much damage and the snow held up pretty well most of
the day although by mid afternoon it was soft spring conditions nearer the bottom.
Some of the runs such as Black Magic
and especially Excalibur kept us occupied for a good few hours as we zoomed up and down them a fair number of times. These
were great for some high speed blasts and with few people around we were able to gain some fair speeds.
We had some lunch
from the BBQ set up outside the Cascade Lodge and soaked up some sun before driving back into town.
Had a really good day
here and recommend the place if you want to have a short or easyish day without too much challenge.
|Short drive up from Banff.|
Good daylodge facilities.
buy lift passes by the hour.
Has night skiing/boarding from Jan to mid March.
Well groomed cruising trails.
|Not a place to spend more than a day at a time.|
Banff - Sunshine Village.
|This report is for Sunshine Village . Norquay has its own chapter.|
they are on the same tri-area pass along with Lake Louise but they are so different.
Norquay is small and laid back and
for its size rates highly in my book while the other - Sunshine is one of the main Canadian resorts and is well promoted and
well known to visitors from the UK but is vastly over-rated and in my view often gives a poor reflection on what Canada has
During our recent road trip to Canada we headed back to Sunshine. It was 4 years since our last visit and
we were keen to see if it had improved much. Im sorry to say that it certainly did not go up any further in my estimation
and its a shame that so many UK visitors think of this place as one of Canadas best when in fact its not.
Its main plus
point is that it normally can be relied upon to provide good snow ans a long season lasting well into May. But after that
i think this place lets its many visitors down !
Firstly though the new gondola from the carpark is a great improvement
for access to Sunshine village. It claims to be the worlds fastest - while i dont know if thats true it certainly whisks you
up there far quicker than on our last visit.
Starting at the rather busy daylodge with our customery blueberry muffin and
hot chocolate we planned out our days riding. The weather was a bit overcast with flurries of snow which made visibility a
bit difficult at times. We would not let this put us off !
We began on Mount Standish doing a couple of runs from the Standish
double chair which is really,really slow. From the top we came down the" Upper Standish" and through the trees before going
back up and heading further over onto "Jerrys" run where the dusting of fresh snow made for pleasant riding conditions on
what were really tame runs but were ideal to get the legs working first thing in the morning.
We then headed up the Strawberry
chair and glided over to the Continental Divide Express. This quad chair is 5.8km long and although it is a fast chair it
seems to take ages to reach the top. As we climbed upwards on Lookout mountain the mist came down and at the same time the
winds increased. By the time we got off at the top it was like a good day at Cairngorm. Up here above the treeline we could
see nothing and it was difficult to get your bearings. We were looking to head down "Bye Bye Bowl" which is run No 33 on the
map so we traversed over but alng witha few others we were not exactly sure where we were so we started to descend. A few
people got caught short for speed in the gulley before the green cat track and had to unstrap to grt onto the lower divide.
we got further down the slopes became a bit busy so we decided to go for an early lunch. By 11.15 the restaurant was getting
busy. We were soon out of there and headed down towards the Goats Eye Express for a lift up Goats Eye Mountain.Here we knew
we would find a bit more challenging terrain. Visibility up here had not really improved a great deal either.
down one of the black diamond trails onto the Sunshine Coast/Banff Avenue and back to the carpark.
It was only 1pm so we
decided to head back to Lake Louise to finish the day.
At LL the sun came out and we had a great couple of hours.
ws my third visit to Sunshine and in my view it is vastly overrated. It suits intermediate boarders but the place is heaving
with low standard Brit skiers.
Yes there are some challenging areas but on the whole it is intermediate terrain. The facilities
compared with other comparable sized N.American resorts are poor. The daylodge is inadequate for the amount of visitors it
Not ridden on Delirium Dive but from what ive seen it is not that challenging and i would certainly not come here
just to ride that.
If i was based in Banff for a couple of weeks i would be driving up the road for an extra 45 mins each
morning to play at Lake Louise....which is far,far better.
This is one of the most dissapointing places i have been
|Good snow record.|
Plenty of intermediate
|Limited on slope accomodation.|
Lots of low standard skiers.
Too many Brits !
Poor eating facilities.
Vastly overrated .
Sunshine Village Website
|After leaving Kicking Horse we drove via Revelstoke and over
the magnificent Rogers pass to Big White. This took us about 4 hours with a stop in Revelstoke to pick up a few things and
with traffic quite busy when we got to Kelowna.|
It was nearly dark when we got to the turn off road up to Big White and
it seemed to take an eternity to get to the village even though i was booting the 4x4 on a bit quicker than i should have
been ! The first place you pass is the Gem Lake base area and its then another 10 mins drive up to the village. There is a
central reservations area if required but we just drove on up to the Inn at Big White,parked at the door,unloaded our kit,checked
in and then parked the vehicle in the Hotels underground carpark (Free to residents).
The first thing that i really
noticed about Big White was that most of the staff were Aussies, whether they were lifties,working in Restaurants,Hotels or
bars or in any other of the resorts service sectors - no matter where you went it felt like you were "down under" rather than
in Western Canada !
Even in the Chinese Restaurant ( Franks Chinese Laundry) all the staff were from Australia,and liked
to talk about it too.
The village itself is quite well laid out and its easy to get around. A gondola takes you from the
centre down to the Happy Valley Lodge area where there is an Ice rink (closed on our visit as it was melting with the warm
temps) and the tubing park ( C$ 15 for 2 hours) which was great fun. This is where we also went on a late afternoon snowmobile
tour which lasted a couple of hours ( including free time to do what you want with the machines....brilliant). The views were
back towards the ski area were pretty impressive. The Happy Valley Lodge also has a large restaurant and bar with big screens
to watch sports on and also a good selection of beers on tap. There is also afternoon and evening entertainment on here as
There is still a lot of new building work going on at Big White,especially new Condos and it looks like the place
is expanding rapidly.
At night "Snowshoe Sams" was always quite busy. They serve pretty good food,have a good selection
of draught beers and have live music on quite a lot.We ate here a couple of nights and found it really good value.
dinner at the Powderkeg restaurant which is situated inside the Inn at Big White. The food was excellent but the waitress
service was a joke. Firstly we had been told the previous evening that we had no need to make a reservation and that we would
get a table without pre booking. Wrong, we turned up and were then asked if we had a reservation !
We were seated and then
after ordering it was well over half an hour before the waitress returned with our main course...she had forgot the starters
! She was then very unhelpfull so when we left it was without leaving any tip at all and thats something ive probably never
done before in North America. And to make matters worse this was our wedding anniversary !!
We also went to the "all you
can eat" buffet night at Franks Chinese Laundry and it was very good and proved good value.
As for eating at lunchtime
there is nothing up the hill. You have to come back to the base area where there are a good selection of places to choose
from or you can go over to the Westridge Cafe at the Gem Lake area. This is a new modern large log cabin place with great
big wooden tables,friendly and welcoming staff and good value although limited choice of food. They also have a selection
of really great flavoured coffees. It was also a nice place to sit and chill outside in the sun !
Another good place for
lunch was below the village at the Ridge daylodge which had quite a wide choice of food at reasonable prices and was a nice
place to sit outside and people watch when the weather was fine.
This was Presidents week when we visited and i was
not sure as to how busy it would be. I had no need to worry as compared to most places in Europe it was very,very quiet. There
were a lot of visitors from Washington state who had come up because of the lack of snow and closed resorts down there but
it was still not busy.There were a lot of families here and a lot of young kids who were involved in lots of activities both
day and night.It all looked very well organised and there was plenty going on to keep them entertained.It seemed to me that
Big White was well geared up for and done a good job looking after families.
In the morning we had breakfast in our
appartment which had a small kitchen area which was ideal for breakfast and for making a small snack but would not have been
big enough for cooking a full dinner.We also had a large living area with seating and a dinning table and a big bathroom.
the back door of the Inn you could strap in and head down to the lift and at the end of the day you could virtually ride back
to the front door. We were only a short ride down to the Ridge Rocket Express ( quad chair) which quickly whisks you 3/4 of
the way up the hill. From here there were any number of cruisy blue and green runs heading out in all directions. There were
some nice wide and well groomed runs down to the Alpine T- bar or onto the Bullet Express (quad chair) and the Telus park
chair (double) which gave easy access to the well planned and laid out Telus park. The park has two half-pipes, one of which
is a huge super pipe,a boarder/skier cross course,a dual slalom course and then the main area down the middle with a wide
variety of rails,boxes and kickers etc. Each feature was marked as beginner,intermediate and advanced so everybody had something
to play on.The park has also got its own sound system so tunes blasted out throughout the day.
The week we were here
was very springlike (although it was Feb),warm and sunny with no new snow !!! Canada was cruel to me this year.The base was
still pretty good and had plenty of depth over most of the area though and the pistes were generally well groomed. There was
still some decent sport between the trees but fresh snow was really needed to get the best out of the glades. Off-piste was
still fun once the crud softened up towards lunchtime but our best fun was early in the morning. We always got up early each
morning and had runs such as "Powder Gulch","Powder Keg","Corkscrew" and "Blackout" which are accessed from the Powder chair
(triple) to ourselves and this allowed us plenty of space to carve at speed all the way down to the green traverse run known
as " Ogo Slow" which ends up down at the Gem Lake Express and a welcome coffee at the Warming hut.
This long "green" known
as "Ogo Slow" was very boarder friendly in that it had no "flats" and was not too narrow.
From the Falcon chair, "Grizzly
run" (black) was worn and rocky so you had to be carefull in picking your route down.
"Whitefoot" and "Blue Sapphire" were
my favourite runs on the hill. They were wide ,well groomed,quite steep and undulating.
The Gem Lake Express (quad)
is the longest chair at Big White and is nearly 2.5 km long. It gives access to a wide range of Blue and Black runs. "BlackJack"
was great fun and usually deserted although later in the week we had to watch out for worn and bare patches showing through
!The new runs cut out through the trees to the left of the Gem Lake chair were closed as the base had tree roots and rocks
showing through. They plan to clear this area a bit more during the Summer so this should be less of a problem next Winter.
the other end of the area is the Black Forest Express (quad chair) which gives access to some nice cruisy Blues with some
nice rolling undulations and also a few nice natural kickers at the edges of the runs. " Whiskey Jack","Bears Paw","Herberts
Hollow" and " Cougar Alley" were all good fun.
Back up top the boarder friendly Alpine T-bar took you to the highest
point of Big Whites terrain and allowed access to the "Cliff area" which has its own short two seat chairlift.The drops into
the bowl were pretty worn and mogulled on our visit but would be much better fun with a fresh dump of snow.
has night Skiing/Boarding with the Plaza chair,Park chair,Bullet Express and Village gondola all open until 8 or 9pm giving
quite a a decent area plus the park to play in if you have any energy left.
To sum up then, Big White has got good
boarder friendly lifts,nice long,wide and well groomed cruisy Blue and Green runs with very few flat areas where you would
have to unstrap. There are a few challenging Blacks and also some Blues that are pretty close to being graded Black ( in my
view anyway) and with fresh snow there is plenty of in-bounds off piste to explore and some fine glade runs too.
is well enough time to explore the whole area and any longer would find me getting bored but if you like your parks and pipes
then you could happilly spend quite a lot longer here.
Its a great resort for families and is most certainly worth a visit.
I will go back some day when i am in the area bit only for a few days......unless it snows heavily and then i might hang around
to see the legendary "Snow Ghosts" !!!!
Not many flat green runs.
Great Park (if you like that sort of thing)
|"Whitefoot" and "Blue Sapphire" runs early morning from Falcon
"Corkscrew" was also another top run.Quite long,quite steep and usually quiet.
|I wouldnt like to say it has many weaknesses but unless
i had a bit of powder i would be bored after a few days.|
Not a lot of challenging terrain.
Big White website
|Well here goes with my second go at reviewing Fernie.|
place is a freeriders paradise and the only thing that surprises me is that ive not been back since my first visit.
area now consists of five powder bowls which are mainly unpisted (high up anyway) which come down to give you a huge amount
of tree riding terrain back to the base area.
When we were last there in Feb 2000 it was deep ,dry powder all the way and
it was still snowing lightly when we got out of the car.
We were staying at Kimberley a resort about 1.5 hours drive away
via Cranbrook to the north-west. Fernie is now under the management of the company that owns Lake Louise among others - Resorts
of the Canadian Rockies. and future developments will surely be on the cards, but whether this is a good thing or not remains
to be seen !
I only rode here for two days but it is now my fav place to ride and for me it was the underdeveloped and
laid back feel to the area that made it so special for me.I thought this would be a great place to head for with a mixed ability
group as there is a good nursery area from the Deer and Elk chairs with wide runs to build confidence on. For intermediates
it is a great place to get the feel of riding powder without going miles away into the backcountry,but if you like carving
on well groomed pistes for mile after mile you would be better somewhere else.For better,more experienced riders its got the
lot. There is a lot of steep and plenty of gullies and natural terrain both in the bowls and through the trees. You cannot
get bored riding here and if you do there is a pipe and terrain park but i never went near them.
Fernie has a good snow
record but is not the highest of resorts at 1070 to 1925 Metres and the lower runs may suffer if you hit a mild spell of weather
during the season.
The five Bowls are named Siberia,Currie,Timber,Lizard and Cedar with my favourite being the Lizard
Bowl. Access to this area is by means of the Face lift rope tow and it is not the easiest of things to use. When we were there
the snow was so deep the tow was almost on the ground and a few people gave up trying to get up it,but it is worth the effort
as it opens up some outstanding natural terrain and it is also the only access to Cedar Bowl.Once you safely get to the top
of the rope tow you will have plenty of options on routes down depending on how far you want to traverse along but this is
a huge area and the options are limitless.
Another of my favourite areas is from the White Pass chair and into Currie Bowl
which allows you a nice long run back to the base.
Fernie has places to stay either at the foot of the slopes or in the
town which is only a few minutes car or bus ride away.
The Lizard Creek Lodge was under construction when we visited but
looks like an ideal place to stay with an outdoor hot tub and pool. Other places to stay include the Cornerstone and Wolfs
The area did have a lack of on mountain eating places but it is easy enough to return to the base area for
P.S- this is the basis of the report i wrote from a couple of years ago so please dont take its accuracy as
being 100% as a lot of things may well have changed since i was last there.
Maybe will get back for a day as part of next
Febs road trip.
|Deep powder and superb Bowls.|
Great runs amongst the trees.
This review is a few years old now !
|You could class the lift system as a weakness as it is certainly
not the best in Canada. There is a fair bit of traversing and hiking involved to open up the best of the terrain and if you
add the difficult Face tow then it may not be too appealing to some folks but infact this could well be a strength of the
place as it limits the number of people that access the best areas and makes it all the better for those who want to put in
the effort to get there!|
Imagine if they built a high speed gondola to the top !!
It just would not be Fernie anymore.
|How i visualised this place in my mind ended up being nothing
like i imagined. I thought all the hype and good things i had heard about Kicking Horse may well leave me expecting too much
and therefore disapointed.|
Well how wrong could i be....this place rocks and i will return here again thats for sure.
Horse is only a 10 min or so drive from the town of Golden and was formerly known as Whitetooth. On way up to the hill you
cross the railroad and we were unlucky enough to be held up for 25 mins to let a slow moving freight train pass which gave
us time to read all the graffiti spray painted on the railway sidings. Not the prettiest place ive visited but i was excited
at the thought of spending a day at this new resort.
We had left Lake Louise early after breakfast and drove for just over
an hour to Golden. The journey took a bit longer than expected because of extensive upgrading of the main road.
Horse base area was a bit of a building site with work on the new Glacier Lodge residence well under way.
the road and walked over to day lodge where we bought our day tickets and went for a hot chocolate to wait until the lifts
opened up at 9am.
Had a read at the trail map and digested some facts about this place.
There are 4 lifts,the main one
being the single stage Golden Eagle Express gondola right to the top. There are then a further 3 chairlifts. The one to the
right on the lower slopes - Pioneer was not in use during our visit.
Kicking Horse has 1260m of vertical.
A top elevation
2750 acres of rideable terrain and an annual snowfall of about 300 inches...quite impressive stats.
gondola started up we were near the front of the line to get to the top. There had been 10 - 15 cm of fresh overnight and
it was a bright sunny morning so things looked good.
When we got to the top i was quite impressed at the amount of terrain
on offer as the upper slopes are not visible from the base area.
We traversed along a bit then dropped steeply into Crystal
bowl. The snow underfoot was fresh,light and untracked. This was heaven as we glided gently across the powder as the slope
flattened out and we headed for the Stairway to Heaven quad chair. Here we had about 6 people in front of us waiting on the
chair opening up. Once at the highest point of this resort at Blue Heaven we tracked over to the right and dropped down into
the wide,steep Feuz Bowl....this was amazing and is new terrain to the resort as it was previously used by Purcell Heli Skiing
and was not open to lift served customers.
By mid morning the area was still very quiet. We headed back down to the bottom
and had a drink at the daylodge before being whisked back to the Eagles Eye restaurant at the top. This time we traversed
along a narrow ridge with a steep drop in to Bowl Over. The snow here was perfect and we picked our own lines till it flattened
out as the treeline approached. We then hit the cruisers back down to the Catamount quad chair from which we had a couple
of runs through the trees before going back to the top for a last blast coming of CPR ridge and back to base.
At the daylodge
we had a cheap lunch,bought my Kicking Horse stickers at the small shop, visited the good,clean washrooms and headed back
to the car well satisfied with a brilliant days riding on our first but what will certainly not be our last visit here.
|Great lift accessed terrain.|
Good snow record and powder
when we visited.
Still not too busy or commercialised.
Good steep bowls of powder.
Plenty of good terrain to hike
I was just not there long enough !
We have since been back,alas only for i day during our 2005 Canadian road trip
and the place was better than ever. Will speak more about Kicking Horse in the Winter 2005 section of the site.
Kicking Horse Website
|The resort of Kimberley sits midway between Panorama and Fernie
and approx 3 hours by car from Banff. This is as yet an uncommercialised resort but is owned by Resorts of the Canadian rockies
who own Lake Louise.|
The town of Kimberley is a short drive away from the base area and has a Bavarian style to it including
what I was told to be the worlds largest cuckoo clock!There were a number of fairly good laid back restaurants and a number
of shops including a supermarket, liquor store and petrol (gas) station. When we arrived we were pre booked in the Trickle
Creek residence inn but could not find it!Did this place really exist? Eventually, feeling a little worried we called in to
the resort Office at the base area to ask where this place was. The girl we spoke to was originally from Liverpool and after
some discussions with her colleagues she knew were we wanted to go. The problem was that the Trickle creek was not officially
open yet! We parked up outside and made our way to the reception area, passing lots of tradesmen doing joinerwork and laying
carpets. We thought this was going to be a nightmare until we were shown to our room. It turned out to be a suite and we were
the first customers to use it. It was massive with a huge bedroom, living area, kitchen and bathroom. The views were great
from the windows looking out over this unspoilt snow capped wonderland. We spent 4 nights here and although the bar,restaurant
and hot tubs were not open I loved this place and if I had the money I would have bought one of the suites which were for
All the runs here are below the tree line with a good mix of easy and more challenging runs, on our visit there was
good snow cover and we found that the piste grooming was pretty good (if you like that sort of thing). The resort caters for
boarders with two parks.
|Good on slope accomodation. Well groomed pistes. A good snow
|Situated away on its own. Pretty quiet nightlife. Not a
great deal of really difficult terrain. Best to use as part of a holiday with say a few days in either Lake Louise, Fernie
This is one of
the largest areas in N.America,
set in the Banff national park. The scenery is
spectacular and the resort offers excellent
for all levels of rider. The so called resort centre
does not add up to much, it is basically a few
not much else. The accomodation is
pretty much spread out over quite a wide area.
We stayed at “Deer Lodge”
which is situated
300 metres from the frozen lake and the huge
Chateau Lake Louise. Deer lodge has a real
to it with lots of character , the lounge
is dominated by a huge open fire with a large
Moose head looking over you.
This place will
always have a special place in my heart as we
got married here in Feb 2000. The restaurant
of the best I have been to anywhere with
outstanding food and an excellent wine list.
You can walk on the frozen lake
taking in the
amazing view of the Victoria glacier. The 3564m
glacier was first seen by an outsider in 1882 by
Wilson who at the time said “ As God is
my judge, I never in all my exploration have
seen such a matchless scene.
I can agree with
The Lake Louise ski area is the biggest of the
three areas that are all on the same lift pass-
other two being Mount Norquay and
Sunshine. These are all linked by bus but
having your own transport is the best option.
new base area at Lake Louise is an
impressive wooden complex which contains
restaurants and bars as well as ticket
and hire shop etc etc.
There can be short queues to catch the chairs
up the mountain from the base area but
all very civilised and well organised. These
take you up the “Front face” from where you
the “top of the world” chair to the
top. From here you can access the back bowls
which during our visit
had great powder. We
did find that once you had decended down the
back bowls it tended to flatten out quite a bit
a few times it was “get the back foot out”
We only had a couple of days here but from
what I could see there
was enough to keep me
happy for a week! The mens and womans
world cup runs back to base were well groomed
great for fast carving turns. There are
plenty of steep slopes here with unlimited scope
for off-piste boarding especially
if you get a guide.
The terrain park here was also pretty impressive
and not very busy while we were there.
all I want to return to Lake Louise to
explore all that terrain that I saw but did not have
the time to ride. I want
to stay at Deer Lodge
again for a couple of nights but the remainder
of my stay would be spent 40 minutes drive
the trans Canada highway in the town
of Banff with its good choice of places to stay,
as well as having so much more
going on at
night. There are also some smart shops here
as well. And be warned you can also pick up
Spectacular scenery, Large area, Good for all levels,
Good snow record.Great place to get wed!
No real resort .
We have been back to LL on our 2004 road trip and
especially enjoyed the time spent in the Larch area.
Lake Louise Website
|Nakiska was developed as part of the Calgary winter Olympics
back in 1988.We spent a days riding here on our way back to Calgary Airport for our flight home after a tour round a number
of Resorts in B.C and Alberta.It was a great place to finish our trip as it is less than a couple of ours from the Airport.The
drive from Banff to Kananaskis (Hotels for Nakiska) along the back road is a great one where you pass lakes where people are
ice-fishing and driving Huski sleds.|
|Although i prefer to ride ungroomed terrain or off-piste,it
is sometimes a joy to practice and perfect your carving skills on immaculate pistes,and that is what we found here.Jill and
i were among only a handfull of people on the mountain except for a group from the Canadian Ladies ski team.This was a Thursday
in late Feb.There was no waiting on lifts and the staff were all friendly and helpfull.We spent all morning on the runs used
for the mens and womans downhill races at the Olympics before having lunch in the base lodge which has a lot of Olympic pictures
and information about the place.|
|Being close to Calgary it might get busy at weekends.Limited
area so a day or two midweek is all you would want.A very quiet place to stay, but set in stunning surroundings.|
|This place really impressed me . We stayed in the Pine Inn
which is right at the foot of the slopes.The riding is nearly all amongst the trees, has a good choice of fairly challenging
runs set in magnificent scenery and during the week it does not get very busy.The film "Alive" about an Argentinian rugby
teams fight for survival after a plane crash in the Andes had many of its scenes shot here and there is a run named after
it in the Sun bowl area.|
|One of the biggest vertical drops in Canada/USA.It has a
lot of areas for future expansion.I can recommend the extreme dream zone at the top of the mountain,although the trees can
get a bit close together at times.This is not a huge resort for choice in eating out but the standard was good in both the
Toby Creek ( Caribou and triple grade A Albrta steaks) and the Kicking horse bar.If you have a car the resort of Kimberley
is within striking distance.|
|It depends what you are looking for at night as this is
not the place to live it up till daylight.I would find a whole week here too limiting but there is a good Heli operation in
|Red Mountain.Well this was our first visit but most certainly
not our last.|
This place is top notch.
375 miles from Calgary and 360 miles from Vancouver it is not the most easily
accessed place for visitors from the UK and in my mind that makes it all the better. This place is basically a locals hill
and has a feel of still being slightly in the past.
Surrounded by the expansive wilderness of the BC interior Red provides
a big mountain experience with a small town feel. It is only a few kms from the town of Rossland which has produced a string
of top class Canadian ski racers....its easy to see why. As well as having a reputation as a top powder/off piste area it
has some very steep immaculately groomed pistes where it is ideal to train future Olympic and world champions.
south towards Rossland late in the afternoon we could easily see the distinctive conical shape of Red mountain. It looked
so steep from below and with lots of trees from top to bottom it looked a great place to ride.
Red is actually two hills
- Red and Granite. Granite is the bigger of the two areas and is a mixture of bowls,chutes and glades as well as easy and
difficult pisted runs from top to bottom.
There is a total vertical drop of 2900ft with the longest trail called " Long
Squaw " being 4.5 miles in length.The area has an annual snowfall of over 300 inches but the season usually only runs from
late December till early April. (5th April this year ).
On Red there is the old double chair to the top and a T-bar. On
Granite mountain there are two triple chairs ,the Silverlode chair and the Motherlode chair which was a cast of from Blackcomb
a few years back. Further over there is another chair called the Paradise chair.
We stayed at the Rams Head Inn near the
base area. This is a gem of a place hidden in the trees. It is a lovely old lodge type place with very comfortable,well decorated
rooms. There is a big wooden hot tub to soak in out the back where you can watch Squirrels running about. A lovely large sitting
room with a big log fire makes a nice place to relax and have a drink .
It is a two minute walk to the slopes from the
Inn through an old potholed,icy and in the afternoon muddy car park.
We were there at 9am and it was virtually deserted.
We met up with Andy a mountain host and he took us on a tour of the area. There was no fresh snow during our visit so a tour
of the best groomed runs was a good option to start our day. I was surprised just how well maintained the pistes were. There
was some real steep stuff and we spent the morning carving it up without hardly seeing anyone else.
Over on the Paradise
side is Paradise Lodge. This is a great little hut for food and refreshments.Everybody wants to speak to you...it was one
of the friendliest places i have ever visited.
On granite mountain you can come from the top and drop off in any direction
giving a 360 degree panorama of the surrounding area. The views are magnificent and you look over the border into both washington
The piste map takes a bit of understanding and getting used to as it trys to show the 360 degrees of rideable
options and at times it was easy to get disorientated.
Red mountain is the smaller of the two but no less interesting.The
front face provides some real fast cruising and lots of tree options ( in better snow conditions).Spent lots of time on this
hill on our 2nd day.
At the base area there is adaylodge for food and drinks, a ticket office,ski/board school office and
About a mile away down the road is the Rock Cut pub where good food and a big choice of beers were available. This
place has internet access, a pool table,shooting games and big screen tvs showing sport and music. Like everywhere in this
area everyone is so nice and genuine and make you welcome.
A good restaurant is the Gypsy at Red near the base area where
the food and service are first class.
There are a couple of hotels in Rossland as well as a few shops to buy clothes and
Cant wait to return next winter when hopefully there will be some fresh powder which will allow us to see this area
in all its glory.
A great place to combine with a trip to another gem of a place - Whitewater.
Huge areas to play after
Well groomed steep trails.
Cheap, good value lift ticket ($C48/DAY).
Quite isolated and hard to get to. (thats probably a strength).
We went back to Red in on our 2005 road trip and will be back again in Feb 2006.
Red Mountain has now been rebranded as Red Resort and the new owner has big plans for the place. I just hope it does not grow
too big and loose its special and unique feel.
This was a place i had read quite a bit about and
really wanted to visit as soon as possible.
Before moving from Whistler back in March i posted on the site to ask about
conditions at Whitewater and this was the reply i got from CQ.
We've just got back from Red/White... White
had about 40 cm last week (not sure about Red), the whole are is looking marginal... I wouldn't advise going, stay well away,
tell everyone you know how crap it is and tell them to stay away. The snow sucks, the mountain sucks, the people suck... definitely
give it a miss. I can't emphasise enough how FAR away you should be from Whitewater... really. Dont go."..
internet time was running out as i read this and i was a bit down as i went back to the Bar to tell Jill !
I was confused
as by all accounts things had been pretty good up until then.My head and thoughts were probably not 100% in gear after a few
beers in Whistler....so i went to bed asking myself if it was worth visiting Whitewater after all.
Anyway the next day
when we came back off the slopes i logged onto Goneboarding again and found boardgirl had posted this...
really sarcastic, you sure she isn't just trying to keep all the powder to herself? how can 40 cm be bad?"....
it clicked that she had been winding me up...how did i fall for that,how stupid. I think it was because i had such a clear
idea in my head about this place and just could not believe it had been shattered. I will get you back someday CQ, just wait.
then suddenly felt much better and coudnt wait to see what Whitewater had to offer.
Last year i was lucky enough to
spend a day on the Vallee Blanche in Chamonix in the company of well known mountain sports photographer John Norris.He was
with us as he was wanting to get some pictures for Ski & Board magazine among others and for various brochures.
in this Springs issue of "Ski & Board" i came across an article by John covering a trip to Whitewater as part of a Canadian
tour he had done. The pics caught my eye at once...Lots of deep powder and action shots of people flying through the trees
- great stuff !!
In his article he mentions the road up to the Base area..
" Further along,we passed a few vehicles
which had been quite deliberately parked by the roadside that morning but with no sign of occupants. This puzzled me vaguely,but
we continued along the remaining kilometres to the base area"
This road is pretty rough and full of pot-holes and it
is about 8km from the main road to the parking area at the base.You can tell a lot about a ski area by the vehicles you find
parked there. Whitewater car park is normally full of tatty old pick-ups,works vehicles and the odd camper van or two and
our brand new Ford Explorer 4.6l V8,which probably marked us up as outsiders (tourists!).
John goes on in his article
about how they traversed along the ridge and dropped down through the trees coming back out onto the road where the vehicles
they had seen earlier were parked. He then realised what goes on - groups of friends leave cars there so that they can hit
these great spots before driving back to the base area and the lifts !
The day we visited was a Sunday and we were
in the car park before 9am after a nice run of about an hour from Rossland (Red Mountain).There were only about 20 vehicles
there and in total about 50 at the most by the end of the day.We had clear blue skys and no wind. Perfect weather.
Whitewater area was discovered in the 1960s, Ymir Bowl and its 8000ft peak turned out to be a secret powder stash and a sheltered
area for the epic winters that happen in this area. The areas average snowfall is over 1300cm. There are only two lifts here.
The Silver King Chair and the Summit Chair on the other side. They are both double chairs. There is a vertical drop of about
400m and most of the inbounds terrain is graded 20% beginner,40% intermediate and 40% advanced so there is something here
for everyone including some great groomed pistes,plenty of trees and Bowls along with some pretty steep chutes with deep powder
as well as endless possibilities for venturing into the backcountry.
On our visit there had not been any fresh snow
for a while so the main part of our day was spent flying down the groomed runs of "Joker","Motherlode" and "Paydirt" from
the Summit Chair.The place seemed deserted for most of the morning.
We then went over to the Silver King Chair and traversed
along the ridge to come down black diamond runs with names like "Tramline" and "Nugget". These were good pitches where you
came out onto a track at the bottom and re-traversed back along to the lift.
We stopped at the base area for an early
lunch at the Freshtracks Cafe which has been voted Canadas finest by Ski Canada magazine. We had a White H2O burger and a
beer and sat out on the terrace to soak up the sun for a while.
We then headed back over to the Summit Chair from where
the views were spectacular and traversed along to "Powder Keg Bowl" and dropped back down onto the groomed trails and back
to the lift. This area must be superb after a fresh snowfall ! We went back up again and spent about an hour at the top in
a secluded spot sunbathing before cruising back to the base area and back to the car.
This had been a great day out
from Red Mountain and it was easy to see the potential of this place after a major snowfall - we are coming back next winter
in Feb so hope to be in luck and we will bring backcountry kit to allow us to explore a bit further in this unspoilt area
of British Columbia. I just hope that it does not get overdeveloped or over popular as it would then lose its magic and sparkle.
CQ you were right...we should have given this place a miss (NOT) !!
Lift tickets cost in 2004 - $42cdn.
from Rossland via Trail and Salmo to Whitewater and returned via Nelson and Castlegar to make a nice round trip. This is a
beautiful place and i cant wait to return.
Whitewater markets itself as "Pure,Simple & Real" and that is exactly what
it is !
We were back on our Winter 2005 Canada road trip and look forward to another day at Whitewater
next Feb when we are again staying at Red Mountain.