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Great 2018 Northern Rockies and Canada Tour
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one month ago

I am doing something a little similar to the trip editor Scott Smith just took, although I’m a couple weeks later and a little further north.

Great 2018 Northern Rockies Ski Tour

By Jim Kenney

3/14/18.  I am currently about half way through a 26 day skiing road trip.  On March 1, 2018 my wife and I began driving our Subaru Outback from Virginia to Salt Lake City towing a UHAUL trailer full of furniture and household items for my son who has a home in the Salt Lake City area. We averaged 1000 miles per day and arrived on the morning of March 3.  The home improvement effort kept us busy in our spare moments, but was secondary to the pursuit of great skiing across several exceptional ski areas in the Northern Rockies and Canada. 

Initially, I skied with a huge group (75-100) of PugSki Gatherers during the first week of March for two days each at Snowbasin, Snowbird and Alta.  This group includes a fun, long-time bunch of ski buddies.  Conditions and weather were a ski vacationer’s dream scenario.  It snowed 1-2 feet on March 3 and 4 throughout the Wasatch and then was sunny for the rest of the week.

My highlights at Snowbasin were skiing fresh powder in Easter Bowl from the tram, skiing the advanced glades under the John Paul Express Chair, and (after two overcast and powdery days) catching a magnificent 3 PM glimpse of the Great Salt Lake from the top of the Strawberry Gondola.

My highlights at Snowbird revolved around exposing the beauties of this mountain that I’ve gotten to know quite well in the last three years to my East Coast friends in gorgeous weather.  Mineral Basin was in its sun drenched glory.  The Cirque skied well, having recovered reasonably well from an early season snow drought.  The trees under the Gad 2 chair were in good shape too.

My highlights at Alta included some fun advanced runs in the Catherine’s and Greeley areas, and some great cruisers off the Sugarloaf chair.  It was a blast to ski all three of these superb Utah mountains with a gang of great friends.  I also got to ski with two of my adult children during this week on Alta and Snowbird days.

Then my wife, son and I drove up to Jackson, WY.  My son Vince and I skied two days at Jackson Hole on March 12 and 13.   Weather conditions were the same beautiful sunshine we saw the week before in Utah.  However, it was interesting how the snow differed from the consistent Utah powder/packed powder.  At Jackson you had to manage the sun and ski appropriate exposures at appropriate times of the day.  We skied a range of snow conditions at Jackson including a lot of spring snow conditions – it’s all good.  Vince dropped Corbett’s Couloir three times while we were there.  I observed and photographed him and then skied around the shoulder of the mountain each time to greet him at the bottom of that run.  It’s impressive from all angles.

Now we are driving to Revelstoke, BC.  As I type this enroute on March 14, my wife and I have traveled approximately 3700 miles.  After a couple days at Revelstoke we are planning to stay in the Banff area for about a week, then drive home to Virginia, arriving in late March. 

Here are some photos and comments from the first part of our trip.

Snowbasin, UT pow day, 3/4/18, moi.

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my buddy got a face shot

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Easter Bowl at Snowbasin, 3/5/18, This is Laurel Hill Crazie!

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Former Washingtonian, now Utard, T. Romano skiing trees near John Paul chair

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late in the second day at Snowbasin we finally got a glimpse of the magnificent view of the Great Salt Lake from top of Strawberry gondy.

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3/6/18 at Alta, Catherine’s area.

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again, steeper part of Catherine’s.

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young local fella dropping about a 50-60’ huck below Devil’s Castle.

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Wed 3/7/18 at Snowbird, UT

Mrs. T. Romano in Mineral Basin on a gorgeous day.

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Son of LHC about to drop into Middle Cirque.  He skied it beautifully.

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Mr and Mrs. LHC

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two of my adult kids on little cloud chair 3/9/18, Snowbird

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Again on 3/10 on a very old Yan center pole double at Alta

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Alta sells a 3-430 PM ticket for $10, only good for Sunnyside lift (~850’ vert), this family on left with old skinny skis is typical of those who get the ticket.  This is how you save the sport folks and get newbies and families to give it a try!!!

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My son and I skied Jackson Hole on 3/12 and 13.  The beautiful weather continued.

Tower Three Chute

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Laramie Bowl?

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Tiptoeing into Corbett’s

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He dropped this three times while we were there.  I watched:-)

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This looked painful.

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Nice outdoor lunch spot at top of big Gondy.

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Going to Revelstoke tomorrow, then Banff areas later.  Will try to post again.  Might see new snow at Revy.

PS:  Just heard Cousins is going to the Vikings.  Good for him.  Darn deadskins!

Denis - DCSki Supporter
one month ago

Cheering for you all the way Jim.  Skied Squaw today in a foot of fresh with my oldest grandson, 20.  Fog and snow.  It was skiing by Braille.  I have no idea what Conor skied, and maybe that’s a good thing.  

one month ago

Thanks for posting this review. My wife and I are making a quick trip to Jackson Hole the last weekend in March to get a few last turns in before we hang ‘em up for the season. We love the area and have been before in the summer, but never on the mountain in the winter. Day 1 we’ll be together. I think we’ll mostly stick to groomers. She doesn’t mind steep, but can get a little intimidated by trees and variable terrain. I’m hopeful I can get her to try some of the more wide open bowls. Are there any areas you’d especially recommend? Day 2 I’m on my own. I’m thinking of booking a lesson, in part because it’s always good to have someone give instruction on challenging terrain, and in part to give guidance about where to go. I keep telling myself I can’t go all the way up there and not try Corbett’s but every time I see a picture or a video, I can feel myself chickening out!

 

 

one month ago

laramie bowl and amphitheatre bowl are wide open and not too steep, they are near tramline.  everything from about the big gondy and lookers right of it is mostly intermediate, but still fairly tilted.  After the first 40 feet Corbetts is like any other double black diamond, but a tumble down that first 40 feet could have consequences.  too much risk for an old fool like me.

heading up to Revelstoke momentarily.  we are in the west coast time zone here.  poor vis today, but hoping for some new snow in the clouds?  putting lens in goggles for dark day for first time in ten days.  it was tough driving right past Big Mtn/Whitefish and Kicking Horse from Jackson, but MCP was our plan.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago

dwm8a wrote:

Thanks for posting this review. My wife and I are making a quick trip to Jackson Hole the last weekend in March to get a few last turns in before we hang ‘em up for the season. We love the area and have been before in the summer, but never on the mountain in the winter. Day 1 we’ll be together. I think we’ll mostly stick to groomers. She doesn’t mind steep, but can get a little intimidated by trees and variable terrain. I’m hopeful I can get her to try some of the more wide open bowls. Are there any areas you’d especially recommend? Day 2 I’m on my own. I’m thinking of booking a lesson, in part because it’s always good to have someone give instruction on challenging terrain, and in part to give guidance about where to go. I keep telling myself I can’t go all the way up there and not try Corbett’s but every time I see a picture or a video, I can feel myself chickening out!

JH has a great ski school, with about 400 instructors and most of them are well qualified to teach advanced skiers.  I have a couple names of very experienced instructors if you are interested in a private.  The group lessons at the Expert level are quite a good deal.

You might consider doing the free mountain tour the first morning.  Knowing how to get between the different sections of the place is handy.  The cross trails can be confusing the first time even when looking at a trail map.  Worth riding the tram once if visibility is good, but after that just sticking with chairlifts and the gondolas would be fine.

As I remember, the bowl off the top of the tram wasn’t that intimidating.  Would be fun in good snow.  I happened to be there during low snow and warm conditions even though it was a mid-season trip.

one month ago

Looking forward to pics and commentary from Revelstoke.  That’s on my bucket list.

Jim, I don’t know if I realized you had a daughter.  I assume younger than your son?  Ski fanatic as well?

DWM, I highly recommend a lesson / guide at JH.  I did it years ago when skiing by myself the day before my wife arrived, and it was well worth it.  Improved my tree / bump skiing, and took me to places I wouldn’t have otherwise found.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
one month ago

JimK: Great pics and stories as always!

The fun part about the Sunnyside lift at Alta for aspiring intermediates is that there isn’t just green terrain.  The blues aren’t always groomed after a storm.  Vail Ridge after a powder storm is legitimate black terrain with deep powder in trees.  That’s where the Alta Ski School sometimes takes Level 6/7 kids for their first taste of making turns in knee deep Utah powder.

one month ago

Reisen wrote:

Looking forward to pics and commentary from Revelstoke.  That’s on my bucket list.

Jim, I don’t know if I realized you had a daughter.  I assume younger than your son?  Ski fanatic as well?

DWM, I highly recommend a lesson / guide at JH.  I did it years ago when skiing by myself the day before my wife arrived, and it was well worth it.  Improved my tree / bump skiing, and took me to places I wouldn’t have otherwise found.

Got three daughters.  Vince is #3 in birth order.  They all ski, but to varying degrees when life allows. Won’t be a good photo day today at Revy, but maybe powpow.  heading out now.

one month ago

Thanks all for the responses. I booked the lesson today.

one month ago

Awesome photos, awesome write up.

You had me hooked at …… 26 day skiing road trip.   

Three girls and a boy sound like me.  

Enjoy the rest of the trip!

one month ago

Jim,

As always, great story and pictures.  Seeing you skiing powder made me think about what the sliders at Snow Shoe are enjoying, 68 inches of new natural snow in last 8 cold days, plus tons of man made snow!!!

MorganB

one month ago

The Colonel wrote:

Jim,

As always, great story and pictures.  Seeing you skiing powder made me think about what the sliders at Snow Shoe are enjoying, 68 inches of new natural snow in last 8 cold days, plus tons of man made snow!!!

MorganB

Better snow at Snowshoe than at Revelstoke:-)

Wow, strong feelings about skiing Revelstoke yesterday, 3/15/18, both good and not so good.  Revy was reluctant to reveal her beauties, but by the end of the day we’d seen enough to be eager to go back again today.  They’ve had a melt-freeze situation recently here.  Conditions were worse than our other stops.  Terrain elevation ranges from approx 1700’ to 7300’ and that is a big factor in snow conditions.  Revy has 3000 acres of glades descending 5600’ of vert. Early-on, much of the renowned tree skiing was dust on bumpy coral reef and not in play.  Skiing groomers in the morning was also a bit disappointing and the mtn seemed to ski small.  The nondescript groomers on the lower third of the mtn had rain softened snow conditions.  The middle mtn had mid-Atlantic type frozen granular.  The upper trails around the ripper chair had better snow closer to packed powder.  We went into upper North Bowl once in the AM and sierra cement type snow was not totally unfrozen.  We were not rained on, but visibility was poor on the highest parts of the mtn.  We took an early lunch break to regroup.  In the afternoon the upper mtn snow softened and we found some fun open glades off the ripper chair.  Vince found a natural rock tunnel in one glade that he had to crouch down to ski through.  We took two more runs in north bowl that were very fun.  Two good dinners in the town of Revy.  It seems to get as many or more snowmobilers than skiers.  Revy the ski area is more of a ski area than a ski resort and there were only hundreds on the mtn, rather than the thousands we had seen at Jackson. 

Revy, 3/15/18

North Bowl

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ripper chair

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Vince skied through the notch in center, north bowl.

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town of revelstoke is to right

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one month ago

Revy pics from 3/16, the more I ski this place the more there is to like.  It’s an insane tree skier’s paradise, but also some nice open alpine bowls.  Regular tree lined runs are super long. Ski conditions much better today, upper mtn got 6-8” new snow.

There were as many or more snowmobilers in the town of Revelstoke as skiers.  Talk about an expensive sport!!

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mid-mtn lodge at Revy

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this is the stoke chair and the great tree skiing is on both side of lift line, trees go for 5000+ vert.

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north bowl again

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heading down greely bowl

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Now in Banff.  Going to ski Lake Louise next.  Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

one month ago

That picture plus this line:

this is the stoke chair and the great tree skiing is on both side of lift line, trees go for 5000+ vert.

is why I’ve always wanted to visit Revelstoke. That’s my dream resort.

one month ago

Nice write up and photos, as always. We missed you in JH but Kathy was only good on groomers which she skied with increasing confidence, even went the last day without O2. That alone was worth the price of admission. Have fun, be safe.

one month ago

Reisen wrote:

That picture plus this line:

this is the stoke chair and the great tree skiing is on both side of lift line, trees go for 5000+ vert.

is why I’ve always wanted to visit Revelstoke. That’s my dream resort.

But the snow generally sucks in the last 2k of vertical.

A lot of the BC natives I know are not huge fans of Revelstoke and Kicking Horse. Bad lift layouts and the lower elevations can have marginial snow. And you often have to ski to the bottom. Versus the layout at Whistler/Blackcomb.

one month ago

Yesterday, 3/17/18 was my first ever day skiing at Lake Louise.  It now ranks as one of the most beautiful spots I have ever skied in 51 years and 90+ ski areas.  Incredible scenery unfolded as the clouds lifted during a gorgeous day.  We had a friend Dan from Calgary who showed us around the mtn and that greatly added to our enjoyment and discovery.  We had met him and showed him around Utah two weeks before.  Sweet karma!  Louise has it all, bowls, trees, big bumps, stunning groomers.  This mtn got about 18” in the two days before we got here and the trail condition were the best I had seen on my long trip since the first two days in Utah back around Mar 4 and 5.

I will try to attach a few photos from Louise shortly.  Going up to Sunshine Lodge for a few days skiing in about an hour.

 

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one month ago

We want photos!

one month ago

Nice day at Sunshine.  Got here late about 11am after riding gondola up to Sunshine Lodge.  It’s mid-mtn and you can only get here by gondola.  Caused us to repack our stuff and minimize so no photos for a few days.  Mtn Col Pass gives a significant discount for this lodge and combined with exchange rate it was only about $150 per night for an elite accommodation situation similar to the lodges beside Alta.  Good snow here at Sunshine and mixed visibility.  Rode most lifts, we will try using avi gear to access Delerium Dive tomorrow.  Some of the chairs run to 5pm here so late start didn’t cut our slope time too badly.  My wife and I also rode a chair at end of day and snowshoed down two very scenic kilometers.  I am ready for some pillow time!!

 

29 days ago

just finished three days at Sunshine.  Stayed at the mid-mtn Sunshine Lodge at elev 7100.  One of the best slopeside situations I’ve ever enjoyed.  Small crowds, great snow and scenery and good value at about $150 per night due to MCP discount and favorable exchange rate.  They let us check in at 11am and checkout at 1pm, essentially giving us three days at hotel for two nights lodging.

bunch of photos from sunshine

 

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riding up standish chair to go snowshoeing

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Some of these pics show a posse of four of us and on second day we did Delirium Dive, which required avi gear.  we only had two sets of avi packs, so we took turns in pairs going up there.  Unless you took the really sporty entry my son took, you had to walk down a set of stairs to enter Del Dive bowl.  The sketchiest part was putting skis back on a bottom of those stairs on tight, rocky and icy surface  with drop offs all around.  If you lost control of a ski stepping in binding it was going to be big trouble collecting it, possibly far away in steep and deep snow.

 

 

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marker for boundary between provinces of BC and AB

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turning on avi beacons for delerium dive

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view of delerium dive area (center right) from Goat’s Eye terrain.

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me and friend skied south side chutes in Goat’s Eye, while son and other friend tried Del Dive.

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now it’s my turn, son is scoping out more challenging entries to Del Dive

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i took stairs and dropped in from this spot, vince is to right in this photo, looking at his line.

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my wife doesn’t ski anymore, but we enjoyed lift served snowshoeing on two afternoons is super scenery.  on our last morning at sunshine we woke up to about 6” snow and it snowed 6 more during the day for some excellent powder turns, what send off.  best part was when we left mtn at 3pm to take son to calgary airport, there was no snow at our car at base parking lot or on highway to calgary, strictly a mtn top storm for us alone!

 

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skied 14 of last 17 days, son skied something like 17 of 18.  i think he finally got tired, but spent last few days tracking weather at his home mtn of snowbird where they have been getting bombed and more expected there on mar 23.  resting today, will ski one more day at louise and norquay, then start long drive home.  believe it or not, I look forward to the driving days to rest my body before going back to work next week in wash dc.  we will travel about 7000 miles before we are done.  i owe wife big time for all road time and motel jumping while me and son chase snow and mtns

29 days ago

Great pictures, absolutely love Sunshine, we were there last Winter with great conditions - 0 degrees F with a couple of inches of snow each day and some good sunny periods too.   Some shorter mountains with high speed lifts (700 foot vertical) along with some big ones and a great variety of treed runs, above treeline runs with so much open space to explore and of course some very challenging terrain like Delirium Dive.   To me some unmatched views.   

28 days ago

3/21 I took a day off from skiing.  Slept in, then wife and I hiked Johnston Canyon for an easy one hour hike to a lower waterfall (frozen, about 60’ tall).  Trail had pretty light traffic, but I suppose might be mobbed in summer, there were multiple large parking lots at base.  Cool part was lengthy sections of boardwalk hung to rock walls above the creek.  Then we went to Upper Banff Hot Springs for a soak that lasted probably longer than the amount of time we hiked:-)  Then we went to Banff town and ate at a memorable restaurant called The Grizzly House.  I had beef and chicken fondue cooked on my table top hot rock, with lots of dipping sauces, rosti and a big bottle of Czech pilsner.  Wife had a steak. On 3/22 I skied Lake Louise again, enjoyed two hour free black diamond level mtn tour given by two LL “friends” (mtn hosts) including George C. and Cam.  There were a bunch of americans with MRG stickers on their helmets in my tour group so it was a good skiing group.  Then I did high tea with my wife at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, cost about $70 american before tip, but you pay for the ambiance.  In general, dining out in Canada is about 25% cheaper than US. We snowshoed after the meal on picturesque Lake Louise for about an hour.  This visit to the super classy/upscale Chateau scored brownie points with wife after putting her through brutal road trip for a non-skier to endure without the reward of slope time at the great resorts visited.  Tomorrow I plan to ski Mt. Norquay, then eat a mtn top late lunch wife with and start drive home, which google maps tells me will take about 37 hours of road time.  I plan to take 3.5 days to do it, a little less grueling schedule than the drive out to SLC three weeks ago.

 

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28 days ago

I love Grizzly House, perfect amount of kitch. It’s been years since I swam at the hot springs. Last time I think was a scout camp in I think June or maybe August that was supposed to be a summer camp that turned into a winter camp overnight… I love seeing pictures from my home areas. Thanks for posting.

27 days ago

Forgot to mention one of my most ignominious moments of the trip and it occurred today while skiing at Lake Louise.  I was finishing a ride up the summit poma lift and let go of poma.  As I slowly headed toward the left I got whacked in the head hard by the platter after it rounded the bull wheel and started heading down the hill.  Don’t know why it was so low, it should have been twenty feet in the air by then.  Stunned me and I barely stayed on my feet.  Fortunately I had on a helmet, but still got a small bruise on forehead that wife noticed later.  Thank God for a thick Irish skull.

27 days ago

Jim, Glad you are ok. HD something similar happen to me years ago at Mt. Sutton.  Also have been headwhacked getting on the chairs at TL and CV.

what a trip, have a safe trip home!  You look a mite tired in the Grizzly Restaurant pic, but the pics of Kathy look like she is your daughter, not wife.

25 days ago

Typing this as my wife and I near Fargo, ND, well into the return leg of our long road journey.  3/23/18 was my last ski day of the trip and it was a beauty.  I went to Mt. Norquay, the oldest and smallest ski area in the Banff region.  It was a great final sample of Western Canadian skiing and I really enjoyed its special blend of history and scenery.

Since arriving in Utah on March 3 I skied 16 of 20 days.  The first two were snowy days, but then I got a long stretch of sunny ski days in both Utah and Wyoming.  However, since arriving in Canada about ten days ago I’ve seen a mix of sunny and cloudy/snowy days and while I’ve enjoyed some good powder, I’ve also learned not to take a good visibility day on the slopes for granted in the Canadian Rockies.  

3/23 at Norquay was extremely scenic. They tell me this ski area goes back about 90 years. It has four chairs and two of them (North American double and Mystic quad) are significant with about 1650’ of vertical each and serving different terrain.  The crown jewel at Norquay is the ancient NA center pole double chair.  I believe it goes back to about the 1940s or 50s, but I don’t have internet right now to research details on it.  It is set up in a sort of pulse mode with four chairs close together, and then a 200 yard gap until the next four chairs.  They are in sync and slow down when arriving at loading and unloading zones.  The lift serves nothing but double black diamond bumps and glades!  It has some of the best scenery I’ve ever seen on a single lift.  The Mystic serves good, but more conventional mixed level terrain and is where I did most of my runs.  The other neat thing about Norquay is they gave me a free day on my MCP pass.  Previously I got my two free days each at Louise and Sunshine (I also skied an extra day at half price at Sunshine).  My motel for my last three nights in the Banff area was in the nearby town of Canmore and it was very nice too.

It was a great trip, but I’m glad to be back in the USA and heading home.

Here are some pics from Mt. Norquay.

NA liftline, lot of mtn continues above highest lift terminal

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cliff house above NA lift, real retro looking, cross between george jetson and fred flintstone’s house, unfortunately only open at peak times.

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mystic quad chair

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looking down on base lodge

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worlds most scenic tubing operation

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friendly patroler from calgary, he seemed to be the main man off the NA chair

 

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this run gets really steep around the corner, it was hard to concentrate with this kind of scenery in every direction

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slope to left is called Gun Run, that is avi debris up center of photo, set off by cannon the run was named after.

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23 days ago

I’m back in my cube at work today:-(  I finished the drive back from the Rockies last night.  Geesh, when I left the DC area it was at the end of a long warm/wet spell and local ski areas were suffering.  I guess the snowiest and wildest part of this winter around here happened in March while I was away??

 

The MCP worked very well for me.  I used it for 16 “free” ski days and a handful of half-price days this winter during two trips to the West.  During my long March road trip from Mar 1 - 26 I skied 16 of 20 days between Mar 4-23 at these MCP resorts:

 

Utah:  Snowbasin, Alta, Snowbird,

 

Wyoming:  Jackson Hole,

 

British Columbia:  Revelstoke,

 

Alberta:  Lake Louise, Sunshine Village (part of Sunshine’s terrain is in BC), and Mt. Norquay. 

 

 

I put 7,070 miles on my car during this trip.  I got a nice lodging discount (half-off full price) with the MCP to stay two nights at Sunshine Lodge, which was the accommodations highlight of the trip and a good bargain at about $150 per night.  It’s a very nice mid-mountain lodge at Sunshine Village ski area with a big hot tub and several dining options.  It is accessible only by a long gondola (no car access) and that provided a really fun feeling of leaving the world behind for a total immersion in skiing.  In the Banff area, the MCP got me two free days each at Lake Louise and Sunshine.  It was also accepted for a single free day at Mt. Norquay, which I used as my final day of very enjoyable and scenic skiing in the Canadian Rockies before beginning the long road trip home.

 

 

I had good to very good snow conditions everywhere I went on this trip and got powder days in UT, Revy, and Sunshine.  I was quite fortunate that I also had good driving conditions everywhere on the trip.  Completing thousands of miles of driving in the Rockies in winter without a hitch is not trivial.  The Trans-Canadian Highway was closed occasionally during my visit to BC, but on the day we drove from Revy to Banff it opened just after we finished skiing and started our planned evening drive Eastward.  Earlier in the trip we had one of our most memorable drives in a remote part of western Montana.  We left I90 near Missoula around 8:30 PM to start heading north to Revelstoke.  There was a motel at the exit, but I was not sleepy and decided to drive a little longer.  We saw very little in the way of civilization from then on traveling two lane roads.  At 10:30 PM we saw a gas station and the little Seeley Lake Motor Lodge.  I was very glad to make stops at both!  When we hit the road again in the morning it took another 90 miles before we came to the next motel/gas places near Kalispell, MT.

 

 

Trip highlights:

 

Best ski conditions:  Mar 4 - 10 in Utah, Banff area later in the month was good too.

 

Best scenery:  tie between Lake Louise, Sunshine, and Mt. Norquay

 

Best run:  watching my son lap Corbet’s Couloir at Jackson Hole, for me personally it was cool to do Delirium Dive at Sunshine

 

Best time:  had a great week in UT in early March.  Got to ski with many friends including DCSki friends at western resorts.

 

Best meal:  my wife made some nice homemade dinners during a week at my son’s house in SLC, but dining out was probably at The Grizzly House in Banff.

 

Best town:  the Banff/Canmore area was really neat, and we did some fun things there besides skiing, such as soaking in Banff Hot Springs, doing high tea at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, snowshoeing on frozen Lake Louise, and hiking Johnston Canyon to see frozen waterfalls.  The vibe walking around Banff was very down to earth and not pretentious at all.  The English-speaking tourists looked very middle class, but there were also many foreigners, including many Asian visitors.

 

Best lodging:  the aforementioned Sunshine Lodge.  It’s mid-mtn location is really neat.  They let us check-in at 11 AM on our first day.  On our last day they let us check out at 1 PM and it snowed about one foot around the lodge and slopes.  The skiing was great and when we took the gondola at the end of the day to go to our car there was no snow down there and the roads were clear all the way to Calgary.

 

Best new friends:  we met two friendly guys from Alberta while skiing with a group in UT.  Two weeks later they guided us for two days at Louise and Sunshine, showing us all their favorite runs.

 

Best surprise:  the beauty and history at Mt. Norquay.  I skied it on Mar 23 on what will probably be my last ski day of the winter.  I got some great images/memories in my head to last until next season.

 

Worst moment:  getting hit on the head by the Summit platter after the last of multiple rides I took on that iconic surface lift Lake Louise.  I was ok, but my helmet took a good little dent:-)  My favorite goggles are getting worn out, so this might motivate me to get a new goggle/helmet combo for next year:-)

20 days ago

@JimK: I always enjoy your TR and the photos are stunning.  (I read up on your Aspen TR before I ventured out to Aspen 4 this March, the report was very helpful. Thank you also.)  

I visited SSV and LL the past 2 years, looking at the photos and reading your TR make me want to go back again this year.  I am going to Alta in April, that leaves me May to contemplate a potentail trip back to Banff.  They are having a banner year this season.  

As an intermediate, I much prefer SSV over LL, although I’d very much like to check out the platter lift at LL (did not get a chance to check it out last 2 times I went)  I love Banff town also, for the reason you mentioned, unassuming and down to earth…  (For me, I much prefer Banff as a ski town than Aspen) 

Thanks for the info. on Norquay.  I never bothered to visit Norquay as many say it is a small local hill and can get icy. Now l have a change of mind after reading your TR. 

2 quesions:

1) You mentioned: “I got a nice lodging discount (half-off full price) with the MCP to stay two nights at Sunshine Lodge”.  I have MCP and I checked with SSV lodge, they only offer 15% off to MCP holders.  How did the half-off full price come about?  

2) If I remembered correctly, there was a short distance b/w gondola station and SSV lodge.  How did you guys manage to carry your suitcases?

Reason for my asking, I am thinking of staying SSV Lodge if I do go back in May this year.    

I love Banff, especialy during the Fall season when the golden larches are changing their colors.  I felt like I was driving into the field of golds along the Icefield Parkway, it was trully stunning and unforgettable drive.  
(Yes, Johnston Canyon was quite crowded in the Fall (assume summer also) when we went few years ago, but it was defintly worth a visit.) 

 

20 days ago

Fosy, you know Banff better than me!  This was my first time there.  I would agree that SSV is probably better suited for intermediates than LL.  Mt. Norquay is a bit limited for intermediates as the two best chairlifts there serve black diamond and dark blue square terrain, but it was fun for me to visit for free with my MCP on my last day in the Rockies. 

 

Not sure what to say about Sunshine Lodge discounts, maybe you should call them?  Their website seems to be pushing summer visitation now and maybe the MCP discount is not as large for that season?  You might want to confirm that their ski operations will still be open in May and see if they can give skiers a bigger price break?  I stayed there Mar 18 and 19 and it was very quiet, perhaps 30% occupancy.  I reserved about 4-6 weeks in advance.

 

No worries about luggage.  You check it in at the bottom of the gondola and they bring it separately to your room.  We only carried skis, boot bags and some snacks with us on gondola because we planned to ski before checking into room.  But then they let us check in at 11am so we actually put our boots on in our room and had a snack there before starting to ski.  Some of the lifts at SSV run until 5PM in spring.

19 days ago

@JimK: Thanks for the info. I called SSV Lodge, it is 15% off discount for MCP holders.  

LL will close on May 6 and SSV on May 21, Norquay Apirl 15.  

I am doing some reseach on early May condition at SSV and LL.  Once that’s done, I thnk I am ready to pull the trigger on booking.  Yes, I plan to stay at SSV lodge this time if I do end up going.  Prefer early May because I’d like to check out the platter lift at LL. 

Thanks agian, alison

 

 

16 days ago

Here’s my review of Jackson Hole - Friday 3/30 and Saturday 3/31 (sorry, no pics). They got 14” of fresh Saturday night into Sunday, but we already had plans to do another activity on Sunday. I was on a snowboard and my wife was on skis.

This place is amazing. It’s absolutely enormous. There is a ton of varied terrain, although almost all of it is steeply pitched. Some of the blues are steeper than double blacks back east. There are several blues near the Bridger Gondola and Teton and Casper Quads that are as steep (or steeper) than Lower Shay’s and go on for upwards of a mile. My wife and I did mostly groomers on day 1 and had a blast. We made our way from lookers right to left across the trail map over the course of the day. Spring thaw/refreeze made for some challenging conditions in places in the early morning. As we moved toward the left side of the trail map, there became a lot more spots where I could dip into the trees for part of the run and still stick with my wife who stayed on the groomer. Highlights were Sundance and the Ampitheater bowl. In the afternoon, we took the tram and rode the Rendezvous bowl. It was incredibly windy - like near-impossible to progress on a traverse going into the wind.

Taking a lesson on day 2 was a really good move. It was one instructor, me, and a high school senior. We rode pretty much exclusively on bowls, bumps, and in trees. It was great to get some technique instruction for bumps and tight trees, but the big value was in having someone show me where to go. We rode the tram just once, but we were able to ride on Rendezvous mountain (mountain under the tram line) most of the day by taking laps on the Sublette and Thunder Quads. There is just so much terrain on rendezvous mountain. We rode there most of the day and barely scratched the surface. I feel like you could spend a week here and still find new, cool stuff to ride. Highlights on day 2 were Central Chute, Laramie Bowl, and Paint Brush. We did not do Corbet’s, which is fine with me. I’ll have to come back. Even though we missed the powder day, I can’t complain about conditions: I rode aggressively in trees and chutes for upwards of two days and hit a rock maybe one time.

Local knowledge always matters, but maybe more here than other places. Conditions can vary from lift to lift, and knowing how the wind affects things can be important. We never had any visibility issues, but I’m sure that can be a problem. In perfect conditions, this place has more to offer than any other single resort I’ve been to in the lower 48 (Tahoe, Utah, and Colorado for me). Does it have more to offer than, say all the SLC-adjacent resorts or Aspen resorts put together? This is a tougher question, and the answer probably depends on preferences, such as whether you like to stay in one place or resort-hop and whether “everything in Jackson is super steep, there are almost no slow, lazy groomers” is an attractant or a deterrent.

I will definitely be going back (thank you, IKON pass), and I really appreciate those of you that encouraged me to book a lesson - it really made the trip.

16 days ago

Glad you had a good time and fine spring conditions out there.

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