Big White & Silverstar/ Kelowna
Me and couple mates have booked some flights to Vancouver for November and we're looking to spend the season at Big White & Silverstar since they have the option for join season passes.
We're considering basing ourselves in Kelowna as we figured it'd be easier and cheaper to find a place to live and jobs and better night life. Does this sound about right? Anything else we should know about heading to the area?
Are there cheapish shuttle/bus services form the town up the mountians? or would we be better off nabbing a car?
Don't suppose anyones got some hook-ups for a job or place 2 rent in the area?
Any help, advice, or just tales of experiences you've had in the area would be great. Or if you think we'd be better off somewhere else then feel free to throw that in.
We're mostly looking for pow, since we dont get much in nz, but also decent park and terrain to keep us busy for the season.
i went to big white a few years back. kelowna is a fair trek and the shuttles are neither free nor conveniently timed. plus they can be way over an hour. we stayed in BW and due to the shuttle situation, we stayed there, despite our lift passes being valid for SS and a 'shopping trip' to Kel being 'free'.
for sure though Kel would offer the main work and lodging options. BW is defo a piss take town in that it knows those staying there are 'captive'. everyone that works there are Aus/Kiwi and altho there can be a good party atmosphere, it is primarily a resort sold on it being 'family'; so puking public nudity isn't gonna be tolerated for long! :D
also, BW as i found regards more the probability of white out, as opposed to any reference to tons of snow (altho the snow ghosts are pretty cool)
if i were you, you might wanna consider being based in Vancouver or Banff instead of Kelowna, and being seasonaires in Whistler or Lake Louise instead of BW or Silver Star.
but as you prefer.
Yeah considered Whistler but figured it'd be too expensive, and accomodation would be lacking due to the olympics.
Have not heard much about banff what is it like? We also considered going to Grouse or Kicking horse. what're your opinion of those?
I have been to most of the resorts in Nth America and have found Big White to have some of the best dry snow, however you are definitely captive there if you wanna check out other places. Its 1 road in 1 road out. It is very true of the big white out experience, so I have found feb and march to be the best time to be there. Kelowna is ok, but for me, the area is best spent in summer for the lakes and the peach and thunder festivals they have there. Okanagan summers are worth it. If you want mountains, you cannot beat the rockies... Many moons ago, I spent a season in Banff as well (97-98). The season was pretty crap (which was still amazing... 5 or more meters of base) - I believe it was my first experience of el nino, but there was still loads of work etc. Banff is also good as you have the tri mountain area which includes sunshine village, lake louise and the local hill, mt norquay. All 3 are well worthwhile hills. Just living in the rockies... incredible scenery. (That john denver was not full of shit man). Banff is a good town for party as well and the hills that i mentioned, if working at them have mutual recognition of passes etc. So if you wanna burn it to fernie or whatever then its easy. Speaking of fernie, its well worth a look. Living off hill is pretty easy there and it still has a rad pioneering vibe. Check out 'our fernie' website and accom options. Banff is pretty easy to get accom and town jobs as well... the only drama is the hourly pay rate is lousy - so go for a waiter/bar tender job as soon as you can. From what i remember, alberta has a lower hourly pay rate than BC so you definitely wanna be in hospitality for the tips (they can be great, i recall pullin 250 p/day from cashed up americans). On hill server/tender jobs are probably the best as you get a pass and food and booze and you definitely get better hookups that way as well. You can also swindle daytime riding time. They are competitive jobs though as you often get return applicants etc. Make sure you fudge your CV or have some experience at least. Kitchen jobs arent bad either... you get food, riding time and a share of tip out. Versa Services used to run the restaraunts and bars on hill at sunshine village, maybe check them. You can apply for on mountain accom, but it feels a bit isolated... so i would look on the notice boards in the hostels, online and just get your lurk on in the bars in town for roomies etc... Team up with other crew and throw down for a house. One place that was famous for packing in bums was 'northwoods manor' - they were classic good/ghetto units, but there were also houses around that were pretty available (there was a great rowdy place called the green house that I woke up at alot, but it got knocked down, i digress)- you just gotta get there well in advance - as usual. I rate banff highly and consider it as the best bet for all the things that you may be looking at outside of going to whistler. Whistler is good, but its gonna be hard for the olympics. I would definitely be signing up for the employment drives they do with the aussie/kiwi hills they recognise. Yes you may get only lifty jobs, but you arent going there for the jobs. As far as being at whistler is concerned, its a good party vibe... its a good place... its expensive... the hill is good - but there is alot of traversing. I see there is a new peak to peak gondola - which is great if it gets tracked or fogged out on one side. However, for me, I have been backcountry there a few times with snowmobiles and that was the best time riding i have had there. Again, whistler is good, but everyone will be thrashing it there. Vancouver is a great town, but the local hills arent what you would be going there for. If you wanna stay there, your best bet is to stay at the nomads hostel on granville st. there is a bar downstairs full of jr travellers there for the party and stuck in the rut of working at the local hills. You may get some hookups there, but i wouldnt recommend getting caught up in the vancouver thing. If you can, buy a beater car and drive to the rockies. I hope this is of some help NZGnu.... I love Canada and I will be there again for 09/10! Good luck!
Hey thanks alot for all that, will have to look into the Banff region.
And thanks for the recommendation of a hostel in Vancouver, we've been trying 2 suss a place 2 stay there for a couple nights after we fly in so we can sort all our stuff out before heading somewere else.
Yeah how thorough is reference checking since I'll be coming from NZ, surely most businesses wont be wanting to make international toll calls? or is it pretty cheap to do over there?
I have lots of customer service experience and worked in a cafe so hopefully should be able to find a job.
I hear people aren't tipping so much with the whole 'recession' deal, but I suppose a little tip is better than no tip.
Yeah will look into buying a car, what sort of deal is it with change of ownership and that sorta stuff over there?
Does big white have enough gladed and tree runs to keep it fun when it does white out? I've been to blackcomb/whistler before and found there was still plenty to do on white out days thanks to the trees.
Does anyone know what silver star is like?
both silverstar and big white attract trees all the way to the summit, snow ghosts.
Some of the best tree runs I've had have been at big white. The Black Forest chair is a good one for intermediate tree runs and offers a lot of untouched snow. Also check out gem lake chair lift on the far side of the resort. This opens up about a third of the whole resort area! when in was constructed a few years back it was the longest chair in north america. it goes down 300m below the village so snow cover can take a while for the lift to be open, in true big white style, the lift lines are almost always pleasant, minus school holidays. the warming hut at the bottom is pretty cute too (i used to work there).
Silverstar as a rule has more skiers, more moguls and steeper terrain, its further from kelowna than BW.
However, one of Australia's best pro-riders, Robbie Walker said in a magazine interview that silverstar was his top resort out of everywhere!
If I were you, I'd live in Big White, and work there. Waking up with fresh snow out your window.. why wouldn't you? Theres a backpackers called samesun on the hill. Most people stay there until they work out their accom and a job. working in canada.. waitressing is a good one. Tips! Most other jobs will give you 10-12 dollars an hour. Waiters pull in some heavy coin because of the tipping culture.
if you can, get a car and drive to Silverstar to check it out. well worth it.
Banff aint bad, lovely surrounding, you can't stay on the hill though in most resorts.
i find silverstar's runs to be better than big white's, but big white has a lot more to do with much better lift access (even the biggest crowds are nothing when using a 6+4 setup)
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