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Old 10-30-2011, 03:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Early season trip where to?

I am thinking of an early season trip to one of the Alberta ski hills. Every time I go though it's like one run and a ton of Calgarians or Edmontonians. Not sure if worth it. What would be a good choice? Last time I went to Marmot Basin thinking there would be less people but I forgot about it's proximity to Edmonton, lol.

What about round Banff, any hills the "locals" avoid more than others? I think Sunshine is opening on the 10th and Nakiska is already open. I hate Lake Louise as it is usually a steep crappy ice run with 50 zillion people.
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Old 10-30-2011, 06:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sunshine is where you want to go. It's the best place for early and late season (November & May).
Like you said, at Louise you get the 'Wiwaxy 500'... one run of blown icy snow with a million Albertans on it. Now and then they open with great coverage but it's quite rare.
When Sunshine opens they usually have all the village lifts running (Angel, Strawberry, Standish, Wawa) and a bunch of powder. Even Standish alone is super fun and underrated.
Nakiska isn't worth driving all the way from Vernon for (any time of the year). Pretty much the same goes for Marmot. Banff & Marmot are both about 4-hrs from Edmonton. Castle is the best hill in Alberta, but they have a shorter season so usually not so good early & late - make sure to hit them up later in the season! Sunshine is planning to open on Nov.10 this year... they usually open on a weekday which means awesome pow and just locals, but with a Saturday opening planned expect it to be slammed with the WW's.
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Old 10-30-2011, 08:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Sunshine is where you want to go. It's the best place for early and late season (November & May).
Like you said, at Louise you get the 'Wiwaxy 500'... one run of blown icy snow with a million Albertans on it. Now and then they open with great coverage but it's quite rare.
When Sunshine opens they usually have all the village lifts running (Angel, Strawberry, Standish, Wawa) and a bunch of powder. Even Standish alone is super fun and underrated.
Nakiska isn't worth driving all the way from Vernon for (any time of the year). Pretty much the same goes for Marmot. Banff & Marmot are both about 4-hrs from Edmonton. Castle is the best hill in Alberta, but they have a shorter season so usually not so good early & late - make sure to hit them up later in the season! Sunshine is planning to open on Nov.10 this year... they usually open on a weekday which means awesome pow and just locals, but with a Saturday opening planned expect it to be slammed with the WW's.
Cool thanks for the great info. Ill probably do Sunshine then and just wait till after the weekend. Actually never been there so it'll be more exciting anyways.

When I did Marmot on or near opening day it seemed like it would be empty then loads of what looked like junior ski teams came on the hill, they just kinda ruined the experience as they were zooming down the run at warp 1 millon, rinse and repeat. Felt like a bobble head doll in the back of a pig farmers pork truck.

Last edited by Jenzo; 10-30-2011 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 10-30-2011, 09:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Keep on eye on Revy too... the're scheduled opening date is Dec.3 but chances are high that they will open for a 'sneak peak weekend' or whatever you want to call it before then (usually last week of Nov). They have a legitimate 50cm base right now, more snow in the forecast, and buddies have been hiking for turns for a few weeks now.
And that opening day is always killer (a meter of untracked pow... not bad)
-- Edit --
RMR has upgraded their snow reporting this year to an automated system, so there's no chance of discrepancies or inflated numbers. The "New Snow" number reflects the past 12hrs (6am & 6pm), the Hourly number is obviously just the past 60 minutes. Hopefully when their full reporting starts up they'll include the other numbers (3 day, 7 day, YTD, webcam stake) and bring back the Snow Gnome of course

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Old 10-30-2011, 11:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Keep on eye on Revy too... the're scheduled opening date is Dec.3 but chances are high that they will open for a 'sneak peak weekend' or whatever you want to call it before then (usually last week of Nov). They have a legitimate 50cm base right now, more snow in the forecast, and buddies have been hiking for turns for a few weeks now.
And that opening day is always killer (a meter of untracked pow... not bad)
-- Edit --
RMR has upgraded their snow reporting this year to an automated system, so there's no chance of discrepancies or inflated numbers. The "New Snow" number reflects the past 12hrs (6am & 6pm), the Hourly number is obviously just the past 60 minutes. Hopefully when their full reporting starts up they'll include the other numbers (3 day, 7 day, YTD, webcam stake) and bring back the Snow Gnome of course
Well my hill is scheduled for late Nov. as well. That's what I don't get, rev has a shatload of snow but one of the latest opening days? Kinda weird.

Are your friends snowshoeing or skinning up for runs? That's what I was wondering if it is a real backcountry area or if people are just hiking a 'safe' area. I have 0 backcountry snow experience. I'd totally hike for some runs if it's safe. I am not a beginner by any means, my spouse is more of an intermediate but he'd go for some easy runs I think.
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well my hill is scheduled for late Nov. as well. That's what I don't get, rev has a shatload of snow but one of the latest opening days? Kinda weird.
Are your friends snowshoeing or skinning up for runs? That's what I was wondering if it is a real backcountry area or if people are just hiking a 'safe' area. I have 0 backcountry snow experience. I'd totally hike for some runs if it's safe. I am not a beginner by any means, my spouse is more of an intermediate but he'd go for some easy runs I think.
Takes a ton of snow (over a meter base) to open up a hill like that. They're over 60 now. But remember when they do open, it's not just "ok conditions"... it's AWESOME. Not quite the same thing at Silver Star.
My buddies have been doing a bit of everything... skinning, hiking, and snowmobiling.
Just pick a mountain, drive up the FSR till you hit the snowline, then start hiking. Mt Mcrae & Sale are both fairly popular for pre-season turns in Revelstoke. Check this little vid out from mid-Oct: The return of La Nina - YouTube
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Old 10-31-2011, 07:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Whats Revi like on opening day? I was there last Feb on a good pow day and getting on the gondola was a shit show. Like Kicking Horse on a shit day. (It was a saturday) is it worth the trip?
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Oh and Jenzo if you go to Sunshine get there early to get some freshies. The snow will be ok but its early season so bring the rockboard. They only make a bit of snow around the top of the gondola so the riding should be good. Just depends on how many punters turn up on the day.
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Whats Revi like on opening day? I was there last Feb on a good pow day and getting on the gondola was a shit show. Like Kicking Horse on a shit day. (It was a saturday) is it worth the trip?
A meter of untracked powder on one of the best mountains in the country
Last year a few people camped out the night in line, but at 7am there was still <50 people in line (then it got busy very fast). By 8:30am when the gondola opened the line was huge and back to the roadway. Within an hour the line was gone.
I'm not so sure about waiting in lines... I had the 3rd gondola cabin and managed to stay infront of the crowd and didn't wait in a chairlift line all day. All season long I showed up at 7:00-7:30am and was one of the first 10 people on the hill. I remember one mid-week day showing up 10 minutes before the gondola opened on a 20cm powder day and being the first person in line.. that's ridiculous!!!
It's definitely not like Kicking Horse - they have the worst lift system setup of any hill I've ever seen. That gondola is great for touring out of bounds, but TERRIBLE for people riding the hill. TERRIBLE!!! Man how that place would be a million times better with a mid-station (longer season, lap the bowls, lap the lower, no lines, etc)

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Old 11-01-2011, 10:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I know mid week is sweet. Like you said, in my first season i rocked up at about 5 mins before the lifts opened and there were about 5 people in front of me and we got fresh lines all day without looking for them!
Last year I was there on a Saturday. I think your idea of being there at 7-730 is the way to go. If I hit revy this year I will give thaty a shot.
Have to agree on Kicking Horse. I like riding it more than any other hill but the lifts are a shit show. Again fine mid week but if they get 40cm on a friday night the place is fucked!
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