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The Swiss Miss
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Discussion Starter #1
Two problems:
1) Narrowed down the cat lodges for the pow holiday next March to Baldface, Island Lake or Skeena. Now the more difficult part: which resorts to spend the other one or two weeks of the holiday? Spent hours googleing to find out about resorts but still got problems to decide, where to go. Where do you get the best/most sidecountry opportunities? (not interested in groomers ;))

2) Other problem is to judge riding ability. This beginner-intermediate-advanced-expert rating usually used is too superficial in my opinion… different strokes for different folks… we don’t have anything like “double-blacks” here (we got a simple blue-red-black rating for groomers). References like “only for advanced riders comfortable with double-blacks” are riddles for me. What skills does an “advanced” rider need to have in your opinion? What is “steep”? We meet 35° regularly in sidecountry, steepest was 44°. Is that steep? Most tricky situation I had to negotiate was a little drop-in that led directly into a 34° slope covered with an older wet snow avalanche deposit with lots of frozen blocks. But what’s tricky for me could be a sneer for someone else. I’ve done all back-sidecountry riding this season without falls, with ease and confidence, but this doesn’t make me an advanced rider, it only means, that I haven’t been in something more difficult :)

>>> Names, descriptions, pics or vids of runs you’ve done in your preferred sidecountry resorts would very helpful 1st to get an idea of how cool the resorts are 2nd to judge, if I’d be able to tackle them. Would be great if you could add some comments on what’s the specific riders skills needed to do this runs. Or describe tricky situations one can meet, so I could get an idea, if I could manage them. Would be awful to book a week in a resort just to find out that all the nice runs there are too difficult for me :laugh:
 

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True sidecountry aka backcountry? I know you do the bc riding thing, but your description kind of sounds like you are looking for inbounds steeps.

Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Whistler, all have backcountry access gates. Some of them have real tours out those gates and quick back to the resort laps, maybe with some hiking. I'd message chupacabra. I am just going from what I've seen, he's been there done that. We got some other Canadians who know the in and outs of the backcountry around some of the major Candian ski areas. I am just forgetting who they are atm. Sorry guys...
 

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The Swiss Miss
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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
True sidecountry aka backcountry? I know you do the bc riding thing, but your description kind of sounds like you are looking for inbounds steeps.
hmmm... add a 3rd problem then: definition problem :laugh:
As I unserstood the differences (please correct, if I'm wrong):

inbound: "official" runs, displayed on the resort map, patrolled, poles indicate, where the runs go, warnings for dangerous spots (ropes, warning signs), no sudden cliffs, no avy danger (very uncommen here, e.g. nothing like this exists in my resort)

sidecountry: the area all around a resort. no warnings, no avy bombing, no patrols, access by cable car/chairlift (and maybe a short hike) and runs end at the chairlift station. maybe "run" is a wrong word. you ride where ever you want, there are no poles that show you the directions. the significant difference to backcountry is the proximity to a resort. you're "on your own", but since many people ride there, you're still likely to be found if shit happens. we explore new sidecountry either with local guides or if you get a good overview on the terrain ourt of a cable car (hubby has a good terrain memory. I'd still get lost on runs I've done 10 times :giggle:)

I'm looking for both oportunities. For sidecountry, we'd hire a guide to explore the area, but if "inbound" is common at a resort, sure, we'll love to stay there.



Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Whistler, all have backcountry access gates. Some of them have real tours out those gates and quick back to the resort laps, maybe with some hiking
reading this ^^ I think that what I call sidecountry is backcountry then :icon_scratch: hmmm... Backcountry for me means that you hike for every meter you run, well off any resort, likely to meet nobody the entire day, plan the trip well in advance, study maps and weatherforcast and avy reports very well, leave early in the morning, stay at home if weather is unstable.
 

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For me, advanced means you can safely make it down most any slope without slip-sliding and falling all over the place. Expert means you can make it down any skiable slope and make it look good.

And I consider steep to be any slope in the upper 30s
 

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Two problems:
1) Narrowed down the cat lodges for the pow holiday next March to Baldface, Island Lake or Skeena. Now the more difficult part: which resorts to spend the other one or two weeks of the holiday? Spent hours googleing to find out about resorts but still got problems to decide, where to go. Where do you get the best/most sidecountry opportunities? (not interested in groomers ;))

2) Other problem is to judge riding ability. This beginner-intermediate-advanced-expert rating usually used is too superficial in my opinion… different strokes for different folks… we don’t have anything like “double-blacks” here (we got a simple blue-red-black rating for groomers). References like “only for advanced riders comfortable with double-blacks” are riddles for me. What skills does an “advanced” rider need to have in your opinion? What is “steep”? We meet 35° regularly in sidecountry, steepest was 44°. Is that steep? Most tricky situation I had to negotiate was a little drop-in that led directly into a 34° slope covered with an older wet snow avalanche deposit with lots of frozen blocks. But what’s tricky for me could be a sneer for someone else. I’ve done all back-sidecountry riding this season without falls, with ease and confidence, but this doesn’t make me an advanced rider, it only means, that I haven’t been in something more difficult :)

>>> Names, descriptions, pics or vids of runs you’ve done in your preferred sidecountry resorts would very helpful 1st to get an idea of how cool the resorts are 2nd to judge, if I’d be able to tackle them. Would be great if you could add some comments on what’s the specific riders skills needed to do this runs. Or describe tricky situations one can meet, so I could get an idea, if I could manage them. Would be awful to book a week in a resort just to find out that all the nice runs there are too difficult for me :laugh:

on your first point, i'm not sure how deep your pockets are as those 3 lodges aren't cheap, however the experience is beyond words. From my experience over the last 4 seasons (3 in Revelstoke, most recent in Golden at Kicking Horse). Between the 2 resorts you have ample "side country" opportunities that can be very challenging. By the sounds of it you'd be able to handle either one.

As mentioned by others, inbetween the 2 resorts/towns is Rogers Pass for some true backcountry for more experience mountaineers/riders. I would HIGHLY recommend hiring a local guide if you plan on heading there. My choice and great guys, www.adrenalindescents.com , check them out.

If you want some other Cat ski/boarding options check out Mustang Powder, Mustang Powder - Home - Cat Skiing BC Canada - Snowcat Skiing and Snowboarding in British Columbia and/or K3 snow cats, Home | K3 Cat Ski - Cat Skiing and Snowboarding in British Columbia . Both are local to Revelstoke and a short drive out of town to reach (K3 will pick you up at your hotel in town).

That's my 2cents. PM me if you'd like to chat further.
 

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The Swiss Miss
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Discussion Starter #7
That's my 2cents. PM me if you'd like to chat further.
Thanks a lot for all the information! Nothing is fixed so far. Baldface impressed me by the size of the area they cover (my line of thought: even if there was no storm recently they'll have enough untouched runs) and Island Lake is on my list since I saw some awsome tree riding vids in this forum. Hubby is into Skeena cause they have a heli ;) I guess, we need to book the cat lodge well in advance but can take our time with the resorts.

I'll look into your links. Thanks again!
 

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The Swiss Miss
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Discussion Starter #8
Was very stoked while clicking through the Mustang homepage. But having a close look at the information booklet told me that its unsuitable:
Please be aware that even in the regular program our policy at Mustang is to cater to the strong, keen skiers and boarders. You should be an expert skier, and at a minimum a very strong intermediate. While strong intermediate ability will suffce for skiers, snowboarders and telemark skiers must be experts and able to handle all backcountry conditions including very steep treed terrain.

In no way I'd call myself an expert. Medium advanced maybe, but certainly not more.
 

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The Swiss Miss
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Discussion Starter #10
Hmmmm... met someone from Vancouver at a congress today. Discussed a bit about my travel plans and he warned me, that there's a problem with little snow every 4 years cause of the El Niño. Last time it was during the Olympic games, so next year would be the next occasion... does this also affect the Calgary area? After kite holiday without wind I couldn't stand pow holiday without pow :dizzy:
 

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I don't know what to tell you about El Niño next year. Usually with El Niño years, southern areas are more favored. One of the worst seasons and one of the best seasons I have seen have been during El Niño years in Colorado. I suspect it is much the same for Northern areas. Keep in mind the weather services have yet to be predicting it for this upcoming season. I haven't seen anything indicating they are thinking El Niño for this season. It is very possible we'll see a neutral year or even another La Niña year which of course favors the Northern spots.

The problem with planning for a pow holiday is that even in the snowiest spots, it doesn't snow all the time. You are hoping that you timed it well for a snowy cycle. I just missed the prime week by a few days on my last trip. I got six out of 9 possible pow days, but the first three days was the recycled variety. The last three days is when the cycle set in and nuked. I should of shown up then and stayed for the following week. Nothing I can do about it...
 

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Hmmmm... met someone from Vancouver at a congress today. Discussed a bit about my travel plans and he warned me, that there's a problem with little snow every 4 years cause of the El Niño. Last time it was during the Olympic games, so next year would be the next occasion... does this also affect the Calgary area? After kite holiday without wind I couldn't stand pow holiday without pow :dizzy:
That's bullshit. Nina and niño effects are not that cyclical.

It's possible to have snowless periods anywhere, western Canada at the right time of year your odds are very much in your favour of fresh snowfall. If you do cat or Heli they have lots of terrain and you'll see untouched snow for sure.
 

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That's bullshit. Nina and niño effects are not that cyclical.

It's possible to have snowless periods anywhere, western Canada at the right time of year your odds are very much in your favour of fresh snowfall. If you do cat or Heli they have lots of terrain and you'll see untouched snow for sure.
This. If you're doing eastern BC / Alberta Rockies area make yourself flexible between Banff/Lake Louise, Kicking Horse, Revelstoke, and Fernie and go to where the snow is.
 

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+1 on Lamps n killclimz, dont fuss bout ElNino/SO, its not certian to happen next season and the correlation of ENSO to snowfall is weak, at least in the interior of BC.

i think you're best bet is to target the Columbia/Kootenays. Fernie is a bit isolated on the south end of the zone, it can be really good (deep pow) or really bad (frozen rain crust). im biased but the north end of the zone seems to be more reliable (Revelstoke, Rogers Pass, Golden) and you can sneak over to the Rockies if things turn out better there. Try to allow some flexibility if you can. Feb / March are most reliable for snow, into April can be really good too, with less people.

id give a +1 to Mustang, Chatter Creek, Baldface and Retallack for cat skiing. revvie is heliski central, Eagle Pass and Selkirk Tangiers have 1 day seats or multi day packages.

resort styles
KHMR has endless OB (out of bounds, slack country), more than anywhere else around here, some of it is easy to intermediate, alot of it is expert and it really helps if you know where youre going (or hire a guide), there's easy lines right next to hard ones and lots of non skiiable terrain and it's hard to know whats what trying look in from the top.
Revvy has some nice easy OB with lots of mini golf features (short steep / cliffy options), and a handful of advanced to expert big lines, as well as longer tours of any difficulty
Whitewater has some OB, mostly trees but also Ymir peak, Fernie has some too, maybe a bit more traversing than you'd like.

for straight up touring (backcountry) Rogers Pass is Mecca but theres other areas around Revvy especially, and the Rockies are good in the spring
 

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This. If you're doing eastern BC / Alberta Rockies area make yourself flexible between Banff/Lake Louise, Kicking Horse, Revelstoke, and Fernie and go to where the snow is.
Yeah, I'd go to any of the above, whoever has the most snow. Plenty of accomodations so things won't sell out, only get a little pricier if you leave it late. You can always find SOMETHING.

Alberta is more consistent than the BC rockies (Kicking Horse, Fernie, Revelstoke) but when it snows in BC it SNOWS...

I have NOT been into the sidecountry at any of the resorts around here (out of bounds but lift accessible) except for one run at Nakiska which used to be the Olympic run in '88.

For off-piste, in-bounds stuff, my favorite is Fernie followed by Lake Louise.

They both have tons of in bounds stuff that is rugged, steep, treed, powdery, etc. Rocks, cliffs, chutes, pillows, glades. These are all in bounds in avalanche controlled and patrolled areas. Personally without avy training this is my favorite stuff to hit. It's fantastic!

I'll post up some pictures later of good in bounds stuff at the various resorts around here.
 

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The Swiss Miss
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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I'll post up some pictures later of good in bounds stuff at the various resorts around here.
Very appreciated!

Haha karkis, I didn't intend to move to Canada, got only 2 (max 3) weeks holiday :) although... there're good research groups over there... hmmm... an overseas postdoc would look good in my cv... :D thanks for all the recommendations! Will look into them.

Where would you recommend to set our base? A central town inbetween and hire a car or better move from resort to resort and book rooms in the resorts? Remember, I'm Swiss: >200km is a long distance journey for me ;)

If you'd got -say - 10 days for resort sidecountry/guided trips, where would you settle your tents? (one week is already fixes for cat)
 

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Haha karkis, I didn't intend to move to Canada, got only 2 (max 3) weeks holiday :)
aw yah i didnt mean you should do ALL that, just puttin out options....

cuttin thru that list i would drop fernie and or nelson (unless you settle on Island lake or Baldface for cat skiing), each could be good for a couple few days if you're in the area but theres more variety and options further north.

golden and revvy are 150 kms apart and theres a whole world of options between the two.

in a nutshell, from the choices you offered:
-Skeena, you're kind of in the middle of nowhere, if it's good your all set, if not you have a long way to go to other options

-Island lake, fly thru calgary, spend a couple few days in fernie and go up to golden, rogers pass, maybe a trip to revvy if the eastside is dry, and go back to calgary thru the rockies.

-Baldface, fly thru Kelowna, spend a couple few daze at whitewater and red, go to revvy, rogers pass, maybe sneak over to golden if the westside is too warm.

i'll find some photos here just now....
 

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The Swiss Miss
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Discussion Starter #18
id give a +1 to Mustang, Chatter Creek, Baldface and Retallack for cat skiing
So how would you rate the experience needed for Mustang? (still a bit intimidated by their skill demand)
 

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That's bullshit. Nina and niño effects are not that cyclical.

It's possible to have snowless periods anywhere, western Canada at the right time of year your odds are very much in your favour of fresh snowfall. If you do cat or Heli they have lots of terrain and you'll see untouched snow for sure.
I'm gonna have to 2nd this. Not only is there no "cycle" upon which to build a predictable pattern, but there is also no way to know whether or not a neutral, la, or el will hit OR miss your spot.

Plenty of places have got dumped on during (insert any "nina" variable here), while others have been skunked.

IMO the only usefulness of such long term broad stokes forecasting is for farmers and the gov't branch that regulates and subsidizes it (and I question that but i'm not a farmer so i dunno).
 

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kicking horse backcountry (slack country) check out
A Guide to Backcountry Skiing Golden BC - North
theres the south end too on that site but there's more options and less consequence in the north bowls.
i dont have much G.side photos on line but heres a couple from back in the day...



its mostly a bunch of G/nar with some really nice chutes in between


RMR slack is alot of this kinda thing

a bit of this kinda stuff

mini golf means you can usually go over, or around it

black diamond means up to about this kinda thing

double black is from something like that to something like this


but honestly for a commercial ski operation when they say advanced they mean they dont want to have to pick you up all the time in terrain thats 35 - 40deg trees and maybe some chutes to 45, but they would check you out before they tee those up
i suspect that when a Euro says 'advanced' they mean a bit more than when a Canuck says it... you Euros are crazy after all


Rogers Pass is all kinds of goodness






and tons more....
check out rogers pass 411 sample guidebook
i think the north side volume will be out in print this fall, its just an e book now, $25CAD on that site.
 
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