Having been a skiier for over 20 years, and working in the ski industry before becoming a travel consultant, David Herson recently visited Western Canada and hit the slopes. He visited local ski hills – Fernie, Panorama, Kicking Horse and Revelstoke which are all very different mountains in their own way. From the various terrain, to accomodation styles, David breaks it down for us no matter what your ski or snowboard ability.
After flying into Calgary, we then made the drive to Fernie, BC. Beautiful flat scenery is what we saw for the first part of the drive, until we hit the Mountains. I think its important to note that Western Canada (British Columbia and Alberta) are great year-round destinations. Ski, snowboard, dog sledding and ice skating in the winter, while hiking, biking, white-water rafting prevail in the summer.
Fernie, Panorama, Kicking Horse and Revelstoke are all different mountains. Different terrain – different accommodation styles and meant for different skier/snowboarder abilities. Here is what you can expect from each one:
Fernie is a small quaint town that has an amazing hill – ski conditions were early season and definitely the coldest of all. But for my first day this year – at least I had fresh legs! Our accommodations were amazing and located in close proximity to the mountain. Reporting some of the highest snowfalls of any resort in the Canadian Rockies, Fernie is known for its powder skiing. The resort offers 112 different trails, five alpine bowls and extensive backcountry.
This place has the village atmosphere similar to Whistler (it must be the Intrawest connection). Located on the western slopes of the Rockies, 2 hours southwest of Banff, Panorama has the 3rd highest vertical rise of all North America ski areas with 4,300 vertical feet of skiing. The Panorama Mountain Village is completely self-contained and offers ski-in/ski-out access, accommodations, restaurants, nightlife and a variety of outdoor activities. If you make it out there, make sure to try and meet Kirby Brown (President and Chief Operating Officer) who’s office is also a mountain! Kirby spent the day on his snowboard hosting up on the mountain on opening day and made sure we found some powder – after all our trip was through the Powder highway!
In my opinion, this was the most challenging mountain – but had amazing fresh powder! The Gondola ride up definitely kept us warm – its when we took the peak chair up that we realized how cold and windy it was. I must say that the view from up top was to die for. Scenic for anyone even if they are not a skier or snowboarder. Located just outside of Golden, Kicking Horse offers 137 runs with a variety of terrain for beginner and intermediate skier and snowboarder. The resort area is very family-friendly and also has a tube park and skating rink.
Revelstoke, in southeastern British Columbia, boasts 3,121 acres of fall line skiing, high alpine bowls, 13 areas of gladed terrain and groomed terrain. This is a place for extreme skiers and snowboarders and offers lift, cat, heli and backcountry skiing over 515,000 acres of terrain. Revelstoke also has a gondola to get you to the top – and even has a mid-mountain stop on the gondola. As it was early season ski, conditions were not great at the bottom of the mountain so we had to download down at the end of the day. Ashley Tait was one of our hosts and is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Revelstoke Mountain Resort – its always great skiing with someone who knows the mountain and the terrain! As a newer mountain they are building two new accommodations right at the base of the mountain. Our accommodations were in a spectacular very fresh 2 bedroom condo – equipped with a full kitchen – with great views of the mountain.
As the ski season begins I wish all my readers a healthy and safe ski/snowboard season – stay on the marked trails and please don’t ski out of bounds!
Looking for more information on travelling through BC? David Herson is an International Travel Consultant at the Flight Centre Holt Renfrew location in Toronto, Ontario and can be reached online or by calling 1-866-662-6289.