For a long while, ever since I started buying the Mountain Collective Pass, I had been doing these trips. I’d pick a set of resorts based on physical proximity and travel from one to the other. The Mountain Collective Pass was limited to two days at each resort (50% off for additional days), so that was a lot of traveling.
I did three such trips. The first one was along the Pacific Coast, hitting Mammoth, Lake Tahoe, and Whistler. The second included Jackson Hole, Park City, Little Cottonwood Canyon, and Aspen/Snowmass. The third one was Sun Valley, Jackson Hole, and Big Sky.
This fourth one was supposed to be slightly different. I was planning on going from Calgary to Vancouver, hitting the same resorts as we did, but skipping Schweitzer (a last second addition, anyway) and RED in favor of Whistler and Cypress.
In the end, I am very happy with this trip. Tim was an amazing companion, patient and enthusiastic even in the face of adversity (measured in degrees Fahrenheit). The resorts were mostly well above expectation, aided by snow that was perfect from the first to the last day. And even the eternal driving wasn’t much of a factor, considering that the Impreza was well-behaved the entire time, and that we had excellent connectivity most of the time.
I am very happy with the Canadians, who lived up to their reputation as incredibly friendly and congenial people. Very happy with the resorts chosen and their offering.
I am not so happy with my own planning, as I should have figured out the blackout dates first and built the trip to avoid them. That’s not even as much about the cost, but about the crowds. We would have had a much better time if we didn’t have to hit the slopes with everybody else. But I really can’t blame anyone by myself for that, and I am very forgiving of my own mistakes and faults.
Not happy with Mint Mobile. I paid for international access, but the instructions on the web site were entirely wrong. It took me all the way to Lake Louise, a week in, to figure out that the solution was simple: I had to create an APN on the phone and all it could and had to do was offer the name WHOLESALE. All other settings that Mint suggested resulted in the APN being deleted. To make things worse, the $10 I paid lasted all of one day once I had set up the phone correctly, and that was just maps and text.
Not happy with the locations of the resorts. The resorts of the Rockies tend to lack infrastructure and be near minor cities. We made the mistake of not visiting Banff sooner, but otherwise the towns had no nightlife, no fun, and seemed to shut down early. Heck, Golden was so sleepy, even daytime on Sunday was dead, with most shops closed. Of course, in my mind I compared with Whistler, which is vibrant and fun year round.
The least happy I am is with Google Maps. Aside from the stupid route through the closed Canadian border crossing, it acted poorly the entire time. It showed shortcuts over minor side roads that were iced over, seemingly not realizing that staying on the main road is a much better option. It showed slowdowns and delays that didn’t exist while missing out long ones. Some of it may just lie in the international nature of the trip, but much of the problems seem to be bedevil Google Maps everywhere.
From the perspective of the resorts, my ranking would go as follows:
- Sunshine Village
- Lake Louise
- RED Mountain
- Kicking Horse
- Mount Norquay
I would definitely visit all resorts on this list again, except for the last two. Revelstoke was a lot of fun, but it’s a really small resort and the cat tracks got to me. The first four on the list, though, are absolutely places I’d visit again and again.
How do they compare to Colorado resorts? I’d say the average runs are harder, especially the blue runs. The infrastructure is generally worse – even smaller resorts like Keystone or Winter Park have a lot more to do on site than Lake Louise or RED. A-Basin is the only one that directly compares with these resorts, but to be fair it’s just a ten minute drive from Keystone, and a 20 minute drive from the Tri-cities of Frisco, Dillon, Silverthorne.
The snow infrastructure is generally comparable. RED Mountain had really slow lifts, but the other ones were pretty zippy. Signage, access, blockages are comparable.
I won’t compare the snow, because we got incredibly lucky with it. I won’t compare the temperatures, because we were unlucky.
If I wanted to go to Canada again, I’d still book Whistler, first. I had a lot more fun there, and there was a lot more fun to be had.