A Skiing Road Trip – Vancouver to Calgary in Two Weeks

Ski Canada bring more challenge everytime you go downhill and uphill. The first challenge of this slightly adventurous itinerary is to arrive in Vancouver International Airport in a sober state. This is a touch more challenging for the European visitor after a trans-Atlantic flight with the free booze flowing, but necessary nonetheless.

The 3 hour drive along the aptly named ‘Sea to Sky’ highway to Whistler will soon be a thing of the past. A shiny new auto state is being built in time for the Winter Olympics in 2010. You’re going to be pretty zonked by the time you hit Whistler, but it’s going to be worth it as soon as you hit the slopes.

3 Nights and 4 days skiing is the recommendation for your stay in Whistler. It’s not very long for a resort of this size, but you’ll certainly have enough time to get a real feel for it, and hit all the highlights. If the snow conditions are suitable, I’d recommend that you ski Spanky’s Ladder.

On your final day in Whistler you’re going to have to cut the skiing short if you want to make the the next stop of Sun Peaks before midnight, and also make the most of the spectacular views along the way. Try to hit the road by 3pm. The drive can only be described as breathtaking, and should take you about 6 hours.

Sun Peaks is a bit tame compared to some of the other resorts on this trip. It’s more of a family resort than anything else. That being said there’s some really great tree skiing here. There’s also some great out of bounds terrain, so find yourself a local and tag along. 2 Nights and two days and you’ll be ready to hit the road again. From here on in it only gets better and better!

The next one is the jewel in the crown of this trip. Revelstoke. If you’re reading this review in 2009 don’t expect the Revelstoke you visit to be the same one being reviewed here. Revelstoke is being groomed to be bigger and better than Whister, and as such it’s the subject of a HUGE building program. But right now there’s no one home. In short you’ve got the largest vertical of any North American resort and you only have to share it with a handful of like-minded ski bums. This is heaven. Revelstoke is in the heart of the BC interior so the snow is not only deep, but it’s super dry. Simply wonderful. If 50 people to share a mountain with seems crowded to you, there’s also great heli-skiing and cat skiing all around the area. You are never going to want to leave. The town leaves something to be desired, but if it was any different there’d only be crowds of people. You should plan to spend 3 nights, and 3 days skiing in Revelstoke before you have to tear yourself away. If the destination was anywhere other than Kicking Horse you’d probably need a crowbar.

Kicking horse is about 5 hours from Revelstoke so you’re going to need to get some good tunes going on the stereo to pick up the mood after dragging yourself kicking and screaming from skiing heaven. Kicking Horse is about 30 minutes drive up into the mountains outside of Golden. You’ll be be arriving late in the day so you won’t be able to see much of the mountain, however the lights on the porches of the hand full of ski lodges at the base will give you that warm and welcoming alpine feel. Dump your stuff and head straight for the local pub. It’s a real beauty of a watering hole so unlike the stereotypical mountain boozer.

If you like it steep then you’re going to be in your element in Kicking Horse. Over half of the runs would be called cliffs in any other resort. There are two main ridge lines in the ski area and both of them have some amazing runs. Just hope there’s lots of snow to cushion your fall should your decent not go quite to plan. Kicking Horse is yet another resort with some outstanding out of bounds skiing, but you’re really going to want to find a local who’ll show you around. There’s a few spots that could turn a bit nasty if you don’t know what you’re doing, but don’t let that put you off. Kicking Horse needs about 2 days on the hill to do it justice, and after those 2 days you’ll have all but forgotten Revelstoke. You should also plan to stay here for 3 nights so you can make the trip to Fernie both a day time drive and a rest day. You’re going to need your strength when you get there.

It’s about a 4 hour drive from Kicking Horse to Fernie and there is some good wonderful scenery on route. Fernie is where you will spend the last 3 nights of your journey. After Whistler, Fernie is the most well known of the resorts on this trip so expect to find the mountain slightly busier than you have probably become accustomed to. Off the hill, Fernie is split into two areas. At the base there are a number of apartments which mostly service the package holiday crowd. Several miles down the valley is the town of Fernie proper. It has the true feel of a mountain town, and is where you’ll find all the life of the resort, and it’s where you should base yourself during your stay.

The Skiing in Fernie is challenging, but not quite up there with Kicking Horse. In other words there is something for everyone. If it snows during your stay you should try to be first on the lift – Fernie has a small number of base lifts which open out to more lifts higher up the mountain, so the early risers really do get the best of the snow.

If you find that the mountain is too crowded, and you are not getting enough first tracks, you should consider spending some time with one of the local cat skiing operations. Powder Cowboy is the most well known, but unless you plan ahead it’s likely to be booked up.

After Fernie the next destination is unfortunately Calgary, and the flight home.

The author is technologist and skiing fanatic. He brings these two interests together in ChaletPro which is an online directory of Ski Chalets and Luxury Chalets for rent.

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