Big White BC Questions


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Another day of rain and wet snow in the east has caused the emergency plan B to be pulled out of the drawer. Was thinking of taking the family of 5 to Big White BC first week in March. Picked Big White as it has quick shuttle access to the Kelowna airport with direct flights from Toronto. Cost is a huge factor as basically the price for 5 at Big White for 5 days of skiing /lodging and transport is about $5000.00 cdn (Yikes) you are talking to a guy who takes the whole family to MRG for same amount of time for $800.00 cdn. Spending 5 G?S is a huge amount but can?t see any cheaper way. On average is Big White in good shape first week of March. Remember were eastern skiers raised on dodging rocks, stumps and mud. My only experience with the west is Ferine in 91. Took the Greyhound bus back then.
Big White is the worst of the many ski areas in the region in my opinion. Unless your kids are really young, Sun Peaks, Whistler, or Silver Star would be better bets. All of them will have ample snow barring any drastic changes. Big White is very flat, and very crowded. I think the village is much nicer at Sun Peaks and there is a greater variety of terrain. I have not been to Silver Star, but have heard good things about it. Whistler of course is always great, and there are great deals to be had flying to Vancouver. That is my opinion, if you have any more questions I can probably help you out.
After your message took a closer look at Big White and it does look kind of flat on the other hand Sun Peaks looks good . Basically looking for good un- groomed skiing with lots of trees and bowls if the sun is out as can't see on the overcast days.
I don't think Sun Peaks is any better than Big White. Big White gets more snow. Sun Peaks' "un-groomed skiing with lots of trees and bowls" has south exposure and will be tough in March if the sun is out.

I too would recommend Whistler, particularly with the epic year it is having. Also, Lake Louise and Kicking Horse have much more of that kind of terrain than the Okanagan/Sun Peaks and are also having excellent seasons.

I always thought the draw of Big White/Silver Star/Sun Peaks was low crowds and attractive pricing. If you're not getting that, you might as well go for the big places with marquee terrain.
i haven't been to sun peaks in winter, but as far as i know, there are no bowls to be found there. plenty of tree skiing, but nothing above the treeline.
I would check out Kicking Horse. A bit more out of the way, but less crowds and the skiing is phenomenal.
Sun Peaks has maybe 1000 vertical of alpine/subalpine at the upper northwest part of the area. It had crosswind affected snow when I was ther last February, and the West Bowl T-bar that serves much of it was closed one of my 2 days there.

But the basic review is correct. Most of the skiing is trails and trees.
The main appeal of Big White is the great selection of slopeside accommodations. There's an impressive selection of large slopeside chalets with true ski-in/ski-out access, outdoor hot tubs, etc.

In terms of challenge, there's very little white-knuckle terrain if you're a strong expert skier, but the terrain is pretty good. The bowl under the Cliff Chair is fairly steep (although short) and there are some fairly steep runs off the Falcon chair as I recall. I love tree skiing and you can pretty much ski the trees from one side of the resort to the other. I was always able to find some nice tree shots with good snow. As a MRG skier, you should appreciate that. One downside is that it can get pretty foggy at the top of the mountain at Big White which will render the Cliff Bowl unskiable. That happened a couple of days when we were there.

As a point of reference, I take a couple of trips out west (I live in NJ now) each year to ski the steeps at places like Big Sky, Cottonwood Canyons, Mammoth, Jackson Hole and Whistler. One trip is pretty hard-core skiing with the guys and the other is a family trip with my family and my wife's sister's family. One year the Canadian side of the family wanted to try out Big White. I shared some of the concerns of the other posters on this board, but they were unfounded. When you combine the good skiing (like I said, no scary steeps, but decent stuff, particularly in the trees) with the awesome slopeside accommodations, it all adds up to a nice trip. By the way, they have a good terrain park, if you or your kids are into that scene.

We ski all over Vermont as well and based on my experiences in Vermont, you won't be disappointed with Big White. In the end, it depends on what kind of skiers you have in your family. If they're all hard-core and you want to go to the BC area, go to Whistler. Big White is a great all-around family destination though. One final point......with the exchange rate where it is, you may find better deals in the States than in Canada if you're trying to save money.
I think Big White is a great place to bring the family. I am actually quite surprised about the price though, as we found it to be the least expensive from all the Okanagan resorts. My favorite of those resorts was Sun Peaks. Big White definitely had more snow, but the terrain was not very exciting. It would be fantastic for intermediate skiers or if you just like skiing through untracked glades all week, which is really what made it special.

On the other hand, if you want white knuckle skiing, Kicking Horse is phenominal and they are having an epic year. It is very cold n dry there, so the snow should stay really nice on that mountain. Same for Fernie.

Check out Canadian Mountain Adventures for package prices. They hooked us up with comfortable slopeside accomodations at Sun Peaks and Big White a few years ago for much less money than you seem to be paying for your family. Costs were less than $60CA per day including skiing and lodging. Much less than any trip to Vermont, though airfare is what is going to kill the budget. Stop at the grocery store in Kelowna before heading up the mountain to buy groceries. You can get groceries up there, but they are more expensive, and eating out is even more expensive. Good way to cut costs with a family of 5.
Thanks to all for your assistance as it helps in going through all the info that is out there. Going to sit on the fence with this one and see what happens with the rest of the eastern season as do not want to commit until the last minute . Ahh the sport of skiing!!

Sharon , Can you please advise advise if you have the web link to Canadian Mountain Adventures ( or phone ) .
Big White and Sun Peaks are excellent family resorts. I'd compare them to Breckenridge and Copper Mt. without the crowds and with nearly all lodging ski-in ski-out. I would have thought way cheaper too, but perhaps that has changed.
I think the exchange rate has something to do with it. Prices in Canada don't change as quickly as currency rates do. The CAD has moved from 1.60 CAD/USD a few years ago to 1.10, although now it's back up to about 1.18. Most things are now more expensive in Canada than the equivalent product in the United States. It wasn't too long ago that it was reversed.

Back to Anthony's dilemma, I think he's doing the right thing. Northern Vermont got about a foot of snow this week and more is supposedly on the way over the next week. It's a bit too soon to give up on the season, but I think you need to stay North. Personally, I'm going to Jay over President's Day weekend with my son and we're going to Stowe with the family the weekend after that. Keeping my fingers crossed!
Anthony":1n0qcfbc said:
Thanks to all for your assistance as it helps in going through all the info that is out there. Going to sit on the fence with this one and see what happens with the rest of the eastern season as do not want to commit until the last minute . Ahh the sport of skiing!!

Sharon , Can you please advise advise if you have the web link to Canadian Mountain Adventures ( or phone ) .

As a good intermediate skiier ( groomers) I thinking that Kicking Horse would be tough for most intermediates.
An intermediate can ski mid mountain and below without any problems.

The upper mountain is much tougher

If you go west... I would suggest Lake Louise.

The mountain is terrific and runs galore for every level of ability.
The only drawback is that there is no slope side lodging.

If you wait it out maybe Mt. St. Ann and the other mountains around Quesbec city will get snow
I'll second the vote for Lake Louise. Sunshine is probably even better for intermediates. I'm guessing airfares from eastern Canada will be cheaper than to Kelowna.

And you're right about not adjusting to the exchange rate. I was told last year at Wiegele that clintele has dropped from 70% Americans to 40%.
Have the same family of 5 on East Coast (M,D, 15, 14, 12)

Going to Sun Valley, ID tomorrow -- 5 days Skiing, 6 nights, fly to Boise rent 2wd

Airfaire - RDU-BOI - ($1100) booked 3 weeks in advance (xmas eve)
Hotel (Sun Valley lodge 2br Condo) + all Ski passes - $2100
Rental Car - $270

Sun Valley has Kids 15 and under ski free in Jan w/paying adult

Will Post ski experiance on Thurs PM.....

Also - Airfaires to Spokane WA are insanely low, like $125RT from east coast - You can fly in, drive 3 hours north to Red Mt BC - ski 3 days Snow Cat ski 1-2 days for far less.....
Spokane is an overlooked and usually attractively priced gateway. Despite the rise in the Canadian dollar, I think Rossland (Red Mt.) and Nelson (Whitewater and numerous nearby snowcat areas) are still relatively cheap places to stay in winter. Also, Schweitzer is 2 hours from Spokane and has had 212 inches of snow so far this season. You can get in a couple of days of cat skiing and still spend less for a week than at a typical resort (Sun Valley in this thread is a good example).
The rapid growth in new cat and heli operations has produced a more competitive environment. So now CMH as well as Wiegele will consider last minute deals? 20 years ago I got the impression someone had to die to open a mid-season slot at those places.
Not sure you understood my post, I thought the Sun Valley trip was a pretty good deal.

Thats $2100 for 6 nights lodging AND the 5 days skiing - Ski tickets at most major areas are ~$70 - 5x5x70 is $1750 - the 2 Teenagers Ski free is a HUGE savings + slopside lodging - hard to beat....I'm sure i'll leave the difference at some eatery in Ketchum though...

BTW - have you skied the Red Mt BC area? whats your impression? I stumbled upon it after I had made my Sun Valley plans and wished I could have figured it into the decision.