This year, we went abroad for our ski vacation. Big White Resort bills itself as “Canada’s favourite family resort”. I, for one, think that they live up to their billing.
Because Oklahoma is one of those states that thumbs their collective nose at ID security, it has been threatened that an Oklahoman would be turned away from an international airport since the Oklahoma driver’s license doesn’t meet federal guidelines. With that in mind, Thea and I decided over the summer to get passports so that we wouldn’t have to worry about being stuck here forever. That opened the door to a wider selection of locations to go skiing. That and the unpredictableness of the El Nino patterns made me look wider anyway. I was looking in December at locations with consistent snowfall and enough variety that it wouldn’t bet boring. The more I looked at Big White, the better it looked.
The first thing that I noticed was that there are two high-speed lifts paralleling up the mountain. The Snow Ghost lift does take you higher and it seats six, but Ridge Express is a quad. That means that when both are running, ten skiers at a time can be taken up the hill. The second thing that I saw as a plus was that there was quite literally a village; shops, restaurants, grocery, and residences, with ski-in/ski-out everywhere. But the real selling point was the exchange rate. It was sitting at $1 Canadian to $.70 US. That meant that everything was 30% cheaper on top of everything being less expensive because it wasn’t owned by a mega-ski conglomerate. (A 1-day lift ticket at Vail was $175 US. A 1-day lift ticket at Big White was $80 Canadian: $56 US.) The snow looked good at over 90 inches in December. The price was right. The weather was a concern but the Fahrenheit to Celsius conversions of their average weather patterns were only a few degrees colder than where we had been skiing in previous years. And being farther north, we would be skiing at a lower altitude. So no altitude sickness.
Making the reservations at Big White was pretty straight forward, once you got past the fact that the reservation desk is almost completely staffed by Australians and New Zealanders. We purchased everything at once except for the air component because they can’t book internationally for you. But that was fine by me. I felt like I could handle that portion of it. (see previous post) So we got lodging, lift, rental and ground transportation locked in for a single monetary transaction fee.
While we were there, the weather was more variable than I thought that it would be. Day 1 started off bright but turned cloudy by midday. Day 2 stayed bright most of the day but became overcast by sunset. Day 3 began bright but started snowing on us in the last half-hour of lift operations. Day 4 started off cloudy but brightened up and then faded back to overcast. And Day 5 we never even made it onto the snow. Who in their right mind skis when they can’t even see ten feet in front of them. We were completely fogged in. But it was just fog, not freezing mix.
Tales that I won’t tell here include the harrowing taxi ride up the cloud-covered, icy mountain roads at 1:00 a.m., how my skis went missing from the ski rack for fifteen confusing minutes, and how ski-in/ski-out also means lugging gear around as your own sherpa. I won’t be doing any restaurant reviews. (They ranged from fantastic to meh, but were always accommodating to my garlic disorder.) I can’t do a cider review. Even though I tried a new cider each day (mmmm, Rider Cider), I can’t directly compare them against the ciders I’m used to, as the Canadian ciders aren’t available in Oklahoma. And I don’t think that it’s fair to bore you with the details of which muscle groups were used more or which I didn’t remember that I had.
I will end with we both had a good time skiing and despite airline issues and airport stress (getting through customs to make our connecting flight), we would do it again in a heartbeat. Or possibly a year’s time