So I have been meaning to write a TR since our trip last spring and just haven't gotten around to it till now. I figured this would be a good time to get all you max passers stoked for a trip to BC. I'll try and keep this short and sweet. I pulled a bunch of pictures off of facebook and they tell the true story. We spent 4 nights at fernie and 3 nights at KHMR. We had fresh snow every day and other than being socked in low vis much of the time at kicking horse we had a great trip. Here's my summary:
Fernie - more lodging options. Cool ski town within 10 minutes of the hill. You could easily stay in town and drive up to the hill. Fun night life on mountain and in town. Huge bowls perfect for intermediate pow skiers. Plenty of advanced and expert terrain if you go looking for it. We did get rain at the bottom on our last two days which was a bit of a bummer as there are only a few lifts that let you stay up high if it does rain. We stayed on mountain in a nice condo for about $150 a night US. There are multiple bars and restaurants on mountain that are good. We went into town and did it up one night and one afternoon. Cool authentic ski town. The mountain was completely uncrowded and we were there on a weekend.
KHMR - Golden is a cool little town too. A little rougher around the edges and smaller than Fernie. It would be a bit of a PIA to stay in town here cause its about 20 minutes and a lot of vert to get up to the mountain. We stayed on mountain right next to the gondi for about $150 a night again US in a really nice condo. The options for dining/bar are much more limited at KHMR. Try and ski here during the week as the gondi is the only lift that gets you to the top and it gets really crowded on weekends and big pow days. The lift layout is the only bummer at KH as there is only one lift up top that you can lap without coming all the way to the bottom and you can only lap one of 4 bowls staying up high. The bowls are interesting in that the south facing aspects have losts of trees while the north facing aspects are mostly bald. It snowed pretty much the entire time we were there so vis was constantly an issue. The few times I could drop off into the treeless terrain was DAMN good. There is so much fantastic fun terrain and it is so big. It was fun lapping the stairway to heaven lift. The middle of the bowl was mello enough for the wife to practice her powder turns and I could traverse out the ridgeline and get some sweet steep and deep turns in the trees and meet her at the lift. If they could put in one or two more similar lifts or have a mid station for the gondi it would make this place even better.
We heard from multiple folks that we should hit Castle while we were there. Its on the way to Fernie if you are driving down from Calgary. I think it is off most people's maps because its actually in Alberta. Slow old lifts and sick terrain and lots of snow was the word. We couldn't work it in but now that I know about it I would hit it on the way to Fernie.
If you are thinking about using your max pass and doing a week or longer trip I highly recommend both places. Obviously we got lucky with the snow so that is always a huge bonus. It is a long trip from the east coast as you have to get to Calgary and then drive 3+ hours.