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The Canadian Ski Road Trip

Road trip

It’s really important to get out and explore new areas with your friends.

Text and photos by Elena Pressprich

In one of the last weeks of 2015, Jared, Dillon and I set our hearts out for Canada. We had previously purchased our Mountain Collective passes, so this road trip was going to consist of two days at Whistler, one day at Lake Louise and one at Sunshine Village. From Bend, Oregon, there was a lot of driving ahead of us.

The trip started out a little rough, in the way that the car we had planned on taking was not in an operable or safe condition. We opted to borrow my dad’s mini van. It’s an epic road trip car. But really. SO MUCH ROOM.

Day 1 of the Canadian Ski Road Trip

After nearly 600 miles of driving, we arrived in the Whistler area but noticed that things seemed quite off. We even noticed that as we rolled through Pemberton (around 7PM), that the gas station lights were out and everything was dark everywhere. I was getting concerned that I hadn’t let the hotel know that we were maybe going to need a later check in time. The hotel was not answering their phone. Dang it. This wasn’t looking good. As we sat outside the hotel in Mount Currie and debated about if the hotel was even in operation (only 2 snow covered cars were parked out front… the place looked deserted), we eventually saw a tiny sign on the upper story that said ”office” so we thought we’d give it a shot. Sure enough, an elderly gentleman answered the door with a lantern in hand explaining that he was expecting us and the power had gone out. We loaded all our gear into our room, cooked our dinner in the dark and went to bed immediately after. It was dumping snow and we knew we were in for a treat the next day. Whoop!

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Shortly after our arrival across the Canada-US border, the sun had set. That meant we hadn’t seen what we were driving through. By studying the map and topography, we had a pretty good idea that we were in some big mountains. We were super excited to wake up and check it out. Not to our surprise, it was gorgeous! At least from what we could tell because it was just absolutely dumping fat flakes. Overnight, there was reported 18 cm of fresh waiting for us at Whistler.

After the 30 minute drive, walking to the base and getting our tickets, we were finally off on a lift. We had no idea where to go, but we knew down would likely be good, not matter the direction. A few runs later, we met a fellow in the lift line named Guy. After a brief talk and a ride up on the chair, he decided that he didn’t mind giving us a little tour around the mountain to all the “local” spots and secret stashes. Guy was amazing for taking us to all these little gems! He ended up skiing with us the whole entire day! Canadians are so friendly! Turns out Guy is a mechanic in Whistler, so if you’re ever in need and in the area, pay him a visit and tell him I sent ya!

Day 2 of the Canadian Ski Roadtrip

Day two at Whistler reported yet another dumping of snow, this time around 24 cm! Dang, we were getting lucky! Two days in a row of deep powder!? Having just been shown around the day before to some of the best spots to go, this day couldn’t have been any better. BUT IT GOT BETTER. We ran into Guy again! And AGAIN he showed us around and took us to even more new areas where the secret pow stashes were hidden! These two days were making me so insanely happy and made for some of the top days of skiing in my life. Lucky lucky us!

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Day 3 of the Canadian Ski Road Trip

The 3rd day was traveling day from Whistler to Banff. The road went through big canyon spaces riddled with steep snowy peaks. Eye candy all day long. We even made it a priority to stop at a few spots once we reached Yoho National Park, although dark, I was able to snag a few of my favorite shots from the trip that evening.

Lake Banff

Day 4 of the Canadian ski Road trip

On day 4 we were pretty tired upon waking up at the Rundle Ridge Chalets just outside of Banff. It was about a whopping 0 degrees (F) and I wanted nothing more than to just cozy up to the heater and sit inside the cabin and sleep. It was a gorgeous day though and, sigh, I guess I had to go skiing. On day 4 we had decided to head over to Sunshine Village to ski for the day. Sunny sunny sunny but very chilly! I had about every layer I owned on and was still having a hard time staying warm. Sunshine village was backed by the beautiful mountains of the Canadian rockies and those classic Banff mountains. So happy to have a clear day to see it in all its glory.

Elena sunshine resrot

Day 5 of the Canadian Ski Roadtrip

We were set out to ski at Lake Louise before heading back home. Really too short of a trip! Lake Louise was like the previous day at Sunshine… super sunny, super cold. Another beautiful resort and place to ski, we really needed more time to explore! The backcountry at Lake Louise looks SO good and there is so much to choose from without ever getting too far from the resort, which is really cool! Only a few hours here and we were packing ourselves up and heading out. We knew we could make it to Coeur d’Alene for dinner and sleep. Still a long drive ahead of us though.

Oh! And I forgot to mention. The brakes. The rear right brake had been making a pretty severe grinding noise for a few days at this point and we were unsure what exactly was wrong. But we knew it wasn’t good. Gosh it was loud. We decided that while we were in the in Coeur d’Alene, we should have it looked at and to know if it was either something that needed to get replaced or if we could make it back to Bend and get it fixed there. Sure enough, the rear right caliper had become locked closed (likely on our day from Whistler to Banff) and completely blew through the pad and into the rotor. We ended up spending 4 hours on Christmas Eve morning at Les Schwab while they replaced the pads, both calipers and the rotors. Fun! But hey, the van was like new, and much safer to drive back in.

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Another long drive later and we were home! So much driving on this trip but we also lucked out and got powder, some sunshine and tons of smiles! I highly recommend treating yourself to getting the Mountain Collective pass for at least one season and allow yourself these mini vacations. It’s really important to get out and explore new areas with your friends. Even if there are troubles along the way. In the end, you’ll get it all figured out and it makes for an extra memorable moment along the journey!

To learn more about Elena, visit the links below.

www.elenapressprich.com – InstagramFacebook


Elena and Orage are currently part of an exciting contest with a 10 000$ dollar prize purse. Check here for your chance to win: https://www.theoutbound.com/contests/backyard-to-backcountry

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