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Visiting Apex, realizing more about Whistler

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There’s nothing worse than driving out of town in the middle of a snowstorm.

Well, perhaps there’s one thing that’s worse – driving out of town in the middle of a snowstorm and heading to another ski resort where it isn’t snowing.

As chance would have it that’s exactly what I was doing last Thursday night.

Our friends had already left earlier that afternoon, the chalet was booked and paid for, the time away from work was arranged. There was no turning back.

We were going to Apex that evening even if it dumped 46 more centimetres in Whistler or not.

So the journey began amid the swirling snow.

With each passing northbound car I genuinely tried not to seethe in envy over the weekend warriors coming to poach our fresh lines. I tried to think positively.

After all, I got the 46 cm the week before. I got the 25 cm on Christmas Day. I’ve got about 25 days under my belt so far. I hardly have any cause to complain. Then again, when you miss fresh powder you always have just cause to complain.

That night we only made it as far as Princeton, about an hour and a half shy of our final destination in Apex.

The next morning the first thing my boyfriend did, before he even rolled out of bed, was grab his cell phone and call the Snowphone. We were a good 400 kilometres away from Whistler so it didn’t really matter one way or another how much snow had fallen at home. And yet there was still this overwhelming urge to find out just how much snow we were missing.

"Fifteen fresh centimetres," he said to me bleakly.

Days like that are few and far between so you can appreciate the pain of being so far away.

But we had made to pact in the car to forget Whistler for the weekend and have fun no matter what in Apex.

Still in bed, he grabbed the remote control and flicked on to the weather station.

"No new snow for Penticton this weekend," he said even more morosely.

It’s amazing how obsessed with the weather you can get when it comes to fresh powder.

I think that even if we were vacationing in Mexico, my boyfriend would still call the Snowphone and report the daily weather conditions at Whistler-Blackcomb.

And so it was with heavy hearts that we packed our bags and continued on our journey east, trying not to think about the CBC trees or Khyber’s or anywhere else back home.

Apex turned out to be a great little mountain despite the lack of fresh snow. It had steep challenging tree runs and fast groomers with some wicked rollers. More importantly the longest we had to wait to get on either chairlift (that’s right there were two chairlifts) was less than five minutes.

The general consensus in the group was that Apex would be a great place to be on a powder day, just like any mountain is a great place to be on a powder day, I suppose.

The thing is, you can’t help but compare any other resort to Whistler.

Sometimes, it’s not exactly fair to make that comparison. Whistler blows this small mountain out of the water with the number of lifts, runs, terrain. There is no comparison. And I don’t think Apex is even trying to compete.

And yet, the lift tickets were $45 for the day.

I have to say, and part of me is absolutely loath to say this, that day tickets at Apex makes Whistler’s $71 in comparison a practical bargain.

I never, ever in a million years thought I would think something like that, much less write it down in the paper.

But it’s true.

For an extra $36 you get two mountains, 33 lifts, over 200 runs, one of the best terrain parks in North America. The list goes on and I’m starting to sound like a press release.

OK, $71 is still astronomical for a day’s skiing but when you think about what you’re getting for your money, it actually doesn’t seem that bad.

How could Whistler charge anything less than $71 when little mountains like Apex are charging more than half of the Whistler ticket?

We stopped at the resort in Manning Park on the way home to check out that mountain and the lift tickets there were $35 for a day’s skiing. That’s half the price of a Whistler ticket BUT you could practically see the top of the mountain from the parking lot.

Visiting Apex gave me a new perspective on the price of skiing on the whole. How can the average family possibly afford to do this?

If the B.C. ski industry is concerned about declining numbers, they need look no further than the price of a lift ticket at the ski resorts.

That being said, though the ski hill wasn’t particularly great value for money, other things in Apex were far cheaper than in Whistler.

Dinner for five including two bottles of wine, two pizzas, nachos and a Caesar salad in Apex was just over $100. I think it’s fair to say that you’d be hard pressed to have dinner for two in Whistler with wine that came in at under $100. Our accommodation in a little ski in/ski out chalet worked out to be $30 per person for the night. Now I’ve never actually rented a chalet in Whistler but if someone can get a deal for $30 a night per person, let me know.

All in all it was a great little holiday and we forgot about life in Whistler for a while.

I can guarantee you though that none of us were looking forward to the return home to hear about the epic, knee deep snow we missed while we took a vacation to another ski resort.