Having the chance to get away over the past couple of days to do some skiing was a great opportunity. Having the chance to return to Panorama, BC, for another year of a school ski trip was excellent. The mountain never really fails to disappoint, and will surely keep us coming back again and again.
Despite fairly chilly early-morning temperatures (both days started off around -18 Celcius), the days would warm up as the sun peeked through the mountains and bathed the front side of the mountain in light and warmth. At its warmest, it probably got up to about -8, which really is ideal skiing temperatures. On Friday, the hill was in great shape, fresh off a new layer of snow, giving the mountain ideal skiing conditions. Just a little bit of powder over a nice and forgiving pack underneath. Some mildly icy patches appeared on Saturday, when the hill was much busier, but it was still great conditions, earning great reviews from people who were all over the different runs.
Panorama has a great selection of runs, and this time around, we spent the majority of our time on the right side of the mountain, around the Sun Bowl area. Some great, long, open runs, that offered a strong variety of challenges and difficulty levels. Panorama is always very good and not getting people stuck on a series of runs that are too difficult or easy for people: there are always plenty of options, no matter where you head off the chair lift.
The lines were reasonable, even on Saturday, when it obviously gets much busier than a weekday. Once you go up the quad chair at the bottom, you will rarely be waiting more than a minute or two on any of the the other chairs on the mountain. Definitely a bonus, as you can ski continually without having to cool off and stand around for too long.
The accommodations of Panorama are always great. The wood condos are pleasant and well-equipped, with some excellent two-bedroom suites.I believe that all rooms, even the smaller ones, have kitchenettes and balconies offering great views. It is an ideal place for a school trip, since everyone is contained in the village. There really is nowhere to go, and the village is small enough that you can easily walk around it to get to the various restaurants. Being right on the hill is a huge bonus, as it is only a couple of minutes of walking before you are on the first chair. No messing around with the gondola or shuttles or whatever else. Being in the lower village would be slightly more inconvenient, but still better than many hills. The facilities, such as the hot tubs, are good, and not usually overcrowded, which is nice, making them a good place to relax, and meet some new people. And there are plenty of good restaurants in the village, including the T-Bar and Fireside, which are right on the hill next to the chalet.
The chalet is decent. Not particularly sumptuous or anything, but effective in its basic nature. The food is decent, and reasonably priced (for a ski chalet, at least. A chicken burger with fries will run you about $10), and this time, the lines seemed to move faster than in years previous. It used to be a significant wait (especially around breakfast time) to get some freshly cooked food, but this year it was more organized and effective. The ski shop is actually pretty good as well. It is, of course, very pricey, but was smart enough to offer some good prices on basics that people tend to need to the hill (for example, buying a balaclava to combat the cold was only $20).
Overall, Panorama is one of the hills I have skied the most in my life. And for a reason. The conditions are almost always good, the weather is, for the most part, cooperative, and the facilities are top notch.