Magic Carpet to the Monster

Posted 4 years ago by Tanya Koob

Words by Tanya Koob of Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
We've been skiing at Panorama Mountain Resort for a few years now, and the biggest thing that continues to impress me is how easy it is to progress as a skier or snowboarder at this resort. Families can start on the magic carpets and the beginner platter lift, work up to four other beginner-friendly chair lifts, and then keep moving up the mountain towards the summit (where there's enough terrain to keep the whole family challenged for a lifetime of skiing or riding.)

From the Platter to the Monster! Panorama Mountain Resort will get you there

Everything you Need to Know about Panorama Mountain Resort 
Panorama Mountain Resort is located 20 minutes outside the Community of Invermere in the Columbia Valley. From Calgary, it is approximately a 3.5 hour drive across the border into British Columbia. We've found that we can easily make it to the resort Friday night for a quick ski weekend, but that it's definitely more fun to make a long weekend of it.

Panorama has a vertical drop of 1300 metres, top to bottom (4265 feet,) and the longest run is a full 6.5 km in length!

Ski 6.5 kilometres from top to bottom at Panorama Mountain Resort

Enhance your stay with overnight accommodations in the village and experience why ski in/ski out vacations are the absolute BEST! Panorama is unique for ski resorts in the Canadian Rockies in that it has its own alpine village, complete with accommodations, restaurants, après ski activities and nightlife.

Stay at the resort and you won't need a car the entire duration of your visit. A small gondola connects the Lower and Upper Village (with free service through the day and evening) and there is no shortage of restaurants spread out around the resort. You'll even find a grocery store (with alcohol for purchase) and a take-out pizza restaurant in the Lower Village.

Stay in one of the properties on the hill and you'll also receive access to Canada's largest slopeside  hot pools! The pools are located in the Panorama Springs Lodge and are walking distance from everywhere in the Lower or Upper village with the use of the free gondola.

Stay at Panorama and enjoy a soak in Canada's largest slopeside hot pools!

Panorama for Beginners 
Panorama is the ultimate hill for progression with discounted pricing available for the beginner lifts. A Discovery Zone lift ticket gives you access to the Discovery Quad, Silver Platter, Red Carpet, and Little Ripper Carpet.

Graduate from the Discovery Quad, and you'll find easy groomed green runs off the Mile 1 Express, the Toby Chair (which also has an amazing terrain park,) and the Sunbird Chair.

Panorama has 2 magic carpets and a platter for beginners to learn on 
Highlights for beginners:
  • Magic Carpets: There are two magic carpets for progression of skills when first introducing the kids to basic ski or boarding techniques.
  • The Silver Platter: From the magic carpets, move up to the Silver Platter and the beautiful beginner run off of it. It's the perfect intermediate step from bunny hill to actual green runs.
    And secret Pano tip: There's a day use parking lot at the base of the platter run (and it doesn't show up on maps, so it's a local secret.)
  • The Discovery Quad: From the Silver Platter, move on to the Discovery Quad with its short green runs and the awesome "Discovery Zone," with a special tree run for the kids - that all children will love, no matter how experienced they are.
  • The Toby Double Chair: From the Discovery Quad, I recommend trying out the Toby Double Chair where there are a couple of short green and blue runs. Alternately, move up to the Mile 1 Express Quad and follow the easiest way down.
    And another secret Pano tip: There's a great day use parking lot at the bottom of the Toby Chair. When we've visited in the past, we always thought we had to park down below in the Lower Village (riding the village gondola up to the base area.)
  • The Mile 1 Express Quad: After getting comfortable on the beginner terrain off the Mile 1 Express Quad, skiers can try "Out Rider" off of the Sunbird Chair (but know, it is a bit steeper than your average green run, and more of an intro-blue run.) Higher up the mountain, I can't recommend anything for true beginners.

And also to note, Panorama offers a great Wee Wascals child care program for families of little ones who might not want to ski the whole day. They accept babies as well as young as 18 months! - which is a great option for families wanting to spend time skiing with older kids, and not sure what to do with the youngest family member.
Children will love skiing through the Discovery Zone off the Discovery Quad 
Panorama for Intermediate Skiers and Snowboarders
I consider myself to be a strong intermediate skier because I prefer to ski groomed terrain (be it blue or black.) Panorama is the ideal resort for those who love flowy cruisers, who want a good assortment of groomed runs, and who enjoy steep black runs that have also been groomed.
The terrain at Panorama can be broken down into 20% beginner, 55% intermediate/advanced, and 25% expert, so you can see that it's an intermediate skier or boarder's paradise.
Every day should start with a Rollercoaster Ride (the name of this gorgeous groomed run at Panorama)
Highlights for intermediate skiers or snowboarders
  • The Secret Forest: Children who can easily ski off the mile 1 express chair will love a trip into the Secret Forest to look for the hidden tree house. You can either ski down the top of "Fritz's," a groomed black run, or you ski down the top of "Old Timer,"a groomed blue run that's sometimes closed for racing.
  • Fun Cruising off the Champagne Express Chair: We start every day on "Rollercoaster," a fast cruisy blue run off the Champagne Express chair that's always immaculately groomed to perfection and one of my personal favourite runs on the hill.
  • Easy Skiing down from the Summit: After warming up on rollercoaster, we move up to the Summit Quad as soon as it opens for the day at 9:30. We love skiing "View of a Thousand Peaks," a fast steep black run that's often groomed, but more intermediate skiers can take "Get Me Down," an easy groomed blue traverse that winds its way down to the top of the Champagne Express chair, so you can run down Rollercoaster again.
The Sun Bowl has a delightful mix of groomed and natural blue runs for intermediate skeirs 
  • The Magical Sun Bowl: Intermediate skiers or riders will love playing in the Sun Bowl accessed from the top of the Champagne Express chair, "Upper Canadian Way," a blue traverse, and then a short section of "Schober's Dream," a steep groomed black run. (alternately, there is a side loop on "Lower Canadian Way" for those who need an easier way to access the sun bowl gate.

    Once in the Sun Bowl, everything is rated "blue," and there's a nice mix of groomed and natural terrain for all abilities. we go in  as a family and everybody picks their own way through the bowl, usually meeting at the bottom of the Sunbird Chair.

    Once you get to the bottom of the Sunbird Chair, ride back up, and either play around on the short runs off this chair or make your way back to the bottom of the Mile 1 Express chair.

  • Escape all Crowds in Founder's Ridge: The Founder's ridge area is a bit of a secret and certainly not one of the most popular spots on the hill. I love skiing around this quiet area though and I usually enjoy at least one run down "Madison's Mile," a long blue traverse that might fool you into thinking your're cross-country skiing (something I enjoy, so it works for me.) If you want more "downhill" momentum, try any of the other runs in this area that have been groomed. "Zehnder Way" is a personal fav. of mine on my way down from the summit off "View of a Thousand Peaks."
Children will love searching for the tree house in the Secret Forest 

Panorama for Advanced Skiers and Snowboarders 
We love skiing down "View of a Thousand Peaks" as soon as the Summit Quad opens for the day, and I'm always amazed at how fast one can ski down a steep black run when it's been freshly groomed on a weekend.

On one visit to Panorama last winter, we connected View of a Thousand Peaks off the summit to "Zehnder Way" in the Founder's Ridge area, another steep black run that had been freshly groomed, and we marveled at the lack of lift lines (we rode three chairs to access the summit and never waited in a line - on a weekend!) We also expressed complete shock (and delight) that we didn't see a single other skier the entire time we skied down from the summit until we reached the top of the Discovery Quad at the bottom. We enjoyed 5.5 km of steep groomed black skiing on that one descent alone, no line ups, and no other skiers in sight.

Fresh corduroy for a fun descent of View of a Thousand Peaks 

Progression tips for advanced skiers and snowboarders:
1. Start with the groomed blacks and build your confidence for steep terrain here

I read the grooming report with my morning coffee and plan out my morning so that I hit as many of the groomed black runs as possible first thing in the day when they are pristine!

Personal favourites include: "Fritz's" or "Whiskey Jack" (Mile 1 or Sunbird,) "Downhill" (Champagne Express,) "View of a Thousand Peaks" (Summit,) "Stumbock's" to "Taynton trail" (Summit,) "Schober's Dream" (Summit,) "Zehnder Way" (Founder's Ridge.)

Enjoying a steep fast descent down View of a Thousand Peaks off the Summit 
2. Advance to natural (ungroomed) terrain

Start with ungroomed blue terrain in the Sun Bowl and them move up to the ungroomed black terrain as you feel comfortable.

My son's personal favourite is "Sunbird" which goes right under the Sunbird chair and has some fun bumps and jumps.

"Sunbird" is a fun run with lots of bumps under the Sunbird chair 

 You'll find options off every chair, progressing with difficulty as you move up the mountain. Start with ungroomed runs off the Champagne Express chair ("Tacky" is a fun one,) and then progress to the summit where you can see how you do on "Roy's Run," a steep pitch that leads you to "Schober's Dream."

The black runs off "Get me Down" from the Summit are great short ones to practice on with low commitment. If you find yourself in over your head, it won't take long before you're back on the traverse again lower down.

Panorama has lots of options if you like your runs ungroomed and playful!
Panorama for Park Fans 
My son loves terrain parks and is usually quick to approve of a ski hill if it has a good park. The Toby Terrain Park is one of the best we've found across the Rockies and we love that it has its own dedicated chairlift, a nice little short one, so you can spend more time playing in the park (and less time riding on the lift.)

There's also a more advanced park off the Mile 1 Express Chair where my son was given very clear instructions to "roll everything!!"

And for parents who just want to "watch" the kids play on the jumps and features, you can ski alongside them by just sticking to the edges of the run.

Playing in the Toby Terrain Park at Panorama 
Panorama for Expert Skiers and Snowboarders 
I will never fall under this category but my husband enjoys the expert terrain at Panorama and my son will be venturing into the Taynton Bowl this year too.
25% of the terrain at Panorama is considered "expert"as soon as you enter the Taynton Bowl off the Summit Quad. The Taynton Bowl offers big steep lines in former heli-ski terrain through glades and bowls. 
The Taynton Bowl is ideal for those who don't have the budget for a heli-skiing day but want the same epic experience, and have the skills to ski or ride safely in this terrain without a guide. 
Note you do not have to have avalanche gear with you and this area is tested daily for safe conditions. In times of high avalanche risk the taynton bowl may be closed. Check the sign beside the Taynton Bowl gate before you enter to read everything you'll need to know for your trip into this terrain. 
The gate to the Taynton Bowl where the expert ski terrain begins 
Safety and Progression tips for working up to the Taynton Bowl:
  • Always ski with a buddy. A Rescue may take a while if you hurt yourself while you wait for a patroller to find you. If you absolutely have to ski or ride alone, carry a whistle and set up a check-in system with family or friends.
  • Ski with a more experienced partner if you're new to expert terrain. Ideally, ski with somebody who knows the Taynton Bowl well and can introduce you to the best lines for the day's conditions. You'll be in "backcountry type terrain" and you'll need to be able to look ahead as you descend to pick the best path down your chosen run.
  • Join a free mountain tour with Panorama's snow hosts. Join one of the advanced groups for a half-day outing on the hill. You might even make some new friends to ski with in the afternoon. 
  • Start with a run down "Heli High." This is the classic, recommended first run that everybody should try in the Taynton Bowl before progressing further along the ridge. Take "Heli High" into "Cauldron," finishing on the Taynton Trail.
Once you've successfully skied down "Heli High" and you've hiked further along the ridge to try a couple of other runs through the Taynton Bowl, consider moving on to the "Monster."
A look at what to expect once you drop into the Taynton Bowl at Panorama 
Skiing the Monster Terrain in the Eastern side of the Taynton Bowl 
The Monster terrain features seven double-black diamond lines (upgraded from four last year) and you'll be in your happy place if you like long steep open faces and glades.
The Eastern side of the Taynton Bowl is accessed via a snowcat that you can choose to ride if you'd like to avoid the final climb from "Never Never Land' in the Taynton Bowl up to the top of the Goldie Plateau.
To reach the pick up point for the snowcat, Monster X, first ski through the gate to the Taynton Bowl from the top of the Summit Quad, and then ski along Outback Ridge for approximately 20-30 minutes (where a few sections have to be walked, especially if you're on a snowboard.) 
It will take you at least 40-50 minutes to get from the bottom of the resort after riding up three chairlifts and then making your way across the ridge to the Monster X meeting spot. From here it is a 10 minute ride to the drop off point further east along the Taynton Bowl. 
Monster X - Your "shuttle service" to the top of the Goldie Plateau 
More details on the snowcat and the monster terrain:
  • There is room for a dozen passengers on Monster X.
  • This is not a guided cat-skiing experience! From the website: "think of Monster X like a really cool shuttle service to some awesome, big mountain terrain that you'll want to lap again and again, and Monster X makes that way easier."
  • You are welcome to hike the final climb to the Monster terrain if you don't want to pay for the snowcat.
  • The minimum age for a Monster X ticket is 6 years. (for obvious reasons.)
  • Tickets are needed to ride Monster X and must be purchased in advance from Guest Services in Ski Tip Lodge. You have the option of a single ride, a four pack of single rides, or a season pass. (read more on pricing here.)
  • Monster X operates Thursday, Saturdays and Sundays between 10 am - 3:30 pm January to March, with additional special dates throughout the season starting in December. (see all special holiday dates here.)
Outback Ridge which you must ski or walk to reach the Monster X meeting spot 
Planning a trip to Panorama? I recommend reading some of the other stories below where I've written more about our past trips, accommodations and dining on the hill, along with other activities you can enjoy as a family at Panorama Mountain Resort (including cross-country skiing, fat biking, or hiking.)
The scenery is always incredible at Panorama!
Additional Recommended Reading

Find it ALL at Panorama Mountain Resort

Family Guide to Panorama Mountain Resort 

Panorama Mountain Resort - (much more than downhill skiing)

Winter Guide to the Columbia Valley (Golden, Radium Hot Springs, Invermere, and beyond!)

Disclaimer: We've had a few hosted trips to Panorama Mountain Resorts over the past few years, and all photos/content comes from those trips. This story is not sponsored and all words are my own.
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