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In a series of destination guides, Snowcentral will be bringing you in-depth and personal guides to places we all know and love. These are reflective of experiences of staff and customers.
Whenever you see the adverts for Canada on the TV, different travel agents are usually posting the same visuals, amazing blue lakes, massive mountains and wildlife like bears and moose, it was all filmed in the Rockies. Lake Louise and Banff are home to some of the most picturesque views in the world, with over 5 million tourists checking the sights each year. For us winter lovers, you don’t have to stress about these crowds, as 90% of these tourists are circulating during the summer, which leaves the ski resorts as the perfect winter playground.
Before we go into the individual ski hill, let’s get a list of facts going:
- Ski Big 3 incorporates three hills – Lake Louise Ski Resort, Sunshine Village and Mount Norquay, all located within one hour of each other, see map.
- The winters are cold, December and January being the coldest months, sometimes a cold snap can bring temperatures of -30-40’C + more with wind chill, but average temperatures during these months are -20-25’C.
- Wildlife will only be mainly present in summer, that is why it’s the busier season. Some wildlife you may come across could be; Deer, Elk, Caribou, Arctic Fox and Lynx.
- Average snow depth in the area is 255cm, which isn’t too bad for dry snow.
Lake Louise Ski Resort
Lake Louise Ski Resort (LLSR) is tall, sitting at 2,637 metres in elevation with over 4,200 acres of skiable area. Currently, LLSR has 145 marked runs with 5 back bowls, and there longest run spans 8km in length. Sadly, LLSR is not ski-in/ski-out, but don’t let this deter you from this amazing resort.
They operate 10 lifts, comprised of one gondola, five chairs, one pommel and three carpets. Breaking down their terrain, roughly 25% of runs are beginner friendly, 45% are perfect for intermediate riders and 30% are for advanced riders.
LLSR offers other snow options for people who do not wish to ski or board. There are guided snowshoe tours throughout the mountain, take in the sights through the magical winter wonderland. LLSR also offers a tube park near the bunny slopes, it’s a lot of fun and gets you involved amongst the snow. If you want to try something really different, check out Skoki Lodge, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stayed here for their honeymoon, it’s a small cabin you have to hike out to and is available year round.
When you’ve had a big morning shredding, food is the main thing on your mind to help replenish energy. LLSR has a few different options, depending on what you like. The main lodge (Ten Peaks) offers burgers, hot dogs and the deep-fried stuff we all crave, but also offers soups and salads. Upstairs in the Ten Peaks there is a bar with more of an extended menu, if you’re looking for pizzas, gourmet burgers, nachos and other pub style meal. For the best meal, hit them up for a Kokanee with Bagel skins and Poutine, you’re welcome…
If you don’t want the crowds, instead of hitting Ten Peaks for lunch, head over the backside or just down from the gondola drop-off there’s Temple Lodge, offering the same cafeteria food as Ten Peaks, and then head straight outside to be met with two chair lifts, super easy.
If you want to grab a tasty beverage at the end of the day, but are enjoying the tranquillity of nature, head to the Kokanee Kabin by the Glacier chair, listen to some tunes and meet some local shredders.
Must do’s (Beginners) – Attempt at your own risk:
- Grizzly Express Gondola to hit Eagle Meadows or Deer Run (Green), and then try Juniper (Blue), it is only slightly steeper, we believe in you!
- Head up Glacier Express, and then Top of the World Express, you will feel like you’re on top of the world with this view, take a few snaps (tag us J) and then head down Home Run (Blue) which is a wide, open run that isn’t too steep.
Must do’s (Intermediate) – Attempt at your own risk:
- Start at Top of the World and head down Sunset Terrace (Blue), cut down with Tickety Chute (Black) to Summit Platter, come down front side Headwall (Black) and link up with Charlie’s Choice (Blue) and connect to Jerry’s Jungle (Green), come through Men’s Downhill (Black) and switch to Juniper Jungle (Blue).
- Larch Express to Wolverine (Blue), hit some tree runs through to base.
- At Top of the World, start at Home Run (Blue), cut through Mirkwood (Black) and join up to Grizzly Gully (Blue), rinse and repeat.
Must do’s (Expert) – Attempt at your own risk:
- Head up to Summit Platter, start at Boomerang (Blue) and cut up to Upper Boomerang (Black), head down into Shoulder Roll (Black) or Brown Shirt (Black) and back into Boomerang (Blue).
- Start again at Boomerang (blue), and head down the Gully’s A-I (Double Black) and reconnect with Saddleback (Green), cut down Split Rock (Double Black) and through to Kiddies Corner (Double Black), finish on Saddleback (Green).
- Start at Top of the World, head over the back down Dropout (Double Black), hang to the right of the chute towards Upper Kiddies (Double Black) and then Upper 5 (Double Black), link with Pika (Green) to Paradise Chair, take a breath, head over Corridor (Black) and enjoy the view, hit up Crow Bowl (Black) and pull into East Bowl Trees (Black) and link with Pika Trees (Black), back to Paradise Chair.
What to do (Apart from ski/board):
- Head up to the Fairmont and go ice-skating on the lake, it’s an amazing once in a lifetime experience, and during December/January you can see the Ice Sculpture Festival, then head into the Chateau for a warm beverage and dinner.
- Go to the Trailhead Café for a ‘Hangover Cure’ breakfast wrap.
- Try a Bison Burger at Explorers Lounge in Lake Louise Inn.
- Go snowshoeing around Lake Louise.
- Try out Dogsledding just down from the Chateau.
- Head over to Movie Nights at the HI Hostel.
- Head to the Bar and Grill (B&G) for a game of pool, meet the locals and try a ‘Shaft’.
- Go to the information centre and learn about the area, the wildlife and history of Lake Louise is fascinating.
- Need to know what to pack for a day trip? See our post on What To Pack For A Mountain Day Trip.
Towns close to Lake Louise:
- Field – 15mins (Avalanche zones)
- Golden – 1hr (Avalanche zones)
- Banff – 50mins
- Calgary – 2hrs
- Revelstoke – 2.5hrs (Avalanche zones)
Ski hills close to Lake Louise:
- Sunshine Village – 50mins
- Mt Norquay – 50mins
- Kicking Horse – 1hr
- Revelstoke – 2.5hrs
- Panorama – 2hrs
- Nakiska – 1.5hrs
- Marmot Basin – 3hrs
Have you ever been to Lake Louise Ski Resort? What was your favourite run? Let us know! See Snowcentral’s range of snow gear and purchase everything you/ll need.
Images Courtesy of www.skilouise.com