SKI RE­SORT HOT TIPS

En­hance your ex­pe­ri­ence with in­sider knowl­edge.

Where Canadian Rockies - - CONTENTS - By Where Writ­ers

Our Cana­dian Rock­ies par­adise has beck­oned those who crave in­cred­i­ble ski­ing for nearly a cen­tury. We boast an en­vi­able com­bi­na­tion of deep dry snow, tree-lined and open bowl ter­rain, high­speed lifts and on-hill ameni­ties. Peaks outnumber peo­ple, and the ski sea­son is the long­est in the country.

Canada’s Moun­tain Parks (UNESCO World Her­itage sites Banff and Jasper na­tional parks, plus Kananaskis Country) are home to five Al­berta ski ar­eas. Read on for our in­sider in­sights.

BANFF NA­TIONAL PARK

Mount Norquay, Sun­shine Vil­lage and Lake Louise are Banff’s ‘Big 3’. Tri-area multi-day lift passes with ski bus and op­tional lessons can be pur­chased at the Banff Ski Hub (p 68).

Sun­shine Vil­lage is hot — lit­er­ally.

Canada’s high­est ski re­sort, only 8 km/5 mi west of the Banff town­site via Hwy 1 (Map 1, 10A; 1-877-542-2633), is now home to Canada’s first chair­lift with heated seats. The new TeePee Town LX high-speed quad’s or­ange bub­bles cover riders to pro­vide respite from in­clement weather and wind chill.

Built by Aus­trian man­u­fac­turer Dop­pel­mayr, TeePee Town LX is twice as fast as the chair it re­placed. “We’re thrilled to have the hottest chair­lift in Canada," says Sun­shine’s Dave Ri­ley.

The new, cozy lift isn’t the only rea­son we love Sun­shine. This re­sort boasts the Rock­ies’ long­est ski sea­son, this year to May 23. En­com­pass­ing three moun­tains and a 1,070-m/ 3,514-ft ver­ti­cal rise, many of Sun­shine’s 115 runs are above tree line. Stel­lar views ex­tend to 80 km/50 mi. Tip: look south to Mount Assini­boine, Canada’s Mat­ter­horn!

From the base, the world’s fastest eight-pas­sen­ger gon­dola rises to the vil­lage, seven high­speed quads and four other lifts. Be­gin­ners ski Straw­berry and Wolver­ine, while cruis­ers on Bound­ary Bowl ski in both Al­berta and BC. Free riders tackle “Canada’s most ex­treme off-piste” on Delir­ium Dive and Wild West; an avalanche trans­ceiver, probe and shovel (rentals at Snowtips p 68), and part­ner are re­quired.

Lo­cals’ Tips (more p 22): Prime Park­ing: Avoid a ski boot walk. Ar­rive at 8:30 am to snag a good park­ing spot. Best Light: Ski Goat’s Eye in the morn­ing when traf­fic is low and Stan­dish in the af­ter­noon.

Delir­ium Dive: Stay right at the bot­tom of the bowl for great Hays Hills glades. If you want a guide and need the pre­req­ui­site avalanche gear, book Sun­shine’s Full Day in the Dive. Ski School Guar­an­tee: Sun­shine’s ex­pert in­struc­tors and in­no­va­tive pro­grams de­velop bet­ter skiers and riders. Par­tic­i­pants get a sec­ond les­son free if they dis­agree. Test Cen­tre: Sam­ple Salomon skis and boards to see how they en­hance your ski­ing or rid­ing. Day Spa: Ride the gon­dola to a Verde Day Spa 1-403-678-0306 mas­sage, hot stones or fa­cial.

Mount Norquay cel­e­brates 90 years.

The Cana­dian Rock­ies’ orig­i­nal ski area (est. 1926) is just 10 min­utes north of down­town Banff via Norquay Rd over Hwy 1 (Map 3, 10B; 403-762-4421)—lo­cals of­ten go for a fe­whour break from work. The re­sort is owned by Al­berta ski en­thu­si­asts who cher­ish its fam­i­lyfriendly char­ac­ter. Bud­ding lo­cal ski rac­ers train here, World Cup gold medal­ist Ken Read is in­volved in oper­a­tions and Giver Grandi run hon­ours Banff Olympian Thomas Grandi.

Norquay has a ver­ti­cal rise of 503 m/1,650 ft and six lifts. This year the ter­rain has ex­panded by 10 acres. The new trail map iden­ti­fies 60 runs, in­clud­ing some that were pre­vi­ously un­named.

Adult lift tick­ets are $65; with tub­ing and sight­see­ing they’re $75. Qual­ity Time fam­ily passes for two adults and two youth are $149 on­line. Lo­cals’ Tips (more p 22): Fresh Cor­duroy: Ar­rive be­fore open­ing (9 am) to get first dibs at groomed Giver Grandi, Ban­shee and Night Flight cruis­ers. Best Route from Cascade to Spirit Chair: Go left two thirds of the way down Val­ley of Ten onto a trail through the trees to Rob’s Run. Steep Lines: Tackle Canada’s first dou­ble black runs off the old school North Amer­i­can chair af­ter the sun has soft­ened the bumps. Ski for 90¢: 90 Cent Days for Al­berta res­i­dents are Dec 9, Jan 13, Feb 10, Mar 9, Apr 6. Night Ski­ing: The re­gion’s only lit runs and ter­rain park (with new boxes and rails) op­er­ates Fri­days and Satur­days, Jan­uary through March. $5 off Tub­ing and Sight­see­ing: You don’t have to ski to ex­pe­ri­ence Norquay fun and ride a lift. See p 22; clip the coupon on p 50.

Lake Louise Ski Re­sort is the Cana­dian Rock­ies’ largest.

The 2014 World Ski Awards ‘Best Ski Re­sort in Canada’ is north of the Trans-Canada Hwy

near Lake Louise Vil­lage, 40 min­utes west of the Banff town­site (Map 2, 22E; 1-877956-8473).

The Lake (as lo­cals call the ski area) fea­tures a 991-m/3,250ft ver­ti­cal rise and four moun­tain faces. Plan your runs to ski sun-lit slopes at all times of day. Ride the Griz­zly Ex­press Gon­dola from the base to an up­per ridge. From mid-moun­tain, the re­gion’s only six-per­son high-speed chair­lift (the 6-Pack) rises to the Sad­dle.

The re­sort boasts 10 lifts, 145 marked runs and bowls, ter­rain and jib parks, and some of the best fall line ski­ing any­where. Novice to ad­vanced routes from ev­ery chair make the en­tire re­sort ac­ces­si­ble to all.

Lo­cals’ Tips (more p 22): Pow­der Stashes: Back­side White­horn slopes, Ea­gle Ridge 1 to 7 runs and Ptarmi­gan Glades are es­pe­cially sweet. Freshies: First Tracks pri­vate lessons let you ac­cess the lifts a half hour be­fore the pub­lic. Kids’ Favourite: They love the an­i­mal cutouts at the Wilder­ness Ad­ven­ture Park. Day­care for New­borns: All our ski ar­eas of­fer child­care, but only Lake Louise hosts in­fants from 18 days old! Lake Louise Ski Re­sort App: Down­load it to track your runs, el­e­va­tion gain, speed and prox­im­ity to day­lodges. Snowcross: Chal­lenge friends on cam­bered turns, gap jumps, berms and drops. KANANASKIS COUNTRY Nakiska Ski Area is an Olympic moun­tain. Be­tween Banff and Cal­gary, south of Hwy 1 via Hwy 40, this re­sort was built to host the 1988 Olympics (Map 1, 8I; 403-591-7777). Beau­ti­ful Kananaskis Val­ley views

lower moun­tain has snow­mak­ing, two ter­rain parks and learn­ing ar­eas.

Lo­cals’ Tips:

Pow­der Stashes: On the up­per moun­tain, ride the Knob chair. From Ea­gle Ridge chair, cross gates to Ea­gle East glades; hike 10 min­utes to Cor­nice Run; or take Keefer’s Dream to the ‘hid­den’ gate on skier’s left. Join a Mar­mot Snow Host (free) to ac­cess more se­cret slopes. Best Tan: Sun­shine sat­u­rates Koka­nee Glacier Deck off Cari­bou Lounge with bonus views. Ex­pert Runs for In­ter­me­di­ates: Try black rated Showoff and High­way 16 if they’re groomed. 10% Off Lift Passes: Get a My Mar­mot card at ski­mar­mot.com with di­rect-to-lift ac­cess. Mar­mot Sales Cen­tre: Max­i­mize slope time. Get lift passes, and re­serve lessons and rentals days be­fore you ski in down­town Jasper (p 115). Ladies’ Day: Grab a friend and call the ski school (1-866-952-3816) for two-for-thep­rice-of-one lessons and girls-only fun.

TIP: SIGHT­SEE­ING LIFTS FOR NON-SKIERS

At Norquay, ride his­toric North Amer­i­can chair­lift to Cliff­house Bistro (Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe ate here) and in­cred­i­ble Banff and Mt Run­dle views ($20, yth/sr $15, ch $10; $5-off coupon p 50). Ski Big 3 Tri-Area Sight­see­ing Ticket ($42, yth/sr $38, ch $32) cov­ers shut­tles and $12 off food.

TIP: BEST BETS FOR A DE­CENT LUNCH

Sun­shine: Mad Trap­per’s Saloon serves smoke­house fare in the re­sort’s orig­i­nal 1928 log cabin. At Chim­ney Cor­ner Lounge, sit by the fire­place or glass view wall. Fri­day Taste of Sun­shine din­ners at Ea­gle’s Nest in­clude gon­dola ac­cess to 10 pm (plus oys­ters and caviar). Norquay: For fresh fare and a su­perb view, ride the lift to his­toric Cliff­house Bistro; toast Norquay’s 90th with Norquay 90 Kolsch from Banff Ave. Brew­ing Co. Full moon Fire­side Moon­light Din­ing events are Jan 22, Feb 19 and Mar 25. Lake Louise: Mid-moun­tain, White­horn Lodge Bistro serves bi­son short ribs, seafood risotto and Vic­to­ria Glacier cock­tails with a view. At the base, try Pow­der Keg Lounge for flat­bread or new Kuma Yama for sushi. In the loft of back­side Tem­ple Lodge, Sawyer’s Nook trade­marks in­clude gourmet sand­wiches and shot ski shoot­ers. Mar­mot: Mid moun­tain, Ea­gle Din­ing Room and Char­lie’s Lounge of­fer his­toric ski mem­o­ra­bilia and new menu items made from fresh lo­cal in­gre­di­ents. Lower chalet Cari­bou Lounge has stun­ning views and ta­ble ser­vice.

TIP: HIGH ALPINE SNOW­SHOE­ING

You don’t have to ski or snow­board to ex­plore our re­sorts. Sun­shine Vil­lage Top of the World Tours ($75) with Banff shut­tle and gon­dola/ chair­lift rides are run by White Moun­tain Ad­ven­tures (p 51). Sun­shine’s His­tor­i­cal Snow­shoe & Fon­due Tour ($120, min seven peo­ple) traces a First Na­tions route and in­cludes a Swiss cheese fon­due. Lake Louise of­fers four new guided interpretive tours with gon­dola ride (90 min to full day, from $39). At Norquay, ex­plore three snow­shoe trails (rentals $15, ch $10).

TIP: TUBE PARK FAM­ILY FUN

En­joy the thrill of speed­ing down slopes on an in­flat­able tube; groomed lanes en­sure safety. Norquay’s Tube Town ($30, $25 yth/sr, ch $20; $5-off coupon p 50) with six chutes, two lifts and play zone is the Cana­dian Rock­ies’ big­gest and long­est es­tab­lished tube park. It is night-lit on week­ends. Lake Louise has Sunny Tube Park ($25, yth $20, ch $15), while Nakiska’s Wanido Tube Park ($19, ch $15) is newly ex­panded.

TIP: ONLY ON-MOUN­TAIN LODGE

At 2,200 me­tres (7,200 feet), Sun­shine Moun­tain Lodge (1-877-542-2633) is both the high­est and the only ski-in/ski-out ac­com­mo­da­tion in Canada’s Moun­tain Parks. Ask for a moun­tainthemed room in the new west wing with in­floor heat­ing, jet­ted tubs and large HDTVs. The lodge of­fers pub-style and fine din­ing, a huge hot tub and fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties. Get first tracks each morn­ing, and terrific stargaz­ing at night.

TIP: SKI BUS TO THE RE­SORTS

You can ditch the car; all our re­sorts of­fer ski bus ser­vice. From the Banff town­site, re­turn shut­tles are $15 (ch $10) to Norquay, Sun­shine and Lake Louise; it’s free with a Big 3 lift pass. The Jasper-Mar­mot shut­tle is $14 re­turn.

abound, and Kananaskis Vil­lage is only min­utes away.

Nakiska has a 779-m/2,556-ft ver­ti­cal rise and the largest snow­mak­ing sys­tem in western Canada. Long runs and nightly groom­ing make it a carv­ing favourite, while be­gin­ner zones are self-con­tained. This sea­son there’s an ex­panded ticket area and an ad­di­tional park­ing lot. Adult tick­ets are $77.

Lo­cals’ Tips (more p 22): Watch Trick­sters: Ride the Sil­ver quad for rail park views. Best Pow­der: The Mon­ster Glades are im­proved thanks to sum­mer 2015 groom­ing. Long Run: Take Gold Road to Lower Home­steader for a re­lax­ing, scenic 3.3-km ride.

JASPER NA­TIONAL PARK

To reach the town of Jasper and Mar­mot Basin ski area from Lake Louise, drive the 237-km/147-mi Ice­fields Park­way where wildlife re­sides and 100 glaciers adorn the east­ern flank of the Con­ti­nen­tal Di­vide (call 511 for road con­di­tions). Moun­tain Con­nec­tor (1-888786-3641) of­fers a bus to Jasper from Cal­gary, Banff and Ed­mon­ton, while Mar­mot’s ski bus serves the Jasper town­site.

Mar­mot Basin lift lines are al­most non-ex­is­tent.

Jasper’s only ski area is 20 min­utes south of town via the Ice­fields Park­way, Hwy 93 (Map 1, 4M; 1-866-9523816). Mar­mot Basin is big, un­crowded and sports sub­lime Athabasca Val­ley views.

This 1,675-acre re­sort has a 914-m/3,000-ft ver­ti­cal rise; 86 runs, glades and high alpine bowls are framed by pin­na­cles and ridges. Seven lifts in­clude the Cana­dian Rock­ies Ex­press, the re­gion’s long­est high-speed quad. The

TIP: FAST & FUN RACES

The speed­i­est skiers on the planet meet for the an­nual Win­terS­tart World Cup Down­hill and Su­per-G at Lake Louise (men’s Nov 28-29; women’s Dec 4-6). Our best lo­cal freestylers strut their stuff at Mar­mot Basin’s Al­berta Win­ter Games Freestyle Ski Qual­i­fier, Jan 8-10. In­ter­na­tional rac­ers com­pete on the four-lane course with jumps and turns at Nakiska dur­ing the Ski­cross World Cup, Jan 22-23. On Apr 2 Norquay hosts the 50th Bruno En­gler Me­mo­rial; at Canada’s long­est run­ning ski race retro dress is en­cour­aged. At Norquay’s Bozo Cup dual slalom, Apr 16-17, many rac­ers com­pete in drag. Card­board Box Down­hill Derby (the name says it all) is at Lake Louise, Apr 17. Sun­shine’s Slush Cup (also called Pond Skim­ming World Cup) on May 23 is tons of fun for spec­ta­tors watch­ing con­tes­tants fail to cross the icy wa­ter.

TIP: SLOPE­SIDE PAR­TIES

Make your own party any­time at our ski ar­eas; all have fun bars. But week­ends in April are your best bet for live mu­sic, DJs and danc­ing. At­tend Nakiska Spring Fi­esta; Mar­mot Aloha Cup and Koka­nee Freeride; Sun­shine Snowchella con­certs; as well as Spring Mu­sic Ses­sions and Shake the Lake (Apr 30) at Lake Louise. Good times are also had at Lake Louise Torch­light Din­ner & Ski mid-moun­tain drinks, torch-lit night ski, buf­fet and band Dec 25, 31; Feb 14, and Ski Louise Stam­pede buf­fet and dance Mar 19. Live mu­sic is a week­end sta­ple at Mar­mot dur­ing Jasper in Jan­uary Jan 16Jan 31. Sin­gle? Try Lifts of Love chair­lift speed dat­ing Feb 14 at Mount Norquay.

You’re in the hot seat on Sun­shine’s new lift

Cel­e­brate Norquay’s 90th

Go­ing down­hill fast

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