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Notes from a Ski Trip to Canmore; Gateway to The Big Three Ski Resorts

Notes from a Ski Trip to Canmore; Gateway to The Big Three Ski Resorts

Off on Your Way, Hit the Open Road

pop quiz: don’t ‘rush’ to get yourself 80s curls; whether or not you like whiskey with your music

So back at the beginning of the year, when the rest of us were sat around the Christmas tree, stuffing ourselves with chocolates and brussel sprouts, four of my mates decided to pack their warm clothing and head off to Canada for a bit of skiing.

The base for this ski trip was Canmore; gateway to the Big Three ski resorts of Banff, and a few more besides.

  • Canmore is only about 20 – 30 minutes drive from Norquay.
  • Canmore is about 40 minutes drive from Sunshine Village.
  • Canmore is about an hour’s drive from Lake Louise.

Key Point Summary of Ski Trip to Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

  • The Big Three Ski Resorts (Banff National Park, Alberta) of Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise are very busy over Christmas and the New Year; be prepared to queue.
  • Get up early or allow extra time for parking.
  • The mountain lodges allow you to eat your own packed lunches and even provide microwaves.
  • Kicking Horse in British Columbia is about 2 hours drive from Canmore. It has easy parking but is not a ski resort for beginners.
  • Canada is gluten free friendly, there were plenty of options in supermarket. There was even dairy free pizza which tasted nice.
  • Fans of ski resorts in the Alps will be disappointed that there is no Vin Chaud or Gluhwein. Hot, spiced cider is an inferior offering.
  • Be prepared for the cold; it went as low as -32oC. You will need plenty of layers and every conceivable device you can get for warming boots, hands, toes and face.
  • The days are short. Sunrise is around 9am and Sunset around 4pm.
  • Make sure you get a Canada National Park Pass (free in 2017).
  • Hiring ski gear is more expensive that Europeans will be used to. Consider buying your own and paying the flight supplement; it still might be cheaper than hiring.
  • You really need a car. Whilst there are buses to the ski resorts, the distances you need to travel mean that a car is to be recommended for the level of comfort you get and the room for all your stuff.
  • The Big Three ski resorts are very well organised during busy periods; they ensure all gondolas and chair lifts go up the mountain full of skiers.
  • Accommodation is cheaper outside the National Parks as long as you don’t mind driving to the ski resorts.
  • You can ice skate for free at a number of locations but will need to hire skates (unless you take them with you!
  • The grading of ski runs will be unfamiliar to Europeans; there are no red runs.
  • Again unfamiliar to most Europeans, there are Double Diamond ski areas (generally an un-pisted area of back country skiing). To gain access through the gates around many of these ski zones, you will need to be wearing a transceiver. This ensures that, whilst the whole ski area is patrolled if you have a problem, they know you are in there and where you are.

pop trivia: Canadian rock band ‘Rush’ released the album ‘Permanent Waves’ in 1980; from it the track ‘The Spirit of Radio’ was the first single.

Thanks to Clare Peckitt, Ian Peckitt, Sam Drake and Paul Wilman for the photos and the notes.

Check out the previous article in this Canadian Ski Trip Series



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