10 Reasons to Ski the Canadian Rockies...
Banff, Lake Louise, Sunshine, Panorama, Marmot
While all eyes are on Whistler for the 2010 Olympics, the neighboring Rockies of
Alberta and inner B.C. offer winning scenery and wonderful snow on wide open
slopes. Calgary was the 1988 Winter Olympic host, so no big deal, eh? Our
ventured to the great white North of Canada last month to ski gorgeous mountains
and stay in grand lodges.
Staying slopeside at the eco-luxurious
Sunshine Mountain Lodge
(at 7,000 ft accessible only by gondola) gets you first tracks and phenomenal
views of Goat’s Eye steeps. This on mountain hotel is the only ski in ski out
lodging in Banff National Park. Ask for a loft in the new west wing, the floor
to ceiling slope view windows are worth it.
At Sunshine, you can ski across the Continental Divide from
Alberta to B.C., then go to the extreme in Delirium Dive – one of the steepest,
craziest runs in Canada (peeps, shovels and courage required).
Lake Louise Ski Resort offers 4,000 acres of varied and always
very scenic terrain, hundreds of acres of vast bowls on the backside and
corduroy cruisers on the front with 3,200 ft vertical and views of the Chateau
Lake Louise in the distance.
You must stay at the
Chateau Lake Louise in this lifetime,
where opulence meets the great outdoors in stunning cohesion. The grand castle
overlooks a gorgeous frozen lake (skating anyone?) and Victoria Glacier – named
for the Queen who stayed here. Enjoy après ski and spectacular views from the
Banff Springs Hotel is another premier landmark built by
Canadian railroad entrepreneur Cornelius van Horne. This 1888 hotel models a
Baronial Castle. Harry Potter and Hermione could honeymoon amid the stone arched
lounges and richly decorated rooms. You can walk to the lively town of Banff,
but with the Hotel’s eleven restaurants, chic shops and a posh Willow Stream Spa
with cascading waterfalls and minerals baths, you may not even want to leave to
ski Banff’s three resorts: Sunshine, Lake Louise, and Norquay.
Marmot Basin is home to dry snow, a few marmots and pine
martins, and happy skiers given its locale in remote Jasper National Park.
Marmot’s new speedy 2,000 ft vertical quad accesses plenty of acreage and elbow
room in the upper mountain bowls. Stay at the Jasper Park Lodge, another fine Fairmont resort. The Grand Rocky
Mountain Lodge is historic and happening, while the rest of the 700 acre resort
offers cozy out cabins. Marmot Basin skiing is 20 minutes away, but many
families stay and play on the resort’s Lake ice skating, enjoying sleigh rides,
the heated outdoor pool, and relaxing by the huge fireplace in the luxurious
Panorama is its namesake (in neighboring British Columbia)
with incredible views of 1,000 Peaks plus
4,000 ft vertical of skiing on
everything from buffed beginner slopes at the base, to long groomed World Cup
steeps, and more rugged outback Taynton Bowl and Founders Ridge. Young families
will love the slopeside convenience and the kids programs that cater to them day
and night. Teens love the outdoor hot tub and the lit terrain park. This looks
and feels like sister Intrawest resorts, only more manageable than Whistler or Tremblant.
The Canadians, Albertans in particular, are fer sure friendly
eh! A bit more challenging to get to than Utah or Colorado, but once you ski the
Canadian Rockies snow and see their magnificent mountains you will be glad you
made the trip.