Month: June 2019

The Best Extreme Ski Runs in Canada

Canada has some great, well known ski resorts such as Whistler on the west coast and Banff & Lake Louise in the Alberta Rockies, but also many superb lesser known ones such as Panorama in the BC Rockies. They are not short of steep terrain but which resorts offer the most extreme ski run experience for the expert? These are some of the best.

Delirium Dive on Banff Sunshine

This area is renowned for its challenging runs, 2,000ft of vertical and 40 degree average pitch that tests the strength of even the most experienced skiers and snowboarders. You can only access The Dive via a gate which only opens if you are using an avalanche transceiver. This takes you to a five metre band of rock that crowns the top where you can drop in. Or for a more moderate approach, you can use the stairs which allow access to more tame ground.  The main thing that will keep you going back though is the snow, with the wind often tripling or quadrupling the depth of fresh snow compared to the rest of the resort.

View from Banff Sunshine

Terminator Peak (T1) at Kicking Horse

This is the first peak south of the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort gondola.  It is an easy scramble up to the peak which oversees the ski hill and the town of Golden. From the top of this ridge skiers can access the expert only lines of Glory, Truth, Dare and Consequence. These exposed double black runs are not out of bounds but you still need to take care due to the high amount of exposure to slide paths and cliffs.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

The Monster at Panorama

This fabulous ski resort had a new 127-acre extreme terrain expansion into Taynton Bowl in the 2017/18 season which added a further 246 vertical feet to expand the ski area yet further. This extra terrain has boosted the longest trail to a staggering 6.5kms providing four brand new double-black diamond runs with the signature run named The Monster.

The Monster at Panorama!

Needles at Red Mountain Resort

The town of Rossland is home to Red Mountain Ski Resort and occupies most of a bowl that geologists say is an ancient volcano crater. Looking around, it is obvious that this provides a more mountainous feel than other B.C. ski towns. The double black run ‘Needles’ is in the middle of Granite Mountain and is known and feared by skiers for its speed and impossible steepness. The angle of steepness is 45 degrees, and the top third of the run is littered with rocks and moguls.

Red Mountain Resort

The Saudan Couloir at Whistler Blackcomb

This is a truly extreme 2,500-vertical-foot chute, accessible from the top of the 7th Heaven Express chair; in the past, the Saudan Couloir has been included by Conde Nast Traveller in their “Most Terrifying Ski Slopes In The World” article. Believe it or not, back in the 80s, it used to be the home of a death-defying race called Saudan Couloir Ski Race Extreme. Steep!

Blackcomb Mountain, Whistler Resort

7 Reasons to Ski Canada

Canada has grown in popularity as a ski destination over the last few years but there are still questions as to why a ski holiday across the Atlantic should be considered when the Alps are on our doorstep; well, there are many reasons, but let’s look at the top 7:

1. The snow

Pure and simple; the quality, quantity and reliability of Canada’s snow is unbeatable. The season starts in mid-November and continues to the end of May, later when you take glacier skiing into account. One of Canada’s best resorts, Big White, has as its slogan, ‘It’s the snow’ and many resorts in latter years have broken their snowfall records regularly.

Big White Ski Resort

2.  The facilities

Canada’s ski resorts offer tremendous accommodation, much of it ski-in/ski out, a good range of restaurants, modern, fast lifts, great grooming,  a lack of lift lines and excellent service.  Free on-mountain guides, sniffle stations which provide free tissues are just a couple of the extras you will find skiing in Canada.

The ski-in/ski-out Sutton Place Hotel, Revelstoke

3.  The scenery

Most mountains are beautiful, especially when covered in snow, but many parts of Canada, particularly the National Parks, take it to an extra level. Skiing in Banff or Jasper National Park is amazing.  Not only is the scenery outstanding but you will see elk and mountain goats as you travel through the parks or even strolling down the road in Lake Louise. You are also staying in a real Canadian mountain town from where the mountains dominate the landscape.

Mountain views in Banff

4. Lack of crowds

Canada is a vast country with tons of space and few people; in the winter months when many areas are covered in snow,  on a slow day in January you might just get a mountain to yourself. There’s no guarantee that at half-term you’d be on Whistler mountain without others for example,  but you never feel rushed or overcrowded.

Skiing at Kicking Horse

5. Ski schools

Whether you are a first time skier or an expert, Canada will have the right ski school for you or your children.  Class sizes are small, just 4 skiers or snowboarders in Whistler rising to 8 or 10 elsewhere. Most of the instructors have English as their first language which can be important and they are really well trained in safety, teaching and are of course chosen for their ability on snow.

Magic Carpet at Sun Peaks

6.  The accommodation

The range of accommodation in Canada includes Relais & Chateaux properties, Four Seasons hotels and the iconic Fairmont Hotels, such as the Fairmont Banff Springs. There are fabulous, unique lodges – perfect for skiers – condos for families or larger parties as well as great hotels to fit every budget.  There is literally everything from a studio apartment to a 6-bedroom house, many of which are easily accessible to the ski hills. What they all have in common is space, modern decor and a vast range of amenities.

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

7. Value

Last but not least, Canada is very good value.  Generally, the earlier you book, the better value your holiday will be, with many resorts and hotels offering booking discounts if you book early, with the best being available until August 31. Those with children can get exceptionally good value, as by taking advantage of all the early booking offers, the under-12s can stay for free, ski for free and rent for free at some resorts.