One of the highlights of the winter season in Lake Louise is the Ice Magic festival. Taking place at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise from Jan 22nd to 24th 2010, teams are given 3 days to turn blocks of ice into magnificent sculptures, which are then judged before an award ceremony on the final day. While it’s very interesting to see the ice carvers at work each day, the best day to attend is the final day when you can see the completed sculptures on display. If you are not in Lake Louise during this period, don’t worry, as the sculptures will stay in place for as long as the weather will allow, which is usually at least until the end of February.
Once again Lake Louise will host the Winterstart World Cup, which will feature men’s downhill and super G races on Nov 28th and 29th 2009 and women’s downhill and super G on Dec 4th, 5th and 6th. This is always an exciting event which puts Lake Louise on the world stage and if you are in the area you should definitely come and cheer on the racers and soak in the atmosphere. In the Alps people travel long distances to view world cup ski races, so if you live in Calgary, Canmore or Banff you should definitely take advantage of this opportunity to see some of the world’s best ski racers show us how it’s done!
For more information, schedules and results visit www.winterstartworldcup.com.
If you’re one of those people that prefers -20 to +20, and you’d happily swap a week at the beach for a powder day, then you are no doubt already excited about the upcoming ski season.
Lake Louise Mountain Resort has set a tentative opening date for the 2009/10 ski season of November 6th, while Sunshine Village has listed November 11th. However, as always, this will depend on snow conditions.
Take a look at current conditions with the Lake Louise webcam and the Sunshine Village webcam.
Most people visiting Lake Louise also take a trip to Banff, and in the winter it’s a great destination for a day trip if you need time off from skiing. The absolute best way to see the spectacular mountain scenery around the town of Banff and beyond is to take a ride on the Banff Gondola. Located just 5 mins from downtown Banff, the gondola ride takes just 8 mins and leaves you at the top of Sulphur Mountain where you can stroll along the boardwalk and admire the impressive peaks and valleys in every direction. There are restaurant facilities and a shop at the top, so you can easily take shelter from the weather if you need to.
The Banff Gondola is open year round, except Xmas Day or for maintenance. For specific dates and times, check their website at www.explorerockies.com.
Nothing depicts a Canadian Rockies winter scene quite like the sight and sound of a team of huskies pulling a sled along a snowy trail surrounded by an evergreen forest. A dog sled ride is a lot of fun for all ages and if you are staying in Lake Louise you can do it just 5 minutes from your hotel. You can choose between a half hour ‘teaser’ or a 1.5-2 hr tour, and on the longer tour you can do the musher’s job and ‘drive’ the sled yourself!
It’s certainly a special and unique trip, and you don’t often have the opportunity, so you should strongly consider it while you are in Lake Louise.
For more information, prices and times visit www.kingmikdogsledtours.com.
The sheer size and variety of Lake Louise ski resort means that the skiing and riding is ideal for all ages and abilities, but if you are not familiar with the ski area you may be wondering about the best place to go for your ability level. We asked a team of long-time local skiers for their advice, and have put together a quick list of recommended runs that we think you should try out.
Green Run Skiers
A nice easy but long run is Wiwaxy which takes you from the top of the Glacier Express Quad back down to the main base. However Wiwaxy is the obvious place to go for green run skiers and ski schools, so it can get quite busy. For this reason we prefer Eagle Meadows from the top of the Grizzly Express Gondola, joining onto Pinecone Way and Meadowlark Crossover before bringing you back down to the main lodge. Another good run to get you over to the backside is Pika, which you can access from the top of the gondola. This takes you past Temple Lodge (a great place for lunch), before bringing you to the bottom of the Ptarmigan Quad chair which will bring you back up to the top of the gondola, allowing you to start on Pinecone Way back down to the front side.
When looking at the trail map you might be tempted to take the Ski Out from the bottom of the Ptarmigan chair round to the front side of the mountain. Although it is a green run, we don’t recommend it for novice skiers, as it is quite flat, and hard work unless you are proficient with skating.
Blue Run Skiers
One of our favorite blue runs at Lake Louise is Meadowlark - it is on the far skier’s left on the front side and can be accessed from the top of the gondola. It tends to be quiet, as lot of people miss it as it is stuck out on the edge of the resort, and if you can get to it after it has been freshly groomed, it is a dream to ski. The Larch area is a lot of fun for blue run skiers - it is usually quieter than the front side and the snow tends to be better. We like the Larch and Larch Poma runs for high speed cruising, and for a bit of adventure, you can’t beat Rock Garden which offers a few challenges picking your way through a boulder field.
For a taste of the back bowls without venturing onto a black run you can try Boomerang from the top of the Summit Platter. It is more challenging than most blue runs and will probably involve some ungroomed snow, but it is not steep and it is a good place to take your first steps into powder.
Black Diamond Skiers
There are single and double black diamond runs at Lake Louise. It is sometimes hard to differentiate between them as the difficulty level can have more to do with the quality of snow than the steepness of the run. On the front side you’ll find most of the single black diamond runs and for those that like their snow groomed Men’s Downhill and Ladies’ Downhill are worth a look. For a quick taste of off piste skiing we like Mirkwood and Steep and Flat that lead into Grizzly Gully.
Lake Louise has without doubt the best range of double black diamond runs in Banff National Park, and these are mostly on the back side. Our favorite area is the Whitehorn Chutes, marked on the trail map as the Ultimate Steeps. As the name suggests, these chutes are nice and steep and fairly narrow in places, but the snow is normally of an excellent quality - the only downside is that it is a big loop via Paradise Chair to get back to the Summit Platter to ski the chutes again. There is also some excellent skiing from Paradise chair (Eagle Ridge) - it’s a mixture of steep chutes and bump skiing, and also some tight ski skiing if you like.
The Wall can offer an interesting and challenging way to get from the Top of the World chair over to the back side and the glades from the top of the Ptarmigan Quad are a good place to go to find challenging skiing when the visibility is poor.
No matter what type of skiing you prefer, there is plenty of it to keep you happy at Lake Louise. Some people wonder how long it takes to ’ski it all’. Well we’ve lived here for years and we’re still not bored!
Sister hotel to the most famous of all hotels in Banff, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has without doubt one of the most stunning locations anywhere in the Rockies. Lying right on the shore of Lake Louise, the views of the lake and the glaciers and peaks beyond are simply unbeatable. Opportunities for walking and hiking abound in the immediate vicinity of this hotel, and canoe trips and horseback riding are equally convenient. In the winter the local network of cross country ski trails are some of the best in Banff National Park, ice skating takes place on the frozen lake, and the world class Lake Louise ski resort is just a 15 min ski bus ride away.
The hotel offers various sizes of rooms and suites, each elegantly appointed, but the most important decision you make may not be about the size of the room but whether you choose a lake view. If you are looking for the utmost in luxury, you should consider the Fairmont Gold floor, which is almost like staying in a high-end boutique hotel while enjoying the facilities of a large resort hotel.
The restaurants at the Chateau are some of the best in Lake Louise and offer fantastic variety ranging from German/Swiss style food in the Walliser Stube to the fine dining experience in the Fairview Dining Room. More casual fare can be found at the Glacier Saloon or the Chateau Deli.
For more information and for reservations, visit their website at www.fairmont.com/lakelouise/
If you are looking for reasonably priced hotels in Lake Louise in a good location, you may want to consider a close look at the Lake Louise Inn. Spread between several buildings just a short walk from the village of Lake Louise, the accommodation ranges from hotel style rooms of varying sizes and bed configurations, to a variety of suites with kitchen facilities, living/dining area and fireplace.
Within the main lodge you will find an indoor swimming pool, steam room, and whirl pool. The dining facilities include Legends Restaurant which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the Timberwolf Pizza and Pasta Cafe which is open in the evening. The Explorer’s Lounge is a great spot for a drink or bar food and is particularly popular for apres ski.
The Lake Louise Inn is one of the more popular in the winter and skiers and snowboarders will be happy to know that the ski bus comes right to the door.
For more information and reservations visit their website at www.lakelouiseinn.com.