Locals’ Guide to the Mountain
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!