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Mountain related articles from WINTER-SPORTS.COM

Lake Louise Canada : the appeal of wide open spaces


Canadian Dream
Some only swear by Valto or Méribel and wax lyrically about these resorts ... and then there are some, who'd like just as well to avoid the whole raclette and ski bar scene entirely, with its sunscreen and French fries smells, its endless queues to get on the ski lift, its constant traffic jams in the vicinity of the ski resorts... Canada's Western like scenery, preserved nature and laid back way of life make it a perfect destination for those who dream of a different skiing experience.
Did you say wide open spaces? >
Lake Louise
The Lake Louise resort is about 125 miles west of Calgary, in the heart of Banff's National Park, in the middle of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The Park, created in 1987, is Canada's premier national park (the third in the world), and is known worldwide for its extraordinary mountain scenery and the abundance of its fauna and flora.

Unlike European ski resorts, Canadian ski resorts are characterised by a skiing domain that is some distance from the actual resort town. The village is most usually an old miner's town, often on the banks of a river and the skiing domain, having been added at a later period, is set up on more ski-favourable grounds.
The skiing domain might be fairly small, but it's varied and the runs aren't crowed... A true paradise for the beginner or intermediate skier....
The bottom of the station >
No leaving the hotel with your skis on already!... You'll have to take the car or the free shuttle to get to the domain... A drawback? Not at all... This way the skiing domain's beauty, free of all buildings (except for a few log cabins) remains untarnished...
>View of the bottom of the station : where are the buildings?
Ski your way through nature
Incidentally, the setting is one of the very first assets of skiing in the area : the scenery is breathtaking, wilderness is everywhere and skiers see quite often squirrels, pine martens, deer, woodland caribou or big horn sheep (the local version of the mountain sheep )... You'll be glad to know bears hibernate in the winter...
Ski your way to freedom
For the advanced skier, the appeal of this domain is the fact it has quite a few very good runs - neither packed or marked; located on the backside of the domain, with very little exposure to the sun so they can be quite difficult -. Many of these runs would never part of a French skiing domain due to the steepness of their slopes and the rocky and rugged nature of the grounds (there are little cornices that one has to jump, boulders everywhere, unmarked runs).One might even consider these runs as off-piste, but then it would be off-piste without the risks it usually entails (skiers do go buy and the rescue services aren't far away...)
< A few cornices for those who want to have fun
You'll identify these runs by their numbers and by a "Danger, Avalanches" sign. To access them, you'll have to go under the rope. They are without a doubt one of the resort's main perks for the advanced skier.
The "back side" on the other mountainside. >
Ski your way to fun
No "move-I'm-coming-through!" attitude here... There are a lot less skiers on the slopes than in French resorts (on the more difficult ones, you may even often be on your own...) and there is almost no queuing (at most, a couple minutes during the Week Ends)...
< A rock concert of the foot of the slopes... Add a good Bud, and it's not a bad way to finish your day!
Skiers and snowboarders adjust their speed to their skiing level and accidents aren't frequent... The atmosphere is laid back, more congenial than anything else. Most perch men will smile at you and ask you "How ar' yo doin' today?"... In short, you can have fun while you ski.... It makes quite a difference, doesn't it?
There is ONE high altitude chalet... The charbroiled hamburger is a must. >
The Canadian way of life
No point trying to find a fun bar or club in the resort : it's strictly skiing up there! , or better yet, to lodge there. The town is small but it is very representative of the good Canadian way of life... A few good places to check out : the St James Gate (a cool Irish pub with a very diverse crowd), the "Roses and Crown" (a younger and more popular bar with a pool table and rock band), the Hoodoo (bar/club) and the Aurora....
Banff... A small town where life is good. >
Just like in the US, everything is bigger and more comfortable. Hotel wise, no problem there : Huge rooms, king size beds, swimming pools, sauna, jacuzzi.... The decoration might take some getting used to... but it's very relaxed...
< Unlike the Hotels in Savoie, the Canadian inns offer superior comfort amenities...
Practical tips
Rent a car! There is a free and convenient shuttle system but there's nothing like a car to enjoy Canada's wide open spaces, especially if you plan on wandering around in the area... Besides, it's a great feeling to be able to contemplate the stunning landscape nice and comfy in a 4x4 with a mug of coffee and local rock music to listen to!

A tip though... Make sure you have enough gas... These cars are gas-guzzling monsters and their tanks aren't usually up to it. Don't expect to get the same mileage you would get with your Tdi (diesel), and keep in mind that there aren't that many gas stations in the area... You really don't want to be out of gas, especially considering the temperature during the night goes down to -20°C (-4 Fahrenheit)!

Dpn't except to drive fast like in France, in Canada, as in the US, people drive slowly and the speed limits on the highways are 90 or 110 km/h (55 or 70 miles per hour). Do make sure you don't speed : the icy roads and the risk of running into an animal are very real...Also, a Chevrolet is far from being the same as a BMW...

We suggest you stay in Banff if you're planning on doing some shopping (even if it's rather limited), on experiencing a small northern American touristy town's lifestyle, and on being able to go out at night!

While you're at it, take advantage of your car to try out the other ski resorts in the area : Norquay (a small resort, 5mn fro Banff), Sunshine (smaller with a flatter domain than Lake Louise's), Kicking Horse (steep slopes), Ferney...

The weather has two main characteristics : it's cold and there's almost no humidity (between 15 and 25 %). As a result, the snow fall is just average but the snow itself is of excellent quality ... Make sure to gear up for cold temperatures.... The ladies will want to have plenty of moisturisers with them...

Our opinion
A superior quality ski, a laid back atmosphere and high comfort make this resort a must for those seeking fun and relaxed skiing in a preserved environment with none of the stressfulness and the show off-ness that characterises our alpine resorts...
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