Brighton, United Kingdom
February 28, 2002
The practical things initially attracted us. Aside from the accommodation we were impressed by the bus services included in our lift pass. From our base in Banff, we had the choice to ski in Lake Louise, Mount Norquay or Sunshine Valley. But the best thing about this bus services was the cheery Canadian drivers, who doubled as amateur tour guides and bear and moose spotters – no more grumpy Spanish or French public bus services - and the fact that if the bus was full by the time it reached your stop they would radio up another – now that would never happen in Europe!
Having arrived painlessly at our chosen resort for the day, the next pleasure was the uncrowded slopes. The runs were generally wide motorways with wonder of the Rockies on the horizon. We never had to queue for a lift, and even the most appalling of beginners would have difficulty finding anyone to crash into. With all the resorts included in the lift pass, we only just got onto black runs in 10 days ski-ing having dutifully explored all the red runs first.
Being in the Rockies, this was both a highlight and a frustration. On clear days, the views from ski slopes, let alone Banff itself was stunning with angular mountains jutting out all over the place. But I found it frustrating to travel all the way to Canada and not be able to explore the area beyond the ski resorts because we’d pre-booked the ski pass for the whole period. With hindsight, I would plan a few ‘rest days’ and go off on a skidoo or cross country ski-ing to see a different perspective.
What could have been a major issue, had we not been forewarned was the weather. It was a balmy +2C/35F when we arrived, and we were introduced to the novelty of a Chinook – a warm air front, and not a British Army helicopter! Within a week the temperature fell to minus 47C (probably the same in Fahrenheit). We thankfully had come with the appropriate layers of clothing, and the accommodation coped admirably, but the ski lifts could not open until the temperature rose by 10 degrees. We suffered one painfully cold chair lift journey, where the high winds swinging the chairs kept on tripping the emergency stop mechanism whilst we were on it.
Overall, though, we thought the skiing in Banff simply amazing.
From journal Banff; A European's Perspective