Lake Louise, Canada
Reviewed by Scott Gornall
Sep 26, 2016
number of runs
travel: go now
If you want to ski Lake Louise properly, wear a helmet. The resort has rowdy terrain. A typical line off the mountain’s backside tilts to 40 degrees and is peppered with small cliff bands. And given the scenery of surrounding Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s hard to keep your eyes on the ground. If you want to ski Lake Louise, get ready for some mind-blowing views. The resort has something for everyone, including some pretty rowdy terrain. A typical line off the mountain’s backside can tilt towards 40 degrees, but there’s also rolling groomers from every lift so everyone can make the most of their time at “The Lake.” And given the scenery of surrounding Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s hard to keep your eyes on the ground.
POWDER DAY: When it’s dumping, traverse left off the backside of the Summit Platter to Lake Louise’s Ultimate Steeps area for a series of 35- to 40-degree, 550-foot-long chutes like Brown Shirt Main and Boundary Bowl. In the afternoon, harvest the tight larch glades of Ptarmigan Trees, located skier’s left of Ptarmigan quad.
THREE DAYS LATER: After the Powder Bowls are tracked out, head to the less frequented Larch Area. The short shot—435 vertical feet—through well-spaced trees on Tower 12 holds snow for days. Or traverse right off the Larch Express quad to Rock Garden for a field of fluffy pillow drops. (Warning: It’s called Rock Garden for a reason. Go only when it’s deep.)
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PARK AND PIPE: Lake Louise is known for its big-mountain terrain, but Terrain Park, underneath the Glacier Express quad, offers more than 25 different features. Link hits on a 45-foot tabletop, an eight-foot-high wall, and an assortment of kinked rails and boxes.
BACKCOUNTRY ACCESS: Pick from one of Lake Louise’s three backcountry gates and check conditions at the patrol shack at the top of the Larch Express quad before you go. From the terminus of the Larch quad, boot-pack for half an hour before traversing to untracked 700-foot lines in the Elevator Shaft
WEATHER: Given the 40-degree pitch and exposure in Lake Louise’s Powder Bowls, February or March, when midseason snowpack has filled in the steeper lines, are the best months to go.
APRÈS: Grab a pitcher of Kokanee ($15)—Canada’s answer to Pabst Blue Ribbon—and a Spicy Spolumbo pizza loaded with chorizo sausage, garlic, and roasted red peppers ($17) at the Powderkeg Lounge in the base area’s Lodge of the Ten Peaks.
FUEL: Before you hop on the Grizzly Express gondola, stop at the Lodge of the Ten Peaks for a Sunriser bagel sandwich ($7) with egg, cheese, and bacon.
UP ALL NIGHT: The Village of Lake Louise is known for being a quieter spot compared to the neighboring town of Banff, but you can always find some après action at the Glacier Saloon at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. It’s being completely renovated this fall, so watch for something completely new and exciting to open in mid-November.
Digs: The hamlet of Lake Louise offers a variety of accommodation options, all of which provide a free shuttle to and from the mountain. For something swankier, book a room at the lakeside Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Online options can be booked at www.SkiBig3.com