News from the snow
Lake Louise Canada
For scenic grandeur, imaginative terrain design, and sheer size, the Lake Louise Ski Area ranks with the finest ski resorts in the world. Encompassing eleven square miles, spread over four separate mountain faces interconnected by a lift and trail system that is comparable to the European ski circuit concept, this is the largest ski area in Canada. Visitors from Europe, who may have been somewhat disappointed by the rather boring rolling hills on which some of North America's most famous ski resorts are located, will be mesmorised by the spectacular beauty of the place. In addition to over 100 named runs, some over five miles in length, Lake Louise offers thousands of acres of open powder bowls, glades and chutes. When it comes to reliable snow, 'The Lake', is again hard to beat. With copious amounts of natural snow backed up by Canada's largest snow making system, Lake Louise has a season that runs from early November to mid May. Thirty years' average temperatures see a drop to -5 degrees celcius in December and -7 in January. With dozens of long protected tree lined runs, and 65% of the terrain below treeline, you can ski at Louise even when it is snowing. Skiers and 'boarders skiing Louise normally stay either in Banff, a 45 minute drive away, or in Lake Louise village located five minutes from the lifts and linked to them by a free bus shuttle service. Within the village you will find over 1,000 units for accommodation along with twenty restaurants and bars. These '1000 units' include the luxurious bedrooms of the world famous Chateau Lake Louise, one of the world's greatest hotels, built in 1890 when the railroad arrived in probably one of the most beautiful locations in the world for any hotel - on the shores of the lake with the mountains rising majestically behind. The hotel was extensively refurbished for its centenary. Lake Louise itself has offered cross-country skiing since the 1890s and downhill for 80 years. The first downhillers were a group of youngsters from Banff who, having learnt to ski downhill on Mt Norquay and slept the night in the Lake Louise train station, headed out on to the slopes. A decade later the same youngsters who had skied Louise in 1920 teamed up with some of the original Swiss guides who had led cross country tours in the area for 40 years and built the Canadian Rockies' first chalet, Skoki, in the summer of 1930. More huts followed and the first lift, a poma, was installed in 1954. A few years afterwards, when the Trans-Canada Highway passed through the area, the gondola tramway was installed in 1958. The rest, as they say, is history. Grand plans for a big 6500 bed resort in the 1960s was blocked as 'too big' in 1972, largely due to the area's location in the precious National Park. However growth, slow and controlled, has continued with new lifts gradually bringing the resort to a level where it can easily attract skiers from all over the world. The growth restriction is considered by many to be a major asset and helps Lake Louise to remain so special to its many fans.
There's an easy trail from the top of every chair. Daycare for children aged 18 days or older.
Intermediate level skiers will find Lake Louise hard to beat, with trails of up to 8km (5 miles) in length providing wonderful long cruises and most of the terrain accessible to stronger intermediates. Many will want to get stuck in to the back bowls and the famous endless powder skiing - the ski school is a great way of making the most of both.
Expert skiers will find plenty to entertain them at Lake Louise: the Back Bowl skiing includes gladed and bump runs as well as open powder. An ideal introduction to the ski area is Lake Louise's Ski Friends program. Twice daily, volunteer hosts and hostesses who know and love Louise conduct free guided tours geared to the individual tastes of visitors. Two larger area passes are available.
The tri-area lift pass includes unlimited use of lifts at Lake Louise's neighbouring 'Banff ski areas' - Mount Norquay, the smallest and closest to Banff, and Sunshine Village. The pass, which can be purchased in advance over the internet, includes free use of the scheduled shuttle service between Banff/Lake Louise hotels & the ski areas and one free night's skiing (Friday only!) at Mount Norquay. The larger Canadian Rockies Super Pass covers seven resorts: Nakiska, Mount Norquay, Sunshine, Lake Louise, Panorama, Fernie and Kimberley.
The Canadian Rockies Group which owns Lake Louise, Fernie, Kimberley, Mont Sainte Anne and others, has invested heavily in the construction of spectacular base lodges to echo the spectacular ski area. Greatest of all is the 24,000 square foot Lodge of the Ten Peaks, located at the base of the ski hill, which opened for the '98-99 season. The spacious post-and-beam log building, constructed from local stone and timber, features a wrap-around sun deck and a wonderful river rock fireplace which stretches to the height of the two-story, vaulted ceiling. The Lodge houses a cappuccino bar, cafeteria, smoke-free après-ski bar, retail and rental shops, as well as customer service.
Early mountain guides from Switzerland, Austria and Germany learned from the Native people how to identify and cook local foods. They learned how to cure and smoke game and fish so they could survive the long winters. They found out about tasty vegetables, fruits and flavourings from the forest which could be pickled for the winter. But wilderness ingredients were seldom seen on fashionable restaurant menus.
Thanks to classically trained chefs who appreciate the creative and nutritional approaches to food, today's Mountain menus are a meeting ground of culinary creativity. Popular eateries in the town include the Magpie and Stump, Georgio's, the Paris Restaurant and Waldhaus.
The Glacier Saloon in the chateau Lake Louise, which doubles as a night club, is generally regarded as the best spot in the resort for a lively night out. Alternatives include the Outpost in the Post Hotel and the Explorers lounge.
Other attractions include sleigh rides, skating, Wild West evenings and night skiing at Mt Norquay on Fridays.
Lake Louise's Snowboard School is also recognised as one of Canada's best, and largest. The variety of tuition packages is one of the biggest in the business and includes beginner and experienced 'boarder camps, private and group lessons, the newly introduced 'Shreddies' classes for kids aged 7 to 12 and daily clinics in Half pipe or Freeride technique.