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ski Lake Louise

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi Folks,

  Leigh and I went to Banff to ski Lake Louise between the March 19th and 23rd.

  1. Mistake number one was flying Air Canada. We went from paid in full, seat assigned  passenger to “we will get to you when we call your name” standby nobody class after being an hour early and sitting through multiple flight cancellations. Air Canada calles them "delays" untill two hours after they were supposed to fly, then doesn't talk about them. After watching it in action and speaking with other travelers that this has happened to many times, I do not believe the cancellations were legitimate but a management design to fill every seat on every flying aircraft. They do this by canceling flights until they have enough passengers in standby to fill the entire plane. Also this destroys any ability to connect to the next flight which means back into standby nobody class until they call your name. In our case that was after shuttling from one gate to another till after seven in the evening. Also note tha AC does not fly your baggage through Vancouver, they dump it on the carousell and you have to collect your skis, pack them a mile to the next depature gate, re-check in, get a new boarding pass, re-submit your skis to baggage, then try to get on your next connection. You won't get an assigned seat.
  2. We arrived in Calgary CA after 9pm and our reserved ground transport to Banff, Brewster, had closed at 8 leaving us stranded. When called the next day, (on hotel line since our cells did not work) they said that no refund was their policy. We were able to get ground transport from Banff Airporter, they were still open and happy to serve. Lesson learned, do not make reservations for ground transport when flying because you have no control over when or where the airline will dump you.
  3. Banff is an hour shuttle from Lake Louise and at least four different carriers, so do not be deceived by SKIBIG3; they just represent a consortium of local businesses, not by any means, all of them.
  4. Speaking of  SKIBIG3, there isn’t BIG 3, the other two are only local pound outs. Yea, I know, Sunshine has a new, sort of, ski in ski out resort, kind of. You go ahead and go there. Been there, not again thanks.
  5. Air Canada is affiliated with United Airlines, they handle the local Portland flights for Air Canada. At the bottom of AC’s web site is the disclaimer that United may charge a baggage fee. When we flew out we challenged the $30 fee because the stated policy on the Air Canada website. When we returned on the 23rd, a fee was charged before they would allow us to board, no receipt. At home I signed on the bank and found that they had charged us $160 baggage fee for ski’s and boots. And that’s how an airline pays a CEO’s bonus.
  6. On a positive note: United did not fly our skis to Oregon with us. They did send a kid to deliver the bag to our house the next day. They were still intact.
  7. Also on a positive note: Lake Louise is wonderful. If I ever go back, I will drive there and stay at the lake, there is nothing in Banff that I want to see again. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound very positive does it? I’ll have to work on my attitude.


May your travels be wonderful.

post #2 of 19

Wow, sorry to hear about all of your bad luck.


I am guessing you flew to Vancouver, and then to Calgary.  I will make one point about that from my experience which is you have to take your luggage and recheck in because it is your first port of call in Canada, and therefore you have to go through Canadian customs / security.  Vancouver to Calgary would be a domestic flight, so there are no customs when you land in Calgary.  Frustrating, I know.  It occurs for most Canadians flying to the US with a connecting flight but on the US side.  Thankfully most of the larger airports in Canada have US customs, so you do it up front and therefore effectively fly "domestic".



post #3 of 19

When in Canada, fly Westjet not Air Canada if possible. Air Canada often sends your skis and other luggage on a later flight so it is best to carry on your boots and ski clothing and wear your ski jacket.

post #4 of 19

Sorry about your crappy experience, but I'm confused.  You're complaining about Air Canada but then say that United is the airline out of Portland.  Did you fly on a United plane or an Air Canada plane between Portland and Vancouver?  If the former, then your beef is with United as the flight provider, not Air Canada as the codeshare partner (not that Air Canada has many redeeming qualities.... as stated by another poster, Westjet is the best way to fly in Canada).

post #5 of 19


sure, they're mostly messed up...

as for United, I would not be surprised if this problem was actually United Express AKA  SkyWest, a contract carrier for United which serves a lot of flights to the smaller airports out here...

SB airport is slave to Skywest for a lot of flights now that the Main United flights have generally left us, along with Delta and a bunch of other airlines which just can;t justify serving our small airport/area.

SkyWest is mostly incompetently run. I feel sorry for the rank and file employees, and it gives United even a worse name than they deserve. A happy day when they file Chapter 7.


BTW - I also went to Banff/Lk Louise/Sunshine - Mar 17th arrival thru Mar 22


same issues with air travel - SkyWest cancelled all their morning flights out of SBA...

we were rescued by being able to drive to LAX and catch an AIR CANADA flight out to Calgary

a very long day - started 6 AM at SB airport and ended with a 10:30 PM arrival in Banff;

but we made it...


as for Banff , Lake Louise, Sunshine and almost all the Canucks we came in contact with - Wonderful!, Awesome! Nice! Splendid! What a Great Trip!

and thanks to Air Canada for rescuing our trip.


I'll post to a different thread with my TR and comments, since this one is about air travel not the destination ....

post #6 of 19

While I am not here defend any ski resort, for the sake of accuracy, I would like to point out that Sunshine Village and Lake Louise are about the same size. And it terms of terrain, both have their fair share of big long runs, and steep and gnarly, and Sunshine has some terrain which is rarely open but is very difficult (and I do not mean Delirium Dive). So it's definitely not local pound out, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise are  each as big as Alta, Snowbird, Snowbasin etc. and have reasonable amount of vertical, what one prefers depends on taste etc. And, Banff National Park is probably the most picturesque area in North America for ski areas, with perhaps the exception being the BC mountains, and Selkirks.


Also, Sunshine Inn (Whether one likes it or not) is the ONLY ski-in/ski-out lodging available anywhere in Banff national park ski areas. 


Just stating the facts.

post #7 of 19
Originally Posted by dustyfog View Post

 So it's definitely not local pound out, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise are  each as big as Alta, Snowbird, Snowbasin etc.

Yeah, I got a bit of a chuckle from the OP's comment.  If Sunshine Village is a local pound out for Calgary, then by that definition Whistler/Blackcomb is a local pound out for Vancouver.


post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by exracer View Post

Sorry about your crappy experience, but I'm confused.  You're complaining about Air Canada but then say that United is the airline out of Portland.  Did you fly on a United plane or an Air Canada plane between Portland and Vancouver?  If the former, then your beef is with United as the flight provider, not Air Canada as the codeshare partner (not that Air Canada has many redeeming qualities.... as stated by another poster, Westjet is the best way to fly in Canada).

Flew Air Canada all the way, United does the gate/check-in for Portland (PDX) but all the flights were Air Canada. Supposed to arrive Calgary 3PM actually arrived 9+ and into Banff at 12:30.


post #9 of 19

Here's why we love Westjet up here.  Not only is the service waaaay better than Air Canada and they don't operate any of those little 'crop dusters' that Air Canada does, but they love to have fun.


Take a look at their latest (don't let the video title fool you)....


post #10 of 19
it's been 10 years now, but I flew to Calgary from P ittsburgh without issue probably a half a dozen times . Air CAnada most of the time and usually had my skis. Sure sounds like a PITA now to do this. Scenery wise I have never been anywhere else as comparable. I do prefer the skiing in Colardo more.
post #11 of 19

Neither Lake Louise nor Sunshine has the lift capacity of US resorts, but they do have the acreage and terrain.  And this year was kind of epic for snow, later on.  December sucked but it got way better.


Flying is always a mess, especially trying to do an unpopular run like Portland to Calgary.  Even though they are not far apart, it's hard to find a direct.  I was doing some work in Portland a few years back (I am out of Calgary), and you just can't get there from here without going through Vancouver or Seattle.  Go through Seattle.  It's very well connected to Portland and reasonably well connected to Calgary.  Vancouver is not the best option.  And Air Canada/United are always to be avoided where possible.  Worst 2 airlines ever.


I think I should take you on a tour of Banff.  I love that town and I am glad I only live an hour away.  Whistler and Vail are much bigger, but yet not nearly as cool.


Vail the ski hill is probably the size of Louise and Sunshine combined, but the variety of terrain goes to Louise/Sunshine.  Whistler is Whistler/Blackhome, so it use to be 2 different hills, but it's been combined for years now and probably adds to the same size as Louise and Sunshine combined, not counting Goat's Eye.  All of them are cool, but for me since I can drive to Louise/Sunshine in the morning and be back at a late dinner time I am not too interested in revisiting Vail or Whistler.


The Delirium Dive is something that cannot be explained if you haven't done it.  Ski patrol and Avy control, but it's unlike anything anywhere accessible inbounds and from a lift.  Well, ok there is a bit of a walk up which at 13,000 feet feels like a real walk, but it really isn't that far.  Just going from the top of the lift "over the back".  And the ER/Whithorn shuts at Louise give it a good run although not as long and more skied off because they are more accessible.  To get in the Dive, you need a peep, you have to walk up about 200 feet at the top of the mountain, then you have to drop a really big cornice.  It's mostly always got a skied off track so not too bad but don't drop a ski at this point.  It also has a walk around with a stair case, but I tried that once and thought I would rather deal with the cornice.  After that it's an absolutely huge bowl of mostly fresh powder and then a cliff that you would not survive but once you know where it is it's pretty easy right to Teepee town and left long travers to Goats Eye.

post #12 of 19

oops right and lefts mixed up.  Teepee town is left and Goat's Eye is right.  The other right.

post #13 of 19
Plus this is from two years ago.
post #14 of 19

The real question why would you go skiing in Canadian Rockies at all if you are based in Portland. Why not Colorado? I lived in Denver and now live in Calgary and I would take Colorado any time. In my opinion does not even compare. Colorado resorts are much bigger, snow is much better (it is not unusual to have pretty much no snow in LL until January). In Colorado you can stay right at the mountain, in LL the only good option is Fairmont and Post and there is no village. Otherwise you are looking at 40 min bus ride from Banff. And if you are at the start of the bus pick up you are looking at least 1.5 hours. Service is much better in US compared to Canada. And I agree with you, the other 2 out of Big3 are not worth the time. Norquay is very small, and in Sunshine you will spend half of your time riding lifts/gondola between mountains and flat spots. Parking is a disaster in Sunshine, you are looking to spend at least an hour getting to and from the mountain on the weekend if you drive. Colorado is so much better no matter what you compare.  

post #15 of 19
Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Would take it over Colorado any day of the week.
post #16 of 19

@Sibhusky. It is beautiful, I agree. I love staying at Fairmont LL. Is it more beautiful than Colorado - it is a matter of opinion, I prefer not to see highway looking down the mountain. I also like slope-side villages, not a strip mall at LL. When I go to ski resort I am there to ski. LL usually has no snow until after January. In Colorado I would be skiing in nice snow for two months before LL opens the back. This season half of the back did not even open until April! Also I like to maximize my time skiing , not dealing with logistics, service, etc. And skiing at LL and especially Sunshine is major PITA logistically, compared any of the Vail resorts, Copper Mtn, etc. Dont even start me on the cost of the season pass. And while in Colorado it is more likely to be sunny, in LL it is almost never sunny, Last season I have not used sunscreen once in 40+ days of skiing. These are the facts, unfortunately.

post #17 of 19
Remember where I ski. Do you think the SUN is important?

Prefer the Post.
post #18 of 19

Yes, sun is very important. In my opinion back side of LL, is barely skiable when the light is flat because of the way the slope is faced north. Sunshine is even worse, when it is flat even the front is dangerous. I almost broke my neck on a green run falling from an unmarked cliff at Sunshine going 5 km/hour. Anyway, for me , nothing can compare skiing on a blue bird day, and these are very rare at LL and SSV. And I was born and raised at the place with no sun - St. Petersburg, Russia.

post #19 of 19

Lake Louise has some of the best terrain in Canada, and fabulous scenery. Lots of low temps mid winter and not lots of natural snow (less than 200" annually), but lots of snow making.


However with the cold temps and high base elevation for Canada, it has great snow preservation and imo skis best in the Spring.

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