EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Ski Report: SSV, LL, and Kicking Horse
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Ski Report: SSV, LL, and Kicking Horse

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Just to set my personal facts first (which may cloud some of my perceptions)
I am female, from NJ, and an advanced-but not double black-25 year skiier. This was my second western ski trip.

Sat. March 26-We got a late start and arrived at Lake Louise at about 10:30.
The mountain was unbearably crowded everywhere-lodges, trails and liftlines.
We did not make it to the back bowls-only to the front and the Larch area.
The trails were nicely layed out, but due to skiier traffic-they were loaded with ice. We were fine since we are used to skiing these conditions-but who wants to travel all this way for this? We were so disheartened that we decided to take off the next day (Easter) to sightsee-it wasn't worth another $60.00 to go through this again.

Sun. (Easter)-We traveled the Icefields Parkway a little past Peyto Lake. Very nice. The Num-ta-jah? lodge had snowshoes available to rent but the rest of my fellow travelers did not want to participate in this activity. I think this would be fun but make sure you bring your warm ski clothing. We walked around the Lake Louise Chateau- good for photo ops and then went to Banff to shop, eat, see wildlife-elk.

Mon.- Finally!! What a day we had at SSV. I have never experienced anything like this in my 25 years of skiing! The snow was the famous "champagne powder" they brag about. Even though the lodge was crowded the lift lines were fine. The place is so huge that there is no problem with the dreaded "skier traffic" problems we encountered at LL.

Tues. 3/29 A Canadian on the trip up to the Sunshine base was raving about Kicking Horse so we decided to take a trip there today. We were based half-way between LL and Banff so it took us about 1.5 hours to get to KH.
It was really warm and hardly anyone there. We skiied most of the day in the Crystal Bowl-for green and blue skiiers and just went up and down on the stairway to heaven chair. The conditions in the bowl were amazing-the upper trails were icy, reminiscent of a Vermont winter with little snow and the bottom half was really getting thin as the day wore on and the sun kept shining. Even though conditions out of the bowls were marginal, we still were glad we experienced KH-again, unlike anything we had ever experienced. If the snow was better we probably would have ventured into one of the more difficult bowls.

Wed. 3/30 Our last day-do we go back to something sure that we know that we all like or give LL another chance? We decide to go with the sure thing-so SSV it is! Another great day, except for the whiteout conditions that lasted for about 40 minutes-of course after that the sun comes out and shines beautifully. We had a great day again-even though the lodge was crowded-but lifts and trails were again fine.

Banff Area tips-We tried four restaurants Georgio's-Mediocre Italian food at big prices. Baker Chalet-Gourmet food that is OK-but not what we really wanted after skiing. Sukiyaki House-Japanese food that is tasty, but the ingredients are second rate, e.g. half a steak was all fat and had to be trimmed before eating. Athena Pizza-pretty good food and plenty of it for a reasonable price. After spending so much money and time we opted to BBQ the last two nights and they were our best meals. My advice is to get a place that allows you to BBQ and skip the overpriced average restaurants. Eat home and go out for coffe and dessert or hit the bars.

We stayed at the Castle Mountain Chalets at Castle Junction-I highly recommend it. They have two BBQ's for guests and well equipped Chalets.
We enjoyed being away from the hub-bub of Banff-but it was only a 20 minute ride if we wanted to go there.

All in all, I would return to this area again. I loved it.
post #2 of 26
Your trip sounds a lot like what we had experienced. We were there just the weekend before. LL was pretty icy and tracked out, so we went onto SSV which turned out to be the highlight of our trip with fresh pow and wide open terrain, lots of fresh tracks to be had despite the numbers of skiers.

KH was good too but they definitely needed more coverage on the lower runs. Also they could use a couple more lifts to service the upper part of the mtn. I didn't like having to ski all the way down to the bottom to get back up top.

I'm not sure how the crowds are normally, but you happened to pick one of the busiest weekend to ski the area. It's Spring break for all the schools. If you were to make a return trip, you will probably want to check when the Canadian holidays are and avoid those dates.

Glad to hear you had a great trip! I know we'll be back as well
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hi Wizard,

We are teachers here in the states so we cannot pick and choose our weeks.
We have to go when we are off. That is the downside of being a teacher-sure you do have time off, but it is when the whole world is vacationing. Funny thing is that we hardly met any Americans on our trip-mostly other Canadians, Brits,
NZ and Austrailians.
post #4 of 26
most americans don't know there are ski areas in Canada.
post #5 of 26
I skied Lake Louise through the Easter weekend. I arrived early since I know 10 -10:30 is zero hour when all lessons, mountain tours and the slow moving tourists hit the lifts en masse. I went directly to Glacier, top of the world and then summit. Skied summit and paradise all morning with no lines whatsoever, fabulous new snow and good light ( on and off Saturday and more consistent Sun and Mon). I went to Larch once still early to hike off of the top of the lift. No line to speak of there either but the hordes hadn't made it over yet. Sun went to Larch again and immediately regretted it as it wasn't quite into lunch hour and the hordes were on it like jackals on a carcass. Still did the same hike and it rocked and got the hell out of there.

I trust you didn't arrive at Sunshine for 10:00 to see how the gondola looks for it's zero hour. I went to Sunshine Tues anticipating the madness to have died but that wasn't the case. Lines for the gondola, angel and divide were all brutal. Went down to Goat's eye and made some runs with far fewer people.

Sukiyaki House serves excellent sushi which is all I eat there these days. They also do very good sukiyaki which should be no surprise. I didn't even know they had steak on the menu and certainly wouldn't order it there.

This board is a great resource for getting the scoop on an area before you go. A simple search of the threads would have let you know how to avoid some of the scenarioes you encountered and asking a specific question is always an option.
post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 
L7,
Tues. was the day that we went to KH, so I guess it was a good choice.
The two days that we got to Sunshine were 9AM or before, so it wasn't that bad getting onto the gondola.

At Sukiyaki house I ordered a combo dinner of sushi and steak. I didn't think the sushi I got was of a high quality-maybe because it was a holiday (Easter)?
As I said in my original post, it is all in one's perception of things. Here in the NYC metro area, you would not think twice about ordering steak at a Japanese restaurant since they are known for serving excellent meats along with sushi.

I did study these boards before making my trip, but I don't want to make my ski trip into a dissertation. I just want to go on a mountain and have fun-not make a laborious study out of where to go on each precise run at every precise time, etc. That seems to take the adventure out of it, IMO. Also, sorry, but I am not the type that will hike anywhere if I have my skiis with me. Like I said in my post, I am not an extreme skiier. I am just posting to help others like myself who will be doing research for their future trips. I'm sure Lake Louise is a lovely mountain to ski, but I just did not experience it while I was there.
post #7 of 26
I've never been to Banff, but am going in 2 weeks. Plan on skiing each day, but looking for something to do after skiing such as short cool hikes, sight seeing, etc.
post #8 of 26
Also, are there any discount lift tickets available?
post #9 of 26
I wasn't suggesting you hike and was merely offering my own different view of a different portion of the mountain on the same day. The only reason I mentioned the hike at all is because it is the only reason I would go to Larch when it's busy as it is on my must avoid in crowded periods list.

About 2 weeks ago someone started a thread asking about eating tips for Banff and I offered several and several others chimed in as well. In fact for affordable good food Waxman may be chagrined that you didn't discover Barpa Bill's.

Personally I really don't like Sunshine much but this year particularly it can often offer better snow for intermediate terrain.

I find Sukiyaki's sushi to be quite high quality and generally the high volume times will only help that. On the other hand here at the continental divide it can be hard to compete for seafood with a coastal city/town/area. Still despite our proximity to prime range land I would not have suggested ordering a steak at Sukiyaki house.
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by L7
I went directly to Glacier, top of the world and then summit. Skied summit and paradise all morning with no lines whatsoever, fabulous new snow and good light.
Haven't you heard all the tourists in town talking about how icy Lake Louise is? Why would you want to go and ski the back bowls at the Lake. Repeat; they are really, really icy. Nobody should go there. It is really, really icy. Everyone should go to Sunshine.
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
To Maui Steve,

As you are coming into Banff on your right, there is a field that the elk graze in. It is covered by trees, but it is right before all the hotels begin. There were about 40 elk grazing there one day right before dusk. Also, we saw an eagle at Vermillion Lakes, which is just before you get to the elk field-there is a sign and you can go on a small drive or hike.

We saw a huge male elk in the residential area of Banff grazing on someone's lawn.
You could also go for a dip in the hot springs after skiing-but it was too crowded when we were there. Have a great time and make sure you give us a trip report when you return.

I could not find any discount lift tickets but really didn't try all that hard looking for them. I bought single tickets day by day since we really didn't know where we would be skiing. How many days will you be skiing?
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maui Steve
I've never been to Banff, but am going in 2 weeks. Plan on skiing each day, but looking for something to do after skiing such as short cool hikes, sight seeing, etc.
There is still quite a bit of snow not too far off the valley bottom so the coolest hikes are limited. Lake Minnewanka should be pretty passable for a ways up the shore. Johnstone Lake is a nice tranquil walk through the woods or on the ice if not too warm. Around the cave and basin and down sundance canyon is interesting and scenic and around chateau lake louise is generally well tramped in. A drive up the Banff Jasper highway (93North) on a nice day will show sights you won't get in Maui. Down highway 93south is scenic and gives a good view of the devastation of massive forest fires. A trip up the Sulpher mountain gondola is always impressive and if you can hike up you get to ride down free.

Dicounted lift tickets are best done through your hotel or through Ski banff Lake louise. The Ski Banff ones include bus transfer to sunshine or louise.
post #13 of 26

heading to Banff

We are heading to Banff two weeks from today (we leave the 16th) we will be there till the 23rd and plan to ski 5 days of the 6 non travel days during the 8 day.

We are down to a family of 3 (one son in college) for this trip .....my wife is a green /easy blue skier and and my 14 yr old and I are blue black skiers.

It is our 6th year in a row to hit banff. We ski both SSV and LL and like them both.

looking for ideas on the off day ..... we have in the past done dogsledding in Canmore, we have snowmobiled down near Panarama, have done the Johnson Canyon Ice walk(without guides- very nice and no guide needed there), and have snoshoed with Nadine & Joel out of the LL visitor center.

anything I am missing......

thanks in advance....this is a great board.
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by TOLOCOMan
Haven't you heard all the tourists in town talking about how icy Lake Louise is? Why would you want to go and ski the back bowls at the Lake. Repeat; they are really, really icy. Nobody should go there. It is really, really icy. Everyone should go to Sunshine.
Yes they seemed determined and it is fine really. I've been amazed at some of the quiet quality days I've had on what should be busy weekends.
post #15 of 26
Thanks for the info. Sounds like we'll have fun no matter what.
post #16 of 26
anybody get a Banff park pass they want to sell..... Send me an e-mail
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikebike
anybody get a Banff park pass they want to sell..... Send me an e-mail
Ha that's funny and clearly thinking ahead. I've often thought a guy should set up a booth next to the airport car rentals and rent out annual park passes instead of letting them hose every rental car everytime.

Yea I noticed the bald eagles are back the other day. It's a late return and I've only seen one. They have a nest between the first and second vermillion lakes. Hopefully one of the pair hasn't died. To be honest I figured you amuricans would find the eagle thing dull since you've had your fill. Saw a golden eagle soaring over the terrain park at Lake louise the other day. Maybe just waiting for a good messy trauma to swoop in for some easy pickings.
post #18 of 26
I have in for the past 5 years bought one(annual park pass)....then find a client or friend heading to banff after I have been.....I just give it to them.....it is an annual pass somebody ought to get to use it.


We still think eagles are cool..... even Osprey's I had one of those nap a 12" fish within about 20' of me on friday morning in the Keys ---Awesome.

L7 (or anybody else) any ideas on what do to the off day....

thanks

Mike
post #19 of 26
You won't be disappointed by taking a drive up 93 north to see many glaciers hanging off the mountains.

On the 1A highway keep your eyes open at the first split (eastbound side) for a pair of canada geese that nest on top of a power pole in an old osprey. Maybe others have seen this sort of thing but I was amazed at it. They nest quite early as well. The first year I thought when the Osprey came back the goose would be cooked. Instead the Osprey just built another nest next pole down. (They nest later).

A couple of years back I watched a bald eagle trying to get off the water with a very large fish while two osprey kept attacking him all about 150' off a beach near invermere. A second bald eagle (iceman) came in to join the fray and the osprey bugged out.
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by hobojo
I bought single tickets day by day since we really didn't know where we would be skiing. How many days will you be skiing?
I just noticed this comment. Just so you are aware you can buy ski banff/lake louise tickets that are good at the lake and sunshine and norquay although it will be closed by then. They also include transport and the multi day tickets are the best value. You can get a 5 day ticket and have 7 days over which to use it. So any of the two days you can not use it or go to a different hill ( no others will be open by then). There are also 3 and 4 day ones available. So be conservative and if you decide you want to ski more than your original estimate THEN you can buy extra single day passes.

That will be much more economical especially since you can build that into your hotel price at check in or in advance even.
post #21 of 26
Where do you get them?
post #22 of 26
http://www.skibig3.com/onmountain/tickets.html#winter

or in town at thier office
Guest Services - Banff Ski Hub
Physical Address 119 Banff Ave.
Phone (403) 762-4754
Fax (403) 760-2998
Email info@SkiBig3.com

or at the ski areas

or at your hotel

or where you rent skis

or on the bus to any hill

you have a few options

post #23 of 26
However, you cannot get them at Mtnlion's house. Not quite as ubiquitous as swinging a dead cat and hitting somewhere to get them. Still that shouldn't discourage one from swinging dead cats.
post #24 of 26
Actually, you can't get them on the bus either. You need them to get on the bus. Trust me, the drivers REALLY enforce this.
post #25 of 26
L7: if they where for sale at my place they would be used and on sale

TOL. want the cheap bigs ? price? make me an offer
post #26 of 26
mntlion: maybe I should swing by and take a look at them. See how the damage compares to mine. Is one of them in pretty good shape still?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Resorts, Conditions & Travel
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Ski Report: SSV, LL, and Kicking Horse