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How cold is it really on Banff area mountains in Feb?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I was all set. Lodging decisions made, ready to make air ressies, and then I read about the brutally cold temps in January and February at Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. It would certainly explain the affordable prices at that time. Can anyone give me a first hand account of what I should *really* expect the first week of February? In one book, it said -70C at the summit is not unheard of. I'm trying to avoid a repeat of the worst and coldest ski day ever a few years ago in Zermatt. I'm used to Colorado, Utah, and Tahoe Februarys, is it really tons worse up there?
post #2 of 16
That -70 would be wind chill factored in. That really lame doing that. The coldest actual temperature I've seen is -48 (cold enough). Feb especially the first half can easily see -30 for several days running but is just as likely or more likely to see -5 to -10 C. It's surprising that the -30 runs are usually big polar high pressures with blue sky and it gets bearable mid day with the sun out. Besides its 'a dry cold'.

I tried to find data on mean averages but it could be that info is pay only now.
post #3 of 16
I use this link for a temperature resource:

http://theweathernetwork.com/weather/stats/index.htm

Here is the info for Banff, mind you that would be the town stats and not the summit temps.

http://theweathernetwork.com/weather...ges/C01978.htm

PS- I've done -30°C of "wet cold" in Quebec and found it not too bad if you're bundled up properly no exposed skin... and the temps always warm up as the day goes on.
post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post
I use this link for a temperature resource:

http://theweathernetwork.com/weather/stats/index.htm

Here is the info for Banff, mind you that would be the town stats and not the summit temps.

http://theweathernetwork.com/weather...ges/C01978.htm

PS- I've done -30°C of "wet cold" in Quebec and found it not too bad if you're bundled up properly no exposed skin... and the temps always warm up as the day goes on.
There you go. I missed that on the side and I was on that page. Surprisingly warm. Add to that you often get inversions where it's significantly warmer high on the mountain than in the town of Banff.
It can also be frightfully cold. Quebec's wet -30 is way more brutal than -30 in the rockies.
post #5 of 16
Well, you heard it from a local, but I will give you my impression as a fellow traveller. I spent a week in late December a few years ago and it was cold, like highs in the teens (F). But we had inversions all week and it was really nice on the mountain. Waiting for the bus in the morning was miserable though.

If you are the type that needs the neoprene mask when it is 30* you might want to pass.
post #6 of 16
I used to get to ski up in Banff a couple times a year, and skied a couple of times in really cold weather. The thing I noticed and found interesting was that my toes didn't get anywhere near as cold. Where as here when its a couple degrees F or colder, I can only stay out about 2 hrs . before I get popsicle toes. Up in Banff I didn't have that problem. I think the low humidity is huge in allowing more tolerance to cold.
post #7 of 16

Don't be scared off

The really cold temperatures are the exception rather than the rule. I actually prefer skiing in January or February to March and April, if only due to the quality of the snow. Part of this might just be the fact that we're a little more acclimated to cold conditions (-10 F or lower), but the lack of humidity is also a factor. I've also never heard any talk by the package tourists (usually from Britain) complaining about the temperature when we've share lifts. And as mentioned before, we often have heat inversions or upper level chinook flows that keep the temperature several degrees higher on top of the hill than at Banff or down on the plains.

So don't cancel your trip, but do prepare in case we get a cold snap while you are here. I've found that on the coldest days I've skied (around -25 C), I've needed to have all of the following: base layer poly-pro tops and bottoms, polar fleece mid-layer tops and bottoms, lined ski-pants and ski-parka. If you add on a neckwarmer, fleece skullcap under your helmet, warm socks, and heavy duty gloves (think ski-mountaineering) you'll be toasty warm (or at least thoroughly protected). This is also when I make sure I wear ski-goggles rather than my usual sunglasses to cut the impact of lift-line windchill (frozen eyeballs). Most of the time the temperature is likely to be between 0 and 15 F, so I rarely get to pull out the full cold weather uniform and usually go with just the polypro bottoms and fleece top as a baselayer under lined skipants and jacket.

I can recall only about two days in the past five years when they've shut down Sunshine or Louise because of the cold. Those would be good days to spend up at the hot springs, or at several of the finer drinking establishments in the town. Just make sure you have a block heater on your rental car, and plug it in at the hotel (on really cold days you might want to take the bus to your hill, since there are no plug-ins in those parking lots).
post #8 of 16
Another reason not to cancel your trip is that Banff and surrounding area is easily the most beautiful place I've ever been. And the town of Banff is very cool.
post #9 of 16
A quality down puffy jacket is your best friend, toasty warm to match temps and most bunch up small enough to stuff in a pack when you find the temps up top don't feel all that cold once you get into the sun.
I've had work associates up from Texas to ski in February and they found it cold at first, but never unbearable.
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Well, all of your responses have made me feel lots better. Thank you for setting my mind at ease.
post #11 of 16
I just did a comparison of Banff with the only Colorado mountain town I could find... Steamboat Springs, and it looks about the same...

Banff:
http://theweathernetwork.com/weather...ges/C01978.htm

Steamboat Springs:
http://theweathernetwork.com/weather...ges/C02549.htm

Pretty comparable!
post #12 of 16
I am from FLorida and from 1999 till 2005 I skied every winter at Sunshine VIllage and Lake Louise

Temps seemed a bit colder in Jan than Feb but was always doable

go & enjoy

and if you meet L7 and he is a real person let me know .... I talked to him by phone a few times and met his buddy Leeroy... but he remains a mystery
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
OK, we're booked! Thanks everyone. I am feeling much more confident about the weather. Of course, with the summer temps we've been having here, -30 or -40 C sounds pretty good right about now. Now it's time to start doing the snow dance!

L7, Hubby and I would love to meet for a brew one apres ski day. You guys have anything up there besides LaBatt's?
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikebike View Post
I

and if you meet L7 and he is a real person let me know .... I talked to him by phone a few times and met his buddy Leeroy... but he remains a mystery
Oh yea, That was the day there was a foot and some of fresh and I was actually headed down to meet you when they dropped the gate on Delirium right in front of me and someone right there needed a partner. What's more she turned out to be friends of friends of mine whom we later skied with. I even went down to look for you (Leeroy) and then when I went back up ran into Thomas Grandi and ended up doing a run in Delirium with him to wrap the day. Sorry to miss you, maybe next time but I did think about if I should feel bad about it and I decided no. Would have been fun to run into you guys on one of the circuit, damn that powder code.
post #15 of 16
no worries... L7 .... I know the Powder was nice that day... and Leeroy and family helped us stay in untracked stuff till well after lunch..... even had me drop of some 12-15 foot lil ledge off of strawberry or standish --- very fun.... also some out of the way tree stuff... Awesome...

Thanks again Leeroy..

I did ask about you in town and you are a legend in the boot fitting arena

next time we come to Banff I will look you up and at least catch a beer or a few turns

this year our big trip will again be Utah.... and then several with 3 days of skiing to the Adirondaks in NY (my dad still lives there)

later
post #16 of 16
As a SoCal native I can sympathize with the question. 2 of my below 0F ski days (ignoring wind chill) were in Alberta. The average high temp at ski altitudes in early February at Sunshine/Lake Louise is probably around 15F. Similar to Colorado a month earlier. One of the below zero days was March 16, so you never know. I think the colder weather up there makes March and April skiing quite good.

Bring a lot of clothing layers, goggles and face mask just in case. With the right gear you can definitely make it work at zero or less, especially if it's not that windy. The first day or two it will take some experimentation to get it right. I always carry a day pack so I can add/shed layers if needed.
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