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Lake Louise vs Sunshine

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Need some input here. I've searched the forum and got some info but want more. I'm going to Banff over New Years. Just for 3 nights but that might be changed to 4. There's 4 of us going. 2 couples. I want to mix some skiing in with some great site seeing. Where do I go? My initial plan was to stay the full 3 nights at Sunshine Inn. I'm starting to now shift towards the Fairmont Lake Louise. It's a real tough choice. Both seem great. We love the idea of the ski in/out @ Sunshine but also love the beauty of Lake Louise. So for a 50/50 ski & explore 3 day trip where do you recommend between the 2? Any help or info would greatly help my decision making. Thanks in advance.

P.S. We do have a rental car.
post #2 of 25
tough choice on the two,

I stayed in Banff and enjoyed the town.

At sunshine you have to take gondola to reach your car to explore. There may be hours when the gondola is not running, you do have ski in out flexibility.

On the other hand LL is not slopeside but only a short ride from most lodging options to the slopes.

More dining and nightlife in Banff, it's a short trip and LL is so picturesque.

I think slope side is overrated and too costly for me anyway and you do have the rental car. do note you will be paying to enter the park for your stay when driving in from Calgary.

Ski days are short the convenience of ski-in and out is if you all can't get it together. only you can determine that.
v.varmit

your pass will probably allow you to ski all three mountains Norquay is just behind town of Banff up the hill, smallest of the three. Hope conditions meet your expectations. happy holidays
post #3 of 25
you're pretty stuck at sunshine village inn, and banff is great--and you might want to ski Louise, my preference.
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Now thinking of doing 2 days at SS followed by 2 days at LL. Best of both worlds.
post #5 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kid Eh View Post
Now thinking of doing 2 days at SS followed by 2 days at LL. Best of both worlds.
That would be the best plan. Many locals strongly favour one or the other but i really enjoy both hills. What type of skier are you?
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by manchester81 View Post
That would be the best plan. Many locals strongly favour one or the other but i really enjoy both hills. What type of skier are you?
To be honest I haven't skied in like 10 years. I never had a problem though. Intermediate I guess. My girlfriend is the same. The couple we're going with are snowboarders. One advanced and one intermediate.
post #7 of 25

LL or sunshine

Manchester, which has the best skiing and snow? Any chance you could PM me when snow gets good? We are still sitting on 1-2 inches here.
post #8 of 25
SSV on hill is very quiet, nice if you are looking for that, slow and boring if you are not. LL is a bit more lively .

My vote: stay at the Rimrock in banff (VERY high end service) and take the free shuttle to SSV one day and LL the next. Then make your own call on the last few days ...
If the weather looks bad go to norquay, closer to town, in the trees, great grooming etc.
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mntlion View Post
SSV on hill is very quiet, nice if you are looking for that, slow and boring if you are not. LL is a bit more lively .

My vote: stay at the Rimrock in banff (VERY high end service) and take the free shuttle to SSV one day and LL the next. Then make your own call on the last few days ...
If the weather looks bad go to norquay, closer to town, in the trees, great grooming etc.
We looked at the Rimrock. It's full those nights.
post #10 of 25
A common complaint i hear from lower level intermediates and beginners is lake louise's blue and green terrian can be crowded on the weekends. The expert areas in the back, however are only served by a couple of lifts and not crowded at all. I think sunshine handles intermediate crowds better than Lake Louise so if your trip includes weekend skiing, you might want to spend those days at sunshine or norquay.

Pete,

Generally, Lake Louise is known for terrian and Sunshine for snow. Sunshine claims 900 cm of snow a year to Louise's 450. It seems that sunshine receives less than advertised though, probably around 600-700 cm. If one was to compare the snow on the front side of Lake Louise to Sunshine, they would find Sunshine's conditions much better. The quality of snow in the expert areas at Lake Louise is very good though. The backside of the hill has low skier volume and faces north for good preservation. You will find rocks at both areas, even in good snow year (think Big Sky).

Sunshine has expanded their expert terrain in their last fifteen years to a point where it can compete with Lake Louise. For inbounds "scare-you" runs, sunshine might even have an edge. To make the most of the expert terrain at sunshine though, you require a beacon. Delerium Dive is a huge area with lines that range from a standard "double black" to technical lines with serious consequences.

As you can see, I have a hard time choosing one area to ski exclusively.

I am out every weekend and will be skiing all of my christmas break (i am a student). I will let you know when i think it is worth a trip. Nearby Kicking Horse has been getting a lot of snow recently (140 cm last week). The planned opening isn't until decemeber but it might be good bet from day-one.
post #11 of 25
I would suggest staying in Banff first. After you ski at Lake Louise, go to the hotel for an apres-ski drink and check it out.

From Banff you can ski at Sunshine and have lunch or a drink after skiing to check out the hotel there.

You have more dining choices, more bars, more ski shops, more varied ski town ambiance in Banff. You can also check out the Banff Springs Hotel - the stars should be arriving around then for the annual charity fund-raiser.

With staying only a max of four nights, its less packing and unpacking, checking in and checking out, after you've skied all day, to just stay in one hotel and have more fun time.
post #12 of 25
BOTH! Each one is really unique and it would be a crime to ski one and not the other.

Also, I don't think either is enough for 4 days. Unless you like repetition.
post #13 of 25
We did both a couple of years ago stayed in Banff skiied SSV then drove up to LL stayed at ahotel one night and got in two days there then back to Banff and did Norquay for a half day since we had free tickets.
For something special we went up to the "Hotel" and hit one of the wine bars and enjoyed wandering around a incredible 100 year old Hotel.
post #14 of 25

Lake Louise or Sunshine

Manchester, thanks for comments. If one stays in Banff is there a shuttle to Lake Louise, do you have to stay in a certain hotel etc. to get shuttle, how long a ride is it, does it beat driving?

Looking at the Satellite you BC folks should be getting snow now and we're going to get enough to open later today and tonight. whopee. I am ready to go.
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Well it turns out the Sunshine Lodge was booked and they would only give me a room for a minimum 3 night stay. I ended up booking 2 days at Fairmont Lake Louise and 2 days at Fairmont Banff Springs. I think I'll be ok. I was told Banff to Sunshine is like 20 minutes away. Can't wait.
post #16 of 25
Well you've certainly picked the best hotels, two classics from when they were known as the Canadian Pacific Rockies. Just make an offering to Ullr or Mother Hulda to ensure snow and you should be fine.
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnjantzie View Post
Well you've certainly picked the best hotels, two classics from when they were known as the Canadian Pacific Rockies. Just make an offering to Ullr or Mother Hulda to ensure snow and you should be fine.
When where they known as that? Do you mean Canadian Pacific Hotels?
post #18 of 25
Yes, they are old CP hotels. Enjoy the skiing, enjoy the hotels, bring your cameras.
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post
When where they known as that? Do you mean Canadian Pacific Hotels?
Canadian Pacific Rockies used to be an advertising slogan in the 1920's and 30's used by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Much of the initial tourism in the mountains here was essentially built by the CPR who even imported Swiss guides to assist guests in mountaineering. The Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise are part of that legacy. Savour the moment while you are staying there, because these are really two of the great historic hotels. Also try and get up for at least one swim in the upper hot springs.

Here are some vintage posters (since reproduced and available to buy on the net) of the two hotels.





as well as some vintage skiing posters:



http://imagecache2.allposters.com/im...ki-Posters.jpg
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnjantzie View Post
Also try and get up for at least one swim in the upper hot springs.
Awesome.Please tell me more about the hot springs.
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kid Eh View Post
Awesome.Please tell me more about the hot springs.
The original impetus for the creation of the National Park was when two railway workers in the 1880's discovered a hotspring and pool in a cave on Sulphur Mountain. They descended through a hole in the roof and an industry was born. The original Cave and Basin is now a historic and environmentally protected site (home to the snail darter and other species adapted to the warm water) and was closed as an active swimming pool in the late 1980's (I believe). The Upper Hot Springs which was developed somewhat later (probably in the 1930's) sits just above the base of the Sulphur Mountain sightseeing gondola. Pool temperature is usually around 39 to 40 degrees celsius, and it's a great way to ease muscle aches after a day on the slopes. There is also an undeveloped Middle Hot Springs which was reachable by trail and was the site of numerous nocturnal trysts, but it is now thoroughly wired up and under electronic monitoring to protect snails and other sensitive and unique aquatic life.

The changing rooms, spa, cafe, and gift shop are located in a building that is a fairly typical example of Canadian National Park architecture: granite, rundlestone, and large rough logs or beams. Since you are staying at the Banff Springs you'll see a lot of that anyway. There are three major developed hot springs in the Canadian Rockies parks, Banff, Radium (near Panorama), and Miette (in Jasper but closed during the winter season). If you are really into hotsprings and skiing (as I am) there is also a superb loop between Revelstoke, Whitewater, and Red Mountain that has Halcyon, Nakusp, and Ainsworth hot springs.

Here is the way they look today:



And here is the way they looked in 1932 when they opened:



The two best times to go into the hot springs are when it is snowing big fluffy flakes, or when it is 30 below and the ice and frost form in your hair while you are comfortably staying below water.

Enough on the hot springs yet?
post #22 of 25
I was there last weekend (14-15 November), and stayed at Chateau LL, which, no doubt is the most beautiful place around. I skiied Sunshine, as it had the most open, and it only took about 25 (freaking beautiful) minutes to get to.

Sunshine often has the best conditions, but in my opinion, is the lamest area in the vicinity due to the center section where everything from bunnies to backcountry gnar skiers end up in one cluster....

Stay at the Chateau and drive from there - not a major issue.
post #23 of 25
for some other stuff to do in banff talk to the girls at
banff adventures. They book (same price) for just about all other things to do in the area, plus lift tickets, lessons, etc

www.banffadventures.com (I think)
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho View Post
Manchester, thanks for comments. If one stays in Banff is there a shuttle to Lake Louise, do you have to stay in a certain hotel etc. to get shuttle, how long a ride is it, does it beat driving?

Looking at the Satellite you BC folks should be getting snow now and we're going to get enough to open later today and tonight. whopee. I am ready to go.
There is some shuttle info on the skibig3.com site. It looks like the shuttle stops at a lot of different hotels. If you stay at a different one, i am sure you can just walk to bus stop. I have never taken the shuttle but some friends staying in banff didn't seem to mind it.

The drive to sunshine is short and usually pretty easy. It is best to get there before 9 though. The parking lot tends to fill up on the weekends. With recent snowfall, the drive to LL is a little worse. The bow valley is mostly flat and straight but twinning of this section isn't complete and snow removal isn't great. That said, if you have a 4wd or winter tires it shouldn't be a problem. If i had my car in banff, i would drive.
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by manchester81 View Post
The drive to sunshine is short and usually pretty easy. It is best to get there before 9 though. The parking lot tends to fill up on the weekends. With recent snowfall, the drive to LL is a little worse. The bow valley is mostly flat and straight but twinning of this section isn't complete and snow removal isn't great. That said, if you have a 4wd or winter tires it shouldn't be a problem. If i had my car in banff, i would drive.
The lifts start at 9am but the gondola starts earlier - we were out last weekend and were in the parking lot by 8:45 and were within the first ten rows of cars. I wouldn't get there any later than that... plus the first few runs were pretty empty and the snow was fantastic.
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