Has anyone been to the Big 3 (Banff) Canada? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 09-14-2006   #1
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 29
Has anyone been to the Big 3 (Banff) Canada?

I was wondering if any of you have been to Banff to ski? How does it compare to Colorado and is one resort better than the others? Any tips or ideas for going up eh?


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Old 09-14-2006   #2
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Jun 2004
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I can't speak personally about the ski areas around Banff. But my buddy who lives up there says that he would rather ski in Little Cottonwood, or heli-ski in BC than ski in Banff. But the scenery is off the chain. If I was you, I would skip Banff in the winter, and go check it out next June when the local creeks are going. There is tons of great paddling within a 4-5 hour radius of Banff.
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Old 09-14-2006   #3
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I went there last year and was blown away. Will definatley be going back. Kind of like the rockies mixed with Alaska. All sorts of crazy big peaks that go forever and each range has their own personality. Little cottonwood is great (lived there), but a completely different type of mountain. Banff is a decent place to stay, but you have to travel to ski. Sunshine Village is kind of a pain in the ass, especially if you don't have a buddy with you. Almost all of their good terrain is beacon, shovel and partner required. Was there on a cold day and couldn't coordinate with anyone. Banff/Norquay. Didn't go there but you don't need to either. Lake Louise (1/2 -1 hour from Banff) sometimes gets a bit of a bad rap, but they have great skiing with very short hikes or right off the lift. Fairly comparable to Jackson and Utah, just not as much. All in all sweet though. Kicking Horse I think 2- 2 1/2 hours west can be epic. Its a mix of A-Basin and Jackson, with about twice as many inbounds chutes and steeps as Jackson. If the snow is good almost unbeatable lift service terrain in North America. Fernie is about three hours south of that. Great all around terrain very good inbounds and easy hike to. Didn't go to Rogers Pass, but lots of friends have. Nothing but great comments. To sum it up. GO!
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Old 09-14-2006   #4
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I was there for work a couple years ago and snuck in a day at Lake Louise & a day at Sunshine. I liked Sunshine quite a bit more, but guess it's up for debate. Part of that may have been time of year. I was there in April, and Sunshine is higher, so snow seemed better. I had no trouble finding a partner to ski the beacon/shovel/partner area at Sunshine - which offered some great terrain and snow.

I thought those areas were pretty comparable to Colorado skiing (except for all the people from Cananda and England), but they seeemed to have more sustained steeps available than you generally get out here. They also seem to be slow to catch on to tele skiing. So for those who tele, who used to feel unique and special until the Colorado backbowls became stuffed full of tele skis, there's your opportunity to relive your glory days.

There was a discussion on the buzz a while back about this. You might try a search.
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Old 09-14-2006   #5
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 342
I don't know about the skiing at Banff, but there's a great little 4 km playpark called the Kananaska River. The Canadian government took a relatively flat stretch of water and turned it into an Canadian kayak team olympic playground. It's beautiful ehh!! The park is dam controlled and runs usually between the hours of 10 AM and 3 PM year round... that way you can get your kayaking in the middle of winter. At least that's what the Calgary boaters say. I would highly recommend the river if your going to be in the area. Ehhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The people are really friendly too.
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Old 09-15-2006   #6
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Eagle, Colorado
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I went to Lake Louise and Sunshine last winter. The mountains are really nice and the scenary at LL is nuts. But, make sure they have a lot of snow. The coverage was less than preferred and up in Canada.. It seems that nothing is closed.. Not even w/ exposed rock and trees.

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Old 10-14-2006   #7
Ft. Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: May 2004
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I skiied at Sunshine, Lake Louise, and Kicking Horse for 1.5 weeks last winter with peaches. The biggest difference is the terrain, the Canadian Rockies are much steeper and have much more vertical than CO. The mtns are at a lower elevation but are more dramatic than here. Calgary is Canadian rockies front range equivalent of denver, as you go farther west into the mtns there is more and wetter snow.

I would recommend going to Kicking Horse BC for at least 1 or 2 days its only a few hours from Banff and its the best ski area Ive ever been to, they really only have 2 lifts and 1 gondola, the gondola gets you around 4,500 feet of vertical, the only ski area I could compare it to is Jackson, but i actually liked KH better than Jackson.

Also, if you're a very qualified BC skiier check out Rogers pass, it has some of the best BC skiing in North America.

Also, if you're looking for cheap lodging check out the hostels in the Banff national parks, they are stellar and reasonably priced.

Have fun, its definitley worth the trip!
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