Words and Photos by Dan Evans
Mt. Norquay is where skiing started in Banff back in 1926, and has been enticing skiers to its slopes visible from the Town of Banff for over 90 years now. It’s well known as the local’s hill for families and race teams, but it has many nooks and crannies that you might not expect.
North American Chair
This is where lift accessed skiing began. The Big Chair, as locals call it, has the classic valley-wide Banff views and Cliffhouse Bistro for skiers and sightseers at its summit. Its intimidating runs start at true black diamonds, and only go up (or down) from there. This two-seater is celebrating its 70th birthday this year, so feel free to sing on the way up.
Gun Run – 16b
Tucked away off the side of the famous Lone Pine, this expert trail drops into the shade on the North Facing side of the North American chair. Ski down the Lone Pine until you see the Gun tower that gives Gun run its creative name. Once into Gun Run, ski or ride your way down some steeps a few hundred metres to the creek run out below. Insider Tip: At the bottom of the first pitch, stay to the left and traverse over for a few extra sneaky powder turns on the South facing (Sunny side -16d)
The last of the lifts to be installed in an ambitious expansion for the resort in the 1980s, the Mystic high-speed quad services some amazing terrain that’s often forgotten by all but the craftiest of locals
FM1/FM2 – 40a/40b
These avalanche chutes are two of my favourite runs at Mt Norquay. When patrol gives the go-ahead, a short hike accessing these steep trails begins just beside the patrol hut at the top of Mystic. At the end of the hike, you come out of the forest to imposing cliffs on your right, and the goods to your left. It’s like being transported to another resort and one usually full of powder!
Fun Fact: Before Mystic quad was installed, locals used to traverse under the rock buttresses across from the Cliffhouse to get into this bowl. If you look from Mystic you can still see the smaller trees growing in above #30 Rob’s Run, which also used to be a hike only accessed run.
Goat / Sheep Chute – 40d
Sun Chutes is a popular run accessed under the Mystic lift line, a little way down the same ridgeline facing back towards Spirit chair. It’s steep and open runs face the south and see a lot of sun year round. If you hold off the first entrance and work your way about halfway down the liftline, you’ll find the Sheep Chutes entrance around tower 10. A quick traverse over gets you to a run that even some locals don’t know about!
NEED SOME HELP GETTING THERE?
SkiBig3’s Guided Adventures program can help you out. Our certified snow pros take you to the best secret stashes and provide local knowledge on resort terrain and Banff National Park. Need more convincing? Here are three reasons to join Guided Adventures on your next ski trip to Banff and Lake Louise.