SkiBig3 Powder Dispatch

Film by Daniel Thomson.

In Banff National Park, consistent powder days have graced the mountains month-by-month. We haven’t gone too long without a blessing from the snow gods, and in February alone our resorts saw record snowfalls – in some cases the most in over 20 years.

The 2017/18 winter season has been good to us, with an excellent foundation to carry us straight through into the long and sunny days of spring. The month of March traditionally sees the biggest snowfall, so we’re confident our ski season will carry on strong until the scheduled closing date and annual Slush Cup Celebration, May 21st, at Banff Sunshine.

SkiBig3 Ambassador Alex Armstrong is well-seasoned in shredding pow days the best ways. A ski patroller and coach for a free ride program, she knows the resorts like the back of her mitts, and has perfected the ins and outs of any condition. If there’s a big pow day on the way, you’re sure to find her powder posse prepped and ready to shred. Here’s her dispatch from a big powder day earlier this season:

Words by Alexandra Armstrong

It’s 8:30am on a Tuesday at Lake Louise Ski Resort. Both lift lines for the Grizzly Gondola and Glacier Chair, the two main arteries from the base area, have merged. There’s a cast of characters who Mother Nature smiled good fortunes upon – clusters of salty seasoned locals, bright eyed school kids and ecstatic out-of-towners. Word’s out. SkiBig3’s Lake Louise is officially Pow-Town. 

Lake Louise Ski Resort with Larch in the background.
Photo by Travis Rousseau.

The ever optimistic called for a storm to touch down Monday night and puke a flurry of flakes totalling upwards of 8 inches (20cm). In classic Banff and Lake Louise fashion, the storm came with wind, lots of wind. Word from the Avalanche Crew is that even the storm boards nestled snuggly in a protected and treed area have wind effect. On the low side of the boards there are 4.5″ and on the high side 8”. They round it to an even 7”. With that knowledge and the predominate west winds, the back bowls and Lake Louise’s prime powder terrain will be loaded with waist deep cold smoke. 

ER and Summit Platter at Lake Louise Ski Resort
Photo by Travis Rousseau.

Fuelled by stoke, caffeine and adrenaline from the white-knuckle drive to the hill, the buzz in base area is palpable. As the crowds grow, gathering squads – like powder generals – start strategizing plans of attack to achieve maximum rope drops and face shots. As the snow revellers move up the mountain, skiing becomes a real-life game of Chutes and Ladders.

Deep powder shot by Travis Rousseau
Photo by Travis Rousseau.

At the top of every upper mountain lift, the risk-reward question emerges. Do I stay and wait for a rope-drop into the full glory of the back-side bowl, or quickly loop another tasty front-side lap? My squad, a gang of teenage rippers I coach, makes a calculated risk electing a fast lap.

Summit platter skiers at Lake Louise.
Photo by Travis Rousseau.

As we near the summit of the aptly named Top of the World Lift, we look west toward Whitehorn 1, a picturesque and previously untouched summit peak. My heart sinks, there are already hordes of skiers descending. We missed it. Erin, one of the teenage girls, remorsefully looks towards the skiers making glorious tracks down the 1000ft pitch. “I know how that feels and it’s awesome.”

Deep powder skier by Travis Rousseau
Photo by Travis Rousseau.

Inspired by a solid case of FOMO, we decide not to risk it again and stay on the summit of Top of the World, waiting it out for the coveted rope-drop for ER7. Rocket Miller, the Mountain Ops Manager, rolls by and flicks open the gate. We pile in, this time rewarded with a glorious waist-deep drop into the ‘white room’. 

Extreme skiing by Travis Rousseau
Photo by Travis Rousseau.

Ready to bring your own powder posse to the SkiBig3 resorts? Call our in-Banff SkiBig3 Vacation Planners today at 1-844-754-2443  or plan your Canadian Rockies ski vacation online. Great Ski & Stay Packages available now.

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A skier enjoys fresh powder at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, January 2018.