On March 7th, 2020, we flew to Calgary, Alberta, where we met up with the Chagrin Valley Ski Club for a week of skiing in Banff. Founded in 1883 near a proposed Canadian Pacific Railway tunnel site, the first town, 3 km from present-day Banff, was know as “Siding 29”. The town of Banff is located within the Rocky Mountains mountain range, at 4,639ft above sea level, within Banff National Park. The town is built around Tunnel Mountain, We stayed at the Banff Ptarmigan Inn in downtown Banff. with a great view of Tunnel Mountain. Bob was not able to snowboard on this trip so I went with the girls to ski at Banff Sunshine Village, located on the Continental Divide of the Canadian Rockies within Banff National Park in Alberta and Mt Assiniboine Provincial Park in British Columbia. We took the free Mountain Tour and were able to see the whole area with our guide. It was a beautiful blue bird day and the views of the Rockies was impressive as well as the skiing. The next day we skied at The Lake Louise Ski Resort, it is one of the largest and most scenic ski resorts in North America. The resort is situated on the southern slopes of the Slate Range, between the heights of Mount Richardson, Ptarmigan Peak, Pika Peak and Redoubt Mountain, all around 10,000ft above sea level. Lake Louise has been a home to skiing since the 1920s, the first lift was constructed in 1954, and a poma was added in 1960. It is a beautiful mountain to ski and we took the free Mountain Tour again and were able to ski most of the area.
We went for dinner one night at the Fairmont Banff Springs (Banff Springs Hotel), a historic hotel located near the southern boundary of Banff in Banff National Park, and overlooks a valley towards Mount Rundle. The hotel opened in 1888 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, as one of the earliest of Canada’s grand railway hotels. It was a fabulous dinner with Karen, Kim and Bruce, Al and girlfriend, and Bob and I.
The final day of skiing we went to Mt Norquay, where the first ski runs date back as far as 1926, with the opening of the lodge in 1929. Rope tows were installed in 1942, and the mountain was the second in Canada to install a chairlift in 1948. We wanted to ski all three of the world-class resorts: Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Mt Norquay, known as SkiBig3, so we could get a badge and a beer in Bannf. It was a really cold day and some of the girls were too cold and went inside, but Sylvia and I braved the cold and had some fantastic runs together, without any crowds because of the weather. Click on thumbnail to view images
CVSC Ski Trip to Banff, Alberta
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
On our day off from skiing we went to visit the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise to explore and have lunch. The Hotel was originally built at the turn of the 20th century by the Canadian Pacific Railway, built to function only in summer, the hotel was winterized in 1982; and now offers skiing/snowboarding, ice skating, sleigh rides around the lake, ice sculpture contests and snowshoe excursions. There were fantastic ice sculptures so big we could walk through them. Click on thumbnail to view images
Bob took a day to drive the Icefields Parkway, a 140 mile long scenic road that parallels the Continental Divide, traversing the rugged landscape of the Canadian Rockies, traveling through Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. It is named for the features such as the Columbia Icefield, visible from the parkway. In 1931, the federal government commissioned the construction of a single-track road between Lake Louise and Jasper. The road was completed in 1940, but with the increase in automobile traffic, in 1961, a reconstructed paved and modern highway was opened.Click on thumbnail to view images
Johnston Canyon, carved steeply into the limestone bedrock by thousands of years of water erosion, is one of the most popular destinations in Banff National Park, and we decided to take a day off skiing to explore its beauty. We had to wear cleats on our boots in order to be able to walk along the icy trail. There were catwalks along the trail affixed to the limestone cliffs overhanging the creek to be able to go deeper into the Canyon, and we stopped at several viewing platforms to look at the cascading water. At the Upper Johnston Falls there is a platform overhanging the gorge and looks across to the top of the falls that drop a dramatic 40 meters, where we took several photos of the ice climbers on the ice wall. The trail is only a 3.1 mile round trip, and well worth the time and scenery to go the whole way to the Upper Falls. Click on thumbnail to view images
Banff Gondola and Hot Springs and Kootenay National Park
The Banff Gondola is a must experience while staying in Banff. Bob, Karen and I took the gondola up Sulphur Mountain to enjoy the 360-degree views of the six mountain ranges and the sweep of the Bow Valley from the Sulphur Mountain summit. On July 18, 1959 the Sulphur Mountain Gondola officially opened. It was the first bi-cable gondola in North America and the first gondola of any kind in Canada.
Karen, Bob and I went to visit the Banff Hot Springs, founded in 1883 by three rail workers who stumbled across hot water and steam flowing out of a cave on the lower slopes of what is now known as Sulphur Mountain. The water in the Banff Upper Hot Springs is heated geothermally, bubbling up to the surface from 1.8 miles into the earth’s crust. The natural temperature of the water that emerges at the Upper Hot Springs outlet varies depending on the season. In the winter, the temperature is as hot as 116 degree F., and it was magical to sit in the pools watching the snow fall on the surrounding peaks.
Bob and I drove to Kootenay National Park on my day off skiing. It is located in southeastern British Columbia, created in 1920. The Continental Divide is the boundary between the Kootenay and Banff National Park boundary, as well as the BC-Alberta border. The main attraction of the park include Radium Hot Springs, the Painted Pots, Sinclair Canyon, Marble Canyon and Olive Lake. Click on thumbnail to view images