Armed with a Ski Big 3 lift pass, we can pick and choose which hill to ride: Mount Norquay, Lake Louise or Sunshine Village Resort. And since we’re here for four days, we figure we’ll ski all three.
We’re on a three-generation ski trip. My wife, son and I flew to Calgary, picked up Grampa and headed to Banff for a week of skiing. Our son had never really skied in the mountains. We ski at Blue Mountain on a bi-weekly basis, and we’ve done a couple trips to Vermont and Quebec, but we’ve never skied really steep slopes. Banff seemed like the perfect basecamp from which to do so.
From the newly renovated (and totally awesome) Moose Hotel, we began our skiing adventure at Ski Big 3’s Mount Norquay. Only a 5-minute drive from downtown Banff, Mount Norquay didn’t deliver the greatest snow on our visit; to be honest, the snow was terrible. A long freeze/thaw cycle was not a representation of what Norquay has to offer, I’m sure. But it was a great intro to the mountains for my son. We did laps off the Mystic Express, before heading to lunch at the Cliffhouse Bistro. Built in the 1950’s this feat of engineering is the perfect spot to admire all that is Banff National Park. Stunning views accompanied a hearty soup and sandwich. The ski down was a real challenge for my boy, but after a few crashes (and some tears) on the steep terrain, we made it to the bottom.
On our next day we headed to the infamous Lake Louise; an integral part of the Ski Big 3 offering. A 40-minute drive from Banff, the Lake was socked in by low-lying cloud on the day we visited, making it tricky to see just how much terrain Lake Louise covers. We skied the Front Side the Back Bowls and Larch areas before getting sucked into the small terrain park below the Glacier Express. We hacked our way over the jumps, getting in the way of the park rats, but having a great time.
Sunshine Village Resort
When we visited Sunshine, the name didn’t disappoint; it was clear Bluebird for our entire day. Crossing into BC for the first time in his life on the Great Divide Express Quad, we were welcomed with stunning views of Mount Assiniboine and the ranges spreading out from Lookout Mountain. It was our son’s first real glimpse of terrain like this and he was instantly in love. We skied Tin Can Trees for most of the day and vowed to return for one more day on day four.
We’ll Be Back, Ski Big 3
My son will only be 7 once; it’s an amazing age, where he still wants to hang out with us and have fun with us. I’ll only be 41 once. My wife will only be 40 once and Grampa will only be 60 once. And they’re all wonderful ages; especially while skiing.
It’s a well-known fact that skiing is the greatest sport in the world. It brings family together in a way that nothing else could; it’s fun, challenging and accessible for all ages. And doing so in Banff National Park is as good as it gets. If ever you want a big family ski vacation full of everything good in the world, there’s no doubt about it, Banff is the place to do it.