Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Halloween in Banff

Halloween a holiday we normally don’t put much effort into celebrating in Europe - Or where I’m from at least. But when I got over here in 2010 and had my first Halloween in Banff, I soon discovered it’s not just a party-day, NO, everyone takes the costume part of Halloween very serious.
I had my first day of work on a Friday, Halloween was on a Sunday, which putted me in a dilemma, when my boss told us that the people who showed up drunk on our second day of work, the Monday after Halloween, would be fired. So I decided not to dress up and stay rather sober. Which honestly was really boring. So year 2012 with all the great Gap Year Canada people had to count for something.

First of all, I got myself a costume, not the best or most creative, I was a Pink Crayola… And the Cedar House, where I was living, is a great house with great people, and we decided to have our own little exclusives-club of a pre-drinking party for Halloween. I was amazed with all the great and different costumes people came up with, very colourful indeed.
And another thing I was amazed by was the amount of booze that the Cedar people could drink before 10.30pm, where most decided to go to Will Bills. I think until this day, Halloween 2012 have been the best party and pre-drinking I’ve ever had in Banff, and that says a lot since I’ve already had a winter season in Banff and spend all summer here.

So all in all I just want to say THANK YOU Gap Year Canada and Cedar House, for an amazing couple of weeks, and one of the best endings I could ever have wished for at my Internship and stay here in Banff!
One thing though, If I should anything bad about this Halloween, it would be; I regret, that I didn’t leave Cedar House early enough, so that I could have celebrated Halloween with the rest of the Gap Year Canada at Will Bills. Where I was not allowed in because of a massive line-up at 11pm.
Note to myself and everyone else who are thinking of being here for Halloween 2013, go out earlier than 11pm.  

Monday, 22 October 2012

Snow - Finally

So, finally we got some snow here in Banff, which all of us hopefully are more than stoked about. That means that it is time to go snowboarding and skiing soon, and that you guys will start work soon, if you haven’t already. It’s going to be an epic season out here – I can already feel it.
-      Yes, I must admit that I am SO f***ing jealous of all of you guys right now. I got a bit less than 2 weeks left here in Banff, and I wont even get time to shred some pow pow before I leave.
So for all of you lucky people who are staying out here in Banff, you better take advantage of all the snow Banff is getting, else I’ll come get ya! .

But to be honest, I am just glad that I got to see the snow on all the mountains before I left. Everything is so much prettier out here when it’s covered with the white fluffy crystals we are calling snow.
And you probably can’t wait for winter to start right now, eventhough I’ve heard people are already complaining about the cold… HAHA… in 6 months when it’s like today, +2 deg Celsius and sunny with a chance of snow (typical mountain weather), you’ll be walking around in t-shirts and have a laugh over all the tourists who has layered up and are freezing like you are now.  And for me it still looks a tiny bit funny when I see all of you marching around in all of your ski and snowboard gear in October – we only got a couple of inches of snow and are just below freezing point. – I admit that I’m wearing a lot of clothes myself, summer made me weak, but I’ll not fully dress up to just go outside a door. Wait for it, it’s going to be much much colder!

But let’s enjoy my last two weeks. I hope to meet as many as possible before I go, and remember to enjoy Banff and all the snow you’ll get here. I’ll miss this place whenever I’m not here. And I really hope that you will have as fun as a season as I had 2 years ago – or maybe even more fun.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Day 5

I've been in Banff about 5 days now after being on the longest flight I've ever taken to date, it wasn't as bad as I was expected and with the in-flight entertainment it went relatively quickly. 

I love Banff it is easily one of the most beautiful places I have ever been let alone lived. I am living on Grizzly Street, in a house a short walk from the centre of town with pretty amazing views. This is the view from our street.

Yesterday we rented a huge 7 seater Ford Flex for $150 and went on a road trip to Lake Louise and the surrounding areas, we took the Bow Valley Parkway instead of the highway and it was definitely worth the longer drive time. It's a beautiful winding road which traces the river and the rail tracks for about 60km and there is plenty of wildlife and views along the way.

When we got to Lake Louise the temperature drop was massive in comparison to Banff and we even had some snow fall as we were there, even though it was pretty cloudy and not much blue sky or sun to be seen it was a pretty breath taking sight. We also tried to see Lake Moraine, a slightly lesser known lake in the area, unfortunately even though major snow is yet to fall the access road was closed off.

On the way back from the Lake Louise area we again decided to take the Parkway route over the highway as earlier on we had seen our first black bear of the season and were keen to see another, unfortunately we weren't as lucky the second time round but we did see a large Elk who wasn't too camera shy and didn't seem to mind us being within 10m of him. Done so much cool stuff over the last few days, seen a lot, can't wait to get a clean shot of a grizzly.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Arriving in Canada

So guys, I know there’s hundreds of questions, and that you are a little nervous to leave home… But honestly there is nothing to be worried about. Canadians are the sweetest and most helpful people (probably in the world), or that is just how I find them. So I’m gonna tell you a little about what you’ll be needing when you are arriving to Calgary.
First of all, yes it is exciting, and I know you can’t help it, I was a bit anxious the first time I got over here, to Canada, as well.  But as long as you aren’t lying on the declaration form you have to fill out on the plane and you’ve got your working holiday form printed out and an updated passport you should be pretty good.
You’ll arrive to Calgary Airport, have the declaration form, passport and working holiday paper ready when you go through customs.
- Then they’ll probably ask you: “What you are going to do in Canada?”
- You’ll answer: “I’ve got a working holiday visa” (and then show the custom-guy)
- And then you’ll continue: “I’m here on a gap year program with Gap Year Canada, where I’ve pre paid my accommodation and already got a job with … bla bla … and so on…
- Then the custom guy will probably just say something like: “Alrighty, you sound like you are ready to go through immigrations, it’s that way…”

Okay, this is maybe a bit of a short version of what will happen when you go through customs, but they are normally really nice and helpful, and as long as you have got you passport, working holiday paper and declaration form with you, there shouldn’t be any problems at all. You all got everything set up prior to your arrival, and if you are one of those people, who gets super nervous take a little note with you with the address of your house and Gap Year Canada’s information.

Immigration are pretty much just a loooooong boooooring wait to get up to another counter where you’ll have to then repeat all that you just said to the guy in customs and then get your visa printed and stapled to your passport.
So honestly there’s nothing to really be worried about… It takes a bit of time getting through the first time… and it is boring… but other than that, you should not worry at all.

When you’re done with all the customs and immigration stuff, you go get your suitcase and then walk through the doors out to the rest of Calgary Airport, which is not at all that exciting or busy as airports could be. Then you just take a right turn, and walk up to the Brewster information desk, which is maybe a 50 meter walk…. And the people working there are super nice and helpful, they will help you with your airport transfer. And if you missed your transfer, they will just book you for the next one. So there is again no worries to be later or that you have to hurry or anything if you plane arrived a bit later than scheduled or immigration just took ages to get through.
There will always be a next bus that you can get on, so the worst that can actually happen is, that you will have to wait a couple of hours in Calgary airport for the next transfer… Which isn’t too bad.
When you are on the bus, you’ll have around one and a half hour drive out to Banff, and you’ll be dropped of outside the house you’re going to live for the next 8 months or so…

So really… It’s not that bad at all… Just take it easy, and don’t lie to the customs or immigration people… they probably won’t like that. And then you should be in Banff in no time! Can’t wait to have you all here in Banff! 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Prior to your arrival

Yes, I know this is a bit boring, but I’ll try to do my best and make this as FUN as can be :)


You’ll hopefully arrive at Calgary International Airport at some point. Ensure which ever carrier you use, that you check baggage allowance, and change in flight fees. Often we have many participants that decide to extend their stay for the summer. So maybe just don’t buy that return ticket before you know that you’ll be needing it. I fell in love with Banff, that’s why I’m back here now, and stayed until late July before I had to go back to Denmark and Uni after my winter season.

Travel Insurance

An important thing to have! Compare prices to ensure you have good coverage, and you are covered for snow sports for the duration of our winter season, early November to the end of May. Use the facebook group to connect with others while researching best options and pricing for insurance. Those that have a working holiday visa are eligible for Alberta Heathcare and you can apply (it is no charge) when you arrive. Alberta Healthcare will cover doctors, and hospitals but not presecriptions, dental work, or ambulance (touch wood none of you will need one!). For the few Danes out there, I can gladly recommend Europæiske, www.er.dk. (maybe you can use them as well if you’re English)


Some of you will be away for up to a year, maybe even longer, So, it’s probably worthwhile getting to the dentist and doctor for a check up prior to departure to ensure you are in good health, which could save costs in dentist/doctor visits here in Canada. It’s just a thought.

Airport arrivals & transfer details

Airport transfers from the Calgary International Airport directly to your chalet in Banff will be scheduled the first week of October. Please post your flight details into the file in the group on the Facebook group.

Arrival Details

When you finally get to Banff we will meet with all of you to run through the essentials to ensure you are prepared for the season. Social events will be posted through Facebook to everyone in the group so you can meet and connect. So if you have any ideas for things that you would like to do, please tell me, then I’ll try to arrange something.

We will ensure all of you are set up with local Social Insurance Numbers, a bank for employers to pay wages into and if applicable, Alberta Healthcare which will keep your insurance claims to a minimum.

Bla bla bla.. I know it gets a bit boring, but it’s good to know, isn’t it?

Parcels & Mail

There is no home delivery in Banff, Post Office Box can be set up and a key can be shared amongst the group, or anyone can send parcels and post to:
                Your Name
                General Delivery
                Banff Post Office
                Banff, Alberta
                T1L 1H1
General Delivery mail requires you to go in person with your ID to collect post or packages, they will hold post and packages for two weeks.


It is kinda wise to bring a picture ID to use when you’re go out in the evenings and have an alternative to carrying your passport. And a passport just isn’t the coolest thing to run around with when you’re drunk… If you have a drivers license, bring it, so you can keep valuables like your passport safe at home.

Mobile/Cell phones

If you have a newer unlocked phone you can bring it with you and get a SIM card in Banff to hook you onto the network without having to set up year long contracts.  Otherwise there are pay as you go options through Rogers, and Virgin Mobile. Although a mobile phone is not necessary, it seems many people have not lived without one for many years!

AND one last thing, Please bring an extra police clearance, sometimes your employee would like to have a copy, don’t ask me why, you need a clean record to get your visa…. Hmm…

My suitcase isn’t big enough!

My suitcase isn’t big enough!
Yea I know, I thought the same thing, when I was moving out here for my first season. So I OVERPACKED, stuffed my suitcase and my all-in-one ski bag to bursting levels.


Packing for a full season or year, yes it’s difficult, especially with the stupid baggage and weight restrictions on airlines these days! But use it, think this is my new best friend, because if you are bringing all the stuff that you really want to, you are going to smack yourself after a month, when you get here. Because who really needs all the stuff that they have in their closet? I didn’t!

I brought a stuffed suitcase, just under the weight limit of 20kg… which was fine… BUT, I just got myself a pair of skies, new boots and all that crap, because I really wanted to be ready for this season. And of course I was not just going to carry around a pair of skies and a pair of boots in the airport, No, I bought a BIG all-in-one skibag too, where my poles, boots, helmet, and avalanche gear could fit. Then I stuffed that bag as well with 30kg of gear. Mainly just ski gear, all brand new or from my season in France. 2 jackets, 2 pairs of skiing pants, 10 pairs of skiunderwear and middlelayers of different thickness, and yea, I don’t even know what I couldn’t find a good reason to bring, because it’s going to be sooooo cold in Canada. (I needed an excuse to bring all the stuff I thought I would need)
But to be honest, looking back, you only really need one set of good ski wear, if you got an outdoor job maybe bring an extra set of warm underwear. But you are coming to Banff, not going to the end of the world, where you’re out of reach from any kind of clothing store.
So pack your suitcase like you’re going on a 1-week skiing holiday in France rather than paying for excess luggage.

Banff is a casual environment, you won’t need much, and washing machines are in all of the houses so try and repack and sort your luggage before you go.
Though! Remember to make room for a towel, pillow and fitted sheet. All the chalets are all fully furnished and have wireless internet, So, what more do you really need then?


If you have your own gear, it is worthwhile bringing! BUT, if not, wait until you’re in Banff to shop. There are great deals on ex-rentals, which are perfect to learn and use(or wreck) at the beginning of the season. And throughout the season you will improve so much, that you will probably buy whatever new gear you will fancy anyways. I did! Mmm, Big Fat POWDER skiis.
There are also a few gear swaps at the beginning of the season, which is a great source for inexpensive skiis and snowboards. And Banff has some pretty sick shops, and lots of variety for warm layers that you will use all season, and we definitely have better bootfitters and gear knowledge than most English, Danish or other non-skiarea-local shops has.

SO, what I’m trying to say is; pack light, wait to buy you gear until you’ve been out here for a while and you know, what exactly you want.  

Thursday, 16 August 2012


Freeskiing.dk is a Danish blog about freeskiing and skiing in general. They hope to raise or increase their readers interest for skiing. They love skiing and to write about skiing and they hope to make even more Danes aware of the joys of skiing. Freeskiing.dk tries to cover as many aspects of skiing as possible, whether it's how to do your cork 7, how to ski deep powder or how to initiate a carving turn for beginner. It's all about skiing and the people, at Freeskiing.dk, just love skiing.

And that's why we got a chance to post an article about skiing in Banff:


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Mt. Rundle

Notes to myself: (Before starting to hike a 9-10 hour advanced hike/climb)
  • Cut your toenails, walking down a mountain for 3-4 hours putting pressure on your toes, it’s not pleasant, you might loose a couple! (I got 2 blue nails)
  • Blister bandage, hiking/climbing up hill for 5-6 hours are putting a lot of pressure on your heels, result if your are not prepared, an inch diameter big blisters on each heel.
  • Hike Sulphur 10 times before, so that you can do it without any needs of a break. And then mentally get ready for something 10 times as hard!
  • And Juice/vitamin water/energy drink just doesn’t kill thirst as good as water!

Okay, I think that I would be ready now, if I knew this in advance of my Mt. Rundle hike. But… I didn’t, so I just putted on my hiking boots, brought 2 litres of juice (I thought the sugar would be a good thing), and half a litre of water and a vitamin drink. 3 litres of drinkable stuff, sounds good to me. Sandwiches, granola bars, trail-mix, and fruit were packed nicely in my backpack with bug spray, sunscreen, bear-spray, gloves, and a soft-shell. Honestly I didn’t think I could be more ready than I was. But I was wrong!

My sweet hike on Mt. Rundle

We started out nice and early in the morning, and were on Banff Springs Golf Court at 9am Sunday the 5th of August 2012. I was so ready to hike Mount Rundle, I have thought of this day since my first season in Banff, and how sweet it could be to say, “I’ve been on the top of that mountain!”

The first part is nice and easy, it was a bit steeper than I expected, but easy and doable, and it was nice and cool in the morning shade. The first 2 hours were manageable easy, I were in need of few breaks to catch my breath, but nothing that scares me, compared to what would come! After a good two hour hike we got to point , and the terrain of the trail changed from a normal good hiking trail to more of a scramble, it was hiking up hill, just step for step. It was from this point I started to get exhausted. But didn’t feel like giving up.
➍ The forest ridge was to me a pretty hard hike, I needed some breaks, but I was eager to get to the top or just get out of the trees, so that we could see the summit at least, and the thought of turning around was not even crossing my mind (yet). When we finally got above the tree line I was a bit shocked that we weren’t closer to the summit. Must admit that the thoughts “OMG, I’m never gonna make it to the top!” crossed my mind. But we continued…
➎ The dragon’s back scared me! Not that I think I gave that expression, but I suffer from a bad fear of heights, and the thought of you’re scrambling around on loose rock pieces and half a meter on each side of you there is a f******* drop. I was pretty focused, I was not going to fall anywhere. I was on all four making sure that I wasn’t loosing my balance. It didn’t really help that I was exhausted and the sun was backing me a live!  It was on this patch that I was starting to doubt if I was ever going to make it all the way to the top!
I think that we spend 4 hours if not more from point to the point where the trail turns to the right just before you reach the summit. It is possibly the hardest most exhausting thing that I have ever done before in my life. And I’m not sure if I will ever do that to myself again, even tough already today, 2 days after it doesn’t seem like the worst thing. I remember that I was telling myself, that I needed to write this blog post while I still remembered how horrible I felt that day, I should probably have done it that day. Because right now I might be able to be convinced to hike it again. Because it is a pretty cool thing to say you’ve hiked/climbed a mountain, and you feel pretty good about yourself, when you get over the I’m-so-sore-I-can’t-move-period. And the view from the top of a mountain is just a thing that can’t be described, not even by showing the pictures, it’s a feeling of accomplishment and a extraordinary view that’s only for the few that actually gets to the top!
- But just because I say now, that I might be convinced to hike Rundle again, don’t get disappointed if I’m not going to hike it with you in October, when you get here. I might need to wait a year or two before I try to hike Mount Rundle again. But If my nice hiking friend Oscar was still here in Banff by October, he would probably have done it with you, he was keen on doing it again the next day! I think he left his head on the top of Rundle! He's a crazy person!


If you got a car for the day

Two of my ‘must see’-places here in Banff National Park is a short drive outside of Banff. This is a good reason to befriend someone with a car or spend the money it costs to rent one for a day or two.

Johnston Canyon

Lower Falls
It’s a 20 minutes drive from Banff towards Lake Louise. The first time I was out there was in my first week here in Banff, where I was deadly bored, just living at the HI Hostel, and we pretty much didn’t do anything else but drink (the first couple of weeks, or my 3 first weeks, where I was just waiting and waiting to get started with the winter season, start my job being a lifty at Sunshine Village, tend to get a bit boring and expensive!).
SO! One day, two of the amazing girls that I got to know in the first week of my stay here in Banff, rented a car and started touring around to all these cool places that you need a car to get to. We started out with Johnston Canyon, which is this long passage with walls of stone rising up on each side of you and this amazing clear turquoise-blue water below you.
It is hard to describe how beautiful it is walking around out there.
When I brought my mom out there this summer, and she have not heard of it before, she was doubting if it was worth the time, when she only had few days in Banff and wanted them to be the best, and see all the most important things that Banff has to offer. But even though she has been here before, and thinks she knows a lot about Banff I brought her out to Johnston Canyon, it’s a place you just need to see.
Upper Falls
My mom didn’t regret it at all, she kept saying that it was the most amazing place she has ever seen, and that she was so glad that I brought her there. And I loved being back, it always changes from time to time, and the first time I was there I spent an hour or so just walking to the Lower Falls and back. When I was there with my mom we decided to walk all the way out to the Upper Falls, because she didn’t believe that we could spend half an hour on walking 1.1km. We spent around 3 hours on walking around out there taking pictures and just enjoying the most spectacular scenery I’ve seen in Canada. The route to the Upper Falls is only 2.7km, 5.4km roundtrip. You can choose to walk even further out if you have the time. I haven’t done it yet, but will definitely be up for it!
On the way back from Johnston Canyon this summer was also the place I saw my first bear of this season. So, I definitely recommend that you visit Johnston Canyon sometime while you’re staying in Banff.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise
Living in Banff you’ll have to visit Lake Louise at some point, if not to see the Fairmont Hotel and the view over the lake and glacier, then at least to ski there. I will recommend though, that you go before the snow falls, or when the snow has melted again. It gives a better view over the glacier, so that it doesn’t just look like a big pile of snow on the mountaintops.
This summer I hiked up the Lake Agnes Tea House, which is a really easy and nice hike. You get the view over Lake Louise and the glacier a bit from above, and you get to Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes, which are so beautiful too. I really can’t emphasize this enough, but I think it is SO important that you get out and hike as much as possible to see the extraordinary nature that you are going to live in. The Lake Agnes Tea House is closed from the 10th of October until start of June though, but bring your own lunch, and have a little picnic with good friends at Lake Agnes, or if you are still on Banff in June you could hike up there and get a nice bite of food or a cup of tea.
Lake Agnes
The hike is about 7km roundtrip, and took me about an hour to hike up and about the same amount of time to hike down. We enjoyed a nice cup of tea in the Tea House, where there is no electricity, so they heat up the tea over an old fire-stove and all the food that they are selling up there the people who works there are carries up every day, by the same trail you might hike up there by. So respect to the guys and girls who are working up there all summer long!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Easy Hikes To Kill The Time

The Banff area has lots of small easy hikes that you can easily do in a day, when you’re just a bit bored and want to get to now the local area better. I’m not going to give you a boring trail description that you can get from one of the many the hiking folders you can pick up at the info centre. I’m going to describe my first attempt on these trails/hikes.

Tunnel Mt.

The first couple of weeks I was trying to get use to the altitude here in Banff, compared to my 80 meters above sea level at home in Denmark. I see my self being pretty fit, but that appeared false, when you bring me up to 1300 meters above sea level. My roommate who have lived here in Banff since the winter season start in October was going to hike Tunnel Mt. and I was keen on going with him, because Tunnel was one of the few hikes that I didn’t get around to, when I lived in Banff the last time.

Tom Bob and I were just hiking at a normal pace, towards the trail start. Tom Bob was explaining to me how the start of Tunnel Mountain trail probably would scare some people of, who aren’t used to hiking at higher altitudes. That comforted me a bit, when we got to the upper parking lot. I was already dying, if it was because of the 30 degrees heat on that day or just the 200 meters walk from the lower parking lot to the upper parking lot, I am not sure (I blame it on the altitude and heat now that I have hiked it a couple of times, and easily get to the top without breaks). But that day I had to take several breaks whenever we got to a nice shady place on the trail. When I look back on it, it is a bit embarrassing that I had to stop every 5-10 minutes to have something to drink and catch my breath. It normally takes half an hour or so to the top, that day I think we spent 45 minutes.
When we FINALLY made it to the top we had a nice break in the sun, had a little sunbathing session, and enjoyed the amazing view over Banff town and the surrounding mountains.

The walk down of Tunnel Mountain was easy and I enjoyed it compared to the hike up that day. And I on the way down promised my self that before I leave Banff in November I will be able to run up that little mountain, that took my the breath away from on my first hike. (I can tell you already now a month later I can easily hike it without needing any breaks – and in a pretty good pace, so I hope that I will be able to run it before I leave!)
But I’m looking forward to hike Tunnel Mt. with some of the coming seasoners for the winter season 2012-2013, and know that I will not be judgmental, because I can still remember my first time. 

Sulphur Mt.

The first time I hiked Sulphur Mt. was in March 2011, there was still a foot of snow on the trail, but my best friend was here visiting from Denmark, and I wanted to show her as much of Banff as possible, so of course she had to see Banff from above.
I remembered Sulphur Mt. being so hard, that I would probably never do it again. But the two of my roommates were hiking it 3 days later than I had hiked up Tunnel Mt. and I could not resist walking with them, when they agreed to wait for me, if I felt like dying again.

Again it was a stupidly hot day, 27 degrees, so we brought lots of water, and got ready for the hike. We walked downtown to take the bus out to the start of the trail (only because we’re lazy, but I would recommend doing that), it is a long walk out to the trail and gondola.
The first 2 kilometres/30 minutes of Sulphur Mt. did not cause me a hard time at all. It was hot, yes, and we needed some breaks to just drink some water but we were not exhausted. After the 2.3 kilometres we came to a little detour trail, we could see people walking around out there and decided to try it out, we were in good spirit, and I had not been complaining a bit about the hike yet. Actually I was doing really well. When we got to the end we saw a little spring, where we filled up all our water bottles with icecold spring water, SWEET, and we put our heads under to cool down a bit from the heat that was surrounding us.

After the little break we were more than ready for the rest of our hike, we were close to be half way, if we should believe the trail sign in the bottom that says 5.4km to the top.
I remember the last half an hour out of the 1 and a half hour being the hardest. So we have done a 3rd part of the trail we concluded and started hiking again. Easypeasy hike the follow half an hour, but when we hit that 4km point, where the trail has a steeper point we all started to get tired, and I was for the first time in the need of a break to catch my breath. It was good to know that there was only 1.4km left, and we could continue in high spirit.
I started a trail tracker/GPS when we started the hike at the gondola/bottom of Sulphur Mt. and I am still not sure, if my GPS is fucked or the trail sign at the bottom is telling the wrong distance, because the sign said 5.4km my GPS said 7.03km to the top. No matter what, we got a bit frustrated when my GPS passed the 6km mark, and we were still not at the top. But no way that we were turning around now, we could at least see the top, and it only took us another 15minutes to get up the last 1km. So my second time on Sulphur Mt was a good hike and definitely easier than the first and than I remember it.
When we got up there we walked around to the different viewpoints and just enjoyed the view and sun, just chilled out. We spent a bit less than 1 and a half hour on this 7km or 5.4km hike, and I’m gladly doing it again, know that I’ve erased the first horrible time I hiked Sulphur from my memory.

After we had enjoyed the sun for half an hour and got a bit to eat in the cafeteria at the top of Sulphur Mt. we decided to walk down on the opposite site of Sulphur Mt. to try something new. (Again the sign isn’t really that correct if I should believe what my GPS says. Sign: 8-something, GPS 10km to down town Banff, 11km to Cedar House.)
It is a REALLY beautiful way to walk down, there’s no trees around the trail like on the opposite site, where most people hike Sulphur from, so the view is just amazing. It is harder to walk down then you would think though. After our little spontaneous “let’s hike Sulphur Mt.” and then ended up with hiking Sulphur Mt. and walking down the other site, in total 7km of hiking up, 11km of walking down, plus how much we walked around on the top…… I was DEAD! I went straight to bed at 9pm., fell asleep and the day after I was so sore. But I will definitely do it again, if anyone is up for it!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

My review of the 3 mountains

If you are living in Banff, but not working at any of the 3 ski resorts that are close by, I would say, that it is a good idea to have either The Rocky Mountain Lift Pass, so that you can use most of the resorts in The Rocky Mountains, or another opportunity is the BIG3 lift pass which is to Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise, the 3 resorts in the Banff area (Which also gives you discount at some other resorts).

I worked at Sunshine Village in the winter 2010/2011, and I will try to give you a description of what I think of the 3 mountains here in Banff. Some of the information can be a bit old, since I wasn’t here last season. But I have been trying to keep up. :)

Banff, Sunshine Village:
I worked as Lifty and loved it, it gave the advantage of a 2 hours 'ride break' each day and we had 2 days off per week. Besides, we got our lift pass for free to Sunshine Village and Lake Louise and furthermore 2 days free at around 18 other resorts in The Rocky Mountains. Which gave me and all the other SSV employees the opportunity to visit many other resorts throughout the season. The LL-employees gets the same deal through their work.
The lifty work was at times freaking hard, like the days where you have to shovel a meter of snow out of your loading area and safety area, other days it is just sitting down staring for hours. :)
Sunshine Village is a really nice resort, the slopes are fine, I honestly didn’t use them much, but there is a lot of crazy and fun terrain, with good drops and then there is Delirium Dive, one of the world's 10 best powder bowls!
Besides that there’s a large park, Rogers Terrain Park, many of my friends loved it, I was not the biggest park skier this year due to old injuries. But the park has many fun features, and everything a terrain park should have is there.
Sunshine Village is open from November until the end of May.

Banff, Norquay:
Norquay is the resort that is closest to Banff but smallest, they are not a part of The Rocky Mountain lift pass. So if you're working at Norquay, your lift pass only allows you to ski at Norquay, but you can always just buy a season lift pass to the other mountains, or get the spring lift passes to Sunshine Village or Lake Louise that are really cheap when your a local.
Everyone who worked at Norquay were super happy about working at Norquay, they had a great atmosphere amongst the employees and all I know who worked up there would like to return and work at Norquay again, rather than work at Sunshine Village or Lake Louise.
The mountain is quite small and some of the slopes are really steep. Compared to the size of the resort, they have got a really nice park, that is right at the bottom of the hill, so it is so easy to get there – especially if you are up for some night skiing or snowboarding!
If you live in Banff, and are working at Sunshine or Lake Louise, Norquay has nightskiing 2 nights every week, and you can buy a lift pass for only evenings, so you can ski Norquay too. There is also Norquays monthly 85cent day, which means a one-day ticket costs you just 85cent. Norquay also has the cool acrobag every weekend, if you need to practise some of your jibbing and don’t feel like crashing in the park.
I unfortunately wasn’t skiing much at Norquay, but those who did loved it.
Norquay is open from December to April.

Banff, Lake Louise:
It is the largest resort of the 3 that are close to Banff. If you work at Sunshine Village, you can use Lake Louise as much as you want, and it is the same the other way around, so people working at Lake Louise can use Sunshine Village as much as they want.
The mountain has a lot of nice long runs compared to sunshine, and some of the best powder bowls that I tried throughout my season! It’s a 40minutters drive from Banff, but it is worthwhile to get up there.
Their park was the best of the three in the Banff area, especially the early season, where they were quicker to put up some features and making a progressive park from small to large features to build confidence. Lake Louise opened a good but small park in December. But it all depends on how much snow there’s coming.
If you are considering working at Lake Louise, I would recommend you still live in Banff, the season people from Lake Louise were a bit trapped in Lake Louise, as it is 45 minute drive from Banff, so if you were in Banff for a night out, you would need to know someone to crash with, or be lucky enough to pull each night ;-). I don’t know much about living or partying in Lake Louise, as I never stayed there over night.

Another thing is that many chose to live in Canmore, a town 20min drive from Banff, from where buses to all the resorts go to too. I would recommend Banff, above all, because it is an awesome town and you have easy access to all the mountains, bars and all that you pretty much need to have an awesome season experience!

My Canada Day

As a European soccer fan my Canada Day started with a trip to the bar, watching the final between Spain and Italy. Banff was already packed with tourists and so were all the bars at 12.45pm. Honestly it ended up with me leaving the bar 30 minutes before the game ended, so I could watch it at home with my roommates, who were as excited about the game as me, instead of the Canada Day hype. As much as we love our Canadian friends they had to wait until after our soccer game.
After the game ended at 2ish a few of my cool housemates and I went downtown to get a feeling of the Canada Day fuzz. Banff Ave was PACKED or worse than that, you couldn’t get one way or the other. We were on the lookout for a watergun, so we visited all the toystores and the dollarstore, where we finally found a cool super-soaker (which later on showed that it definitely didn’t “supersoak” anything but our balcony floor), but we found a watergun and got it.
It was time for our next project of the day, get a good spot for the parade, that started at 5pm. Banff Ave was already closed down for traffic, and we were thinking that an hour before the parade even started we could be lucky to find a patio spot at either the Elk and Oarsman or the Brew Pub. We got a pretty good window spot at the Elk and Oarsman, and got ourselves a huge plate of nachos to kill the time with. The Elk and Oarsman have some pretty good nachos by the way, and you can get a plate big enough to share! (Also try $8 Steak Tuesdays) When we finished we decided to try our luck and find a better spot on the ground, so that we could watch the parade closeup.  
As you can see on the pictures Banff Ave was packed all the way from Cascade Plaza to the river, and we didn’t get a great spot, but we could at least see what wast going on. Looking back, we should probably have skipped the nachos and just been standing on the street for hours like all the tourists to get one of those front row spots. But the Parade was amazing it was an hour show with all kinds of marching bands and small weird breaks, like Auroras’ (local Banff night club) foam party float. Yea, I am pretty sure if you like me, have never seen a real American parade before you’re going to be amazed as well.

Since Canada was the same date as my birthday – Danish time – my lovely housemates and few of my old Banff friends had a little come together at our balcony to have some pre-drinks before the BIG fireworks show. A couple of drinks are necessary for a good Canada Day I would say. And we were super lucky with the weather for once (Banff Summers can vary with the weather from beautiful sunny days to short powerful rain storms), but great weather got the streets filled with happy Canadians dressed up in red and white tattooed with maple leafs all over their bodies. And generally you can just feel the festive mood that everyone is in this day also if you’re not Canadian. I for sure had a great Canada Day here in Banff. You should definitely stick around for Canada Day, if you don’t have anything better to do after your winter season.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

It was a cold dark April morning but excitement filled the air at 344 Beaver St, Banff. Suitcase upon suitcase upon ski bag was being piled up in the front room with worrying glances being shared between the soon to be passengers of the notorious ‘Dorris’ the Dodge Ram campervan. 
After a few stalls and some more worrying glares we set off on an 11-hour drive from Banff to Vancouver. There was sleeping, sightseeing and a couple of close calls, although at no fault of either of our expert drivers. You don’t really appreciate how expansive Canada is until you take the time to drive it…everything is huge!
John (one of our expert drivers) confidently negotiated city streets of Vancouver, to safely deliver us to our hotel where we met up with family and friends. We were all pretty tired, not least our heroic drivers and with the adventure continuing tomorrow we turned in for a sleep in the city.
The next day bore a beautiful sunrise over Vancouver soaking the city in soft light; we knew we had an awesome day ahead of us! 
Our destination…Saturna Island!
Saturna Island is part of the Gulf Islands close to Vancouver Island, it is a mere 31km²  and home to only 350 people. Two of those people you may already know…
Noel and Nancy kindly invited our group of close friends to enjoy some time at their oasis getaway, obviously we gratefully accepted. We drove from our hotel to the port of Tsawwassen where we boarded Dorris onto the ferry. Usually there is only one ferry a day to Saturna; fortunately for us it was at sunset gifting us with awe-inspiring views of the bay areas. Upon arriving we met with Noel at the Saturna Lighthouse pub that was conveniently located a few yards from the ferry port!

We arrived at the cottage on Saturna after dark, we could tell we were somewhere special but it was not until the following day we realized how breathtaking our surrounding were. The cottage sits maybe 20 meters from the sea, easily a stones through. It overlooks an uninhabited island and a vast expanse of sea; in the distance you can see the U.S.A whilst oil tankers casually drift past on the horizon, a stark reminder of how lucky we were.
Whilst in Banff I lost count of how many breathtaking views I witnesses, this pattern didn’t stop on Saturna. Day after day I was stunned by the beauty of the natural surroundings, everything is peaceful everything is calm. 
Saturna really is an outdoors enthusiasts dream; untouched by modernism the whole ethos is that of sustainability and caring. Everything is recycled; one woman told us that she only has to throw out one bag of garbage a year! Everything else is recycled or used to make compost. It was so refreshing to see, people who cared about where they lived and did something about it. 
During the days we worked for our keep but had plenty of opportunities to explore what the island had to offer. We kayaked to untouched bays, explored uninhabited islands and got to know the island’s locals.
Everyday we caught our own dinners, fresh lingcod, crab, mussels and shrimp were a plenty!  Noel was more than happy to take us out on his powerboat, an experience in itself, yet we also saw Seals and large groups of Sea Lions. We took crab/shrimp traps and multiple fishing rods to provide for dinner; I had never been fishing in my life and after only 5 minutes I had caught a 20-inch lingcod…amazing!! 
We all took turns in teams of two to cook a gourmet dinner for the rest of the gang. This was no chore by any stretch; we all thoroughly enjoyed cooking what we caught and making an effort to impress the rest. We unanimously agreed that we hadn’t eaten so well all year!
Most nights after dinner included a roaring fire and friendly games and banter. Numerous board games and homemade quizzes were played, sprinkled with hilarious embarrassing stories from both ourselves and our host…all helped along with a few drinks of course!
Saturna for us I think was the perfect end to a season in Banff and the perfect beginning for a life in Vancouver. It is a world away but yet so close, unknown to most it is a haven for those wanting to immerse themselves in calm and nature.