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.