A guest post from Sabrina Peric, a brave ski mom living in Calgary. In addition to being a busy professional and a dedicated mom, Sabrina volunteers with Rocky Mountain Adaptive at Lake Louise. You can follow her on Instagram at AlbertanMountainGirl.
For big mountain scenery and skiing, there is nowhere like Lake Louise. With huge vertical, amazing views, glaciers, mountains, alpine lakes, Lake Louise offers visitors 360-degree visual overload. Combine this natural beauty with fantastic skiing and Lake Louise will keep you wanting to come back, winter after winter.
Why Lake Louise?
Lake Louise has green, blue and black runs off of almost every lift, along with every kind of terrain: groomers to satisfy all ability levels, plus ungroomed off-piste skiing, with powder, bowls and trees, for intermediates and higher.
The Lake Louise season is long, usually from early November to early May. This provides a variety of experiences from early season groomers to mid-winter pow days to amazing bluebird spring celebrations!
Tips for Skiing Like a Local
The Backside. Start your day here. By the time the crowds find their way to the back, you’ll be ready to get some turns in on the front side.
If your kids are green and blue groomer zoomers, head for the Larch Express. Lookout is a fantastic run, with great views and lots of trees for kids to explore. Larch is a classic blue run with a consistent pitch.
If you have adventurous intermediate (or higher) groms, explore the Back Bowls. Saddleback (#109) and the blues/easy blacks off it, as well as Boomerang (#133) and the easy blacks off it, are a blast and great spots to work on powder and soft snow skills.
Paradise Bowl, also on the backside, is your destination if your groms are skilled bump skiers. When the snow is deep, another signature bump experience is Rock Garden (#142). A field of boulders, it’s really fun when there is a ton of snow, but should be avoided when there is not enough coverage.
The Frontside. The blue runs off of the Top of the World Express are a fantastic introduction to alpine terrain and cruising. One of my favourite combinations from the Top of the World lift is Grizzly Gully (#39) to Cameron’s Way (#8).
It’s a big step up from the magic carpets to Lake Louise’s green runs. Take advantage of the ski school, and if your kids are green skiers, spend time on some of the easier runs – Wiwaxy (#9) and Pinecone Way (#10) – before moving up to the other green and blue runs.
The Playground around the base of the Summit platter lift, is a fun spot for children to build their skills. Follow groomed Sunset Terrace (#23) or take Tickety Chutes (#26) to Jerry’s Jungle (#30). Tickety Chutes is black, but the pitch is mellow, and there is a short bumpy area that is fun for kids. Ski through wide trees to Jerry’s Jungle, a fun green fun with a natural half-pipe, widely spaced trees, easy bumps, soft snow and natural features for jumping. There are even some animal signs for the little ones to follow and enjoy.
Ski School and Childcare
Lake Louise has a fantastic ski school, with amazing instructors and reasonable rates. Check out the First Tracks experience – a 1.5 hour lesson for up to two people, starting 30 minutes before others can get on the lift, for $109 CAD. The Snow School will also do private family lessons (up to 4 people).
Rocky Mountain Adaptive offers private and family lessons for children and adults with any physical, intellectual, cognitive or developmental needs. RMA volunteers are available as ‘ski-buddies’ to show individuals and families around the mountains for free.
If you need childcare, licensed and accredited childcare is available for babies 18 days and up at reasonable rates.
During the World Cup at Lake Louise, kids, 12 and under, ski free on race days. On the Saturdays and Sundays of World Cup season, kids, 12 and under, can get a free beginner lesson.
Seven Ski Mom Secrets
1. Arrive by 8:30 a.m. for close-in parking, backpack storage and shorter lines. By 9:00, you’ll have to park far away and the lines by the gondola will be longer.
2. The mid-winter temperature at Lake Louise can also vary wildly, a 30° to 40° F difference in the same day in not uncommon.
3. Inversions are common at Lake Louise. We’ve started off a day in clouds at the base with a temperature of -15° F. At the top of the mountain, it was almost 20° F with beautiful bluebird skies. On those days, you’ll want to lap the upper mountain.
4. If it’s a blue bird day, be prepared to shed layers and bring sunscreen.
5. When it is cold and windy, bring extra layers (buffs/face masks/hats/mittens/liners) and extra snacks for everyone. Plan on warming up in the resort’s many lodges.
6. Take a free mountain tour with the Lake Louise Ski Friends. Tours are geared towards different skiing abilities, and Ski Friends will show you the mountain, give you advice on where to ski based on the day’s conditions and share some of the mountain’s amazing history with you. It’s a really fun activity to do with your family! Tours leave daily from the base area at 10 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.
7. Go tubing.
Where to Eat
We are a ‘bring your own lunch’ family, so we take advantage of the many microwaves at the Lodge of the Ten Peaks. Still, every so often we venture into restaurants both on and off mountain.
Here’s a list of our favorites.
Whitehorn Lodge: Killer views and full sit-down mid-day meals or warming hot chocolate and desserts mid-afternoon on a cold day.
The Lodge of the Ten Peaks: Ski fare burgers, pizza, chili, poutine and fries, along with sushi and ramen bowls (another cold day favorite!)
Temple Lodge Patio, near the Larch base: Sit outside and enjoy beer and soda, music on the patio and good times! Sunscreen is a must.
Deer Lodge in the Town of Lake Louise: Fine dining with salmon, elk and wild caribou in a historic, intimate location.
Bill Peyto’s Café at the HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre Hostel: A casual pub-like atmosphere, serving up terrific burgers (veggie options, too), stir fry, curries, and soup of the day.
Trailhead Café (at the Lake Louise mall): The best breakfast sandwiches, omelets, pancakes and coffee! Be ready for a line-up, so budget about 20 minutes to get breakfast.
Where to Sleep
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: The iconic hotel on the lake, it’s all about luxury and views. Looking to save money? Stay midweek, and buy your Lake Louise adult lift tickets at a Calgary-area Costco before heading to the mountains. The Costco lift tickets include a coupon for 45% off stays at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. They also include 20% off for child and youth lift tickets, 25% off of adult group lessons and 10% off kids’ lessons.
HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre: This hostel has unbeatable rates and a friendly atmosphere. Dorm rooms, with bathroom and shower, sleep four, making them perfect for a family. Some six person rooms are also available. The hostel has a kitchen, game room, DVDs and a free shuttle to the ski resort.
More to Do
In addition to skiing, go to the actual Lake Louise and ice skate amongst the ice sculptures during the Ice Magic Festival (January 19-29, 2017). Or, go cross-country skiing across the lake on a flat trail, perfect for novices.
Strap on snowshoes and hike to Fairview Lookout for an incredible view over the lake.
Drive across the BC border to Yoho National Park. Cross-country ski at beautiful Emerald Lake. Head north and drive part of the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93), stopping to snowshoe at Bow Lake and Peyto Lake.
The Brave Ski Mom Adds…
Thank you so much for sharing your insider tips and passion for family skiing at Lake Louise, Sabrina!
In addition to her valuable tips, I want to share Sabrina’s feelings about why family skiing is so important.
My significant other has two kids, and I came into their lives a little over 4 years ago. Skiing and our love of winter and the outdoors is a part of what makes our relationships so strong. The outdoors is a great way for families to share experiences together, to learn and to grow together.
Family skiing gives us a chance to enjoy one another and celebrate winter!
As we come closer to ski season, I hope you and your family are getting ready to celebrate.
More Lake Louise and Skiing in Alberta:
- Banff’s Ski Big 3: Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise, October 21, 2015.
- On Ski Injuries and Magical Thinking, March 4, 2105.
- Six “Don’t Miss” Canadian Ski Resorts, February 23, 2015.
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