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The Canadian Rockies

August 18th 2008 02:13
I was full of excitement at visiting Banff National Park; everybody had told me that it is the most spectacular scenery in the world. People have said that about many other places in the world but after spending time in New Zealand’s South Island my standards were very high. I had never experienced anything that compared, until now.

I cannot be disloyal to my home country, but this is some of the most magnificent scenery I have ever had the pleasure of being surrounded by.

Banff Skiing
Banff photo credit rabesphoto flickr



There are three ski areas within the Banff National Park, Lake Louise, Ski Norquay and Sunshine Village. On our first morning, we had to make the big decision, where will we ski today. We decided to take the shuttle bus to Sunshine Village located just 15 minutes drive from our hotel in Banff.

When we arrived at Sunshine Village, we hopped aboard the high-speed gondola and 13 minutes later, we disembarked at some of the most magical mountain terrain I had seen.
It was one of those beautiful clear days where you can see for miles, and makes skiing the most enjoyable experience in the world. The snow was the perfect powder that you can sometimes hear squeaking under your skis. With 12 lifts including the high speed Gondola and 107 runs, we never had to queue for a lift all day. Sunshine Village spans the border of Alberta and British Columbia, which means you can boast to all your friends you skied in two proivinces in one day.


Sunshine Village
Sunshine Village


After dinner that evening, we enjoyed a horse drawn sleigh ride along the Bow River in Banff. The sleighs run every 45 minutes, from the Warner Stables on Sundance Road. There are also romantic sleigh rides that include liqueurs and chocolates for the lovers out there.

What I loved about walking around the beautiful town of Banff was seeing the wildlife just hanging around the streets, particularly caribou that we walked past in touching distance. Although we were warned not to touch them as, they can be dangerous.

The next morning we were ready to tackle Lake Louise located 60kms southwest of Banff. We were blessed with fantastic weather again as we approached Canada’s largest single ski area. As I looked around, I could see why this is named one of the most scenic resorts. The snow is pristine and you are surrounded my stunning wilderness.

The good thing about Lake Louise is that every lift has several runs catering for beginners to more expeerienced skiers, which means you can ski with your group regardless of differing levels of ability.

A highlight was the powder bowls where my skiing ability was challenged, as I made my way down The Wall. It is something I tried only twice that day before I was worn out and decided to take it easy.

With 4200 skiable areas and 139 runs, even if you spent a week at Lake Louise alone you would not get a chance to ski all of them.

The next morning we were off to Norquay. The first thing I noticed when we arrived was the was the steep moguls field and free falls in front of us. I thought this might be a challenging day, and it was! Later I discovered the Lone Pine and Gun Run, which are challenging black diamond runs even for the most hard out skiers.

However, beginners and intermediate level skiers need not be put off there are plenty of gentler slopes to.

For those that want to avoid the crowds Norquay also offers night skiing from 5pm – 9pm on Fridays.

Skiing in the Canadian Rockies is one of the most magical experiences for skiers of all levels, not only is the snow like squeaky powder under your skis, you are surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery.

After a hard days skiing there are some there is plenty to do in the beautiful town of Banff.
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What's new at Whistler

August 11th 2008 01:10
I have just received my Ski Max brochure, reminding me that 2008-09 ski seasons in the Northern Hemisphere will soon be underway.

Whistler, voted number one ski resort in North America, will be even better this year as preparations are well underway for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

One of the most exciting developments ready just in time for the northern winter is the Peak-to-Peak Gondola, which is due for completion in December 2008.

The Gondola that will span the peaks between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains is one of the biggest undertakings of its kind. It will spark all sorts of opportunities for growth and tourism in the area.

Once completed the Gondola will travel the 4km distance between the two peaks in just 11 minutes. The individual cars hold up to 28 people, 24 sitting and 4 standing and it will be able to transfer 2050 people in each direction per hour.

The best part is that skiers will not have to choose which mountain to spend the day at any more.

“Most of our guests choose to ski either Whistler or Blackcomb Mountain each day. The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola will link 8,171 acres of terrain into one continuous lift system allowing skiers and riders to maximize their day by moving quickly and effortlessly across the valley to the best snow and weather in each alpine area.” Dave Brownlie Chief Operating Officer of Whistler Blackcomb.

gondola
peak to peak.com


Proposed gondola track
Gondola track



If you want to try out some of the trail before the Olympic athletes get there in 2010, the WhistlerBlackomb website has the details of event locations.


For more information on getting to Canada, visit the Skimax website for a brochure.
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I love Whistler

May 30th 2007 23:30
The ski season in the Northern Hemisphere will soon be underway and I am hoping to be able to pay another visit to my favourite skifield, Whistler in Canada. In my opinion it’s the best ski field in the world. You don’t need to take my word for it either; TransWorld magazine readers voted it number one ski resort in North America.

Even getting to Whistler is great especially if you are coming from Vancouver as I always do. You get to Vancouver airport then get on a transfer bus to Whistler Village. It is about a two hour drive, but it is two hours of stunning scenery. On one side you have beautiful views of the sea with a number of small islands, on the other side high cliffs.

The skiing of course is magnificent. With over 200 runs catering for all ability levels you can ski for a whole week without doing the same run twice. There are a total of 38 lifts that can move over 60000 skiers an hour so even on the busiest weeks of the year you never have to wait long.

In the evenings Whistler Village is alive with a number of great restaurants and bars for all those après ski activities. There are also plenty of places to shop in the pedestrian only centre. My best tips for those visiting the village is stop at Roger’s Chocolate and try their Victoria Creams. They are the best I love them so much I order them online.

I have tried Banff for skiing and Sunshine Village and Lake Louise are both beautiful but it I have to say I prefer Whistler still because it has a better climate.

Looking down over Whistler Village
Looking down over Whistler Village

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