As the self-appointed Director of Snow Quality Assessment for Blackbird Mountain Guides, I ventured north to Canada searching for poutine, caesars, and pow. What did I find? All of the aforementioned Canadian specialties! Most importantly, I found what is very likely the best skiing in North America right now at Lake Louise in Banff National Park, AB.
I’ve never skied Lake Louise before. I don’t know many of the local riders and didn’t know what to expect in terms of terrain and snow quality. I mean, they call them the Rocky Mountains for a reason. What I’ve found so far: a huge mountain (4,200 acres – larger than Palisades Tahoe, CA), tons of fun freeride terrain, backcountry zones in every direction, jaw-dropping views, no sharks – yet, and a great crew of stoked, friendly local riders who have been more than happy to show me their favorite spots.
After a warm, dry start to the fall, the Canadian Rockies were pummeled with 32” of snow in the last seven days. This new snow has created a solid 40” base and opened up 64/160 runs. As of this weekend, all of the backside lifts – Ptarmigan, Larch, and Paradise – are open and serving up generous servings of blower pow, open glade skiing, and big iconic mountains in every direction. The early season terrain is firing, and there are all kinds of powder stashes to be had.
The mission north has been an overwhelming success. It’s still early, and every good turn in November feels like a bonus, but the season is shaping up nicely. Oh, and the poutine and caesars? I found those too. They are provided in abundance at every restaurant in Banff, and they are delicious. Next up, getting familiar with the snowpack and pushing into those tantalizing backcountry zones you can see up here in every direction.
If you’re looking for incredible early-season powder skiing, Lake Louise is where to start!