Opening day at Lake Louise

Special to FrontLipped by Paul Baldassi of Snowboarders for Life…

Nov. 9, 2008, Lake Louise, Alberta – If you’re craving snow as much as I am and seemingly everyone in Banff is at the moment your options are limited: hike for it, or hit up one of the only two resorts that are open right now (Lake Louise and Norquay).  The fact that Norquay is open and Sunshine is not would instantly make one skeptical… considering the elevation difference of a few thousand metres and the fact that Norquay typically has WAY less snow.  But having been working at Sunshine for the past week, I can tell you we indeed have tons more snow, but it’s simply not worth opening and they really do need more of a base due to the fact that there is little to no snowmaking.

banff_-_lake_louise_nov_9_2008_053So basically, the only runs open at Lake and Norquay were a tiny patch of man-made snow mixed in with a few light snowfalls.  We chose the Lake as it’s much bigger, and steeper.  To say our expectations were low was an understatement after looking at webcams and forecasts, and my main concern was scraping rocks, dirt, and grass.  So when we got there and looked up the slopes it wasn’t much more promising but after doing a few runs it was apparent the snowmaking / grooming crew had been hard at work for weeks.  One long winding green run coupled with one high-speed quad turned out to be more than enough to quench our thirst for carving, and it was a super fun day for a first day out. 

The best part of the day had to be strapping on that first run and knowing that a whole new season is upon us, and making those first turns just felt amazing.  The snow wasn’t great, but the crowds were light and mostly comprised of die-hards and first-timers dedicated to learn before the real season started.  So what the hell we took it for what it’s worth, and were just glad to be riding something!



  1. Conditions at lake have definitely improved since I wrote this, but are still super-sketch anywhere off the main trails, and the claim of 25 open is a bit inflated as no more than 10 of them are rideable without rocks galore and icy-sketchy-ness. But wiwaxy has good snow and you can really rip down it, there are a few natural kickers on the sides too. We went yesterday (26th) and prettymuch just kept doing laps on that just flying past people, at least the snow was consistent for most of the morning.

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