The backdrop for over two decades of World Cup skiing, Lake Louise encompasses forty square kilometers of varied terrain. This includes everything from tricky mogul fields, challenging chutes and vast open bowls to abundant gentle beginner runs and pleasant intermediate cruisers. But for many, the resort’s best assets are its tiny lift lines and the stunning high-alpine scenery.
The only real drawback can be the low January and February temperatures, with average conditions hovering at -7ºC. With wind chill, this can drop to -70ºC at the summit.
The ski area naturally divides into three distinct zones. The backbone is its Front Side (or South Face), above the base area, which is best for groomed green and blue runs. Behind are the Back Bowls with their above-tree-line black diamonds. From them, the valley drops and curves around to the glades of the Ptarmigan and Larch areas, which provide good shelter in harsh conditions. Otherwise, when temperatures are low follow the sun. Head to the Back Bowls in the morning, Larch and Ptarmigan around midday, then spend the afternoon on the Front Side.
At a glance
Size: 8 lifts; 139 runs; 4200 acres; 991m vertical
Location: base 1646m; summit 2637m
Style: beginner/intermediate/expert 25/45/30 %
Snowfall: average annual 360cm + snowmaking
Facilities: daycare; ski school; rentals; lodge with bar and restaurants; ski shuttle to Banff; multi-resort passes (skibig3.com)
Lake Louise’s learning zone lies by its base area. Next try the wide, gentle Wiwaxy a little further up the mountain. Slightly harder are Deer Run and Eagle Meadows off the Grizzly Express. The Back Bowls are really only for more confident beginners and are busy thoroughfares for expert skiers. Focus on the two greens in the Larch area instead.
Most Front Side intermediate runs are groomed daily, providing idea cruising and carving. The longest and quietest tend to be Meadowlark and Wapta off the Grizzly Express and Gully and Homerun off the Top of the World Express. Further down the mountain, the Men’s and Ladies’ Downhill runs are labeled black, but probably within the capabilities of confident intermediates. Boomerang is the only blue run in the Back Bowl area, but worth the trip for a wide open bowl experience. Down valley, the sheltered Larch area, has varied blue runs and clusters of easy trees which can keep you entertained for a couple of hours.
After fresh snow, the exposed Back Bowls are the place to be. Head up the Summit Platter and traverse the ridge to reach the best runs. The Whitehorn 2 Gullies are the mountain’s steepest chutes. Under the Paradise Chair, the Paradise Bowl has one the largest mogul fields in the world. The runs of Eagle Ridge, collectively known as the Diamond Mine, are mostly steep rocky chutes that plunge into the challenging gladed Pika Trees. More good glades lie below the Ptarmigan Quad and below the Larch lift.
Lake Louise always puts together an excellent terrain park on the Front Side. Of the many natural hits all over the mountain many lie in the Larch glades.