Experts started carving the steep eastern slopes of Mount Norquay twenty years before the first lift was installed in 1948, and the ski area has kept its reputation as an advanced mountain ever since.
And this is despite the addition of many acres of groomed intermediate cruising terrain and its marketing as “Banff’s family mountain”.
Here you’ll find challenging moguls and oft-icy conditions, but at least Norquay’s many trees help break up the kinds of harsh winds that close lifts in Sunshine or Lake Louise (multiday tickets cover all three areas: skibig3.com). Norquay’s handy location near Banff and its short lift lines also make it the perfect choice when you don’t have time for more than a few laps – and there’s night skiing on Wed & Fri (5pm–10pm) too. An additional attraction is snow tubing ($24/day).
At a glance:
Size: 5 lifts; 28 runs; 190 acres; 503m vertical
Location: base 1680m; summit 2450m
Style: beginner/intermediate/expert 20/36/44 %
Snowfall: average annual 300cm + snowmaking
Facilities: daycare; ski school; rentals; lodge
Norquay’s a decent place to learn turns, but after a couple of days, most will find the terrain too limited. Many green trails have awkward flat spots that force novice boarders to unhook bindings and walk. Intermediate runs are a big step up; the easiest is Hoodoo.
Steep and often narrow, blue runs at Norquay are fairly tough. Some of the quietest and longest runs are off the Mystic Express lift. Banshee has some of the best snow.
Many black runs are short and frantically steep. From the top of the North America chair – with its great views over Banff – the selection of expert runs includes many with dense moguls. Among them double-diamond Lone Pine. The adjacent Gun Run is a thrilling narrow chute, the resort’s steepest. For tree running, try Steep Chutes off the Mystic express. Norquay also has an impressive terrain park.
Banff’s newest major summer initiative is the development of Norquay for summer visitors. This includes scenic chairlift rides to a boardwalk and to a brand-new Via Ferrata (opening June 2014): a low-risk climbing route for those with only minimal experience.