How to Spend a Long Weekend Skiing in Canada
For most of my life, winter has been my least favorite of the season. Living in Colorado has changed the relationship I have with winter, but I still never thought I would willingly go further north during the winter for primarily outdoor activities. But I did. And it was AWESOME. And I want to go back in ALL the season.
Kyle booked a handful of days to go ice climbing and invited me to join him on the tail end of his trip to do some skiing. Luckily, we were able to find some dates that work between some of my client events so I could take a few days off work.
On February 28, I woke up and finished packing my ski gear and clothes. A friend volunteered to watch Freya for the weekend, so I also packed a bag for her before she swung by our house to pick her up. In short order, I was on my way to the airport with my ski bag, a carryon, a backpack, and my passport in tow.
Kyle picked me up from the airport and we made our way to Canmore. Since Kyle had already been there for nearly a week, he already had his favorite spots scoped out. By his recommendation, we stopped by The Grizzly Paw Pub for their two pints and a poutine special.
Skiing Lake Louise
We woke up before the sun to make the 1.5 hour drive to the Lake Louise Ski Resort. We stopped at a Tim Hortons to get our morning coffee and pastry fix.
We pulled into the main parking lot about 15 minutes before the lifts started running and it started snowing. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to park right in front of the main lodge for free. I decided then and there that Canadian resorts are awesome!
We had a private ski lesson booked for the morning, but were able to get a few runs in before our scheduled lesson began. Thiboult, our ski instructor originally from France, was great!
It snowed the whole day. Towards the top of the mountain, visibility was really low, but we certainly made the most of our resort day, anyway.
When we decided to call it a day and head back to the car, my face was quite frozen.
Back in Canmore, we swung by our hotel to change our clothes and freshen up a bit. I grabbed my computer and we headed to dinner at a local bar and grill.
We settled in to a large booth at The Rose and Crown and started figuring out our plan for the next day. Originally, we had planned to do some back country skiing in the area. But the forecast called for temps WAY below freezing, so we started to explore other options.
It was still Happy Hour when we got there so I went for the $5 house red and Kyle got a beer. I was still feeling chilled to the bone from our long day outside, but red wine always helps to warm me right up. Feeling tired from the long day and craving comfort food, I eyed the pasta menu closely and ended up ordering the Spaghetti Carbonara. The serving size was huge, so I hardly put a dent in it. I did, however, finish the wine.
Ultimately, we decided to head west to warmer temps and some skiing at Revelstoke. We set our alarms for 4:15 AM the next morning and fell asleep warm with bellies full of pasta.
When our alarms went off on Saturday morning, we quietly and quickly got ready for the day. We loaded up the car with our skis, skiing gear, and overnight bags for our trip to Revelstoke. We had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us, but considering that sometimes it takes that long to get to the Colorado resorts if we don’t leave early enough, the time commitment wasn’t a big deal to us.
We drove westward through the mountains as the sun came up. I was enamored by the beauty of the Canadian Rockies’ alpen glow. Snowy white peaks kissed by the golden sun stood in stark contrast to the violet and pink sunrise skies.
When we arrived in the town of Revelstoke, we were a bit confused when the GPS steered us away from civilization. With craned necks, we kept looking around each turn wondering where this famous mountain is. Perhaps we got the address wrong? Maybe the GPS isn’t working properly.
We finally pulled into a small parking lot adjacent to a handful of buildings and we could see only one gondola lift. The lifts wouldn’t open for another hour, so we grabbed a map and ducked into Rockford Grill for some breakfast.
I ordered a coffee and the avocado toast, which was delicious. I learned the hard way that they don’t serve alcohol before 9 am. We reviewed the map over our breakfast and learned that there is, indeed, just one gondola lift that takes you away from the base of the resort, but that the terrain spreads out over more lifts as you ascend up the mountain.
Our first views from the top were incredible. We had spent the whole of the day before in very limited visibility due to the snow. But on Saturday we were blessed with clear blue skies, sunshine, and views for miles. The surrounding mountains were breathtaking. And the terrain was great. We kept hearing locals gripe about the lack of fresh snow, but it was still such a treat for us.
We skied all day and explored the whole mountain, and didn’t leave until the lifts were closed.
We drove from the resort back into town to check in to our hotel for the night. We changed our clothes and headed to The Village Idiot to draft our plan for the next day and replenish as many calories from the day as we could.
Over pizza and beer (or in my case, a tequila mule), we created a tour plan for some backcountry skiing back in Alberta. At around 6 pm, we closed out our tab and headed back to the hotel for an extremely early bed time.
Skiing Dolomite Shoulder
We awoke early again on Sunday morning to make the drive back to Alberta. The rental car needed some fuel and we stocked up on gas station donuts and other snacks for the trip.
Around 11 am, we parked the car along Icefields Parkway, slapped some skins on our skis, turned on and tested our beacons, and started making our way up Dolomite Peak. With temperatures still much lower than we had originally planned, the steep uphill ascent kept my body temperature plenty warm enough. As popular backcountry skiing spot, the existing skin tracks helped us navigate our way through the trees and up to the shoulder. Once we found ourselves above tree line, we were surrounding by, yet again, by stunning views of the Canadian rockies.
The snow on the shoulder was pretty crusty, and I fell my fair share of times getting back down, but it was hard to care when surrounded by so much beauty.
We drove the rest of the way back to Canmore and went back to Grizzly Paw for some celebratory beers and grub. The first two beers hit us pretty quickly after such a strenuous day. But that didn’t stop us from ordering seconds.
Our flight wasn’t until the early afternoon, so we had time to wake up at our leisure and pack all our luggage. For breakfast, we planned to just find somewhere that was open along the main street in Canmore. We ducked into Graze, mostly just because it was open. But we were pleasantly surprised to find such tasty food in a delightful atmosphere.
I ordered the breakfast poutine (because Canada) made of breakfast potatoes, cheese curds, prosecco hollandaise sauce, and a fried egg. And I shared a plate of waffles with Kyle. It was nice to have such a lovely breakfast after a weekend of brewery grub.
We had a connecting flight in Vancouver so we spent most of the day either in the air or in airports. By the time we picked up Freya at our friends’ house in Denver, it was past 10 pm and we were really excited for a night of sleep in our own bed.