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Banff/Lake Louise Ski Trip - January 17-24, 2000

These pictures were taken with my Sony Mavica FD-7 digital camera on a ski trip to Banff National Park from January 17 through 24, 2000. All images are 24-bit JPEGs and should be viewed on a 24-bit display. Quality is likely to be very poor when viewed on an 8-bit display. There are nearly 200 pictures, so they're broken up into categories. Trip participants were me, Rick Kline, and Mike and Jen Gousie. This is another of those "tell the story of the trip with the pictures" web pages, and yes, there are pictures of road signs. If you don't like insignificant details, you came to the wrong place. I include them mainly for my own benefit, but some might find them interesting.

In addition to the purely digital pictures, Mike's cameras took plenty of traditional photos, some of which are very nice and have been scanned. The ones which are odd sizes and which look nicer (better color) are probably from Mike's camera.


Monday, January 17

Rick and I started in Troy, while Mike and Jen started in Plainville. So early in the morning, I headed over to Rick's to pick him up and we went off to the Albany International Airport. When checking in, Rick discovered that he forgot his birth certificate, which you need to get into Canada and back. We were early enough that he was able to call a roommate, and he got the certificate in time to join me on the flight to Chicago.

We met up with Mike and Jen at O'Hare, and the four of us were on the same flight to Calgary. We were delayed a bit in Chicago, so our arrival into Calgary was a little later than scheduled. We passed through Canadian customs, picked up our bags, and got our rental car. It was a big Chevy Tahoe, which by a little later in the trip would become known as "Canyonero".

The trip from Calgary to our lodge in Harvie Heights took about an hour and a half. We went through the northern part of Calgary, then up Trans Canada 1 to the last exit before Banff National Park. [13 Pictures]. After checking in to the Banff Boundary Lodge (we may have been the only ones in the whole place), we drove into Banff for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. The town of Banff is in the park, but it's a pretty good-sized city. Much of it is the typical mountain/ski town stuff, but somehow it seemed out of place inside a national park. After dinner, we stopped at the local Safeway to stock up on groceries for the week and headed back to the lodge.

Tuesday, January 18

We decided on Lake Louise for our first day of skiing. It was snowing, and there are more trees to help visibility at Lake Louise. So Rick took control of the Canyonero and we made the snowy trip to Lake Louise [2 Pictures]. We arrived and it was still snowing at the base lodge [2 Pictures].

I didn't bring the digital camera skiing on the first day at Lake Louise, but Mike did, so these are mostly scans. The area is set on both sides of one ridge (the South Face and Back Bowls areas) and on another mountain called the Larch Area. We started on the South Face [3 Pictures] and spent some time in the Ptarmigan Area. The highlight here was our trip down the "Fall Line Glades" [4 Pictures], which is a pretty steep, powdery trip through the trees. It was easily the most challenging run I had ever tried, and it took both me and Rick down a few times, but it was worth doing. It gave Rick and I more confidence to ski more of the terrain we'd see the rest of the week.

Lunch was at the Temple Lodge. It snowed about as hard as it did all day during lunch, but before lunch ended there were some breaks of sun showing through. After lunch, we made a few runs in the Larch Area [Picture] then headed back to the South Face for the rest of the day. The snow stopped enough to get some pictures from the parking lot on the way out [5 Pictures].

After the drive back, we met back up with Jen and headed into the town of Canmore, just about a mile east of where we were staying, for dinner. Rick picked out a place, but we couldn't find it. We ended up at a nice place called The Sherwood House.

Wednesday, January 19

The second day was cold and sunny [2 Pictures], a perfect day for Sunshine Village. We arrived at the base gondola station [2 Pictures] around 9:30 and took the gondola right to the main village. The Canyonero, which had a thermometer built into its rear-view mirror, told us just how cold it was - -18 C. (Rick later figured out how to make it tell us how cold it was in Fahrenheit.) Again, I did not take my camera, but Mike did and got some great shots. Once we arrived at the village, we finished getting ready and started the day on the Standish chair, which goes to the top of Mt. Standish. We took some runs in that area before moving up to the Continental Divide Express Quad, which goes near the summit of Lookout Mountain, which is part of the Continental Divide. Along the ride up, there is a sign which welcomes us to "Beautiful British Columbia", then just a few poles later one which welcomes us back to "Sunny Alberta". Even on this nice day, things were pretty cold on this lift. At the top of the Continental Divide Express is the gate to "Delirium Dive" [Picture] which requires a hike and avalanche equipment. We passed on this one. We took several runs in this area, which goes down from the summit into the area called Sunshine Meadows [Picture]. My favorite run in the area was the Boundary Bowl, which had plenty of untouched powder, although some of it was windblown and a little hard to get through. Mike has some nice pictures from this area [5 Pictures]. When we were ready for lunch, we decided to head back to the main village area from the top of Lookout. Unfortunately, we ended up in a place which forced us to go up one more lift to avoid an uphill hike to the village. That ride on the Tee Pee Town double chair [Picture] was probably the coldest and windiest ride of the trip. We were more careful about trail selection on the way back down and grabbed some lunch at the Day Lodge in the village.

After lunch, we decided to start back up with a trip up the Wawa T-bar [2 Pictures], which goes up a ridge behind the village buildings. There were some nice trails in that area, but on one run, we ended up being forced down a trail with a "Caution Marginal Conditions" sign. On our run down Star Trek, Rick ended up under a tree buried in powder. He had to dig around quite a bit for one of his skis. When I came down that same area, I got stuck in some deep powder and lost it too. One of the toughest (for me) runs was called Waterfall, which I'm pretty sure is just that during the summer. It had plenty of rocks sticking out and gave my skis some of their first major scratches on the way down. I don't think we went back up Lookout after lunch, staying on the Standish Chair and Wawa T-Bar. Around 4, we headed down Banff Avenue which takes us right back down to the parking area. We met back up with Jen, who took the Canyonero for the day to check out the town of Banff. On the ride back, the moon was nicely framed by the mountains, and Mike got some pictures [Picture].

It was my turn to choose a dinner place, and I picked out an Italian place in Canmore called Santa Lucia. I think we were all happy with it.

Thursday, January 20

The forecast called for more good weather, so we decided to take advantage and do a second day at Sunshine on Thursday. Again, Jen dropped us off in the morning and headed back to Banff. Again, it was around -18 C / 0 F when we arrived. We had skipped the Goat's Eye Mountain area of Sunshine on Wednesday, so we took the gondola only half way, to the base of that mountain. After a stop at the Java Hut [4 Pictures], we got on the Goat's Eye Express Quad [Picture]. The top of the chair offered some nice views of the rest of the area [7 Pictures]. There were some nice runs in this area, the best was one which cuts around some rocks, down a steep area, and into some glades [2 Pictures]. Some of the steeper runs were a bit skied off and windblown, but other parts were very nice. We spent the rest of the morning on Goat's Eye [7 Pictures]. To get back to the village for lunch, we needed to take the Wheeler double chair and the hated Tee Pee Town chair [3 Pictures]. We made our way down from the top of Tee Pee to the main village area [4 Pictures].

After lunch at the Day Lodge, we took the Wawa T Bar [3 Pictures], then spent the rest of the day in that area and on the Standish chair. Jen picked us up, and we went back to the lodge [Picture].

We were back pretty early and had eaten out every night, so we picked up some chicken, noodles, and corn from the Canmore IGA (was much nicer than the Banff Safeway -- we also got some Canadian Play Money from an ATM there the night before) and baked the chicken for dinner. We occasionally got a view of a total lunar eclipse in between the thin clouds.

Friday, January 21

After three straight days of skiing, we decided to take this day off to do some sightseeing and resting. In the morning, I had a chance to take some pictures around the lodge [7 Pictures]. Our plan was a trip to Lake Louise, so we headed off into the park [2 Pictures]. We took Trans Canada 1 toward Banff [Picture], passing by the "airport" and some other things [4 Pictures]. Just past Banff we took the scenic route - the Bow Valley Parkway [13 Pictures], which runs all the way into Lake Louise. This side road is well-worth taking, and I need to try it again in the summer when things are all open.

We arrived in Lake Louise and headed straight for the Chateau. We looked around the lobby first [7 Pictures], and had a nice lunch at one of the restaurants in the chateau. After lunch, we went outside to walk around and on Lake Louise [16 Pictures]. We went back inside briefly, then headed back toward the parking lot and out [6 Pictures]. We got a little better view of the ski area on the way down the hill from the chateau [Picture]. It had been snowing some, but the road was still in decent shape. We took the main highway back [Picture].

Dinner was in Banff at a pub called Tommy's, after which we got some ice cream at the cow store. Later, back at the lodge, it was snowing and I took some useless pictures of snow from the window [6 Pictures].

Saturday, January 22

We got back to skiing on Saturday with a second day at Lake Louise. Being a Saturday, it was a little more crowded. We got away from the base crowds by taking the Olympic Chair, a slow double [Picture]. From there, it was over to the Top of the World Chair [8 Pictures] for a run down in the direction of the Summit Platter. We took this uncomfortable lift up near the top of Mount Whitehorn and the highest elevation at Lake Louise (8650 ft.) [5 Pictures]. We skied down the back side into the Back Bowls area. Mike took a diamond down, while Rick and I went for the blue trail. There was quite a bit of powder once you left the small groomed path, and it took us both down a few times. We met back up with Mike at the Paradise Chair, and took that back up to the ridge [4 Pictures].

Rick and I took a run in the Larch area [5 Pictures], while Mike headed back to try another run on the platter. We took a run through the trees, possibly called the Lipalian Chute, and then a diamond with some pretty deep powder called Ford Hill Pitch. It was then a long, a bit too flat, ride out to the base area on "The Ski Out".

We got lunch in the Whiskeyjack Lodge [4 Pictures], then spent most of the rest of the day on the back face with a few runs down the Paradise Bowl and assorted other trails. The Paradise Bowl is probably my favorite trail at Lake Louise.

We arrived back at the lodge at the same time as the pizza Jen ordered for dinner.

Sunday, January 23

On Sunday, we decided to give Banff Mount Norquay a try [3 Pictures]. It is much smaller than the other places, and unfortunately, most of their expert terrain was closed. The snow was not nearly as good and the terrain got boring before too long. After some jumping attempts [3 "Big Air" Pictures], we ended our skiing for the trip a little after noon. We picked up lunch in Banff [Picture] to bring back to the Lodge.

After watching a little of the football playoffs, we decided to take a ride into the park. I finally got a chance to take some pictures at and near the park entrance [5 Pictures]. We got a view of Norquay, where we skied in the morning [Picture]. We approached the Banff exit [Picture], passed that huge Banff Airport yet again [Picture], then headed out toward Lake Minnewanka and the Minnewanka Loop [19 Pictures and more].

After getting back to see the end of the NFC Championship game, we went back into Banff for a nice dinner at The Caboose. It's right next to the railroad, and the whole place shakes when the trains go by. Good Alberta beef.

Monday, January 24

Time to leave, but first, some pictures of the lodge, inside and out [5 Pictures]. We checked out, took a couple of group pictures with the Canyonero [2 Pictures], and by around noon we were on our way to Calgary [4 Pictures]. We didn't have much time, but we did drive around the city a bit and got to park and walk around for about a half hour [11 Pictures]. We got to the airport in plenty of time, went through customs so our flight could arrive at the domestic terminal in Chicago. From Calgary to Chicago, we were all on the same plane. We didn't see all that much, but did see part of the Minneapolis metro area after it got dark. We arrived early into O'Hare and had a little time before we had to catch the flight to Albany. None of us were surprised that we experienced delays in both directions leaving O'Hare, but the ones we experienced had nothing to do with the airport, just the planes themselves. The Albany flight was a little more interesting, as we flew just south of Detroit, across southern Ontario, and got a nice view of the Cleveland metro area from a distance. We got into Albany close to midnight and after getting the car and some food for the morning, it was really late getting in.

The Aftermath

A few more pictures were taken at the end - the skis got pretty beat up on some rocks here and there, so here's a look at the bottoms of the skis before they went in for sharpening [4 Pictures].

Don't believe anything you see in these pictures. The mountains are bigger and the sky is bluer and the snow is nicer than they show. Just go.


E-mail domain: teresco.org, username: terescoj+pics - Sun Apr 16 22:53:13 EDT 2000

Copyright notice: All images are copyright © James D. Teresco unless otherwise specified. Unauthorized use is prohibited.