SKIING! – This is what we came to Canada for!

Stunning first day at Sunshine Village.

The Resort

Sunshine Village ski resort opened on November 3rd, the earliest opening day for 30 years! That tells me this season is going to be a cracker one.
Sunshine consists of 3 mountains, Mt Standish, Goats Eye and Lookout Mountain. It’s a lot bigger that any ski area in NZ but smaller that the big ones in Europe. You jump on a high-speed Gondola at the base and travel 20 minutes to the Village where there are 3 lodges, Lookout Lodge where there are restaurants and shops, Old Sunshine Lodge which is a pub/restaurant and Sunshine Mountain Lodge which is a ski in/ski out hotel. Sunshine Trail Maps

There are 12 lifts including 2 magic carpets and a luxury express bubble chair with heated seats. 

We have season passes which were just under $1000. Really cheap when you use them a lot which we will. I also get half the cost back through work if I say until the end of the season!Not the nicest of photos…..

Gear

I had my trusty Head Great One skis and Scott poles sent over from the UK at a cost of £130. Even though my skis are 2010 they are in great shape and always preform wether it be ice or deep powder. After a wax and sharpen at Snowtips in Banff where I get a 25% discount, they were ready to go.  Head Great Ones

I invested in new boots this year and am so glad I did so. Ski boots are so important to both comfort and performance and getting them mounded you your feet is also a must. They are not cheap though, mine were $369.00.

I researched for ages on the internet at the best womans boots from 2015 and 2016. I wanted the right flex for my skill level and of course a comfortable boot! In the end I had a pair in mind and went to Sports Experts in Canmore and funnily enough they had a selection of last year’s boots on sale and had one pair of Atomic Hawx 90 left in my size! After a few days breaking them in they are by far the most comfortable ski boots I have ever owned!Alomic Hawx 90

Ski School

Fergus had his first skiing lesson on the Sunday after the resort opened. He was so lucky there was only 2 of them in his all day lesson. Him and a lady from the Gold Coast. I went up and down Stawberry a few times (the small lift near the bunny slope) so I could watch his progress. First day of lessons

​I have to say, Fergus has taken to skiing a lot faster than I ever did. On his first day he went down a Green run on Stawberry and the second day we went up together I took him all over the mountains. Some runs he wasn’t fond of but he’s definately faster and more confident each day we go. I’m so very proud of him.Fergus and I on the bubble chair Stunning day!

I can also feel myself improving, it’s been 2 weeks since Sunshine opened and I’ve been 5 times. The snow has been wonderful, 8-10cm of fresh powder has fallen this week and it’s just fab to ski on.

Dreams do come true…

Lake Louise, Norquay and Nakiska open soon and we will go out and explore those resorts but Sunshine will be home for the next 6-7 months. I cannot believe I can ski every 3-4 days, I have been wanting this all my life, it’s true, it’s never too late to live your dreams.Ski bunnies – my flatmate Carris & I

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Cave and Basin Historic Site and Upper Banff Springs – relaxation and history in the Rockies.

Cave and Basin Historic Site

During our first whole weekend off in a while, Fergus and I decided to play tourists, learn some history and have a soak in the hot pools on Sulphur Mountain (which we can see from our house).

Sulphur Mountain is very important in Banff’s history. During the construction of the railway through the Rockies in 1883, 3 railroad workers rediscouvered the mineral hot springs on the slopes of Sulphur Mountain (others including the First Nations people had previously discovered the springs) and decided to commercialise the area. They built a hut near the springs and laid claim to the area. Later the government reserved an area of 10 miles around the site and that was the birth of Canada’s National parks system.

Soon after the Banff Springs hotel was built and the tourists followed…..

Visiting The Cave and Basin Historic Site was really interesting, first we climbed up to the area behind the main building where there was a boardwalk leading up to the original spring where the hut was built all those years ago. Walking through the forest, past hot steaming rocks and streams full of egg smelling Sulphur deposits was fascinating and makes you realise what an important find this was for the area. ​

We got in for free since we had a 12 month parks pass (yippee) and read a bit of history about the springs before making our way into the cave itself. 

The cave isn’t huge, it’s one small cavern with a pool at its base. There is a small opening in the ceiling of the cave that lets the sunlight through. The Banff snail lives here, it’s the only place in the world this 3-5mm snail lives so the area is of course, protected. Back in the museum we watched a short movie about Canada’s national parks and looked at the displays before heading outside to the other hot pool. This one was built later in 1887 as a bathhouse.The pools were closed and opened many times before finally closing in 1992 and the Banff Upper Hot Springs was opened.

Banff Upper Hot Springs

The hot pool you are allowed to swim in is just up the hill from the Banff Gondola on the East facing slope of Sulphur Mountain looking over to Rundle and over Banff and Tunnel Mountain. Built in 1932, the mineral water at Banff Upper Hot Springs is a balmy 40 degrees and it’s so relaxing after being in the cold air. The day we went the pool wasn’t that busy which was good. The facilities are nice and I think we might get a 10 day pass to use during the ski season when our muscles will be hurting.

I’m now a Banff Ambassador! 

The Banff Ambassador Program is such a fantastic idea, it gives new ‘locals’ a chance to do some of the amazing activities in the Rocky Mountains while teaching them about the history, natural resources, wildlife and people of this wonderful part of the world. I found about it from my flatmate, Carris who had recently completed it. 

The first part consists of a fun 1.5 hour informative talk by 2 local girls about Banff and the Bow Valley, it’s history, it’s  wildlife, it’s geology and it’s tourism. The group consisted of around 30 young people from all over the world and you didn’t even have to register, just show up to the library and take part!

The second part was a 3 hour tour of Banff and the surrounding area. This is an actual tour that costs around $60 for tourists but for Banff Ambassadors it’s only $10. The day I went there was no tourists on the tour which made it more fun. It was run by an Aussie guy from Cairns and was really informative.Two Jack LakeHeading down to the Beaver DamTour Bus

The tour included: 

  • Banff Springs hotel
  • Hoodoos lookout
  • Surprise corner
  • Bow falls
  • Elk spotting at the golf course
  • Two Jack Lake
  • Lake Minnewanka
  • Vermillion lakes Beaver Dam

Most of these sights I have already seen but it was great to get a bit of information about each of these places.

On completion of the tour we all recieved a voucher booklet with over $500 worth of vouchers! From snow tubing to museums, hot springs and glacier walking. Free stuff!

I would 100% recommend this programe for anyone who comes to live Banff.