The Sunshine Village slopes are mostly above the treeline, although there is a wooded sector, and some lightly wooded slopes higher up. Mt Norquay is a much smaller area of quiet, wooded slopes. Each area (and Lake Louise) has its own trail map, and there's another that shows all three areas. The signposting at the top of each lift is praised, but at Sunshine subsequent signs are 'small and difficult to spot', says a reporter. There are good, free mountain tours led by friendly volunteer hosts.

Slopes

  • Resort altitude: 1380m
  • Lower slopes: 1630m
  • Upper slopes: 2730m
  • Total pistes: 7748acres

For beginners

Pretty good terrain Most beginners start with a package that includes a lift pass, equipment hire and tuition. Sunshine has a good nursery area at the Village, served by a moving carpet. And there are great long green runs to progress to, served by the fast Strawberry Express chair. Norquay has a good small nursery area with a moving carpet and gentle greens to progress to, served by the Cascade chair. Banff is not the ideal destination for a mixed party of beginners and more experienced friends. The beginners are likely to want familiar surroundings, while the more experienced will want to travel.

For intermediates

Ideal runs Half the runs on Sunshine are classified as intermediate. Wherever you look there are blues and greens - and some of the greens are as enjoyable (and pretty much as steep) as the blues. We particularly like the World Cup Downhill run, from the top of Lookout to the Village. All three chairs on Mount Standish are excellent for building confidence, provided you choose a sensible route down. The slow Wawa chair gives access to the Wawa Bowl and Tincan Alley ('great first blues'). This area also offers some shelter from bad weather. There's a delightful wooded area under the second stage of the gondola served by the Jackrabbit and Wolverine chairs. The blue runs down Goat's Eye are good cruises too, some of them with space to indulge in fast carving. The Mystic Express at Norquay serves a handful of quite challenging treelined blues and a couple of blacks that are sometimes groomed.

For advanced

Pure pleasure Sunshine has plenty of open runs of genuine black steepness above the treeline on Lookout, but Goat's Eye is much more compelling. It has a great area of expert double-black diamond trails and chutes, both above and below the treeline. But the slopes are rocky and need good cover, and the top can be windswept. The double-diamond runs at skier's left reportedly hold their snow better than the rest of the mountain. There are short, not-too-steep black runs on Mount Standish. One more challenging novelty here is a pitch known as the Waterfall run - because you do actually ski down over a snow-covered frozen waterfall; but a lot of snow is needed to cover the waterfall ice. Also try the Shoulder on Lookout Mountain; it is sheltered, tends to accumulate powder and has been deserted whenever we've been there (probably because access to it involves a long traverse that can be tricky and is poorly marked). A popular backcountry route follows the back of the Wawa ridge, through a river valley ('great fun - tight turns in the trees of the river bed'); a guide is essential, of course. Real experts will want to get to grips with Delirium Dive on Lookout Mountain's north face and the Wild West area on Goat's Eye (with some narrow chutes and rock bands). For both you must have a companion, an avalanche transceiver, probes and a shovel - and a guide is recommended. It is best to book in advance and rent your equipment in Banff (you can't in Sunshine). We tried Delirium in a group with the ski patrol, who provided equipment, and the scariest part was the walk in, along a narrow, icy path with a sheer drop (protected by a flimsy-looking net). Norquay's two main lifts give only 400m vertical, but both serve black slopes, and the North American chair accesses a couple of serious double-diamond runs. Heli-skiing is available from bases outside the National Park in British Columbia - roughly two hours' drive.

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Good For

Ability
  • Advanced
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
In Resort
  • Family Friendly
  • Off The Slopes
  • Village Charm
On Slope
  • Boarder
  • Fast Lifts
  • No Queues
  • Snow Reliability
  • Terrain Parks

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