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Banff - ski with a local

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Was wondering if there is any free ski hosting in Banff / Lake Louise, when we went to Whistler and Aspen there were locals who would take you round the mountain for a couple of hours , is there anything like it there?

I know we can do it with Big3ski for CAD400 for three days.

Just looking for alternatives in January


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Sat 11-11-17 15:05; edited 1 time in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
radar, Lake Louise definitely do, I would think Sunshine do too, not that you would really need it there.
They don't usually show you the good stuff anyways wink
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I took advantage of the free guiding at Lake Louise ... I think it started at 10 am.
Most of the guides were retired locals and very friendly and helpful.
I think they are limited as to where they can take you ie. nothing too mad, but when our guide realized we were OK skiers he pushed the limits a bit having sworn us to silence. Very Happy
I think this is a wonderful service and would definitely make me keen to revisit the resort.
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
When I did it at Sunshine, she took me to a black bump run with some soft snow and simply said “we’re not doing a guided mountain toue, we’re friends skiing together”!

(well, by that point of the tour, we were fast becoming friends!)

Toofy Grin
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I've done the snow hosts tours at both Sunshine and Lake Louise. Both times found bits I wouldn't have done and had nice people to ski with (wife having couple of days off and son in ski school).
The Lake Louise one was great - you chose a group based on colour of runs - from green to black. I chose a 'dark blue'(!) group. I think they avoid the double blacks but otherwise tailor their trips to the group they had.
Joined a blue runner group at Sunshine - don't know if they do black groups. They certainly knew where to find the best conditions and quietest spots. And on a first visit were full of good info and where else to go, eat, visit.

One other advantage is that you get priority on the lifts - although not really needed except on a holiday weekend
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
By the way the Skibig3 program is more a lesson which covers each of the three areas over three days. The ski hosting are very clear they are not instructors.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@TommyJ, @abc, thanks for the info, with Sunshine how did you organise it as there isn't anything on their website, I will get in touch with them, but its always good to hear from someone who does it.

Yep the Skiing 3 is lessons (sort of) to show you the mountain, it seems to run only on a Wednesday and we arrive on Thursday, we had thought about it to improve our powder skiing but its not exactly a bargain

The Lake Louise site has good info on the ski friends.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I found it on the back of the trail map! It was a spot at mid-mountain (last station of the gondola). It wasn't the easiest to find, but I was very motivated (I was billy-no-mate) and found it.

You don't "organize it" in advance. Just show up at the appointed time and spot. They then sort people into appropriate groups. The day I was there, it was late season, no one else but me. They asked what level I am, which I reply "I can ski anything, if not always pretty". Wink The head guy explain to me the part of "skiing as friends not on tour", which allows my tour host to go on ungroomed black runs.

Being late season, I asked and got all the specific tips on which run is facing which direction and the order they soften up in the course of the day. That was invaluable information that makes the rest of my trip way more enjoyable.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@abc, Thanks, will hunt them down when we get there.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
I think Canada really has got this right, there is never a need to ski alone.

1) Norquay (Just by Banff) This is a small area but works fine for us Jet lagged Europeans to get our stuff together.
There is a sign "Wait here for the guide" It was 1pm start, I got a bit worried by 1:05 when I was then only person standing there.
ater a couple of minutes a guy came over and said "What language do you want me to speak?" He was from the Check Republic and gave me virtually a 1on1 guided session that set me up up for the whole holiday. As there was only me, he soon sussed out how competent I was and we had a great afternoon, he was able to take me to places he had not visited that season. Brilliant!

2) Sunshine
I cant remember the times but we met outside the Bar in the afternoon,
I've been a couple of times with these guys and its always good skiing, one time my wife went with me but she said I only want to do easy blue stuff, the guides said that they could not really do that, but the girlfriend of the guide I was with took my misses around and she had a brilliant time too. They take you out on a two hour session.

3) Lake Louise:
Very organised up there, The "Friends of the Mountain" even meet you in the car park and tell you anything you want to know.
They have a two hour session from 10am (I think) and you can go in the afternoon again as well at 1:30.
Graded groups with not many people in it and often 2 guides per group.

4) Kicking Horse:
This is not a busy resort and sometimes they dont bother running the guiding, I found that one afternoon after driving there all the way from Banff Sad So I would suggest you ring up the day before and check. Its the ski school who organise it all.
If you are lucky enough to get them, you'll have a great time. Its not a huge area, but it is interesting.
I've been out a few times with the guides since that day.

5) Revelstoke:
I've only been there for a couple of days and it was in early December, the guiding did not start till the afternoon, so I booked a group lesson.
But as I was the only person there I had a private lesson all morning.
I told the young lad who was my instructor that I was thinking of taking the free guided tour in the afternoon ...
"Oh", he said, "it starts at 12:30, and it will probably be me who does it".
So I had another couple of hours of private lesson.
My guide/instructor also gave me an itinerary of which bars to go to that Wednesday evening,
I think it was the "The Village Idiot" then move on to the "Do Drop Inn" either way it was such a great night of dancing that I didnt wake up till about 10 in the morning.
So .. I may as well go for another free guided tour.
I arrived up at the ski school in time to go out at 12:30 again .. just me again.

Just as we were getting on the gondola an old friend of my guide shouted and he came out with us too.
It turned out this guy was a racing coach who had just driven form Quebec for the season instructing in Revelstoke.
he had 40 year of instucting under his belt so now the pair of us (the guide/instructor and I ) were getting a a two hour coaching session, for free!

How can you top that?

Well, the guy from Quebec gave me a lift back to the Greyhound Station so I could catch the bus back to Kicking horse.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
The SH community delivers again, fantastic valuable information, I will certainly be using it when I go over in Feb. SH really does rock Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Of the three Banff areas LL seems to have the most developed snow host scheme. I believe it was started by the wives of ski patrol. Now its mostly locals who volunteer to do a day or so a week in return for a pass. They are well organised and the meeting points are well signposted (and announced in the daylodge etc). They are very recognisable in their yellow jackets.

As well as the tours the snow hosts are found all over the mountain just generally helping out. On our first ever trip we went straight up the gondola. As we looked at the map a snow host came over, chatted to us, found out our level etc then gave us loads of advice and suggestions as to where to ski

Canada is not the place to ski if you don't like talking to people or enjoy chairlifts in silence!!!
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@DrLawn, Thank for the detail, really useful.
@TommyJ, Thanks, discovered the chating in the US, thoroughly enjoyed it, tried it once in Europe and got very strange looks Very Happy
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
A bit more:

Banff / Sunshine ski hosts https://www.skibanff.com/explore/sunshine-snowhosts
Lake Louise https://www.skilouise.com/activities-and-events/free-tours.php
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
radar wrote:

@TommyJ, Thanks, discovered the chating in the US, thoroughly enjoyed it, tried it once in Europe and got very strange looks Very Happy

I got that same impression based on discussion here and others who skied Europe frequently. But that’s NOT my personal experience of skiing in Europe.

I remember my first trip to Europe over 10 years ago. On my 2nd chair ride (first was a cable car Toofy Grin ), the fella shared my chair asked in English where I’m from. He then introduced himself that he’s from Italy (maybe there something there?). We skied the rest of the day, made plan to have dinner with his wife and sister-in-law.

I subsequently found snowhead and rarely ski alone. But just to show that previous experience wasn’t a one-off, in an other solo trip, I hooked up with a Swede. In between, I’ve chatted with a couple of Italians who share with me their favorite runs suitable for the condition (this was at St Moritz, so a lot of outgoing Italians)

I was also at one time been “given” a bubbly French girl who yap non-stop. My french is non-existing, but her English was good enough that, by the end of the chair tide, I knew her favorite teacher in school, her favorite ski runs and a lot of catoon characters I never heard of!

So where are those strange Europeans who rode the chair silent as the grave? Puzzled
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I have just booked to go to Banff on 27th January so appreciate all the information on here.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
We have skied with the 'hosts' twice in Lake Louise. Had a great time as we joined the black diamond group and often there was just self and Mr Mogulski with the guide or at the most 3 or 4 others. One time when there was powder they said they could not take us down the off-piste so pointed out where we should go and to meet them at the bottom. Soon they were there beside us. They said that if we were stopped by ski patrol (as they were not meant to be with us there) I was to say I fell in the powder and so the guide came to help me! We were not stopped and had a great time.
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