To live in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and not try alpine skiing or snowboarding is missing a doorstep opportunity. The sport is more accessible in our part of the country than almost anywhere else, and it can be learned at any age. The aspiring downhill skier, however, must consider four points:
(1) what to wear
(2) what equipment to get
(3) where to find instruction and
(4) where are slopes for novices.
Maintaining your body temperature in varying weather conditions is a tricky business. Because your personal comfort is the starting point, select clothing that is waterproof, breathable and loose fitting. Think in terms of layering by adding or taking off articles depending upon outside temperature and your level of exertion. The innermost layer should be long thermal underwear, either light or medium weight. Choose a fabric with wicking properties such as polypropylene to transport moisture away from the skin. Loose-fitting, insulated shell pants are preferable to tight stretch pants that tend not to be warm, waterproof or particularly comfortable for a beginner.
For the upper body, you already have what you need in your closet – a turtleneck with a sweater or fleece (spun pile polyester) shirt. For the outer jacket, avoid the traditional ski parka in favor of a shell coat – insulated or not. A ski bib is the practical alternative for keeping snow from getting into your midsection. Wear a pair of wool socks, opting for thicker material if you’re renting boots since they’re often one size larger than new boots. Avoid double pairs of socks, which tend to chafe and bulk. For heat retention, a wool hat covering the ears is essential, preferably one with a no-itch headband liner.
Select a pair of orange or amber goggles with good air circulation, a double lens and an anti-fog coating. Invest in a good pair of waterproof, breathable mittens or gloves for greater dexterity.
The clothing costs range from approximately $300 to $500, but much of this investment can double as street wear, especially in our climate. You can also look into used clothing at local sports swaps and consignment stores for very low costs.
When choosing equipment – boots, bindings, skis and poles – don’t worry about performance subtleties. Let an experienced ski salesperson help you select a line of entry-level equipment. You’ll be fitted with a very flexible ski that comes up to approximately your chin. Choose boots that provide a relaxed, comfortable fit are easier to put on and accommodate a wide range of foot sizes.
There’s no need to buy your gear at this point. Poles, boots and skis with mounted bindings may be rented on a daily or weekly basis at most ski areas or in-town ski shops.
Once you’re ready to hit the slopes, invest in lessons with a professional instructor. Unless you think you need an instructor’s undivided attention in a private class, opt for group lessons for the camaraderie of cost savings. Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance and Canadian Association for Snowboard Instruction has standardized teaching methods nationally, so the instruction will be the same wherever you go.
With a wide range of ski and board programs, our qualified instructors have the right program for you.
Slopes for Novices @ Louise
Those people who are just picking up the sport of skiing or snowboarding don’t have to worry about missing out on anything; especially the spectacular scenery that Lake Louise has to offer.
The easiest trails are accessible from all areas of the mountain. From the top of the Glacier Express Quad Chair, beginners can wind their way down the front side of the mountain on Wiwaxy (Run #9). On the backside, take Pika (Run #65) from the top of the Grizzly Express Gondola. The Larch area should not be missed. Also try Saddleback (Run #109) - it's a beginner trail that goes from the top of the Top of the World Express Chair all the way down to the Ptarmigan Quad or back around to the front side.
Click here for more info on Ski School information.