When I was dreaming about all the fun things I was going to do while I was in Canada recently during Winter, skiing was at the top of my list. I have never skiied before, let alone seen snow that much. The first time I saw snow was 8 years ago briefly in Switzerland and in the Snowy Mountains two years ago. I was actually really nervous about skiing for the first time. I have no idea why because I was always very sporty at school.
After spending the first two days with my good friend Kristin, she had to go back to Calgary for work. The weather wasn’t look that good for taking photos that day so she convinced me to go and have my first ski lesson. As much as I was resisting it, I thought to myself “just rip it off like a bandaid and do it”. So I booked a beginner ski lesson at Lake Louise.
I also had an upcoming stay at Sunshine Mountain Lodge which is a ski lodge perched on top of a mountain and you basically stay there to go skiing so I wanted to get some practice in before that!
So let me tell you all about my learning to ski in Banff, Canada experience.
First ski lesson: Lake Louise
First I started with a first time skiing selfie as you do. ? Come on, you know you have to capture these moments! Then I met up with my instructor Tessa who was awesome. She was British but had been living in Australia previously and had an Aussie boyfriend so we had a bit to chat about. No one showed up for a beginner lesson but me so it was basically like a private one on one lesson which suited me fine!
Luckily I picked it up quite quickly or maybe Tessa was just a really good instructor! ? I found it quite easy but then I did a lot of inline skating when I was younger. We stuck to the bunny slope for the whole lesson although Tessa did want to take me on the chairlift. Unfortunately it wasn’t included in my ticket. I did get to go on the track with the jumps though (this is where I did stack it!) and it was fun! Out of a two hour lesson, I only stacked it 3 times which I am pretty proud of. And yes there is a video of me stacking it and I may decide to put it in my final Canada video that I will put together in the next few weeks!
So after a two hour lesson I was feeling a lot less nervous but still not 100% confident. I am certainly glad that I bit the bullet and had a lesson. I planned on having another lesson when I got to Sunshine Village in a few days time too. If you are around the Lake Louise area and want a lesson I highly recommend Tessa. She was the best!
Sunshine Mountain Lodge
After two days spent in Jasper which you can read about here, Kristin dropped me off at Sunshine Village which is at the bottom of the mountain and where the gondola takes you up to the top ski fields. It also takes you to Sunshine Mountain Lodge. I know right! You have to catch a gondola to the lodge! Pretty damn cool! The gondola closes at 5pm everyday except for Friday when it is open until 10pm.
You leave your bags down the bottom at the desk at Sunshine Village and they bring them up within two hours of arriving so you have to make sure you take anything you need before handing them over. Then you jump in a gondola and work your way up the mountain, and I have to say it is a looooong way! The scenery is stunning on the way up especially if there has been a fresh dumping of snow on the trees!
Sunshine Village is probably THE most popular ski slope in Banff as it gets the most snow. It is the first one to open at the beginning of the season and gets tonnes of powder up top. It also has the best bunny slope if you are a beginner, so I’ve heard! Like I said above, I have not been in snow a lot but I know the difference between good and bad snow.
The snow in Banff is supreme! The climate is so dry that the snow is like powder. It is super soft and so good to ski on. I remember being in the snowy mountains and the snow being really crunchy. (Sorry Australia but you just don’t compare and we all know it! ?).
After getting off the gondola I made the short walk up to the lodge, checked in and went to get comfy in my room. I had stunning views from my balcony over the ski fields. My room was warm, modern and inviting. Just what you expect in a ski lodge.
Those alpine sunsets
It was now getting close to sunset as I didn’t get to Sunshine Village until 4pm after coming down from Jasper. I grabbed my camera gear and headed off up the ski slope to try and get some views over the mountains. Sunset was a pretty pastel alpine one and I was obsessed with this wooden cabin.
When in Rome…
After a massive day I was pretty beat so I order some room service. They had Elk stew on the menu. A stew sounded perfect in this cold weather and I had never tried Elk before so I though it would give it a try. It was absolutely delicious. So tender, tasty and hearty. It really hit the spot.
The next morning I was up early to photograph the sunrise and have a bit more of a wander around the mountains before the chair lifts opened. It was another fresh morning which meant clear skies and another blue bird day!
Ski Lesson No. 2
After breakfast it was time for my second ski lesson. The wonderful Ashleigh was my instructor and she was amazing. Again, I was the only one in my group for a while until another guy joined us. We did a quick recap of where I was at on the bunny slope and after a few runs it was time to get on the chair lift and head up the top for a proper run. I was getting really nervous now but Ashleigh made me feel at ease.
We all headed down the mountain together practicing our turns and stopping. It was all coming together and I started to feel confident with it all! The next two hours was spent going up on the chair lift and skiing down trying out different things.
Once the lesson was over, I did a few runs on my own, then headed in for some lunch and to warm up. The wind was pretty chilly and I didn’t have a face mask like everyone else.
After lunch I hitched my Go Pro on my helmet and did a few runs down again. The time went so fast and I was having so much fun. I literally spent the whole day skiing. I’m proud to say, I only stacked in once and it was even a proper stack because I didn’t fall on bum. One of my skis came off, which was an easy fix after someone yelled at me from the chair lift to put the binding down! Haha!
Hot tub shananigans
After a long day on the slopes there is an awesomely large hot tub to soothe the body. Some nights they host hot tub bingo which is a hoot and can go for hours. Waterproof boards and game pieces are used. You grab a drink from the bar and jump in the hot tub for some serious entertainment. The hot tubs were one of my favourite things about being in Canada in Winter!
Seeking the views
The next morning after breakfast I wanted to see the views across the top of the mountains, so I threw on some snow shoes that you can grab from reception for free and caught the Standish chairlift to the top. This is one of two passenger chairlifts around Sunshine Village. The views from the top are stunning and it’s a really popular run for snow boarders.
After clowning around on top of the mountain for a while it was time to head back down to the lodge, pack up and leave this Winter wonderland. I had an absolute blast staying at Sunshine Mountain Lodge and would highly recommend this place if you are in Canada to ski. There is nothing more exciting than stepping out from your warm, cosy room to get on that fresh powder before the crowds show up. Being the first one on a run is mind blowing and something that every skier needs to do it at least once.
I will definitely be staying here next time I am in Canada for Winter. It is such an awesome experience. Have you skiied at Sunshine Village or stayed at Sunshine Mountain Lodge? If so, let me know by leaving a comment below. I would love to know what your experience was like.
Big thanks to Sunshine Mountain Lodge for having me. Even though this was a sponsored stay as always all opinions are my own.
If you would like to experience Sunshine Mountain Lodge for yourself, you can find the contact details below:
1 Sunshine Access Road
Banff, Alberta, Canada
Toll free within North America:
Outside North America: 1-403-705-4000