Yamnuska Mountain Adventures is now offering world-class backcountry skiing and split boarding adventures based from the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Through our exclusive arrangement with this renowned resort, we will be accessing the excellent terrain in Banff National Park just outside the Lake Louise Ski Area boundary with the ski lifts. From open bowls to skiing in the treeline larches, get ready to ski or board some of the best backcountry snow in the Rockies. Potential ski areas include West Bowl, Speed Run area, Hidden Bowl, Redoubt Bowl, Purple Bowl, Wolverine Ridge and the Tylenols to name a few.
Often referred to as ‘sidecountry’ or slackcountry’ skiing, we’ll use the lifts at the outset to access the backcountry terrain, saving our legs to ski hidden stashes of powder. Once in the backcountry we will use our climbing skins and skis or split boards to run laps and move efficiently throughout the backcountry bowls. This is a great opportunity for intermediate and advanced resort skiers to experience backcountry skiing at its finest.
Ready for a great adventure? You will be exploring the side country of the Lake Louise Ski Resort with your ACMG certified guide choosing the terrain based on the conditions, your ability and the best snow.
Sample Course Agenda & Curriculum
8:30am, field day, meet at the Lake Louise Ski resort day lodge.
- Program introduction and briefing
- Issue and check gear for the backcountry
- Avalanche companion rescue practice
- Equipment familiarization
- Finish by 4:00pm
Must be 18 years of age or older.
Meeting Time and Place
Our backcountry days start at 8:30am at the Lake Louise Ski Resort on the Main Floor of the Whiskey Jack Lodge Near Guest Services.
Guides & Group Size
Our instructors are ACMG certified professional ski guides who are licensed to teach and guide in the backcountry. There will be a maximum of 6 participants per guide and a maximum of 12 participants per day. There will be a minimum of 3 participants on this program.
Your lift ticket can be purchased when you meet your guide at a discounted cost of $45. For Lake Louise season ticket holders there is no need to purchase a ticket. We will use the lift to access out of bounds terrain and will not be riding the lift every run. Instead we will using climbing skins since we will be skiing away from the lifts.
Participants are responsible for their own transport to Lake Louise which is a 2 hour (185 km) drive west from Calgary.
Accommodation & Meals
Just outside of the Lake Louise Ski Area is the Great Divide Lodge. Situated in Yoho National Park, this skiers retreat provides transportation to and from the ski hill for those staying at the lodge.
We recommend you stay at the Great Divide Lodge for the following rates:
A packed lunch can be supplied for the day with advanced notice. Please contact us for details. Food is not supplied. Each day bring plenty to drink and a lunch plus energy snacks. We strongly suggest bringing a Thermos and hot drink. We will not be back at the lodge for lunches and breaks during the day.
We recommend you bring:
- Avalanche transceiver – digital transceiver with a triple antennae *
- Avalanche probe *
- Avalanche shovel – collapsible metal shovel designed for companion rescue *
- Skis/splitboard (with alpine touring bindings or telemark for those with telemark experience)
- Ski/snowboard boots (compatible with your bindings)
- Climbing skins
- Ski Helmet (optional)
- Daypack* (30-40 litres) *
- Thermos flask and/or water bottle (1-2 litres combined volume)
- Blister kit
*These items are available for rent. Please advise us in advance.
When Backcountry skiing, it is important to be able to adjust for the exertion of skiing uphill as well as the cooling off that occurs while taking breaks. We recommend bringing clothing that can be layered to achieve comfort as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest. Cotton clothing is not appropriate as it causes rapid heat loss when wet.
We recommend you bring:
- Long underwear (top and bottoms, synthetic or wool)
- Socks (synthetic or wool)
- Softshell jacket
- Midweight synthetic or down jacket
- Waterproof hardshell jacket
- Waterproof hardshell or softshell pants (make sure the cuff fits over ski boots)
- Heavyweight parka (big enough to over over all your other layers)
- Waterproof gloves
- Warm hat
Additional gear info:
- Skis/splitboard: There are three viable backcountry systems, Alpine Touring, Telemark, and Splitboard.
- Alpine Touring: Essentially downhill skis with a special touring binding which allows the heel to lift when going uphill and then locks down to become an alpine binding for the downhill.
- Telemark: Free-heel telemark bindings should only be used for this program if you are at least an intermediate/advanced telemark skier with backcountry experience.
- Splitboard: Snowboarders sometimes use a splitboard in the backcountry. This system is enjoyable on the descent, but frustrating on the flats. The transitions between uphill and downhill can also be very time consuming. If using this system, please ensure that you are proficient at switching your bindings.
- Boots: Backcountry boots are different from regular alpine ski boots. In the backcountry, boots need to have an uphill mode that allows a free range of motion in the upper part of the boot. You should not use your regular ski boots for touring and walking uphill.
- Climbing skins: The glue on the base of the skin should be in good condition and the skins need to be properly fitted. Try the skins on your skis/splitboard to make sure they are the right length and width before you arrive.
- Ski poles: Backcountry poles need powder baskets on the tips.
- Avalanche beacon: A three antennae transceiver is required. Yamnuska uses the Backcountry Access Tracker 2 for all of our winter programs.
- Probe: A minimum 240 cm in length.
- Shovel: A metal blade shovel is required.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. We require full payment on booking.
You have up to 14 days prior to your meeting time to cancel your reservation at no cost to you. We require a minimum of 3 people to run this program.
Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the program. Please view our sample waiver copy.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travelers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for rescue in the national and provincial parks, however costs such as air or ground transportation, long term care and other services are not covered.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries and other unplanned events. For these eventualities the Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian Travelers.
Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure’s trip.
$210 CDN includes instruction and guiding. GST is extra.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
For those interested in a private program, if our dates do not work for you or if there are minors in your group (accompanied by a parent or legal guardian) please contact our office directly.
Is it for you?
In this program participants will be introduced to ‘out of bounds’ backcountry skiing in the Lake Louise Ski Resort area. Avalanche companion rescue will be touched upon, but it is recommended that participants also take an Avalanche Skills Training 1 course offered by Yamnuska if you would like to continue backcountry skiing in the future. We will conduct a lesson on basic companion rescue skills prior to entering any potential avalanche terrain.
Participants are required to be at least intermediate skiers or snowboarders (i.e. must feel comfortable on blue runs in any condition) and should be ‘hiking fit’. We will use the lift to access the backcountry but most of our ‘laps’ will involve using climbing skins to go back uphill meaning a good level of fitness is required. There is a minimum age of 18. For those interested in a private program with minors (accompanied by a parent or legal guardian) please contact our office directly.