Spring is my favourite time to go skiing for warm weather, sunny days spent on the hill with no frozen fingers or toes, and for the abundant patio opportunities. It can also be a challenging time though with unpredictable snow (often changing by the hour) and temperatures that make us overheat just trying to carry gear from the parking lot to the day lodge.
Check out my ten simple tips below and discover how to fully make the most of your days on the hill this spring season.
- Be prepared for multiple wardrobe changes. We’ve already had a couple of warm ski days this season where I was sweating just trying to pack our skis over to the day lodge. We’d always cool off on the chair lift ride up the hill but then I’d be sweating again on the ski down. The biggest tip here is layering so that you have options for dealing with changing temperatures. Add a sweater, remove a shirt, ski with just a warm base layer and your ski pants, or take the lining out of your 3-in-1 ski jacket. I also recommend having some extra clothing options stored in a duffel bag in the day lodge (or in your vehicle) so that you can do a quick wardrobe change mid-day if you need.
- Fight thirst without breaking the bank. Unless you’re prepared to pay at least $3 for a beverage or even a bottle of water when the sun starts beating down on you, make sure you pack some water bottles in your day pack to leave in the lodge. You can always fill your own water bottle in the lodge (for free) so skip buying drinks and bring Gatorade crystals, flavor drops, or even lemonade powder.
- A spring sunburn is not a fashion statement. While a lot of people like to pull out their “funky fun clothing” for spring skiing, don’t think you’re going to look cool trying to accessorize with a sun burn after spending hours on the hill, snow reflecting the sun on to your skin. Sun’s out, Sunblock’s out!
- Get first tracks for the best spring snow. Get on the hill at 9am and you’ll have at least three hours before the snow starts getting slushy. By noon, if you have a seasons pass, you can always call it quits for the day if the snow deteriorates too badly and head over to Kananaskis Village for a walk, a skate on the pond, or even just a visit to the playground.
- Ski high for the best snow. The lower mountain will always get slushy before the runs off the gold chair will. Ski the lower slopes in the morning but move your way up the hill when the snow starts getting soft.
- Be prepared for all kinds of conditions (in the same day!) You might start skiing on iced corduroy for the first hour, move on to soft snow that resembles mashed potatoes for the next hour or so, and then slowly move into slushier conditions by noon. That’s the reality of spring skiing! My best suggestion is to send a strong skier out to try new areas on the mountain first before taking the kids up a new lift and discovering the runs to be icy or in a condition that your children can’t ski.
- Join in the fun of a spring fiesta. Nakiska will be holding Spring Fiesta weekends every Saturday and Sunday in April for the first three weeks until April 16th. Have fun with some spring skiing and DJ entertainment in a slope side lounge. A face painter and balloon artist will be on site for the kids.
- Stay local and enjoy a mini-ski vacation. Book your ski vacation through Resorts of the Canadian Rockies for great family deals on ski passes and accommodations at the Delta Kananaskis Lodge or Stoney Nakoda Lodge. For an affordable ski vacation, the HI Kananaskis Hostel has four private rooms and a fully stocked kitchen so you can make your own meals.
- Try something new this spring! Warmer days, sunshine, and bluebird skies call for new experiences and fun adventures. Try some family tubing at Nakiska, take a snowboard lesson, book a family coaching session and learn some new skills in a private ski or snowboarding class, register the kids in a spring break camp, or book a private lesson to get an introduction to doing tricks in the terrain park.
- Always have a backup plan for spring ski weekends. With unpredictable spring weather and snow conditions, it’s always good to have a few backup plans (especially if you’re staying at Kananaskis Village for a weekend and are only skiing half days.) Take a fat bike tour with Kananaskis Outfitters at the nearby Village, rent snowshoes or cross country skis from the Outfitters and check out the trails around the village, or take a hike to nearby Troll Falls and see if you can find some of the hidden trolls along the trail.
See you on the slopes this spring!
Valentine’s Day is coming up – treat the lady in your life to a Ladies’ Day at Nakiska! Ladies’ Ski & Snowboard Days are scheduled this season for February 9th, March 1st, 9th & 29th and April 6th (potential date). Ladies day programs all include lift pass, instruction, transportation, gourmet lunch and (of course) pampering.
Purchase your program (or one for your lady) and get more information from our purchase link.
I sat down with Kirsten, instructor extraordinaire from our Winter Sports School and asked her why she thinks everyone can ski and why everyone should start skiing;
1) Many think skiing is hard who have never tried it- but we know different- why?
Skiing is easy and fun if you learn the right way, it’s a lot easier then it looks to pick up and master, once you have the basics behind you, all you need is mileage and some good encouragement, once you start you cant stop.
2) Why would you say new Canadians should try skiing?
Simply because you have the biggest playground in your backyard, winters in Canada can be long and cold, but when your skiing, those long cold days are something you can look forward to, it’s a great winter activity that the whole family can take part in and enjoy.
3) What does skiing provide guests who try it?
Fun, accomplishment, laughs and a great experience you can take with you for the rest of your life, yes some guests may not enjoy skiing as much as others, but at least you can say you have tried it. It also opens your eyes to a whole new world and a whole new winter activity, you get to see things from a different perspective and the views from the top of the lift are always worth it 😀
4) What is the first timer experience like? Can you break it down- teaching steps, dealing with weather, how to dress etc.
The first tier experience can be a bit daunting to some non the less the end result is almost always a good one, when you have your first ski lesson you will be shown how to handle the equipment (skis, poles, boots etc ). You will learn how to get around on your skis, how to move and how to stop… stopping is an important one, once you start feeling comfortable with all of that, you will be introduced to turning, once you are turning comfortably and are in control, the terrain will be adjusted and you will be taught how to get down various terrain safely while enjoying it.
There are many factors that go into a first time ski lesson, you will want to dress appropriately for the weather, generally you would want some good snow pants and a good snow jacket, under layers are important to, and the amount of layers will change depending on the weather, socks are another important one, you would want to get a good pair of ski socks, and one pair is enough, your toes will be nice and toasty. There are a ton of other options for those extra cold days to when it comes to keeping those feet nice and warm. I would advise wearing a helmet and having a good pair of goggles, gloves and a face mask will come in handy to, all of this is very important especially if its your first time, because you may fall over a few times while learning, it doesn’t hurt to fall over on your skis, I promise 😀
The more prepared and comfortable you are, the easier it will be to focus on your lesson and get skiing faster.
5) What made it special about teaching these two (new Canadians)?
They had never been skiing before, it was a new adventure for both of them. They were really excited and enthusiastic from the get go, they listened well and progressed quickly, they had tons of fun learning and wanted to keep going. It’s always a pleasure to introduce someone into skiing and seeing the joy it brings them.
Check out the video of Kirsten teaching two new Canadians to ski earlier this season, produced in partnership with Go Ski Alberta and Snowseekers on our YouTube channel;
As you dream about ski adventures next winter, here are 10 reasons to put the Canadian Rockies at the top of your must-do list.
1)Hot Springs. From au natural rock pools of steaming hot mineral water in the forest to commercial springs like Fairmont, Cave and Basin, and Radium, there are many ways to soothe post-skiing muscle aches and pains in the Rockies.
2)National parks. Fernie Alpine Resort, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort and Nakiska Ski Area sit on the door step of Canada’s stunning mountain national parks of Yoho, Jasper, Banff, Waterton and Kootenay. Combined these natural treasures make up the globally recognized Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the largest protected mountain areas in the world.
3)Mountain views. Quadruple check. Fernie, Kimberley, Kicking Horse and Nakiska offer up some of the largest and tastiest vertical of any resorts in Canada together with stunning views of the Elk River, Columbia, and Kananaskis valleys.
4) Diversity of riding options. From destination resort skiing to cozy backcountry lodges, from heli to cat skiing, there ‘s a mind boggling variety and choice of winter experiences available in the mountains of Western Canada.
5)Mountain cuisine and craft beers. Got a hunger? Why not dine on Elk burger at the Eagle’s Nest, the restaurant with a sky high view at the top of the Eagle Express Gondola at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. In Fernie head into town for an après ski Project 9 Pils, Big Caboose Red Ale or another of the craft brewed beers at Fernie Brewing Company. Or sink into the chair for a cocktail by the hearth at Lizard Creek Lodge’s Cirque Restaurant.
6) Snow quality and quantity. You can bank on it. Fernie’s Lizard Range runs perpendicular to the Rockie’s north-south access, generating generous weather patterns that are a skiers dream. At the same time Kicking Horse Resort is renowned for champagne light powder snow. All you need is an adventurous nature and a trail map, or the knowledge of a level 4 instructor to help you find inbound stashes of the stuff days after the last storm.
7)Going steep. Alpine bowls and couloirs abound but perhaps a Big Mountain Clinic at Kicking Horse is what you need to tune steep skills, build enough confidence to point the tips down a couloir and get to the goods.
8) Access. It doesn’t get much better. Calgary International Airport (YYC) is serviced by direct flights from major Canadian, American and European centres. The drive west from the rolling prairies of Calgary to the soaring Canadian Rockies is breathtaking.
9)Crowds? You can leave those behind. With more than 8000 total skiable acres between Kicking Horse, Fernie, Kimberley and Nakiska, your legs will quit before the terrain does.
10) Value. American friends, you won’t find a better bang for your winter buck when you head north of the 49th parallel to ski the Canadian Rockies.
Checking your Ski Equipment now is very important for many reasons, here are the 3 top reasons;
FAQ: I get asked all the time ‘Why should I check my Ski Equipment, as I’m not a great skier and spend lots of time on the beginner slopes with kids…”
My Answer: I always say try these- once you try new skis you are on cloud nine. Technology advancements, ski shape, size are some of the many reasons the new skis really do make a difference. You owe it to yourself as it will enhance your skiing skills, make skiing easier and give you more control on the slopes.
FAQ: I have a pair of skis in the garage- is it okay to use them?
My Answer: The key here is check the bindings- visit your local ski shop or most ski resorts have tune up shops in the rental areas as well. If you live in Calgary visit your local ski shop like the new Sporting Life store located in Southcentre mall to have a pro look at the bindings to make sure they still are in good shape and meet current binding standards.
FAQ: Do I really need to check the condition of the bases and edges of my skis?
My Answer: Now I don’t get my skis tuned all that regularly as I ski mostly in soft, powder snow. But if you are visiting ski resorts that have hard snow or icy conditions regularly then you should definitely get your skis tuned more often.
STORY AND PHOTOS BY : Marc Lepage
Welcome to the Carving Capital of Canada! The once famous runs of the Olympic downhill events in 1988, has since evolved into a true skier’s paradise. With two near-perfect mountain ridges, Nakiska Ski Resort offers some of the most meticulously groomed, and indulgingly wide, trails I’ve seen. From the three Magic Carpets to skiing tree tops on Bull’s Head, there is most definitely something for everyone here.
Beginners of all ages will find the Bronze Chair area to be a perfect starting point. Completely isolated, those who wish to learn the basics can do so in this completely green zone. This section offers piece of mind, and insures a safe, speed-free environment to better focus on the basics.
The eternal intermediate can catch an unforgettable morning run on the crisp and freshly primed Homesteader. The wide blue cruisers of Nakiska are hard to top in the world of ski resorts. Whether you are looking to warm up or devote an entire day to casual fun, these trails offer the perfect environment to practice your speed control and edge pressure.
For the more practiced skiers, carvers and racers, the treats accessible from the Gold Chair are matched by few. The 452 meter vertical, will test your expertise, challenge your skills and keep you coming back for more. Be advised, this lift only serves a mountain side where there is ‘’No easy way down’’.
Whether you want to carve hard or flow though soft gripping bumps, this peak is for you. First time guests should start by repeatedly shredding the fresh corduroy on Whoop-Up, move on to attacking the naturally bumped Arrow, and end with a minimum of two trips to the easily accessed but not easily mastered, Monster Glades. The inevitable warm dark roast and slice of lemon raspberry loaf in the main chalet are by then more than justified.
At Nakiska, a 12 000 meter vertical day is not only feasible but thoroughly enjoyable. The effortless skiing on its even surfaces keeps your legs fresh and your cruising speeds up. The liberating effect of the extra-wide freeways plays with your sense of space and velocity. You can easily find yourself cruising at 80 and using the unmarked passing lanes to your left. Tune your edges and start racking up your laps. 25 should do the trick.
In closing, I must give a special mention to the resort’s ski racks. After 68 mountains skied, these original 1980s racks from the 1980’s are not only novel but have outclassed all others by a considerable margin. This imaginative and logical design assures that skis, poles and boards stay organized and upright. Incredible how such a s simple and often taken for granted aspect of the the skier’s experience can be made better with a little thought and care. Bravo to the engineers!
Check your Air Miles account, get to Calgary and hit the slopes on the same day. Only 50 minutes from the airport, Nakiska should easily be your first destination out west, a gateway mountain to the Rockies. As we would say in Ontario, Nakiska Ski Resort is ‘’yours to discover’’.
This has been a guest blog post, written by:
Words & photos by Karen Ung
Ski season has started and it’s not too late to get a Nakiska Season’s Pass! Why Nakiska? The best hill is the one you go to! Since my first visit in ’99, I’ve made lots of turns at Nakiska, and return each year to the promise of great skiing less than an hour’s drive from home. There is terrain for all levels, with fun features such as the NaJibSka Rail Park and Monster Glades, an amazing snow school, and a long season thanks to state of the art snowmaking equipment. Last year, we made the most of our season’s pass (15 visits!), and were surprised at how quickly our kids progressed from bunny hill to blue runs! If you love to ski and want to go often, a Season’s Pass or RCR Rockies Card is the best value for your money.
- Ski Close: Since Nakiska is less than an hour from Calgary, you not only save time and money driving, but on lodging and dining also!
- Ski any time, all season long, for a great rate: Your Season’s Pass pays for itself in only 11 visits (way less if you get the early bird special)! Not sure you will go that many times? Consider the RCR Rockies Card*. For little more than a single lift ticket, you get three free days and discounts at partner ski resorts. *Only available until December 26th
- Flexibility: Whether you like to sleep in or have children that nap, a season’s pass allows you to ski when you want. There’s no need to wait until 12:30 pm for half-day lift tickets! Since our girls are late risers, we head out mid-morning after a big breakfast and ski until the lifts shut down. It’s just the right amount of time for little legs (and by not overdoing it, they’re keen to go back)!
- Terrain for All Levels: Nakiska boasts a large learning area, beginner-friendly green runs, the NaJibSka Rail Park, Monster Glades, and everything in between. While the runs off the Gold Chair are my favorite, now that I have children, I appreciate the beginner terrain. There is an easy way down, so even beginners can take long runs down from the top of the Silver Chair. My daughter quickly advanced to blue runs by the age of 5!
- Super Fast Gold Chair Express: I love the Gold Chair Express so I can wait less and ski more. Tip: Play in the Monster Glades after a big dump of snow!
- Kids 5 & Under Ski Free: For real! Nakiska is the only mountain that offers free skiing to children 5 and under, so if your children are the right age, you only need to purchase adult season’s passes!
- Resort Size: With 71 runs, Nakiska is just the right size. The hill is easy to navigate, with all runs on the same side of the mountain, and there are plenty of fun runs for everyone. Pop in to the mid-mountain lodge or main lodge for a bite. Fun fact: 28% of Nakiska’s runs are advanced!
- No Getting Stuck In The Flats: Nakiska doesn’t have long, flat stretches to get stuck in, so you can ski or ride more!
- Family Friendly: Families will love Nakiska’s onsite daycare, Snow School, great learning area for first timers, and beginner friendly runs from the Bronze Chair. The Bronze Chair is not too fast, so first-timers can safely get the hang of getting on and off.
- Partner Discounts: Your Nakiska Season’s Pass includes discounts at partner resorts, hotels, and businesses. See all member benefits here.
Bonus: Skiing at Nakiska is fun!
See you on the slopes! At Nakiska!
We got to try Nakiska’s brand new Tube Park while we were at the resort before Christmas. First impression, I honestly thought it looked like a miniature toboggan hill. It didn’t look like much and it wasn’t very big. I’d never tried tubing at a resort before so I guess I had built it up in my mind to be something much larger. I quickly changed my opinion after the first ride down though. It was the most fun I’ve had on a sled or tube – EVER. And it didn’t hurt!
I’m not generally a big fan of sledding because honestly, this body is just too old to handle all the bumps and jarring anymore. Tubing at Nakiska on the other hand was completely gentle, smooth, groomed, and adult-friendly! I’d go back again any day!
Nakiska Ski Area is well known for a few things, including its super long ski season and often being the earliest resort in Canada to open as well as it’s immaculately groomed, wide, Olympic sized runs and also its snowmaking abilities.
Nakiska is a public ski resort today, however, it owes its entire existence to Calgary winning the bid to host the XV Olympic Games in 1988. Being constructed to host to world’s best alpine athletes, a state of the art world class snowmaking system was built into the resort. Often opening for skiing and snowboarding right at the beginning of November (sometimes even at the end of October) the credit is owed in part to Mother Nature, of course, and also largely to the snowmaking capabilities.
Nakiska Snowmaking Fact – depending on the time of year the system can produce between 1 and 2 feet of snow over an acre in an hour. In terms of football fields, (the North American variety and including the end zones), Nakiska’s system can cover one of them in between an hour and a half and 45 minutes!
Each season, Nakiska makes upgrades and improvements to the snowmaking system to ensure it’s the most cutting edge it can be. This season, the focus was on environmentally friendly improvement. Some of the work done over this summer and fall including installing a new cooling system to save water and reuse it back into snowmaking and building a new mid mountain pump house with a continuous pipe from the base to bring the water saved and turn it into snow.
Nakiska Snowmaking Fact – our water license gives Nakiska the capacity to make 6 feet of snow to cover the entire mountain!
Visit Nakiska this season to enjoy it’s Olympic caliber terrain & great snow – don’t forget to check out the Monster Glades where there is no grooming required and often powder stashes to be found for days after a natural snowfall!
Read more about how our snowmaking system upgrades in our Getting Ready for Winter news post and read more about our Commitment to the Environment and new Trees are for Glades project on treesareforglades.com.
We like white on green here at Resorts of the Canadian Rockies; lots and lots of snow on our mountains and all over the trees on those mountains too. Because if you’ve never come rocketing through the glades, ripping up and down the natural moguls with powder hitting you in your grinning face until you blast back onto the trail, you really haven’t lived. And we kind of want to keep that around for a while, for future skiers and riders, for our kids, and for our kids’ kids too.
That’s why we decided to take a stand and be the first ski resort company to refuse printing a brochure this year, to do what we can to lessen our environmental footprint. On top of that, we’ll plant a whole tree for every email sign-up to our online newsletter. We hope this helps reiterate to consumers everywhere, that taking paper maybe isn’t the answer any more, especially if you can find that information online anyways.
So, help do your part and keep the Trees for Glades! Sign your email up on our Trees for Glades website and read our full story (plus enter our contest for the chance to win a spring event ski trip for you and 3 friends)!
Success So Far:
- 75,000 pieces of paper saved by this initiative alone
- So far: 3000+ trees planted – thanks to you!
Photo courtesy of Trees for the Future Facebook.