I thought it was about time to plan a Banff ski trip over the holidays. After all, it had been more than a decade since my last alpine adventure. I ventured out to Sunshine Village for a day on the slopes, and needless to say: it was phenomenal!

Mountain view from Sunshine Village
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Misty mountains near dusk.

Before You Go to Banff Sunshine Village

Banff ski trip mountain views
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Breathtaking Rocky Mountain views with Mount Assiniboine off in the distance.

It was finally time for the long-awaited Banff ski trip. Yesterday I spent the whole day at Sunshine Village. Thankfully my friend knows more about skiing in the Rockies than I do, so I was in good hands. Before we left Calgary, I bought our lift tickets at Costco (who knew?) and rented my gear from Sports Rent. If you rent after 4 pm, you’re only charged for one day if the gear is returned before 10 pm the next day. This saved us a tonne of time at the ski hill, especially with the long gondola line ahead.

If you’re new to Sunshine Village, or if you haven’t gone yet this year, you might appreciate these little tips. First, there are storage racks for bags outside of the Centennial Lodge, so bring your lunch and extra layers on the gondola. Second, there’s no inside space this season, so be prepared for an entire day facing the elements. We lucked out with lots of sunshine (pun intended). Lastly, be sure to bring a face mask (you can’t ride the gondola without one).

Banff Sunshine Village Gondola

Banff ski trip to Sunshine Village
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We waited in line for 3 hours. Even though it was mid-week, it was the holiday week.

We rolled into parking area just before opening at 8 am. It was the perfect day for a Banff ski trip. To our surprise, there was a long line waiting for the gondola… that took over 3 hours… on a Tuesday?! That part wasn’t great. But I suppose that’s what happens between Christmas and New Year’s. Apparently normal mid-week at Sunshine is far less busy. Even so, it was till worth the wait.

Face masks that cover the nose are mandatory in the line-up, in the gondola, and inside any building. Most just used their balaclava, and staff were also handing out disposable masks.

Read more: XC Skiing Moraine Lake Road in Banff National Park (Perfect For Beginners!)

Taking the gondola to Banff Sunshine Village
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The gondola ride to Sunshine Village.

More questions about how Sunshine Village is managing COVID-19? Read these FAQs on the Sunshine Village website.

Great Skiing at Banff Sunshine Village

My first Banff ski trip
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My first time on alpine skis in over a decade!

After the long wait, we made our way up the mountain in the gondola. The first stop is for Goat’s Eye Mountain where there are lots of black runs. Since I hadn’t skied in ages, we continued on to Lookout Mountain and Mount Standish for the day. It’s helpful to check out Sunshine Village ski trail maps to get the lay of the land.

There are several green and blue runs to enjoy for those less seasoned skiers (like myself). And there’s still ample opportunity to gain some speed. What a thrill! I fell a few times… but who doesn’t? I mostly remembered how to maneuver. It’s like riding a bike, right?

Read more: Banff’s Tunnel Mountain Hike Is For Everyone (Short and Easy!)

Banff Sunshine Village ski lift
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Chairlift up to Lookout Mountain.
Banff ski trip
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Lookout Mountain. The views were marvellous!
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My friend Sheldon snowboarding like a champ!
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Sunshine and stunning views all day!

What To Wear For Your Banff Ski Trip

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We were outside from 8 am until 5 pm at -10 degrees. Aside from my rental boots (can you say blisters?), I was very comfortable for the entire day.

What should you wear for a day of skiing? I follow my winter clothing rule: it’s all about layers. I wore my merino wool base-layer, a long-sleeve moisture-wicking layer, my synthetic mid-layer (down doesn’t keep me warm when I sweat!), and my outer shell. On my bottom half, I wore my base-layer and ski pants. My thick merino wool socks kept my feet nice and warm (don’t do cotton… please don’t). And of course, I had gloves, balaclava, and an extra toque (which I didn’t need).

No matter the activity, the right gear for the weather will make all the difference. What’s “right” varies from person to person depending on core temperature… but you’ll never go wrong with layers.

Overall, it was a great return to slopes. One thing’s for sure: I won’t be waiting another decade to get back out there!

Have you been downhill skiing in the Rocky Mountains? What’s your favourite place to go? Any advice for novice alpine adventurers? Drop a comment below.

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