Quality Control in Canada
If someone had told me a few months ago that I would be snowboarding in knee deep powder in Canada in mid-November I would have thought they were mad. There’s a lot a reasons we chose Banff as our Canadian home; cold conditions and a super long season are a couple of the big selling points. With a 7 month season and a start date almost a month before a lot of other North American resorts it’s a no brainer for those looking to spend a lot of time on snow.
Getting to Canada was a pretty easy mission considering how far it looks on a map. All the flights from the UK travel up over the Arctic (the views are amazing) where the earth is smaller so the flight is not even that bad, especially if you score one of the direct flights from London to Calgary. I went with Westjet as the new budget flight on the block and I thought they were great!
After any flight you’re always looking forward to getting to your destination and relaxing, and I was more than impressed with our accommodation in Banff, the Ptarmigan Hotel. I could go on about the amazing central location, buffet breakfast and hot tubs but the real selling point for me was the beds! Everyone on our course gets a queen sized bed and I had eight pillows to choose from! Such a nice treat after a travel day.
So there I was, enjoying the beautiful Rocky Mountains surrounding Banff for the start of our first Basecamp instructor course for the 16/17 winter. With the bulk of my previous ski experience being in Europe, I wasn’t prepared for the breathtaking beauty of the Rockies, with miles of national park and no signs of civilisation all around the resort. I was blown away being able to find fresh powder runs in the afternoon after a snowfall and how friendly all the lifties are. It’s a totally different experience compared to a typical European ski holiday.
I wasn’t just in Banff for playing around in the snow though. I’m going to pass this off as a “quality control’ mission as I was out to help our Canadian resort manager and long time Banff local, Andrew, get the show started for the season. Our new group of Basecampers met in Calgary airport so I was there to make sure they made it through Canadian customs and onto the bus to resort. We then kicked off with some pizza and beer at an often overlooked restaurant, Athena Pizza and then it was off to the bar for a couple drinks. I was amazed at how many great bars there were in such a small area.
Day one in resort was time to get to know Banff. For anyone without skis, snowboard or boots, there was plenty of time to go around the many shops in Banff and dream of owning everything! The guys in the shops all knew their stuff and were very helpful in pointing the Basecampers in the right direction for kit specific for the course. It was also a chance to sample the huge array of food on offer to them for lunch and dinner with many opting for a $10 bargain steak sandwich from Mel’s. It was really nice being in an actual town and having so much to do when not out on the mountain. Sadly I had to leave shortly after the groups arrival but it looked like they had no shortage of activities to keep them busy before the training started. Bowling, free yoga, hiking and an amazing rooftop hot tub kept smiles on everyone’s faces.
I had an amazing few days in Banff, and I am very jealous of everyone heading out for the whole season.
Find out more information about our ski and snowboard instructor courses in Banff at www.basecampgroup.com/resorts/Banff or give me call in the UK office on 0208 7899 055.