Slush Cups and Trash Cans: Your guide to spring skiing in Banff

Slush Cups and Trash Cans: Your guide to spring skiing in Banff

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Any spring skiing destination worth your time and money has to offer a multitude of experiences. Ones that you’ll be daydreaming about long after you’ve flown home. Whether it’s stomping an air into a ridiculously steep couloir, skimming across an icy pond in your skivvies or heading out on the town after you’ve hung up your boots from a solid day of shredding, spring ski trips are hard to beat. And when it comes to spring destinations, Banff has you covered straight through March, April and even May.

Nestled in one of the most awe-inspiring national parks in the world, the town of Banff is a jumping off point to three world class resorts: Sunshine Village, Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay. Each is reachable by car or public transportation and all three have their own distinct vibe that will leave you wrestling with the quandary of which one you love more.

Mt. Norquay is the closest to town and was recently featured in Sherpa’s Sculpted in Time series. The locals’ hill hosts unique events throughout the year, such as chairlift speed dating, but the real fun goes down on April 18th when skiers trade in their ski pants for spandex and their helmets for hairspray. This is the annual 80s day and it’s no holds barred as a live DJ spins all the greatest hits while you rock out with your… dayglo out.

Related: See a listing of top resorts in Canada
Sunshine Village is about 10 miles southwest of town and goes a little bit deeper into the badass terrain that the Canadian Rockies are known for. As you ride the gondola out of the parking lot and up towards the main base area, you pass the Wild West zone and start to get a glimpse of what you’re in for—but it’s only the beginning. A quick ride up the Great Divide lift puts you at the top of the famed Delirium Dive. This area is littered with adrenaline-inducing entrances to a plethora of heart pumping runs. Avalanche gear and knowledge of backcountry protocol is a must as these runs are the real deal, and you simply can’t open the gate without a functioning transceiver.

If there’s one thing the Sunshine Village is known for outside of its epic terrain, it’s the Slush Cup. This season-ending party takes place on May 18th and is the envy of pond skim events around the world. Here you’ll see locals and visitors alike, dressed to the nines as they attempt to skim a pond well over 100 feet in length. There’s no shortage of epic fails.

Venturing a little farther up the road, about 45 minutes northwest of Banff, will get you to Lake Louise. You may recognize this resort from the iconic images of its namesake just across the valley, but there’s far more to it. The front side of this massive mountain playground features wide open bowls up top that lead into tree runs that will have you hooting and hollering as you dart in and out. Venture over to the backside on a powder day and you’ll think you’ve made it to heaven. Bowl after bowl of lift-accessed powder might wear you out but those looking for more can opt for a quick hike to seemingly endless freshies and a steep couloir at the end of the ridge, called F Gully, that might just have you running back to the top.

Those looking for a more backcountry-centric experience will love Lake Louise’s full service Skoki Lodge. Located just a few miles miles behind the resort, the 22 person abode is an ideal setting for a small or big groups looking for great skiing and even greater hospitality.

And of course Lake Louise never disappoints the spring revelers. Every May, the resort hosts an on- and off-hill bash for the record books. Details haven’t been released yet of what exactly the party will be this year but with Red Bull steering the ship, it’s sure to blow the top off of any expectations you may have. Stay tuned to the resort’s website for more details.

While there’s enough going on at all these resorts to keep your trip itinerary chock full, spending time exploring the town of Banff itself is a must. Burger joints to steakhouses, dive bars to dance clubs, this place has everything you want, with an upbeat vibe to boot. If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat, Eddie Burger cooks up some delicious meat patties and also has a signature drink called the Trash Can. This radioactive looking cocktail has a Red Bull can sticking out of it and is sure to get your night off to a good start.

After dinner you can check out the Devil’s Gap for a rowdy scene. Just off the main drag of Banff Ave., it’s here where you’ll find locals letting loose after work and you might just find yourself ringing a giant bell on the bar to signify a round of shots. For a good pub atmosphere and some live music you can head over to St. James’ Gate, an Irish joint down the street. And new this spring will be a grain distillery on Banff Ave producing whiskey and schnapps, among other libations. Dubbed Park Distillery, it’s set to open at the tail end of the ski season and will be yet another option in a town that isn’t lacking in the realms of food and spirits.

You may be sitting at your desk right now thinking about how winter is slipping away from you but the truth is, you’re only halfway through it. With Banff’s ski season lasting through May, now is the time to start planning your trip. So round up the troops and get the show on the road. It might just be the best trip you ever take.

More: Enjoy a smattering of related content including destination write-ups, event call-outs, etc.

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