Sculpted in Time: Sherpas Cinema Release Latest Film

With material from Banff Lake Louise Tourism. 

They brought you Into the Mind and All.I.Can. Now Sherpas Cinema has created four dramatic short films capturing the deep spirit of skiing straight from the heart of the Canadian RockiesThe series, entitled ‘Sculpted in Time’ reveals a new dimension to the significance of ski culture in Banff and Lake Louise – depicted in spectacular high-definition footage.

Sculpted in Time is a compelling portrayal of unique stories shot in documentary form and edited in Sherpas Cinema’s renowned storytelling style. Featuring extreme slow motion, long term time lapse, a pensive score and emotive narrative throughout, the series focuses on the personal transformations of local ski legends – each with character as strong as the mountain landscape of Banff National Park. The films were shot on location during 30 rigorous days, across the park’s three ski areas. The series presents stimulating perspectives on:

  • Mt. Norquay [The Wise Man, featuring long-term Banff local, Eddie Hunter]
  • Lake Louise Ski Resort [The Character, featuring skier Eric Hjorleifson]
  • Sunshine Village [The Artist, featuring artist Dan Hudson]
  • A deep dive into its backcountry terrain [The Innovator, featuring local Paralympian Christian Bagg, as well as Chris Rubens and Eric Hjorleifson].

“To have the opportunity to complete a project like this in the Canadian Rockies was a dream come true for us”, says Malcolm Sangster, Sherpas Cinema. “The Sherpas founders, including myself, Dave Mossop and Eric Crosland, all grew up together in Calgary and it was these very hills where we cut our teeth – both as skiers and filmmakers. The peaks of Banff National Park have truly had an everlasting positive impact on our personal lives and careers, their beauty and grandeur instills a sense of awe, humbleness and respect in everyone that lays eyes on them.”

Follow the ‘Sculpted in Time’ four-part film series at: SkiBanffNationalPark.com. #SculptedinTime  #MyBanff

Catch the trailer here:

Historic Plaque for Alpine Club of Canada’s Abbot Pass Hut

As a proud member of the Alpine Club of Canada, and also a member of their national Mountain Culture Committee, I volunteered to write this historic plaque to be placed at the Abbot Pass Hut. This stone hut, built in 1922 at a col high above Lake Louise, offers a cozy stay for mountaineers en route to Mts. Victoria and Lefroy. Finally, mountaineers (and adventurous hikers) will be given an opportunity to read up on the history of the shelter, and gain a greater appreciation for how it has served climbers in the past.

Photos from Ice Magic Festival 2011

Each year, ice carvers from all over the world gather on the shores of Lake Louise for an international ice carving competition, the Ice Magic Festival (this year, from January 21 to 23). The teams of two have just 34 hours to carve and put together 15 blocks of ice (each weighing 300 lbs) and create a unique ice carving. Furthermore, each carving must be between 7 and 13.5 feet high. This year’s theme was “Magical Madness,” so there were a lot of dragons and sorcerers out there on the terrace outside the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. It made for a pretty impressive scene.

I went to check out the last day of the festival and arrived just as carvers were cleaning up and the judges were out tallying up the scores. I wandered around with the multitudes of people then took a skate on the rink on Lake Louise as the sun went down. It was worth heading back to the festival at night when the sculptures were all lit up and the crowds had dwindled, which is when I took these photos. All in all, the Ice Magic Festival is a great event to come to, so be sure to check it out some year if you’re going to be in Banff National Park in January. Visit www.banfflakelouise.com for more information.

This sculpture, "Precarious Predicament" won first prize.

The three-headed dog up close.

My personal favourite.

Check out his reflection in the mirror.

I'm not sure how they do those bubbles on the dragon's body, but they were pretty neat.

I loved how the tongue floated on this sculpture.

This one got my vote for creativity.

It's incredible that these things stay upright.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.

Guide to Ski Rentals in Banff

So, you want to come to Banff but don’t want to lug your ski gear around.

With all of the other inconveniences we face now at airports, why add another one? Not to worry – you’re well taken care of in this ski town.

Whether you need a full set up or just a tune up, Banff has it’s fair share of ski and snowboard rental shops and custom boot fittings. You’ll be hitting the slopes in no time.

Need to Rent Ski or Snowboard Gear?

Check out one of these options for ski rentals and fittings in Banff:

Abominable Sports

229 Banff Avenue

Abonimable specializes in fitting and renting ski equipment. They know that when you are looking to hire ski gear, you’re looking for quality gear at affordable prices. Their friendly and knowledgeable will make sure your ski rental experience is hassle-free so you can spend more time out on the slopes.

Banff Ski Hub: Ski Banff -Lake Louise- Sunshine Tri Area Rentals

114 Banff Avenue

The Ski Hub is your one-stop shop for all things ski and snowboard. Here you can buy lift tickets for all three ski hills, rent equipment, sign up for ski lessons, seasons passes and purchase merchandise.

Banff Springs Ski Shop

Conference Centre at the Banff Springs Hotel, 405 Spray Avenue

If you’re staying at the Banff Springs Hotel, this ski shop is located right on site and offers a convenient way to get your ski gear.

Ultimate Ski & Ride

206 Banff Avenue

This shop rents both ski and snowboard gear, offers tune ups and fittings and has high end ski apparel to keep you warm on the slopes.

The Ski Stop and Soul Fit Centre

203A Bear Street

This shop rents gear and is especially known for its customized boot fittings. Be sure to head here if your boots are rubbing or if you’re getting cold toes on the hill.

SNOWTIPS – Bactrax

225 Bear Street

This is one of Banff’s biggest rental stores specializing in ski,  snowboard and mountain bike rentals.

Rude Boys

215 Banff Avenue, 203 Wolf Street

Rude Boys now has two locations, one in Sundance Mall and the other on Wolf Street. They rent snowboards only.

Wilson Mountain Sports

Samson Mall, Lake Louise

This is a great option if you are staying in Lake Louise. Check out Wilson’s for your rental needs, located at Samson Mall in the Lake Louise Village.

Rentals at Local Ski Area

Lake Louise Ski Area

Banff Mt. Norquay

Sunshine Village

A Few Tips

*Many snowboard and ski rental stores turn into bike rental stores in summer, so be sure to inquire about their other options.

*A few ski rental stores also rent out alpine touring gear. If you’ve ever wanted to try the sport, this is a great way to try before you buy. Be sure to head out with an experienced backcountry skier and avalanche safety equipment.

*Even if you bring your own gear, Banff’s rental shops are highly specialized with tunings and boot fittings. It’s worth the time and money to get a good fit even if you’ve brought your own gear to use on the slopes.

*Some rental shops will deliver your ski gear to your hotel – be sure to ask about that.

*Many ski rental locations also rent out cross-country skis and snowshoes if you’re looking to enjoy the snow in a different way.

Did I miss one? Just comment and let me know! Thanks for sharing your local insights.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.

Celebrating Banff’s 125th with Canada AM

It’s 2:30 am and the alarm goes off. Eastern Canada is already waking up and we’ve got to get ready for the morning news. Being two hours behind Ontario, we had to boogie up to the Lake Louise Ski Area by 4 am to get ready to cheer in the 125th birthday of Banff National Park on a live broadcast with Canada AM. Now who would pass up that opportunity?

The crowd gathers outside in freezing temperatures to celebrate Banff National Park’s 125th birthday.

The torches descend the Lake Louise Ski Hill.

Jeff Hutcheson from Canada AM stands with the crowd at the base of the ski hill.

When Jeff Hutcheson arrived we knew we were in the right place. Soon, a crowd of about 50 people gathered outside in -22 degree weather to watch torches descend the ski hill. After the red lights snaked their way down in the pitch black, Jeff interviewed Parks Canada representatives, who spoke to Banff’s history as the first national park in Canada, a park that was established when the country of Canada was still just a baby.

The Lake Louise Ski Area hosted the live broadcast for Canada AM.

Later we moved inside and Jeff interviewed Eddie Hunter, a legendary Banffite who has been skiing locally for over 75 years, and Canadian Olympic downhill skier, Kelly VanderBeek. Turns out the Lake Louise Ski Area has hosted 150 different World Cup Ski events over the years. In fact, this weekend and next they host the Bombardier Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup for both Downhill and Super G events (you can read my report from last year’s events here).

Jeff Hutcheson interviews Eddie Hunter and Kelly VanderBeek.

Executive Chef Felix Pfister from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise came on next to describe the menu he prepares for the World Cup athletes, including 11,000 eggs they go through during the two weeks of the ski racing events. Then he cut a beautifully decorated birthday cake for Banff’s 125th birthday. It was a great way to celebrate such an historic and important milestone in Canada’s Parks System.

Chef Felix Pfister displays the food the World Cup athletes will be eating over the next two weeks.

Birthday cake for Banff’s 125th.

Jeff Hutcheson looks on as Beau the Bear, the mascot for the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, grabs hold of the knife to cut the cake.

Detailing on the cake in celebration of Banff’s 125th birthday.

And that’s a wrap!

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010.

Best Spots for Ice Skating in Banff National Park

One day when I was a little girl I was exploring the woods around my parents house in Kanata, Ontario. It was a cold winter’s day. Walking down a snow-covered path, I heard some kids cheering and squealing with delight amidst the trees that stood between the trail and some houses. I have always had an insatiable sense of curiosity, so I walked over to check it out. I couldn’t believe my eyes: somehow the water in that wetland had frozen completely and perfectly. Kids were skating and weaving their way around trees poking out of the ice. It was like a dream or one of those watercolour winter scenes you find on a mug or on a puzzle. I ran home to get my skates and my mom and together we created one of our most special memories.

This memory came back vividly this past weekend when I took a spontaneous skate on one of our mountain lakes here in Banff. A friend of mine had posted on Facebook that the conditions were perfect and without a moment’s hesitation, my fiance and I took off to enjoy the smooth ice of Vermillion Lakes. The conditions were indeed perfect. So perfect that we went back again that evening and skated until the sun went down and we had to skate by headlamp. We didn’t want to leave.

What’s so magical about these outdoor skating rinks is that all the right ingredients need to be in place: no snow cover, ice thick enough to skate on and air cold enough that the surface doesn’t melt or scratch too deeply. We’re lucky to have these rinks spontaneously appear in The Rockies each year and, in addition to that, some outdoor rinks prepared right in the Town of Banff and surrounding areas.

Click here for the Best Spots for Ice Skating in Banff National Park.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010. Updated February 3, 2014.