Choosing the right ski pass in Banff

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What Ski Pass Suits You Best in the Canadian Rockies – factors to consider

Banff, Alberta.


Organizing your ski season early can save you a lot of cash.

It’s the same every year. The strength of the Banff sun fades and the idea of spending winter cascading daily down one of Banff National Park’s great ski slopes  begins to fill your mind. You tell anyone that will listen “I’m gonna ski a hundred days this year”, including yourself. On paper – a great idea but all good intentions aside, choosing the correct hill and ski-pass will leave you a lot less frustrated and your pockets far fuller. Take this from personal experience.

Location and Economy:
There are a bunch of factors to buying a ski season pass you must consider before making the actual purchase. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with a selection of ski hills to choose from, you should narrow it down to the slope you’ll be getting that pass for. Think about it – do you really want to ski the same hill all season? A handy alternative offered by many resorts in the Canadian Rockies is the option to swap your passes at other ski hills. This gives you a good alternative if you tire of the same hill or have embarrassed yourself by wiping out one too many times in front of fellow punters!

You’ll also have to consider your proximity to the ski hills of your choice. The adventurer in you may want to hit the big European style slopes a few hours away but in reality how often will you be able to escape work/family and still get a relaxing ski in. For some, the draw of the slopes is irresistible. Glenn from Alberta is one: “I have been skiing here for over 30 years. Sunshine at 80 years young continues to rock and always will.” The more economical option perhaps would be a local pass where you can go at will and also partake in some night skiing, which many of the bigger resorts, like Sunshine Village can’t offer. Not everybody is so lucky to live close enough to the slopes that an après work ski is possible. Choosing the local hill guarantees the most ski for your dollar.

Planning ski season in your head is a different kettle of fish to reality. Think honestly about your schedule. Do you have to travel for work? Do you have a daughters wedding coming up that you have been warned over and over to be around for? Look at your calendar and honestly consider your availability. If your winter looks just too darn busy to ski a lot, maybe a season of having no pass is o.k. A lot of passes also don’t offer holiday skiing, generally the week between Christmas and New Years so make sure the pass you purchase covers these dates if you are a holiday skier. ski

I talked to Katy from Sunshine Village in Banff, who confirmed the need for organization: “Here at Sunshine Village for example, we have several options. We may not have night skiing but if Skiers know exactly what they want then we should have a package that suits them.”

Check out ski websites regularly to view the options and also to take advantage of savings and discount specials that might be on offer. Many also have really up to date snow reports, mountain cams and even a Facebook page.

Type of Pass:
Finally, there is a large variety of passes for a lot of ski hills. I know my local hill offers an evenings-only pass, which is excellent for getting some runs in after work, leaving no pressure to go skiing on the weekend. Also, a lot of hills offer cheap one-night-a-week passes, which allow you to pick one night mid-week to ski with your friends. There is also the option of buying lift passes in bulk leaving you flexible to ski whenever the time is right…but not the day before your daughters wedding.

So there you have it. The most important thing about buying a season’s pass is research, honesty with yourself and forward planning. Weighing in all the factors like travel, schedule, holidays, variety, and money will go a long way in answering the where, when, and which type of pass to buy. Now I don’t know about you folks, but I plan on getting a hundred days in this year!

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