1The shuttle driver who drove me from Calgary to Banff broke the news: “When I got to the van this morning, it was minus 35.”

“Degrees?” I asked.

He wasn’t lying, although that’s not as bad as it sounds. A quick calculation told me that minus 35 degrees Celsius is the equivalent of minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit. And by the time we got to town, temperatures had risen to a relatively warm minus 25 celsius – minus 13 Fahrenheit.

I’m staying in Banff, Alberta this week, venturing out to surrounding ski resorts. My trip happens to coincide with the coldest cold snap of the year up here.

Even the locals think it’s cold, which is why hardly anyone was skiing Mount Norquay yesterday, when Simon Moffatt, who works for the resort, spent the day showing me around the mountain.


That’s me, at the top of the North American lift at Mount Norquay,, just up the mountain from Banff.

I loved it. Norquay is old school and small, with an unassuming lodge that serves amazing food (try the beet salad!), just four lifts (only one high-speed) and some amazingly steep terrain.

In the morning, we made some runs, then took a break to thaw with hot cocoa or coffee.

Thankfully, the sun was shining. Tiny particles of snow drifting through the air caught the light like glitter.

It was so cold my thumbs went numb, my toes lost feeling and my face hurt. The snot and slobber on my neck buff froze and refroze, scraping against my chin.

At one point, I told Simon my forehead hurt and I wasn’t sure why. “Like an ice cream headache?” he asked knowingly.


We stopped at a warming hut, where he detected a gap between my goggles and the balaklava tucked under my helmet. I adjusted; we headed out again. Much better.

During lunch, we gazed up at a super steep run off the resort’s North American lift. Moguls from top to bottom. Surely that would warm us up.

We caught the lift. At the top, we took some time to take pictures (tough when your fingers don’t work properly) and then pointed our skis down. I took my time, making turns around the snow humps. And here’s what I found out: Skiing the steep bumpy stuff warms you up, even when it’s well below freezing.

By the time I hit the bottom, my muscles had warmed and I felt quite fine.

We headed to the other side of the resort, where we rode a few (empty) lifts and raced down plenty of (empty) trails, the sun still shining.

The views here blow me away. You can see all the way into Banff, tucked at the foot of Rundle Mountain.

Today I’m heading to Sunshine ski resort, where it’s currently minus 26.

No problem.


Temperatures have hovered around minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit in Banff this week. Pam LeBlanc photo

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