Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

  • Vertical (m)
    1,410 – 2,273 (863)
  • Average Snow Fall
    9  metres
  • Lifts (7)
    2 triples
    2 doubles
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am - 4:00pm
    mid Dec - mid April
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 79
    Longest run – 5 km
    Beginner - 15%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Advanced - 35%
    Expert - 10%
Castle Mountain Resort has a reasonably sizeable ski area with 3,592 acres (1,450 hectares) of terrain (part of which is the cat ski terrain), 79 trails and 8 alpine bowls. The Huckleberry chair lift provides access to a small hill with beginner and intermediate trails. Otherwise, with the exception of a small beginner area, all the terrain at Castle Ski Resort is serviced by two chairs that are almost successive, so a huge amount of sideways travel is required to access a lot of the terrain. When the top chair closes due to windy conditions, the terrain size shrinks considerably, although considering that much of this terrain is sub-alpine and white-outs often accompany the wind, it’s not terrain you’d probably enjoy skiing much anyhow. Of course, on bluebird days the world is your oyster at Castle Mountain Resort!

Lifts

None of the lifts at Castle Ski Resort are detachable, although the Huckleberry triple chair tends to run at a decent speed. As is commonplace at ski resorts, the beginners’ chairlift runs at a snail’s pace to enable the novices to get on and off without looking completely foolish, whilst the two main lifts don’t run much faster. You’ll have plenty of time on the lifts to contemplate your next run!

If you need to understand the local lingo, the bottom Sundance chair is referred to as “blue”, and the top Tamarack chair is called “red”. Once you see the colour of the lifts, it’s pretty obvious why.

Lift Tickets

Lift passes are reasonably priced at Castle Mountain Resort and passes for the beginner chair are very inexpensive.

Castle Mountain is part of a resort composite with Lake Louise and several other resorts. You can buy a Lake Louise card and then get some free days at resorts such as Lake Louise, Panorama Mountain Resort, Red Mountain, Revelstoke, Schweitzer Mountain Resort (in Idaho), and Silver Star.

Castle Snow and Weather Conditions

Castle Mountain is lucky enough to score an average of 9 metres of snowfall on average per season, which is a lot for an Alberta ski resort. As the crow flies, Castle is not that far from Fernie Ski Resort in BC, so Castle enjoys similar precipitation patterns to Fernie. The top elevation of Castle is a little higher (139 metres) and the prairie arctic air masses also assist in keeping the temps a bit colder and the snow quality a little better than at Fernie.

Castle has a variety of aspects, so the snow quality varies significantly once the sun has been out. The Huckleberry chair offers some protected north to northeast facing runs with nice snow. The main part of the Castle ski terrain has an easterly aspect, whilst The Chutes has a very sunny aspect so you’ll potentially need to play with the melt-freeze cycle in this zone.

Castle is renowned for frequent windy days, which is somewhat evident from the abundance of wind farms nearby. The blustery conditions obviously have its pros and cons. Many locals love riding the wind buff (aka wind sift) whereby the powder is blown back into the gullies (whilst the ridges are fully wind scoured and glacial) and shrinks any big moguls. An obvious disadvantage of the wind is that it can be brutally cold sitting on the slow lifts; that’s of course if the wind hasn’t shut the lift down.

Castle Skiing for the Beginner

Near the day lodge is a small beginners’ areas that has one mellow green run and a steeper one for progression. Confident beginners can head up the Sundance chair for a couple of meandering runs, but on weekdays check that these have been groomed. The Haig Mountain/Huckleberry area also has a couple of green runs but these are pretty steep.

Some naysayers think Castle isn’t particularly good for beginners, but there’s more than enough for most green-horns to learn to ski or snowboard.

Intermediate Skiing and Snowboarding

Intermediates officially have 40% of the trails, but this naysayer thinks this statistic seems rather off because there aren’t a lot of blue trails in reality. Huckleberry offers a handful of runs and there are a few runs off the main chairs (Sun Down fans into a few variations near the base so you could potentially count those as separate runs too).

The problem is whether the resort has groomed the blue runs, as they tend to only be groomed on weekends or every few days. When we visited, even the Centre Run, the steep blue highway-wide quintessential run at Castle wasn’t groomed.

Terrain Parks

Castle Mountain Resort has a small terrain park with boxes, rails and small jumps, and is mostly suited to beginner to intermediate riders.

Advanced Skiing

Castle Ski Resort has plenty on offer for advanced skiers and snowboarders including tree lined piste runs (that tend to develop only small moguls), wide open off-piste lines off the top (with very sparse trees), glades with widely spaced trees, and also some real tree skiing. Mid-week, freshies can last for a long time and if the wind’s blowing, your tracks may be covered by the time you repeat the run.

Our favourite lines were the trees in the region of the North Star and 100 Last Turns near the skiers’ left boundary of the resort (although these may be bordering more on expert terrain than advanced. It takes a long traverse to get there (way past the groomed traverse trail), but the aspect is ideal, the wind often blows snow into the area, there’s little skier traffic, and the trees are plenty of fun.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

In addition to some of the tree skiing, The Chutes area is the quintessential expert terrain at Castle Mountain Resort. The lines to skiers’ left tend to be easier than those to the skiers’ right, but essentially you can traverse along and find a line that you like the look of. As with most rocky terrain, the gnarly factor of the runs depends on the snow conditions. Some of the chutes may have small mandatory cliff drops when snow base levels are somewhat low, but these are generally marked if you don’t want air time.

The Chutes are south facing so these are best skied when it’s fresh and/or the temps have remained very cold.

It’s a bit of a traverse in to get to many of lines in The Chutes and a long travel out, but at least there’s a luxuriously groomed egress run, and it has plenty of rollers for some extra fun!

Sidecountry

Ski touring up to the sidecountry area utilised by Powder Stagecoach snowcat skiing is only permitted a couple of days a week, depending on the exact timing of the cat ski days.