Mount Norquay Skiing Terrain

Mount Norquay Skiing Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

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

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
Mount Norquay skiing provides slopes to suit all levels, although there is not a lot of variety considering that there is only 77 hectares of skiable terrain. The highlights of Norquay include the grooming, the spectacular views across Banff and the surrounding mountains, and the steep bumps (if your knees are into moguls!). Mount Norquay is a great family ski hill, but it certainly wouldn’t be considered a paradise for powder hounds.

Mt Norquay does not suffer from crowded slopes or lift queues. The only exception to this is on Toonie days (once a month) when every cheap skate from the province turns up to buy a $2 (toonie) lift ticket!

Lifts

Mount Norquay Banff has 5 lifts: one detachable quad chair; 2 fixed grip quad chairs that run at a reasonable pace; a magic carpet for novices; and a double chair for experts called the North American aka The Big Chair. You won’t be able to cut quick laps on the chair because it only has a limited number of chairs, and as it’s used by pedestrians to check out the views, they slow it down frequently to let the pedestrians on and off.

Norquay also has a lift for tubing.

Night skiing is available on Friday and Saturday nights.

Lift Tickets

As one of the Banff ski resorts, Norquay can be accessed off a Big 3 tri-area interchangeable lift ticket which includes shuttle bus transport between Banff and the ski resorts. However if you haven’t already purchased this lift pass, Norquay lift tickets are actually significantly cheaper, so just buy them at the window.

Norquay Snow and Weather

Norquay is generally not powder hounds’ territory. With an annual average snowfall of only 3 metres, big powder days are fairly infrequent. To make up for the lack of natural snowfall there is snowmaking across 85% of the Norquay skiing terrain.

The Norquay snow quality is not particularly great and the elevation is reasonably low. The top of Norquay ski resort at 2,133 metres is lower than the village area at Sunshine Ski Resort (2,159m), although the base elevation of Norquay is similar to that of the Lake Louise Ski Resort base. And many of the runs are east facing, which isn’t particularly favourable for great snow conditions. Like Lake Louise, Norquay has a reputation for slick slopes, and this was certainly the first thing we noticed about the place. Norquay is a great ski area if you want to practise your edging and racing!

Whilst Lake Louise and Sunshine have alpine and open bowls, the terrain at Norquay is below the tree line so it affords protection on inclement weather days.

Beginner Ski Terrain

Norquay is well suited to complete novices and confident beginners. There’s just not much on offer for mid level beginners. A magic carpet provides access to gentle beginner runs, and another chairlift provides further green runs although these are a little pitchy for timid skiers and snowboarders.

One advantage of Norquay for beginners is that it’s not particularly intimidating because the beginners’ area isn’t inundated with faster skiers whizzing by.

Mount Norquay Skiing - Intermediates

The grooming at Mount Norquay is of high quality, and the resort offers a handful of cruising runs of reasonable length. A couple of the black groomed runs have got some decent pitch, and are good for those wanting to practise on steeper slopes or for those that want to fly!

The intermediate runs mostly have nice fall line, but the terrain loses points because there just isn’t that much of it, and if the ski racers have closed a couple of runs for training, the run variety shrinks further.

Terrain Park

The Norquay terrain park is located in the area above the day lodge, so sadistic spectators can watch the dudes in the park performing their tricks and breaking bones! And the exhibition can continue into the evenings because the terrain park is illuminated for night skiing.

The terrain park has a few different lines and provides hits for novices as well as rails and jumps for more advanced shredders.

Advanced/Expert Ski Terrain

Despite 44 percent of the trails being rated as black, there isn’t actually that much terrain at Norquay ski resort to entertain advanced and expert riders for very long. And if you’re not really into VW sized moguls, then there’s negligible terrain on offer.

The North American double chair is very slow and the terrain is characterised by steeps and big bumps. Many hard-core regulars come here especially for the bumps, but possibly they’re a little crazy because the moguls are not only big, but often icy as well. Of course, everyone’s into different things!

A couple of the runs used to be rated as double black diamond runs, but in recent years they’ve been downgraded to single blacks, probably because the main challenge is dependent on the size of the moguls.

The “chutes” can be fun but they are often closed due to lack of snow or avalanche risk because it’s difficult for the patrollers to control the snow that comes down off the super steep rocky faces above. And I’m sure the Banff National Park wouldn’t let them put up avy fences!

To the skiers’ right of the ski area, there are a couple of sidecountry lines that can be fun during spring.

Or if there’s enough snow, you might find the occasional line through the trees (and no you can’t call the sticks poking through on North American “tree skiing”!).