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Icefields Parkway | Canada

Backcountry Skiing in Icefields Parkway

Season

December through April

Nearest city

The Icefields Parkway is a 230km stretch of highway between Banff and Jasper

Duration

1 day

Skill level

Beginner to advanced

Discover the most impressive part of the Rockies on Highway 93

Take a trip down Canada’s Icefields Parkway — one of the world’s most beautiful roads offering incredible 230-km-long views of wild frozen waterfalls, glamorous glaciers and breathtaking blue mountain lakes. The best dry snow in the region and plenty of bluebird days make this the ultimate destination for all backcountry enthusiasts. Try out ski mountaineering on Mount Hector or explore the runs and couloirs on Bow Summit. Your guide will show you all the best spots and take care of your safety in the midst of epic wilderness on Highway 93.

Most Popular Itineraries

Private Intro to Backcountry Skiing

From $455 · Full-day

For skiers of all levels, the Icefields Parkway is a 230-km-treasure trove of amazing ski touring opportunities. There’s rarely a winter day where you can’t find great powder skiing somewhere along its length. Let your guide introduce you to the magic of backcountry skiing as well as the best spots and peaks where you can easily become a true alpine adventurer. Learn to have fun on the snow while others keep you safe at all times in the Icefields backcountry!

A Customized Day of Private Guided Backcountry Skiing

From $455 · Full-day

This go-to spot has an infinite number of runs — some very popular, like Bow Summit and Crowfoot Glades, and some kept out of the public eye. Your guide will show you the best places and make sure to customize the day according to your wishes. Learn and perfect skills, ski some of the most popular backcountry routes accessed from Highway 93, or explore hidden trails. The choice is yours!

Advanced Tours & Ski Mountaineering

From $455 · Full-day

Being further up north in the Rockies, the Icefields Parkway offers the perfect conditions for cold, dry snowpack and marvelous glades that will get your heart pumping. Visit epic places like Cirque Peak, Grand Daddy or Flower Couloirs, and Watermelon Ridge, or try out ski mountaineering up the 11,000-footer Mount Hector. The possibilities are endless! Let your guide introduce you to the very best of the magnificent wilderness surrounding you and make the most of your visit!

Things you need to know

Covid measures in Icefields Parkway

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Icefields Parkway, please refer to the official Government of Alberta website.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

Why should I book with 57hours?

With us, it’s all play and no work for you! 57hours is an open platform that connects you with trained and certified outdoor adventure professionals all over the world. Using our tech-savvy, we make it super easy to find and book adventures worth tackling, with guides worth booking, all gathered from the first-hand experiences of the locals who adventure in these amazing locations.

Why should I go backcountry skiing?

Nothing beats the rush you’ll get from laying down first tracks on an incredible route with nothing but endless terrain laying before you. Alpine peaks, open bowls, steep and secluded tree shots, cruisy, mellow runs — it’s all out there waiting to be explored in the backcountry. You’ll spend less time waiting in chairlift lines and more time skiing, so leave the crowded resort behind and head off-piste for some of the best powder you’ll ever experience!

What can I expect from skiing with a guide?

A certified ski guide will take all of the guesswork out of your time in the backcountry. From tour planning to route selection, terrain management, avalanche safety, and gear knowledge, your guide’s expertise and backcountry experience will ensure you have an unforgettable ski touring adventure. It doesn’t matter your skill level, whether you’ve never backcountry skied or you’re seasoned on the slopes, skiing with a guide has its advantages. Your techniques will sharpen, you’ll learn how to navigate terrain safely, make smart decisions, and most of all, you’ll remain safe in unfamiliar terrain.

What if I’ve never backcountry skied before?

Backcountry skiing isn’t just for pros looking for the ultimate thrill ride. However, if you’ve never backcountry skied before, this terrain might not be the best for you as it requires certain skills. If you are an intermediate backcountry skier, heading out with a guide is your best bet. They’ll take care of the planning and teach you how to manage the terrain. They also have the experience and avalanche training to keep you safe.

What’s included?

What you get in this adventure:

  • An experienced, certified ski guide with extensive knowledge of the area
  • A full day of backcountry ski touring

What’s not included:

  • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
  • Trip insurance
  • Transportation and lodging
  • Food and meals
  • Fees for Banff or Japer National Park areas (entry and service fee)

How fit do I need to be?

In order to enjoy this backcountry adventure, you need to have a moderate level of fitness. You will be on your feet for a full day. You will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions. All participants should feel comfortable on blue level resort runs and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.

What equipment do I need to bring?

For technical backcountry ski touring gear, you will need to bring:

  • Alpine touring skis, telemark skis or splitboard with skins (can be rented)
  • Touring boots and poles (can be rented)
  • Avalanche safety equipment (can be rented):
    • Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
    • Lightweight snow shovel
    • Avalanche probe

For personal items, we recommend bringing:

  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses or ski goggles
  • Gloves and hat
  • Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-tex recommended)
  • Ski pants (Gore-tex recommended)
  • Down jacket or vest
  • Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear and socks
  • One triple-action locking carabiner or two conventional locking carabiners
  • Repair kit and Leatherman for your equipment (can be shared between several people)
  • Water bottle and 1L of water
  • Thermos with a warm beverage — optional
  • Food you can eat on-the-go
  • First-aid kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
  • Camera — optional

Can I rent equipment?

All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. You can rent:

Ski rental locations are Ultimate Banff in Banff, AB, and GearUp Mountain Sports in Canmore, AB, and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.

What’s the itinerary?

Your backcountry ski tour will be fully customized to match your skill level and objectives. You and your guide will discuss route selection, skills development, and whatever else you’d like to focus on. From there, your guide will plan the perfect day tailored just for you taking into consideration factors such as weather and snow conditions.

Depending on your objectives, full days may start earlier and end later, but in general, your day will look like this:

    • 8:00 am: Meet your guide at the guide’s recommended location
    • 8:30 am: Head to the location of your backcountry ski tour
    • 9:00 am – 3:30 pm: Gear up, go over safety considerations, and spend the day backcountry skiing on routes selected to best suit your group, stopping for lunch and breaks as needed
    • 3:30 pm: Back to the cars for debriefing and high fives

What is the minimum age requirement?

  • Everybody over the age of 18 is welcome to book this backcountry skiing adventure.
  • Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis. If you plan to ski with anyone under the age of 18, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

What about group sizes and pricing?

For this adventure, the max client to guide ratio is 6:1.

The cost per person decreases as the group grows, so it’s the perfect opportunity to backcountry ski with friends and family.

Ski touring in Icefields Parkway can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

What about bad weather?

Mitigating avalanche risk is paramount for any excursion in the backcountry — that’s why it’s best to tour with a guide! Rest assured, your guide will set objectives that are attainable for the weather conditions on that particular day. Of course, inclement weather can always get in the way of backcountry skiing, but your guide will know the best course of action to take if the weather takes a turn.

On the rare occasion of truly bad weather, your guide will present you with suitable, safe alternatives. The most common practice is to move to a nearby location if it exists, or to reschedule your backcountry ski tour to a more favorable day.

If backcountry skiing is not possible on your scheduled day and no options presented are viable, you will be issued a full refund.

Do I need an insurance policy?

We highly recommended that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance. With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more.

As we’ve recently seen, travel plans can be abruptly halted, so it’s a good idea to purchase travel insurance that covers cancelled flights, natural disasters and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans. For peace of mind, we suggest you consider both options of insurance.

If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!

Cancellation policy

With 57hours, you benefit from both our own cancellation policy as well as that of the individual guiding service that delivers your adventure. All policies regarding cancellation will be clearly laid out by your guide after booking your adventure, but rest assured that our own cancellation policy will work on top of what is provided by your guide.

For this adventure, 57hours offers a Strict Cancellation Policy, which states:
Strict: If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to thirty (30) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of the total amount paid when Booking. After that deadline, Client is not entitled to any refund.

For more information on terms and conditions, please visit our Terms of Service page.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to Icefields Parkway most people fly into Calgary International Airport or Edmonton International Airport depending on which side of the Parkway they plan on visiting. The Icefields Parkway is a 50-minute drive west of Banff, 2.5 hours away from Calgary along the Trans-Canada Highway 1, and 3.5 hours west of Edmonton along the Yellowhead Highway 16. The Icefields Parkway is also known as Highway 93. The Highway travels through Banff National Park for 122 kilometres. The rest of the Icefields Parkway stretches north for a total of 230 km, including the Columbia Icefield, situated near Jasper National Park, AB.

Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the guide shop or a predetermined location. From there, you’ll head to your tour. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ski ability of the group.

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Your next adventure

Where would you like to go and what would you like to to?

Choose an adventure

Choose location*

How can we contact you?

Full Name*

E-mail*

Anything else we should know?

What else should we know before connecting you with the guide? (optional)

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