Learn to ski tour this winter from the comfort of these 7 Canadian resorts
© Ludvig Germain Auclair
An unforgettable ski touring experience doesn’t have to require lengthy expedition into the unknown. These ski resorts pack enough punch to keep any rider satisfied.
Canada is home to some of the most sought-after ski touring and splitboard terrain in the world. From the classic, coastal, big mountain skiing found on Duffey Lake Road, to the easily-accessible, legendary snowpack of Rogers Pass, to the east coast gem known as the Chic Chocs; premier skinning can be found from coast to coast.
While most epic touring experiences require lengthy ventures deep into our Provincial and National Parks, many Canadian ski resorts offer riders a first class ticket to world-class inbounds ski touring opportunities. Climb well-established ascent routes from a cozy chalet, or grab some breakfast at the local coffee shop, hop on a gondola, step off at 2300 metres, and feast your eyes on a wealthy selection of easily-accessible, patrolled touring zones at just a fraction of the cost of buying a normal daily lift ticket.
Although ski touring found its roots on the West Coast, Canada’s east coast has a lot to offer. The Rocky Mountains turn into the Laurentian Highlands, jagged peaks become rounded hills, and trails become shorter, and icier. But, despite the change in geography and scenery, earning your turns and finding untracked powder is a universal feeling — no matter what the depth.
The stoke that we share as skiers and boarders, along with an allure for adventure and pushing the limits, has led to a rise in ski touring across the country. Here’s a west-to-east list of Canadian resorts with stellar inbounds touring options that are perfect for newcomers.
1. Whistler Blackcomb (Whistler, BC)
The Low Down:
Whistler Blackcomb is home to the largest and most varied ski area in North America. From world-class terrain parks, in-bounds chutes and couloirs, and endless corduroy, it’s no wonder Whistler Blackcomb is consistently rated the top ski resort in the world.
Additionally, Whistler Blackcomb offers an abundance of inbounds ski touring opportunities. But, uphill travel is only permitted on designated routes with marked signage. For instance, Flute Bowl — accessed via a short tour from the top of Harmony Express or peak Chair — offers 700 acres of steep and deep goodness within a patrolled, in-bounds, easily-accessed resort area. As a former backcountry area, Flute Bowl is the perfect area for newcomers with a desire to earn their turns.
A single day lift ticket at Whistler Blackcomb will run you $139. However, the resort does offer a limited amount of discounted ski touring passes, which are accessed daily by ski patrol.
2. Kimberley Alpine Resort (Kimberley, B.C.)
The Low Down:
Kimberley Alpine Resort is best known for its reliable snow cover and endless bluebird, sunny days. Located deep within the Purcell Mountains in southeastern B.C., this family-friendly resort is home to acres of gladed, mellow terrain with limited crowds — a perfect combination for any newcomer to the sport.
Beyond Kimberley’s cozy, inviting feels, the resort recently introduced a designated up-track zone for climbing. Ski tourers can access this marked route 7 days before resort opening until 7 days after closing, between the hours of 6 AM to 8 PM. Equipped with it’s own parking area, ski tourers can climb from the Boundary run up to the Kootenay Haus and descend any run of choice.
Ski tourers are required to have a valid lift ticket, season pass, or a 5$ ski touring pass on them at all times. Click here for more information.
3. Panorama Mountain Resort (Invermere, BC)
The Low Down:
Panorama Mountain Resort is located in the heart of the Kootenay Rockies. It rises 1,300 vertical metres, spreads over 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, and is best known for having one of the most consistent fall lines in the country. From wide-open fall line corduroy, to powder-filled tree skiing, to steep, big mountain descents into the Taynton Bowl, Panorama offers something for any style of rider.
For ski touring enthusiasts looking to dial in their new gear, head over to Taynton Bowl for an exciting inbounds experience. Formerly a heli-skiing zone, Taynton Bowl offers 750-acres of pristine inbounds skiing — stashed with hidden powder, steep chutes, and exciting descents.
Adjacent to Taynton Bowl lies The Monster, a 1,500 square kilometre, cat-assisted, high-alpine bowl that best portrays the steep and deep characteristics of the Purcell Mountain Range. Reaching The Monster can be done via cat, or a swift tour from the summit hut. If ski touring to this terrain, be aware of the active snowcat, and give it plenty of room to easily pass.
A day ticket to ride the wonders of Panorama Mountain Resort is $128, but save 25% when you book accommodation with Panorama Reservations.
4. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (Golden, BC)
The Low Down:
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is best known for its complex terrain, bottomless champagne powder, and manageable lift lines — making it an ideal destination for any rider in search of pristine ski touring opportunities. Located in the mellow ski town of Golden, B.C., Kicking Horse sits between the ski touring Mecca of Roger’s Pass and the Canadian Rockies, and naturally offers some of the most exciting inbounds ski touring in the country.
Hop on the gondola, climb to a hefty 2300 metres, and explore the resort’s infamous selection of bowls, steep cutes, and tree skiing options. Ski tourers will want to explore the newly added 660 acres — which is made up of the legendary Ozone South Face (as seen in the 2017 Freeride World Tour event), Middle Ridge, and Rudi’s Bowl. All of these features have proper signage, and are opened and closed at the discretion of the Mountain Safety team, allowing for adequate avalanche control to minimize accidents.
For those willing to climb, big rewards await at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
Kicking Horse had yet to release the 2020/21 lift ticket prices at the time this article was written.
5. Mont-Tremblant (Tremblant, QC)
The Low Down:
There’s a reason why Mont-Tremblant is consistently recognized as the top ski resort in eastern North America, it covers four separate peaks (one of which is the highest in the Laurentians), 102 trails, 14 lifts, a newly-built casino, and a highly-commercialized pedestrian village that calls for apres-ski.
But beyond Mont-Tremblant’s European ski town charm, the mountain hosts an active ski touring community. The resort allows ski tourers to climb a number of designated areas and trails, and ski down any of their 102 marked ski runs. For many, strapping on the splitboard is a means of staying in shape for upcoming touring adventures, staying warm on frigidly cold days, and avoiding long lift lines. However, enthusiasts are known to score knee-deep graded runs off the top of the Edge Lift.
Mont-Tremblant offers daily touring access for $10, season passes for $40, and free access with touring equipment rental from Chalet des Voyageurs. Rent a complete touring set — skis or splitboard — that includes boots and poles for $75 per day.
6. Stoneham Mountain Resort (Stoneham-et-Tewkesbury, Quebec)
The Low Down:
Stoneham Mountain Resort, located just 20-minutes north of Quebec City, covers 823 acres over 4 different mountains. Boasting 43 ski runs, three terrain parks, an Olympic-sized halfpipe, and a legendary apres-ski scene, this east coast gem has a lot to offer — including a well-established touring community.
While climbing ski slopes is forbidden, the mountain offers a ski touring trail that climbs 218 metres to the summit, over a distance of 1.3 kilometres. The route winds through Quebec’s beautiful woodlands, offering a refreshing experience for any newcomer and seasoned tourers hoping to push their boundaries.
Daily tickets for ski touring access is $9, and a season pass is only $30.
7. Mont-Sainte-Anne (Beaupré, QC)
The Low Down:
Mont-Sainte-Anne (MSA) is home to some of the best ski terrain in Eastern North America. Rising above the picturesque Saint Lawrence River, just 30 minutes east of Quebec City, MSA offers an average snowfall of 5.3 metres, and a vertical drop that extends higher than any other ski resort in the region.
In recent years, MSA has become an east coast backcountry skiing hotspot. Ski tourer’s can climb roughly 625 metres to the mountain’s summit via a web of scenic ascent paths, and descend any of the resort’s 71 available runs. From wide-open double blacks, to world-class tree skiing, this is a mountain that shouldn’t be underestimated. If scored after a large snowfall, backcountry goers can find knee-deep powder on MSA’s North Side.
Daily touring passes are sold for $9, and full touring season passes are sold for just $39.
Cold winter days spent ski touring or splitboarding requires the right gear. If you want to ensure you're dressed for the occasion, check out the gear guides below to find out what our Canadian pro athletes are repping this season: