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How To Ski At Lake Louise

Rocky Mountain Freeriders coach, Garrett Capel, has been skiing at Lake Louise for 15 years. Here's his advice on how to ski it right.

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By Ryan Dionne

When you’re a little kid in Banff, Alberta, wanting to be Chris Rubens, Eric Hjorleifson, or your older brother, Keegan Capel, you’re in the right place at the right time to grow up to be a ripper. Eighteen-year-old Garrett Capel has called Lake Louise his home mountain since he was three, and now he’s a Rocky Mountain Freeriders coach just as Rubens and Hoji were. So we got the up-and-comer to dish on some of his favorite lines and zones at Louise.

1. Capel’s go-to zone to start the day, Big 7, Drop Out, and
Vertical Cornice give you a quick adrenaline hit. The big rock slab gradually gets bigger as you go skier’s left, but it’s possible to ride the rock, straightline sections between the rocks, or air it out. Once you get through the top it’s pretty mellow, or you can find additional rocks to pop off. From the top of the Paradise chair, head skier’s left to the zone.

2. With a recent storm and some wind, this ridge fills in nicely, Capel says. From the top of the Summit Platter, head straight down the ridge, dropping in between Second Gate and Third Gate. Before that ridge mellows, take a hard left and launch yourself off Takeoff Rock before continuing down to zone 3 or 4.

3. Strap on your wings and launch at Hour Glass, near where Ridge Run meets Saddleback. The smaller air is skier’s left, while the bigger is skier’s right, and each has a good landing. But if you’re not feeling it, you can straightline through the rocks, or go around and revel in what could have been. Plus you can combine this with Capel’s No. 2.

4. Known by the locals as Leapfrog, this natural booter lets you go as big or small as you want. As you go skier’s right, the natural lip gets smaller, so if you’re looking to go big, follow the fall line down and hit the center of the lip. Just beware of people below you on Saddleback in case you don’t stick your landing. And, as with zone 3, you can combine this with Capel’s No. 2.

5. Despite its boring name, H Gully will get your heart rate up. After a short traverse from the top of the Summit Platter, drop into the last Gully you find (technically, the last is I Gully, but it’s not always open—if it is, it’s even better than H). It’s tight, rock-lined skiing up top, but then keep heading skier’s left into the bottom of I Gully before finding the traverse out.

6. From the top of the Summit platter, take Boomerang until you see a traverse or bootpack on skier’s left across Upper Boom-erang. Follow that track behind the next ridge, then drop into Brown Shirt Main. It’s a narrow chute at the top, but it opens up into a big powder field. Or, if you don’t like doing hop turns, head more skier’s left from the end of the bootpack to drop into UNC.

> Lake Louise is known for its wind-loading, so a two-inch day could feel like a 10-inch day in the back bowls.

> If the light is flat on a storm day, head to Tower 12 and Lookout Chutes off the Larch Express chair. They don’t fill in until midseason, but the mix of trees and cliffs makes it a fun powder zone.

> As you wait for patrol to drop ropes on the back bowls during a powder day, lap Steep & Flat and Grizzly Bowl. The lift that accesses the zone can get you to the bowls in a hurry.