Ski Resort Life

How to Ski Sunshine Village

Test your mettle in this notoriously tough freeride zone—if you dare.


» Location: Sunshine Village, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada


» Getting there: The Great Divide Express quad

» Vertical feet: 3,514

» Acres: 3,358

» Scare factor: Ski patrol treats this area as freeride terrain—and wants you to have proper backcountry gear (beacon, probe, shovel, ski buddy), and training. Get the gist?

How to ski it » Skate to the backcountry gate off the top of The Great Divide Express quad, 30 feet to skier’s right, to enter the freeride zone. Once your beacon is turned on, the gate will allow you to pass through. It’s a four-minute hike to the top, where you have some choices: Drop in from the Bre X entrance—a short 50-degree slope that requires agility—or continue to the Dive stairs, a metal staircase installed by patrol. From the stairs, access Dive proper (the most commonly skied line at closer to 40 degrees) or continue hiking along Galaxy Ridge to access six additional chutes, all of which are scary-steep. 

Terrain » Conquer chutes, bowls, and classic trees in one perfect run. Don’t expect corduroy—the Dive offers a backcountry experience. Snow conditions vary from crust to powder, but know that there’s often good snow in the Hayes Hill Trees below Delirium no matter the conditions elsewhere.

Après » Get your groove on in the original Mad Trappers Saloon (circa 1900) at the base of the Strawberry chair. Show off your goggle tan while sipping an ice-cold Molson’s on the patio, or take out that ol’ shot ski for a rip.

Beta » There’s only one way into Sunshine Village—a gondola from the main parking area below—so your best bet for first tracks is to book a room in the Sunshine Mountain Lodge at the base of the Mount Standish Express quad.