RYAN REPORT – Is Lake Louise’s Grizzly Bowl the best run on earth?

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The idea is ridiculous: one ski run that’s better than any other. First of all it’s totally subjective. I love skiing moguls and a lot of other people don’t. Conditions play a big part, too – one day a run could be fantastic and the next a sheet of ice. And that’s just a start to all the variables and preferences that determine anyone’s fav lap.

Regardless I’m going to lay out the case for why Lake Louise Ski Resort’s Grizzly Bowl trail is the best single ski run.

It is not the steepest, the longest, the biggest vertical drop. There’s nothing gnarly about it. And the fall line is not even that great. However I think it is one of the rare runs that just about any skier will love.

On a recent visit to the Lake with extended family, our group consisted of a non-turning power plougher, an intermediate groomer lover, an advanced turner and an expert with a penchant for steeps and speed. Ages ranged from 42 to 8. We all skied Grizzly Bowl together, each doing our own thing, but meeting up a couple times on the way down. Everyone loved it and slid into the Top of the World Chair lift line at the bottom ready to do it again. There aren’t many runs where so many different interests and abilities of skiers could all have fun.

The run is a big gully feature on the upper frontside of Lake Louise. After a quick zip down from the Top of the World unload the gully opens off a flats. The entrance pitch is the crux. After that it’s a solid blue down the middle. But what makes Grizzly Bowl great is its flanks. The guts of the gully are flanked by 10-turn pitches of steep open slopes with the odd patch of trees.

One of the funnest ways of skiing Grizzly Bowl is like a giant half pipe, skiing from side to side, using the gully walls as banked corners. This is how the kids ski it every time. I went a little faster then them and played with the G-forces as I came hurtling into the guts and back up the other wall. More tentative skiers stick to the gully bottom, which is about two cat widths wide.

Alternatively a stronger skier can rip 10 turns down a flank, traverse hard and repeat four or five times. Play this descend, traverse, descend game down the skier’s left flank and there are plenty of small jumps to pop off and air turn with.

Just before reaching the load of the Top of the World Grizzly Bowl opens wide. It can get a bit icy and patchy here, so I typically traverse across the right side into the trees for a final plunge.

And then it’s right back onto the Top of the World to do it again, maybe from the left side this time.

I can’t think of another run that so many different skiers can enjoy. If you have other nominations for best ski run let’s hear them. ryan@skicanadamag.com

RYAN REPORT is a frequent web post by Ski Canada magazine’s technical editor, Ryan Stuart.

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