Avalanche Awareness Days: Level Up Your Snow Safety Skills

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Avalanche Awareness Days: Level Up Your Snow Safety Skills

If you think backflips and board slides are what make a great skier or snowboarder, think again. Becoming a well-rounded snow enthusiast is so much more than perfecting tricks and turns. Understanding avalanche safety, and how to “read” big mountain terrain, is what sets great skiers and riders apart from the rest.

Want to learn snow safety skills but not sure where to start? Lake Louise Ski Resort is hosting Avalanche Awareness Days, January 15-16, and it’s your chance to get hands-on training from their expert outdoor operations team.

Once you have the skills and knowledge it takes to play safety in big terrain, you’ll be able to tackle some of SkiBig3’s most gnarly steeps like the deep chutes of Banff Sunshine’s Wild West or tight trees of Lake Louise’s West Bowl.

West Bowl, at Lake Louise Ski Resort, is some of the most spectacular, wild, and FUN freeride terrain in all of Canada. | Photo by Jeff Bartlett

Avalanche Awareness Days at Lake Louise Ski Resort

To say the staff at Lake Louise Ski Resort love sliding on snow would be an understatement. As one of 40+ communities in Canada to host Avalanche Awareness Days, they are committed to championing safe and responsible outdoor pursuits and sharing this knowledge with visitors from all over the world. 

About Avalanche Awareness Days

On January 15-16, Lake Louise Ski Resort will host Avalanche Awareness Days – a two-day event full of fun and interactive educational activities. With avalanche safety professionals and ski patrol stationed at various locations across the mountain, this is your opportunity to move through the terrain and learn important backcountry skills like beacon training and how to read snow profiles.

Note, this training is not a replacement for an avalanche safety certification, such as an AST 1 or AST 2 course, however, it is a great introduction to snow safety if you would like to explore more technical, in-bounds freeride zones. 

Event schedule

Schedule (Both Saturday & Sunday)

  • 9:00am – 3:00pm*: Visit the Lake Louise Tent to get started, in the Base Area.
  • 10:00am – 12:00pm*: Free Beacon Practice (Meet at the Beacon Plot on Pika Run.)
  • 10:00am – 12:00pm*: Free Snow Profile Talks (Meet on Saddleback Run, under ER-5.)
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm*: Free Beacon Practice (Meet at the Beacon Plot on Pika Run.)
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm*: Free Snow Profile Talks (Meet on Saddleback Run, under ER-5.)
As one of the 40+ communities that take part in Avalanche Awareness Days, Lake Louise has plenty of exciting and educational activities planned for January 15-16, 2022.

Freeride terrain at SkiBig3 resorts

Did you know that there are expert-level terrain areas at SkiBig3 resorts that require you to carry avalanche safety equipment?

Both Delirium Dive and Wild West at Banff Sunshine feature deep, steep terrain that is full of surprises. While the snow safety team at Banff Sunshine uses their expertise (and a lot of explosives) to mitigate the avalanche risk in these areas, the restrictions to carry avalanche equipment encourage a sense of shared responsibility. This terrain is big and complex and all skiers and riders must be personally aware of the risks.

At Lake Louise Ski Resort and Mt. Norquay, while no inbounds terrain requires avalanche equipment, big freeride zones like West Bowl and off-the-beaten-path powder stashes at Mt. Norquay should also be approached with appropriate snow safety knowledge

Wild West – Banff Sunshine

Located off Sunshine Coast on Goat’s Eye Express, The Wild West, like Delirium Dive, is an extreme freeride ski and snowboard zone. Just like an old western, you’ll need to gain entry to the area through a centennial guarded gate. Wild West is known as a “slow burn”, starting with drool-worthy and perfect pitch powder pockets that lead to the expert-level chutes. The Wild West is Banff Sunshine’s most technical ski terrain and comfort in Delirium Dive is recommended before you up the ante in The West. 

Avalanche gear (beacon, probe, shovel, pack) and a buddy are required to enter this freeride zone.

Read more: Ski How The West Is Rode

The Wild West is Banff Sunshine’s most technical ski terrain. | Photo by John Paul

Delirium Dive – Banff Sunshine

The gate to Delirium Dive is found at the top of the Continental Divide chair. Here you’ll also find a map of the area and an information board which will provide some insight on current conditions. Make sure you have a buddy and all of your avalanche equipment turned on for the gate to properly recognize your transceiver. Once in, you’re ready for the best bit – Canada’s biggest, boldest, and steepest in-bounds freeride zone! 

Avalanche gear (beacon, probe, shovel, pack) and a buddy are required to enter this freeride zone. 

Read more: The Definitive Guide to Delirium Dive

Delirium Dive is Canada’s biggest, boldest, and steepest in-bounds freeride zone! | Photo by Rajiv Dhaliwal

West Bowl – Lake Louise Ski Resort

If you haven’t ridden West Bowl – what have you been doing? This huge piece of terrain (like 480 acres huge!), on the front side of Whitehorn Mountain, opened in 2019 and is some of the most spectacular, wild, and FUN freeride terrain in all of Canada. West Bowl is a vast area filled with open powder bowls, endless gladded ski areas, steep trees, tasty powder pockets and, of course, the Rockies’ famous champagne powder. Since many of the runs are not marked, it’s easy to get turned around and skiing or riding with a buddy is highly recommended. Appropriate snow safety skills and an understanding of current weather and snow conditions are also an asset when entering this freeride zone. 

A buddy and snow safety skills are highly recommended for this freeride area.

Read more: Insider’s Guide to West Bowl

West Bowl is a huge piece of freeride terrain (480 acres!) on the front side of Whitehorn Mountain, at Lake Louise Ski Resort. | Photo by Philip Forsey

What to pack

So what avalanche equipment is standard practice? What do you need to enter these freeride zones and start exploring the backcountry? This video by Avalanche Canada highlights the essentials. 

@avalanchecanada #AvCan #skitok #backcountry #packingasmr ♬ This Is How We Do It (Album Version) – Montell Jordan

Beacon training areas

If you’ve taken an AST 1 or AST course, you’re probably familiar with a beacon and how to use it. If it’s been a while, and you’d like some practise burying a beacon and performing a search, both Banff Sunshine and Lake Louise Ski Resort have beacon training areas located just off the main runs. 

  • Banff Sunshine beacon training area located at the top of the Wawa Quad
  • Lake Louise Ski Resort beacon training area located off of Saddleback


The main advantage of practicing beacon drills on-mountain is learning how to operate your gear, dig, and communicate in realistic (and sometimes hairy) weather, temperature and wind conditions. Plus, both resorts have LOTS of snow to bury your beacons.

Avalanche safety resources

If you’re serious about getting into the backcountry or freeride skiing and snowboarding, you’ll want to bookmark these helpful sites. Below are some key resources for checking avalanche conditions, planning your route, and understanding the forecast.

Avalanche Forecasts by Region

Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale (ATES)

Mountain Information Network

Environment Canada Weather Forecast (Banff)


Want to ski and ride some of the best freeride terrain in Canada? Book your ski holiday today. Should you need a bit more flexibility with your travel plans this winter our no-questions-asked cancellation policy for both lift tickets and packages allows for free changes and full-refund cancellations until 3-days prior to arrival. To book your winter ski vacation or secure your multi-day lift tickets, call 1-844-754-2443 to speak with a reservation specialist or go online to access some exceptional Ski & Stay Package deals.