Castle Mountain: Cult Ski Resort in Southern Alberta
Castle Mountain is iconic! Deep in southern Alberta, the lifts are second hand, but the skiing is first class. The crazy ski area of the cowboys even offers catskiing.
„Those who are used to Banff or Whistler will suffer a culture shock. After all, Castle Mountain Resort is not much more than a large parking lot. There’s only one hotel across from the base station, and the nearest town, Pincher Creek, is a sleepy prairie nest nearly an hour’s drive away. Castle’s ski mountain, however, is magnificent!
Castle is not for après-ski fans, and certainly not for fair-weather skiers who expect lifts with heated seats and storm hoods. The four lifts are getting on in years and have been phased out elsewhere. Castle is not for sissies, say the cowboys. Sissies have no business here. Adventurers, however, will find heli-skiing conditions without a heli four hours‘ drive south of Calgary, the locals enthuse. Ten meters of powder snow per year, countless racy forest and steep slopes – a dream for experts like Scott Mundell, who jokingly presents a snorkel to breathe in the deep powder.
Castle Mountain made world famous by Warren Miller
The parade run Lonestar measures 500 vertical meters and is consistently 37 degrees steep! Warren Miller dedicated his own short film to the first ascent of the 2610 meter high Mount Haig and thus carried the name Castle Mountain throughout the skiing world. Nevertheless, only a few hundred winter sports enthusiasts often get lost in the huge area. That doesn’t matter. We don’t want to become millionaires, says long-time resort manager Andrew Rusynyk and tells the Castle story: When the community wanted to give up the loss-making ski resort ten years ago, ski fans founded a cooperative and saved their adventure playground. In the meantime, the first new apartments have been built around the only pub.
Castle Mountain is delightfully bizarre, old-fashioned and endearing. So is Huggin Marry on the Huckleberry lift. Instead of checking lift passes with a scanner, Huggin Marry hugs each skier tightly. Then she smiles and wishes them a great day. This is Canada!“
The wind is your friend, is the motto in Castle Mountain. Because when it really blows on fresh snow days, the wind always blows your own tracks. Normally there are so few skiers and snowboarders on the most difficult slopes that you can almost always ski flawless slopes on windy days.