I recently realized that those new to my guidebooks may feel a bit lost when it comes to which one(s) might be best to buy. This article will break down what the different books have to offer, what areas they cover and which may be better for you to get depending on what you’re looking to ski.
Right off the bat, I’d like to point out that all my books are free to download from my publishing company’s website. I do this for a few reasons. The main one is to make sure that everyone that wants/needs this information can get it, regardless of whether they have the money to buy a printed book. Many people that purchase the books also like to have an e-book version on their phones instead of taking up extra pack space for the printed version. If you find the e-book useful and have a few dollars to spare, you can send me of those via the download page, too – every bit helps, so if all you can spare is a buck or two, I’m still grateful! Follow these links to find the download links:
Current Printed Books
There are three books in print currently. My newest, “The Bow Valley: Banff to Castle Junction”, is the 3rd edition of my first two books, which are no longer available in any format. The other two books cover Kicking Horse Pass (this is not Kicking Horse ski resort, but rather the pass area at the AB/BC border on the Trans Canada Highway) and the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise to Bow Summit.
All three books are professionally printed, 5.5″ by 8.5″ in size, have rounded corners and feature full-colour terrain pictures and maps. All ski routes include the same information: vertical, distance, description and directions. All the books include guest writers ranging from local ski bums to IFMGA Mountain Guides. The rest of the runs are covered by me. I’ve skied over 90% of the runs in my books, so most of what you are relying on is first-hand information.
The books have a Banff National Park focus, but all three dip into the other Mountain Parks in the area, including Yoho and Kootenay. All of the areas are a reasonably short drive from Lake Louise. The Icefields book is the furthest distance for those coming from the east, but many ski zones are skin up and ski back to the car. The Bow Valley book is the closest for those coming from the east, but the approach for runs is generally longer. The Kicking Horse Pass area is just 10 minutes west of Lake Louise, and if coming from the west, this is the closest, and the runs mostly have short approaches.
The Icefields Parkway Book
This book covers all the old and new classics found between Lake Louise and Bow Summit along the Icefields Parkway. Many of the tours start going up directly from your car, and you can often ski back to it at the end of the day. You’ll find everything from short lapping runs to day-long highlines, so starting with this book is excellent as you’ll always find new challenges as your skills progress. The book also contains the day-tripping areas of the Wapta Icefield, so you can get some practice in before heading out to try the Wapta Traverse for the first time. This book does not contain multi-day trip information.
Buy The Icefields Parkway Book:
Kicking Horse Pass Book
This book’s area is found at the border of AB and BC along the Trans Canada Highway. It is not the backcountry areas around Kicking Horse Resort. It covers many shorter day-tripping areas that start from either side of the highway. While the book and area covered is smaller than the other books, there is still a lot of skiing to be had. The approaches are short, and the snowpack is often deep. Many areas found here have limited avalanche danger (low angle slopes, thicker tree skiing), and this has drawn a lot of beginner types to the area in the past. There are also many big objectives here, some that have only seen a few descents, so you won’t run out of options as your experience grows. This book does not contain multi-day trip information.
Buy the Kicking Horse Pass Book:
The Bow Valley Book
This is a rewritten and expanded 3rd edition of my first two books. It covers a massive area from Banff to Castle Junction. The runs found range from low angled to extreme, and many of the approaches are much longer than the other two books. The other big difference in this book is the section covering the Sunshine Backcountry. Using the lift system, you can get a lot of great laps with little effort, so this could be a great choice for those resort skiers looking to make the move into the backcountry. This book covers a lot of multi-day trips, both hut and camp-based, so it will give you some excellent options to get into that style of trip. Outside of the Sunshine Backcountry section, this book has the least day-tripping options.
Which Book Is For You?
Buying all three is the obvious choice for those living in the area, but if you had to pick only one, your best overall choice is going to be The Icefields Parkway book. It gives you lots of different options, and most routes are relatively straightforward. The Kicking Horse Pass book, while smaller, still offers varied options, and it includes a higher percentage of areas that can be skied with a bit less avalanche danger. The Bow Valley book is a bit of a mixed bag, but if you are looking to use lift access to access the backcountry or if you want to do some multi-day trips, then this book is for you.
Try Before You Buy
Again, you can always download all the books and look at what each provides. If you find these downloads useful, you can either send some money over for the download or buy the printed version. Every dollar helps keep me skiing and writing more, so please think about taking this route if you do value this information.