Fortress putting final touches on hill

RON MANZ -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:57 AM ET

Snowboarders and skiers are going to have to wait a little longer for the opening of Fortress Mountain.

With many minor details left to iron out, it looks like the Kananaskis-based ski hill will have to wait at least another week before it turns the power on.

Alberta Sustainable Resources and Development finally turned over the official lease of the property to the new owners, Banff Rail Company last Wednesday.

Following this, health and fire inspections had to been done on the existing facilities and the owners were presented with long lists of changes, improvements and repairs that have to be completed before the green light will be given for the resort to begin operation.

Staff that had been hired on stand-by is now hard at work cleaning up the facilities and getting the runs groomed and ready.

- - -

SUNSHINE VILLAGE:

Sunshine Village opened its terrain park and half-pipe this past weekend and for the first time it has a team of workers dedicated to grooming, repairing and improving both throughout the season.

Two snow grooming machines and six full-time staff will be working on the park.

The Strawberry half-pipe features 12-ft. walls and runs over 300 ft. in length. The park has a series of rails, boxes and jumps constructed for all levels of ability for skiers and riders.

- - -

SKOKI BACKCOUNTRY:

One of North America's best back country destinations, the Skoki Lodge is now open for the season.

Originally built in 1930-31, the Lodge is situated 11 km from Lake Louise and offers hikers and skiers of all levels the opportunity to explore five different valleys.

There is ski touring, telemark skiing and cross-country skiing all available starting this week.

Backcountry enthusiasts can stay from $159 per person per night based on double occupancy and a minimum two-night stay, with meals included. Contact Resorts of the Canadian Rockies at 258-7669 to book.

- - -

CASTLE MOUNTAIN:

Skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers are encouraged to register for the upcoming avalanche safety course being offered Jan. 6-8.

The course is designed to teach people how to use avalanche beacons and recognizing dangers of avalanches in the backcountry.

The Friday session is in a classroom for theory, while Saturday and Sunday are on mountain practical applications of what is being taught.

The cost is $175 plus $10 for lift ticket and deposits are mandatory. A portion of each registration goes to support the Canadian Avalanche Association Information exchange. There will be a maximum instructor-student ratio of one to eight. For more information, call Brian or Tom at (403) 627-5101.

- - -

THANKS RALPH:

The Fairmont Lake Louise, Banff Springs and Jasper Park Lodge are offering the 2006 'Thanks Ralph' package.

They are encouraging anyone who wishes to spend their $400 prosperity cheques in January to purchase this deal.

You will get two nights accommodations in a Fairmont room, a $100 credit towards food and beverage, complimentary skate and ski rentals and free parking at the Jasper Park Lodge.

The package at the Chateau Lake Louise provides lift tickets for two, $100 of food and beverage credit and one night in a Fairmont room with complimentary valet parking.

At the Banff Springs you get two-nights accommodation, two days of lift tickets or spa access, a three-course fondue experience in the Waldhaus Restaurant or dinner at the Bow Valley Grill, daily breakfast and complimentary parking. Phone 1-800-497-3533 for more information or to book.


Videos

Photos