Alternative Winter Sports in Calgary

If you’re like most Western Canadians, you gleefully celebrate the first dump of snow for one reason: It means ski season has begun. But variety is the spice of life, so this year, think beyond the lifts and try these – Calgary’s best (non-skiing) winter sports.

Skis can only take you so far into the backcountry. To access remote trails and pristine powder, hop on a snowmobile. Steep slopes and open fields mean you can indulge your need for speed. Golden, B.C. or the Crowsnest Pass boast the best trails and terrain. Rentals, All Season Motorsports, 403-204-1771; Guided tours, Snowpeak Rentals or Mountain Memories.

Ice Climbing
Go chase frozen waterfalls: pick your way up icy pillars in Canmore’s Grassi Lakes to start or advance to many routes in Banff and Jasper national parks. Rentals, Calgary Outdoor Centre. Lessons, Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, 403-678-4164.

Spelunking is a year-round sport, but come winter, it’s a great way to be outdoors while avoiding sub-zero temperatures. Head to Rat’s Nest Caves and wiggle through passages, or rappel 18 metres beneath Grotto Mountain near Canmore, home to unusual limestone formations. Full-day tours and rentals, Canmore Caverns, 403-678-1808.

Snow Kiting
Throw caution to the wind. Hang on to a large kite as you’re strapped into your snowboard or skis and drift over snowy valleys and across frozen lakes. Enjoy gliding downhill and uphill – and basically anywhere else the wind takes you. Lessons, Kitesource 403-560-4297, or Calgary Outdoor Centre, 403-220-5038.

Image courtesy of Dru!

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