AS I breathe in the cold, sharp, crisp air, a shiver shoots up my nose and back down my spine.
And as the sub-zero air gets my throat tingling, the views across the Canadian Rockies are giving me goosebumps.
Driving along Highway 93 from the Banff and Jasper National Parks, soaring peaks emerge from pure white glaciers into a pristine blue sky.
The early-morning sun paints great streaks of pink over the mountain giants.
The road, dubbed the “Icefields Parkway” by locals, is said to be one of the most scenic roads in the world. I reckon the locals are right.
Joining the national parks, the 144-mile road links two of the best skiing areas in the Canadian state of Alberta.
To the north, Marmot Basin ski resort sits outside of the beautifully quaint town of Jasper, nestled deep in the national park.
Outside the town is the superb Fairmount Jasper Park Lodge where rooms — or rather individual cabins — overlook a frozen lake.
The main building of the resort has a traditional North American mountain lodge feel but it comes with all the mod cons.
No matter what the temperature outside (it was -25C for me) it’s worth taking a dip in the outdoor hot tub.
There you sit, steaming hot amid the freezing cold, gazing out on to the mountain vistas — unbeatable.
At the end of the Icefields Parkway, further south in the state, three world-class ski resorts sit inside Banff National Park.
And there was hardly anybody there.
Although not a regular skier, I’ve been to my fair share of European resorts, which during the high season, are packed to the rafters.
Huge queues at the lifts, jammed slopes, and even longer queues at the bar — none of these existed in the Alberta Rockies.
The place is so vast, that the visitors are spread out…