-Maurice Gaucher on Moraine Lake road: “Hi Bob — we had a great ski today –snowed steadily from our arrival at 10 am to departure at 2:15 pm — V40 worked great and the Tramline was fun. — Maurice”-
Last year, the Snow Gods tested our patience with a late ski season, then stopped the snow altogether in January. This year, they are smiling at us and rewarding our longsuffering with one of the earliest ski seasons in recent memory.
As I write this at 9:00 pm, my deck has an accumulation of 31 cm of good-quality snow, and it appears to be coming down everywhere in the mountains including Lake Louise, Banff, Canmore and K-Country. According to the Snow Forecast for Fortress Mountain, the heaviest snowfall was predicted for tonight with 15 cm.
Not much in Calgary yet, so I’ll be anxious to hear if West Bragg received anything.
The venues we have available for skiing this weekend will be determined by which trails the trail crews are able to pack and groom before Saturday.
A wild November day in K-Country
I was aware of the snowfall warning, so I left earlier than usual today. When I departed Canmore at 10:30 a.m, however, I could see the monster storm bearing down on me in my rear view mirror.
I made it as far as Kananaskis Village before the first snowflakes appeared. The road was snow-covered by the time I hit Fortress junction. A couple cm was on the ground at Pocaterra(lots of skier tracks going up the trail there). At Boulton creek I stopped to see yesterday’s grooming which was covered with about 3 cm of new snow and there were a few skier tracks heading up Whiskey Jack, and one vehicle still in the parking lot.
I was full-out accosted at Elk pass. I could see that Jody had groomed the trail already this morning, but 5 cm of new snow obliterated any sign of corduroy. The wind was howling and the parking lot was a mess. My biggest concern was to escape before the monster had me buried, never to be seen again until spring. Throwing caution to the wind, I went for an exploratory ski.
How did I know it was groomed? The truck and flatbed were in the parking lot. For the benefit of all the contestants, take note I said the trail was groomed, not trackset.
As soon as I started up the trail, the wind died down and I had surprisingly smooth sailing in the fresh snow. It was cold and powdery, not wet and heavy. The trees, laden with snow, seemed to say welcome back as I climbed that big hill with good grip(yesterday’s VR40 for -4/-12).
My tranquil exploration soon took a turn south when I reached the top of the hill. The wind was gale-force, creating large drifts across the trail. Paradoxically, this was my first sighting of corduroy, as the wind also cleared loose snow off the trail in a few places.
Fighting a fierce headwind for 300 metres, I then proceeded down the other side of the hill to the Fox creek junction. Calm and quiet prevailed once again.
At the Hydroline jct, the grooming on Elk pass stopped and proceeded up Hydroline. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of skiing on Hydroline with a strong wind blowing, and the Elk pass trail had deep ungroomed snow.
I was concerned whether I’d be able to extricate myself from the parking lot, so decided it was time to turn back. I had skied a whole 2K!
Before descending the hill, which I was looking forward to with that fresh snow, I stopped and retrieved my sunglasses from my backpack. It would have been impossible to keep my eyes open without them while speeding down the hill in that falling snow.
As you can see, I was able to exit the parking lot and resurface, safe and sound!
My feelings are that any new grooming will be completely covered with fresh snow by tonight. It won’t be wasted effort, however, because it will be a lot easier to groom and trackset now that a solid base has been established.
The hut is open, and the PLPP Visitor Centre reopens tomorrow.