Powderwatch Snow Conditions http://www.powderwatch.com It's Snow Time! Wed, 15 Apr 2015 14:56:40 +0000 en hourly 1 Storm Warning… And The Morning After http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/storm-warning/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/storm-warning/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 03:19:29 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=800 Louise is reporting 7cms overnight and 17cms in the last 24hrs.  However, a quick look through the web cams this morning reveals a distinctly groomed feel to the mountain.  It certainly doesn’t look like an awesome powder day to me.  Even this shot of the Top of the World chair leaves me wondering, “where’s the snow?”   louise1

Now let’s take a look at the Sunshine Village snow stake… this basically the same as where it was when I checked last night.  Sunshine is only reporting 7cms in the last 24hrs and that’s what you see on the stake – roughly.  I’m doubtful that the freshies we hoped for will be available at the Shine this morning.  But perhaps the Ryder report will shed some light on that for us.



I’m not really disappointed that the Storm Warning failed to deliver some powdy this morning.  After all, I’m sitting at a desk under artificial light with no windows anywhere in sight.  However, if I was playing in the mountains today I would be ecstatic because… look at that blue sky!!!  It is going to be an incredible day out there, worthy of sunscreen, outdoor barbeques, pitchers of beer on a picnic table, and live outdoor music for Apres ski.  Spring skiing will be at it’s best today and for the next few days as it starts to warm up.  They’re predicting highs of 21C in Calgary by Friday and 13C in Banff.   It will be a tough call this weekend to pick spring skiing over spring riding (as in bike riding).   So… if you’re up at Sunshine this morning I challenge you not to get inspired by the incredible mountain scenery.  It will be a great day!



If you’ve been following the snow forecast this week you’ll have noticed that it was supposed dump considerably today.  I checked the webcams at Lake Louise and Sunshine this afternoon and there was no evidence of the kind of heavy snowfall I’m looking for.  This evening the snow stake at Sunshine shows a little over 5cms of new snow.  I must add that the webcam images look decidedly damp.  I’m guessing that rain was a factor up to fairly high elevations. But there is still a snowfall warning in effect this evening with 15-20cms forecast at higher elevations.  Check the snow report in the morning and you may be pleasantly surprised!Screenshot 2015-04-14 20.55.19


I’ve heard conflicting reports about the conditions in the mountains lately – too icy, too wet, etc.  It’s possible that I’ve just been very lucky but the skiing the last two sundays has been stellar!!  Last Sunday Lake Louise had only received 10-15cms but it was enough to rescue a very hard surface underneath the new snow.  There weren’t too many fresh turns but there were some and the low volume of skier traffic ensured that the powder wasn’t completely trampled by 1pm.  The only real problem was the low visibility when the frequent snow squalls passed through.

Screenshot 2015-04-14 20.56.24


This shot from last Wednesday shows that there was still a lot of great snow left from the 40cm dump the received the previous Saturday.  (Did I mention I skied that Sunday?  Yeah it was awesome !)

Screenshot 2015-04-14 20.40.12


This is another shot from last Wednesday showing an abundance of snow and some pretty decent photo composition.Screenshot 2015-04-14 20.39.28


But getting back to the conditions last Sunday…  this is a shot on the front side below Sunset Terrace.  Yes, we are experiencing February powder in April!  It’s been a crazy year…

Screenshot 2015-04-14 21.11.19


This shot was taken looking back up to the summit during one of the many breaks in the nasty weather.  We even had some sunshine around lunch time but I didn’t get the camera out of my pocket to capture the evidence.Screenshot 2015-04-14 21.14.01

I hope of shown you enough to prove to you that normal spring conditions cannot be expected this week.  With more snow overnight you can expect really nice winter powder for a few more days before the typical melt / freeze cycle of spring returns.  Until then, enjoy the fantastic conditions.  You deserve it if you’re still skiing after such a crappy season :-)

http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/storm-warning/feed/ 0
Worth The Wait http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/worth-the-wait/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/worth-the-wait/#comments Mon, 06 Apr 2015 23:22:34 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=790 This hasn’t been a stellar season for me.  I have four days on the planks and over the past 20 years it’s unusual if I don’t have 4 days in by Christmas.  This year my best pow day was 5cms at Sunshine and I skied Louise for the first time last weekend.  But the universe has now been restored to normal as of yesterday.  Louise had 40cms of new snow in the morning and I’m pretty sure that’s their biggest dump since before Christmas.  It goes without saying that it was an epic day so let’s get straight to the photo evidence. Screenshot 2015-04-06 16.18.05


Being a powder day, it took several runs before I even considered taking the camera out of my pocket.  This is the view as we disembarked the Top of the World chair.  Didn’t take long for the deep powder to get trampled, did it?  The ride up the chair was mostly in pea soup fog but as you can see, the back bowls were clear.  Despite the low visibility we resisted the temptation to head into the back bowls because there was a ton of sweet pow on the front and everyone was avoiding it because of the fog.  But it actually wasn’t that bad at ground level.Screenshot 2015-04-06 16.19.05

This is the cat track down to the poma.  Notice all the fresh pow below?  Notice that there’s nobody around?  We could ski straight onto the Top of The World chair and got in a ton of laps on virtually untracked snow.  I’m sure the back chutes off the poma would have been epic but there was a huge line that looked like at least 20 minutes of wasted time (I confirmed that estimate later in the afternoon).  I’ve done laps on the poma on many powder days and as a rule you stay on the front side because it’s a long way to get back.  But with that big of a line I’d be spending more time standing than skiing.  This is what the glades looked like just below Sunset Terrace.  Why even consider standing in a lift line?Screenshot 2015-04-06 16.18.28


So the best fresh tracks were the first 5 runs on the front.  When I finally dropped into the back bowls I was a bit disappointed with the ice crust under the snow.  Don’t get me wrong, it was still really good but not a sweet as floating through trees.  My next best run of the day was Big 7 / ER6 off the Paradise chair.  I had to side slip through a nasty bit of rocks but bellow that the run was raw sugar – hero snow from top to bottom. My next run was on Swedes/The Heart and although there were only a few small patches of fresh snow, the churned up stuff was still boot deep.  My next best run of the day was in the Ptarmigan Glades.  This shot is the track I left.  Since I had to stop and recover my breath I decided to take a quick shot back up the run.

Screenshot 2015-04-06 16.19.43


Needless to say I was still pretty giddy when we decided to stop for lunch.  But the legs were tired and I was starting to get pretty hungry.  A barbecued hot dog and fries solved that problem.  Washed down with a Coke, I wouldn’t call it the most nutritious of lunches but it tasted awesome!  By the time we left the Temple Lodge the sun was out and giving off an incredible warmth.  The day was about to get even better!Screenshot 2015-04-06 16.20.08

Having ventured off on my own for about an hour before lunch I thought I’d be nice and ski a few runs with Estelle.  I’m generally not a huge fan of Larch but there were some sweet fluffy bumps on Larch Poma that made me think that I was a free styler.  OK far from it but the pitch is forgiving and the bumps were perfect.  It’s why they call it hero snow.  We did a couple on Larch and then a couple on Meadowlark.  Meadowlark was excellent from top to bottom and pretty much deserted. With only an hour left I decided to finally bite the bullet and stand in the poma line.  Yup.  About 20 minutes.  Since I knew I wouldn’t be doing that again, I decided to hike the Stairway to Heaven into Boundary Bowl. Screenshot 2015-04-06 16.22.35

Sorry, no shots in Boundary Bowl as I was ripping it from top to bottom.  OK, I had to stop and gasp for air about half way down the bowl – I’m not that big of a stud.  On my descent down the bottom half of Boundary, I can remembering thinking, “this is why I ski!”  The day was pure soul satisfying fun from start to finish.  Even my last run down the front side was a blast.  There was still great snow down to about the last 100m above the lodge.  It was a long wait this season before getting the kind of powder day that we all dream of.  But it patience paid off.  Never write off a season even if it hasn’t been the greatest.  It only takes one day make everything alright.


http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/worth-the-wait/feed/ 0
Springtime Surprise! http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/springtime-in-the-rocks/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/springtime-in-the-rocks/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 02:34:33 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=782 On Saturday we were back to our old habit of sleeping late and having breakfast before making a concerted effort to get to the mountains.  That behaviour is easily justified this time of year because as a rule it is generally hard pack or even icy until the sun and noon time temperatures have worked their magic to soften up the surface.  Based on the Lake Louise morning temperature hovering around zero and the lack of sun in the forecast, I was actually expecting a sub standard day of skiing.  But the pup was away at a dog show and it was time to finally use our free day on our Louise cards.  First day at Louise on Mar 28th?  Am I having a nightmare?  This can’t be reality.

I chose my powder skis because I hate telemarking on ice and the Phat Boys were the only other skis that had sharp edges.  Skiing hard pack on powder skis really sucks but I didn’t feel like I had much choice – skiing on ice with no edges would be worse.  You may have noticed that I was fixated on ice but it was above 10 degrees at Louise on Friday so my thinking wasn’t really that obsessive.  The Sunshine Village crowd will want to remind me at this point that Sunshine doesn’t have any ice.  Yes, I heard that from friends who’d been there on Tuesday.  They said conditions were really good once it warmed up a bit.  It was crunchy in the morning but no ice.  However, two free passes at Louise trumps finer conditions at Sunshine.  And this time of year can be a crap shoot anyway.

We departed in a light drizzle that continued with very few breaks from Calgary all the way to Lake Louise.  As we slipped on our gear in the Louise parking lot it was full on pouring with just a few wet snowflakes in the mix.  Now this may sound pretty depressing but I was actually stoked because I knew it would be snowing at some altitude.  The pleasant surprise was that the rain had turned the runs on the lower part of the mountain into soft to slushy spring snow.  No ice!!!Screenshot 2015-03-30 20.17.21

Things would get even better yet.  In my morning haze I’d forgotten our poles in the basement.  We had to go to the rentals and waste time unnecessarily but the cashier made it all good by not charging us.  With a big smile he said, “Just poles? Get outta here!”  Now that’s excellent customer service.  Then by the time we had our lift tickets and started heading to the gondola, the rain had stopped.  By the time we disembarked from the gondola, the dense fog that was hanging over the upper half of the mountain had lifted.  It was beginning to feel like a charmed day.  This was confirmed when my first run through the glades between Old Ptarmigan and the Ptarmigan chair was completely untracked from top to bottom.  The snow was wet BC powder of course but the fat skis actually worked really well in this kind of snow.Screenshot 2015-03-30 20.18.23

But for the majority of the day we were cruising the slush on Ptarmigan, Larch, and Meadowlark.  The skis were cutting in like a hot knife so it was tremendous fun.  It also didn’t get ‘grabby’ until you were almost to the bottom of the front side.  We ventured into the back bowls once for sweet first tracks on Brown Shirt but as the snow got really heavy towards the bottom we didn’t venture back for more – much to my chagrin.  The best run of the day was through the glades below Sunset Terrace.  Somebody forgot to track up this area and the snow was relatively light when we hit it around 11:00.Screenshot 2015-03-30 20.18.44

That’s how the day went.  It was fun from start to finish and we even enjoyed the monster burgers at Temple Lodge for lunch.  We’ll be back for more this weekend and hopefully it turns out as well.  The forecast certainly looks good but we’re still a long way off on Monday.  I’ll be updating Cdn Rockies Outlook if it still looks good as the long weekend approaches.  And just in case I don’t manage to get around to it….  Happy Easter everyone!


http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/springtime-in-the-rocks/feed/ 0
The Search for Snow Continues http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-search-for-snow-continues/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-search-for-snow-continues/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 04:45:56 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=772 This time last week the forecast was for a heavy snow at Whistler and possibly some of that would make it further east into the Rockies by the weekend.  Whistler came up short with only 13cms in the past 7 days.  Since we did get good snowfall in the rockies I have to wonder if all that expected precip fell on Whistler in the liquid state.  Whistler has 491cms of snow so far this season and the normally average close to 1200cms a season.  There’s still several weeks left in the season but I don’t think they’re going to make up the 800cm difference.  What a painful year!

Webcam on Mar 17

Webcam on Mar 17

Although Whitewater received 29cms on Monday, other resorts in the interior such as Big White and Revelstoke were bypassed.  The snow didn’t really start to fall until it hit the Rockies.  Kicking Horse had 29cms, but Panorama and Fernie had 40cms.  But let’s start with Kicking Horse.  This is what the alpine must have looked like on Sun/Mon.Screenshot 2015-03-16 19.34.49


It’s too bad 3 of the 4 bowls at KHMR take you all the way to the bottom because the bottom was looking rather wet.  I’m not sure at what elevation the snow turned to rain but there must have been some soggy BC powder in between the top and bottom.

Screenshot 2015-03-15 17.52.31

Fernie looked better in my opinion.  Although it is notoriously warm down there it does look like they had some pretty fluffy snow in the 41cms that fell over 2 days.  This is how I like Fernie…

Screenshot 2015-03-16 19.33.01


Now for some reason Pano doesn’t get anywhere near the annual snowfall that Fernie gets and I wouldn’t call it a great resort for powder days.  Kicking Horse is only an hour north of Pano but they seem to get a lot more powder days.  I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation for this but I’m just going to say it’s because Golden has more leprechauns.  At any rate, Pano kicked the Horse’s butt this week with 41cms in 2 days.

Screenshot 2015-03-18 21.57.32



Closer to home, Lake Louise had 10-15cms of new snow but from this webcam shot it looks like it was pretty wet on Sunday.  Check out the Ryder report for the details, but it sounds like there was some good snow but a bit too much wetness at Sunshine to make Sunday an epic day.  So based on all the verifiable dampness in the mountains I’m going to surmise that even Fernie and Pano were probably good and wet on the lower half of the mountain.  That said, I’ve skied Fernie when it was pissing rain at the lodge and the skiing in Lizard bowl was fantastic (except for the lightening and thunder). Screenshot 2015-03-15 17.56.10




http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-search-for-snow-continues/feed/ 0
The Search For Snow http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-search-for-snow/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-search-for-snow/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 03:10:09 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=765 Not too many years ago, I used to be a frequent backcountry skier.  It was a great way to go look for some powder when there was nothing left at the resorts.  The post header is a pic from Jackson Hole that started me thinking about those glory days.  This year I haven’t been in the backcountry at all and I’ve been out twice to the resorts.  I know that’s pretty lame but there are a lot of my comrades with similar laments.  I had a backcountry ski trip planned with a group of powder hounds for the first week of February.  A Pineapple Express pushed that out by a month, then lack of snow pushed it out by a week and then another week, then we called it off for this year.  I have another friend who wasn’t working this winter so he bought a Sunshine card, a Pano card, and two Louise cards.  He returned the Sunshine card and has barely used the Louise card. (His trip to Florida, a week skiing in Utah, and a shoulder injury were bigger factors than the weather but it still makes for an off year of skiing for him.)

From @gretegirl skiing at Solitude.  Nice light!

From @gretegirl skiing at Solitude. Nice light!

But this is no longer news.  I think everyone in Calgary knows we’re having one of those once in a hundred year events.  It has been such a mild winter that the snow is gone from my yard and they’re predicting 20C by the weekend.  It almost sounds like winter is over, doesn’t it?  But wait!!! There is snow on the horizon.  The forecast for Whistler shows decent snowfall on Wednesday followed by heavy snowfall on Saturday and Sunday.  Honestly, I haven’t seen a forecast like that since early December.  The BC interior as far east as Revy has a similar forecast with slightly less snow predicted.  Sadly the snowfall numbers are still low for Kicking Horse, Fernie, Louise, and Sunshine but that could easily change by the weekend.  If you’re really desperate for powder then I recommend heading west.  Too bad we couldn’t have put our trip off for one more week but my friend with a place in the Koots is going to be away for the next two weeks.  Such is life my friends.

Slurpee style groomers at Squaw Valley.

Slurpee style groomers at Squaw Valley.

For those of us who don’t have the luxury of heading west to chase the powder next weekend, we may have to enjoy another typical spring skiing weekend of hard pack and groomers or soft slush and bump skiing if the sun comes out and the mercury rises high enough.  That can be a lot of fun too.  But the really positive thing about this report is that the dry spell appears to be ending and we could get in a few powder days this March.  I’ll keep you posted if we do.

http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-search-for-snow/feed/ 0
Come Together http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/come-together/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/come-together/#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2015 02:48:06 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=755 Today was one of those days when it all comes together to make a perfect day.  In the morning I wasn’t overly stoked because a) I couldn’t find a ski buddy so I was flying solo.  b) snow-forecast was predicting 17cms so I was disappointed when I checked the report at 5:30 and it was only 6cms.  But there are some advantages to flying solo and that’s getting a really early start out of Calgary.  I hit the road at 6:30 and only stopped briefly to grab a coffee at Starbucks.  The coffee tasted really good (Starbucks can be hit and miss) so that was a minor win for the journey.  Win number two, despite hitting several snow squalls the trans Canada was dry most of the way.  Win number three, I was one of the first 20-30 cars in the parking lot and scored this sweet spot!Screenshot 2015-02-21 18.15.22

After walking straight up to the window and grabbing a lift ticket, I strolled onto my private gondola – there was zero line up, and I disembarked in the village at roughly 8:15.  I’ve never been on the mountain this early and I’m now wondering why…  I had time for a muffin in the day lodge before noticing that they were loading Standish at 8:40.  Damn!  I rushed over and skied straight onto the lift.  From the Standish chair I skied straight down to the Divide chair where maybe a dozen people had beat me to the punch and were on their way to the top.  But to my surprise they all headed straight down and I had Bye Bye Bowl to myself.  I could have gone home after that run and my day would have been a success!  It wasn’t deep powder but it was all fresh and when I hit the bottom I looked back up and there was only one person coming down behind me.  On my second run down Bye Bye I still found fresh tracks along the rope and one the third run it was mostly fresh but I had to navigate a bit to cut from untouched patch to untouched patch.  Finally, by the fourth run it was mostly tracked out.  But for me that was a fabulous opening hour.  Unfortunately, I have no photographic evidence as I was under the spell of powder fever.  But I did snap this shot skiing down from Standish to the Divide chair.Screenshot 2015-02-21 18.34.59

So by 10 o’clock (the time I normally arrive) I’d already skied 4 runs on really nice snow.  I’m starting to understand what Derek was getting at when he told me I should know better than to show up late for a day of skiing.  Now the fact that this wasn’t a major powder day definitely worked in my favour.  If there was 30cms of snow I’d have a lot more competition for those fresh tracks.  But the 5 to 10cms of light hero snow on the Divide was enough to turn a hard and crusty surface into something extremely enjoyable.  I could feel the snow pack under the fresh stuff and it was certainly sun affected from the warm week we had.

Screenshot 2015-02-21 18.43.39

The other nice thing about the day was that the lifts lines weren’t very busy until about 10:30.  As you can see there was never more than one or two people in the singles line so I was getting laps in pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, it was cold enough that I had to defrost my toes but by then the lift line was starting to build and all the freshies were gone.  Mental note: there was no line up in the cafe because most people were just getting on the hill by 10:30.  I decided to have an early lunch and then ski until my legs gave out.

Screenshot 2015-02-21 18.53.35

After my snack I did one more run on the Divide then headed over to Goat’s Eye to ski the remainder of the day.  It was now after 11 and the sun was starting to provide some warmth.  But the snow was still in mid winter condition, nice and light.  For my run on the Goat I chose to ski all the way over to Renegade (one of the chutes down to Eagle Basin.  This was not as amazing as I’d envisioned because there were no fresh lines left, the light turned a bit flat on me, and the base under the new snow had been significantly sun affected and was a little crusty and a little chunky.  The crust might have been no problem if I’d been on my DH skis but it messed up my tele-turns compared to the hero snow I’d been enjoying on the Divide.  As you can see in the picture below, the snow looks great but there was definitely some chop underneath.Screenshot 2015-02-21 18.51.36At the bottom of this run I ventured into Eagle Creek and found some sweet snow in the trees!  Next up… I skied down the rope line above Cleavage then cut into Ewe First and dropped down to the glades below.  This is often my favourite run on Goat’s Eye but today it was also a little too crunchy for my liking.  I resorted to parallel turns on my tellies and that was pretty fun but not as awesome as it could have been.  After those two runs my legs were starting to tire out so I did 4 or 5 easy laps on the front side of Goat’s Eye.  There was sweet powder on Old Chute so I hit that on every lap but on the bottom half I tried Gladerunner, Rolling Thunder, and Wildfire.  I found that Rolling Thunder had the right combination of great snow and terrain easy enough for my tired legs.  I finished the day off with a couple runs down Rolling Thunder and pulled the pin at 2pm just as the Goat’s Eye lift line was starting to build.

Rolling Thunder - Great Snow!

Rolling Thunder – Great Snow!

Driving home before the highway got busy was yet another bonus for getting up early.  Yes, I’ve always know of the many advantages to being the early bird but it isn’t very often that I actually do it.  After today I’m thinking that I should be a bit more strict about leaving before 7am.  Even if I have to get up at 5am to walk the dog, it’s totally worth it because it makes for a much more enjoyable day at the resort.


http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/come-together/feed/ 1
The Challenges of Climate Change http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-challenges-of-climate-change/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-challenges-of-climate-change/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 03:06:54 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=747 I’ve heard that Alberta is a hot bed of climate change deniers but to be honest I don’t know many people that would argue the point anymore.  My brother in law was very smug a few years back when the average global temperature declined for the first time in several years.  But then it went back to setting annual records.  We don’t argue about it anymore.  But it’s the freakiness of the weather that people can’t deny.  My sister moved to Boston a little over a year ago and after receiving 7ft of snow in the last 3 weeks she’s saying things like, “I don’t remember winter ever being this bad in Ottawa”.  On the east coast of Canada they’ve suffered massive snowfall, then rain, then 80km/hr winds, and then temperatures approaching -30C.  Toronto apparently was pushing -40C on the weekend- with wind chill?  Meanwhile in Calgary we’ve had the mildest January/February that I can remember and I’ve been here over 20 years.  Last Friday I was sitting outside in my T-shirt and the sun was hot on my face.  But we did have some sub -20C temperatures in January but those were relieved on short notice with false springs.  This is nuts!Screenshot 2015-02-17 19.57.40

On Thursday last week, I wrote in the Cdn Rockies Outlook that there would be a beautiful spring skiing for the family day weekend.  I wasn’t quite right – although I heard there was sweet spring conditions at Louise on Friday.  Sunshine actually had winter powder conditions on Saturday – I encourage you to catch up on the Ryder report to see what you missed.  But west of Banff park the resorts were punished with torrential rain on Friday.  A group from work had their Cat skiing cancelled in Revelstoke this weekend because it rained all night on Friday and didn’t stop until 5am.  As they drove through Golden Friday night it was pouring there as well.  A few of the would be cat skiers stopped in to ski Kicking Horse but it was heavily rain affected (and I’m trying to phrase it nicely).

Now here are a few shots from Kicking Horse early last week:

Screenshot 2015-02-12 19.26.10Going from amazing powder to pouring rain must be a real punch it the gut for the resort operators who are already struggling with a tough season.Screenshot 2015-02-12 19.25.10That’s insane powder!  But don’t expect great conditions like that until it snows again.Screenshot 2015-02-12 19.24.46Seriously deep powder that is all gone now.  But have hope!  It can go the other way just as quickly.  Two weeks ago Kicking Horse wasn’t looking that great.

I think this is the perfect segue for the Ryder Report’s, “Ski Tips #7″.  Despite the woe’s many resorts have been having during what is normally powder season, Sunshine has been enjoying winter as usual.  It’s very typical for rain to spoil the fun at more southerly resorts like Castle, Fernie, and Whitefish.  Calgary is also known for having warm Chinook weather several times each winter and this year it seems like there have been more warm days than cold in Jan/Feb.  I don’t have the data to back up my assertion but I believe western Canada must be setting records for warm average temperatures.  But Sunshine has been dodging the bullet and Mr. Ryder has a theory to explain why.

I leave you with very depressing news from Castle Mountain’s snow report today:

Screenshot 2015-02-17 20.00.48



http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/the-challenges-of-climate-change/feed/ 0
Lesson Re-Learned http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/lesson-re-learned/ http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/lesson-re-learned/#comments Sat, 07 Feb 2015 20:33:32 +0000 http://www.powderwatch.com/?p=735 I’ve been skiing in Calgary for twenty years now and this is the second time I’ve had to abort a day trip to the mountains.  The first time was many years ago and it was due to heavy snowfall on the TransCanada.  About 20 minutes outside of Calgary we turned back because the snow was so deep that driving was slow and treacherous.  I had a panic attack when my buddy Sammy decided to turn back – it was going to be an insane powder day.  But if the driving was that bad all the way to Banff he would have been exhausted by the time we made it to the hill.  We found out the following week that the weather cleared about 15 minutes beyond where we turned back.  Such is life :-)Screenshot 2015-02-07 12.35.22Today was a different story.  There wasn’t a lot of snow in January and Calgary area skiers are itching for some good turns.  I was just discussing this at work yesterday.  My snow boarder buddy was adamant that I’d have to leave before 7 or we’d be stuck in some crazy line ups.  I checked the snow report this morning and Louise had another 15cms so it was going to be a good powder day – the hordes would be on the move.  I took all the necessary precautions last night: ski clothing laid out at the front door, boots in from the garage and warming in the house, skis and poles preloaded in the car, and Louise cards registered.  Check.

Saturday morning we awaken at 7am – oh oh.  Off to a poor start, we had slept in by 30mins.  Next error, we decide to have a quick coffee and toast.  We were running late anyway so what’s another 15mins.  Just as we’re sitting down to breakfast my sister skype’s us from Boston.  I told her it would have to be short because we were on our way to Louise.  Thirty minutes or so later we finally hang up and I still haven’t walked Rio.  Out for a fast walk with the pup and we run into his best buddy Sonny.  They have so much fun together I couldn’t help letting them romp for a few minutes. Dave invites me into his house while the dogs play in the back yard and 15-20 minutes later I’m running home as fast as I can.  Once in the house, Estelle is flustered because her credit card is missing and she can’t find her ski goggles.  The card is put on hold and I dig out a spare set of goggles.  We are on the road by 9am.  Not good.  At this point we were considering pulling the pin but foolishly neglected to consider what it would be like arriving at 11 on a day where every Calgary skier is racing for the mountains.

Screenshot 2015-02-07 12.53.08

From that point on, it’s smooth sailing until we hit the Sunshine turn off.  The traffic is backed up onto the highway.  I’ve heard of that happening but never actually seen it until today.  Estelle comments, “I hope Louise isn’t this bad”.  Two km’s down the highway, traffic is stopped (show above).  We’re still 20mins from Louise (at 90kms/hr) so we’re looking at an hour delay.  I’m guessing it was an accident and not traffic backed up from Louise.  But I wasn’t sticking around to find out.  The mission was aborted and I now find myself back in Calgary.

What did I learn today?  Always leave early when you’re going skiing.  A lie in followed by a slow paced breakfast is great on the weekend but not when you’re skiing.  It’s just not worth joining the line up with the rest of the chumps that can’t drag themselves out of bed in the morning.  What did I miss out on?  A great day of skiing of course.  Even if we’d carried on and managed to make it onto a lift by noon, half the day would have been gone.  As you all know, on a busy day at the resort the best turns are first thing in the morning.  Screenshot 2015-02-07 12.21.17

I took a look a the web cam when I got home to see just how crazy the crowds were and it actually wasn’t that bad.  Big lines at the base but nothing out of the ordinary for a weekend.   Actually, the chair line is shorten than normal.  Perhaps the accident on the highway was holding back the arrival of the masses.  This is an ideal situation on a powder day!!  Greedy yes, but there is much truth to the “no friends on a powder day” mantra.  After checking the web cam (I must be somewhat masochistic) I proceeded to look at the photos from yesterday.  The shot below and the post featured image are both from Lake Louise on Feb 6th.  Yes, Friday would have been the day.  I’m definitely slipping.Screenshot 2015-02-07 13.12.29On that rather off key final note, I have to admit that I’m no longer the powderwatch guy and I’ve become the lame old guy that doesn’t get to ski much anymore.  If you are young, care free, ridiculously good looking, and ski or snowboard like your hair is on fire, then I could really use some help.  Enjoying writing and taking photos are other prerequisites, probably more important than my first list of qualifications.  If you like powderwatch and would like to see more posts that are actually about skiing then drop me an email at websitename@gmail.com (websitename being powderwatch) and we can talk about how you can help out.  Derek Ryder is still doing an awesome job on the Ryder report but quite frankly I’m not contributing much.  First hand information on snow conditions and intimate knowledge of the resort and its terrain are what you can find on the Ryder report.  I would like to provide you with the same level of quality but it’s probably not going to happen until I retire or take a season off to ski.  That’s just not on the radar yet.


http://www.powderwatch.com/uncategorized/lesson-re-learned/feed/ 2