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It’s been several weeks since I was last on the downhill boards, but on Monday we drove out to Louise with my sister who’s visiting from Boston.  It was a family day as my niece joined us as well.  Once again, I wasn’t expecting amazing snow as there hasn’t been much precip at Lake Louise since Christmas.  On Jan 17 Louise had about 20cms of new snow but otherwise it’s been dribs and drabs.  This morning (Wed Jan 27) Louise is reporting 5cms of new snow and 17cms in the last 7days.  On Monday they reported 3cms over the weekend.  They’ve been getting dustings but no all day snowfall like they had on Jan 16. But at least it was a beautiful sunny morning with temperatures around -5C.

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My sis hadn’t been skiing for a few years so it was a day spent skiing mostly blue runs.  That’s fun too but it didn’t allow me to go searching for my favourite powder stashes.  Because of that my report is somewhat speculative.  I will say that the groomies still have a decent bit of loose snow on top and not that much ice.  I did sense a hardness in the base that wasn’t there when I last skied around Christmas.  I also found the grooming wasn’t superb like it had been over the holidays.  That’s likely because it was Monday and they didn’t bother grooming much.  Btw… if I could work Saturdays and have Mondays off, I think I’d go for it.  The resort was pretty much deserted.  No lift lines, easy to get a seat in the lodge, no traffic to negotiate on the runs.  It was awesome!

I did scoot down Hour Glass on the backside and it was nowhere near as good as it had been 3 weeks ago.  The moguls were firmer – but still not icy – and there were a lot more exposed rocks.  As I looked back up the Whitehorn chutes I could see a disturbing amount of rock visible.  Conditions in the back bowls are getting increasingly thin.

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Louise does have snow in the forecast for the next 5 days and that is just what the doctor ordered. The expected accumulation is only around 5cms per day but that is notoriously inaccurate.  Let’s hope we get at least one day of serious snow.  A colleague of mine backed out on a trip to Castle on Sunday because the forecast changed from decent snowfall to just a few cms.  Then they received 15cms leaving her thinking that she should’ve gone in spite of the forecast.  I think that’s always a good choice.

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A few of you may be curious as to why I haven’t been skiing much in January.  It’s partly due to lack of snow but mostly due to the fact that we’ve been going cross country skiing at West Bragg Creek every weekend since Christmas.  Up until last weekend conditions have been excellent and they allow dogs off leash so Rio has had a blast chasing us around the 12km ‘Moose Loop’.

I’m mentioning this because I made an observation regarding the condition of the track set trail at West Bragg.  Despite having very little snow the course has been soft and super fun to ski for several weeks.  Then it warmed up last week and with the sun loading the track completely iced up.  There was zero grip in the track, the downhill section got slick and treacherous, and falling on that surface was a decidedly painful experience.  It reminded me that lack of snow isn’t necessarily a problem when it comes to skiing.  Avoided the melt / freeze cycle is key to maintaining reasonably good conditions.   We’ve all suffered the dismay of seeing a massive powder fall at Fernie get wiped out by rain a couple days later.  Warm temperatures are the real enemy, not the lack of snow.  That’s why Louise has managed to stay pretty good for the last 6 weeks.  It’s also why Sunshine typically has much better snow conditions.  El Nino and the mild winter it brings are not necessarily something we should look forward to.  I agree that it’s nice to ski in warmer temperatures but I’m happy to wait for spring for that to happen.

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