Rio was warming up our boots for us.

The alarm went off at 6am and I drifted in and out of sleep while my better half got up and started making coffee and toasted bagels.  Although I’ve said many times before that an early start is the key to having a great day, I’m really not a morning person.  In spite of my preference for lie ins, we were on the road out of Calgary by 6:45 and arrived at Louise about 20 minutes before 9.  This wasn’t my first early arrival at the resort but I don’t recall ever parking in Row 2 of the parking lot.  This was the first indication that it wasn’t going to be a crowded day on the mountain.

It was extraordinarily warm as we rode the chair up for our first run.  There was no new snow below us but the runs looked nicely groomed.  Since we’d skied straight onto the lift, we decided to run back to the base and enjoy the fresh corduroy.  I know… is the powderwatch guy really talking about enjoying the groomed runs?    Let’s just say I’ve broadened my horizons.

The next three runs we spent lapping the top of the world chair.  The snow was hard pack but not icy.  But there were some nice soft turns if you headed straight at the snow makers.  After a brief blindness caused by the artificial ice crystals the surface beyond was pure ball bearings and icy crud.  I guess that’s why the guns were set up there.  From there we took the platter to the summit and wandered over to Brown Shirt.  As usual the snow over there was superb.  Sorry, no deep pow pow – just nice soft hero snow.

It wouldn’t be a day skiing with the missus without a few laps around Larch.  Larch Poma was in great shape!  I felt like my hips were loose again but it was probably just an illusion caused by a wickedly carve-able surface. We also tried Old Ptarmigan which is hit and miss.  Today it was a miss.  Lots of icy bits and unnerving acceleration over a piste that would be perfect for a downhill competition.  We also explored Meadowlark.  It was ok but nothing to write home about.  The bumps on Lower Meadowlark were actually quite good but there was plenty of grass and dirt in the troughs.

In the good ol’ days I used to start skiing in November and having half a dozen days on the planks by January was pretty much a given.  How life does change.  This year we had visitors starting the last week in November and continuing until last Thursday.  I cancelled a day at Sunshine before Christmas when it was -27C in the village at 7am the night before.  It wasn’t a hard decision to pull the pin.  Then during my Christmas break the plan was to ski with my family one day… any day… but the deep freeze wouldn’t let up.  I later learned that there was an inversion that had temperatures bordering on reasonable in the alpine but that didn’t happen until the weekend before New Year’s and we already had plans.  That’s how I ended up skiing for the first time on Jan 7.  Clearly the powderwatch guy is no longer reliable for regular and timely reports.  At the moment I have other priorities in life but I still love to get out when I can.  I’ll continue to report when I make it out to the mountains.  But if there’s anyone out there that would like to help out by reporting on Lake Louise, or any other of the great resorts in AB/BC, then please send me a message.  rob at powderwatch dot com.

I almost forgot to mention that Louise was only moderately busy on Sunday.  We skied straight onto the lifts – even at Larch Chair which is notorious for big line ups.  A colleague from work mentioned it was the same on Saturday.  I’m guessing that it has to do with it being the last weekend of the school break.  But since it was the first warm weekend in about 3 weeks, I was expecting more people.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the $11o lift ticket price.  To be determined…

Temple Lodge (upstairs) at 11:30am

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