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.

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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.


2 thoughts on “Lesson Re-Learned

  1. I warned you about the roads and traffic. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Yes, it was accidents causing the delays, both on the Sunshine road and on the TransCanada. And those delays mitigated all the hill lineups (not that it would have been bad anyway). So the guys who did what your smart snowboarder friend did (leave early) did better than you — but I talked to guest who left the University area at 7 AM, got in front of some of the automobile carnage, was still in the back half of the Sunshine lot even with an arrival of 9:30 AM.

    And… I was doing untracked powder turns at 2:30 PM. 90% of skiers ski 50% of the terrain. Go to the other 50% if you want fresh turns. After coming that far, you should have been patient. Joining the Sunshine car line up at 10:30 would have had you riding sweet powder turns by noon in the actual sunshine, not in the poor AM viz. They opened the South Sides at 1 PM. Big snow means delayed openings.

    Have I taught you nothing? Sigh.

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