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!!!
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.
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.
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!