Goodbye Cold, Hello SnowPosted: December 16, 2009
After almost forgetting what it’s like to be warm, the cold snap that has embraced Lake Louise for the last few weeks has finally left, and yesterday saw a dramatic rise in temperature to bring us happily back into the realm of seasonal norms. If forecasts are correct, the warming won’t stop there, as Banff is expected to see temperatures close to 0C in the next day or two.
While things were warming up yesterday, it was also snowing lightly for most of the day, and with the addition of more snow overnight last night, we’ve now seen close to 10cm of new snow in the last 24 hours or so. The recent cold temps and steady winds had buffed the mountain into a chalky smooth snow surface, and now with this new snow on top, skiing conditions are expected to improve even more in a season that has already seen above average snowfall to date.
In the snowmaking world, these cold snaps are a dream come true, despite the added difficulty in dealing with frozen equipment. Huge snowmaking whales appeared overnight all over the mountain, and our fleet of snowcats can barely keep up with them. Even on closed runs, we can’t let the whales get too high, and cats are needed to knock the tops off of ones that get too big. Especially for the tall tower snowmaking guns, the water pellets need the time it takes to fall to the ground to freeze adequately. The taller a whale gets, the less distance the water has to fall, and therefore has less time to freeze, reducing the quality of the snow. Even a metre or two of height can make a big difference, so the cats spend a large part of their night visiting the whales and keeping them in check.
With the completion on Friday of NORAM racing, the bulk of the course has now been removed, and we’re slowly reclaiming the parts of the mountain that were used for that. Places like Men’s Downhill, Sunset Gully, and Tickety Chutes require a bit of rehab before they’re able to be opened to the public. Down on Easy St., the site of the terrain park had its race fencing removed and snowmaking set up within a few hours, taking great advantage of the cold temps. If all goes well, we expect to have a large part, if not all, of the terrain park ready to go by Christmas.