Wow! The Lake Gets WallopedPosted: January 14, 2011
It’s a whole new world at Lake Louise, with about 50cm of fresh snow falling in the last week, and another blast scheduled to come through today and tonight. Overnight, we saw the return of our good friend the west/southwest winds, which blew into the moderate range for four or five hours and helped transform the back bowls and other leeward slopes that love these winds so much.
With this sudden and significant load on the existing snowpack comes increased avalanche hazard, and control teams change their method of attack when all of a sudden consequences of avalanches become that much more of a concern. For example, slopes that had been getting ski-cut to control instabilities now have to be approached more carefully. As a rule of thumb, a slope is considered suitable for ski cutting if the avalanches resulting from the cuts are no bigger in area than your average kitchen. No, with much larger parts of the slopes prone to sliding, explosives become the tool of the day. Bombs allow teams to control a slope without exposing staff to danger.
The avalanche forecaster will also “shrink the terrain”, which means some areas will be closed for the day so teams can concentrate on other areas. For example, Brownshirt will likely remain closed today so crews can open Boomerang. Brownshirt requires extensive control work, both in the Brownshirt gullies and over around North Cornice and Upper North Cornice. Rather than keep the entire Boomerang/Brownshirt area closed while control work proceeds, a few quick laps can take care of any concerns in Boomerang, allowing it to open much sooner. Teams can then spend all the time they need in the Brownshirt area getting it ready and still provide some great bowl skiing for those who are keen to get after it.
I’m heading up on the mountain for the first time in almost two weeks later today, and will add an update with photos later today or tomorrow morning. Until then, skiers are enjoying easily the best conditions of the season with tonnes of light dry powder covering the mountain.