I posted an aerial photo of Eagle Ridge on Dec. 29, but ER 1 & 2 at the eastern end weren’t visible. This shot, also taken May 10, 2007, shows the same area from a different angle. Even though ER 6 & 7 are hidden from view, you can still see both ends of the ridge – from ER 1 on the left to where Saddleback hits the very bottom of the Chunky’s cornice in Whitehorn I at far right.
When I started patrolling at the Lake in the mid-90′s, ER 3, 6, & 7, as well as Upper ER 5, were permanently closed avalanche areas. This was a remnant of the days when the parks service performed all avalanche operations for the ski area. Since then, the avalanche forecasters have done a great job of learning about and getting open the areas which had previously always been closed.
Upper ER 5 is the closest thing we have to a permanent closure on the back side of Eagle Ridge, and that’s because not only is it steep and rocky terrain, but it’s also huge, consisting of a large number of micro-features, all requiring their own analysis and plan of attack. Upper and Lower ER 5 are divided by a cliff band that crosses the entire slope, with a few narrow chokes that are slow to fill with snow and can be the one thing preventing the terrain from opening, since there must be skiable lines from top to bottom in order for it to open.
Lower ER 5 opens sooner, since it consists mainly of a fairly even scree slope, which is much smoother than the boulder fields that lie above the cliffs and requires less snow to fill in. At far skier’s left of Lower ER 5 is M.G. Gully, a steep, narrow, tree-filled chute with a drop exit, and is a place that gets lots of snow. To get there you need to enter from the Saddleback/Split Rock area and traverse across the top of Kiddie’s Corner, and if you stay high enough you’ll end up right at the top of the gully.
Below is a shot of the top of Upper ER 5, for those hoping to scope out their lines for the Big Mountain Challenge taking place this spring (don’t forget, these photos were taken at the end of an exceptional snow year, and all areas of the mountain are currently much less filled in).
This helicopter photo from May 10, 2007 shows most of Eagle Ridge, with East Bowl (ER 1) off-picture to the left, and ER 7 and all but the very top of ER 6 off to the right. Like previous terrain photos, runs labelled in black are as they appear on the Lake Louise trail map, with patrol names shown in red. Fence lines are shown as orange dotted lines.
The Corridor runs from the top of Paradise Chair to the top of East Bowl and serves as the access to all runs in between. East Bowl (ER 1, not shown) is the bowl directly above the top of Ptarmigan Chair. Crow Bowl is a narrow bowl that usually has a prominent cornice at the top. If you’re standing at the top centre of Crow Bowl and turn around 180 degrees to look towards the base area, the pitch below you is Patroller Pitch, which acts as a quick way to get down to the top of the old Eagle chair and is not on the trail map.
Hidden between East Bowl and Crow Bowl is a little gem of an area that seems to be one of the last areas to get tracked after a snowfall. It isn’t that steep, but it can be a nice surprise when all other areas have been tracked out. The narrow entrance to this area is directly to the skier’s left of the top of East Bowl, and the run below can’t be seen until you’re actually on it. It can be entered from below on either side, but you miss the first bunch of turns. There are a few small clumps of trees, but they’re widely spaced on the smooth terrain to allow lots of choice of line.