While the snow may have let up a bit today, the smiles did not as skiers and boarders enjoyed another day of powder turns at Lake Louise. This recent storm, nearing a total of 50cm over the last few days, has added a third to a half of our total snowpack, and with forecasts calling varying amounts over the next three or four days, it doesn’t look like it’s about to stop.
The wind that was absent during the bulk of this storm finally arrived early this morning, and we started to see some of this new snow get moved around. If the wind keeps up, avalanche control teams will have a lot of work ahead of them since wind-deposited snow tends to make the hairiest avalanche conditions with the biggest consequences. By consequences, I mean destructive power. Over the last few days, we’ve been able to get some small loose snow avalanches started in steeper terrain, but these slides didn’t pick up much mass or run all that far. The snow remained loose, so even the avalanche debris made for good skiing.
When wind-blown snow is deposited on leeward slopes, it forms a slab, and this is due to a few things. First, as the wind moves the flakes over the ground, the delicate crystals break into smaller pieces, meaning they can be packed more densely. Also, the wind acts as a packer, pushing the pieces of crystals even closer together. The resulting slab becoms one big piece of snow, meaning that if one section of the slope wants to slide, the rest of the slope is more likely to go with it. The dense chunks of slab have the potential to cause much more damage than a loose snow avalanche, which can flow around objects more easily. Of course, if there’s enough volume, a loose snow avalanche can be very destructive.
With all of this new snow and the huge load it has now placed on the underlying snow layers, we will be heli-bombing for about half-an-hour tomorrow morning. I’ll be there, camera and all, and will post all about it in the next day or two (or three).
When I left Lake Louise last night it was snowing. When I arrived at Lake Louise this morning, it was snowing. It’s snowing now, and it appears we’ve received another 10cm at the base area, with more up top. Once again, there was little to no wind, which means terrain should open quickly (the gates to normally open terrain were all cracked before 10:00am yesterday).
If you were here yesterday, you already know what an epic day it was, with a nice deep layer of light dry powder evenly distributed everywhere. With light crowds, there were fresh lines to enjoy all day long, and by the looks of things, it’ll be that much deeper today.
The first photo below is the ”unofficial” snow plot outside my office window at the base area. I cleared it off yesterday morning after I took a similar shot, so all of the accumulated snow is in the last 24 hrs.
Back at the computer for a quick post after a great morning of avalanche control and after having visited our weather plot on the back side. As expected, there was no wind-affected snow; in fact, it was light, dry powder, and it continues to come down. There are no lift lines, so this is going to be a great week to get to the Lake and enjoy powder all day long.
Some significant numbers from our Pika plot (as of 10:30am today):
- 24hr snowfall – 27cm
- Since 3:00pm yesterday – 19cm
Of course, when it’s snowing, the photography is difficult, and I’m okay with that. The shot below was taken around tree line, where the trees add a little definition to the slope.
The weatherman came through for us again last night and this morning, dumping a nice new layer of Rockies powder for all to enjoy. Our remote weather station this morning reported 19cm of new snow in the previous 24 hrs, with most leeward slopes in the alpine areas getting more than 20cm. The new snow was accompanied by wind, but luckily there was no slab or wind crust to spoil the fun. Skiing conditions were great all day long, and were made better by the opening of Whitehorn I for the first time. While still rocky around the top 1/3, there are great lines lower down, especially on the skier’s left side of the run, which spills over into Adrenaline for a nice long powder run. Skiing was also great in Brownshirt and Crow Bowl, and by the end of today there were still unskied lines to be found.
Some photos from today:
Now let’s hope the weatherman is right about the snow that’s supposed to come later this week…
For those lucky enough to be at Lake Louise today, conditions did not disappoint, as skiers and riders venturing onto the the upper mountain were greeted with great early-season conditions. Early season in Lake Louise usually means rocks, but for those not too worried about a few new dings in their bases, there were lots of powder turns to be had. While the Snow Safety weather station reported 4cm of new snow overnight, the wind was once again our friend as amounts were often greater, especially on the backside. The following photos were all taken today:
If you feel like you missed out today on some great conditions, fear not – tomorrow marks the day we open Boomerang for the first time, and in case you missed the photos in previous posts, here’s what it looked like today, which is also what it will look like right before we open it Saturday morning. With only a little work to complete before the gate drops, be there early to ensure some epic turns:
While Boomerang is in terrific shape, the approach through Windy Gap is still bare, and will require that skiers and boarders remove their planks and do a short walk to get across the flat rock patch. After that, it’s in great shape all the way to Paradise chair. Also opening Saturday morning will be Outer Limits, which is always a solid early-season performer. The long permanent snow fence has done its usual magic and created a nice wide drift to enjoy, as shown in the photo below, taken this afternoon:
The Mountain Operations team has been working at full tilt getting all of this new terrain ready, and while they may be tempted to pause and enjoy the fruits of their efforts, they’ll continue working to get even more terrain open. Look for Paradise Bowl and Crow Bowl, among others, to open in the next few days.
Reminder: the new Ptarmigan chair is still under construction, so for those going back side, Paradise chair represents the only means of returning to the front side of the mountain. All upper mountain terrain (as the patroller will tell you before loading Top of the World lift) is ‘experts only’, and there remain many marked and unmarked hazards. Tread lightly in places of less snow.
Enjoy the weekend !