Terrain Photos – E.R. 6 & 7

Here’s the first in a series of aerial photos of mostly alpine terrain at Lake Louise with runs and other significant features labelled. In May of 2007, I was lucky enough to have the chance to fly around the resort in a helicopter and take as many photos as I could in two 25-minute flights. The right-side cabin door was removed, and I strapped myself into a four-point harness that would allow me to lean out for an unobstructed view. Needless to say, that was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done! Aerial photos are valuable tools, and are used for avalanche control, ski patrol, snow farming, and other operational applications.

These shots were taken May 10, almost two weeks after Lake Louise closed for the 2006-07 season, which had been one of the best for snowfall in a long time. The week preceeding the flights had been very warm, which explains the wet look of the snow, as well as the “snowballing”. Also, because the winter had seen so much snow, many surface features normally evident were smothered, and the terrain looks a lot smoother here than it actually is. Nonetheless, I like the fact that you get a view that you otherwise wouldn’t, and it makes it easier to piece together all of the many and varied pieces of mountain that make up the ski area.

What had started as a blue-bird day had begun to cloud over by the time the helicopter arrived, and a number of shots ended up being slightly spoiled by cloud shadows, as seen in the second photo of the area around the base of the Summit Platter. I auto-bracketed each of the 300 shots I took (3 different exposures for each one), since I didn’t have the luxury of time to constantly fiddle with the settings.

This first labelled photo is of the area called “The Wall” on the trail maps. Runs marked in black text are as they appear on the Lake Louise trail map, and the red text represents each individual mountain face as it applies to avalanche control. Each face of a mountain is subject to its own weather and avalanche-related conditions, based on elevation, slope angle, exposure to wind, and aspect (which compass direction it faces=amount of sun exposure). The control names are based on the name of the mountain or ridge, and are numbered left-to-right looking up. “E.R.” stands for Eagle Ridge, and there are seven distinct faces, starting with East Bowl (E.R. 1) and ending with the gullies that make up E.R. 7. Some run names at Lake Louise still use their control names, and others do not.

The Wall  (click on photo for larger version)

The Wall (click on photo for larger version)


Summit Platter base covered by cloud shadow

Summit Platter base covered by cloud shadow


One Comment on “Terrain Photos – E.R. 6 & 7”

  1. JJ says:

    Great pictures – I’d love to see some more of these

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