Grizzly Express Gondola to Open This Weekend

The cold temperatures have finally arrived. Is this good? Yes it is, because until we get more snow from the sky, the man-made stuff is all we have, and cold temperatures mean more snowmaking, which means we can open more runs.

While Lake Louise uses a few different types of snow guns, each with their own efficiencies and optimal operating conditions, -15C seems to be the sweet spot as far as overall maximum efficiency of the system goes. All snow guns use a mixture of air and water to produce snow, and the colder it gets, the wetter this mixture can be. Once you get to -15C, however, things start to freeze up, expecially the hundreds of little nozzles on the fan guns that are otherwise so productive.

With large whales (the piles of snow made by snow guns) popping up more and more, the push to open more terrain has gone right along with them. By this weekend, the Grizzly Gondola will open, serving upper Wapta and Lower Flight initially, then Deer Run and Pika soon after. Temple Lodge will be open once Pika is ready to go. Also part and parcel with Pika are areas further down the Corridor from Paradise chair, including Crow Bowl and East Bowl.

The new Ptarmigan chair is not complete, but with the grips for the chairs arriving tomorrow (Fri), assembly and installation of the chairs and the final load test are imminent. Until then, those skiers heading down Pika below the base of Paradise chair will be skiing around the mountain rather than over it to return to the main base area. Via the Ski Out you ask? Actually, in anticipation of the need for a good early-season ski route to the front side, we’ve had the Temple Road closed to vehivles since the first snow arrived, and it will serve as a temporary ski out until the real one is ready to go. Temple Rd runs parallel to the ski out, but is wider and has a better grade, and will work quite nicely for those using it.

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Also today, we made use of the helicopter parked in front of the patrol building for World Cup to move our four avalauncher guns into their respective positions on the mountain. As soon as today’s race training was done for the day, a few of us flew with pilot Todd Cooper to see the locations, then we hopped out while Todd attached a 50m long-line to the underside of the helicopter and completed the mission, all in under 30 minutes. As I’ve mentioned previously, helicopters are also a great way to get a close up bird’s-eye-view of the resort, and there’s no way I was leaving my camera behind for an opportunity like this! Unfortunatley, the sun disappeared for the duration of the flight, and the photos were less than spectacular.

I did manage to capture the helicopter in good light during take-off earlier in the day as it participated in a rescue practice for the medical staff working the World Cup. Almost all injuries on the race course are removed by helicopter, so the team goes through the motions to ensure they’re ready for the big moment, which they always are. A few seasons ago, I was lucky (or crazy?) enough to be the “patient” for this scenario, and was wrapped up and slung below the helicopter along with Parks Canada Public Safety Warden Marc Ledwidge. I was allowed to video the event (as much as my strapped-in arm could manage), and that short video clip is posted below the photo:

Helicopter takes off in the morning.

Helicopter takes off in the morning.

Helicopter video:

Enjoy the weekend!

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