2008-09 Season Wrap-up

The 2008-09 ski season at Lake Louise is now behind us, after a closing weekend that saw two very different days. Saturday was a true spring skiing day, with blazing sun, blue skies, and hot temperatures making for glorious soft and slushy turns. Sunday wasn’t anything of the sort, as low clouds raked over the mountain, at times reducing visibility to only a few metres. Even though it was cloudy, it was still warm enough to soften the snow in many places, and skiing was enjoyable (when you could see where you were going).

At the top of Summit on Sunday, the usual end-of-season crowd gathered at the end of the day to toast the season that was, and have one last top-to-bottom run before hanging up their passes for summer. Having that area enveloped in thick cloud seemed a fitting finale to a season that saw no shortage of crazy weather.

Top of Summit, 4:30pm Sunday May 3, 2009.

Top of Summit, 4:30pm Sunday May 3, 2009.

A conspicuous presence in the terrain park this week was the landing pad from Katal Innovations in Vancouver. Their product is a huge air-filled pad that cushions the landing, and lets people practice  on big jumps while greatly reducing the consequences of bad landings. This is a new product, and while it spent a few summers on the Blackcomb glacier being used by some of the summer camps there, Lake Louise was its public debut, and for three days signing a waiver and watching a short safety video were all that stood between the jump and anyone who wanted to try it. Even on Friday, the first day it was open to the public, over 150 people signed up to try it, with larger crowds showing up on the weekend.

The warm weather on the weekend presented some challenges, as a huge pond was forming right before the take-offs for the jump, slowing people down and making it more difficult to hold speed going into the jump. The Katalcrew, along with the Lake Louise trail crew, kept a constant watch and were ready with shovels at all times to help deal with the water. The pad received a lot of attention during its stay at Lake Louise, and I took advantage of the opportunity to climb one of the Grizzly Gondola lift towers in order to get a nice bird’s-eye view of the action, a few photos of which are below:

Big air, soft landing.

Big air, soft landing.

Riding the wave.

Riding the wave.

Upside down over the landing pad.

Upside down over the landing pad.

Upside down over the landing pad, in denim.

Upside down over the landing pad, in denim.

Arch that back!

Arch that back!


Here at Lowdown HQ, things may be slowing down, but the blog will remain active through the summer and into next ski season. We are open for summer from May 15 to September 30, and in Mountain Operations we have a list of projects to be completed in the window between when the snow finally melts and when it first falls again next fall. While there are no big projects on the books for this summer, we do plan to continue the brushing (removal of small trees and bushes that have encroached onto previously cut terrain) that was started in earnest last fall. We’ll also be making repairs to all of our on-mountain permanent snow fences, since they always take a beating over the course of a winter. Mountain signage, particularly run signs in the alpine, will proceed on the replacement that was also started last summer. I’m here straight through the summer, and will provide updates on all the action.

As for the first winter of the Lake Louise Lowdown, I couldn’t be happier with its success. I enjoy producing the blog, and am happy to be able to continue through the summer and into next season. I never expected to exceed 30,000 views in only six months or so, and was gratified to see that there is an audience for this type of material. The blog started on October 30th, so there was the whole two months or so prior to that of busy preparation for the winter that was not covered, which will not be the case for next season.

So, a huge “Thank You” to everybody who visited over the winter, and especially to those who were regulars. Have an enjoyable summer, check in to see what’s up at Lake Louise over the off-season, and we’ll see you back here in the fall!


5 Comments on “2008-09 Season Wrap-up”

  1. JJ says:

    Thank you! I’ve really enjoyed this blog and the glimpse you’ve provided into how patrol works and a ski hill operates.

  2. Graeme says:

    Thanks for all the posts this year, really informative learning lots of things I didn’t know about the hill I’ve been skiing at since a kid, look forward to more in the future.

  3. Ransome says:

    Great Blog. 5000 of those 30,000 hits were probably me. I learned a lot about the hill and enjoyed reading the stories. I can’t wait for next winter!!!

  4. Rod Hicks says:

    Thanks! I spent two seasons living in Banff and skied the Lake during those years back in the late 90’s. Great memories and really enjoying reading your blog. Look forward to seeing the new stuff whenever you post it. Cheers

  5. John Ackermans says:

    This blog has been an inspiration and joy. I was a very early visitor and recommend it to everyone I meet which includes many Europeans and folks from the rest of Canada. I am an 8-mountain pass holder and this year Louise had the bulk of my visits. Your wonderful descriptions were a key ingredient to my many visits. I am delighted that you will continue through the summer and wish you the best.

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