The Lowdown’s First Birthday!Posted: October 29, 2009
It was one year ago today that I posted the first article on the Lake Louise Lowdown, created to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the operation of the Lake Louise Ski Area. Up until now, January of 2009 was the busiest month for blog visits. This October, however, has blown January out of the water, with over 13,000 hits this month alone. At the same time I suppose it’s no surprise that many people are as excited as I am for the start of the season.
It has just started to snow lightly in Lake Louise this morning, and the forecasts are calling for steady snow throughout the week. Temperatures are also dropping, which means the snowmaking system can run at or close to capacity all day long, without daytime temperatures warming enough to interrupt.
On the upper mountain, large drifts are forming around our snow fences, some up to four or five feet high. Natural snow depths vary wildly, mostly because our terrain varies wildly as well. Our avalanche forecaster has noted that we’re about 20-30cm of snow away from being able to travel on skis, although there are likely some places where this is already possible. Places like Boomerang, for example, which are flat with few surface features can be skied earlier than those places, like Whitehorn I, which are more bouldery and require much more snow and wind to make a viable ski run.
In the photo below, a snowmaker performs the tried-and-true sleeve test, which is a good indicator of the quality of snow being produced by the gun. The snowmaker stands in the snow “fallout” zone and holds out his arm. If the snow crystals bounce off the sleeve, they’re dry. If they stick, they’re wet, and the snowmaker will adjust the air/water mixture to achieve the desired result.