Larch & Ptarmigan Open Friday

Exactly two weeks after opening day, November 20  marks the first day that all lifts (except the humble Magic Carpet) will open at Lake Louise for the 2009-10 season. Thanks to continued snowfall and good snowmaking weather, most runs accessed by these lifts will open as well. While Pika is the only back side run that has received snowmaking, most other runs accessed by these lifts are in great early-season condition. As usual, ‘early-season’ means there’s still small trees, bushes, rocks, etc that lurk at or near the snow surface, so caution is advised. Runs like Ptarmigan and Lynx are in excellent condition for those adventurous skiers who are able to navigate around these obstacles.

The only back side runs that remain closed in these two areas are Ptarmigan Chutes, Lipalian Chutes, Elevator Shaft, and Rock Garden. Tower 12 & Lookout Chutes will open pending further avalanche control work. In addition to Pika, Larch, Marmot, and Lookout runs have been groomed, and while they have not yet achieved their mid-season smooth grade, there’s lots of soft corduroy for those looking for it.

The Larch area has actually been in great shape for a week or two now, but the only thing preventing it from opening earlier was access along Pika, particularly the lowest part between the base of Paradise chair and Temple Lodge. The narrow section below the chair has an open creek running down one side, and it takes a lot of snowmaking to fill that in and produce enough snow that the snow cats can build the run.

On Ptarmigan side, most of the preparation revolves around avalanche control and closure fences for Ptarmigan Chutes. The fence that runs along the top of the ridge is fairly straight forward, but the one that runs downhill parallel to the lift goes through stands of trees, and is slow going.

All that aside, the hard work of snowmaking, grooming, patrol, and avalanche control teams has paid off, and with all chair lifts now open on the mountain, we can continue working terrain and getting more open.

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