The Lake Gets HammeredPosted: December 14, 2010
Wow. Around lunch time today, and after a morning of steady snowfall, Lake Louise was hit by a sudden and severe storm that lasted about an hour. Within minutes white-out conditions covered most of the mountain, thanks to heavy snowfall and winds gusting to 70km/h. Other than Glacier chair and Sunny T-Bar, all lifts stopped loading passengers and cleared their lines. Once clear, they were turned off to ride out the storm.
For about thirty minutes, the winds averaged 50-60 km/h. Heavy snowfall added another 5cm at the base area, and more higher up. With visibility reduced to near zero, skiers and riders stuck on the upper mountain tried to find their way down. At the same time, patrollers had to become creative in how they got back up the mountain without using lifts. There were calls for assistance from people who no longer wanted to fight the conditions. Skiers on the back side decided to either return to the front side via the Ski Out, or hunker down in Temple Lodge with a cup of something hot to wait it out.
As the winds quieted down and visibility slowly returned, the lifts reopened and people emerged to find clearing skies and some of the best powder skiing of the season. In some avalanche areas such as Whitehorn II, the sudden load of heavy wind-deposited snow caused numerous natural avalanches, all in closed terrain. Tomorrow morning (Wed), an avalanche control team will leave the ski area parking lot in a helicopter and perform about half an hour of aerial control work using explosives. With widespread avalanche hazard, a helicopter is by far the fastest way to cover ground, as it would take days for crews on the ground to match what a helicopter can do in half an hour.
There’s some great skiing out there, and with a little sunshine thrown in, Wednesday should be good at the Lake.