All Back Bowls Now OpenPosted: March 18, 2011
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the avalanche control team at Lake Louise, but their hard work has paid off with the opening of more alpine terrain. As of this week, Upper ER 5, ER 6, and Elevator Shaft are all open, which means that the only areas still closed are the permanent avalanche closures, which never open.
Elevator Shaft opened shortly after lunch on Thursday, after crews spent the morning blasting the slope and surrounding area with the avalauncher gun located between Marmot and the Rock Garden. Because of the complexity and size of the terrain, and the fact that it isn’t lift serviced, using an avalauncher is much faster than traveling on foot to place explosives on the slope. While crews must still travel in the terrain, the number of overall laps is reduced.
Upper ER 5 opened Thursday as well, but because of a few thin areas on the slope, will be available to ski only on a limited basis. The main areas of concern are the narrow chokes that pass through the cliff bands dividing Upper and Lower ER 5. It doesn’t take much traffic to scrape these down to rock, and limiting the amount of time the run remains open is one way of preserving these areas. It is unlikely Upper ER 5 will open at all on weekends, and weekday openings will depend on amount of traffic and conditions on the slope. When open, the main access is through a gate on the skier’s right, or Paradise Bowl, side of the slope. This gate is visible from Paradise chair, and is at the top of the long straight section of closure fence that runs parallel to the lift. There is currently no access permitted from the ER 6 side.
If Upper ER 5 is closed, skiers craving steep alpine terrain should head over to Whitehorn II, especially over towards ‘F’, ‘G’, and ‘H’ Gullies. Conditions there are superb, and little traffic means that fresh lines are still being found late into the day.