We are often asked if people are allowed to tour on the mountain after we’ve closed for the winter. The short answer is no, and there are a few reasons for this, most of which relate to the fact that we are the leaseholder of the area, and as such are obligated to provide a duty of care, whether we’re open or not. With runs no longer groomed, hazards no longer marked, and roads being cleared for summer use, among many others, we cannot have unrestricted access to the mountain.
There are also provisions of our summer operating license that require us to keep certain parts of the mountain closed to all traffic, including staff, at certain times of the year. Because we have such a high concentration of bears, especially grizzly, we must operate with as little impact on them as possible. For example, for the entire time we’re open for summer, we close the area between the base area and midstation. In other words, those looking to hike up (or down) the mountain can only do so above midstation, and must use the lift to get there. Even staff are restricted from using this area, and on the few occasions they do, must follow protocols with regards to traveling in areas frequented by bears.
Until most of the snow has melted, the upper mountain is subject to one big avalanche closure. So, until that happens, travel is restricted to a small area around midstation. With the amount of snow we’ve received this season, it may be a while before upper-mountain travel is permitted, for staff and guests alike.
There is signage in place all summer that states which areas are closed. If you’re coming to explore Lake Louise in the off-season, whether on ski or foot, please do not enter closed areas. Any questions can be directed to our Guest Services desk at 403-522-3555.
It seems fitting that the last day of skiing at Lake Louise for the 2010-11 season would begin with snowfall, despite the fact that we’re already a week into May. Coverage at the mountain is about as good as I’ve ever seen it this late in the year, with plenty of good lines still to be found all over the mountain.
The snow kept up over the whole day, with up to 15cm falling on the upper mountain by the time the lifts went silent for the last time of the year.At the top of the Summit Platter, the usual mob gathered at the end of the day to send off the season in style. When the platter stopped spinning, a cheer rose from the group, and Avalanche Forecaster Rocket Miller stood atop the lift shack and gave a short speech, thanking everyone for a great season. Everyone gathered for the annual end-of-season group photo, then the group slowly shrank as people gradually made their way to the bottom for the last time of the season.
There’s no question the mountain didn’t look ready to retire for the season, but with our summer operation looming only six days away, extending the already extended season any more was not an option. And, rather than getting a break, Mountain Operation staff will be busy this week cleaning the mountain of fence lines, signs, tower pads, hydrant barricades, and all the other items that cover the area in winter. Then comes the task of clearing paths, decks, and roads for the summer, many of which need to be clear by the time we open for summer this Friday.
That’s it for the Lowdown for this season (and sorry for the lack of updates for the last month or so!). We’ll be back in full swing around the start of September, as the Trail Crew begins the long job of setting up snow fences for the coming winter. Thanks everyone for your continued support of the Lowdown and the Lake Louise Ski Area, and like Rocket said at the top of Summit, let’s hope this season is the start of another era of successive big snow years. See you next season!