Closer and CloserPosted: November 14, 2011
Closer to what, exactly? Well, a lot of things. For instance, a number of days of snowfall this week have inched us closer to opening more terrain at Lake Louise. All of our snow fences and leeward slopes are benefiting from these snowfalls, like they always do when there’s wind involved. Crews traveling on the upper mountain are still mainly using snow fences as their highways, but it is becoming increasingly easier to travel away from them, especially in areas where the ground cover is smoother.
Avalanche control teams are throwing ski cuts into every slope they can, and one of the advantages of snow coming in many little bits rather than one big bit is that it’s much easier to stay on top of things for the crews. Not that anyone was complaining, but one aspect of last winter’s near-record-breaking snowfalls in January and February was that it was harder for control teams to keep up. More snow generally means more avalanche hazard, at least at the outset, so crews must adjust their routes and procedures to accommodate the increased risk, and this always means that things slow down. Crews take longer to cover ground, and runs take longer to be controlled and get opened.
Also high on the mountain, crews are busy preparing the course for the Men’s and Women’s World Cup ski races that are quickly approaching. The part of the course below tree line (below the base of the Summit Platter) is coming along to the satisfaction of race officials. This represents the minimum acceptable length of the course, and once they’re confident that a race can be held on that course, the decision is made to make snow and build the topmost part of the course, beginning at the top of Sunset Gully, which is the traditional starting point for the Men’s downhill races. The decision has just been made, on a day officials and course workers refer to as “Snow Control Day”.
So, today, the mountain was alive with the sound of a helicopter transporting all the required equipment onto that top part of the course so that snowmaking could begin. This includes snow guns, generators, and the fuel needed to run them. Without the ability to construct permanent facilities on the course that could house these items, this mass movement of machinery and fuel occurs every year. Once the race is done, it all comes back down to the base.
With a few busy weekends under our belts now, new staff are settling into their groove, and all the pieces that make up our resort are continuing to fall into place.