Thank You Mr. Weatherman!Posted: November 25, 2011
Just as the weather reports said would happen, Lake Louise was walloped by 55cm of snow in the last few days, and there’s no question it was a game-changer for skiers itching to access more of the Lake’s as-yet-unopened terrain. But, like most weather events that we get here, the snow was accompanied by wind, and combined with a weak snowpack that existed prior, as well as strong winds that blew from more than one direction, the result was a touchy snowpack that we expected would produce widespread results from avalanche control work.
It was a spectacular morning on the mountain, and with good visibility, avalanche control teams were able to move through the terrain more quickly than the previous day, where pea-soup conditions slowed everything down. Explosive placement is easier when you can have a good look at the slope you want to control, and crews can also have a good look at the results of their shots. On a day with poor visibility, crews may need to have a second lap in an area just to see if their shot produced an avalanche.
My control partners and I rode Top of the World chair, then hiked up to the top of Paradise chair (which is much faster than skiing to and riding Paradise). We then made our way into Flight Chutes, with the intention of heading over into Upper Flight 2, which is the closed area above Flight 2. Armed with nine shots between us, our plan was to make our way down the slope, using a combination of ski cuts and explosives to control it.
It wasn’t until the fourth shot was placed the we got a result. An avalanche was triggered by the shot, and a few seconds after it began to run, a sympathetic release started about 30m skier’s left of the shot placement. In the video below, you can hear Avalanche Forecaster Craig Sheppard happily yell “Yay! Finally, an avalanche!” followed shortly after by “Sympathetic!” when he saw the second slide starting to run. Both slides ran onto a small bench below the main slope and stopped there. Happy with our work, we all got a chance to enjoy the fantastic conditions before moving on to other places.
For those looking for a report on the in-bounds avalanche at Lake Louise on Thursday, we still have some information to gather, mainly regarding the snowpack and avalanche characteristics at the site. I hope to have the report posted by day’s end today, or early tomorrow at the latest. Stay tuned…