Boomerang Opens Today!

Avalanche control teams are just putting the finishing touches on their control work and fence lines in Boomerang, and expect to have it open for the first time this season within the hour (by 12:00 Wednesday). The photo below, taken Monday, leaves no doubt that the run is ready to be skied!

Like every year, the bowl itself is ready to go early in the season – it’s the outrun, particularly at the Hump, that needs to be built so people can get out of there and back to a lift. On Monday, the Trail Crew along with a few cat drivers were hard at work at the Hump preparing it for today. Historically, the Hump itself, which is the aptly named short steep pitch that leads onto the Lower Saddleback/Pika flats, has been the only way out, and crews spent all season trying to keep that pitch in good shape. Because it’s a narrow, steep pitch, most people tended to snow plow or sideslip down the pitch, scraping the snow off and leaving bare patches, and maintaining the pitch was a huge challenge.

The solution to this problem is what skiers see now at the Hump – two long wooden fences and (eventually) a run that skirts the Hump to the right, using a narrow but lower angle creek bed. With enough snow, this bypass can be built up to three times the width of the Hump, and combined with the lower angle makes a much better alternative for beginners, who have the space they need, and experts, who no longer run into the log jam that formed at the top of the Hump.

Building the creek bypass is quite a bit of work, and we could not do it if it weren’t for the wooden fences and the rows and rows of plastic fence that line the creek bed itself. These fences trap wind-blown snow, and once there’s enough, crews can get to work. The cats spend a few hours ‘harvesting’ their farmed snow into large piles, while the Trail Crew removes their plastic fences to make way for the snow that will eventually be pushed in to build the run.

'Harvested' snow.

Creek bypass and all of its fence on the left, Hump on the right.

Over the last few years, we have investigated ways of reducing the amount of snow required to fill in the creek and build this run. One obvious solution is to build a sort of deck over the creek that could get us started much sooner than usual. However, because this creek is sensitive to changes and building a deck over a section would prevent sunlight from reaching the plants that need it, this plan was shelved. Even building a metal frame that we could add planks to in the winter and remove in the summer was not permitted, as it would require digging and terrain modification that could also adversely affect the creek.

What we may see in the future then is a few more rows of wooden fences added uphill of the existing ones, increasing the amount of snow we’re able to farm. Plans for a project like this need to be in place long before summer, which is when the fences would be constructed. Because there is no road to the site, all supplies too heavy to carry would need to be brought by cat while there’s still snow, or flown by helicopter in the summer. Work crews could drive to the base of Paradise chair, and would then do the short walk up to the site.

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4 Comments on “Boomerang Opens Today!”

  1. Adam says:

    I was there on Monday watching those cats do the harvesting. . . I was curious what it was for. Now I am jealous Ill miss the opening, but Monday was pretty epic.

  2. grambo says:

    Cool, that area does get clogged up, and it’s not really fair to novices when people (myself included) come bombing through at max speed trying to avoid skating the flats after. Innovative solution by the Lake Louise staff, and interesting to read about the level of care required by being in the park. There are many places here in Whistler where they just throw down massive wood grates over creeks to avoid these early season problems.

  3. Tim Wahl says:

    Does anyone have any idea when all the runs that were closed for the World Cup will be open?

    • lakelouiselowdown says:

      Hi Tim,

      That’s a great question – one that I’ll have the answers for in a post later tonight (Mon).

      Chris


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