Happy New Year!

NOTE: This post has been edited – it originally stated that ER6 was opened, when in fact it was not, and hasn’t yet opened this season. Crews are working at getting it ready, and I’ll let you know when it’s good to go – sorry for the mistake!

A happy new year indeed! After an incredible few weeks of fantastic weather – lots of snow, blue skies, warm temperatures – skiing at the Lake is about as good as it gets. We’re getting close to having all of our terrain open, and we’re proud to start the new year by adding the Big 7 area to the list of open runs. The ER7 gullies have been open a few days now, but the rest of ER7, including Big 7 and Vertical Cornice, followed suit once control teams were satisfied with that area.

2012 started a little on the cold side, but also with clear skies, and skiers who braved a day on the slopes after a big night out were rewarded with that million-dollar view that the Lake is famous for. We’re always happy when the holiday season experiences good weather and conditions, as many of the people visiting that week are first-timers, and what better way to get them to leave with a great first impression than to experience Lake Louise at its finest. Of course, it doesn’t hurt us that many ski areas, in North America and in Europe, are experiencing low snowfall and decidedly less-than-ideal conditions.

As for our snowpack, things are certainly looking up – not only from the amount we’ve been getting, but from a stability standpoint as well. After a series of big avalanches (both natural and the result of control work) cleaned out much of Whitehorn II for example, we entered a phase of rebuilding, when the slopes start over and we all hope that the snowpack can build without any weakness or instabilites. That seems to be the direction in which things are headed at the moment, and while there isn’t enough snow yet to allow skiing, what is there is sticking to the slopes, even after explosives are used.

Some areas not that far from here are seeing a buried surface hoar layer from mid-December that is causing some concern, but for the most part we aren’t seeing that here. This past week, control teams from Parks Canada were using large bags of ANFO (ammonium nitrate and fuel oil) thrown from a helicopter to control the slopes on Mt. Bosworth, which overlooks the Trans-Canada Highway between Lake Louise and Kicking Horse Pass. Their efforts resulted in numerous size 3 avalanches, all running on this buried surface hoar layer, and in some cases stepping down to lower layers in the pack.

For now, avalanche control teams will continue the charge, controlling slopes that have already opened and getting into slopes that are still closed, preparing them for their eventual opening.

Throwing a shot in BOOB (Beyond Out Of Bounds). photo: Rocket Miller

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