Just a thread to organize discussion about skiing in areas accessed through the Calgary airport.
I don't think we need strict geographic boundaries, but obviously Banff/Lake Louise fit as does Fernie and Caslte. Revelstoke and Marmot probably fit, but Whistler probably does not.
Post condition updates, questions, meet ups and mini-gatherings. Rumors are good, so are enthusiastic exaggerations!
Northern Rockies/Alberta Calgary Area 2018/19
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I'll start. The season has been pretty good so far.
I have made it out for 12 day...the first being on the first weekend of October.
9 of these days have been in the Backountry, with 8 of the 9 on 93 north (lake louise to Jasper highway) between Bow Summit and Lake Louise, and one in Kananaskis in the Burstall Pass area. In the last two weeks, we have been able to skin right from anywhere on the highway, before that we were limited to Bow Summit starts. Coverage in the alpine off 93 north is outstanding, and has been very good for a while now.
I skied Lake Louise on opening day (just one run open), and have made it out to Nakiska twice.
Nakiska's glades were quite nice last Satruday (had been closed all week, so powder), and you can ski to the bottom now. Terrain is limited though, and it is more interesting for a half day.
Lake Louise has really come along from modest opening. The back bowls base is at 85cm, which is still rock ski territory, but reasonable. The Summit Platter is open with front side options and Boomerang on the back. The Paradise chair and Paradise bowl are also open, as is Top of the World Chair. I feel we are close to getting Ptarmigan and Larch going (and the gondola, i guess!
I haven't skied Sunshine, but their early season looked better than Louise's. Still no Goats Eye or Dive though.
Marmot in Jasper is open too.
Norquay is open on limited terrain.
Fernie is aiming for a November 30 opening, but given snow levels at the base, that might be optimistic. Revelstoke is also planning to open that weekend.
Kicking Horse, Kimberly, and Panorama are aiming for a week later (kicking horse should have no issues)
Castle is a week after that.
Skied Lake Louise on Sunday with @blah.
We had a really great day. The Ptarmigan and Larch lifts opened mid-morning, an we were able to ski several laps of tracked powder and soft chop before lunch. Unfortunately, the snow was old, and fairly heavy, but it was still enjoyable. On the Larch chair, coverage on the Lynx, Larch Poma and Larch runs was great...and Larch was groomed. The Wolverine run needs a couple feet of snow to bury some christmas trees. Raven and Ptarmigan had fine coverage off the Ptarmigan chair. The Exhibition run, under the chair, was closed and needs a lot of snow.
In the Alpine, we found good chalky snow on Whitehorn 1 (lower), Paradise Bowl, on on the front side of the Platter, outer limits. We found soft chop in the Boomerang bowl (backside of summit), and the short hike to upper boomerang was worth it.
Other parts of the front side were pretty hard. Top of the world runs weren't great, and Grizzly Bowl had poor conditions. There are currently 3 ways down the lower mountain: Pine Cone Way, Cameron Way, and Wiwaxy...and having options other than just Wiwaxy is helping with congestion.
The world cup super-g was held today. We were too busy skiing to watch the race, but it did impact the day. Louise is asking people to access the Summit platter by sidestepping above the race course (skier's right of Top of the World). The side-step aided traverse takes less than 5 minutes, but it adds time and effort to Boomerang laps.
Lake Louise is a rocky hill, and it is especially rocky early season. We had a number of good impacts throughout the day, but both escaped without any serious damage to the sticks. I recommend rock skis and a helmet.
Best resort day of the year so far!
Skied LL on Saturday and other than Larch and Ptarmigan not being open...pretty much spot on as above in @Mike Rogers post. The Men's WC race was on so we strategically skied the summit lift: decent runs front side on outer limits and backside boomerang,whitehorn paradise areas, fenceline gully etc. On Saturday they were still allowing summit access at base of summit platter via course marshal during non-race times so we got quite a few laps. The 10 peaks lodge was a bit busy as they had WhiskeyJack lodge closed off for race participants and Temple was not open. Out on the slopes lines were not too bad tho. Pretty much summit frontside/summit up and over to backside/and paradise sums up the best of LL for us on Saturday.
Skied Sunshine on Sunday and it was good as well. Clear for most of the day with cloudy patches. Goats eye still not open so hit Divide chair right off the bat - great views and wind was still down at that time. Bye Bye was stiff chop with and inch or two fresh on top. With speed and good legs it was fun but tiring if you made too many turns. South Divide was fair, as were runs of TeePee chair. Best snow was actually off Standish and we spent quite a bit of the day lapping there..popping and freeskiing whatever was there. (Standish Face, big and little bunkers, etc. Wawa chair held some good turns as well (Startrek, Paris etc.) Took a few turns in the park off Strawberry and found some good snow off the side runs there as well. Sidecountry off top of Strawberry was nice (but getting tracked out) as well. We hit a few late day runs off jackrabbit and wolverine for fun and found lots of sidewash snow on the run edges to play in. Ski-out looked open but marginal so we downloaded via gondola. Crowds were reasonable, not much for lift lines, blue skies and great skiing partners - so another great day!
Yes, over the US Thanksgiving holiday last week, it snowed (lightly) on Thurs and Fri. And bluebird Sat and Sun.
Much respect to @Mike Rogers for busting out his brand new and drool-worthy ON3P sticks on a rocky early season day. What a great time, as always.
Skied Lake Louise on Saturday.
We had a few more options this week, notably ER 1 & 2 and Upshoots. The hill didn't receive significant snow though...so it was even rockier than the prior week. I escaped without much damage, but Liz picked up a core shot.
It's rock ski season until the base hits 120 cm in the backbowls (40cm of settled snow away).
The best snow was on Upper Boomerang and Brownshirt. There was also good snow on all of the areas served by paradise.
The worst run of the day was the Ptarmigan trees. Heavy old snow that required speed to break through....but with stumps dead-fall and worse ready to grab you. It is really thin in there...and I'll be waiting for a few more feet of snow before venturing in again.
Beautiful scenery, but needs snow.
Skied Revelstoke yesterday.
The upper north bowl opened for the season, and it was amazing. Very good coverage above the upper gondola terminal. There was a mandatory download on the gondola...and the snowpack thinned with elevation loss...until you find bare ground at the base. The snow outside North Bowl was okay for quality, but North Bowl was really, really good. Best day of the season for sure.....but a long drive home
Fernie opened on Saturday, but with limited terrain.
Nakiska is now going 7 days a week
Revelstoke opened on Friday
Lake Louise, Sunshine, and Marmot have been open for the last 4 weekends
Norquay has been open for 3 weekends, but are still on limited terrain.
When do the other hills open?
Kicking Horse and Panorama open this Friday
Kimberley opens on Saturday
Castle opens on Friday, December 14dbostedo likes this.
We skied Kicking Horse for their first Saturday of the season. While we managed to have a great time, the conditions are pretty poor.
The base is currently sitting at 72 cm, which is not nearly enough for a rugged mountain like Kicking Horse. We'll have a lot more fun once that base hits 120 cm (4 feet) and the most fun once it is over 180 cm (6 feet).
.....so, we are a long ways away from that.
But at least we are skiing.
Terrain was limited. The only options on CPR ridge were the first 3 chutes into Crystal Bowl...before the real traverse. These chutes had awful entrances, but the fan was pretty nice...if you don't mind shark hunting. The trees on the bowl over side were closed, but you could enter the bowl from the saddle between CPR and Terminator ridges...we didn't bother.
Redemption ridge was better, with and the entire upper section was open. You could choose south into the Crystal Bowl or north into Fuez Bowl The Fuez bowl chutes were quite nice..chalk and hard chop.
Middle ridge (new terrain!) south is officially open, but it is tough to get to...you need to take a high Fuez Bowl chute, then follow the rope line all the way across Fuez Bowl to the bootpack. The upper turns were nice, but the snow was unspportive lower down....and you needed to ski carefully to avoid breaking a knee in the boulders....not recommended yet.
Below the bowls, it's the green run/road to the base. It wasn't busy, at least....but it was thin and there was a lot of gravel below the catamount chair. Like you actually have to ski through gravel to make it down.
You need rock skis to have any amount of fun.....but we were glad we went!
Here's a shot of Liz from a CPR to Crystal run...it was quite nice!
We peakbagged on 93 north (north of Lake Louise) yesterday. The clear skis make for some nice scenery. We had a dozen powder turns, but a lot of crust....still worth it! The drought ends today, I think/hope!
Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
It's snowing again!
Fernie: 57 cm
Kicking Horse: 73cm
Should be a great weekend! I have a place booked in Fernie saturday night. I might do a kicking horse/fernie weekend if it looks like the extra drive will be worth it.. Otherwise, double duty at Fernie!
So spent the weekend out at the hills:
Saturday was at Lake Louise. -5 C temps and not much wind and hill was pretty empty for a Saturday! I guess peeps are busy doing other things…which was fine with us as lift lines are not our idea of fun. Demo day on the hill so I took out some Rustler 11’s for a few laps off summit platter front side. Outer Limits was very good with some pretty big drifts…snow was generally soft but there were patches of wind affected. The Rustler pretty much plowed through everything…loves to be driven…and yet I found it also really easy to ski and pretty quick turning in the tress and bumps as you get lower down near the platter base. Impressed. We also did Whitehorn which quite frankly was not that great – not horrible but better snow to be had elsewhere…like Eastbowl and Paradise. We stayed off Larch as we heard it was unimpressive and icy. Ptarmigan was fine but coverage is still spotty in the tress so you have to be a bit careful in there. Front side we stayed out of Grizzly but hit the old lift tower and also some of the runs on the opposite side. We didn’t venture down the Gully sides as they looked pretty sketchy and are always a bit brutal at this time of year. A good day out.
Sunday at Sunshine…a bit cooler and the wind was up so we avoided Divide all day as you couldn’t see the top…looked kinda brutal up there…sun and cloud day. Crowds were light all day. Hit Angel to get up and then quite a few laps of Tee Pee in the morning (stay warm in the heated bubble!) and the snow was very good in the steeps there (lift line and left and right were very good). The steep sections on the groomed to get to Angel/Tee Pee were getting skied off later but were manageable as you could still get a bite into the surface and there were enough sluff piles that you could burn speed. (If you are an intermediate or tentative black it might have been a bit dicey though as you’d need to go a bit slower and be more deliberate in your efforts to control speed!). We cut skiers right and traversed in and hit the Shoulder and were rewarded with deep snow and fewer tracks – well worth the effort. Be aware that the traverse in is a bit rocky at the start and there are the usual twigs/rocks to avoid as you pass under the lift.
We also lapped Wawa/Standish and pretty much everything there was in decent early season condition – always fun places to freeski and pop off things/use the terrain to enjoy yourself. What a difference the recent snow made at it was really getting skied out prior to that! We even hit Strawberry for several side runs…short but sweet powder/chop turns to be had. Those side runs off Strawberry are short but a few fun steep turns with some features/rocks/etc. to pop off if the mood strikes you - pretty fun. Ski out is open but we opted to gondola down. (Goats eye still closed….but they are working on getting it open…more snow would definitely speed that process up)
All in all...another great early season weekend out on the snow!
Glad to hear that Lake Louis is looking better.
I skied Kicking Horse and Fernie this last weekend.
Last week I said " We'll have a lot more fun once that base hits 120 cm (4 feet) ", well it is more than that now...and it was a lot more fun!
Terrain was a bit limited on the upper mountain due to avalanche risk, but the snow was fantastic. We spent the first half of the day skiing the trees on the Bowl Over side of CPR ridge, and finished with long, lightly tracked fall-line runs from the bowl exit to the top of Catamount via the Terminator run. Really a lot of fun! The resort opened CPR north (crystal bowl side) in the afternoon. We did gondy laps here, and skied fall line runs to the cat track leading to Catamount after exiting crystal. It was a very, very good day. There should be enough snow to get most of the rest of the hill going, but that's assuming control work doesn't clear everything out. Things are pretty touchy! With Fuez closed, we stayed on the Gondy all day.
Skied Fernie on Sunday. Things are looking up there too. We found soft chop in most spots, soft groomers where groomed, and untracked in tighter/less obvious locations. The reverse traverse (concussion), Siberia Ridge, and Snake Ridge (and everything off these ridges) remained closed, but we were free to ski anywhere else on the hill. The highlights were Anaconda trees, surprise trees, window chutes, and lower easter. The Knot chutes are open, and the snow is nice, but they aren't yet recommended due to unpleasant entries. It's a bit of an alder bash down low, but mostly manageable.
Winter has returned!
I put in another 10 days since my last post: 4 at fernie, 4 at kicking horse, and 2 at louise.
It was a very good christmas break, especially at kicking horse and fernie. So much new snow....we skied a lot of powder. There's a big storm today and tomorrow too.
Fernie is essentially fully open. Kicking Horse had major stability issues with Whitewall sliding to ground (controlled) and other slides on T1. There's a big load on facets, but I think patrol has cleared out the junk layer. Louise is having similar issues, and has not yet opened WH2, ER3, or 6. It's coming along though.
Conditions are very good.
I am updating more frequently at this facebook page:
If anyone is interested.
Yep, Skiing has definitely improved - for the most part.
Between Xmas and NYE: Hit a day at Fernie...packed pow - good base - Polar Peak was still not open....Avy situation was pretty intense -saw some OB cornice slides.... some areas still a bit brushy (under boomerang chair for example) but no rocks.
Also hit several days at Castle. Castle really needed the snow as the base was thin. Great skiing there AFTER the dump before NY...they opened up most of the chutes except the last sets. Still more base (at that time) needed to ski without hitting rocks but coming along. Tamarack/Drifter/NorthBowl/Siwash/Sheriff/Outlaw/Bandito/etc. all skiing well. They got more snow since we were there so that will have helped out the base as well.
Skied Sunshine yesterday. Kinda brutal. Snow was hard and packed. Wawa was super hard....bolted after a few bone jarring runs there. Standish was tracked out out and uninteresting. Divide and Bye Bye was frozen windpack and windy. Best skiing and snow was Tee Pee under the chair or trees right/left...(still major rocky sections) or the shoulder - very good coverage and snow - excluding the entry traverse of course. Goats eye was open - sort of...limited runs and while some runs were open several were extremely marginal with many many rocks...which I manged to find every time! South side chutes closed. Sunshine's had huge windscouring. In my opinion it's skiing worse than before Xmas - even with the new snow. It was snowing a lot later in the day - We went back to Standish near the end of the day to give it another go but it turned into a complete whiteout with howling wind and like no vis within 10-15 feet...Crazy! We saw several ppl requesting patrol rides down the mountain as they couldn't see a thing in front of them. With wind blasting into our faces...plus with the vertigo "up is down"/whiteout conditions contributing to the "law of diminishing returns" we called it early and headed for home. Hopefully that new snow will improve the situation.
Hope everyone has a great skiing season and Happy New Year!
I keep hearing about Sunshine's wind challenges this year. I haven't made it out yet, but I hoped that things would have improved after last weeks huge storm.
I did KH again. We earned (set the bootpack in 75 cm of fresh, with super deep drifts) a blank canvass on Middle Ridge South (new terrain for 18/19) and scored untouched snow throughout the day on Sunday in some of our stashes. The more obvious lines were chopped up, but still soft. It was a nice week.
A stash off Redemption Ridge.
At Kicking Horse Ozone (new terrain), Whitewall, and Middle Ridge North (new terrain) remained closed, but most of the rest of the hill is now open.
Louise received 100 cm this last week. Louise NEVER gets that kind of snow. Unfortunately, they set a record for visitors on Friday. I heard 9.5k. It would have been crazy busy.
The lines at Kicking Horse were pretty mild on Saturday and non-existent on Sunday.
This is probably a safe year to visit this region.
Snow Pillow for the Lake Louise area.
Source: https://rivers.alberta.ca/Last edited: Jan 7, 2019zag likes this.
The second half of January was very dry, but we received a big storm at the end of last week. I had one of the better days of the season last Saturday at Kicking Horse.
Coverage is very good, but the snowpack has been challenging. As a result most ski areas are not 100% open. Kicking Horse should get Ozone going today for the freeride world tour stop.....and that's their last piece of terrain.
Fernie has received enough rain and warm temps to leave a crust near the bottom, but the upper slopes have been great.
It has been a very warm winter, but we are stuck in a deep freeze now. The cold moved into Alberta on Friday and BC on Sunday. With the cold temps, some ski areas have closed all or some of their lifts. The Alberta resorts have been colder than the BC resorts, although Fernie is just as cold as AB. The cold snap seems to be lingering. There is some relief early next week, but temps will still be unseasonably cold, even on the warmer days. The 14 day forecast is not encouraging, but March is rarely super cold, so hopefully this will be out last very cold streak.
Should be a nice spring!Stuart Gray likes this.
plan to ski with the daughter and grandaughter's in Banff at least a few times this season so glad not this week.
Have showed up at Lake Louise and Sunshine before when the hills closed, no fun being outside then
cold in Vancouver this week too about -6,
don't laugh , cold is relative but when it approaches minus 40 it's far too cold for anyone to be outside long, stay frostbite free.
The exception would be when the Chinook Winds hit the Rockies and the temps outdoors in Alberta go to room temperature vs B.C which gets a "Hawaiian" or "Pineapple" Express which take temps to above freezing to the top of the mountains but not as warm as room temperature.
What sort of recommendation are you looking for?
Skiing at sunshine?
Non-ski outdoor activities?
I'm happy to share my perspective.
For skiing, a trip to Lake Louise is a good idea...at least for a day. If you are looking for steep skiing, consider a side-trip to Kicking Horse.
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