It’s -1 hovering to 0 outside and there’s a sprinkling of fresh powder snow dusting the lawn outside. A bleary check of the snow reports show that Sunshine has had 26cms of powder since the lifts closed and Lake Louise has had 11… now, where to go? Last week’s 10cm at the Lake was waist deep in parts due to the loading in the back bowls… but if the Dive and the West open it could be all time at the Shine..!
Hastily shoveling back some cereal and prepping a sandwich for the day, I waited for my friends to get up. As I sat and pondered I realised; if they’re not up yet I could probably get a few turns at the shine before they’re even on their way…
I hit the road and joined the flow of fellow weekend warriors hitting the highway. Fully expecting the traffic to be backed up all the way down the access road as it was a crazy spring powder day and I hadn’t left town until the tardy hour of 8:15am, I was pleasantly surprised to get a clear run all the way to the parking lot. There are many pros to solo ski powder days – the mantra “no friends on a powder day” holds different levels of gravitas for different people, and typically I’d prefer to have company and wait a few minutes, but I was revelling in the luxury of moving at my own pace today. I hit the singles line at the gondola and skipped most of the lineup, performing my morning set up routine and setting up my tunes, putting in contact lenses and adjusting my helmet and goggles in the 8 minutes between the base station and Goat’s Eye.
As I’d left a bit late it was already knocking on 9am when I reached goats eye, so rather than wait frustratedly in the gondola watching the earlier birds bag all the best turns, I got out at Goats Eye to shred the amazing untracked terrain I knew I would find there. I messaged other friends from the chair to see where they were riding, and planned to move over to my absolute favourite powder run – Bye Bye Bowl – after a couple of warm up runs. My other favourite powder run (I have many) was skiing fabulously:
I made my way up Wolverine, over to TP LX “Canada’s Hottest Chair” (not that we needed the heated seats or the wind shield today) and down to the Great Divide chair. Boarding the chair I got to know the gentleman who joined me on the chair, Larry from Canmore, and we speculated on whether Delirium Dive would open. If it looked like it would, we agreed, Larry would head in to rentals to take out an avi pack for the day as he hadn’t planned to ski it and I needed a buddy. Entering the Delirium Dive, Sunshine Village’s free ride terrain, is restricted to those entering with a buddy, an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe, and the knowledge of how to use them. It is high consequence terrain, and even with constant monitoring and maintenance by the excellent Snow Safety and Ski Patrol teams at Sunshine Village, snow is still unpredictable and constantly changing and in the event that it did avalanche they need to be sure that those riding the terrain know how to manage it.
I tagged along with Larry as he too was heading for another lap of Bye Bye Bowl (his beam as he boarded the chair at the bottom reassured me I was making the right call coming over here!) and we joined his companions Mike and Jake. I was pleased to be able to keep up with these seasoned locals, and we whooped and hollered our way down the blissful run. Regrouping at the chair, the noticeboard told us that Dive control work would not commence til late morning or early afternoon, so in all likelihood it wouldn’t open til the end of the day and we all had places to be. Not too disheartened, as we were still getting some incredible skiing, we lapped around Bye Bye Bowl a few times before I got a message from my other friends and Mike and Larry had to get back to Canmore for other commitments. We left Jake to enjoy the rest of his day, stopped for a quick run at Goats Eye on the way back through and bee-lined for the parking lot.
My friends had decided that Lake Louise was where they wanted to ski, and as most of the powder was now truly tracked out I thought I would head over there and join them. There would likely be some amazing skiing in Louise’s back bowls, and if I left now I would catch them in the parking lot.
We headed up the gondola at Louise and warmed up by making our way to Top of the World then over to the Summit Platter. This drag lift opens up all of Louise’s back bowls, and there can sometimes be quite the line up to get on it! Luckily today was not that day, and we were soon sliding up the hill to reach our objectives. We did a few laps of the Whitehorn 1 and 2, and it really felt like we had the place to ourselves! With the exception of a couple of snowboarders side slipping their way through the steep terrain and basically wiping all the powder off the run (seriously guys… it’s soft just send it!) we didn’t come across many people in the bowls.
2 hills in 1 day? That’s a first for me but why on earth not? It’s the beauty of the Big 3 Pass – you can ski interchangeably between Banff’s 3 ski resorts. I wouldn’t make it to Norquay today but I’m tempted to try for 3 in one day in the future.