Day 11 Fri Feb 1. Radium Hot Springs – Lake Louise – Canmore. 3600m vertical (33300 total)

Return to (proper) winter.

For once I was actually happy to look out the window and NOT see snow on the car this morning.  Packing the car a bit before 8 it was still almost pitch dark – weird.  Just below freezing but actually drizzling as I started the climb, but didn’t take long to turn to snow and it hasn’t stopped all day.  Steady climb up through Kootenay NP.  Right lane reasonably well plowed but left lane fully snow covered so thankful I didn’t need to pass anyone.  After only a few km climbing had a relatively significant downhill which required manual gear shifting to keep the speed under control.  At this rate it might take me all day.

But from there the drive got pretty benign as the road rejoined the Kootenay and followed it up to Vermillion Pass, and from there a surprisingly quick trip down to Hwy 1 and on to Lake Louise.  Snowing steadily as did the long trudge to the day centre and after spending a few minutes getting pass organised I had to queue all of 15 seconds for my first chair of the day.  Warmed up on a groomer off the lower chair and so nice to have the sting out of the ground.  Up again then took the aptly named Top of the World.  Pretty clagged in at the top but some open trees had caught my eye on the way up.  Surprising amount of soft snow given they’d only had a few cm.  Once I got to the trees discovered there were some BIG bumps hiding under the fresh.  Somewhat challenging but a nice change from endless groomers.

Headed around the back, dropping off the cat track for some skiing by braille with absolutely no definition then back on the track which actually got quite enjoyable once it got back in the trees.  Lovely soft snow on the sides of the run.  After a fine bowl of chilli headed up Larch for a couple of runs – nothing too adventurous but most enjoyable. After returning to front side and a break for coffee and cake then another trip through the trees off Top of the World.  Not stylish but much fun.

Had been getting tyre pressure warning on the drive this morning but wasn’t too worried – has happened in the past when get too much snow build up in the wheel arches.  Realised it was a bit more than that when I went to start the car and found it was basically flat.  Finally found the printed manual for the car – it was in the cavity where I expected to find the spare tyre.  After getting over the shock discovered rather than a boring old tyre they had supplied a 12V pump which could also inject foam to seal a major leak.  As it seemed to have only been a slow leak opted for the air only approach and 10 minutes later was ready to hit the road.

Snowing steadily all the way to Banff but still managed to do close to 90 most of the way.  Had to stop half way and do another tyre pump but eventually managed to make it to Canmore and checked in to my home for the next 5 nights.  After a soak in the bath and a cointreau, rugged up for a walk down to the supermarket and the liquor store. 

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