So it turns out yesterdays temps were just a taste of things to come – about 25C below as I headed out. Had thought driving might be pretty nasty and was considering heading to Banff and catching the bus, but apart from around town and the entrance ramp, the highway was actually in pretty good nick, a much shorter drive to Sunshine than to Lake Louise and very little traffic. I thought the guys pulling cars over after taking the turn for the ski area were checking for snow tyres, but they were actually informing people that the Gondola – the ONLY access to the ski area – was on hold with no estimated opening time.
Figured as I was here anyway might as well drive up to the base anyway. Bitterly cold and quite windy as I scampered across the virtually empty car park to grab a coffee inside. Asked whether Lake Louise was open – nup. Not looking good. Wandered outside and talked to one of the lift crew who said it was 35 below up top and that lifts physically couldn’t run – never mind the death defying windchill. He said he thought Louise was open, so I figured I didn’t have a lot to loose, so north I headed.
By the small number of cars at Lake Louise I wasn’t hopeful, but they at least had 2 lifts running. And with 450 or 700m vertical to choose from at least it was something. Figured I wasn’t going to get much better than this so what the hell. Had 2 thermal tops, 2 layers of down and an extra layer on legs and figured I’d take a break after every couple of runs. Actually did one long run off the gondola then had to head back inside due to – amongst other things – ice forming on the inside of the goggles, and the tiny amounts of exposed skin screaming at me. Added a fleece hat under the helmet and dried the goggles properly then actually did manage to do 2 runs before the next break.
I’d like to report that the skiing was wonderful but it was actually pretty disappointing. Snow was very dry, very slow and had been groomed to within an inch of its life just about everywhere. Except of course on some of the steeper runs where the bumps were even bigger and firmer. They had Top of The World spinning but never opened it – and I suspect never intended to – so the area I was most interested in skiing – along with the summit poma – were a no go zone. They hadn’t even left much soft stuff on the sides of runs except on some of the beginner trails which actually skiied the best.
After lunch headed back up the gondola and tried a long traverse thinking that maybe I could get to somewhere with a bit of soft. And I wasn’t the lone ranger. Very ‘interesting’ bumpy traverse through trees and over very large bumps finally got me to an open area with soft snow – and surprise, surprise – EXTREMELY big bumps. I give up.
One more run to make it seem worth the trip up and back down the highway. Had to keep the heater on full bore on the windscreen to stop it icing up inside. How do you reckon I’m feeling about the heated seat now!
At least the weather’s clearing and the temps should SLOWLY start to rise tomorrow.