This'll be a short one compared to my usual novels (see Fernie from last year!) but I just got back from a couple days at Kicking Horse and Lake Louise. This was my first time at KH and probably 15th day at LL.
KH - Sunday Dec 2
We left Calgary early in the AM to get to KH for opening. This was the second day of the resort opening so I was hoping to find SOME fresh powder somewhere on the hill. Headed up the gondola first, right to the top. Visibility was low, it was flat light with just a little bit of snow falling later in the day. I wore my flatlight (orange lense) goggles for the first time this year which helped a lot.
Overall conditions on the upper half of the mountain were very good. There was a lot of fresh powder up top, unfortunately the whole mountain wasn't open yet so what was open was fairly tracked out. We headed over to the stairway to heaven chair, and then traversed along the ridge under the lift, and I was able to find some nearly fresh tracks taking the fall line back to the lift. Trouble is this meant that 80% of the run was traverse to do a fairly short descent through excellent powder.
Best run of the day for me was my second time up the gondola. I got off and walked immediately right to the chutes on the North side of CPR ridge. There was an access gate right there, but everybody was either taking the cat track or hiking East on the ridge to some of the other chutes. I ventured out onto a point, looked back at the chute and then navigated around some rocks and dropped in. The chute was steep enough so that even though people had been on it, there were no real tracks or clumps of snow, just fresh powder and a steep descent! Only thing that would have made it better would have been blue bird skies!
Heading to the base via the cat track was horrible. Golden had warmed up recently and any snow that fell had turned to slush and then refrozen. Going off the cat track was an adventure in all terrain boarding.
There was an area near run #44 that was a creek/waterfall. I entered the glades just down (south) from this chute and was treated with tons of fresh powder. I kept following the fall line and eventually was in a very thick forest that hadn't been touched. I've never actually been THAT deep into a forest with no idea of where the exit would bring me, and the snow was very deep so I decided to head back towards the creek/falls. They were frozen solid and had some steeper sections, so I followed about 25m south of the channel through the forest to the exit. Several times I ended up on small 15 foot cliffs dropping onto the cat track, and they were entertaining!
Overall I can see the potential in this hill, but for a day of snowboarding I spent more time traversing and on cat tracks than actually descending fall lines.
LL - Monday Dec 3:
Good old Lake Louise.
I knew conditions would be decent considering the day I had last weekend here. Again visibility was low but that was the only real negative to the day. There were SOME icy sections but in general the hill was in really good shape. I spent time on the front and back sides, specifically the paradise bowl. Found an excellent line through a set of rocks just to the right of paradise when facing up hill. Got a couple board scrapes but also found some EXCELLENT powder in some areas that I'm starting to realize are THE areas to find powder on a regular basis.
My excellent news of the day is my balls finally dropped and I attempted a few 360's. None were successful but I landed all of them as BS 180's and I'm thrilled with myself that I finally tried. Also after boarding with a buddy from work I found myself focusing more on freestyle tricks in the off-piste. Still getting great carves in but when I see a boulder, lip, kicker, etc. I'm gunning for them now instead of around. Took a couple wipeouts but had a blast!
The GF caught an edge up top at some point during the day and had to have the ski patrol take her down. She's okay but banged up and sore. Had a good sauna last night to relieve the pain but I think she'll need a week of saunas before she starts to feel better!
Now time for the pics! Didn't get many as it was very low vis both days, but tried to take a couple... As usual all shots done with a Nokia 808.
Leaving Kicking Horse yesterday morn... Clouds finally went somewhere other than on the mountain!
One of my "spots" at Lake Louise...