It always seemed to me that when conditions were bad in a particular region of the climbing or surfing world, the sport’s aficionados load up the van, or buy a plane ticket, and go somewhere else.
But when ski conditions are bad in a particular region of the ski world, the sport’s aficionados seem to complain loudly and forget that even a short trip can reap dividends in face shots, big lines, and save your ski season.
I always kept this observation to myself, but then I read a Powder Magazine article that confirmed my theory in a most dramatic way. The author, Ryan Dunfree, loudly states that skiing conditions are terrible everywhere in North America except Alaska. He writes: “...2012 has been about confronting record periods of high pressure, rain, April temps and instability in the backcountry. That is of course unless you live in Alaska, Europe, or Japan.”
Strangely, he left out the vast ski paradise that sits precisely north of the US border, Between Whistler, British Columbia and Calgary, Alberta lies some of the most sublime ski terrain on the planet, which just so happens to be having an incredibly snowy winter.
While the legendary deep powder of the Columbia Mountains near Revelstoke is often excellent, and has bee truly epic this season, even the more easterly areas near Calgary are starting the spring ski season with massive snowfalls.
“This is definitely one of the top ten March snowfalls on record,” said Mike Moynihan of The Lake Louise Ski Area in a press release from the Banff National Park. “We’ve seen a metre of snowfall this week and with the storm cycle finally clearing and giving way to clear blue skies, skiers and boarders are simply lapping it up.”
Sunshine Village reported 118 centimetres of new snow in the past seven days with Mount Norquay pulling down 50 centimetres of fresh dry powder just in the last 24 hours. The Powder Magazine article reads: “Unless your name is Klaus and you live in St. Anton, there’s hardly been a faceshot to be found within five hundred miles.” Hardly.
The author of the Powder article seems to forget that if you live anywhere in the northwestern US, you’re a weekend road trip away from what has been deep powder central almost all winter long. If you consider air travel, it’s just 2 hours from Denver to Calgary and any skier in North America is just a long weekend from this winter’s plentiful powder harvest in Western Canada.
The guests of CMH Heli-Skiing know just how good the skiing has been at the CMH Lodges lately, but you certainly don’t need to go heliskiing to take advantage of the easy access to world class skiing just to the north of the US border.
Somehow, the entire ski epicentre of Revelstoke of is overlooked by this article in Powder Magazine, one of the continents most respected ski publications, and by many skiers who must not quite realize just how easy it is to go deep powder skiing in Western Canada.
If California surfers were watching calm seas, and the North Shore of Hawaii was as accessible and vast as Western Canada, there would hardly be a surfer left in the state. If it were rained out in Yosemite, but the Bugaboos and Squamish was dry, hundreds of climbers would be packing up to head north. C’mon skiers and snowboarders, learn from your adventure brethren and pack the bags!
Photo of deep powder skiing 2012 - just north of the US border - by Topher Donahue.