Just when you thought I couldn’t make this any more boring, I’m going to talk about the weather a bit. It’s been really weird this week. For pretty much most of the working week, the mercury sat at or around -20ºC – which wasn’t too unusual or unpleasant. I managed to get one enjoyable XC ski in at the Nordic Center, where I was surprised to find I wasn’t really all that cold. Then come Friday, it was still just as cold but a whole lot of moisture actually made it this far (from the Pacific) & dumped a whole heap of snow in the valley. We don’t get a lot of snow (in Canadian terms, not NZ terms) here in town & it doesn’t usually snow when it’s really cold – somehow we ended up with twenty centimetres on Friday. I was glad – not least because I finally had cause to wear my winter boots when walking around town (shoes have been fine all winter). They got a lot up at Sunshine too – I think it took quite a lot of work for Alex to free his car after work, looking at the photo I’m not surprised.
Of course, I was back at Sunshine on Saturday for the second powder-Saturday in a row. This one was even better than the last. I joined Megan, Alex & Finn for a morning camped at Goat’s Eye enjoying the powder. Well, it was me & whoever wasn’t watching Finn at the time. Here’s everyone waiting for the gondola & looking either happy or unaware & confused at the prospect of all that nice powder.
Alex managed to get quite a nice little break from work, so Megan & I got quite a few good runs in. My powder skiing is slowly improving – at least this week it was a little denser so one didn’t sink quite as easily (visibility was much better too). With such good skiing conditions(& it was warm, around 0ºC – the temperature inversion had it much warmer than in town for the second day running), there were more people on the hill than I’d seen all season; consequently, the runs became rather scoured out & bumpy by the end of the morning. Naturally, I had a few more little falls as Megan merrily lead me through trees & down some new runs (for me). Can you tell she was excited to be out skiing on such a great day?
With a baby-sitter change, I got in a couple of runs in with Alex and then Megan before we skied out (I enjoyed it again, what’s going on?) around lunch time. A great morning’s skiing & I was pretty tired out – all that turning in all that powder & the heat really took it out of me.
After a lunch & shower stop at home I was walking around to entertain Finn while Megan finished off her rather elaborate rendition of the Settlers board in cupcakes for Alex’s almost-birthday dinner. Here’s the creek just out side our backdoor, the ducks seem to have come back now that it’s not -20ºC.
It seems now that Finn has a much better idea than he did six weeks ago of who Mum & Dad are – I no longer cut it as an agreeable person to be holding him for extended periods. Still Megan finished her masterpiece & cooked a casserole before Joel & Kristy got in from skiing Lake Louise. The cupcakes looked fantastic & tasted pretty damn good too.
With all the snow in the last few days & the warming of the temperatures, the avalanche risk was high all weekend at & above the tree line. I wasn’t keen to head out back-country, so decided to go to the hill again with Kurt, whom I’d met before Christmas at an Alpine Club event – I mention that only to show that I do actually know a Canadian here & not just Aussies. Beside, when you wake up & see this, how can you stay at home?
Sunshine conditions have definitely improved a lot in the last few weeks! The crazy temperature variations were in full swing today – so much so that even though I stood outside for quite a while waiting to be picked up, I didn’t even notice I had forgotten to put my soft-shell on. It wasn’t until we were in the parking lot that I realised that I didn’t have my jacket. I survived the day with my down jacket on the outside, I was a little concerned that the high temperature would have all the snow that was landing on me melting – this turned out not to be the case.
Kurt, it turned out, had been skiing for most of his life – he comprehensively left me behind on many occasions. At least I was able to entertain him with two big crashes on some more of those really bumpy runs off Goat’s Eye. By lunchtime I was keen to head up to the village to try out some different runs. We managed to meet up with Joel & Kristy (in Trappers of course) for the afternoon. By now the clouds had really come in & it was snowing quite heavily again. We split up shortly after – I figured Joel could give Kurt a better run for his money & I was happy mucking around on some blue runs with Kristy & Ryan. It was a good afternoon as we stayed away from the white-out on Standish & kept to some of the lower lifts. By the time we got back to the gondola base, it was fair puking down – as it was so warm, the flakes were huge & pretty wet. It snowed all the way back to Banff & then strangely turned to rain – I haven’t seen rain for months. Near the park gates the temperature had dropped slightly to -1ºC, a few kilometres later nearing home it had plunged to -11ºC. That was pretty crazy – all the rain water had instantly frozen to the side of the car. I haven’t mentioned the freezing rain yet either. Alas, it seems all is back to normal now – it’s touching -20ºC again, in time to go back to work.
Going to local news for a while: I’m now extra pleased that we didn’t go back-country this weekend. Two skiers got buried in an avalanche up Burstall Pass way yesterday – Adele, you may remember we were up there a few-days-shy-of-a-year ago. They didn’t survive & weren’t easy to find as they were up there with out avalanche transceivers. I don’t know a lot about avalanches, but that doesn’t seem particularly smart on many counts. Interestingly, emergency services were alerted by others in the area activating the SOS function on their SPOT – nice to know it works.