Ski report: Calgary-area dry spell starting to break
The CBC's Paul Karchut speaks with skiers about resort, cross-country and backcountry conditions
Conditions have been dry at mountain resorts and trails around Calgary over the last two weeks, leaving skiers hoping for some fresh snow.
Snowfall numbers were negligible across the board, says the CBC's Paul Karchut, who speaks with dozens of dedicated skiers and boarders across eastern B.C. and southern Alberta each week to get the scoop on conditions at resorts, cross-country trails and in the backcountry.
But despite the recent dry spell, it looks as though Calgary skiers will see an improvement. Bonnie Ritchie was at Kicking Horse on Wednesday and saw conditions changing throughout the day.
"Everybody's been staying on the groomers; everything else is pretty much scoured off and not so much fun, basically. What’s coming in now looks really good. I heard five centimetres, but I’m hoping more — we need a real big dump."
By Thursday morning, it looked like Ritchie's hopes were starting to come true. With the exception of Nakiska and Banff Mount Norquay, many local hills got at least a bit of a refresh Wednesday evening into Thursday morning.
Kicking Horse and Fernie have each seen 12 centimeters in the last 24 hours. Revelstoke, however, saw 28 centimetres in 24 hours — 16 cms since the lifts closed Wednesday.
Closer to Calgary, forecasters say any snow that's fallen will be more of a blip than a storm.
Luke Watts called in with his report from Lake Louise on Wednesday.
"It's kind of hard and icy underneath, depending on what lift you are going up. It’s pretty funny, there was better coverage in, like, November, almost, up in certain spots. The last time I was here it was the last day of that big snow [storm] and it was the most snow I’ve ever ridden here — totally covered — and now a week later, it’s way different."
Recently groomed trails will be the best bet this weekend. Debris from the wind this past week is scattered on trails in K-Country right now.
Bob Truman, or "Skier Bob" as he’s known on his blog, says skiing has been fairly good, if very windy, this week.
"If you can find recent track settings, they’re excellent. I skied in Peter Lougheed [Provincial Park] yesterday," says Truman.
"The trails that had been groomed within the last two days are all very good. In fact, I see they even did some new track setting in the Kananaskis Village/Ribbon Creek area, so I’d say those trails will be really good right now, too."
Trails around Lake Louise haven't had nearly the warm, windy conditions that Kananaskis has, so the majority of trails there are still skiing decently, despite the lack of recent snow.
The dry spell has also made backcountry conditions a bit rough.
There's been no new snow and — just like the cross-country trails in K-Country — the wind has done a number on the region's backcountry.
Mike Koppang, of Kananaskis Public Safety, says "the damage has been done."
"We have lots of very, very hard pockets of hard wind slabs up in the alpine, even below tree line. Where there is no wind slab it’s because it’s bare rock. The problem is, all these wind slabs are surrounded by thin, weak snowpack areas and if you are able to trigger one of these slabs from the sides of it, because they’re so stiff it’s quite easy for it to propagate across the entire feature and create quite a wide-propagation avalanche that can potentially be quite destructive."
Mike says they're expecting five to 10 cms over the weekend but they need 30 to 40 to reset things. The newest conditions can be found at The Canadian Avalanche Centre's website.
Black Prince, a popular treed slope to ski when the alpine is nasty like it is right now, remains closed because of grizzlies hibernating in the area.
A number of fines have been handed out by conservation officers to people who haven't respected the closure.
The World Cup moguls circuit comes to Canada Olympic Park on Saturday.
The Canadian team is Quebecois dominated, and they're looking to dominate the podium heading into Sochi.
Saturday is also "Australia Day." Many Australians work at resorts in the Rocky Mountains, so some of the hills, Lake Louise included, are even hosting Australian-themed barbeques.
- Do you have feedback on conditions? Leave it in the comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet Karchut at @CBCOutside.
With files from the CBC's Paul Karchut