Skiers and snowboarders are revelling after a massive winter storm dumped more than a metre of new snow at some resorts in the Rocky Mountains and surrounding ranges.
The storm walloped much of southeastern B.C. and southern Alberta from Friday to Monday. It saved the most snow for Castle Mountain, the Rockies resort about 250 kilometres south of Calgary, which was pounded by more than 110 centimetres between Friday and Tuesday morning.
- Extreme cold warnings lifted for southern, central Alberta
- Southern Alberta digs out from up to metre of snow as warnings end
"Unbelievable! Every single run was snorkel-deep, where I had zero visibility for three consecutive turns," skier Alan Reese told Paul Karchut in a special edition of the Real Ski Report for the Calgary Eyeopener.
"It was heli-skiing inbounds," said Reese, who stepped off a plane from Mexico on Saturday and made a beeline to Castle Mountain.
"We skied top to bottom, waist-deep, suffocating all the way down."
That, by the way, is actually a good thing.
Reese said it was the most consistent powder day he's had since he started skiing Castle in 1972.
And he wasn't the only powder hound willing to battle nasty roads, even though the storm caused hundreds of accidents on roads throughout the province and forced the closure of a major highway between southwestern Alberta and B.C.
Castle Mountain says it broke a three-year attendance record at the resort on Sunday.
Piles of powder also blanketed resorts just over the border in B.C.'s East Kootenay region by Tuesday morning:
- Kimberley, in the Purcell Mountains about 400 kilometres southwest of Calgary, received 92 centimetres the last week and broke a 10-year record for the biggest snowfall in 24 hours.
- Panorama, also in the Purcells north of Kimberley near Invermere, has seen more than 50 centimetres since Friday.
- Fernie, in the Rockies in B.C.'s southeast corner, received 69 centimetres.
Not that the snowfall at other resorts was anything to sneeze at:
- Revelstoke Mountain Resort in Revelstoke, B.C.: 35 centimetres.
- Kicking Horse in Golden, B.C.: 28 centimetres.
- Lake Louise in Banff National Park: 26 centimetres.
- Mount Norquay near the Town of Banff: 29 centimetres.
- Sunshine in Banff national Park: 37 centimetres
'Perfect set of storms' for avalanche danger
The downside: Avalanche crews have had to work overtime trying to keep terrain open.
The upper mountain on Castle Mountain was closed on both Sunday and Monday until late in the day while patrol made sure the slopes were stable. Avalanche danger has been rated at extreme in the area.
The upper mountain at Fernie was closed for much of the day Monday because of extreme cold and high winds.
Avalanche Canada's James Floyer said a storm this big puts a lot of strain on an already weak snowpack.
"In terms of snow amounts, that's really looking at doubling the amount of snow that is settling on the ground," Floyer said.
"We've already seen widespread reports of avalanche activity in some of those eastern areas, especially as the wind continues to blow through Wednesday and then Thursday with those warming temperatures."
"Really, this is the perfect set of storms and set of conditions that will see slab conditions being created on top of that extremely weak snowpack," Floyer said.
XC snowpack built back up
With more than 50 centimetres of new snow at the Pocaterra snowplot in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park southwest of Calgary, it's been a great weekend for building the snowpack back up for cross-country skiers in Kananaskis Country.
Nordic skiers will want to get onto freshly groomed trails, or be plowing your way through powder at a snail's pace.
The Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alta., is another great option for groomed trails.
And Calgary skiers who'd rather stay close to home could hit the groomed trails at Confederation Park.
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