While most folks battened down the hatches for the first big storm of the season, we tested avalanche gear and prepared old rock skis for some early season excursions. The forecast indicated a tantalizing 60+ cm of snow had fallen in Kananaskis but high winds sweeping through the Bow Valley kept our expectations low.
We arrived to the parking lot and were encouraged to see we weren't the only crazy ones looking to get some October turns in. A few cars had beaten us out that morning, and snow was falling as we cruised up a well defined skin-track to Ptarmigan Cirque. Just like the forecast predicted, about 60 CM of dense unconsolidated powder provided excellent support on anything unskied through the trees. As we emerged from the treeline, we were stoked to find zero evidence of any wind slabbing on the south-west facing alpine slope. However, the snow started to thin down to dirt and rocks the higher we climbed. The wind had definitely come through the valley and stripped anything that was exposed.
The riding was incredible for early-season! A few cosmetic scratches on our bases was a low price-to-pay for the high quality of the snow. Pleasantly surprised, we ripped a few laps through knee deep powder. As we threw down quality laps, we were amazed to see a large contingent of snowboarders boot packing up the mountain for a jump building session. Everyone we met had a huge smile etched onto their face, happy to to be back out playing in the mountains in the snow.
We got four laps in before the snow started to get tracked out and it was time to head back down to the parking lot. We ended the ride completely satisfied at what was a true bonus ski day in the middle of fall.
We met a couple of super friendly riders from Calgary in the parking lot who were coming down from Pocaterra Ridge at the same time as us. Over a round of freezing cold après beers, we got the report for the other side of Highway 40. These fellas had found 60+ CM turns with no signs of wind slabbing either! We're all keeping our fingers crossed that this base sticks around and there are more days to come in Highwood Pass before the road closes on December 1st.
Gregory Louie, Doctor of Physical Therapy (aka @the_ski_pt on Insta) discusses some simple ski exercises and workouts you can do to help prevent knee injuries this season! Greg specializes in building ski-specific strength & conditioning programs and helping injured skiers with their rehab. His unique niche has given opportunities for him to work with the U.S. Ski Team as a volunteer medical provider.