Spring is here! Standing on the lower launch on Mt. Swansea today, Ernst Schneider watched bald eagles playing in lee-side thermals. The sun was shining, the air was mild, and there was a real feel of spring in the air.
There’s a precious mineral to be found along Toby Creek, and I’m not talking about that yellow rock… I mean white gold, the kind that, in its powder form, drives skiers mad (and I’m no exception). On Sunday, a kindly local named Gina took me to an out of the way slope far up Toby Creek. The further we drove, the narrower the road got and the higher the snow banks, until they were as tall as our car. Good place to stop and explore! So we did, climbing 500m up a nice, safe slope. With sunshine, warm temperatures around -4C, and plenty of daylight, we just had to do two laps on the pristine powder snow. Here’s an amalgam of what we found:
I was on my way out through Kootenay Park to Invermere anyway, so I invited my friend Gina to come up from Invermere and meet me half-way… and ski my favourite site this winter. The sun was shining and the temperature a warm -4C as we left the parking lot and climbed up through the enchanted forest. Unfortunately as we reached tree-line, the sun disappeared and it started to snow – as if to emphasize the quantity of fresh snow that had already obliterated any sign of our passage a week earlier. With just two of us in the party this time, we didn’t have to stop too often, simply enjoying the flow and rhythm of a 1000m drop to the valley floor in fresh powder:
I liked it so much I had to go back! A week after the first visit to this location, it had warmed up somewhat, only -14C at the parking lot vs. -22C the week before. But offsetting the warmer temperature, the sky had a moderate overcast that the sun struggled to burn through from time to time. Thankfully, there was only a slightly southerly breeze this time.
Three of us from the ACC Calgary Section (Richard Burke, Julie Muller and I), started up the up-track around 11:00, making a leisurely ascent which put us at treeline around 13:15. The alpine ridge up to the peak faded off into the clouds, easily persuading us it wasn’t worth climbing the final 300m, even though forecast avalanche danger was only moderate. We put away our skins, zipped up our jackets, and pointed the skis down. Here is our visual record of the day (an abbreviated v.3):