This set up provides me with a free heel to climb up terrain with climbing skins …
Then lock the heels as shown below for the descent. I tested them out this weekend and was amazed how much floatation a wider, lighter touring ski provides. My test location was “Hiker’s Paradise” an avalanche-controlled off piste area. People I hiked up with took their skis off and climbed while I luxuriously skied up. Blue skies and deep powder snows greeted me as I made the most dream-like descent.
Perfect turns in deep snow is a kind of euphoric freedom that can hardly be expressed. Above are some folks who went ahead of me. At midday, the sky appeared nearly black due I think to ice crystals that polarised the light? The photo below may look adjusted, but it’s exactly how the sky appeared. Astounding experience.
On this particular weekend, the avalanche hazard in the mountains was very high which is why I was skiing in this avalanche controlled area. Perfect days like this make me very grateful to the patrollers and avalanche professionals that secure this area.
Down the road at Sunshine Ski Village, the ski patrollers caught several young men in an area of the resort that was closed off for safety reasons. Skiers are killed every year by skiing in closed areas and rescue efforts in dangerous areas put rescue personnel at risk. As per the resort policy, they escorted the skiers off the mountain to much verbal abuse as it turned out the youths were in fact the owner’s obnoxious son Taylor Scurfield and his friends. Several days later the patrollers were fired. Included in the dismissal was Chris Chevalier, mountain operations manager, Rowan Harper, snow safety supervisor, Chris Conway, senior patroller and Ben Chevalier, lift operations supervisor. These men represent the most senior safety staff and a total of 88 years of mountain experience. As you would expect in a tight-knit community, everyone is not just outraged but supportive. A fundraiser collected money for a legal challenge.
Sunshine management doesn’t seem to value these experts but will soon find out how difficult it will be to replace them. Meanwhile, I am very thankful for all the work these professionals have done in the past. I was certainly grateful for the work their peers are doing at Lake Louise. When avalanche conditions are this dangerous, I am very lucky to have these safety specialists working hard to eke out some safe zones off the beaten path.
above: the fired workers saving a life at an unfortunate accident. Photo from the “support sunshine ski patrollers” facebook page.