April is “go time” in the mountains. The warmer temperatures provide brief windows of slope stability and the biggest objectives are attempted. For me this year, my trusted group of trip partners is unable to all be off at the same time for such a big trip. It’s disappointing but thankfully the mountains can be enjoyed just as much on smaller scale trips.
Suz and I headed out to Golden to meet some friends for various ski outings. Suz explored some XC terrain while Carrie and I did some hiking up to the powder bowl called the Whitewall seen below.
Above: At the top of Whitewall peak.Above: Traversing up and over to Whitewall with Carrie Tait picking out the line she wants to ski. Lots of deep new snow was a great reward for the climb and very, very steep terrain was a fun challenge.
Ha Ling winter ascent.
It was a wonderful warm, bluebird day so I thought I’d give Ha Ling Peak a try. I used my YakTrax which are a kind of mini crampon I use for running. The lower slopes were pretty icy which soon gave way to softer snow in the alpine where the sun had softened it. From the picture above, you can see my tracks in the deepish snow. I lingered around the top hoping to see some solar activated avalanches on the Goat range across the Spray Valley. No luck but a great day.
XC skiing at CNC and Lake O’Hara
Spring also means more daylight and Suz and I have been taking advantage of the extra daylight to go skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre after work. The trail network is amazing and the views are great. It is home to the Canadian team and many locals are tremendous skiers. The number of people going effortlessly fast is humourous at times. It’s a pretty common sight to see two friends casually having a friendly conversation while blazing 40 km/hr uphill! Every age is represented well and it’s a great atmosphere.
Lake OHara is one of the more accessible jewels in the Canadian Rockies. To protect it though, Parks Canada limits visits by busing people from the highway up to the lake. You have to book this months in advance to be one of the lucky ones to visit this area. In winter though, there’s nothing stopping you from skiing up the 12km road which is not used or plowed in winter. It’s a long, continuous uphill but worth the reward.
Above: Suz is all smiles after reaching the lake. It was a bit cloudy so we couldn’t see all of the 11,000ers here. It has made us determined to come back in summer to hike around here.
Above: After a 1200 foot vertical climb, we emerge at a snowy meadow for a breather and some picture taking. From here there are many possible mountain faces to climb and ski so we spent the next half hour doing some snow stability analysis on different slopes and discussing our safest options. We decided to go up a shoulder of Mt Galatea.
Above: Hugo and I climbing up Galatea. The slope was pretty mellow and it was a pleasant ski down. It was Hugo’s first climb of the season so mellow was the order of the day. Total elevation gain of 1800 vertical feet but at a very conversational pace.
While these shorter trips lack the feeling of accomplishment that some of the bigger trips provide, they are hard to beat and always an opportunity to enjoy some amazing parts of the world.