Dreaming of La Niña...

Dreaming of La Niña...

Just resting the back for a moment...  and summer-work mindset shifts towards winter pursuits.  

As the morning air becomes more frigid with each passing week, I find my focus drifting towards the coming ski season.  With the long range forecasts suggesting a long and cold one ahead, the excitement starts to take hold.  

This season we look forward to taking a group to Japan in January for a tour of some of the many ski resorts in the Nagano Prefecture.  We also have a couple other multi-day resort tours nearly sold out.  Last year was our busiest year so far, and we're setting up to manage more groups for the up and coming season.

The single day guided ski tour program we offer out of Kicking Horse Resort is gaining in popularity, and we had a remarkable season last year in terms of snow quality and avalanche stability.  Our program is designed for all levels of ability, with "new to back country touring" enthusiasts also being very welcome.  The terrain surrounding the resort is ideal for touring, and so far still remains quiet enough to feel remote.  

Also Increasing in popularity is the Avalanche Safety Training Level 2 Course, which we have 3 weekends set aside for this winter.  Anyone looking for the AST 1 is certainly welcome to inquire as well, and we'll arrange course dates as the requests come in.  

We hope you're enjoying the change of season, and all the fall colors and activities that come with it, wherever the season finds you.

Hope to ski with you this winter.

Mike

 

 

Return of the Chilean Mega Storm

Return of the Chilean Mega Storm

Words and Photos by Matt Wylie

Over time certain snowfalls imprint one’s memory in saturated recollection. Alternatively, some seasons seemingly pass by and fail to produce such storms, but there are those years that churn out such massive weather events leaving us awestruck by the force of nature. They defy the norm giving wonder and joy as we watch the most anticipated lines and slopes fill in with the bounty that we pilgrimage after.

The Andes is the second highest mountain range in the world. Their height, along with it’s proximity to the moist Pacific, sets the stage for regular performers in the 50-75 cm depths of quality low humidity, bonafide powder riding. By many regards that is worthy enough to etch an alpine experience beyond expectations.

By Andean standards though, while ranking as a fine storm, that would be regarded by local snow observers as being towards the “average” end of scale. Certainly respectable for a typical deep low pressure center traversing the region, certainly enough to provide ample opportunity to enter the white room and get snow in your face , but still, a relatively typical storm.

In 1997 skiers in the Andes were powder starved after 96’s drought. We had skied mainly on man made snow the entire 96 season with the exception of one small snowfall of 25 cm. The Andean dream stuff was unusually absent and the spigot seemed to be tightly closed. However the following year it was back to “normal” and June started with a tremendous return of snow.  When we arrived into Santiago on June 22, we were notified of a Mega storm that had closed the road to Portillo for numerous days by a dump of 4 meters in just 2 days!  As part of the international staff for Portillo, we were asked to quickly process our working visa’s in Santiago. There would be a parade of vehicles allowed by the Chilean police to be escorted up to the ski area the following day in order to open the season.

The next day we departed the town of Los Andes in the early afternoon and we soon worked our way up into the Andes and quickly became gobsmacked by the remnants of this powerful storm. The international highway that winds its way in a unique serpentine fashion to Portillo was still not open for the public, but snow removal equipment had managed to excavate a very narrow corridor along the route for a train of supervised vehicles to pass thru to the legendary Hotel Portillo.

The corridor of snow is something etched in my memory. 25 kilometers of it. We were transiting in a tourist van 3 meters high but the (now dark road as it was evening by the time we arrived) corridor that had been excavated for our passage was 4-5 meters high and only one lane wide. Once we finally arrived, there was plenty of enthusiasm to see firsthand how the storm had deposited a huge and ample base. It delivered blower conditions for days on end afterwards.

That storm is impossible to forget. In fact, that entire season is impossible to forget. There was an unrelenting string of storms that season that helped remind us that nature is powerful and the one in control. About 3 weeks later we received another 2-meter storm in about 36 hours. In a sense we felt like pawns on a chess board, participants only, in the larger stage of weather events to come for the remainder of that remarkable season.  We were thankful to be a part of it, and were blessed by some deep days.

Previously un-skied lines became skiable. Over the following years several other of those Andean storms also come to mind.

Now, just last week the phenomena of the Andean Mega Storm has revealed itself yet again.  On Sunday evening, it snowed 3 meters in 48 hours! The snow gods have smiled upon the central Andes unleashing another system of epic proportions burying the entire region with a mantle of cold snow. It should be a great season in Central Andes!


Does all this talk of epic Andean powder make you want to ski Chile? Join us in August 2017.

What's New?

The Japan ski trip will be running in January, 2017.  We've had enough guests commit, and we're excited to start the planning for this one.  There is at this time room for more to join.  We'll visit the Hakuba area in the Nagano Prefecture, where there are loads of options in the way of resorts.  Myoko Kogen and Nosawa Onsen are also on the list for this 10 day itinerary, starting and ending at the Narita Airport in Tokyo.  

Chile 2017  During this past winter, we've added to the guiding staff a powder acquaintance from my years spent working in Chile and Argentina, Matt Wylie.  Matt spent a number of seasons living and working at the resort of Portillo, located high in the Chilean Andes north of Santiago, where he was an integral part of the ski school, and following that snow safety/heli ski guiding.  He's recently moved to Golden, and we're stoked to have him join our guiding team.  Naturally, our conversations drift in and around fond memories of skiing in Chile, and the idea of running a trip there materialized immediately.  So we're excited to announce a trip that we'll be guiding within the last 2 wks of August, 2017.  Guests will fly into Santiago, and will be picked up in a private van.  We'll visit Portillo, the cat skiing area of Valle Arpa, and as well the 3 connected resorts of Valle Nevada, El Colorado, and La Parva.  There will certainly be a stop at a winery as well...  We can't wait to go back!  I think the most important thing I learned during my time showing guests around the Andes, is that everyone should go skiing in the middle of summer!  At least once!

Well, I'll sign off, wishing you well this spring and summer.  Oh, and come skiing with us some time.  

Mike

 

 

2015/16 Summary

November was our biggest snowfall month last season, which helped resorts in our area start strong.  No frozen rain crust problem layer was also a treat.  A stable snowpack, no snow in the Alps, and a cheap dollar seemed to combine to make 2015-16 the busiest winter for tourism since before the economic crash of 2008.

Although this El Niño winter was a little on the warm side, there were enough snowy days when the weather came through that most BC resorts faired well.  The W Kootenays had an exceptionally big snow year the first half of the season.

We had a busy season of guiding as well.  In January, the multi day resort tours kicked off with a Pure Powder trip.  Following that I co-guided a large group from Belgium and France, traveling in rented motorhomes on a custom trip including L Louise, Revelstoke, Sunshine, and backcountry skiing out of Kicking Horse.  In February we ran a West Kootenay Classic, and then another Pure Powder Adventure into March, which had a 4 day extension in Revelstoke added to it, as a request from guests.  March ended up to be a big month for snowfall as well.

Throughout these tours, we skied wth 20 or guests in the backcountry adjacent to Kicking Horse, as well as guiding folks on the resort itself for a day or more.

Thanks to everyone that contacted us, and made a trip out this winter!

Mike

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February Snowfall

The forecast is finally looking promising with the flakes just now starting to come down after a 5 week drought.  Good to see the temperatures rise a bit, and the skies darken.

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2013/14 Season Update

 

The snowpack this season has so far been very problematic.  Tragically, there have been many human-triggered avalanches with the highest of consequences.  So far, it's a good year to stay on gentle terrain in the backcountry, and get your adrenaline fix within the controlled areas of ski resorts.  

The dynamics that lead recreationalists to make the decisions they do, and accept the risks that goes along with those decisions, continue to mystify those that work in the search & rescue, and snow safety industries.  There has been a larger than normal number of SAR calls in BC this winter so far.  These teams of highly trained personnel don't hesitate to risk their asses any time the call comes, and they do it as volunteers.  I'm sure the appreciation towards these folks by someone that's been rescued from a real emergency is profound, and can never be put into words.  We'd like to thank all these individuals for their dedication to safety of the general public that is limitlessly provided by all those who volunteer in these organizations.  

The weak layer deep in the snowpack currently found in central/eastern BC is exacerbated by the relatively low amounts of snowfall (slightly below normal).  These two factors are directly linked to the number of the recent avalanche involvements in these areas.  The number of SAR call-outs (non-avalanche related) is most likely a secondary result of lack of snow.  Recreationalists tend to 'push further' when the conditions are poor.   We fall into heuristic traps, resulting simply from human nature, in a search for the euphoric pleasure of riding untracked snow.  This results in people getting lost after leaving the boundary of their resort, for example, when on a season with more snow they may not have been so tempted to go beyond the ropes.  

There is, however, always somewhere to ski safely.  This is a time to hire a local guide, and learn from the professionals how to respect the power of a weak snowpack, and how to avoid areas that have a tendency to fail when disturbed.  Recognizing the signs of 'simple' terrain is paramount, and staying well away from everything else is the way we should all be traveling.  

A fix for this problem?  The best thing now is probably a heavy amount of precipitation, creating avalanches on areas that have not yet slid, and hit the 'reset' switch.  It'll come around, but for now let's tread lightly.  

We're looking forward to several bookings coming up, showing new and return guests the amazing terrain of Kicking Horse Resort and the surrounding backcountry, as well as running a West Kootenay Circuit tour starting March 1st.  

We hope to ski with you soon!   -Mike 

 

 

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Midwinter Update

The last 10 days of February 2013 saw a Pure Powder Adventure (9 day ski trip) run with great snow conditions, and a crew of happy customers.  After a dry period during Jan and into Feb, we've finally seen some bountiful snowfall again.  This tour visits Lake Louise, Kicking Horse, Fernie, and Castle Mountain.  The first few days were sunny and warm.  In Fernie our timing was just right, with 16 cm's of fresh snow the first day, and a stormy powder day covering our tracks on the second.  After the steep and deep of Fernie, we lucked out at Castle Mtn as well, with winds overnight blowing the powder around into a fresh blanket of velvety snow, boot-top deep.  Sunny skies with very few people on the mountain made a great way to end the tour.

Claire & Paul rewarded after a hike at The Horse

Claire & Paul rewarded after a hike at The Horse

Quiet powder day at Castle Mtn

Quiet powder day at Castle Mtn

March 4.  Ian, Chris, and Scott contacted Canadian Powder Adventures a couple of months before arriving to Kicking Horse for their annual ski vacation.  This group of 3 had booked a day of guided skiing at the resort, and two days of ski touring adjacent to the boundary.  One of the crew had never ski toured before, and enjoyed his first backcountry adventure of untracked powder skiing with a manageable climbing pace.  In his words, ski touring is now checked off his bucket list.  From here, they're off to Revelstoke Mountain Resort for one day, followed by a day of cat skiing with K3 Cat Skiing in the Revelstoke area.  There are tentative plans to return next year for more ski touring combined with an avalanche safety course.  We'll be glad to oblige!  Canadian Powder Adventures is a provider of the AST 1 avalanche course both for skiers/boarders and snowmobilers. 

3 Amigos skiing "Back of Ozone"

3 Amigos skiing "Back of Ozone"

Effortless pow skiing on Rudi's Ridge

Effortless pow skiing on Rudi's Ridge

Christof and Alex, two ski buddies from Hamburg, Germany, contacted us this week to see if they could join a group for a day of ski touring.  We were glad to accommodate, and showed them some of what the Kicking Horse backcountry has to offer.  

Dark sky on light powder

Dark sky on light powder

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Unbelievable Snowfall!

Mid March already!  As always, the ski season has been roaring by at warp speed! 

Looking back, La Niña has once again delivered as promised; January was a powdery month for us here in BC, with the most snowfall and January powder grins I can recall.  After a relatively sunny and dry February filled with goggle tans, March has steam rolled us with snowfall once again.  Kicking Horse's base is now approaching a depth of 3 m and the coverage rivals the best conditions seen here since the resort's expansion 12 years ago.  Ski lines in the backcountry are well filled in (wider and more gentle), and we look forward to a stabilizing trend of avalanche conditions as spring continues. 

Recent high winds and heavy snowfalls this month have kept us on our toes with a lot of days of considerable and high avalanche danger rating, resulting with our guests skiing our more conservative terrain.   Looking ahead, as the days become longer and the sunnier weather approaches, we'll enjoy long days of ski touring with a lower level of avalanche danger, and more terrain options.  

Hope to see you out there! 

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SUNSHINE AND POW!

January 2012 will remembered as one of the snowiest!  Storm after storm, with relatively mild temps made for an exceptional month of skiing here in the Golden area.  Looking ahead shows an extended period of bluebird days, a nice follow-up to a snowy start. 

Beyond the Gates; a number of layers within this season's snowpack continue to be a concern, and will be continually treated with respect.  With that in mind, we've been skiing the safer lines out of bounds and rewarded with plenty of face shots!  There's always somewhere safe to ski... 

C-Pow looks forward to running Champagne Resort and Heart & Soul group trips starting in the next few days, sure to see great conditions at the resorts visited; Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Kicking Horse, and Revelstoke.  Can't wait to get on the road with our guests!

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SOLD!

Kicking Horse Resort is in negotiations to be sold to Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, with the sale expected to be complete within weeks.  Big changes afoot?  Well, the locals around Golden will certainly be hoping for some long-promised lift expansion plans to materialize.  Maybe we're one step closer. 

As we near Christmas 2011, snow is in the forecast, and conditions at the Horse and adjacent to are really shaping up.  Fuez Bowl and Super Bowl are yet to open, with some avalanche control work having bared a lot of rock, mostly in Fuez.  The main avalanche instability as of now is a deep layer of faceted snow crystals next to the ground, which these deep releases are attributed to.  Out of bounds of the resort has the same issues, so go where you know, or go guided!

See you in the pow!

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Kicking Horse Opening

Two weeks early due to exceptional snow fall, Kicking Horse will be in full swing as of this Friday. The first weekend is sure to be a complete powder fest, with untracked runs all over the hill. What are you waiting for?

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already good

First day out for the season, with the help of a snowmobile to get in to the goods. It was the type of skiing where you can't really see (or breathe) because of how deep the snow was. Think snorkel.

Hard to believe it's only Novemeber.

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the new look

Canadian Powder Adventures has recently changed hands. And along with new ownership comes a new look, new logo, and as you can see here, a new website. But one thing hasn't changed; Canadian Powder Adventures still offers top quality guided ski tours and trips in one of the world's best ski destinations. Golden, British Columbia is pretty much a slice of heaven for skiers and boarders, especially those keen to get out into the backcountry.

                                                                                                                               

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