Lake Louise – First Day on the Templar Skis!

This year, my friends and I have decided that we need to get up early and get to the mountains before 10:30.  This being family day weekend that became doubly important.  And so… the alarm sounded painfully in our ears at 6am sharp.  It was well worth the suffering as the highway was bad with white out conditions as we approached Canmore.  We were slowed briefly by a car being pulled out of the ditch near Banff, but we arrived before the crash on the Lake Louise exit from the TransCanada and saved ourselves an extra 30 minutes of stop and go traffic.

The pay off was fresh snow and light crowds at 9am.  Our first run off of the Top of the World chair was spectacular!  It was a little tracked up but finding untouched powder was effortless – and it was hero snow, only mid to top boot but just enough to make the terrain soft and silky.  They opened the back side around 10am and the first run in was spectacular!!  There was a soft crust under the 10-15cms of snow but with the new skis I was floating enough that I barely touched it.  Old Ptarmigan also had some sweet turns until the fresh powder started to get scrapped off.  Larch was  too busy so it already had patches of ice between the fluff by the time we got there.  I found more fresh lines in Paradise Bowl but the boiler plate moguls underneath were a bit too hard for me to handle.  However, I did like the mid knee powder in between the bumps.  But bar none… my best run of the day was Brown Shirt!  Always reliable, B.S. offered up untracked powder from top to bottom – very awesome along the rope line.  Towards the bottom of the run the snow got heavier and I almost did a face plate as one ski was tugged out of my stance.  But the top 80% of Brown Shirt was definitely hero snow!  We also found some sweet turns on Meadowlark and Men’s Downhill on the front side – tracked by late in the day but still plenty of loose snow and piles of fluff.  It was a great day!

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Was there a bear on my chair? – Dr Seuss.

Conditions were obviously perfect for trying out some new boards and I was thrilled with how my new Templar  ‘Nobles’ were performing.  It wouldn’t have been hard to improve on my old K2 ‘Telies’ that could best be described as ‘classic’.  Nevertheless, I wasn’t expecting that kind of performance improvement! The last time a new pair of skiis felt so good was many years ago when I picked up a really snappy pair of Kastle GS skis.  Since then, I’ve had new Bandit XX’s (two pairs because I really liked them) and a new pair of Icelantics last year.  Although the Rossi’s were excellent performer’s they didn’t blow me away in terms of improving my skiing.  Likewise, the Icelantic Nomad’s are a fun ski but I find that you really need some good powder to get the most out of them.  The Icelantics also put a beating on my legs in ‘average’ resort conditions.  They’re a very fat and heavy ski.

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Yay!! I reeeeally like my new boards!

But the ‘Nobles’ felt fantastic right out of the gate.  There was no adjustment period to get used to them.  It was effortless hopping out of my turns and when I had to stop it was because I was winded, not because my quads were on fire.  At the end of the day my legs did not feel like I’d been telemarking.  Now I have to give some credit to the G3 Enzo bindings.  They seemed to help keep me in a more upright stance and there was virtually no drifting or skittishness in the skis.  The other thing I noticed was that when I had to resort to parallel turns the skis performed almost as well as my DH skis.  It barely felt like my heels weren’t attached.  That says something about how good the bindings are but it also indicates that the skis were very manoeuvrable, very easy to handle – even on the odd ice patch.  They also had that pop out of my turns that I haven’t felt since my pair of Kastle’s.   OK.  I know it’s very much a guy thing to rave about their new gear like it’s the best equipment ever made.  But by the end of last season the bloom was off the rose with my Nomad’s.  After today, I really have the sense that these skis are going to continue to perform well even in less perfect conditions.  I’ll keep you updated as the season goes on.

It was my plan to put together a short video of my first day on the new Templars but my iPhone malfunctioned in the cold after my first run.  Here’s what I managed to come up with before the cold did in my phone…

Since I couldn’t get myself showing off on the new boards, watch this next video and just imagine I’m in it.  I’m pretty much at the same skill level as these guys :-)  OK. Maybe not.


Still Fresh Snow For The Weekend

(Post Header photo credit: Sunshine Village.  This week’s Awesomeness!!)

In case you were thinking that all the good snow is gone by now… It’s still coming down in the mountains!  Mount Washington added 16cms and that should put them over 100 for this weather system.  Fernie, Castle, and Whitefish all added an additional 13cms.  Fernie was looking good this morning!Screenshot 2014-02-15 16.07.48

Sunshine, Kicking Horse, and Louise added 11, 10, and 6cms respectively.  The latest shot out of Louise looks pretty decent to me.  I’ll let you know after skiing there tomorrow.

Screenshot 2014-02-15 16.08.26But you have to look outside Canada to find some really big snowfall numbers today!  On my radar I see Jackson hole with nearly 50cms in 48hrs.  Love this shot from Jackson.

Screenshot 2014-02-15 16.10.25But as you know, the east coast is getting hammered with snow right now.  There’s even a hefty blanket of snow in Washington D.C.  That’s bad news for the city folk but great for skiers and riders in vermont.  How does 46cms at Stratton and 56cms at Okemo grab you?  Now here’s a classic shot of kids having fun in the snow at Okemo.

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Shagalicious Powder at Revelstoke

This video is short but it rips!!  And I’m a big fan of Shaggy so the sound track rules too!

Revy has added another 17cms since yesterday so the freshies will continue for another day.  In other news, Mt Washignton was able to open up yesterday after closing due to lack of snow.  82cms in 48hrs should keep them open for the rest of the season – whoop!  Sunshine added 20cms since yesterday so their conditions continue to improve as well.  Plenty of options for the weekend.

We’re Back! And So is the Snow!!

Once again powderwatch has been down for several days due to a nasty hijacking by some misguided youths from Indonesia.  This time I sucked it up and wasted the better part of a Sunday followed by three late nights to remove their taint once and for all (I hope).  I’m now more prepared with a clean backup so if they do manage to get back in, it won’t be for long.

But more importantly, WE HAVE SNOW!!!  It’s falling everywhere now – from Utah to the Yukon.  But the big buzz around Calgary is a 40cms of snowfall at Revelstoke on Tues/Weds.  The highway was closed cutting of the powder chasers from Calgary.  This afternoon Revelstoke was reporting 8cms but by 9:30PM that has increased to 24cms.    Look out Revy, the Calgary hoards have you in their crosshairs.  But on Feb 12 you had it all to yourself and as theses pics demonstrate… it was epic!!

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Now let’s pay a little respect to Whistler.  Locals must be brimming with joy and relief this week as the clouds burst and slathered the alpine bowls in sweet pow.  The report is a whopping 35cms in 24hrs and 48 in 48.  The post header is a rad shot from Whistler, but I absolutely love this one!!!  Nice work Logan!

Screenshot 2014-02-13 21.51.23Jumping back to the Columbia Valley… we had fantastic snow at both Panorama and Kicking Horse.  Kicking Horse is reporting 30cms in 48hrs and they have another 10cms so far this evening.  Can conditions improve since this shot was taken?  You bet!

Screenshot 2014-02-13 21.24.05Plenty of snow down at Castle and Fernie too!  How bad were things getting down in Fernie?  Check out an excerpt from Craig’s Feb 11th post on red

Drought Relief

It has been cold and snowless in Fernie for weeks now, but today brought 15+ cm of new powder, combined with comfortable temperatures and even blue sky for most of the day. Even my current skiing ambivalence was no match for that, so I headed out to the slopes for the first time in a long time.

Suffice to say it was as good or better than I hoped. By afternoon the only thing on the board still red was Cedar High Traverse, so there was no shortage of nice soft turns. The harder stuff was still under there though, so more moderate slopes seemed nicer than steeper or more trafficked stuff. For instance, Red Tree good, KC Chutes, well still good, but not as much.

Alas it was so nice, combined with the unusual experience of not skiing alone, that I never managed to take any pictures. Just imagine a nice untracked field of powder though and you will get an idea of what I should have taken.

Significantly more snow is forecast for tonight and tomorrow, but some reports suggest perhaps too much of a rebound from the frigid weather and even some mention of that R stuff. I will assume those are the incorrect ones.”

The rest of the report is worth a read:

Fernie is reporting 25cms in 48hrs and Castle is reporting 36cms in 48hrs.  You will find some wicked turns down at Castle.  But in my opinion, the best snow is further north.

But let’s get back to some great pics shall we?  Sunshine has received 15cms a day for the last two days and let’s hope that trend continues.  What does 30cms of fresh look like?  Looks pretty sweet but I’m betting there is even better snow to be found.  Watch for a new Ryder Report to confirm my suspicions.Screenshot 2014-02-13 21.23.31


I can’t sign off without mentioning Lake Louise.  They’re only reporting 20cms in 48hrs but the pic below indicates that the skiing might be a lot deeper in the back bowls.  I’m planning to head up to Louise this weekend – for my first visit of the season.  I can’t believe I just said that… First visit in mid Feb?  Something is seriously out of whack this season.

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If you’ve made it this far then you must be a loyal powder watcher :-)  Thanks for coming back!  There have been times over the last 10 years when I wonder why I put so much time into this website.  Since the site was first hacked in early January I’ve had to seriously think about whether or not I want to continue doing this.  After grinding on my computer for the last 4 days, I have to say there’s something in me that won’t let me quit.  I really do love the research and why not put that information to good use by sharing it with you.  When I see some of the amazing shots coming out of the resorts over the last few days, I can’t help but carry on.  Powderwatch is for the people who don’t have the time or the inclination to troll around the multitude of ski web sites.  The Ryder report provides regular and candid reports on Sunshine Village that you just can’t find anywhere else.  I hope you find some enjoyment in what we do and I sincerely hope it helps you find the best snow out there.



Whistler Having a Bad Snow Year

I’ve been hearing a lot of lamenting from my friends in North Van.  There’s no snow in Whistler!  Well there’s snow, just nothing compared to what they’re used to.  I’ve been doing powderwatch for a long time now and Whistler has been noticeably absent from my sources of envy.  Powder King has been a big source of powder envy this season, as usual, but where has Whistler gone?  Just to confirm my suspicion I to a look at the snowfall history for Whistler and, as you can see from the chart below, in a typical season the total accumulation should be well over 600cms by now.  As of today, Whistler is reporting a season total of 309cms.  That’s insane!  You have to go back 10 years to find a season with snowfall numbers in that ball park.Screenshot 2014-02-01 09.55.20

Since we’re already looking at snowfall numbers, let’s have a look at a few other locations across western Canada.  Starting close to home (Calgary), Sunshine was having a below average year until that massive dump in mid Jan.  But it dried up for a couple weeks and now they’re bouncing off the low percentile line again.  Good thing it’s starting to snow up there – see yesterday’s Ryder report. But unlike Whistler, Sunshine is within a reasonable range of the average accumulated snowfall for this time of year.  It’s all good.

Screenshot 2014-02-01 09.53.37Now let’s take a quick look at a couple of the renowned powder resorts in our region – Revelstoke and Whitewater.  Whitewater is actually having a pretty good year.  They’re second behind Powder King for total accumulation (607cms vs 704cms) and the chart shows that they are right on average.  In fact, aside from the stellar season they had last year, Whitewater has remarkable consistency from year to year (in terms of accumulation by the beginning of Feb).

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Revelstoke is third on the total accumulation list (for western Canada) with 555cms. They’re having a relatively good year too. But if you talk to the locals they may not share in that enthusiasm.  Snowfall is definitely at the low end of accumulation scale for the last 7 seasons.

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Kicking Horse’s Stairway To Heaven

Anyone who read my last post will know that I was expecting a lot of fun on our Backside Tours weekend at Kicking Horse.  Once again BST delivered the goods.  Great energy (and alcohol consumption) on the bus down followed by some hard core partying in Golden.  I’ve been doing these trips for years and it’s only been the last couple that I’ve stopped making the trip into town at night.  My liver thanks me!  I stayed with the wiser and more mature crowd and only had to assist two of my companions who were falling down drunk (one Friday and another one on Saturday).Screenshot 2014-01-27 19.12.14

But we were truly there for the skiing and that was a pleasant surprise!  KHR hadgreat accumulation a couple weekends ago but not much had fallen since.  I was expecting the worst.  I spoke with some colleagues today and both Sunshine and Louise were starting to get skied out and scratchy this weekend.  Honestly, I was expecting the same at Kicking Horse.

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But the conditions were still excellent!  On Saturday morning the skies were an ominous grey and riding the Gondola the visibility was so poor I exclaimed, ‘this is gonna suck if we don’t break through!’  Well we broke through just as the gondola entered Bowl Over and it was an incredible blue bird day.  Kicking Horse is known for this kind of weather anomaly but you don’t always get it.Screenshot 2014-01-27 19.14.06

As a result we spent the entire day lapping the Stairway To Heaven chairlift and ripping up the Crystal Bowl (which I will now rename the Sun Bowl – because that’s what it was all day long).  First thing in the morning it was still pretty hard pack and definitely crunchy in the trees under the chair.  But by noon the entire bowl had softened in to spring skiing.  We hit the bumps in Sun Bowl then traversed over to some sweet and smooshy turns through the trees.  On most days I’d find doing the same run all day a little too repetitive but then sun was glorious and I couldn’t get enough of those effortless turns through soft powder.Screenshot 2014-01-27 19.17.41

I talked to a guy on the lift who had just come from Super Bowl.  He said they had the entire bowl to themselves and the snow was better than Sun Bowl – loose powder and much less sun affected.  The only drawback was that you couldn’t see two feet in front of you as you skied down to the village.  We took his advice and saved that for the last run of the day.  It was total pea soup and you really just had to feel your way down.Screenshot 2014-01-27 19.17.08

On Sunday, we had almost an identical day.  The cloud was thinner and lower in the valley and that made skiing down to the Gondola much more feasible.  But it was a few degrees cooler (-3C instead of +1C) so we decided to stay in the Sun Bowl for another day.  However, I was able to see Blowdown / Show Off when we skied it and the coverage was really good.  Lot’s of soft powder and loose snow.  I’m guessing that Fuez, Bowl Over, and Super Bowl were excellent.  The snow would have been a bit lighter on the shady slopes.Screenshot 2014-01-27 19.15.51

I’m not sure how long conditions will stay this great at Kicking Horse.  As it cools down this week the sunny side of Super Bowl will become a lot less enjoyable, especially in the trees.  But the stuff that wasn’t sun affected should still be awesome – and that’s Fuez, and the shady sides of Bowl Over and Super Bowl, plus pretty much the entire bottom half of the mountain.

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It’s Snowing in Aprica!

409187_585995631419906_1820818090_nAprica, a ski-resort in the Italian Alps, saw a staggering snowfall of 425 cm last week! The resort has access to 16 individual pistes, and 24 ski-lifts that cater to 22000 snowboarder/skiers every hour. It has a 40 km stretch of downhill skiing. The resort enjoys a maximum height of 1130m, with its highest lift set at an altitude of 2310 m. Its lowest piste is set at a height of 1180 m. The base snow depth at an altitude of 1175 m, is currently at 290 cm.

1653542_738141872871947_1048825928_nThe Valtellina area is known for its cross country skiing, with trails running through altitude circuits and a national park in the surrounding area. The resort has 13 km of cross country pistes. The snow cover here is usually reliable as the skiing happens above 2000 m. The resort conditions are great for snowboarding and novice skiers, with the Super panoramica being especially popular among the latter. The Superpanoramica runs for over four miles, all the way up to the town.

It’s Dumping Snow in Passo Tonale

1546070_737908909560535_103236818_nPasso Tonale, scattered between Val di Sole and Vallecamonica in the Italian dolomites, finished the week as the snowiest ski resort in the world. With 400 cm of snow, it presently offer skiers and snowboarders a lot of powder to work with. If your New Year vacation isn’t over just yet, Passo Tonale beckons!

560414_3745937287330_2009281377_nThe ski resort received 10 cm of snow on Jan 19th. It is expected to receive 13 km of fresh snow over the next two days. One of Passo Tonale’s most interesting features is its fabulous altitude views. Extending from 1884m to 3100m, it offers 100 km of slopes for sports and adventure. Passo Tonale has 87 km of pisted ski runs and 30 individual pistes. It is served by 30 lifts. The resort’s ski facilities are among the first to open in the Alps and one of the last to close.

A Deluge of Powder in the Canadian Rockies

It’s never too late to play catch up.  While Fernie hogged most of the heavy snowfall in December, Sunshine and Louise were relatively dry.  But it has been snowing insanely in the mountain parks since the weekend and if you’ve read the Ryder report you’ll know that conditions are as good as it gets right now – with more snow on the way!!

Now That’s Powder! – Back Bowls at Lake Louise

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 10.20.51 PMBut before you start accusing me of being Calgary focused… let’s look at the numbers from the rest of Western Canada (yeah yeah, now I’m too Canada focused :0)

Mount Washington – 100cms in 48hrs (ridiculous!!!)

Big White – 60cms in 48hrs (hell ya!!!)

Powder King – 38cms in 24hrs (do they really need any more snow?)

Kicking Horse – 44cms in 48hrs (outstanding!)

Whitewater – 38cms in 48hrs (brilliant!)

Fernie – 25cms in 48hrs (normally I’d be pretty excited about that)

OK but let’s get back to Sunshine and Louise.  Sunshine had 24cms of new snow today and 50cms in the last 2 days. Look no further than the Ryder report to see just how epic it has been.  Lake Louise was reporting 31cms of new snow today and 58cms in the last 48hrs.  I absolutely love Lake Louise when it has that much snow.  I can’t believe I’m missing out on it.  I’ll be combing the web for more pics and videos from Louise this week and I’ll be sure to share them with you.  But even better, get out there and experience it for yourselves – and send me some pics!


It’s Snowing in Eaglecrest!

20130410015642-LEaglecrest received a phenomenal snowfall of 356 cm last week, with a 94 cm deep snow on its lower slopes! The American ski-resort, located in Douglas island, Alaska, has 640 acres of ski-able area. It reported a snow of 2cm on Jan 12. The ski-resort has 31 individual pistes and 3 ski-lifts. The ski lifts cater to 2800 snowboarders / skiers every hour, and its cross country pistes run a stretch of 5 km. The 3 snow cannons at the resort add to its natural snow really well.

2nordicmapdrawingnew123112final_000The ski-resort enjoys a maximum vertical of 420 m, with its highest lift set at an altitude of 790 m, and its lowest piste set at a height of 370 m. Since the resort is set at a relatively low altitude, the snow cover varies form place to place. From beginners to experts, the ski-resort suits all levels of skiers, with the conditions also being excellent for snowboarders.

It's Snow Time!