With questionable avalanche conditions and
even more questionable snow quality in the mountains on 17 April 2021,
Zosia Zgolak and I opted for a relatively safe and non-committing ski
tour to Hidden Bowl behind the Lake Louise Ski Resort in Alberta's Banff
National Park. This was a follow-up for our
there three months earlier, and although we expected the skiing to be
marginal at best on this day, we knew that we would at least have some
outstanding scenery in the area.
Right off the bat, Zosia and I noticed the crusty condition of the snow
as we left Fish Creek trailhead and skinned up the resort's ski-out.
In some places, there was already dirt creeping in from the sides, but
coverage improved the higher we climbed. After passing Temple
Lodge, we continued along the snowmobile-packed trail along Corral Creek,
but we left it shortly before the usual turnoff to Halfway Hut. We
then followed a good skin track across a creek and all the way up into
Hidden Bowl. As nice as it was to see all the surrounding peaks
bathed in glorious sunshine, the snow quality here was hardly better than
anything we had earlier, and we consequently bailed on climbing high onto
the south end of
Ridge. Instead, we took a short break in the shade of some
trees to avoid the hot sun, and then we subsequently skied down one of
the slopes above Corral Creek. The skiing was actually not bad on
the more open sections higher up, but as the forest became thicker lower
down, we had more trouble maneuvering between the tight trees especially
given the poor quality snow. Somehow, we managed to muddle our way
through the trees and ultimately intersect the trail along Corral Creek.
The ski out was uneventful but perhaps a little slower than usual since
we had to be mindful of the deteriorating snow conditions.
Overall, this was a rather bittersweet day of beautiful weather and
scenery coupled with perhaps the worst ski conditions of the season.
If nothing else, I at least got to try out my recently-purchased brand
new ski equipment--G3 FINDr 86 skis (167 cm long), Dynafit
ST Rotation 10 bindings, Dynafit TLT8 Expedition CR boots, and
Black Diamond Ascension skins. Christmas came early for me this
Zosia crosses a bridge
over Corral Creek. In the background are (L to R)
Entering Hidden Bowl, Zosia finds the snow a bit crusty.
Behind Zosia is
Visible through the gap (Boulder Pass) at right are
Mount Douglas, and Mount St. Bride.
Lots of ski tracks can be seen across the valley on the slopes at the
south end of Redoubt Mountain.
Sonny and Zosia pose together with their skis in the warm sunshine.
Here is a comprehensive view of
as Zosia begins her descent.