Surprise - The Big Chill
A few groups ventured into Surprise Pass over the weekend of January 14th and 15th. On the 15th we found partly cloudy skies and balmy temps hovering around -16. I think everyone was “Surprised” by almost a complete lack of snow after curling around Fairview. I’ve seen better conditions here in November. The upper Sheol Valley has been blasted clear by the constant winds this season. The mostly barren rock through the moraines made travel a bit slower than normal. There is more snow against the fans off the east faces of Fairview but we opted for the safety of the moraines.
Once reaching the crest of the pass itself things looked grim. We scrambled down through scree and dustings of snow for about 70 vertical meters before daring to put on the snow sliding gear. For the remainder of the descent there was about 10-15cm old storm snow starting to slab up a bit sitting over the rotting old surface that for the most part was still supportive enough to carry a skier if one refrained from digging into turns too hard. Things could change with the frigid temps and seemingly ever present wind. Some good turns were had other than the terror of finding hidden treasures in the shallow snowpack.
Lake Louise somehow has completely missed out on the storm snow from the past several days. Things aren't really improving either with temps approaching minus 30 and winds around 20km/hr.
Where's my heated blanket?