December 12, 2012
Banff – Sunshine Village, AB
It was hard to choose my objective for the second day. The ski ascent of Monarch Ramparts was pretty tiring and I also had a plan to do Pumpkin Traverse with Ben the day after. So I was looking for something short and easy. I really wanted to ski up Eagle Mountain but in December, there wouldn’t be enough snow on the upper slope. I certainly wouldn’t want to slog up that slope on ski boots. Actually I would still ski it if the Skoki trip wasn’t on schedule. On this particular day, what I needed was a success by the most efficient and energy-saving way. I’m definitely more familiar with my Lightning Ascent snowshoes + winter boots, versus AT skis + ski boots.
The lower slope of Eagle Mountain is owned by Sunshine Village ski resort, and skinning or snowshoeing uphill in the resort can potentially be very dangerous. Chances are a ski patroller will catch you and turn you around and that’s definitely not something I was looking forward to. A simple way to make sure you can avoid the ski patrol is by ascending in the dark before they even start working (to beat their chair lift).
It was hard to wake up in a cold morning at 6AM, but I had to do so. I quickly made my way in Banff’s MacDonald and got warmed up a bit. The next thing was to scrape off the ice on my windshield. It took me 10min… Then I drove to Sunshine Village, and started the day at 7:10. There were at least 10 snowmobiles passing me on the way in. An hour later, I arrived at Goat’s Eye chair lift. Good thing no one was working at the lift at this time of the day, or they could prevent me from going up the ski runs. The next hour was definitely snowshoeer’s dream. I ascended straight up the “Super Model” black diamond run, which is directly beneath the chairlift. 35 degree slope on compacted snow. It felt like going upstairs.
Upon exiting this black run, I ascended more towards climber’s left and then up “Upper Free Fall” blue run. I didn’t go all the way up to the upper terminal, instead crossed the ski area boundary and ascended more on climber’s left side. I could manage to use snow and keep my snowshoes on. Higher up, I broke through the clouds and got about 5min inversion scenery. I thought it was gonna be another gorgeous day, but I was wrong. A few minutes later, I was back in the clouds. No view on the summit… I stayed for at least 15min hoping the clouds could lift up, but it never did.
Descending was fast. I took off snowshoes and it was very easy on the knees, in no time I made back to the ski run. The snow was very compacted and I could keep descending without snowshoes. At the top of Super Model run, I took out my axe and had an awesome glissade. Everybody on the chairlift was looking down at me and wondering what the heck this guy was doing… The rest of the day was an easy walk down the ski out.
Next time when I head back for the nearby Brewster Rock, I’ll definitely do it on skis. No excuse.. Round Trip time: 4 hours. Since I made back by 11 am, I had the entire afternoon ahead of schedule. I did manage to review for the chemistry final exam, which would be 2 days later..