There's nothing like hiking through ankle deep snow (as in the previous post) to get you in the mood to go hunting for your first ski turns of the season. In spite of the fresh snow up high, however, we weren't expecting much when we left Banff at 6am. Reconnaissance done during a recent camping trip to our destination, Rae Glacier in K Country, hadn't been very promising with much of the foot of the glacier having receded in the past year. In light of this, and unsure of recent snowfall amounts there, we didn't expect much more than a long hike with heavy packs on our backs with at best a couple of wind loaded deposits to milk in amongst all the rock and ice as the reward at the end of it. As we got deeper into K country we couldn't help our hopes rising a little though. The trees were looking more loaded and the landscape more and more white as we got closer to the trail head.
After hiking the first couple k we stopped at Elbow Lake to skin up and struggle into our ski boots for the first time this season.
As we gained elevation the snow got deeper and we started getting a little excited.
We were thrown a few curve balls when the usually obvious track became a little confused. The June floods which ravaged the eastern side of the rockies had obviously shifted a fair amount around here rendering some of the gully sections unrecognisable. This made a straightforward skin a little more challenging although Kevin's optimism in what was still skin-able was admirable, albeit destined for failure.
Rae Glacier - a field of lurking rocks mostly hidden by an inviting blanket of snow.
As we got higher and higher we couldn't believe how much snow had accumulated so early. We knew that for most of the ski down we'd be hitting as many rocks as we got turns but up top it was money. As you can tell from Kevin's face we certainly didn't think we'd be having to dig a pit, let alone find a base of 115cms.
And finally ready to drop in on lap one.
My shitty Iphone pictures don't do it justice but you get the idea - these were some outstanding early season turns.
About to drop for lap two.
And in typical Rockies fashion the day ended with some wildlife. I can't recall taking a trip to Rae and not encountering at least one Moose but it started getting ridiculous, this guy being one of the four we saw on the roadside that day.