Sunshine Village, AB, Feb. 26, 2015

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Sunshine Village, AB, Feb. 26, 2015

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Feb 27, 2015 12:27 am

There were snow flurries along the road as we drove from Lake Louise to the Sunshine exit, but it was sunny when we reached the ski area. However it was noticeably colder than our previous ski days, 8F up the gondola at the village. I put on a warmer layer while getting my Mountain Collective half price ticket. We took the Angel and Continental Divide lifts and took advantage of the photo ops in the clear weather. Fortunately there was no wind, as it was more like zero F at the top of the mountain and never got much warmer all day.
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The latter picture is 11,870 foot Mt. Assiniboine

Also visible in Sunshine Meadow was a huge maple leaf created by British snowshoe artist Simon Beck.
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By 11AM we saw clouds and I wanted to get into Delirium Dive before visibility deteriorated as at Lake Louise yesterday. I had my avy gear with me, but unfortunately no one showed up to be a partner for 15 minutes. By that time it was overcast and I was cold so I skied down to Goat’s Eye where I thought tseeb had gone. After a thaw break I took the gondola back to the village, where tseeb had arranged to borrow avy gear from a snow host who was giving an intermediate tour at noon.

Tseeb and I went back up top where it was shaded by cloud, but since the whole sky wasn’t overcast anymore the visibility was manageable. The entries to Delirium Dive were much sketchier than my 2 previous times there in the abundant 1999 and 2002 seasons, but it was closed for snow stability on my 2004 and 2008 visits. View of Delirium Dive and the stair descent:
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At the bottom of the stairs there was at least a 5 minute sidestep over rocks to get to the entrance.
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View of Goat’s Eye from top of the Dive:
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Tseeb skiing Delirium Dive:
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After the steeps, there were traverse tracks off to the right, but we chose to ski the soft snow below, which required a short hike out. Looking back up at Delirium Dive.
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We took one run on Goat’s Eye before lunch. The ungroomed skier’s left of the chair was an ugly mess of refrozen moguls with the moderately steep SW exposure. The after lunch Goat’s Eye run was strictly groomers. For the next hour we were mostly on the Standish chair, which had the best lift accessed snow on the hill. It’s only 800 vertical but has some short steep drops and interesting rolling terrain. Even the bumps were relatively soft. View from the west side across to Delirium Dive and Continental Divide.
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I finished the day with 21,500 vertical. The current conditions accentuate the differences between Sunshine and Lake Louise. At Louise the backside steeps have the good snow while frontside groomers are hardpacked. At Sunshine most of the intermediate runs have the nice snow while the advanced Goat’s Eye is frozen granular.
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Re: Sunshine Village, AB, Feb. 26, 2015

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:08 am

I really liked Sunshine. That snowshoe maple leaf is incredible.

Tony, shouldn't you be diverting toward SW Colorado with this big storm track? :stir:
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Re: Sunshine Village, AB, Feb. 26, 2015

Postby tseeb » Fri Feb 27, 2015 7:51 am

Tony Crocker wrote:By 11AM we saw clouds and I wanted to get into Delirium Dive before visibility deteriorated as at Lake Louise yesterday. I had my avy gear with me, but unfortunately no one showed up to be a partner for 15 minutes. By that time it was overcast and I was cold so I skied down to Goat’s Eye where I thought tseeb had gone. After a thaw break I took the gondola back to the village, where tseeb had arranged to borrow avy gear from a snow host who was giving an intermediate tour at noon.

We were supposed to meet at Goat's Eye, but since Tony Crocker did not ski the Dive and I missed it on way down so that did not work out very well. I did not know the only way there without poling across a flat, which I did, and hiking up small hill, which I did not, was to take a lift. So I got 'warm' by skiing to the bottom and riding up gondola, which I shared with 5 young French Canadians, who said it was warmer than where they live and were surprised when I told then I drove from California.

I met the guy who loaned me avy gear through snow hosts, but his badge said he was cat crew. Either way, it was a very nice of him.

Another minor correction is the Sunshine Village includes some area in BC as it crosses both the border and the continental divide, which are the same is this area.

Tony Crocker wrote:At the bottom of the stairs there was at least a 5 minute sidestep over rocks to get to the entrance.

While I agree it usually is better to get those metal edges back under you and both poles in the snow as soon as possible when there is steep snow below you, in this case hiking along the right edge may have been better as there was a knotted rope that I used for part of my sideslip descent. Both the guy who loaned me gear and a snowhost I talked to said that is what they would do. There was a good place to put on skis at bottom of metal stairs, but then we had to step off three railroad ties sized steps and the last one had a large and unavoidable rock just below it. Once around corner, the entrance to the Dive was less sketchy than what we skied previous two days at Kicking Horse and Lake Louise.

Tony Crocker wrote:After the steeps ... we chose to ski the soft snow below, which required a short hike out.

Best snow of the day, an inch or two of drift-in, some even in the sun. During the short hike out was the only time I partially opened my pit zips all day and they got closed during next chair ride.

Tony Crocker wrote:I finished the day with 21,500 vertical.

I had 22.5K due to my extra run to bottom. I also took a hard fall on 4 pm last run to bottom, when I caught an edge passing Tony Crocker and had my weight too far out to recover. I was lucky I did not get run over and that I mostly landed on the meat of my hip as it was very firm and flat enough where I fell to be hard to get up.

Thanks for another great tour by Tony Crocker and here are some more pictures.
Attachments
0351TonyCSunshineDivide.JPG
Tony Crocker skiing in very cold sunshine on Divide lift at Sunshine
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Another view of the Maple Leaf from lower on mountain
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Tony Crocker at the gate to Delirium Dive. As the Eagles sang in Hotel California "This could be Heaven or this could be Hell".
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The run is on the left side of the ridge
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Tony Crocker about to go off last step which drops onto a rock
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While the part of the Dive in the sun in the background looks good, it was very rocky and getting there would be extremely difficult
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Frozen waterfall above angle station on Sunshine's gondola
0800BaseOfSunshine.JPG (299.91 KiB) Viewed 4386 times
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Re: Sunshine Village, AB, Feb. 26, 2015

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:08 am

There have been a lot of itinerary mods on this trip. Most skiers driving from Mustang to Montana would hit Revy, Whitewater and Red, all rained upon to the top Feb 8 and 14. Today we have 7+ hours of driving after Panorama to skip Fernie and Whitefish, also in stick-to-the-groomers mode. q may be interested to know we will be in Philipsburg Saturday night to ski Discovery Sunday.
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Re: Sunshine Village, AB, Feb. 26, 2015

Postby flyover » Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:36 am

Tony Crocker wrote:q may be interested to know we will be in Philipsburg Saturday night to ski Discovery Sunday.


In that case, you may want to review this: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11409
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Re: Sunshine Village, AB, Feb. 26, 2015

Postby Powderqueen » Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:25 am

We went to Revelstoke, and indeed, it was firm and fast. I had to rent a pair of skinnier and stiffer skis to enjoy skiing the groomers there, the true sign of a powder ski trip fail. I spent the first day on my Rossi S7s and all that vibration of a soft fat ski on the firm frozen base was not enjoyable. So on day 2, I rented a pair of Dynastar Legends, spending the money I saved by bringing only one pair of skis and packing all my gear into my double ski bag, so I would only have one bag to check. The Legends made skiing more fun and we cruised the groomers for a 2nd day.

I think I've learned my lesson...don't book lodging so far in advance. If we only book airfare, it can be changed with a moderate fee. I would have gladly paid to change destinations. But had already invested so much into this trip with comfortable lodging with private hot tubs. I just thought it always snowed in BC. I didn't realize the Pineapple Express could be so damaging at elevation and how dry it could be this time of year. I learned a lot from this trip.

We had fun and we relaxed more than ever on a ski trip. Driving through the passes was a breeze and quite beautiful. We enjoyed a lot of time in hot springs and hot tubs.

I think I'm going to quit planning trips and just go when the weather is right. It seems a lot easier to book plane tickets with short notice without having to pay a whole lot extra.

Another thing I learned, never fly Air Canada with a connection in Canada. Fly in the US first and make your final destination Canada or else you have to deal with an airport clusterfuck. You have to get your baggage, go through customs and re-check your baggage. This can take over an hour. This is not ideal if you have a tight connection. We made it, but I don't want to go through that again. This was the only moment I was glad that I had just 1 bag and didn't have a big duffel plus a ski bag with 2 pairs of skis. I would've probably passed out trying to wrangle all that gear from the baggage claim to the next check-in. From where I live, there is no such thing as non-stop and often 3 planes are required to get out west. We thought with 2 flights at reasonable hours, this would be easier, but the customs-upon-arrival was a bitch and a time suck.
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Re: Sunshine Village, AB, Feb. 26, 2015

Postby Marc_C » Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:39 am

Powderqueen wrote:I just thought it always snowed in BC. I didn't realize the Pineapple Express could be so damaging at elevation and how dry it could be this time of year. I learned a lot from this trip.

Averages exist for a reason. Everywhere has great seasons and everywhere has crappy seasons.

Powderqueen wrote:Another thing I learned, never fly Air Canada with a connection in Canada. Fly in the US first and make your final destination Canada or else you have to deal with an airport clusterfuck. You have to get your baggage, go through customs and re-check your baggage. This can take over an hour. This is not ideal if you have a tight connection. We made it, but I don't want to go through that again.

That has nothing to do with Air Canada and everything to do with international customs rules. You will encounter that with any airline flying into Canada.

Powderqueen wrote:We thought with 2 flights at reasonable hours, this would be easier, but the customs-upon-arrival was a bitch and a time suck.

Customs is always a crap shoot. Traveling for a conference in 2011, I spent close to 2 hours in Customs Hall in Vancouver on arrival.
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Re: Sunshine Village, AB, Feb. 26, 2015

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:46 pm

Marc_C wrote:
Powderqueen wrote:I just thought it always snowed in BC. I didn't realize the Pineapple Express could be so damaging at elevation and how dry it could be this time of year. I learned a lot from this trip.

Averages exist for a reason. Everywhere has great seasons and everywhere has crappy seasons.

+1 No lift service area in western Canada has quite the elite snow reliability track record of the Cottonwood resorts in Utah, Wolf Creek or Grand Targhee. The Canadian resorts that are high altitude don't get a lot of snow, and the high snowfall areas tend to have low altitude and/or bad exposure and/or occasional rain vulnerability. And with regard to MarcC's point, we all know it's no bed of roses in Utah now, which may have had its driest January AND driest February on record. We're looking at a likely zero-new-snow Iron Blosam week for the 3rd time out of the past 4 seasons, this time with a snowpack no better than an average Christmas.

powderqueen wrote:I didn't realize the Pineapple Express could be so damaging at elevation and how dry it could be this time of year.

2005 was worse on both counts.

powderqueen wrote:I think I've learned my lesson...don't book lodging so far in advance. If we only book airfare, it can be changed with a moderate fee. I would have gladly paid to change destinations.

The weather pattern in the Northwest has been going on all season. Mustang said their temperatures at the 5,700 foot large rarely get over freezing before March. This year they have had 6 rain events to the 8,000 foot top of their tenure. Both tseeb and flyover were e-mailing me at least 2 weeks in advance of this trip about the weather problems. I knew for at least a month in advance that we might have to be flexible and do some extra driving for the lift served part of the trip.

With regard to airport inconveniences, I volunteered for some this time. The Kelowna airport had some cancelled flights shortly before my trip, so my connecting flight from Seattle was overbooked. I volunteered to spend an extra 4 hours in Seattle Airport and then connect through Vancouver to get a $400 certificate from Alaska Airlines. At the rate this season is going, I may have to take to the air again to get any decent skiing after mid-April.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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