Castle Mt., Alberta, Feb. 24, 2018

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Castle Mt., Alberta, Feb. 24, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:01 pm

Our second day at Castle was the nicest weather day of our Canadian trip. Temperatures finally climbed into double digits, ranging from 10-15F on the upper mountain and 15-20F lower down. And it was a mostly sunny day with just occasional clouds passing through. Wind had hammered Castle quite hard Friday as predicted, though the Red chair was closed for only about half an hour. But the wind had its usual beneficial effect, as the vast majority of Castle’s terrain is leeward to the prevailing SW wind, so nearly everything was smoothed out even more than Friday and a delightful layer of windsift was deposited in numerous more sheltered fall lines. There was some light wind up high but it was from the NW. Locals said the traverse to the South Chutes into Friday’s direct wind was impossible as it was so strong.

We did the usual first Red chair lap on Sheriff, where I had observed other skiers in new windsift on its skier’s right. Next up was Drifter, and today was one of those days I was reminded why it’s one of my favorite runs on the planet. Windsift was deposited across its entire 2,000 vertical and several hundred yards of width, so you could just tear it up until the very last 300 vertical or so where it steepens and funnels into a gully.
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Coming back up top we did another short lap, Liz on Tamarack while I took Tseeb out Huckleberry Ridge toward Showboat, the open area at left in the picture below.
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The windsift in the trees in the center of the picture was so pristine I couldn’t resist dropping in there. But it’s quite steep so you need to maintain control with the moderate tree spacing. Tseeb should be in that picture but I haven’t found him yet. He has dark clothing and might be behind a tree.

I thought Drifter was worth an encore, so Liz and I skied that while Tseeb explored Gambler, which is on the border between SE-facing Drifter and the South Chutes. Liz skied Drifter two more times Saturday when Tseeb and I were pushing out to some of the steeper South Chutes. We first tried High Rustler, the third run off the south traverse. How deep was the windsift here?
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Looking back up High Rustler’s ~1,200 vertical, Tseeb skiing at lower left
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From same spot, looking right across Desperado and Lone Star:
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Notice how many people are out here in prime conditions midday on a Saturday.

We were heading back along the Cinch Traverse just as Liz emerged at the bottom of Drifter. We insisted she come along to Lone Star, which we had passed on the way to High Rustler. In a day of consistently excellent skiing, Lone Star may have been the highlight. Liz dropping in:
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Liz below, Tseeb above:
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Tseeb tearing it up:
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Looking back up Lone Star:
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Our next run was out the north side. That snow, powder leftovers on Friday, was smoothed out but not as wide open as the South and SE. I pushed skier’s right of Powder Horns for a line I had missed Friday, while Liz and Tseeb went farther skier’s left near Siwash/North Bowl. We went in for lunch at 1:45PM. Liz with Castle's Bernese Mountain lodge dog:
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After lunch I pushed far south to show Tseeb that area he had not seen Friday. These are some of Castle’s steepest runs but the vertical drops down to about 1,000 and snow tends to be more variable as it gets more direct wind. There was some sastrugi near the top but good windsift above and below a rock band in the middle. Tseeb squeezing though the rock band, then skiing below it:
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View of this run from below:
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It was probably Minus One, but I didn’t see a sign at the top. This was a deep powder run when I skied it with Adam and patroller Darrel Luco in 2008.

We took a quick Red chair lap on Tamarack/Liftline in order to make the final 3:30 chair. Our last run was Desperado, between Lone Star and High Rustler. It had mostly smooth windbuff but not as much blown-in soft snow as the other two runs.

We finished with 25,100 vertical and told marketing director Jason Crawford about our great day.

He remarked, “Most skiers don’t realize wind can be beneficial to ski conditions.”

I replied, “We’re Mammoth skiers so we know, but Mammoth has 15x as many skiers working over that snow.”
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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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Re: Castle Mt., Alberta, Feb. 24, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:09 pm

Looks nice, is that the first sun on this trip?

Surprised that Alta hasn't sued Castle for using High Rustler as a trail name. :lol:
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Re: Castle Mt., Alberta, Feb. 24, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Feb 26, 2018 4:57 pm

The 2 cold Mustang days and the first Kicking Horse day had some sunny breaks but this was the only majority sun day. The rest of the trip was all Great Gray North.
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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Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Castle Mt., Alberta, Feb. 24, 2018

Postby tseeb » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:23 am

I found myself in the picture from the trees next to Showboat. I'm mostly behind the tallest tree in the middle of the picture.
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4158TreesNext2ShowboatCR2.JPG (14.98 KiB) Viewed 1743 times
Some of my teal pants, black jacket and skis are visible, but not much.

Following are pictures of Tony Crocker skiing the windsift that day and one of Liz.
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1670TonyCDoubleWindsift.JPG
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1672LizLonePine.JPG
1677TonyCEffortlessWindsift.JPG
1678TonyCBigRoosterTail.JPG
1680TonyCWindsiftAA.JPG
1682TonyCWindsiftLight.JPG

The last two pictures were taken from the parking lot after skiing. One is some of the ski mountain and the other is what I think must be the, or one of the, Castle Mountain(s).
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