John's Report - March 24, 2008

A Castle Visit

After yesterday’s report, I thought it best to put my own money where my mouth is & therefore headed off for Castle Mountain in the southern Alberta Rockies. A good decision as it turned out. Last night Castle had 25 dense cms and high winds, which laid down Castle’s patented “wind sift”. Wind sift is the blow off the ridges which is a dust-like powder that smoothes every imperfection. By mid-morning Castle’s killer winds had died down & I didn’t once get pelted by the scree that sometimes batters those who ride to the top on the Red Chair. The clouds that were predicted didn’t materialize. It was a bluebird day (at least when not engulfed by the snowy whirlwinds that frequently scour the mountain). Best of all, I doubt there were more than 300 people on its 1,500 plus acres of terrain. The result was fresh lines everywhere all day long.

I would like to thank the many people who wrote about yesterday’s report. I didn’t anticipate the positive response it evoked. Skiing/Boarding is a fine sport but it must be kept within the budget of ordinary people if it is to flourish.

The scenery on the drive into Castle is worth every extra minute. I like to call this area 'Castle Gate'.

The tallest peak at the right of the photo is Castle, with Mt. Haig immediately to the left. The slopes on the bottom left are part of the new Haig Ridge expansion area.

Here's an interesting concept. For every cm of new snow at the base, Castle knocks a buck of the cost of their already reasonably priced tickets. Too bad the base only got 10cms last night.

This picture was taken at about 11:30 am. It is of Huckleberry Ridge and clearly demonstrates the lack of traffic today. More for me!

More clean lines in the unnamed(?) bowl to the right of the Red Chair. I think the run is Outlaw. I did a good number of wide, fast big mountain turns down this beauty.

A view from the top of Red Chair into the unnamed(?) bowl, with Skyline Traverse visible to the right of the smaller center peak.

A view over the foothills and, beyond, the prairie.

The wind sift crossing Drifter with a view of the top of Huckleberry Chair on Haig Ridge.

One problem with Castle is its Rock Bands. However, this year, Castle has had just 8 cms less snow than Fernie and rock hazards are not the problem they can often be.

This photo is of Skyline Traverse going towards the Shoots. Blowing snow can make for some very interesting cliff side visibility issues.

This is the top of Lone Star, one of the "Shoots". Yes Virginia, it really is this steep.

A view from North Ridge looking back towards the top of Red Chair.

Marie, the woman on the right, is a liftee who gives a hug to everyone before they embark up the Blue Chair. She is as much a fixture of Castle as are the gallows at the entrance to the Shoots (I forgot to take that quintessential photo.)

Strange tree carcases dot Castle.

This shot was taken from Huckleberry Ridge and looks over OK Corral, with Mt. Haig in the background.