Jay's Report - February 29, 2008
Island Lake - Special Assignment
I was just about ready to take credit for the amazing snow year we’ve had so far. A few of us had a bonfire in the fall where we sacrificed a pair of old P9’s to our local snow spirit, The Griz. Together we chanted “The Griz, The Griz, we ain’t talking Cheez Whiz; P9’s, P9’s you gave us great lines; The Griz, we know, we know you’ll make it snow. And snow it did; for weeks in fact. That is, until about 2 weeks ago.
But sometimes it’s not always about new snow. The skiing doesn’t always have to be epic to have a great time; it just has to be good enough. And that it was at our annual Island Lake pilgrimage this year. Island Lake is a backcountry Cat skiing lodge located just a few km’s from Fernie Alpine Resort. This was our 5th anniversary at Island Lake. See Archived reports of around this time of year for pictures of past trips, some of which were epic.
There is an abundance of base snow with some 26 feet plus of snow falling so far this year. But the recent appearance of the sun, warmer temperatures and high winds created a bit of a mixed bag of shin top powder, crud, ice, wind pack and set tracks. Our guides were nonetheless able to find some decent powder patches that were good enough to satisfy our piggish appetites. A favourable tradeoff of recent weather was also that avalanche danger had decreased considerably, allowing us access to challenging steep terrain. Some of the terrain we skied on hadn’t been skied yet this year. So we felt special. On this trip face shots were limited to face plants and snow ball fights. In the evening we didn’t even play butt darts this year, but relaxed to a gentleman’s table game of Austrian origin. Strangely, I was injured during that game. It seems like I’ve been getting injured a lot these days playing table games. Thankfully I wasn’t alone.
As spring break approaches, visitors will be treated with a base that is at a 20 year high so locals say. This will cap off a memorable year of skiing even if there is no new snow in the forecast.