A Day at Castle Mountain

View from our window towards the Ski Lodge

View from our window towards the Ski Lodge

The day starts at 7 am with snow falling from the heavens and the temperature sitting at 2 C Murray heads off cat skiing and I ponder cross country. I decide to hold off and go for a walk around the resort. The snow is heavy with moisture and under the snow it is liquid in spots.

The resort is a small village with housing ranging from holiday trailers to large newly constructed homes to staff acommodations.There are perhaps 200 units. Naming homesteads seems to be the thing here with names like Wind in the Pines, Wild West, The Wright Cabin, Tom’s Place and Snowed Inn. Many houses are right beside the ski runs. The houses range from older small units to brand new architect designed modern abodes.

Out the door and onto the slopes!

Out the door and onto the slopes!

After lunch I decide to head to Syncline Recreation Area, a 10 minute drive away, the local cross country area. I had learned last night that although it is groomed/packed, it is not tracked. I am not sure why go to the trouble of grooming and not track. Thought I would go for at least a shuffle to get some fresh air.  I drive into the parking lot and get nervous about getting stuck, so I do not venture too far in. There is less snow here than up the mountain and with the rain that is now coming down, I decide to bail and just head back to the hotel and watch a movie.

There is another cross country trail that leaves from the end of the housing area at Castle. It is also not machine tracked. My impression is that unless you like to break trail and go for a tramp through the woods, this is not the place to go cross country skiing on skinny skis looking for nice fast tracks.

My day has been a loaf.

I mentioned in my last blog about the relationship between the quality of the driving on the way to skiing and the quality of the skiing. ‘The worse the driving, the better the skiing.’ The roads were bone dry using cruise control on the speed limit all the way. I questioned whether or not the opposite was true. If so, the skiing will not be so good today.

Surprise, I awake this morning to a snow storm and by the look of the parking lot it had been snowing for quite some time. The resort requires that each person that goes cat skiing must sit through an orientation and then a quick run through on the proper methods of using a probe and shovel and how to search using a transceiver. This is not only a requirement it is a good idea, especially if I’m the one caught in a slide, as the hour we spend could be of great benefit. It is hard to concentrate when I know about a kilometer up the road is 40 cm of untracked powder.

We are soon in the cabin on the back of the cat and ascending the mountain. First run seems to be a test run so the guide can see what he has to work with. Knee deep snow with not a track in any direction. Heaven!  As we descend, the snow gets wetter and heavier but it is still virgin snow and the feeling of skiing that kind of snow is not comparable to anything else I know.

We ski knee to thigh deep snow all day. Twice the cat cannot climb the track and we have to bail 1/2 way up and ski the runs lower on the mountain. Our group is very polite and we all take turns going first and last.

All in all it is an epic day on the slopes.

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