Interested in a secret? There is this little known place with terrain so stellar and snow so thick that it rounds up a few firsts for ski resorts here in Canada.
At 610 vertical metres (2,000 feet), the double diamond run pegged “Lone Star,” found within the south chutes of Castle Mountain ski resort, is Canada’s longest continual fall line. Trust me, when I launched into this double diamond, there was with some serious yippin’ and yellin’!
Not only is this southwestern Alberta destination known for its lengthy runs, but also for its steeps and deeps - so many in fact that, next to Whistler/Blackcomb, they have Canada’s most advanced avalanche control team.
The resort has to have a strong bomb squad since it has the same number of bombing sites as its coastal cousin, and this year the crew has been busy.
“This season has been phenomenal for us, the snow just hasn’t stopped falling,” said Castle’s Andrew Rusynyk. “We are currently ranked number nine on the planet for our snow pack, beating out Whistler and Fernie."
Castle offers some stellar terrain, guaranteed to get your heart pumping.
The shredding options at Castle improved big time since the installation of its Huckleberry triple chair flanking the slopes of Mount Haig. The Haig provides Castle with a wealth of intermediate and beginner options opening up a whole new mountain to play in.
“We are heading up Huckleberry today to get at the new backcountry options,” said Rocky Mountain House resident, Don Lasn. “Haig bowl (a short hike off the chair) offers some incredible skiing, big wide open spaces through the trees ... it’s some wicked terrain back there.”
As you head into this area make sure you stop in and get some local advice from Tom Ross, head of ski patrol and his crew. In a cabin at the top of the chair lift, you’ll find the latest avalanche conditions and first-hand advice about the terrain you are about to shred.
It’s important to stress this - the backcountry area is not patrolled nor avalanche controlled, you are entirely on your own, so of course you’ll require the proper gear and avalanche knowledge.
“In Haig bowl people will find a mixture of open treed runs on slopes of over 35 degrees,” said Ross.
On the opposite side of Haig, an hour and a half hike will earn you a run on Chimo’s with its 55 degree pitch. Found a wee further up the ridge is KC’s, a brutally steep 58-degree chute that will keep the heart racing. You may have caught a glimpse of the terrain in one of Warren Miller’s films, where Castle’s own Pete McGee, along with a few friends, made the first descent down Haig’s East Face.
For those who would like to keep their skiing a bit more horizontal, Castle also offers groomed Nordic trails. For more on Castle, visit www.skicastle.ca. If you're in need of a place to stay while at Castle, look no further than Castle Mountain Central Reservations, where they'll have you covered on whatever style of lodging you're interested in.
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