Wind. That pretty much sums up this winter. For the Castle mountain skimo race the course was altered 3 times. The Crowesnest pass area has unbelievable winds (hence all the windmill turbines) and it was blowing around 100km/hour at the top of the mountain. The drifted in snow and wind kept race crews from even getting to the top of the mountain on snow machines. They knew there was no way we could run the race up there. So the final plan (after a couple alterations) was to have 2 up and downs in the cat skiing area. It still would be a 4000' plus vertical climb total.
As we ascended the top we were so exposed to the blowing wind that you literally got your breath blown away from you. You couldn’t see where you were going at times. However the descent was fun. Blown in powder for at least the first descent.
I was towards the back of a strung out pack of 6-7 skiers. But we were all pretty close except for super skier Reiner. I actually made up some time on the first descent. I blew by Canada’s top mountain and trail runner Adam on the descent, and even made up some time on USA top skier Ben Parson. At the turn around to climb up again I was only 30secs or so away from Ben. So many years he and his (mine too) good friend Brandon French, would come to Canada and absolutely school all of us. In this race Ben was 5th and I was right behind him. Good sign that Canucks are improving.
Last year I was on the podium in this race, yet this year there were just a couple more go fast skiers. So I was pretty happy with my sixth place finish. No cash this year, but lots of satisfaction.
As for this wind.... so many weeks we’ve had unbelievable wind. This week during one of the episodes I thought our home was going to blow over. It was shaking all night long. With the wind impacted backcountry the avi danger is sky high, so for my long 4 hour ski yesterday I just went to the nordic centre and pounded it out. There were so many blown over trees I couldn’t believe it. They must have really kept the crews busy.
So now we have a low snowpack that’s wind loaded. Giving us a red-high rating even for below treeline. One can only hope this pattern changes soon.