It’s the first winter working at the lodge for three of us and our first exposure to backcountry ski touring. This activity is something that we didn’t even know about until six months ago when we started considering spending a winter at Lake O’Hara Lodge.
We are all from Ontario, and this sort of activity doesn’t exist there. We’ve all had limited nordic skiing experience on groomed trails, a couple of times a year, and as for downhill, we’ve got less than ten days between the three of us. Needless to say we were a bit apprehensive about just how steep the hills and the learning curve would be in this unfamiliar realm.
Heading up to the Lodge
As the day approached to head back to the lodge for the winter we were all a bit excited and nervous. We were all thinking, “These are REAL mountains, there is an 11km ski-in, it’s going to be minus twenty or colder, and I’ve never used this equipment before…” But it has been amazing!
Lake O’Hara is a great place to learn how to backcountry ski. The rolling hills, fresh powder and fat skis give an experience different than the skiing we were accustomed to. Backcountry touring is an investment that really pays off. You work hard gaining the elevation and then reap the reward of fresh powder turns on the way down. In addition to the rush of the skiing, being here means that you get to spend time in a stunning real life wonderland. When you emerge from tree cover, sun sparkles on the snow and the mountain peaks are a magnificent contrast to an incredibly blue sky.
Playing up at O’Hara during our off time is one of the treats about being up here for a winter.
And by playing we mean ski touring, ski touring, and more ski touring. It is a good thing our chef Henry puts out such great food, because we need it!
O’Hara in the winter is a world of difference from the summer: fewer people, new places to explore and a whole new perspective. We’ve managed to get out and play on our recently acquired ski gear nearly every day so far this season. We’re fitting it into the busy working days, and we’re getting the hang of it. The first couple of runs were pretty rough: we slipped backwards on the climbs, managed to get our skis into confused, sticky messes when we removed them at the top and fell into snowbanks on the way down.
Now that we’re more comfortable, the falling has curbed dramatically and the ache in our legs has faded. We’ve learned through trial and error to keep our weight low, to lean into turns, and where to plant our poles. O’Hara is a great place to learn to ski! If you are a beginner skier like we are, you too can gain the abilities needed to get out into the this beautiful back-country.
We haven’t been here long, but we are already having a blast exploring places we don’t have the opportunity to explore in the hiking season, turning down gullies, swerving around trees and hopping off snow covered boulders.
To us it seems like the perfect backyard to learn this sport.
From beginner to advanced, the vast terrain presents a myriad of options ranging in difficulty and length. Guests at the lodge will be well taken care of: each day you will ski with an ACMG certified guide and the owner/manager of the lodge, Bruce Millar. They ensure your safety and well-being in the hills, provide avalanche safety equipment, and provide all pertinent information about skiing in the area. When you return from your pursuits in the hills, the sauna is hot, the food is delicious and there is ample wine for your enjoyment.
Alyssa, Drew and Marisa, the Winter Crew of 2014
Travel the back country with confidence knowing you packed properly.