Our winter season wrapped up a few weeks back. All across Western Canada it will be remembered as the warmest winter ever! Despite the warm temps and lack of regular snowfalls our location above 2000m helped us immensely. Cooler temps prevailed higher up preserving the limited snowpack and making for some fabulous skiing . Come prepared for winter, with our Backcountry Packing List. We finished our season with some amazing sunny skies, northern lights and great skiing as you can see from the gallery of pictures below. At times we could have used a dump of snow to freshen things up, however the great food, a warm and friendly young group of staff, extraordinary guides and a fireplace to die for, all combined to make it a wonderful winter season. I know all of our colleagues in the ski business are looking forward to the next winter season and being blessed with more snow._47A2025V

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Untitlgfdgfgfgfed1VWith the end of our winter season it doesn’t mean the ski season is over quite yet. The ski hills in our area are still in operation and the spring is a great time for some longer ski tours. In fact it is one of my favourite times of the year to get out skiing; sunny skies and warmer temperatures combine for really enjoyable tours. It is important to remember though that you should only undertake things which you have the skills and ability to do. I suggest that you hire an ACMG Mountain Guide. They will take you to places you were not aware of, they allow you to relax and enjoy the day while they do the route finding and monitor for any avalanche concerns. Whether you are looking to do a multi day ski tour across the Wapta Icefields, ski from the summit of a mountain peak or just go for a short day tour, give us a call at 403-678-4110, and we would be happy to put you onto one of the Mountain Guides we recommend.

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It is always sad when I complete the last grooming run of the season each year. As we haul out the last of our supplies I want to leave the road in as good a shape as I can knowing that with the warm weather coming it will start melting out sooner than later. The grooming also gives us one last smooth run down the road as I  and the staff always strap on our skis and head down the road together.  As we departed the lodge this spring you could see the shrubs and grass starting to poke up around the base of the trees, indicating that there really wasn’t that much snow left. What it hopefully means is we should see trails snow free sooner this year which will make for some great June hiking.  Keep posted as we update you on the conditions through our website.

Staff taking break on the way out from the lodge.

Staff taking a break on the ski out from the lodge.

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Lets talk Summer

Alpine Circuit Pin

Alpine Circuit Pin

Last summer we started a registry for Lodge guests completing the Alpine Circuit in one day. The Alpine circuit at Lake O’Hara is known as one of the most spectacular hikes in the Canadian Rockies. Its 360 degree panorama of glaciers, snow clad peaks and alpine lakes doesn’t disappoint. With the areas easy access via shuttle bus it means you are able to get into the alpine without the typical long approach through the valley bottoms and lodgepole pine forests. Upon completion of the Alpine Circuit our guests received a small pin, shaped and coloured like the alpine circuit marker along with their name entered in the Alpine Circuit Registry book. Over 150 people completed the circuit last summer prior to us shutting down the program with the coming of the snow and ice at higher elevations. Once we feel that it is safe to do so, we will resume the circuit registry for our guests this coming summer.

Whether you are hiking the alpine circuit at Lake O’Hara or any other trail hiking poles have become the new norm. They offer a third leg for support, they help take the weight off your knees and especially on the downhills, they offer comfort on slippery or exposed trail sections. Some hike with two poles, others one. It is a personal preference. I like having one hand free so I hike with one pole. Regardless of one or two they do help save the wear and tear on your knees and add an element of safety when hiking on exposed trails. There are many models out on the market today, some of which are much more robust than others. Of course a good old fixed length ski pole will do the trick and we have a bin of these used poles available for our guests. However if you want to dial it in a little better and have a pole that is adjustable for your size and technique then purchasing a set for yourself is the way to go. Most of the early adjustable poles had an internal camming mechanism which often loosened up or wouldn’t lock after lots of usage. As a result I became a journeyman in fixing these types of poles. Only with meticulous care and babying along did they give years of service. Many pole manufactures still produce adjustable poles with these types of mechanisms however, others have improved on it and now make poles with external locking mechanisms which I feel are far superior. Some of the best poles in my opinion are made by Black Diamond Equipment out of Salt Lake City. I hike with the Ultra Distance Trekking poles. These are incredibly lightweight although they are not as robust as some of the metal poles on offer. For a more more robust pole their Distance FL trekking poles are a stellar one to have in your hand. These are  relatively lightweight and adjustable giving you the best of both worlds. They also are collapsible which means they can fold up nicely and easily fit in your luggage. The status of packing them in your carry-on is much debated on the internet with some folks getting through security with them while others not. Check ahead or just save the hassle and pack them in your checked bag. We will be selling the Distance FL trekking poles this summer.

 All Photos with the exception of the Alpine Circuit Pin and Staff Photo by Paul Zizka