Sunday, January 23, 2011


This weekend was work's Winterfest - really just the Christmas party delayed by a few weeks to avoid the craziness of December.  There aren't too many places in the Bow Valley that can cater for the Lafarge crowd, so after eliminating the others in Banff & Canmore because they're rubbish, this year we were at the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis.   Kananaskis Village is about thirty minutes drive from home & I hadn't been up this way since the snow came & mountain-biking was stopped.  I enjoyed the drive up & back in the moonlight picking out various peaks & passes I had biked up to & over.  Dinner was as all good Christmas dinners should be - huge & delicious.  The highlights of 2010 were amusing & I was somewhat bemused by the plant manager identifying housekeeping as the biggest challenge for this year.  Things must be going pretty well if the largest concern is making sure the piles of clinker & cement & raw mix are kept under control.  Since I'm saving for the next adventure I passed on staying the night, so left all my colleagues at the bar in order to get home for a bit of sleep before another day's skiing.

My cunning plan of actually getting some sleep didn't work out so well - but I seemed to have survived the day OK.  Driving back out to Nakiska, I was pleased to be avoiding Sunshine as the traffic from Calgary (opposite direction) was very heavy heading to Sunshine & Lake Louise.  Nakiska is a nice little ski hill that is a legacy from the 1988 Olympics - they held the alpine skiing events there, the skifield was built for that purpose.  The Bow Valley has done pretty well out of those Olympics - the Nordic Center in Canmore is world class & Nakiska seems to be quite popular too as it's great for beginners & the closest hill to Calgary.  There were insane amounts of kids learning to ski & tweens racing - it was best to avoid the lower slopes.

Accordingly, we (my sort-of boss, Viviane & her fiancee, Alex [yes, yet another one]) spent all morning doing runs off the top lift as the runs were good & the queues were non-existent.  Viviane is one of those people who learnt to ski when they were two years old & Alex was pretty handy too.  So it was good fun trying to keep up with them & learn a little.  All the runs were groomed nicely - it was pleasant to be able to try & concentrate on my technique a little more rather than just trying to stay upright as was the case last weekend (not that I'm complaining about powder).  It was another gorgeous & warm day - didn't need a down jacket all day, this was helped by my remembering to bring my soft-shell this weekend. 

 Looking across the Kananaskis valley.

 Alex - I actually managed an action shot.

 There's Skogan Pass behind me - where Alex (C) & I biked over a few months ago.

The wind really picked up in the afternoon up the top & blew a lot of the snow off near the top of the lift leaving some pretty nasty ice, so we dropped down the hill a bit for the last couple of hours before I returned home & had a nice big nap, dinner & an hour of skating on the pond with friends & friends of friends (Adele you'll be intrigued to hear I met a climbing GP from Wanaka here for a few days on vacation).  Must sleep before Sunshine tomorrow (avalanche risk is still pretty high this weekend - so no backcountry for me again).

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