Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Warrior Mountain & Aster Lake

It was just as well I didn't ski on Saturday & instead spent much of it sitting in the back of a car - Alex hatched a dastardly plan to get up at 5.30 Sunday & see if we could get up on to Warrior Mountain (which is on the BC/Alberta border south-west of Upper Kananaskis Lake).  We had left the parking lot on the south-east of the lake by 7.45 & spent seventy minutes skinning across the lake.  The day was very still & it didn't feel all that cold, maybe about -5ºC.  I was quite surprised to find that my light gloves weren't cutting it, my eyelashes were starting to freeze together & others' beards freezing up with moist breath - it was almost -20ºC.  The mist over the edges of the lake was interesting.  

From the lake we climbed up to the much smaller Hidden Lake, across that one & up through some evil trees (avoiding the easier drainage so as not to be in slide paths).  (Here's a map of the area, the marker is where we got to before turning around.)  The trees were dense & the terrain steep, it wasn't long before I was about at my limit of what I could make it up & still turn 135º for the many switchbacks. 

Joel & Lincoln doing a good job of not falling off this tree

Eventually, it all opened up a bit & flattened out, however by lunchtime I was pretty much exhausted.  Still the views were fantastic & go a little way to making up for the rest of the day.
Mt Marlborough

After lunch we continued around & up a little to Aster Lake, at the foot of Warrior Mountain - but it was too late to go any further.
Mt Lyautey - or at least a spur off it

Mt Sarrail

Looking back towards Upper Kananaskis Lake

Aster Lake, Warrior Mountain

Start of the drainage from Aster Lake

We turned around at two o'clock & had to skin down & around & up for about an hour before we got to the top of the thick woods.  After a delay for various telemark binding mechanical issues we started skiing down.  As I feared on the way up, there were too many big trees, I was too tired & it was too steep to be any fun at all.  After a few little falls, I was survival skiing - unable to string consecutive turns together & side-slipping a lot.  The trees thinned out a bit & then got really thick just above Hidden Lake.  I was getting slower & slower by the time we were heading back across the (Upper Kananaskis) lake (no skins this time, much less friction skating across).  Eventually we were back at the parking lot close to twelve hours after we first go there - I was spent.  It turns out I have triceps somewhere (who'd have thought?), all that pushing on poles across the lake back really had them quite sore.

Here are a few of Alex's photos, best to show some of these as the scenery was the only highlight of the day - two hours of skiing downhill (which I mostly hated) out of almost twelve is just miserable.  I can't wait to be back on the bike, where at least you get a break on the rolling terrain.

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Into the trees of misery, from Hidden Lake

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 Although the trees were the source of many problems, some times they could be advantageous around tight turns

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Trying to pretend I'm enjoying myself

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Now that I'm the slow one, there sure are a lot more photos of me - I do like this one

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I was impressed Alex didn't fall in the melt for this picture, although Warrior does look smaller

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On the way back down

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