Lake Louise and The Rocky Mountain Pineapple Dodge
Black coats. Black pants. Hoods up. The wind blows sideways into a crew of roughly nine ski bums lined up for first chair at Lake Louise.
4cms overnight and a hard wind from the west.
It’s November 27th and a few people from the crew have already had more than 15 days on the hill. And while the mountains further west have just been hit by rain events to ridgetop, the top half of The Lake stayed on the snowier side of zero.
The banter in the lift line is both predictable and regional, all in the same go:
“Well with all the rain in Tahoe and Whistler, people are gonna start coming here to ski.”
“Only if you keep up all that Instagrammin, Buck!”
The shield goes up. This crew’s not exactly known for their “grammers”.
They don’t stop mid-slope to take photos. They just ski from top to bottom, arc’ing hard GS turns into the lift line and loading themselves on the Summit Platter, a masochistic poma lift that gauges hard into the t’aints of snowboarders like myself.
Needless to say, they’re hard to keep up with, especially “Bobo”: an ageless, Banff-based 40-something who logs over 2 million feet of vert every ski season.
Bobo’s up ahead. And so’s my friend Jordan, also known as “The Duke of Lake Louise”. The ride up is about seven minutes long, and we’re all trying to shield ourselves from winds that would shut down anything but a surface lift.
It gives me plenty of time to remember how terrified I was of the poma when I grew up riding here. There’s an old story about a pro snowboarder from California who showed up and talked a big game in town, only to fall off the poma, slide down the headwall and break his leg on one of the lift towers.
So she goes…
A couple days and 11-odd centimetres later, I’m loading the lift with Alexandra “Army” Armstrong, a steezy little power shredder who grew up skiing out East and moved out to The Rockies six years ago. Since then, she’s been patrolling at the Lake, coaching a crew of lady rippers, and making a name for herself in the local freeski comps.
The sun’s out and we blast a few laps on the frontside before the ski patrol—a crew with a reputation for pushing into aggressive terrain—cracks Whitehorn 1.
We merge with an RMF posse and party shred down to Paradise Chair, which takes us up to Paradise Bowl where we do it all over again.
Apparently this is the best start the Lake’s had since 1951, with over 260cms of YTD snowfall. But these crews would be here no matter what.
There’s a reason that The Lake produces such talented shredders: Andrew Sheppard, Eric Hjorleifsen, Chris Rubens and Greg Todds, to name a few.
Steep, rocky lines and a lift that can break the legs of visiting pros.
She can be cold and she can be dry, but she can also turn pineapples into face-plastering pow.
But if you do manage to stop long enough to snap a picture here, make sure you tag it as “Sunshine Village”.