Whichever island I visit in Greece I always aim to climb the highest mountain. I have written about going to the ‘top of the world’ on Nisyros, Symi, Tilos, Hydra, Karpathos ……… . Generally they are not very high in global terms, about 2000 feet above sea level, but they nonetheless represent a challenge, especially starting from sea level in the heat of a Greek summer.
I have been skiing for three days now in the Canadian Rockies, twice at Sunshine and once at Lake Louise and each time have gone to the top.
At Sunshine I went close up Goat’s Eye Mountain (2,800 metres, 9,200 feet) on the eponymous Express ski lift and Lookout Mountain (2,730 metres, 8,950 feet) on the grandly named ‘Great Divide Express’. The latter is indeed the Continental Divide in Canada, draining to the East into the Atlantic and the west into the Pacific. It makes mere humans seem small, puts us in our place. None of these ascents involved any physical effort, just sitting on a ski lift. The effort was in getting back down. I skied routes with names like ‘South Divide’, ‘Boutry’s Bowl’, ‘Snowsnake’, Strawberry Face’ and, as mentioned previously, ‘Sunshine Coast’. All very enjoyable.
Then I went to Lake Louise. For a warm-up I skied ‘Wiwaxy’, a Green run and designated as a training route but for novices a massive step up from the bunny slope. Then I skied ‘Juniper’, a Blue, to lay the ghost memory of torn knee ligaments 3 years ago. I skied it again just to make sure.
Having laid that ghost I headed for the Top of the World Express. I was surprised at how many people there were at the top of the Lake Louise world. I can only conclude that it was not to their taste because they left pretty quickly and shot back down as fast as possible. I dawdled enjoying the place and taking photos, somewhat inhibited by the need to keep changing the battery in the camera, rendered inoperable by the cold and so regularly swapped for one kept close to my body heat.
I should add that the top of the Top of the World Express at 4407ft, 1344m, is not only not the top of the world but not even the highest point within eye-shot with a ski lift to the top. It is nonetheless a great place to be especially on a near cloudless day with good snow so a little poetic licence can be forgiven.
From there I skied the gloriously named ‘Sunset Terrace’. It may afford good views of the sunset, though as the lifts close well before dusk it may be difficult to authenticate, but on the day it was littered with bodies sprawling across the narrow and deeply mogulled cat track at the top. I should explain that a cat track is so named not because of an abundance of felines but because it is a track used by caterpillar-tracked vehicles to reach the top of the lift. That being said, my daughter once spotted a lynx ambling across the snow not too far away. I went back up another three times and, among other routes, skied ‘Home Run’, took a couple of ‘Wrong Turns’, an ‘Upper Wiwaxy’ and a ‘Whitehorn Cat Track’. How do they think up these names?
I skied until my thigh muscles were screaming, victims of lack of preparation in the weeks and months since I got back from Greece. Plenty of opportunity, just no resolve. Still tomorrow is a day off from skiing so I’ll go trekking instead.