Canadian Rockies: the Wow! factor

“Wow!”  The Canadian guy in the seat next to me on the packed 15.30 bus coming back to Banff from Sunshine let out an involuntary exclamation of appreciation as we rounded a bend in the Trans Canada Highway and yet another snow-covered mountain range came into view.  “I live here” he said “but it still gets me every time!”

I know what he meant.  I had been skiing on Lookout Mountain at Sunshine and earlier in the afternoon had come down a steep (for me) Blue run from the Continental Divide.  I’m beginning to get the hang of it but need to concentrate, focus on the ground in front of me, so I don’t see my surroundings.  The steeper the slope the greater the need to concentrate.

As I reached the bottom of the run it turned left as I approached an easier-gradient Green and spread out far below was the gently undulating expanse of Sunshine Meadows, glossy white, snow reflecting the low-angled sun diffused through the ice-crystals of high level thin cirrus cloud.  The Meadows, backed by serrated peaks with pyramid shaped 3,618 metres (11,870 feet) Mt Assiniboine standing above the others, was a popular tourist camping ground in the 1920’s.  The number of tents there in summer gave it the nickname ‘Tee Pee Town’, now remembered only in the name of a rickety old 2-person chair-lift part way up the mountain.

I stopped and just gazed, soaking it in through my eyes.  It was magnificent.  The reason I come skiing.

Lookout Mountain from the entrance to the Ski Lodge

Lookout Mountain from the entrance to the Ski Lodge

Lookout Mountain, the Great Divide chair lift' bottom right to above centre left, rises 422 metres (1450 feet) over three quarters of a kilometre

Lookout Mountain, the Great Divide chair lift’ bottom right to above centre left, rises 422 metres (1450 feet) over three quarters of a kilometre

Sunshine Meadows as it dips towards Sunshine Village

Sunshine Meadows as it dips towards Sunshine Village

Looking down the ski run over Sunshine Meadows, Mount Assiniboine on the left

Looking down the ski run over Sunshine Meadows, Mount Assiniboine on the left

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