Canadian Rockies: Blue sky skiing

It hasn’t been blue sky the whole time I’ve been in Banff  but a good number of days have had a good amount of sunshine.  Sometimes that has coincided with very low temperatures when photographing the stunning mountain views has had to be sacrificed to maintaining finger count to 9½.  Sometimes it has coincided with a balmy -5oC  to -10oC and an attack of Repetitive Photo Syndrome out of sheer relief.

I also have to confess to foregoing photo opportunities to trying to improve my pretty poor skiing.  One 2-hour lesson with a top instructor at Lake Louise did a huge amount as I subsequently applied what I learned from him to improve my level from basic intermediate to just-about-competent intermediate.

The side-effect was unfortunately the loss of some potentially great photographic shots as I tried to instil into my brain and body by repetition the habit, the instinct, of transferring my weight onto the outside ski to initiate a turn, lowering my body at the bottom of the turn , and turning the outside foot to a greater or lesser extent across the slope to control speed depending how steep or slick (icy) the run.  My instinct from both kayaking and paragliding is to initiate and maintain a turn by weight-shift, transferring weight onto the inside of the turn.  When I told this to the instructor he immediately worked out a way to overcome this long-ingrained habit.  No wonder he’s now one of 10 instructors representing Canada at Interski, the coming together of the world’s top ski instructors in Argentina in September.

But I do manage a few shots with the camera.  I have to admit that my main enjoyment is being in the high mountains in winter.  They are beautiful, majestic, awe-inspiring …. any number of clichés.  It puts you closer to God.  Skiing is a great way to be loose in the mountains.

Since The Lesson, skiing has become an enjoyable a part of the experience.  Not an end in itself but deeply satisfying as I manage to stay on my feet on ever steeper slopes at ever faster speeds.  Wednesday and I skied one Green, one Blue and 5 Blacks before the midday stop.  “Get a grip.  Don’t get overconfident!!!!”  I kept telling myself.  Last time I got carried away I damaged my MCL.

Zooming down increasingly difficult runs I stop in places, slither down or shuffle to a better framed shot, take my outer gloves off, ferret the Canon compact out of a tightly zipped pocket and click away into the blinding sun hoping that one at least will turn out reasonably well.

The easy part of a run close to the top of Goat’s Eye Mountain,  2806 metres (9,200 feet), looking across neighbouring and distant peaks

The easy part of a run close to the top of Goat’s Eye Mountain, 2806 metres (9,200 feet), looking across neighbouring and distant peaks

Zooming in on the cliff-edge just to the right of the run

Zooming in on the cliff-edge just to the right of the run

Even though it’s midday, as I drop down the run the sun drops behind the ridge with strong wind blowing loose snow off it

Even though it’s midday, as I drop down the run the sun drops behind the ridge with strong wind blowing loose snow off it

Coasting back to base after the steep section

Coasting back to base after the steep section

At Lake Louise thin bands of cloud across the valley

At Lake Louise thin bands of cloud across the valley

At the top of the ridge above the cloud bands, tiny ice crystals visible against the blue, a shaft of light like a laser beam lit by the sun shafting down through the cloud which is made up of the ice crystals.

At the top of the ridge above the cloud bands, tiny ice crystals visible against the blue, a shaft of light like a laser beam lit by the sun shafting down through the cloud which is made up of the ice crystals.

..... billions of them

….. billions of them

Early morning freezing cloud lifts leaving a fairyland

Early morning freezing cloud lifts leaving a fairyland

In the middle of the run down Sunshine Coast

In the middle of the run down Sunshine Coast

A combination of sun and cloud makes jagged peaks more dramatic

A combination of sun and cloud makes jagged peaks more dramatic

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6 Responses to Canadian Rockies: Blue sky skiing

  1. Kevin says:

    Amazing photos. I need to spend some more time out there in the mountains. Have fun.

  2. BarryH says:

    Thanks Kevin. You’re on the doorstep. Get here when you can. It costs me a fortune but having real fun. Best wishes, Barry

  3. 165bryn says:

    Picture of singular tree MUST BE the Folly mountain ? Keep well and come home safe Thank you for beautiful pictures R and Pad matt 1 v23

  4. Lovely pics. It’s hard to describe mountains like that without using cliches! Awesome! Love the single tree photo.

  5. BarryH says:

    Thanks Sarah. The same tree yesterday was brown and drab. The scenery changes all the time, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically.

  6. Dennis & Carole Moir says:

    Another great report and photos from Banff can’t wait to get out there!

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