The Town Chute

Above: Looking at the town chute from my office. Just left of the street light.
Above: Sean Easton at the top of the chute in January.
Skiing in the Canadian Rockies can be great..(?)... in the spring when the snow finally looses it's 'bottomless sugar' nature ..... at higher elevations on the West side of the continental divide.... in Kananaskis Country after a good but rare 'upslope storm'.... and then once every 5 years or so we have a pretty descent year all season. This season was one of those years. It snowed enough in the early season (Oct and Nov) that the snow pack was thick enough and did not rot out as much from the cold, dry December days as it usually does.

Myself, on the other hand, mostly missed the good conditions of the season. Busy with ice guiding, office slogging, and the odd day out climbing myself I didn't get to take full advantage of the ski season. Notably though it was my best year for skiing but that isn't saying much.

The rate of 'climbers going skiing' this season would have been considered disgraceful in previous years! It used to be that a 'Canmore ice climber' would never live it down if they were caught going out skiing for 'fun' instead of suffering on another ice or winter alpine climb. We are supposed to ski for approaches to ice climbs only! Hell, none of us even owned ski boots in the past seasons. In the words of local legendary ice climbers: 1) "I do not ski recreationally" Eamonn Walsh 2) "Skiing. It just isn't climbing!" Barry Blanchard.

This is sure sign that the world is going to shit. Even the 'Canadian Rockies ice climber' is so sick of suffering that they have taken up skiing. I have found a solution. When I go skiing I pick the day and objective that will have the worst conditions. The snow should be shallow, hard (old avalanche debris is ideal), and the steeper the better.

With this in mind I can recommend the 'Town Chute'. This is the couloir towering above the quaint little mountain town we all know as Canmore. I look at the beautiful 'line' everyday from my office window..isn't that so nice! It is the perfect way to start a day spent in the office.

I made my way up the backside of Ha ling to ski the line back to town twice this year and both times it sucked! The first was in January when there wasn't nearly enough snow to make for fun. The second was last week just after a huge avalanche cycle had wiped out all the good snow. I timed things perfectly and can proudly say I was not skiing for fun.

Skiing can be as sadistic as climbing.

If you can actually admit that you ski for fun then I have heard that you can have good skiing in the town chute if you choose the right conditions :).


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