WARNING Sunglasses may be needed due to loads of bright white in this blog post!
I wanted to do something special on Valentine's Day, something memorable, something that I love to do! I had also been watching the Fortress forecast waiting for a perfect day to snowshoe there. Well, a perfect coupling came to be today! I joined White Mountain Adventures for a snowshoe trip to the elusive Fortress Mountain area. I snowshoed with them on December 31, 2010 at Sunshine Meadows, I knew what I was in for also knew then this would be guaranteed a perfect day.
Fortress Mountain has partnered with White Mountain Adventures for snowshoe trips and also with KPOW for cat-sking trips. The University of Calgary AST2 training course goes into this area also and we saw that group first thing off in the distance.
We were six folks today with the guide. We passed through the gate then drove up that long and winding road to the ghost-town-like parking lot where we geared up then hit the old ski hill. Within a matter of two minutes, movement caught my eye. Three ptarmigans blended in with the snow. The soloist....
...and what looked like a loving couple...
We made our way towards an open section, our guide tested the snow conditions, digging down deep through the many layers. He measured roughly a depth of five and a half feet. We made our way to the trees.....
.....weaving up and through.
While this area is surrounded by close up mountain faces, those views would not be today. That just means I would love to be back here on a bluebird sky day. Our views were of snow, more snow, lots more snow and WOW so much powder! After a bunch of elevation, we reached a ridge. This is the old snow fence. Fortress Mountain is no longer a ski hill but maybe will be again one day.
I did not bring my GPS today but wish I did.
I would love to have seen the track we made.
The ridge offered up a valley view along with some other ridges.
It was difficult to get air time in such deep pow!
This took work!
My happy to be here shot!
There was only one way of this hill, just sit down and go.
I went twice for the thrill of it.
loosing my balance but still going
We took shelter in some trees for a snack and to check out snow crystals under a magnifying glass. Our guide checked the snow depth and layers again. We could tell from how all the layers stacked up that great caution will be needed while playing in the mountains in the days to come.
Snack done, snow lesson complete, time to hit more powder. The pow was amazing so far, I thought it was the best, but it got better in this down hill tree section. It was crazy pow, WOW! We found our own way through and down. I needed help at one point when I sank to my hips.
We made our way out of the trees to a cleared road.
By now the snow was falling heavily, it was exfoliating and sand-blasting.
We followed the road uphill back to our vehicle.
The KPOW Cat passed by.
I was beat by the time we finished. I forgot how difficult it is to get through deep snow even when you are descending through it. The snow has been scarce in the Rockies for quite some time but finally over the last couple of days we have been blessed with intermittant snow storms. The snowshoeing conditions in safe areas should be fantastic now. Time to get out and enjoy some more lovin & playin in the pow!
Happy Valentine's Day!