Compared to last winter, this year’s cooler months have been an absolute breeze in Calgary.
For many people, the February long weekend was less about being in the mountains and more about enjoying patio drinks, bike rides and being outdoors sans parkas.
And while balmy weather has been great in the city, it’s been dire for the many resorts and recreational areas within an hour or two away.
As of yesterday, Castle Mountain may be done for good in 2015. Announcing Family Day (February 16th) as their last day, the hill is unable to continue winter operation at this time due to the high temperatures and lack of new snow, particularly at the base of the mountain. Reporting an average yearly base of 910cm, the current season has only seen an underwhelming 264cm.
While many other ski hills in the Rockies have been impacted by this weird weather and complete lack of snow, skiers and snowboarders looking to capitalize on powder days, which have been few and far between at the resorts, have been met with worse, sometimes calamitous situations in the backcountry.
Over the weekend, Parks Mountain Safety and Kananaskis Public Safety issued a special public avalanche warning for the areas of Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper. With several slides and high temperatures on Saturday and Sunday, the warning has been extended through today.
Tragically, on Saturday one of those avalanches caused an 80-meters wide slide that caught five skiers south of Black Prince – a popular backcountry destination in Kananaskis. While four escaped with mostly minor injuries, one local lost their life in the incident.
Mountain weather is obviously unpredictable, but anyone who wants to skip the hills for the out of bounds is strongly advised against taking any unnecessary risks.
In the meantime, we recommend you play it safe and stay on the city patios.
No helmets required.
Cover image from: istock.com/SerrNovik