.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

June skiing
By:  Edward McCarthy   (2008/06/11)

I'm pretty used to the ski season in Ottawa. We race through to Nationals, in mid-March; then we get spring skiing, usually ending from early to mid April, depending on snow conditions, with at least one ski in wonderfully marginal conditions. Then it's time for a break, before the running shoes, striding poles, bikes, and finally the dreaded rollerskis come back out of the closet.

It turns out things are a little bit different out here on in Vancouver. To be honest, there wasn't really any snow all year, until you hit the mountains and got several metres. Those several metres, though, have a tendency to stay. Though Cypress closed in mid-April, and grooming stopped, the few times I've been up on the bike there have still been snowbanks above head-height a the top of the road - this after a ride up in short sleeves. We also had a few good skis in May, both up at the Callaghan Valley Olympic site, and as part of the first leg of the legendary Ski-to-Sea race of Bellingham, Washington (if you have some time to waste at work, look through the results for The Penguinmen. That one's for you, Dev Paul).

Still, skiing in May's not THAT special. My personal goal, for years, has been to ski in every month of the year. After a spring camp at Mt. Washington and a glacier camp, both in 2003, I've only been missing June, August, and September. We got word, however, that VANOC would be grooming the trails leading to and around the Callaghan Country backcountry lodge. Tom, myself, and my UBC teammate and cyclist extraordinaire Elliot decided to go check it out this past Saturday.

We got a bit of a late start, but weren't too worried - it was likely to get soft anyway. We were slightly more worried about the 3 bears we saw on the road, but decided to focus on priorities like skiing. We arrived at the access a bit before 10:00, prepared for anything, trail runners at the ready - we've done this before. Much to our shock, it turned out you could (with the help of a 4x4 with questionable clearance) drive right up to the groomed section! Paradise. We saw two beautifully set classic tracks leading off uphill, and wasted no time in slapping on the klister - red and universal - and heading off. It was great... until it ended about 4 minutes later in bare road.

Off came the skis, and this time it was a longer walk; about 10 minutes, probably where the sun hit the trail. Finally we hit the snow, and were off again! Three beautiful, uninterrupted hours of spring classic skiing in pristine landscape, and mostly the snow was not that dirty - they had gotten about 8 cm of fresh snow overnight, though it was already wet. June is crossed off the list. Now all we've got to do is hope that they keep the snow through July...
Brand new groomer, standing in the slips straining upon the start.

Our rugged conveyance. Preparing for the ordeal ahead.

Tom strides into Nirvana.

One very large bare section later, Tom prepares to try again.

Tom and Elliot, very happy with the conditions, upon reaching Callaghan Lake.

The sun made a brief cameo appearance.

Doesn't this just scream "June 7th"?

Perfect tracks!

The unspeakably perfect Callghan Country lodge.

Admiring the scenery, and looking for avalanche tracks.

The end of the road - the turn-around point.

The entire field of competitors for the prestigious McCarthy Cup.

Done for the day.
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