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Monday, March 27, 2023

Penner: Much to explore in the Castle and the Crow

“I notice that there are not any associates on a powder day,” stated our information, Tom, as our cat-skiing group salivated on the summit. Beneath us, an ideal pine-flecked pitch, gleaming for a thousand unspoiled metres, tumbled into the valley beneath. “However, belief me,” he stated, a noticeable glint in his eye, “there’s sufficient powder right here for everybody. Now let’s go get it.” Seconds later, as we took turns pouncing down the autumn line, the hills had been alive with the sound of skiers and snowboarders having the time of their lives. 

And with each lap we took on Fort Mountain’s Powder Stagecoach – one of many solely cat-skiing adventures you’ll be able to have in Alberta – the snow simply stored getting deeper and deeper, the cotton-soft turns higher and higher. Fortunately, this cat, not like another ones, got here again. Seven completely different occasions as a matter of truth.  

The Powder Stagecoach at Castle Mountain is used to ferry skiers high up for cat skiing. Anfrew Penner photo
The Powder Stagecoach at Fort Mountain is used to ferry skiers excessive up for cat snowboarding. Anfrew Penner picturejpg

Certainly, by way of powder snowboarding (we had 23 centimetres in a single day plus a boot-top’s value through the day), my latest seven-run expertise at Fort Mountain was one my son, Nick, and I’ll savour for some time. An extended whereas. 

This brings me up to now. Each time I recreate in Alberta’s deep south – the Crowsnest Cross, Pincher Creek, and the Fort area – I’m all the time blown away by the wonder, the dearth of crowds, and the alternatives. The realm is ripe for all types of recreation. 

Dawn Penner takes a break while fat biking with Sweet Riders in Coleman. Andrew Penner photo
Daybreak Penner takes a break whereas fats biking with Candy Riders in Coleman. Andrew Penner picturejpg

“This complete area is a treasure trove for outside recreation,” says Heather Davis, founder and lead information of Uplift Adventures, an area firm that focuses on personal and group outside experiences within the space. “We’re slowly getting found however you don’t have to combat for a front-row seat right here. There may be loads of area. In truth, to make use of a music business analogy, it’s like we’re on the ‘Indie Tour.’ We haven’t fairly made it to the mainstream radio stations but. And, to be trustworthy, that’s one of many largest charms of the area.”

Curiously, for many individuals who drive via the Crowsnest Cross area, seeing these “charms” is usually cited as a difficulty. “Individuals come via they usually examine pure disasters, they see the mine ruins, the rundown buildings alongside the freeway, and it could not appear all that inviting or enticing,” says Davis. “However that is removed from the entire story. If you get off the freeway and discover, you see a totally completely different image. That is the Canadian Rockies. And it’s completely spectacular.” 

Thanks to 2 latest journeys to the area – one to the ridiculously underrated, powder-christened, and crowd-free Fort Mountain Resort and one to the Crowsnest Cross – the image I noticed was crammed with uncooked pure magnificence, sudden discoveries and untapped potential. And, presiding over your complete “portrait,” a heat and unpretentious spirit that really beckons these with the “explorer” mindset.  

The famous Frank Slide in Crowsnest Pass. The interpretive centre tells the tragic story of how the mountain broke away and buried a town. Andrew Penner photo
The well-known Frank Slide in Crowsnest Cross. The interpretive centre tells the tragic story of how the mountain broke away and buried a city. Andrew Penner picturejpg

So, along with my spouse, Daybreak, and two of our boys, we “explored” a little bit. Apart from Fort Mountain, which is Alberta’s second-largest ski resort, we skied at Cross Powderkeg, the small family-friendly hill in Blairmore that’s additionally surprisingly good. It has terrain for all ability ranges and is likely one of the solely ski hills in Western Canada the place you’ll be able to, actually, catch the carry proper on the town. Speak about comfort! 

Dawn Penner on the two-km Miners Path in Coleman. Andrew Penner photo
Daybreak Penner on the two-km Miners Path in Coleman. Andrew Penner picturejpg

Because of the latest recent snow, we undoubtedly didn’t set any land-speed information. Nevertheless, the groomed trails that meander via the gorgeous rolling forests close to the bottom of Crowsnest Mountain, the two,788-metre behemoth that reigns over the area, had been completely beautiful on this bluebird day. 

Not surprisingly, given our novice talents on the fats bikes, there was some “bonus” time spent thrashing round within the powder beside the path, which yearned to swallow us entire if we acquired off the packed sections. However, as we had already discovered, taking part in in powder is sweet. And any time spent within the South Canadian Rockies is a “bonus”. 

Andrew Penner is a contract author and photographer based mostly in Calgary. You may observe him on Instagram @andrewpennerphotography

Andrew and Nick Penner skiing at Castle Mountain Resort. The runs are challenging and the crowds are far less than at other Alberta ski hills. Andrew Penner photo
Andrew and Nick Penner snowboarding at Fort Mountain Resort. The runs are difficult and the crowds are far lower than at different Alberta ski hills. Andrew Penner picturejpg

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