If you've been watching our Current Conditions page, you may have noticed that the snow has been building up in the Callaghan Valley all winter long. Spring heralds the end of winter but brings us to the pinnacle of snowtravel landscapes. With an established snow base, longer days, and warmer temperatures, the valley unveils new amusements particularly satisfying to the curious and determined.
Ever wondered about those brown dotted lines on the Ski Callaghan Trail Map? They represent un-groomed, yet reasonably manageable routes through Ski Callaghan's wilderness. When properly equipped with light touring skis or snowshoes, the experience parallels with hiking and wilderness backpacking. Spring brings the notable allure of a full season of snow accumulation for expedient travel above the shrub and understory layers of the forest. This alleviates tedious bushwhacking and provides a unique perspective of the terrain. There's something about wilderness touring that's particularly errant; it's simply about exploring what's beyond the beaten path (aka groomed trail network). Just like wilderness backpacking, this form of recreation requires a sound awareness of the risks of the mountain environment, independent navigation skills, and may involve route finding through potential avalanche terrain. It's wholly self-reliant.
If you prefer sticking to the beaten path, the story is equally enticing. Contrary to popular belief, the warmer temperatures of spring can actually contribute to optimal groomed Nordic surfaces for both Classic and Skate disciplines of XC skiing. Have you ever heard the term 'hero snow'? It's a phrase coined by skiers to describe optimum conditions; the stuff that makes everybody look like a great skier. You see, by springtime, the trails are well packed...add the warmer temperatures to increase overall moisture levels and you have the ingredients for 'ideal' glide. As suggested in a Ontario Parks' blog feature on how to 'read' the snow, "Generally speaking, if the snow falls like talcum powder when you pick it up, it’s 'cold' snow. If you can make a snowball easily, it’s 'warm'. And if the snow is hard to clump, it’s 'ideal'.” INSIDERS TIP: Look for overcast skies. This will offer better surface consistency, avoiding the icy to slushy dichotomy of a sunny day.
And don't forget about the search for POWDER. Yes, it remains. A treasure for the truly talented backcountry tourer. There's still a snow base of well over 3 metres in the Solitude Valley! In addition to discovering fresh snow and glaciated terrain at the higher elevations, talented backcountry tourers will use this time to do some additional exploring. Spring is optimal for familiarizing oneself with new climbs and spotting next season's lines.
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