Friday, March 31, 2017

Fat Biking in Canmore (and other activities)

Back in March, Kyle and I got to spend 2 amazing weeks in Canmore with Andrew, who generously offered us a place to stay. The avalanche danger was high, and I was pretty busy with school, so ski touring and ice climbing were not particularly enticing. But, it was my birthday and I wanted to do something active. As an alternative to our usual sports, we rented fat bikes from the Canmore Nordic Centre and took them out for a couple of hours on the trails nearby. It was a blast! Being able to ride in the snow is pretty amazing. 

We were directed to go check out the Highline Trail by the guys at the rental shop. The ride around the reservoir and up the connector trail was fun and well packed down. The bikes gripped the hardpack and ice like crazy on the climb. When we turned onto Highline however, we were the first ones through. Breaking trail was not easy and we wallowed in the deep snow.
Trying to stay in Kyle's tracks to avoid coming to a complete stop
Fresh tracks of a different sort
Most appropriate fat biking attire: track pants
We were getting tired and frustrated with the challenging conditions. Was this what fat biking was supposed to be like or were we doing it wrong? Then, the trail started crossing large avi paths. After making our way across two, we came to the debris from a large slide. It was then that our backcountry brains which had been dormant until this time clicked back on. Despite being on mountain bike trails, we were still in avalanche terrain and were riding in an area with a lot of overhead hazard. 
One of the slide paths we came across
I couldn't believe that neither of us had recognized this until now. When we rented the bikes, the guys at the shop had suggested the trail but had failed to mention anything about slide paths or the high avalanche conditions. But that's no excuse. When you are out in the mountains, no matter what the activity, you need to be responsible for yourself.
The view of the large slide paths that cross the Highline Trail down from Miners Peak (photo from Google Images)
So, we turned back. It was tricky staying in our tracks along the Highline trail and we had a few misadventures blowing off the trail. We passed a few other groups of hikers that were heading out towards the avalanche slopes. We informed them of the avalanche hazard, and they thanked us but carried on. Its hard to know what to do in that sort of situation. On one hand you want to trust that people can make good decisions for themselves, on the other, you want to just yell at them "don't you understand that this is a really big deal?!" We let them go and saw them later so I guess they were fine.
Kyle rips it up
As soon as we got back on the main trail, the riding got fun again. I can see why people go biking all winter in Bragg Creek, it is such a blast! We were slipping and sliding everywhere but the tires would eventually hook up and you could rail corners. Yahoo!
Snow bikes are made for hardpack!
Failed attempt at an off-camber steep line

During our time in Canmore, we also had a chance to get out to Sunshine Village and ski the resort. We had perfect weather and did lots of laps on Delirium Dive. Such fun!
Kyle soaks up the sunshine at Sunshine
Ripping groomers like a boss
Fresh tracks in Delirium Dive
Happy Kyle

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