Sculpted in Time: Sherpas Cinema Release Latest Film

With material from Banff Lake Louise Tourism. 

They brought you Into the Mind and All.I.Can. Now Sherpas Cinema has created four dramatic short films capturing the deep spirit of skiing straight from the heart of the Canadian RockiesThe series, entitled ‘Sculpted in Time’ reveals a new dimension to the significance of ski culture in Banff and Lake Louise – depicted in spectacular high-definition footage.

Sculpted in Time is a compelling portrayal of unique stories shot in documentary form and edited in Sherpas Cinema’s renowned storytelling style. Featuring extreme slow motion, long term time lapse, a pensive score and emotive narrative throughout, the series focuses on the personal transformations of local ski legends – each with character as strong as the mountain landscape of Banff National Park. The films were shot on location during 30 rigorous days, across the park’s three ski areas. The series presents stimulating perspectives on:

  • Mt. Norquay [The Wise Man, featuring long-term Banff local, Eddie Hunter]
  • Lake Louise Ski Resort [The Character, featuring skier Eric Hjorleifson]
  • Sunshine Village [The Artist, featuring artist Dan Hudson]
  • A deep dive into its backcountry terrain [The Innovator, featuring local Paralympian Christian Bagg, as well as Chris Rubens and Eric Hjorleifson].

“To have the opportunity to complete a project like this in the Canadian Rockies was a dream come true for us”, says Malcolm Sangster, Sherpas Cinema. “The Sherpas founders, including myself, Dave Mossop and Eric Crosland, all grew up together in Calgary and it was these very hills where we cut our teeth – both as skiers and filmmakers. The peaks of Banff National Park have truly had an everlasting positive impact on our personal lives and careers, their beauty and grandeur instills a sense of awe, humbleness and respect in everyone that lays eyes on them.”

Follow the ‘Sculpted in Time’ four-part film series at: SkiBanffNationalPark.com. #SculptedinTime  #MyBanff

Catch the trailer here:

Skiing into the Sky

Not much to say today other than the fact that there’s nothing quite like a warm Summer’s day here in the Rockies, but a close second is a warm Winter’s day. Taken yesterday as we skied up the backside of Sulphur. The bobsleigh run down was worth the 4-hour climb with snow sticking to the bottom of our skis.

The old Fire Road on Sulphur Mountain in Banff gets you up high and into the sunshine. Photo: Meghan J. Ward

A Lesson in Endurance (Yoga Challenge: Day 16)

Today I learned another lesson in endurance.

I took a rest day today to go ski touring on one of the most beautiful winter days I have ever seen in The Rockies. It wasn’t much of a rest day for the body, but it felt great to get outside.

Who wouldn't pass up a day like this? Skiing across Peyto Lake towards the Peyto Glacier.

We were touring today to Peyto Hut on the Wapta Icefield, about a 10km trek in with overnight packs (and an elevation gain of over 500m). Lately, avalanche conditions have been rather ugly around here and while we hoped we would find safe passage to the hut, we did not. On top of it all, it was -30 degrees Celsius, and as we deliberated about whether or not we should continue, my body began to shake to fight off the cold. We ended up retreating back the way we came. All in all, we were out in the cold for about six hours.

Now, if there is a “Child’s Pose” of alpine ski touring it looks something like this: while standing, bend over with straight legs and position your poles in front of you so that you can actually rest your pack on the tops of your poles, allowing you to stretch out your back, neck and shoulders. This was my best friend today (it really works!) Needless to say, it was a beautiful but rough day in the outdoors.

Lesson from Day 16

I missed the yoga studio today – the warmth, candles, comfort. But as I stood outside in the cold, a few kilometres from the highway, I was thankful for the lesson in endurance that yoga has taught me through this challenge.

Forcing myself to do that extra sun salutation or hold a posture for an extra breath doesn’t sound like it comes close to a long ski out in the elements.But, the internal journey is truly the same.

Where has your internal journey taken you lately?

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.

Photos from Rogers Pass

Just thought I’d post some photos from a recent trip to Rogers Pass. I haven’t seen snow like that…ever.

Getting the skins on just outside of Wheeler Hut (run by the Alpine Club of Canada)

Winter Wonderland on the way to Asulkan Valley.

Turning back in bad conditions at The Mouse Trap.

Apparently the rumours of crazy snow at Rogers Pass are true.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010.

Ski Touring Mount Field

If you are using this information for your own trip, please read this disclaimer and description of my abilities.

My latest adventures took me ski touring up Mount Field in Yoho National Park, BC. We got an early start, mostly because I had to work at 4pm, but also because we were expecting a very warm day and avalanche conditions weren’t ideal high up on the mountain.

Mount Field (8672 feet) is south facing, meaning it fries in the sun all day. It was about 10 degrees C out when we skied up. This resulted in two things for our ski up: evidence of various (and recent) point release and slab avalanches high up towards the summit and hard, crusty snow lower down just below treeline, making skiing more like an exercise of carving through concrete.

The turns off a high bench on the peak made the climb well worth it, though. The sun had softened the snow just enough that we had spring skiing conditions at their best with soft, buttery turns through melting snow. Unreal. The last half of the ski down takes you through sparsely treed areas and alder trees (not my favourite!) and the hard snow made this all the more of an exciting descent.

Taking some turns off a high bench. Awesome.

To access Mount Field, park at the Little Yoho Valley Road (to Takakkaw Falls) just east of Field, BC. Take the road about 5 km until you reach just under half a kilometre past the end of the switchbacks (you’ll know these when you see them). Veer left off the trail and make your way to more open terrain. From here, we decided to traverse all the way left to the trees on the other side of the open slopes of Mount Field (the ones filled with alders). Hug the trees to the left, switchbacking your way through the open slopes as is necessary. Once you gain the treeline, traverse back to the right to gain the top of the outcropping of trees on the other side, across the open slopes below the summit (see photo below). Here you are on some nice low-grade slopes not as prone to avalanche. The higher up you climb, however, the steeper the slope, so be extra cautious. We skied down from one of the highest benches beneath the summit.

Traversing the open slopes once treeline has been gained. Traverse to the trees on the right and gain the bench on which they stand.

If you choose to go to the summit, you will need to find other posts about that!  Both times I’ve been on this mountain, I haven’t gone all the way up. Ski down pretty much the way you went up, though veer left (looking down) of the outcropping of trees you gained on your traverse earlier, instead of going down the way you came up. You’ll eventually meet up with your uptrack on the other side of this outcropping.

Mount Field is a great day trip – you could be up to the summit and down in about 7-8 hours (or less, if you’re super fast). Have fun, but be safe up there – this is avalanche terrain, but it does offer some great open, low grade slopes to practise your turns.

Looking up at the summit of Mount Field. Slopes to the right just out of the photo had avalanched recently, but in good conditions would make for a quick ascent.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010.

Ski Touring to Lake O’Hara and McArthur Pass

If you are using this information for your own trip, please read this disclaimer and description of my abilities.

Last weekend took me back up to Lake O’Hara (this time in full-on winter) for some ski touring. The 12 kms up the road with a heavy pack revealed that the weight of your pack really does affect how your feet feel in your boots! I was sure glad to get those boots off upon arriving at Elizabeth Parker Hut, an alpine hut operated by The Alpine Club of Canada. A friend of mine and I enjoyed two nights at the hut with a day of touring up to McArthur Pass and to the lower slopes of Mount Schaffer in between, before exiting down the 12 km road to the car at the end.

Elizabeth Parker Hut

To get up to Lake O’Hara, drive about 10 minutes West past Lake Louise until you see a turn off to the left. Follow this over the traintracks and around the bend to an obvious parking lot. Gear up here and follow the road about 11km all the way up to Le Relais cabin, which sits on the right hand side of the road. From here the trail is marked towards Elizabeth Parker Hut. To get to Lake O’Hara Lodge, simply stay on the road and continue.

Lake O'Hara Road

For the relatively easy tour from Elizabeth Parker Hut to McArthur Pass, head out from back door of the hut along the summer trail (straight out the back and slightly right) and follow this trail to a more open area which climbs all the way through the trees to Schaffer Lake. From the meadows by the lake continue towards the lowest part of McArthur Pass (seen in photo below). Make your way through the trees until you reach a snow and ice covered series of cliff bands. From here you can traverse left and switchback your way on top of the cliff bands. Continue in the direction where you left off before the cliff bands towards a large clearing and the highest point. This is McArthur Pass. From here you can continue on to Lake McArthur, head back down, or head up through the trees on the lower slopes of Mount Odaray. Once you emerge from the trees, there are many bumps you can perch yourself on for great views of Lake O’Hara that are out of harm’s way.

Skiing through the meadows near Schaffer Lake.

The lowest point of McArthur Pass.

Snowy cliff bands. Veer left from here.

On your way back down to Schaffer Lake, you can cut over towards the lower slopes of Mount Schaffer for some great turns about the lake itself. Conversely, you can descend from McArthur Pass down to the meadows beside Schaffer Lake and cut back up in the direction of the summer trail up to Lake McArthur and then over toward the slopes of Mount Schaffer to access those same turns. Take caution as these slopes are prone to avalanche in bad conditions and have taken many lives in the past.

Descent back to the hut the same way you came up.

A warm fire awaits you at Elizabeth Parker Hut.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010.

Two Posts, Two Worlds

Who would have ever thought that I’d have two posts – one on a food website and the other a skiing magazine –  published on the same day?

Cooking = Small Disaster

The topics couldn’t be more different, but it that shows the diversity of my interests, I suppose.

Food, well… cooking food,  has never been my forte, but I’ve always been willing to try new things! So, when my cousin – a foodie/triathlete/writer – asked me to provide a guest post for her successful food website, fresh cracked pepper, I couldn’t help but take her up on the challenge. The result was a great batch of muffins and a lot of laughs to go with it. You can check it out on freshcrackedpepper.com.

Secondly, I am excited to say that Skiing Magazine took a chance on me and let me write about the World Cup at Lake Louise. I spent two consecutive weekends up at this beautiful ski hill watching both the mens’ and womens’ downhill. I was blow away by the talent of our athletes, some of whom will be fighting for top spots in Vancouver at the upcoming Olympics. In addition to that, I learned some lessons while attending my first World Cup ever. You can find out what I learned in 4 Lessons from the Lake Louise World Cup on the Skiing Magazine website.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2009.