Good thing it’s my favourite

by Bob Truman on December 21, 2014

in Kananaskis, PLPP(P Lougheed Park)

Many skiers were enjoying the great conditions on Elk Pass

Many skiers were enjoying the great conditions on Elk Pass

When people ask  me to name my favourite ski trail, I usually say it’s the last one I skied on. If I am pressed, coaxed and cajoled to name one, it’s the Tyrwhitt loop in PLPP.

John and Evan at the Pocaterra - Whiskey Jack junction

John and Evan at the Pocaterra – Whiskey Jack junction

I swear I could do this ski trip every day of my life and never get tired of it, and this winter, I’m getting my opportunity due to the lack of other skiable trails.

When starting out on Whiskey Jack at 11:10 a.m., I wasn’t sure if the entire loop was skiable. Just a few days ago, I reported suicidal icy conditions on Fox creek, and marginal conditions on Moraine. Those two trails make up the home stretch of the Tyrwhitt loop which also includes Whiskey Jack, a short hop on Pocaterra, Tyrwhitt, and Elk pass.

Fabulous conditions along the entire length of Tyrwhitt

Fabulous conditions along the entire length of Tyrwhitt

Enough snow has fallen in the past two days to bury the pine needles which were prevalent on lower Whiskey Jack on Friday. Despite the air temperature of 0°C, the snow was cold and I had excellent grip with VR50(0/-4). Higher up, I had a bit too much grip but I “stuck” with the VR50 and it was needed when back down at lower elevation.

A downhill on Tyrwhitt

A downhill on Tyrwhitt

At the top of Whiskey Jack, I conferred with Andrew and Sarah who had parked at Elkwood and came up Pocaterra via Wheeler, Amos, Lynx and they reported good conditions.

I followed John and Evan along the top where we enjoyed 5.3K of magnificent skiing. (The trail map indicates .5K on Pocaterra and 4.5K on Tyrwhitt, but Tyrwhitt is actually 4.8K). I was surprised to have only seen 10 skiers by the time I reached the Tyrwhitt/Elk Pass/Hydroline junction, but that was about to change.

Skiers on Hydroline

Skiers on Hydroline

The Elk Pass/ Tyrwhitt/ Hydroline junction was crowded with skiers, most of whom descended on Hydroline. I followed them for a few metres to get a photo.

There was considerably more fresh snow on the trail as I descended Elk Pass. Going down the steep hills was quite slow today. For example, my GPS recorded a top speed of 42 Kmh, whereas on Tuesday, on faster tracks, I hit 50 Kmh. No complaints, we need the snow.

Kathryn and Sue were enjoying Christmas cookies after descending Blueberry Hill

Kathryn and Sue were enjoying Christmas cookies after descending Blueberry Hill

At the Blueberry/ Elk pass picnic table, I ran into Kathryn and Sue who had just come down Blueberry Hill and reported that the trip down was too slow! Obviously there’s lots of fresh snow on the trail.

While near the top of Elk Pass, I encountered a skier who started the same time as me, but we took opposite routes. He started on Moraine and Fox Creek, and shared his intelligence with me. Fresh snow on the trails has covered the ice and made them skiable. At this point I knew I’d be able to complete the loop.

After departing the Elk Pass/Tyrwhitt/Hydroline junction, I must have seen about 50 skiers on Elk Pass.

The Whiskey Jack picnic table

The Whiskey Jack picnic table

Upon arriving at the Fox Creek junction, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much better the conditions were compared to Tuesday. They still weren’t great, but the “ice” grooming had at least prepared a base which was reasonably smooth, and now with the fresh snow, I could somewhat enjoy skiing on here again. Ditto on Moraine, but there are still a few places where it’s bumpy and uneven.


Mount Shark

December 20, 2014
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-Tara and Melissa were having a good time on Watridge Lake road- Great trip reports coming in from PLPP. It sounds like the fresh snow helped to cover some pine needles.

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Late afternoon report

December 19, 2014
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-Jane and Brian on Whiskey Jack.- It was snowing at the bottom of Whiskey Jack at 5 pm. Hopefully it will continue, and cover all those pine needles with fresh, cold snow.

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Remember when?

December 18, 2014

Update Fri Dec 19 @ 9:15 a.m.: More grooming occurred in PLPP last night, in the “middle” of the park. Check the Live Grooming Report for details. Snow is in the forecast. Thanks for all the trip reports yesterday. Before we go down memory lane, we’re seeing some signs of hope for skiing

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Any suggestions for Alison?

December 17, 2014

Hi Bob, New to your great site. Are you on FB or other ways to get regular updates? I’m looking for a good place to ski this weekend. Easy/mod for my family. Son is 10 yrs. But we are not regular skiers so nothing too long. Suggestions? Thanks Bob! Alison I expect there will be […]

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14K of fantastic skiing(and 3.8K of survival)

December 16, 2014
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-Approaching the Tyrwhitt meadows which are around the corner in the sun.- My goal today was to ski on Tyrwhitt for the first time this year.

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Elk pass and Blueberry hill

December 15, 2014
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Conditions were even better today than on Saturday. With all the skiers yesterday, the tracks are fast but still offering great grip with blue wax.

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Monday musings

December 15, 2014
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Thanks to everybody who left trip reports over the weekend. They’re very helpful to this blog’s thousands of readers in determining where to ski.

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“Test event” for the 2016 World Cup race

December 14, 2014

The World Cup cross-country ski races are coming to Canmore and Lake Louise in 2016. In Lake Louise, they’ll be using Tramline, Moraine Lake road, Fairview and Telemark. It would be

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Sweet sixteen

December 13, 2014
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-Mark and Giselle on Elk pass.- Fifteen wild Decembers have melted into spring since my first foray up that big hill, yet I never grow tired of seeing the fluffy, white pillows

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PLPP Update

December 13, 2014

Update Sat Dec 13 @ 9:15 a.m. We’ve received 3 cm of snow in Canmore and it’s still coming down Elk pass, Tyrwhitt, Hydroline, Patterson, Blueberry Hill, and Lower Lake were groomed last night. Tracksetter Jody gave this report early

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Lake Louise update

December 12, 2014

Lake Louise will be one of the only skiable places on Saturday. It appears that everything else has turned to ice. There’s 2-4 cm of snow in the forecast for Kananaskis, Canmore, and Banff. That might help rejuvenate some trails. We’ve had

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Good news from Lake Louise

December 11, 2014
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-Fairview trail in Lake Louise was trackset yesterday.- I can confirm Frank Howard’s trip report and I’ll add a bit to it since I was there late in the day.

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Does anybody have cold snow?

December 10, 2014
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It seems like we have to endure one of these difficult periods every winter. Lake Louise may be the last hope for cold snow, and from the sounds of “Chateau” Jeff’s report,

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Just in time

December 9, 2014
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-The snow on Moraine Lake road was cold this morning but was borderline wet by 2 pm.- Chris Thomas’ trip report was exactly what I was going to say about Moraine

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Dog days of winter

December 8, 2014
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We’ve had a couple cute dog pictures submitted as entries in the Emerald Lake Lodge contest. I believe Jimmy is a Springer Spaniel and Sara’s dog

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Baker Creek to Castle Lookout

December 7, 2014
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-Spectacular conditions on the Baker Creek to Castle Lookout trail in Banff. Photo by Jo Lunn.- Have you skied this little-known trail?

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New contest: Win 2 free nights at Emerald Lake Lodge

December 7, 2014

“Hi Bob — “Congrats on continuing to have the best XC-ski site anywhere –hope to meet you on the trails this winter.   –here is my entry for the contest — my wife and I had a great stay at the lodge ( Jan. 28, 2013 ) and thoroughly enjoyed the area on skis — […]

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One of those perfect days for xc skiing

December 6, 2014
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What more could I add to Chuck’s report from yesterday? How about wonderful, terrific, fantastic, and wolves! Banff National Park has some beautiful ski trails

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“Better than I have ever seen on Redearth creek”

December 5, 2014
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-Warden’s cabin at the end of Redearth creek. Photo by Chuck O’Callaghan.- I’m happy to say the number of trails which are trackset and in good condition is too long to list

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