Waxless ski weather is here

Feb 27: West Bragg Creek. Photo by Steve Riggs

Feb 28, 2021:

West Bragg  Creek Grooming Report from Boomer Groomer:

“A big shout out to volunteer groomers Bill, David, Peter and Jeremy. These fellas spent their Saturday night track setting close to 70km of trail for everyone’s enjoyment.

Thankyou Gentlemen!

Get it while you can as temps are shooting skyward on Sunday relatively early in the day.”

Starting later today, we will see above freezing temperatures  at West Bragg Creek, Ribbon Creek, Canmore, Banff and Calgary.

The warm weather is predicted to continue for the forseeable future. 

The places which have the best snow early in the season are also the places which will continue to have the best conditions now. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Lake Louise and possibly Mt Shark will hopefully still have cold, waxable-conditions snow. 

New tracksetting on Feb 27/28:


West Bragg Creek:
Every trail has been trackset. The temperature at the trailhead at 7 a.m. is -5°C .

Kananaskis Village and Bill Milne trail:

“Kananaskis Village trails and Bill Milne trail from Ribbon Creek to Mt. Kidd RV Park groomed and trackset this evening after 5 to 7 cm new snow. Great conditions.”

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park: Whiskey Jack, Packers, Upper Pocaterra, and Lower Lake. 

“A few flakes of snow on Saturday night  but no real trace was noticeable on the grooming at the time it was completed.  Friday night’s grooming will have 1 to 2 or so cm’s of snow on the surface, and all other trails will have from almost 5cm’s to possibly 10cm’s, depending on location and when they were last groomed.”

Canmore Nordic Centre: Most trails have been trackset over the past two nights. Check the CNC trail report for details. 

Banff: Tunnel Mountain

Lake Louise: Great Divide, Lower Telemark, Moraine Lake Rd, Upper & Lower Tramline.

Confederation golf course: All trails were groomed and trackset on Feb 27.  The predicted high in Calgary for today(Sunday) is +5°C. 

Shaganappi golf course: Track setting was mostly redone Saturday evening 

Did you get your money’s worth?

When Ruth Ramonas posted her comment on Oct 19, little did she know how prophetic her prediction would turn out to be. 

The “explosion” in xc skiing caught everyone by surprise. 

Only four months ago, we were still in fear of losing the grooming in Kananaskis.  Nordiq Alberta put together a feasible proposal which involved a $50 season pass or a $10 day pass(completely voluntary. You didn’t have to pay if you didn’t want to). The announcement came on Oct 30 that grooming would continue.

Previous to the decision, as encouragement to the government, I posted the question What do you like about skiing in Kananaskis? and received 101 replies, a few of which I’ve displayed on this page. 

The efficiency of Nordiq Alberta to put together the infrastructure to collect the fees, and the hours of work by Ken Hewitt and his gang of parking lot volunteers has been amazing. 

The excellent grooming at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Ribbon Creek, Mt Shark and Sandy McNabb has continued. 

There remains a lot of good skiing in the month ahead, but I wanted to post the question while we still have a lot of people reading. Did you get your money’s worth?  

Snowfall and tracksetting update

Moose Connector at West Bragg Creek. Photo by Boomer Groomer

Feb 27, 2021: A little bit of fresh snow in Calgary and West Bragg Creek, but more in the mountains. The web cams are showing snow covered roads from Canmore to Lake Louise. 

Shaganappi golf course

“All trails were groomed Friday evening by one volunteer as it was snowing.”

West Bragg Creek

“The forecast did not live up to expectations but it should be a lovely day of skiing in ‘the creek’ none the less. We will have a limited number of trails track set for Saturday but there has only been a dusting of 2-3mm overnight, so tracks will still be discernible. Grooming will resume tonight when we are not having to dodge around people. Have fun out there!”

Check Nordic Pulse for the latest WBC grooming information. 

The WBC trailhead temperature at 8:30 a.m. is -13°C. 

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Last night’s tracksetting included Pocaterra from the hut to Packers, Lynx, Rolly Road and Come-Along.  The Rolly Road and Pocaterra training grids were also trackset. The grooming report indicates 3 cm of new snow by 4 a.m. and still snowing. The Mud Lake weather station shows 6 cm overnight. 

The temperature at the Lower Lake is -12°C.

Ribbon Creek

“Feb 26: Ribbon Creek, Coal Mine, Hidden, Hay Meadows, Ruthies, Skogan Screamer, and Lower Skogan groomed and trackset this evening. Be aware of an ice flow on Lower Skogan. Stoney Trail from Hay Meadows to Wasootch Creek groomed and single trackset as well. Be aware of a very shallow snowpack on parts of the northern portion of this trail, which can be accessed via Hay Meadows.”

The Hay Meadow weather station shows 4 cm and Nakiska reports 7 cm of overnight snow. 

Lake Louise

Lake Louise Ski Resort indicates 5 cm of new snow in the past 24 hours. 

Banff

Feb 26 tracksettting: Goat Creek, Spray River West, Spray River East. 

Covid-compliant selfies on the Bill Milne trail

I’m standing six feet behind Barb for this selfie

Conditions on the Bill Milne trail weren’t quite as good as on the village trails, but it was still enjoyable. 

Janice and Charlie Perry on Bill Milne trail

Now that I’m on the farewell tour, when I met Barb and her friendly dog Jamie on the trail, she wanted to take a selfie with me. I had to stand six feet behind her in order to comply with the pandemic rules. 

Running into renowned poet Janice Perry, who is always way ahead of husband Charlie, was another highlight of my day on the trail.

Bill Milne trail

Earlier this season I had encountered Janice and Charlie a couple times, but one of us was always zooming downhill and going too fast to stop and talk. Between Ribbon Creek and the golf course, 3.9K, there is only one hill on the Bill Milne trail and that’s exactly where we met. Luckily, it’s just a small hill so I stopped at the top and waited. 

Bill Milne trail

The wind of the past two days has taken a small toll on the trail. There are a few snow drifts where the tracks are filled in and there is some unusual tree debris for about a 100-metre stretch. It’s not the usual pine needles but instead it consists of small twigs from the stand of dead trees along the trail. 

Thank you, Bill Milne

I skied between the golf course and Kovach Pond parking lot which means I had to ski on the ice-flow detour trail for 1K. The reroute is skiable but it’s not pretty on the stretch which parallels the highway due to all the crud from the snowplows. 

If you’re approaching the ice-flow bypass from the south, the trail starts out in the trees and there is a marginal spot with very thin snow. I didn’t realize it in time, but there is a bypass for the bypass which has plenty of snow. 

The tracks were fast but I don’t know if my wax was working because I double-poled the entire time. Okay, I already said there is one small hill and my VR45(-2/-8) gave me a bit of grip. That hill can’t be any longer than about 40 metres with an elevation gain of five metres. 

With up to 5 cm in the forecast, tonight’s snowfall should cover most of the debris. 

My favourite line from one of Janice’s poems:

Need to write a letter to the government to lobby
Get all the information on the Blog of skier Bobby

Beautiful conditions at Kananaskis Village

Descending the steep hill from the Kovach Lookout

I didn’t get her name, but the young lady in the above photo was descending the steep hill from the Kovach Lookout and she told me she had fallen a couple times, but as you can see, she was still having fun. 

Flying down Lower Kovach

I met lots of skiers with big smiles on this spectacular sunny day. Last night’s tracksetting on the Kananaskis Village trails was in great shape and a real treat on which to ski.

I also skied the Bill  Milne trail but I’ll  do a separate update for that. 

Terrace trail near the Village

The sun was shining but the snow was still cold enough to use purple wax. The air temperature at Kananaskis Village in mid-afternoon was -1° and the snow was -3 as I started on Terrace trail, heading north. 

The only “inconvenience” I encountered was a bit of tree debris on Lower Kovach but it was mostly embedded in the tracksetting so not a big problem. There were a few bottle brushes on the trail from last night’s wind but surprisingly few needles. 

Aspen

The tree debris disappeared as I made my way up to the Kovach Lookout, and the snow was pristine at the top. I enjoyed meeting Gudrun and Howard from Red Deer at the Lookout. 

The descent from the Lookout to the Village was pure enjoyment on the great conditions. All the S-turns had plenty of snow and were easy to negotiate. 

Terrace

With tonight’s expected snow, most of the tracksetting will have some fresh snow on top by morning. Most forecasts are predicting around 3-5 cm. The clouds were moving in as I was leaving around 5 pm. 

Gudrun and Howard at the Kovach Lookout

As I write this at 7:30 pm, the Ribbon Creek snowcat has begun the Friday night tracksetting. So far Hay Meadow has been trackset.

Unfortunately, tomorrow(Saturday) is going to be our last day of sub-zero temperatures in Kananaskis. The predicted high on Sunday is +6. 

Goat Creek, Spray River West, and Spray River East were trackset today. 

Golden, BC: the final day of the Dawn Mountain Challenge is Feb 28. 

Starting a new blog

If you missed it, I announced two weeks ago that this winter would be the end of the trail for me. 

In the interests of helping out a new blog person, what has been the most important feature of this blog for you? What would you miss the most if it wasn’t there?

I’m not going to make a shopping list of the requirements necessary for a blogger because I expect you wouldn’t be considering it if you didn’t already have the dedication, commitment, and most of all, the time. I fully expect someone with creativity and passion will take what I’ve done and make it into something even better.

I’ve had encouraging enquiries from a few people who are interested in starting up a new blog to replace this one. Below is the essence of my reply…

“I’ve already made the promise that I will post a link to anyone who starts up a site and I will do it this winter if someone has a viable website up and running.

It’s not my place to endorse or select anyone in particular. I’m going to leave that up to the readers. In other words, whoever makes their blog the most attractive to xc skiers will probably end up with the most readers as time goes on.

It would be wonderful to have a site set up this winter, mostly so you could fine-tune it during the quiet summer months. It would also allow you to receive feedback from readers on what works and doesn’t work.

I’m quite happy to have any of the information on SkierBob transferred over to a new site. For example, you could copy and paste a lot of the information under the Resources tab. The same goes for Webcams, Dog-friendly ski trails, etc.”

Keep it simple

Don’t try to be everything to everyone(admittedly, I wasn’t very good at taking my own advice!). As I’ve mentioned before, the Trip Reports are the most important feature of this blog, and should have a prominent place on your new blog. 

Another vital aspect of any new blog will be to act as a “nerve centre” for the xc community such as important announcements from government, tracksetters, or concerns affecting xc skiing. For example, the Kananaskis Grooming issue. This blog was the place to go to stay informed, to advocate, and ultimately to learn how and where to buy your parking passes. 

Who made these tracks?

There are some non-skier tracks we enjoy seeing on the ski trail. I know the ski tracks were made by Rory, but he was wondering which animal made the other tracks on Rolly Road in PLPP. Rory didn’t see imprints of toenails. 

Lake O’Hara. Photo by Chuck

Thanks for all the trip reports and photos. I realize it isn’t funny, but I had to laugh at Mike W’s encounter with the walkers. I know this sounds ruthless, but would taking a photo and shaming them on the internet solve the problem? Just the threat of it would likely be enough to deter them. Can these people really be lost with so many trail markers and signs? 

Brewster Creek. Photo by M & J

Chuck provided photos from his trip to Lake O’Hara, including a shot of the avalanche path at 6.5K. 

Parks Canada posted a photo of yesterday’s Borgeau size 3.5 naturally triggered avalanche which released around 5 pm. It ran over the ice climb and the powder cloud dusted cars in the parking lot.

The Bill Milne trail is being trackset this evening. I would imagine Wedge Connector and Evan-Thomas will also be completed. 

Mountain Road at WBC. Photo by Steve Riggs

Healy Creek and Cascade Valley were trackset today. M & J were on Healy Creek and Brewster Creek today. As you can see in their photos, there’s lots of fresh snow on Brewster Creek but I am guessing it will be trackset tomorrow by Sundance Lodge. 

Tracksetting at Lake Louise today included Great Divide, Lower Telemark, Campground Loop, and Fairview. 

There are wind warnings out tonight for the mountains, so you can expect some tree debris on the trails tomorrow(Thursday).  Fortunately the windy weather will be followed with significant snowfall on Friday for most of the empire. 

The snowshoers had to step around this sign

Feb 23: The snowshoers had to step around this sign. Photo by Ian and Darlene

Feb 24, 2021:

It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Thanks to Ian and Darlene for the above photo. They also included a photo of the mess on the Screamer which will be dangerous and difficult for anyone descending. 

Feb 23: Iron Springs at West Bragg Creek. Photo by Steve Riggs

Thanks to Steve Riggs for the photo of Iron Springs at West Bragg Creek. Nice to see the pristine snow and tracksetting, absent any boot prints. 

Tracksetting Feb 23/24

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek was trackset on the 23rd. 

Lake Louise: Moraine Lake Rd, Upper & Lower Tramline, Bow River Loop, Lakeshore, and  Pipestone. 

West Bragg Creek

“A number of trails have been tuned up since yesterday’s snow and track setting. Temp this morning is -14 to -17C.  Conditions early today should be firmer than yesterday but will soften with daytime temps on the rise. Watch for isolated icy and wet patches.”

Check Nordic Pulse for more details. 

PLPP: (According to Alberta Parks website)Lodgepole, Braille, Sinclair, WWL Access, Spruce road. 

The Nordic Pulse website gives different information for PLPP, but I don’t think we can put our full trust in it yet. 

Banff National Park: Cascade Valley, Upper Bankhead, and Tunnel Mountain trails.

West Bragg Creek

Moose Loop

Feb 23 at 3 pm. Photos and report from Boomer Groomer…

Moose/Telephone junction

“Seven cm of new snow overnight got groomed and track set on most trails in West Bragg.

Conditions are very soft due to warm daytime temperatures, so expect tracks to get beat up fairly quickly. Due to the previous days warm temps, there are ice flows (Moose/Telephone intersection, Telephone), and free standing water (Mountain Rd.) in a few areas.

West Bragg Creek: Mountain Road

There are also a few areas of ice just under the surface of new track setting (North Moose Loop), so be aware and be careful out there. 

For the most part, skiing should be great as the problem areas are fairly isolated.”

See more WBC grooming details on Nordic Pulse. 

The mid-afternoon temperature at West Bragg Creek is +1°C. 

Banff National Park: Cascade Valley, Upper Bankhead, and Tunnel Mountain trails were trackset today. 

Lake Louise: Pipestone trails were trackset today. 

Snowfall and grooming update

Moraine Lake road was trackset yesterday but will be covered with fresh snow. File photo

Feb 23, 2021

Overnight snowfall

Calgary 3 cm

Ribbon Creek 3 cm 

Canmore 5+ cm

Lake Louise 7 cm

Yoho 9 cm

Mud Lake 8 cm

PLPP 5 cm by midnight. (probably closer to the Mud Lake amount by morning)

Kananaskis Fire Lookout was trackset last night but will be covered with fresh snow. File photo

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Trackset last night: Elk Pass(partial), Hydroline, Lookout, Tyrwhitt. 

“Heavy flurries rolled into the park late Monday evening, with approximately 5 cm of snow (and counting) accumulated at the Elk Pass trailhead by the time grooming finished around midnight. With no signs of letting up, expect ALL trails to be covered with this fresh snow. Very strong winds brought with the storm will cause significant drifting in some places, and likely will be dropping a lot of tree debris as well as many large (especially at higher elevations) tree bombs.”

The temperature at the Lower Lake at 8 a.m. is -10°C. 

West Bragg Creek

WBC received a few cm of snow overnight and grooming has started. It shows Telephone Loop is being groomed this morning. Check Nordic Pulse for details. The temperature at the trailhead is -9°C. 

Lake Louise

There will be fresh snow on the tracksetting at Canmore Nordic Centre. File photo

The following trails were trackset on Monday, but will have fresh snow on top: Moraine Lake Rd, Great Divide, Upper & Lower Tramline, Lower Telemark, and Townsite. 

Canmore Nordic Centre

The natural snow on Banff Trail was trackset. Check the CNC trail report for more details. 

Emerald Lake Tree Hugger trail. File photo

“Snow continued to fall through the night expect a 5cm layer of fresh snow on freshly groomed trails. CAUTION: Groomer found trees down on trails he set out to groom – they have been cleared however, trails which have not seen a groom might have trees down.”

Yoho/Emerald Lake

“Feb 23: We got almost 10 cm of fluffy(finally!!!) ….Joe is out track setting now—left Field Info this AM—up to Emerald trails on the Connector and maybe do the Kicking Horse if he has time and all goes well!   Come ski it’s beautiful!”