IMG_3719Update Sat Jan 31 @7:15 a.m. I woke up to a gift from the heavens: 5 cm of fluffy white snow on my deck in Canmore. It has stopped snowing for now.

Watridge Lake Road and a few other trails were groomed at Mt Shark last night. Mt Shark Live Grooming Report

After a week of wet, icy, and needlemania conditions as a result of the recent meltdown, I was certainly counting my blessings today.

It's difficult to see in the photo, but the tracks were quite shallow due to the ice underneath

It’s difficult to see in the photo, but the tracks on Elk Pass were quite shallow in a few places due to the ice underneath

Tyrwhitt was trackset last night and was in near-perfect condition. I had it all to myself.

If the snow comes tonight as forecast, my report won’t be relevant, but the lower part of Elk Pass would benefit from a bit of fresh snow in the tracks.

The Weather Network predicts for PLPP: 5-10 cm of snow from Friday Overnight to Saturday Overnight.”

Scenic Elk Pass

Scenic Elk Pass. Fox creek is flowing under all that snow.

Most of the skiers were heading up to Blueberry Hill, thinking that Tyrwhitt wasn’t groomed. A quirk in the Live Grooming Report initially didn’t show Tyrwhitt and Lookout as being groomed last night. Only Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, and parts of Hydroline were in green when I checked early this morning. Something made me check again later, and all the south end was in green.

Here comes Ken on Elk Pass trail. He had already been up to Blueberry Hill

Here comes Ken on Elk Pass trail. He had already been up to Blueberry Hill

As Ken Hewitt alluded to in his trip report, Elk Pass had variable conditions. When I arrived at the trailhead at 1 pm, the air temperature was -4°C, as was the snow. The tracks looked semi-glazed, so I used my rock skis which had the goop on them, goop being Swix Violet(0°).  If you remember, I was testing them on the glazed tracks at the Canmore Nordic Centre yesterday.

Arriving at the junction of Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, and Hydroline

Arriving at the junction of Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, and Hydroline

More importantly, the snow in the middle of the track, the corduroy, although granular, was still soft. I was thankful that I’d have soft snow to control my descent on the steep downhills.

I had enough grip to keep me going but I was slipping frequently and had to herringbone a lot.

Stunning scenery along Tyrwhitt

Stunning scenery along Tyrwhitt

The tracks were mostly icy with occasional stretches of real snow. In many places the tracks were shallow due to the fact there was a skating rink underneath. That’s not a problem until you’re descending and trying to turn corners, as your skis will come out of the tracks more easily.

Fantastic conditions on Tyrwhitt

Fantastic conditions on Tyrwhitt

These conditions were a bit frustrating, but I was holding out hope that I would get my reward at higher elevation, and the allure of a pleasant ski on Tyrwhitt was a motivating factor.

Sensational Tyrwhitt

Sensational Tyrwhitt

Around 3.5K conditions started getting better. The tracks were now composed mostly of snow and I was getting better grip. I ran into Ken about 100 metres before the Patterson junction and had a nice chat. Being an early skier, he didn’t realize that Tyrwhitt was trackset and skied Blueberry Hill instead.

Arriving at the high point on Tyrwhitt

Arriving at the high point on Tyrwhitt

Between the Blueberry junction and the top of Elk Pass conditions steadily improved.

Now came the real reward. Tyrwhitt was 99.9% in excellent condition. All the challenges of Elk Pass were forgiven now that I was on this delightful trail with the stunning scenery. As Helen said, “It was heavenly to feel snow under one’s skis again.”

Hydroline looked inviting

Hydroline looked inviting

It’s unusual for me to be travelling in this direction on Tyrwhitt, but it was fun going downhill on good snow on all those parts where I’m usually climbing. From south to north, it’s about 1.2K of downhill to the Tyrwhitt picnic table where I stopped to rewax.

The view from the top of the Elk Pass hill

The view from the top of the Elk Pass hill

The snow texture on Tyrwhitt was that of real snow(not ice), and I rewaxed with VR50(0/-4) and it performed flawlessly as I was now climbing for the next 2.4K to the high point at the end of the meadows. I remembered that my good skis, still in my vehicle, were carefully prepped this morning for the abrasive snow with base binder. Oh well, one rewaxing on a 19K trip isn’t too bad.

Skier rocketing down Elk Pass

Skier rocketing down Elk Pass

This next stretch is 2.4K of the most outstanding ski trail on the face of the earth. I reached the end of the meadows and turned around and got to experience it all in the other direction. How lucky can a guy get.

From the high point on Tyrwhitt, heading south, you glide effortlessly but not too fast, allowing yourself enough time to soak it all in. Over the 2.4K to the picnic table, you pass through four beautiful meadows and have Mt Tyrwhitt to watch over you. In the distance, you can see mountains that are well into B.C.

In the photos, I’ve included other trails, all in poor condition, including South Boulton Creek, Meadow, and Pocaterra.

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Snow on the way

January 30, 2015

Most of the weather forecasters are predicting 4 – 6 cm of snow tonight and Saturday. Additional snow is expected on Monday. Let’s hope it materializes, and covers most of the icy trails, and allows more grooming to occur.

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Canmore Nordic Centre

January 29, 2015
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Mary beat me to the punch(speaking of drinks), but I’ll add a few comments about conditions at the Canmore Nordic Centre, and a few photos.

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Icy conditions update

January 29, 2015

There’s snow in the forecast for Saturday and Monday. The cross-country ski trails are in dire need of some new snow to mitigate the icy conditions. The Live Grooming Report from PLPP shows abnormal grooming activity last

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Margarita Pipestone

January 28, 2015
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-Fresh tracks at the Pipestone trailhead- “We went for lunch in town and came back around 12:00 hoping for some tracks. No such luck.” – Hugh Burton

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Most popular photos

January 27, 2015

Have you ever wondered which photos are the most popular with readers? No? Well, I’m searching for topics, so indulge me with this one. Always at the top of the list are the PLPP maps, so I’m not including them

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January 1950 – a month when it was too cold to ski

January 26, 2015
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They started collecting weather data for Banff in 1892. Today was the warmest ever on this date at 8.5°C.

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Shirtsleeve skiing in January

January 25, 2015
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-It’s odd to see skiers in shirtsleeves in January- Thanks for all the trip reports today. Good to see there is still some skiing to be enjoyed in this freaky weather.

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Climber’s delight

January 23, 2015
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-We were skiing in the clouds at the top of Blueberry Hill- Conquering both Whiskey Jack and Blueberry Hill in one day, combined with all the other trails

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The Meltdown is coming. Where is the colder snow?

January 23, 2015

Get out your waxless skis(or the dreaded klister). For Banff, the weather network is predicting a high of +5 for Saturday and +8 on Sunday. Environment Canada’s forecasts are for +3

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Breaking trail on Brewster Creek

January 21, 2015
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-Superb scenery along Brewster creek- From the Cave and Basin in Banff, it’s 13.9K to the end of the groomed trail at Sundance Lodge. It was an enjoyable day with stunning

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Tessa’s favourite trail

January 20, 2015
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-Tessa, Bob, and Christine at Wedge Connector in Kananaskis- After all the excellent ski trips I’ve enjoyed over the past three weeks,

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Lake Louise to Banff Loppet

January 18, 2015
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-A happy Chuck O’Callaghan at the finish line after skiing 50K in the Lake Louise to Banff Loppet- It was another fun-filled ski race

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Where are the easy trails for beginners?

January 16, 2015

Question from a reader: “Can you recommend some beginner trails, that is, ones that don’t have really steep runs and perhaps maybe would only appeal to other beginners?”

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Welcome back!

January 16, 2015
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Kananaskis Tracksetter Jeff has returned, and is doing a marathon grooming session today/tonight. He’s already groomed Bill Milne, Wedge Connector,

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Ready for the weekend? Updated

January 16, 2015

Update Jan 16 @ 5:40 pm: I just received this report on Shaganappi Golf Course Canmore Nordic Centre The NorAm Western Canadian Championships are on at the Canmore Nordic Centre this weekend. Please note the following

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Magical Pipestone

January 15, 2015
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-The Pipestone loop at Lake Louise- The scenery and ambience at the north end of the Pipestone trail system at Lake Louise is stunning.

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A magnificent setting for a race

January 14, 2015
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The first race of the 2015 NorAm Westerns will occur tomorrow, Thursday January 15th on the proposed course for the Ski Tour Canada 2016 in Lake Louise in Banff National Park.

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Sensational skiing on Redearth creek

January 13, 2015
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When conditions are as superb as they were today, Redearth creek in Banff National Park offers up an outstanding day

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Monday morning update

January 12, 2015
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I became aware yesterday that you can no longer obtain a dedicated ski trails map for Peter Lougheed Provincial Park(PLPP). The new map, entitled Explore,

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