Crazy weather


I wasn’t aware of these avalanche deaths until I received this email from Rose:

Hi Bob:

I read your blog a lot but given the tragedy at PLPP yesterday at Burstall Pass, I think there’s a need to remind skiiers about avalanche risk in the backcountry through this link:

The parks are not only to be enjoyed in the winter but should be approached with safety in mind especially those who are not used or new to winter activities, like me.

Here’s a link to the Calgary Herald story: Two men killed in K-Country avalanche

This blog doesn’t get into the backcountry very often, but I’ve had the links to the avalanche reports on the sidebar since day one. If any backcountry enthusiasts are reading here, you’re welcome to leave a comment or give us a first-hand account of a recent ski trip.


We arrived at Cascade Fire Road this afternoon just as the Banff tracksetter was leaving.

Cascade Fire Road was freshly trackset today. Jan 16, 2011

It was +1 at the Lake Minnewanka parking lot at 2:30 pm. We both had clean skis so we didn’t even wax, as we wanted to wait and see what the snow was like. The first 700M is all downhill, then there’s more downhill through the meadow. We only needed to herringbone for a few metres until we arrived at the actual beginning of the Fire road.

Beautiful fresh tracks but a bit soft, what with all the new snow we’ve had, and it was a bit on the wet side. Cheryl chose the right wax for today. VR55. That’s a fancy Swix grip wax rated for 0/-2. She hit it dead on. As you can see in the photo below, I chose the wrong wax:

Bob's skis - an example of wax that's too sticky. Jan 16, 2011

Cheryl had good glide, good grip, no clumping, and a wide grin, so I raided her wax kit and soon had trouble-free skiing too. It was one of those silky, smooth snow days.

Lynn and Paul were coming back from a good day of skiing. Jan 16, 2011

In the above photo, Lynn was waving – that’s not a new way of poling. He and Paul were on a ski trip with the Calgary Ski Club.

Stories from the snow

About 6.5K along the trail, as you get near the Cascade River, there’s a quick downhill which has a nice wide curve. Here’s what happens if your skis come out of the tracks when you’ve got a full head of steam going around the turn:

Crash Site at bottom of hill

Usually it’s animal tracks in the snow that intrigue me, but here’s a message which somebody wrote. Unfortunately, I don’t have a wide angle lens, but just as well since this is a family-oriented blog. Can you decipher what the entire phrase was? There are two letters missing:

Message in the snow on Cascade Fire Road. Jan 16, 2011

We continued on past the campground for about 3K, on similar conditions and as always, it’s groomed for skating and single trackset beyond the Cascade River bridge. Skaters would have found the snow quite soft.

Returning to the trailhead, the fast, long downhill was about as much fun as possible. The soft snow enabled me to stay in the tracks the whole way.

As for crazy weather, it was snowing heavily just as we got back to the parking lot around 5 pm. The air temperature was still +1, and soon after we got on the road, the snow turned to rain. The rain continued almost to the Banff Park gate, at which time it turned to snow and the temperature dropped dramatically. When we pulled into the driveway in Canmore, it was -12, a mere half-hour after leaving the ski trail.

Ribbon Creek

Steve Riggs was out skiing today and sends this report:

Hi Bob,

Springtime in January!

We skied the Ribbon Creek trails on Sunday, starting out in temperatures of plus 4.

Generally conditions were ok, with most trails groomed and set on Saturday, but it got even warmer after noon, making for some tedious skiing on the uphills, and glazed downhills.

A bit of dog assist was welcome at times, the wide and gentle trails here are perfect for ski-joring.

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  1. Really fine conditions at West Bragg right now!
    Tuesday afternoon- soft and powdery with well set tracks, I skied Sundog-Elbow-Iron Springs-Crystal Line East and then Sundog loop again to make the most of the great conditions, before the sun set.
    Get it now before the dreaded chinook rolls in!

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