Parks Canada is piloting the use of a snow cat groomer in Lake Louise to determine if they are an effective tool for this area.
They have the use of a Prinoth Husky(formerly known as a Bombardier BR180) for one week and have been using it to groom and trackset Moraine Lake Road, the Great Divide, and Upper Tramline.
With 24 cm of new snow last night(and 4 cm more this morning), there was no shortage of snow to work with today. A decision will be made in the offseason on whether to have one of these machines permanently, starting next fall. If you were at Lake Louise, be sure to fill out the survey.
The next photo will show you what shape Fairview trail was in today before it was groomed and trackset:
A few minutes after I took the above photo, along came Jeff on a snowmobile, doing some grooming the old way.
He was pulling an implement to “take the air out of the snow,” but you can’t see it because it’s buried(you can just see the chain it’s attached to). The snowcat can’t groom on certain trails because it’s too wide to fit.
They groomed and trackset Moraine Lake Road this morning with the snowcat. By the time I arrived, it already had 4 cm of new snow over top. The snowmobiles would have had a hard time packing 24 cm of new snow, but the snowcat did a terrific job. The tracks were firm and not once did a pole break through the snow(yes, I was using very small baskets).
My vehicle was already in the Chateau parking lot, so I started on the Upper Tramline, and it was also in good shape. I skied approx 5.5K on Moraine and turned around. When I reached the Fairview junction, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Jeff had already been over it with the tracksetter.
With my vehicle at the Chateau, it made sense to take this trail back. Now I could really tell the difference in the grooming quality. The tracks were soft and my poles broke through frequently.
All things considered, it was a pretty good day. When I left Canmore this morning, it was -12 with a strong wind blowing. It was still -12 in Lake Louise, but the wind was gone. The most difficult thing about today was getting in and out of the parking lot.