It’s difficult to fathom, but yesterday’s trails were even better today. I headed out from Boulton creek to discover new tracksetting on Whiskey Jack and Tyrwhitt. There was a dusting of fresh snow in the track, but at least three skiers were ahead of me, so I had skied-in tracks to follow, not that it would have been an ordeal to ski in less than 1 cm of fresh snow.
The air temperature was -7°C, with snow temp at -8°C, and not a breath of wind. Swix VR40(-4/-12) worked well, but most of it wore off during my four-minute descent from the lookout.
Tyrwhitt was spectacular again today. As soon as the first meadow appeared, Gord and Dave were there for me to take a photo. Further on, I ran into the four cute chicks from Spray river. When I reached the end of Tyrwhitt where it meets Elk pass and Hydroline, after chatting with the group of skiers from Lethbridge( a couple of whom follow this blog), I followed the new tracksetting down Hydroline.
These conditions were perfect for climbing up to the Kananaskis fire lookout(KFL), and rocketing down the other side, so I turned right onto more new tracksetting when I reached the KFL junction and started the descent. That’s right, descent. The south approach to KFL plays a cruel joke by making you ski 1.1K down to the creek with an elevation drop of 40 metres before you can start the grueling climb of 260 metres over a distance of 2.2K.
The steepness is relentless and punishing. Almost unimaginable if you’ve never seen it. On the first 500 metres after the creek you’ll be herringboning 95% of the time and gaining 100 metres of elevation.
Upon reaching the top, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the weather was. Although the thermometer on the lookout read -10°C, there was no wind, and I used the timer on the camera to take a few Les Stroud(Survivorman) style photos.
The net elevation from Boulton creek trailhead is 420 metres. The south approach, according to my GPS, is 3.3K while the north approach is 1.8K.
Descending, I crashed once when I failed to slow down enough to negotiate one of the hairpin turns. The trip down was slower than usual, four minutes and 27 seconds, reaching a top speed of 51.3 Kmh. In addition to the crash, I slowed down when to my surprise I met a skier who was coming up.
I took the new tracksetting on Pocaterra all the way to Packers which was groomed last night. Packers still has a lot of hazards, but is skiable with caution. The worst spots are always at the bottom of a fast hill. It would be much safer to be climbing than descending.
I spoke to a few people who had skied the entire length of Pocaterra, and the conditions from the hut are good and only get better as you get higher. I saw the conditions first-hand when I skied the 3.5K section of Pocaterra from Lookout to Packers, and can attest that it’s in perfect shape. Alan said the snow’s a bit thinner as you approach the hut, but still okay.
Ribbon creek/Kananaskis village
I stopped and checked the trails at Ribbon creek and Kananaskis village on my way home. They look to be in excellent condition after yesterday’s tracksetting.
For anyone interested in renting skis or snowshoes, Kananaskis Outfitters has re-opened at Kananaskis Village. The village centre has been closed for a period while undergoing renovations. Kananaskis Outfitters now has a much larger space. It’s where I first rented skis and tried out this activity for the first time in my life way back in 1997.