-Larry Hulsman skiing on Morant’s curve, part of the Lake Louise to Banff loppet course-
With the snow conditions I saw today, we could run the Lake Louise to Banff loppet tomorrow. According to Environment Canada, there’s lots more snow on the way over the next 24 hours, so if we don’t get a heatwave, there should be enough snow to ski the entire 71K.
I didn’t see Tracksetter John today, but I know he was out packing the trail on Leg 1 between Morant’s curve and Baker Creek. I also saw very fresh packing on Leg 2 between Protection Mountain and Castle Lookout. The stretch from Castle Lookout to Castle junction is already trackset and in great shape.
From the lake at Lake Louise to Castle junction, it’s 36K and you could ski it right now on 18K of trackset trails and 18K of snowmobile packed trails. It’s good to see they’ve got a headstart on the packing because if we get the 15 – 20 cm that’s forecast, it would have made for a very soft trail.
Leg 5 can always benefit from more snow but it looked better than I’ve seen it in some previous years. In 2011, we actually had too much snow, and it was like skiing in a narrow tunnel where it was barely wide enough to plant your poles.
As I was driving past Morant’s curve, I saw Larry skiing along the narrow ledge above the train tracks. On a sunny day, you’ll often see tourists stopped here to snap photos, as it really is a picture postcard setting. Larry had started at Coral creek and was just out for a pleasure ski.
I skied at the Pipestone trails and on Moraine lake road today, but I’ll do a separate update on them. If all that snow comes tonight, my trip report will be null and void anyway.
Will this be your first loppet? Do you know what you’re in for? With Ivo retiring last year, I think I now own the longest streak of consecutive loppets, with nine under my belt, so let me share some thoughts.
All of these things won’t happen to you in one race, but over the course of nine loppets, I’ve seen a lot. (Yet I keep coming back!)
- Gong-show starts from the parking lot.
- Pole baskets busting through soft snow.
- Pile-ups at bottlenecks on Tramline.
- Losing a pole in the melee at the first road crossing
- Not enough snow
- Too much snow
- A blizzard blowing in on leg 3. In your face.
- Skiing on gravel on leg 4
- So much snow on Leg 4 that the snowmobile got stuck
- Skiing on gravel on leg 5
- Crotch-grabbers on leg 5(now you’ll all want to do this leg?)
- The lurker in the backswamp
- Skiing on glare ice in the ‘swamp
- As you stumble through thick brush and forest, wondering how they ever found an opening wide enough to ski through in the ‘swamp
- Running in your ski boots for 800 metres
- Skiing on glare ice on the Bow river with a gale-force wind(with luck, it will be at your back)
- If you’re still reading, then watch this video The Backswamp
As a first-timer in 2011, Will Ratliffe wrote an excellent review of his experiences as he did the entire 71K: It was as close to a perfect ski day as you could get. The list above notwithstanding, Will also said “If you only do one big event in your life, do this.”
In the interest of brevity, that’s just a short list. You can see this isn’t your average loppet and that’s what makes it fun. If you’re a loppet veteran, feel free to add to the list.