Did you know that Skogan pass is steeper today than it was 10 years ago? At least, that’s what Jane told me on the trail today. Maybe she was telling me that the years take their toll on our tired and decrepit bodies. Hold on a minute…she just climbed a net elevation of 630 metres(770 accumulated) and survived the trip down…we can’t be that worn out.
What an incredible trail. To put it in perspective, Kananaskis Fire Lookout is about 400 metres. In fact, now that I’ve figured out the secret to descending Skogan pass, it seems to be more fun with every trip.
I used to have an insatiable need for speed, and the faster the better. I’ve learned, however, that slowing down a bit can make the trip more fun, and give you more time to soak it all in, especially on a trail like Skogan pass with all its amazing scenery. Not to mention safety, which was never a concern for me, but recently I’ve decided that avoiding pain and broken bones is a desirable outcome.
When I ski this trail now, I use my oldest, most worn-out, flattest skis. It makes it a lot easier to climb, and they slow me down just enough that I can make the tight turns coming down without that fearful look in my eyes. They also have a bit of sidecut to them, making it more manageable on those wild turns.
On to the details, it was -1°C at Ribbon creek parking lot at 1:30 pm where I was fortunate to get a parking spot. Lower Skogan pass trail has good snow cover, only a few pine needles, and the wax was working well. Knowing that I’d be climbing a lot, I used VR50(0/-4) and had no problems. At elevation, VR40(-4/-12) would have sufficed, as the snow was -9°C, but for some reason I wasn’t icing so continued with the status quo.
At 2K, where it intersects Ruthie’s, the Skogan screamer was in good shape for the next 1.3K of hard climbing. From here on, the trail was trackset and pristine. At 4.6K, at the Sunburst junction, there was evidence of some newly fallen snow. Higher up, there was about 3 cm of fresh snow on the trail.
As I crested the final hill on the Skogan loop I was surprised to see 4 skiers coming from the other direction. Being young and resilient, they had a lot of fun on the way down, as I found one of them crumpled in a snow bank on one of those aforementioned turns. That would have been me 10 years ago.
Near the top, where the trail continues on to the viewpoint, on previous trips it was only skier-set, but I could see the trail was groomed. Too late for me, as it was already 4 pm, so I bundled up and headed down for the most enjoyable 600 metres of elevation drop I’ll ever experience. The new snow on the trail made the turns easy to negotiate, and I was back at the parking lot way too soon.
Private Ski Lessons
Are there any XC ski instructors reading this who give private lessons? I received this email…
I was just looking at your website today. I am actually looking for private cross-country ski lessons at a beginner level but finding it hard to locate them anywhere-it seems to be groups and signing up for longer courses. Do you know of anywhere or anyone around the Bragg Creek, Kananaskis or any other area near to Calgary that gives private lessons?
If you are an instructor, send me an email and I’ll forward it to Alison.