Skogan pass: hard and fast

by Bob Truman on February 26, 2013

in Kananaskis Village Area, Ribbon Creek, Skogan pass

Post image for Skogan pass: hard and fast

It’s getting close to the end of February and I still hadn’t skied to Hummingbird Plume so today was the day. We don’t know how many more chances we’ll get.

I met blog readers Dale and Char at the junction of Skogan and Ruthie's

I met blog readers Dale and Char at the junction of Skogan and Ruthie’s

It was +1°C at the Ribbon creek parking lot at 2 pm, and I had every ski in my arsenal available since I had no idea what conditions would be like. I was half-expecting wet snow, but it looked like wax might work, so I decided to start out on my old flat Asnes skis which I usually use on this trail.

Right out of the gate I had good grip with Swix violet as I headed up the Skogan pass trail. The tracks looked icy, but I had no problems until I encountered the scourge of 2013: pine needles. I ended up skiing in the middle a good portion of the way until I reached the screamer. There were still lots of pine needles on the first 500 metres of the screamer, but they soon became much less of a concern as I gained elevation.

One of the better stretches on Skogan pass

One of the better stretches on Skogan pass

When I reached the Marmot junction I hesitated for moment, remembering how much fun I had a couple weeks ago on Marmot, and now it was trackset to boot, but I continued on with the original plan.

To get to Hummingbird Plume, you exit Skogan Pass at 4.6K and take Sunburst. I remember Jane telling me that these trails have become a lot steeper in the past 10 years, and it sure felt like it as I struggled up Sunburst. That sucker is steep.

The gazebo at Hummingbird Plume

The gazebo at Hummingbird Plume

The snow was not icy, but it was hard packed. There were occasional patches of tree debris all the way to the top, and I picked up a lot of pine needles in my wax on the way up.

Net elevation gain to Hummingbird plume is 400 metres, with a distance of 6.3K. There’s an old gazebo at the top from which you had spectacular views 50 years ago. The forest has grown up and you now have to walk to the edge of a cliff to see down the Kananaskis valley.

Ribbon creek

Ribbon creek

Taking High Level adds about 1K to the return, and the the trip back down was wild. Even on my old slow skis, it took a Herculean effort to snowplow on the hard snow, and of course the corners are scraped bare. It was a nail-biter on a couple turns but I made it down without crashing. I actually had to stop a couple times and rest because my leg muscles were aching from the effort.

With that mission accomplished, I skied for 1.2K on Ribbon creek and found the conditions better. Wax was gripping very well, tracks were good, and there are only small amounts of debris intermittently along the trail.

Beyond the Link junction the trail is still closed due to the cougar kill.

Until we get more snow, I couldn’t recommend Skogan pass/Sunburst/High Level to anyone but a seasoned intermediate skier who is very fit and enjoys high-risk behavior.

Search terms LOL

When I checked the blog stats tonight, I could see that someone googled “lemon moraine pie” and they got my blog.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michel February 27, 2013 at 7:13 am

Bob,
The Hummingbird “gazebo” is actually an old fire lookout. I believe I read that in “My Valley” by Ruth Oltmann.

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2 jeff February 26, 2013 at 9:52 pm

The snow under all the hard pack is still cold winter snow it is highly recommended to follow the fresh grooming and track setting this week. Conditions should remain consistent until mid Friday when really warm temperatures kick in.

Now that’s what I like to hear: fresh grooming on the way! -Bob

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