Nothing could be as exciting as crossing the ice on the Cascade river as Chuck did today(see trip reports), but coming back down Redearth creek might be a close second. Conditions are typical early-season on Redearth creek in Banff National Park. First K is thin with a few land mines(rocks), bumps, and uneven spots, second K is fair, thereafter it’s in nice shape.
I wish I’d been able to go all the way to the end because conditions were excellent by the time I reached the top of the hill at 5.5K and turned around. If continuing on, after 5.5K, you start descending to the backcountry campground at 7K. If you continue past the campground, it’s another 3.6K to the end of the trail at the warden’s cabin. Net elevation gain to the top of the hill is 240 metres. To the warden’s cabin is 350 metres.
The trail was trackset five days ago and has seen almost no traffic, with only one other skier besides myself today. The frigid weather has kept people off the trail it would seem.
There was a dusting of fresh snow in the tracks, and it snowed lightly for a half-hour while I was skiing. The air temperature was -8°C and the snow was -9. Swix VR40(-4/-12) performed well for grip.
As always, it’s a strenuous climb on the way out, but a super-fast and fun return, except near the beginning where the rocks are. I suggested to Ashley(the other skier) to remove her skis on this section and walk. When I returned, I could see the tell-tale sign of a crash and burn exactly where the rocks were. I hope she’s okay.
The rocks appear about 400 metres from the trailhead on a steep hill and are prevalent for a distance of about 100 metres.
As with Goat creek, this is not a trail for beginners. The first time I skied on Redearth creek, I encountered a woman on the trail who had broken her leg on the way back, on the steep hills, about 2k from the trailhead. My copy of Chic Scott’s trail guide, Ski Trails in the Canadian Rockies, is dog-eared from years of use. I think it gives very accurate descriptions of most trails, but regarding Redearth Creek I have to respectfully disagree with his description of this trail as “easy” and “a good place to practice your skills in a safe environment.” It’s narrow, with fast hills that get scraped bare, and sometimes there are ruts created by other skiers that can send you flying when you’re descending. The snowmobile used for tracksetting also leaves ruts. Be prepared to walk down some hills if you have any question about your ability. As with all trails, when snow conditions are perfect, it makes it a lot easier, but be prepared for less-than-perfect conditions.
Nipika Mountain Resort opens their ski trails on Friday Dec 13.
More photos from Redearth creek: