I’m a little late with this report but it should still be reasonably accurate if you’re thinking of going to the south end of PLPP which was groomed in the early morning of March 13(Thursday).The snow may be crusty if you go early in the day.
We arrived at 1:30 pm when the air temperature was +1°C. The sky was sunny and there was little wind. Two cm of new snow was visible on top of the overnight tracksetting, but one track was well skied-in by the early skiers.
I had not yet skied the Upper lake trail this winter, so I took that pleasant little trail down to the Upper lake. If Elk pass parking lot is full, that’s always an option for skiers because there’s lots of parking available at the Upper lake, and it’s only 900 metres to the Elk pass trailhead on a lovely trail.
The snow was cold in the shady areas of the trail, and wet in the sunny spots. Pretty much a waxing nightmare if you had waxable skis. We were using the Skintecs again, but I believe the fishscale waxless would also have worked well. The only icy spots were on Fox creek, and they weren’t that bad or prolonged.
I could see from the tracks that skiers ahead of me with wax were having issues, as there were spots where the snow was sticking to the wax. It leaves a tell-tale depression in the tracks.
Judging from the weather forecast, I expect you’ll find typical spring skiing conditions. Somewhat crusty and icy in the early day, turning to softer conditions in the afternoon.
Steep downhills are the scariest in these spring conditions. Early in the day, the middle of the trail can be too icy to snowplow properly, and later in the day, you have the sunny/shady issue to contend with. Coming down a hill where the snow has been shaded all day, and it’s fast, followed by a sunny, wet spot. Faceplant.
Returning on Fox creek, the tracks were excellent but there were frequent icy spots and some debris, although some stretches were excellent with cold snow and no debris. Still enjoyable, but not the blissful experience of mid-winter conditions.
Mount Shark trails were all groomed last night. Pipestone at Lake Louise, Cascade valley and Upper Bankhead in Banff were done yesterday.
Weather Warning issued for Banff…10-20cm snow by Sunday. Rain/snow mix for lower elevations.
More photos from Elk pass…
I was one of those earlier skiers at PLPP today. We arrived to a temperature of -1C and the 1-2cm dusting of snow that you mentioned. I used SWIX VR45 on my waxable skis and my friend used wax less skis. I had good grip and glide on the whole tour, except for a couple of the steepest, sunniest climbs.
Our loop included Fox Creek, Blueberry Hill, Elk Pass, Tyrwitt, Whiskey Jack and Moraine. The trails groomed on Mar 13 were in excellent shape, especially Blueberry Hill, which only had a couple of skiers on it since it was groomed.
Whiskey Jack was last groomed Mar 9, so it had 7cm of new snow covering the grooming. However, it had enough skier traffic to keep the tracks in good shape and smooth the snow-plow line. It got a bit icier near the bottom. Moraine was last groomed March 11 and was soft in sunny areas and glazed in shady spots, but it was still very enjoyable skiing.
Several forecast models are calling for a light snowfall overnight, so there may be another dusting of snow on the tracks in the morning!