After a week of wet, icy, and needlemania conditions as a result of the recent meltdown, I was certainly counting my blessings today.
Tyrwhitt was trackset last night and was in near-perfect condition. I had it all to myself.
If the snow comes tonight as forecast, my report won’t be relevant, but the lower part of Elk Pass would benefit from a bit of fresh snow in the tracks.
The Weather Network predicts for PLPP: “5-10 cm of snow from Friday Overnight to Saturday Overnight.”
Most of the skiers were heading up to Blueberry Hill, thinking that Tyrwhitt wasn’t groomed. A quirk in the Live Grooming Report initially didn’t show Tyrwhitt and Lookout as being groomed last night. Only Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, and parts of Hydroline were in green when I checked early this morning. Something made me check again later, and all the south end was in green.
As Ken Hewitt alluded to in his trip report, Elk Pass had variable conditions. When I arrived at the trailhead at 1 pm, the air temperature was -4°C, as was the snow. The tracks looked semi-glazed, so I used my rock skis which had the goop on them, goop being Swix Violet(0°). If you remember, I was testing them on the glazed tracks at the Canmore Nordic Centre yesterday.
More importantly, the snow in the middle of the track, the corduroy, although granular, was still soft. I was thankful that I’d have soft snow to control my descent on the steep downhills.
I had enough grip to keep me going but I was slipping frequently and had to herringbone a lot.
The tracks were mostly icy with occasional stretches of real snow. In many places the tracks were shallow due to the fact there was a skating rink underneath. That’s not a problem until you’re descending and trying to turn corners, as your skis will come out of the tracks more easily.
These conditions were a bit frustrating, but I was holding out hope that I would get my reward at higher elevation, and the allure of a pleasant ski on Tyrwhitt was a motivating factor.
Around 3.5K conditions started getting better. The tracks were now composed mostly of snow and I was getting better grip. I ran into Ken about 100 metres before the Patterson junction and had a nice chat. Being an early skier, he didn’t realize that Tyrwhitt was trackset and skied Blueberry Hill instead.
Between the Blueberry junction and the top of Elk Pass conditions steadily improved.
Now came the real reward. Tyrwhitt was 99.9% in excellent condition. All the challenges of Elk Pass were forgiven now that I was on this delightful trail with the stunning scenery. As Helen said, “It was heavenly to feel snow under one’s skis again.”
It’s unusual for me to be travelling in this direction on Tyrwhitt, but it was fun going downhill on good snow on all those parts where I’m usually climbing. From south to north, it’s about 1.2K of downhill to the Tyrwhitt picnic table where I stopped to rewax.
The snow texture on Tyrwhitt was that of real snow(not ice), and I rewaxed with VR50(0/-4) and it performed flawlessly as I was now climbing for the next 2.4K to the high point at the end of the meadows. I remembered that my good skis, still in my vehicle, were carefully prepped this morning for the abrasive snow with base binder. Oh well, one rewaxing on a 19K trip isn’t too bad.
This next stretch is 2.4K of the most outstanding ski trail on the face of the earth. I reached the end of the meadows and turned around and got to experience it all in the other direction. How lucky can a guy get.
From the high point on Tyrwhitt, heading south, you glide effortlessly but not too fast, allowing yourself enough time to soak it all in. Over the 2.4K to the picnic table, you pass through four beautiful meadows and have Mt Tyrwhitt to watch over you. In the distance, you can see mountains that are well into B.C.
In the photos, I’ve included other trails, all in poor condition, including South Boulton Creek, Meadow, and Pocaterra.