Lake O’Hara fire road is one of the most scenic trails known to humankind, and today, Ray, Mary, Keith and I had the pleasure of being able to use our waxable skis. 🙂
It’s a bonus if you get to ski here on a sunny day as we did today. It’s 11K one-way with a net elevation gain of 410 metres, and a total ascent of 600 metres. The first 2K is very steep, the middle 5K consists of rolling hills with a moderate elevation gain, and the final 4K is a demanding test of your fitness with a number of steep hills.
The trail was hardpacked for the initial 5k, but I’d have to say it was better than a lot of the trails I’ve skied on this winter. The very abrasive snow made us stop at the picnic tables at 5K and re-wax. I used VR45(-2/-8) with a top coat of VR40(-4/-12). The snow and air temperature at 10:15 a.m. was -7°C. Later, at Lake O’Hara Lodge, the thermometer indicated -5. As we neared the end, the snow on the trail was more like…snow!
This trail is usually groomed and trackset once a week by the innkeeper at Lake O’Hara Lodge, Bruce Millar. Bruce has been giving us periodic updates this winter, and the next grooming is scheduled for tomorrow(Thursday). You can ski up to the lodge for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays(see the photos for more details).
There’s a shelter with a fireplace near the end of the trail known as Le Relais. Keith built a roaring fire and we were able to dry off while we ate lunch. It’s about another 100 metres from Le Relais to the lodge where Keith delivered the supplies we found on the trail on the way up. They must have fallen off the lodge’s snowmobile on the last supply run.
The trip back down was fast, but not terrifying. The trail was still “snowy” enough to get an edge in for snowplowing on the steepest sections. If you were a skillful, adept and talented skier, you could break all kinds of speed records.
To give you some perspective, the trip up took 104 minutes, but going back down was only 42 minutes.
Ray described the conditions we’ve faced this winter accurately when he said it’s like constantly “playing defense.” When we’re skiing on ideal conditions, everything seems easy. On good snow, steep uphills are still a workout but your wax grips and you don’t have to herring-bone much. On the steep downhills, you can put pedal to the metal and not have to be concerned. With the snow and cold weather in the forecast, let’s hope we can go on the “offense” for a change.
West Bragg Creek
Check the trip reports for Alf Skrastin’s update on West Bragg Creek. It looks like the good times are back.
More photos from Lake O’Hara…