I had the pleasure of meeting Erin and John at the top of Whiskey jack(where it meets Pocaterra). After discovering my blog a couple weeks ago, and being enticed by the early snow, they drove from Duluth, MN, to ski in our back yard.
When I started up Whiskey jack at 12:30 pm, the air temperature was -10°C and the snow was -14. The air temperature rose one degree for every 50 metres of elevation, and at the top of Whiskey Jack, it seemed very pleasant with a blue sky, sunshine, no wind, and lots of smiling faces. Despite the warmer temperatures at higher elevation, my VR30(-10/-30) worked well all day.
It was enjoyable talking to Erin and John, and hearing about their home town of Duluth. Believe it or not, I’ve been to Duluth, MN to visit the place where my dad was born. It’s a little town about 20 miles north of Duluth called Alborn. All that’s left is a tavern and the graveyard where my great grandparents who came from Sweden are buried. My dad’s father and his four brothers worked as lumberjacks in the forests before moving to Canada.
Thank you for indulging me. Back to business. The PLPP trail report indicates there are early-season hazards on Tyrwhitt. I didn’t see anything that would cause any concern unless those three little twigs, over a distance of 4.8K, sticking up through the tracks are an issue for anyone.
Erin and John climbed Packers yesterday and didn’t see anything too concerning, but descending can be another story, so check MaSid’s trip report for details on the one icy spot. It’s truly amazing to have Packers on line this early in the season.
Tough decisions are required when conditions are so good, and I was pondering which way to go after reaching the Whiskey jack – Pocaterra junction. Mike came along, having skied all the way from the hut, and reported Pocaterra to be in good shape. Recent tracksetting on Pocaterra occurred on the stretch between WJ and Packers, but the remainder still has good tracks, too. I took a photo at the hut and it looked pretty nice.
I decided to complete the loop which consists of Tyrwhitt, Elk pass, Fox creek, Boulton creek. You can’t make a bad choice right now in any event, but I headed south. I passed the Kananaskis Fire Lookout junction which looked very attractive with brand new tracks.
The Tyrwhitt meadows are always a treat for the eyes, more so on such a lovely day. After seeing the photos, I expect a lot more people from faraway places will be skiing here.
At the Tyrwitt- Elk pass – Hydroline junction, everything looked enticing. I knew Hydroline had been trackset yesterday, but was surprised to see brand new tracks on Elk pass. They were probably set this morning, and my suspicions were confirmed when I started down them because they were still soft.
With the new grooming and soft snow, it was pedal to the metal on the Elk pass downhills. In no time, I arrived at the Blueberry Hill junction which also had new tracksetting today. Kim and Amanda had just returned from doing Blueberry and reported excellent conditions.
Next on the agenda, Fox creek. It has been groomed but not trackset. I enjoy it just as much without tracks to be honest. It’s nice to see clean snow on these narrow trails. I took the New Boulton Creek back to my vehicle, and make no mistake, this is a trail for seasoned intermediate skiers. If nothing else, you need to be a proficient snowplower.
The temperature was still -8 when I stopped at the hut to check things out. If you need a place to practice, don’t forget about the Rolly road training grid. There’s an easy trackset trail which starts at the Rolly road trailhead that takes you to the grid. Rolly road trailhead is accessed from Pocaterra parking lot(by the outhouse).
The PLPP Visitor Centre is now officially known as the PLPP Discovery Centre. It’s open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm. Pocaterra Hut is open from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
For the life of me, I can’t understand why we’ve had no updates from Parks Canada regarding Banff trails this week. The only trails which were trackset were the Tunnel Mountain Campground, and those are not done by Parks. I can understand if they are having equipment problems, but even an update on that would be nice.
If you’re interested in doing some serious elevation on excellent tracks, I just received confirmation that Skogan pass is trackset all the way to the summit. That’s one epic ski trip.