I could see from the web cam that Lake Louise had received some new snow overnight as had been predicted. I also saw that warm temperatures prevailed, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Pipestone trails which had been trackset on Dec 5.
At 2:10 pm the air temperature at the trailhead was -1 as was the snow. There was 4 cm of new snow and skiers were reporting some stickiness, even with their waxless skis.
I debated which skis to use and decided to start out with waxable. Concerned about high heels(snow clumping on the wax), I used VR45 which is for colder snow, but hoped this compromise would give me adequate grip with no clumping.
The tracks had been skied in by the earlier skiers and I was pleasantly surprised that I had lots of grip on the polished tracks, yet no significant icing. At 2K it seems everyone except one skier had turned left on the Drummond trail. I wanted to continue on #20, the Pipestone loop, which I did.
I was hoping the one skier-set track would still work for my wax, and it did. On a few hills, where there was no track, I had high heels when in loose snow, but it was a minor problem.
These are not easy trails. They’re narrow, there’s lots of elevation, many ups and downs, blazing fast downhills with sharp turns; all the features which make for a fun day when snow conditions are good, as they were today. The “blazing fast downhills” in the fresh snow were actually too slow for my liking.
I skied the entire Pipestone loop counter-clockwise which is 13.1K. The first 3K involves a lot of climbing, with a net elevation gain of 120 metres. The trail then undulates, but still climbs gradually as you ski high along the west bank of the Pipestone river through forest for the next 3.5K. Occasionally you can catch a glimpse across the valley.
At 6.5K, the trail turns away from the river, the forest thins out, and you enter a different world of meadows, mountains and numerous animal tracks.
There are no problems crossing the many rivulets as they all have a snow bridge now. As I headed south, there are many downhills which are normally quite fast, but not today. What I found strange was that my wax started to get sticky when I was back on the part of the trail which had been skied on by many skiers. The snow hadn’t become significantly colder, so that one left me wondering.
My wax wasn’t perfect today, but it was still better than using waxless skis. From 6.5K to 8K, the Pipestone loop is a magical place when there’s a bit of fresh snow to make everything sparkling clean and white.
Environment Canada: An approaching pacific weather system will develop snowfall over western Alberta on Tuesday morning. Snowfall, with total amounts of 10 to 20 cm is expected by Tuesday evening. In some locations snowfall amounts may reach 25 cm, particularly closer to the B.C. border in the Banff and Jasper regions. The snowfall will taper off Tuesday evening.
Here’s our latest photo entry in the Emerald Lake Lodge contest:
More photos from today’s skiing at Pipestone…