Lower your expectations. Spring is here

by Bob Truman on March 23, 2017

in Kananaskis, PLPP(P Lougheed Park)

Post image for Lower your expectations. Spring is here

On the other hand, maybe Alf Skrastins has it right. Read his recent backcountry trip report to get a more positive attitude on spring skiing.

Most digital cameras come with a variety of built-in scene settings to help you take pictures in different conditions. Scene settings such as sand/snow, landscape and portrait will automatically adjust the settings in your camera to be ideal for that particular situation.

Whiskey Jack

Whiskey Jack

It’s fitting that sand/snow are one of the settings because today, as I was skiing through the fresh snow, it felt more like sand. The snow was that weird stuff known as graupel and I’m pretty sure my glide wax wasn’t appropriate for it. I have CH8 glide wax on my waxless skis because it’s usually wet/warm snow when I’m using waxless, but I’m wondering if graupel has characteristics more akin to cold snow.

It was faster to ski out of the tracks on Tyrwhitt

It was faster to ski out of the tracks on Tyrwhitt

I felt totally cheated after skiing the Tryrwhitt Loop in PLPP today. I went out with high expectations after seeing the Live Grooming Report this morning, but alas, last night’s new tracksetting had between 1-4 cm of new snow over top, and it was painfully slow. Skiing out of the tracks was generally a bit faster, or should I say, not quite so slow. Air and snow temperature at Boulton Creek were both 0°C.

I met Larissa and Ron as they were approaching the top of Elk pass

I met Larissa and Ron as they were approaching the top of Elk pass

Skiers on wax were having a terrible time of it. As I started up Whiskey Jack on my Fischer twin skins, I could tell there were some skiers ahead of me on waxable skis because of the big divots in the tracks. I could also see the evidence of them stopping frequently to scrape the ice off their skis. They were at the picnic table when I arrived at the top.

Elk Pass

Elk Pass

Another sign of spring on Whiskey Jack – the dreaded snow fleas were starting to make an appearance.

I ran into BarbBanff as she was descending Whiskey Jack and she told me about the very fresh lynx tracks on Tyrwhitt. At the speed I was skiing today, I would be sure to see them, and sure enough, soon after the picnic table, I spotted them.

Lynx tracks near Tyrwhitt

Lynx tracks near Tyrwhitt

Everyone I talked to was saying the same thing about the snow being ultra-slow. Plodding along at the higher elevations on Tyrwhitt and Elk pass, I was hoping and praying that Fox Creek and Moraine would have icy tracks!

Approaching the top of Whiskey jack

Approaching the top of Whiskey jack

When I was coming down the steep hills after leaving the top of Elk Pass, I met Larissa and Ron. Normally, I would have not wanted to break my momentum on this super-fast section but I easily came to a stop. They both remarked on how slow I was going!

As I reached the lower elevations on Elk Pass, there was much less fresh snow and the tracks were semi-glazed and becoming a bit faster. Fox Creek wasn’t icy but was reasonably fast and quite enjoyable. Moraine’s tracks were a mixture of glazed and skied-in new snow, and were the fastest tracks I skied on today.

As I pulled out of Boulton Creek parking lot, the temperature was +2 and my odometer read 99999.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 barb banff March 25, 2017 at 8:06 am

Yes good to remember the roses- thanks

Any guesses on skintecs at PLPP today?

Reply

2 Stephen Vermeulen March 24, 2017 at 3:24 pm

Very good conditions on Wheeler, Amos, Wooley and Meadow on Friday morning, see my report.

Reply

3 Will R March 24, 2017 at 11:01 am

We’re heading up the Icefields Parkway next week to the Beauty Creek and Mosquito Creek hostels. Hopefully that will let us squeeze a final week of cold-ish snow out of the season, at least in the mornings (and obviously avoiding any avalanche terrain). Between skis, snowshoes, and hammocks (for afternoon sun), I think we’ll manage.

Reply

4 Alf Skrastins March 24, 2017 at 12:38 am

My loop took in Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, Hydroline, Patterson and Fox Creek. I used a thin layer of VR45 and found it to be too slippery on some of the lower trails and too sticky on parts of the higher trail… but it worked pretty well about 80% of the time. Glide was slow overall. Scraping the squashed snow flea/wax mixture a couple of times helped improve the glide. Who knew it was possible to complain about new grooming and fresh snow!

Reply

5 Bob Truman March 24, 2017 at 9:36 am

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns,
or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
-Abraham Lincoln

I admit I’m spoiled, but it’s difficult to hide my disappointment on occasion.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: