As I laboriously ascended the grueling Screamer, I was thinking back to last winter when I descended it on the most wonderful conditions ever. When the snow and grooming is excellent, it’s like you’re floating along on a cloud, it flows so nicely.
I posted this on Feb 11, 2017: Screaming Fun on the Ribbon Creek Trails
“I turned around and rocketed back down the Screamer to Ruthie’s junction where I’m sure the skiers standing around saw the biggest grin on my face.”
Climbing it on my bike required all my willpower and resulted in burning quads, heavy breathing, and a pounding heart.
The ski trail is dry and in good shape for biking. Only one place on the ascent did I have to get the tires wet, at approximately 9.5K. On the descent, there’s a stretch of about 30 metres where you will be riding through mud and water.
There was some pretty fresh bear scat on the trail near the Sunburst junction.
I’ve ascended Skogan Pass on skis many times, but this was the first time on bike in this direction. It’s an exhausting workout on skis or bike with a net elevation gain of 640 metres over a distance of 11K.
The trail bypasses the summit, but it’s only a further 200 metres with 20 metres of elevation gain to get to the top on a spur trail. The view from the summit is spectacular and expansive if you can ignore all the power poles and cables.
I much prefer visiting the summit on my skis in the winter, but this was as pleasant as a strenuous bike ride can be. I’m no speedster on a bike, and it took me almost as long to climb to the summit by bike(1:55:00) as it does on skis(exactly two hours last winter).
I saw plenty of flowers along the trail, including paintbrush, sweetvetch, wild roses, arnica, buttercups, forget-me-nots, and lots of white ones. I didn’t see much wildlife but observed bear scat eight times, mostly between the Pigeon mountain turn-off and the top.
One advantage of biking over skiing is that I don’t have to pry my legs out of the snowplow position when I reach the bottom!
You can start this trip at a number of trailheads(or, conversely, end it) including Ribbon Creek, Nakiska ski area, or Stoney trailhead. I started at the Stoney trailhead and took Hay Meadow and Ruthie’s to reach the Skogan pass trail at the point where the Screamer starts. I ended at the Dead Man’s Flats trailhead, also known as Banff Gate Resort, which is also the trailhead for Centennial Ridge and Wind Valley. Total distance of 19K.