-How many rules are being broken in this photo of Blueberry Hill?-
Considering I often ski alone, late in the day, and in extremely cold weather, I’ve always been accepting and prepared to freeze to death on the trail or be eaten by a cougar. God forbid, however, that I’m finished off at the hands of a fat biker.
I was enjoying the fast downhill on Blueberry Hill, rounded one of the many turns, and to my horror two dismounted fat bikers were using up the entire width of the trail about 50 metres in front of me, oblivious to my presence. My high school math skills told me I had about 3 seconds to stop or hit the ditch.
Stopping was impossible, and not wanting to be impaled on a tree, I chose to yell. I was blessed with a forceful, powerful voice and it served me well today. I yelled at the top of my lungs and the two bikers scattered like rats in a dark room when the light is turned on.
I know a skier who lost his larynx to cancer, who frequently skis Blueberry Hill, and posts trip reports here. Glad it was me on the trail.
Any regular reader of this blog will know I’ve been a proponent of fat biking on groomed ski trails where it’s safe and where it’s allowed, but neither criteria applied today. In addition to being a menace to downhillers, they also left a number of large, deep ruts and ridges on the corduroy.
I skied right back up the hill, hoping to impart some information. There they were, at the end of the grooming, all seven of them. I said that fat biking on Blueberry Hill was an incredibly dangerous situation for downhill skiers, and that it wasn’t allowed in PLPP in any event, but they were not receptive, and were dismissive of my concerns.
As I turned to ski away, one of them yelled, “It’s not our fault if you’re just learning to ski.”
I could hear a cacophony of hostile yelling and shouting as I skied away.
I talked to one other skier who said he just about hit their off-leash dog.
At the Elk Pass – Blueberry Hill junction, the ringleader of the group, Corey, came to talk to me. He said they didn’t know fat biking wasn’t allowed in PLPP.
Would it be too much to ask fat bikers to do a little research on the trails they are planning to ride? I googled “Kananaskis Country fat biking” and there it was, right at the top of the list which gave the trails where it’s allowed, with one glaring exception:
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Currently NO trails approved for fat biking
Corey asked where I thought fat bikers should go, now that it’s so popular. The above-mentioned Google search will give you the names of 51 trails where fat bikers are allowed, in eight different areas. Almost every hiking and ski trail in Banff National Park is open to fat bikes, so that adds dozens more. They would have driven right past Ribbon Creek where they could have gone up Skogan Pass if they like steep trails.
He said they were sorry for what happened. The fat bikers then continued up Elk Pass. Yes, UP. After I had pointed out that Fat biking wasn’t allowed in PLPP.
Margot, who was descending the trail as I was climbing, encountered the bikers and left these remarks:
“I also was surprised to see them as I quickly descended down Blueberry Hill and said conditions were too fast for them to be on the trail.”
Lyle Opseth also ran into the fat bikers on Blueberry Hill. He relates the incident…
“Thanks Bob for informing the fat-tire cyclists on Blueberry of their mistake. I was also descending down Blueberry when I nearly ran into them. I had just passed you as you were heading up and said “Hi. Nice to see you again.” as I passed by though you didn’t recognize me.
Although I didn’t know that fat-bikes were not allowed in PLPP I did know that no one obstructs an entire ski trail on steep downhills whether he or she is a cyclist, skier, snowshoer or whatever. I silently cursed them for their stupidity as they scattered just in time. They should have figured out the danger from that incident alone. Their lack of etiquette was extremely dangerous and they need to learn proper rules whether they are in PLPP or going up to Skogan Pass. I have met some skiers coming down from Skogan Pass at high speed as I’ve skied up and proper knowledge and observance of etiquette is essential to prevent injuries.
It was even more unacceptable that they shouted at you (an experienced skier) that it’s not their fault your just learning to ski (and you’re on a ski trail!!!) and nor to continue along the trails once you’ve informed them they are not to be on the trails.”