Today’s snow would qualify as “Steppenwolf” quality. Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever experienced tracks so fast on Elk Pass. Even coming back on Tyrwhitt, where it hasn’t been trackset, we were flying. It was an extremely good day of skiing.
To qualify for the Steppenwolf designation, the conditions also have to be safe. After descending each big hill, we looked at each other and said “that was pretty easy.”
After six days with no grooming and lots of fresh snow, as you’ll see in the photos, the tracks are pretty washed out and wavy but it didn’t detract from our enjoyment of the trail.
We enjoyed Shannon’s company as far as the Blueberry Hill junction. We later talked to skiers who had done Blueberry and they said it was also in good shape.
Upon reaching the top of Elk Pass we chatted a bit with Courtenay and Megan who were returning from the Elk Lakes cabin. They were on skinny skis and said it was pretty scary going down to the cabin yesterday. Same old issue, the trail is not wide enough for long skinny skis to get a good snowplow going.
Tyrwhitt was groomed last week but also has a lot of fresh snow and some semblance of skier-set tracks. It was gorgeous going through the meadows today with the sun and blue sky. The trees and shrubs were not only snow-covered but were also sparkling with hoar frost.
We went to the end of the meadows on Tyrwhitt, which is also the high point, and turned around. The high point on Tyrwhitt is about 40 metres higher than Elk Pass.
It’s 9.4K one-way to the high point on Tyrwhitt.
We had a nice conversation with JR and his wife Karen as we were returning. JR leaves the occasional trip report on this blog.
The air and snow temperatures were -9°C when we started out just after 11 a.m. VR40(-4/-12) worked well all day. At 2 pm, the air temp was -6. When I took the snow temperature at the Tyrwhitt picnic table it was -8.
Scary and exciting at the same time:
If I had any scary moment at all, it was coming down the other side of the big hill(soon after starting out). Unless you snowplow slowly all the way, it can sweep you along as you reach the bottom and there’s a big ridge in the middle(made by snowplowing!), that doesn’t let you get a wide enough snowplow going to slow yourself down. It’s one of those “point of no return” moments.
If you want to see more amazing photos, check Steve Riggs’ Backcountry report to Burstall Pass and Chuck’s trip report to Paradise Valley.