Magic carpet ride

The snow was fast and the surroundings were beautiful on Elk Pass

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.

Tyrwhitt meadows(click for larger image)

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.”

Shannon on Elk Pass

Elk Pass

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. 

Chip at the tri-junction: Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, Hydroline

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. 

The high point on Tyrwhitt

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. 

Who made these tracks?

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.


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  1. I was into Elk Lakes cabin for Sunday/Monday/Tuesday. Amazing snow all over the place, especially considering at Nakiska there isn’t coverage at all. This is my favourite type of skiing: quiet, thick, powdery and fast.
    Barbara, metal edges will help on the track down to cabin, but AT gear is not necessary. Just caution mixed with experience.

  2. Bob, good post. I wouldn’t have know those tracks either had I not seen the animal in question make them before our very eyes when we were AT skiing up near The Highwood Nov 30th. Those are ptarmigan tracks.

  3. Can’t wait to go back, sooner!

  4. Great to hear that it was so skiable, given that there has been no new tracksetting. Heading to Elk Lakes Cabin on the weekend, so think I’ll go with metal edges.

  5. Just about identical to our experience yesterday on Elk Pass and Blueberry Hill!

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