Saturday news

Lake O’Hara fire road has been trackset. Photo from 2016

Amazing news, brought to our attention by Helen, that Lake O’Hara fire road has been trackset, a month earlier than usual. 

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park:

“Due to mechanical issues there was no snow cat grooming on Dec 22nd. All grooming done was snowmobile grooming only with no tracksetting, with the exception of Boulton, Fox and Morraine which were groomed and track set but have thin spots and some natural hazards sticking out of the snow- use caution.”

Baker Creek to Castle Lookout was trackset yesterday. Two days ago, Baker Creek to Morant’s Curve was trackset. Thanks to Baker Creek Mountain Resort for maintaining these trails. 

Lake Louise: Pipestone, Bow River loop, Campground loop were trackset yesterday.

Nipika Mountain Resort: “Trails are packed and set for both skate and classic north to the natural bridge.”

Cold weather tip: It’s -23°C as I write this on Saturday morning. Steve Riggs mentioned on his trip report that glide wax for colder temperatures will move you along a lot faster in cold snow. 

The Calgary Nordic Alliance

The recently formed Calgary Nordic Alliance steps up to support reliable and accessible Nordic recreation and training opportunities for Calgarians, right in the heart of the city.

The Calgary Nordic Alliance recently became a society in the province of Alberta and represents the collective interests of Nordic clubs, partners, retailers and other supporters and the need for Nordic facilities in Calgary – acting as a single point of contact with policy makers, landowners, funders and other stakeholders.

Nordic sport access within the city fosters active, fun and healthy communities, is accessible to all and supports the athletic development aspirations of many.

For now, the Calgary Nordic Alliance is focused on supporting local ski trail operators through fundraising and volunteer recruitment. Says, Calgary Nordic Alliance representative Whitney Smithers: “with a heavy reliance on volunteers and internal fundraising to cover costs, Calgary Ski Club and Foothills Nordic Ski Club need to reach beyond their memberships to deliver cross-country ski trails to Calgarians.”

With the closure of WinSport’s COP Nordic trail network in 2016 access to reliable Nordic facilities within the city disappeared. Local non-profit clubs, Calgary Ski Club and Foothills Nordic Ski Club have groomed City of Calgary-owned, Shaganappi Point and Confederation Park golf courses for many years and their volunteers are trying to build out more reliable Nordic facilities at these courses, with small-scale, surface based snow making and more frequent grooming, when conditions permit. These clubs rely on volunteers and internal fundraising initiatives to cover operating and capital costs to maintain golf course trails. Last year, over 1500 volunteer hours went in to operating trails.

Calgarians who enjoy skiing on golf courses once a year or once a day, or just want to see Nordic facilities exist in Calgary for the long-term can show their support by volunteering or making a donation through links on the Calgary Nordic Alliance web site. 


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  1. The Nordic Alliance might gain a bit more traction if there was some discussion on the long-term vision for Nordic trails in the Calgary area (beyond the bold ask for cash and snow-shovelling hours). Certainly the golf courses can’t be the long term solution for ‘training opportunities’ given their exposure (wind/Chinook), turf protection requirements and multi-user demands. If they are, then light-footprint mechanized snow harvesting by paid staff is likely the answer (e.g. power-brush snow into windrows, plow it onto the trail and establish an 8-12″ base that allows levelling and grooming -similar to the old Hawk Ridge method) vs. asking the public to man-handle snow in 1-3 hour time slots.

    Alternatively, this would be the time to revisit the COP Eastlands option. The ecological intergrity has been irreversibly altered with the road/shopping/residential developments. Petition for custody of the remaining trails, keep the single track for MTB/fatbikes and develop the double track for XC skiing. Convert all the cleared brush into sawdust/wood chips and build a level trail bed for the first snowfalls. Only need 10-15cm of snow to start skiing with this setup (Lappe Nordic in T. Bay has used this approach for years). In the end, the ski community could have 5-7 km of north-facing/wooded trails protected from Chinooks/wind, be located adjacent to an established facility with ample snowmaking and grooming equipment (COP), have access to City water and be uphill from a major outdoor equipment retailer (if MEC actually becomes an anchor tenant). Trail passes would be required – the current free/volunteer/user group surcharge approach wouldn’t cut it.

    The golf courses are fun to doodle around on and provide good opportunity for the general public to experience XC skiing, however, will be forever challenged to provide the terrain that local clubs need for actual ‘training’.

    • Excellent! That’s the best summary I have ever seen to describe what it will take to have sustainable XC skiing in Calgary. The two biggest challenges are the political will by City officials to really support XC skiing…and the devastating effect of those frequent Chinooks.

      • Here here! I’ve lamented the loss of Hawk Ridge for some time & although I’d selfishly like to see something in the south besides Maple ridge golf course, it’s hard to find any flaws in YYC’s pitch.

        If anyone’s got a better solution, I’ll devote some energy to it…

  2. We skied the Spray River loop today, starting behind the Banff Springs and ending at the golf course. There is just enough snow to make the route enjoyable but the last kilometre before the golf course had rocks. We walked the last 500 metres. The one downside was that the thin layer of snow meant that our poles didn’t sink in, instead hitting ice or the ground most of the time. Just 5 centimetres of new snow should fix that. No crowds at all.

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