Lake O’Hara fire road

Janet and Tom from Chicago spent the weekend at the Elizabeth Parker huts and were returning to the trailhead

Conditions were excellent on Lake O’Hara fire road today. Cold snow, clean, firm tracks, vivid blue skies, and the highlight of the day, a big hug from Janet. This is another trail you need to do on a sunny day to get the full benefit of the magnificent scenery. 

A short trail beside the warden’s cabin leads out onto the lake

Janet and her husband Tom are from Chicago and she reads my blog every day, dreaming of all our wonderful trails. They spent the weekend at the huts with their Calgary friend Wayne. When she found out who I was, she couldn’t contain her excitement and many photos were taken. She also felt vindicated because her husband and friend previously didn’t think there really was a SkierBob. 

Lake O’Hara has seen lots of activity

The three of them were on snowshoes and I had to laugh when I took their picture. Wayne made sure he didn’t step in the ski tracks, but the snow was so hard that it wouldn’t have mattered. It reminded me of the man-made snow at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

Good tracks, cold snow, and beautiful scenery.

The temperature was -16°C at 12:45 pm, but with the sun shining, it didn’t seem cold at all. I used VR30(-10/-30), and I probably could have used polar wax the snow was so cold. The hard snow was also very abrasive and I had to add wax at 6.5K as I started up the steep hills. 

The picnic table at 5K

It looked as if this area received about 40 cm of snow last week. The skier-set track to Ross Lake was very deep. 

Bruce from Lake O’Hara Lodge was going back and forth with a snowmobile and throwing small chunks of snow into the tracksetting. Normally this wouldn’t thrill me, but today, the hard little chunks of snow acted like ball bearings and I was gliding faster than in the track which had been skied in. 

Bruce from Lake O’Hara Lodge tracksets this trail at least once a week, usually on Thursdays

I skied out onto the lake which looked spectacular, ringed by the snowy mountains. I stopped at the day shelter(briefly, no fire was going) to put on some warmer clothes and headed back down. The first 5K on the return is breakneck, screaming fast. I didn’t have to take a stride until I was nearing the hill at the picnic tables. 

The trail is 11K one-way to Le Relais day shelter with a net elevation gain of 410 metres, but there’s lots of up-and-down so your total ascent is probably closer to 500 metres. 

I stopped at Pipestone and saw that it was in the process of being groomed. Redearth Creek is now being maintained by Shadow Lake Lodge and I observed snowmobile tracks leading up the trail but I don’t know if it was trackset. 

The Kananaskis Village trails were trackset today and are reported to be in great shape. 

Most of the Lake Louise trails have been groomed since the big snowfall last week but there are still a few needing work. No reports of tracksetting on the Banff trails. I wonder why. 


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  1. Jennifer Ferguson

    I was wondering if someone could tell me how long it is to ski to the lodge and back?

  2. Yes Virginia, there is a SkierBob.

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