Avalanche danger on Elk Pass

by Bob Truman on March 13, 2018

in Fat bikes

Elk Pass is closed between north Hydroline and Patterson. Photo by DonC

With this section of Elk Pass closed, you can still access Blueberry Hill by going up Hydroline and down Patterson. The trail report indicates Elk Pass is closed for avalanche control. I don’t know if that means it will be open again soon. 

Congratulations! NancyR reaches 1000K. Photo by DonC

Thanks to DonC for the following report:

The Shell Oiltimers had a fantastic day skiing Elk Pass today.  To our surprise the Elk Pass trail from the junction of Hydroline to Blueberry Junction was closed last night on account of avalanche danger.

On a brighter note NancyR achieved 1000 km at the top of Hydroline today :).  You can tell from the photo how happy she is 🙂

Fat Bike Deja Vu

Where have I previously heard about fat bikes creating a dangerous situation? Chip posted this along with his trip report from Moraine Lake Road:

“I hope that I’m not offending anyone’s sport sensibilities, but this is about fat bikes on ski trails. In its infinite wisdom, Parks Canada allows fat bikes on Moraine Lake Road, Pipestone and the 1A. I witnessed the…er…problems associated with this policy today. I was coming down Moraine Lake Rd at a brisk pace when a group of four had dropped their bikes for a rest, two in the track and two in the skating lane. I didn’t mince words as I scurried to avoid a collision. The skating lane was getting quite rutted with their efforts and I can’t imagine that this is easy or cheap to fix. Essentially, this activity seriously compromised the ability to skate. Then, to make matters worse, there were tracks on Fairview, where (I was informed by Parks staff), such activity is prohibited.

On voicing my concerns with Parks, I was told that it’s difficult to deny access for some activities while allowing it for others. Clearly, this is not true, and one can find many examples (e.g., Cascade Fire Rd) where some activities are restricted.

Just sayin’ that segregated trails are the way to go and that not all activities need be allowed if, in doing so, the primary activities become hazardous or difficult.”

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Herb Kruschke March 14, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Congratulations, Nancy! May you have many more blue wax/blue bird days in the future.

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2 Greg March 14, 2018 at 10:15 am

What surprises me is that you people feel this is a fatbike only thing. Have you never ran into a gaggle of snowshoers with their packs and gear strewn all over the trail on the bottom of a down hill? More often than not I have to make evasive maneuvers skiing down from Taylor Lake to avoid a group picnic in the middle of the track, I almost expect it now. Have you never skied down Blueberry Hill and encountered people re-waxing their skis and taking a layer off, grabbing a snack or drink in the middle of the trail? On a busy day skiing down Blueberry can be like a slalom run skirting around other skiers doing all sorts of things in the middle of the trail. Its just the way it is. It seems like when some people get out of the city and onto a wilderness trail they feel like they are the only ones out there, even if you and I think it is busy. And, well, some people are just stupid.

My point is saying “fat bikes are dangerous” is wrong. The people riding them in that instance may have done something you felt was dangerous but there is no reason skiers and fat bikers can’t share wide groomed trail. I personally feel if any two winter activities are compatible it is xc skiing and fat biking. They travel at about the same speed and the fat tires leave less of a mark on groomed trails than skate skis. Hey, settle down, I’ve skate skied for 25 years, I know what sort of tracks I leave behind and I know in soft groomed snow a fat bike doesn’t leave near the rut. The biggest thing fat bikers have to learn is that skiers have the right of way on downhills. In mountain biking the uphill rider has the right of way and it would be incredibly poor form to the come barreling down a hill screaming “track” and expecting everyone to go diving into the bushes.

I get that the xc purists don’t want to share their domain, I get that they are unhappy that snowshoers, winter hikers and now fat bikers have infiltrated their once private and peaceful paradise. I get that they are unhappy that there are just more people period. I track ski a lot less than I used to, preferring to go backcountry and get away from today’s crowds.

Fat bikers aren’t a bunch of roving thugs like some on here like to make them out to be. They are your neighbours, your school teachers, your physio therapists, your restaurant servers and maybe even your friends. They just want to do the same thing as you, get out, enjoy the great outdoors, get some exercise and have fun.

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3 Hugh March 13, 2018 at 9:01 pm

Re Fat Biking: There is a Facebook page that I created about skiing the lesser known trails at the Canmore Nordic Centre. I’ve rejigged my intro to the Page.
“Initially, I formed this page to promote the lesser used trials at the Canmore Nordic Centre. In the back of my mind I wanted to promote the use of these lesser known trails to show the CNC they are are of value to XC skiers and still need to be groomed. In the past few years Fat biking has exploded. This is an activity of which I approve . Fat Biking opens up new areas to biking in winter. My fear is that we, as XC skiers, need to use it or lose it. There is potential of losing XC trails to the FatBiking community at CNC and everywhere else. This forum is one place to show support for XC trails at CNC.
Fat Biking is here to stay so don’t piss and moan about it just go out and ski. post here”….. and on Skier Bob..

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4 Hugh March 14, 2018 at 12:14 am

I feel I need to clarify my statement above. I’ve received some heat from folks who are skiers and fat bikers about the use of the term of our trails on Skier Bob’s Facebook post and fear my statement above also will create some -ve responses. To clarify, my concern is that once a particular group, in this case it happens to be Fat Bikers, reaches a critical mass, decision makers at CNC and elsewhere will reassess grooming and or tracking the current network of trails and look a dedicating trails for each activity. Some trails can handle multi users others not so much. Some are good for skiing others snowshoeing and others biking. We just need to be ready to be part of the solution.

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5 Peter March 13, 2018 at 8:05 pm

We had our first confrontation with a group of Fat Bikers at Bragg Creek a few weeks ago. When we encountered them, we politely informed them that they were on the designated ski trail and later at a junction sign pointed out the designated ski and bike trails. We were rudely informed that until there is a bylaw enforcing the skier only access to the trails, they would not abide by the closure. They also informed us that they are members of a Mountain Biking Club, they pay their dues and this gives them the right to bike wherever they want to. Later we spoke a trail volunteer and he said that this reaction to our request was the normal reaction when they inform Fat Bikers that they are on the ski trails.

On Monday we skied into Chester Lake. We were the only skiers, but we encountered about 40 snowshoers and a number of hikers. Most were on snow shoe trails, but a percentage were on the ski trail. The trail was quite icy from the high number of users on the weekend and warm temperatures. I have been skiing in the backcountry for over 40 years and Chester Lake is one of my favourite trails. I have skied it at least once every year for the past four decades. The big change that I am seeing is the massive increase in usage of this and other trails in the Rockies, both winter and summer. Until 5 or 6 years ago, you hardly ever saw a snowshoer on the trail and now they often vastly out number the skiers. I also note a big increase in winter hikers, but this is likely due to the increasing number of people on the trails. Skiing out on Monday, the trail had softened up a lot, but a small number of the snowshoers and a few hikers had walked out the ski trail, chewing it up in the process. and making it difficult and less enjoyable to ski This is almost the new normal on trails in the Rockies now. I long for the days when there were only small numbers of skiers on the trails. Thankfully there were no Fat Bikers on the trail.

We are only going to see more user groups on the trails and I think as skiers we need to stand up for ourselves and have more trail restrictions on some trails and more designated skier only, snow shoe and other users trails. I have written letters in the past to the Provincial and National Parks, the Provincial and Federal Parks Ministers and I plan to write more letters in the future. Thankfully Snow Pogo Sticks haven’t caught on yet and I hope they never do.

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6 Jennifer March 13, 2018 at 6:13 pm

Bob,

First, thank you for your great website and to those of you who post trip reports!
It’s really unfortunate to hear that some Fat bikers aren’t following trail etiquette and just common sense on a multi-use trail! The last time I was on Moraine Lake road skate skiing I stopped a couple (clearly tourists) walking on the tracks and politely “educated” them and they adjusted their route. I don’t know why Parks Canada cannot post a couple of larger, legible signs – perhaps with a diagram showing who does what, where at the start of these trails…..Great Divide too!
I wonder if such diagrams could be posted in bike shops/stands which rent out Fat bikes. Clearly there are people are who are just clueless, perhaps first timers needing clear direction – like perhaps this group that Chip ran into (b/c cyclists know not to leave bikes in middle of trail!)

Anyone good at photoshopping such a diagram and posting? 😉

Thanks all!
Jennifer

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