Spring skiing in PLPP

by Bob Truman on March 16, 2018

in Kananaskis, PLPP(P Lougheed Park)

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The advice from Heather to go early is appropriate at this time of year. The high angle of the sun wreaks havoc on the trails by early afternoon. 

With Elk Pass closed, your only choice is the steep hill on Hydroline

I should have followed that advice today. The second mistake I made was using wax when I should have used waxless. 

The “go early” admonition applies to newly groomed trails. I expect the trails I was on today will be icy tomorrow morning with inconsistent conditions. Areas which were in the shade today will be fine but all-day shade is getting hard to come by at this time of year. 

I met this outdoor class from Saskatoon at the top of the Hydroline hill.

It started out well. At 12:30 pm I was climbing the big hill on Elk Pass with VR50(0/-4) and doing okay. When I reached the Hydroline junction I only had one choice because Elk Pass is closed between Hydroline and Patterson due to avalanche danger. 

Elk Pass

I still had reasonable grip while climbing the steep Hydroline Hill. At the top I met a large and friendly school group from Saskatoon who were here as part of their outdoor course. 

Elk Pass is closed between north Hydroline and Patterson

Hydroline, after the hill, is completely exposed and in the sun. By the time I reached the Lookout junction my grip had completely disappeared. I wasn’t about to apply anything stickier because I could see from the skiers ahead of me that sticky wax was creating large divots in the tracks(aka high-heels syndrome). 

It didn’t get very cold last night so the newly groomed snow didn’t set up very well. The tracks were still very soft. Tracksetting in 30 cm of new snow likely contributed to the problem. 

The view from the Elk Pass hill

I decided to turn around and enjoy the downhills back to the trailhead. Luckily, it’s 95% downhill on the way back. Fortunately the snow hadn’t deteriorated to the point that MaSid was talking about where the sunny spots become like quicksand.

When you’re coming down the steep Hydroline hill to Elk Pass, the runout to the yellow tape is only about 20 metres long. I’m not sure what would happen if you hit the yellow tape at full speed. Maybe it would act like a bungee cord.

The temperature when I finished skiing around 1:45 pm was +3°C. The weather forecast is predicting 5-10 cm of snow for tomorrow with a high of zero. Another difficult waxing day. 

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