Excellent conditions…and not that cold

by Bob Truman on February 5, 2019

in Bill Milne, Kananaskis

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Bill Milne trail near Ribbon Creek

The Kananaskis Village, Ribbon Creek, Skogan Pass, Bill Milne trails are in prime condition right now, but If you plan on skiing the Bill Milne trail, make sure you read all of this update. There’s a section of trail which you can’t ski because of a massive ice flow. Jean-Francois mentioned it in his trip report. 

Update Feb 6: A trail has been packed to skirt the ice flow. 

“We skidoo packed a reroute around the Bill Milne ice floe. It’s rough but it allows classic skiing acces around the ice. You have to ski over the first ice next to the road and past the first bridge. The packed trail heads under the power line towards highway 40. Head along the road in the ditch then veers back towards Bill Milne returning to the main trail by the 3 bridge. This trail is rough and requires about 50 m of walking on highway 40. We are going to try and groom something there but it’s a work in progress.” -Groomer Jeff

From the sound of Keith’s trip report, I started skiing at Kananaskis Village about the same time that he was leaving. 

At 2 pm, the temperature was -14, the sun was shining and there was no wind. The tracks on Terrace trail looked pristine and inviting. 

Ribbon Creek parking lot

Cheryl and Tessa dropped me off at the Village and planned to pick me up later at the Evan-Thomas parking lot. 

Terrace down to Ribbon Creek was fantastic. The final 1K of downhill was as good as I’ve ever seen it. The Bill Milne trail was terrific as I left the Ribbon Creek parking lot  and the scenery was spectacular on this beautiful sunny day. 

If you ski on Bill Milne from the Ribbon Creek parking lot, this is about as far as you can go. There is a massive ice flow on the other side of the bridge.

I crossed the Kananaskis River bridge and within 75 metres the ice flow started to rear its head. I skied another 200 metres and could go no further. There was lots of water on top of the ice and when I tried to skirt it by skiing in the deep snow at the side of the trail, I ended up in slush. All around is a swamp. 

Bill Milne trail: This is the ice flow I encountered a couple hundred metres south of the Kananaskis River bridge.

I broke trail in 35 cm of snow to the road and walked well over a kilometre south until I thought it would be safe to go back to the trail. There’s now a trail through the deep snow but it isn’t easy to navigate the 200 metres back to the groomed trail. Another skier coming from the south subsequently did the same as me but skied through the ditch rather than walk on the road, so there are tracks but I wouldn’t recommend proceeding this way. 

Bill Milne trail

Upon rejoining the groomed trail, I skied north ’til I encountered the ice flow again. That way, I was able to GPS the exact distance to the golf course.

Eric on the Bill Milne trail

The trail report mentions the Bill Milne trail is skiable south of the golf course, but you can also ski north of the golf course for 2.9K before encountering the ice flow. At that point, you’d have to turn around and retrace your steps. That section has some of the best scenery. 

If you start skiing at Wedge Pond, I estimate you could go about 6 – 7K on the Bill Milne trail before having to turn around. Outside of the ice flow, conditions couldn’t be better. 

Bill Milne trail

After using up much of my allotted time breaking trail and walking the road, I didn’t have time to do all the skiing I had planned on. I was hoping to ski Wedge Connector and Evan-Thomas but it will have to wait for another day. Fortunately Dean Dolph sent me a photo of the Connector which I will add to the gallery below. 

Bill Milne at 2.9K north of the golf course. This is where you will encounter the ice flow if skiing north of the golf course. Those tracks are pure ice.

Aware that Jeff was grooming Skogan Pass, as we were leaving the village, I pulled into Ribbon Creek parking lot on the slim chance that Jeff would be coming back through…and he was! Alex and Jeff have been working overtime to get all the trails groomed. 

Tracksetters Alex and Jeff at Ribbon Creek parking lot

Jeff mentioned the Screamer is in great shape and that it was a lot warmer at the top of Skogan Pass. 

I spent some time preparing my skis for this cold weather. I glide-waxed with Swix CH4 which is for very cold snow. I expected the snow to be abrasive so I applied base binder to the grip zone before applying polar grip wax. I had perfect grip and reasonably fast glide. 

Check the Groomer’s Reports for an update on West Bragg Creek. The Banff tracksetter completed Cascade Valley to the end of the trail near Stoney Creek. 

We stopped at Stoney-Nakoda Resort on the way home for dinner and I took note the new Bearspaw Travel Centre is now open. It is a truck stop with an Esso sevice station and a Tim Horton’s. Open 24 hours a day. 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Val B February 8, 2019 at 10:25 am

Had my first mountain ski ever yesterday! Took your advice and went to this area. Parked at Ribbon Creek and headed out from there. Conditions were perfect. Thank you to the tracksetters and groomers – amazing trails! Headed out Hidden Trail and got a bit lost finding the connector trail at Nakiska but met plenty of friendly people! Weather was perfect. Thank you for all of the regular updates Bob – I’ll be heading out again soon.

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