I was curious to see first-hand the conditions on lower Pocaterra. I talked to a skier at the top of Elk Pass on Saturday who had skied all the way from the hut and said it was thin but skiable.
Unsure of what lay ahead, I used my rock skis but in retrospect, I probably could have used better skis. From the hut to the Lynx junction which is 4K, “thin but skiable” is accurate. I saw three rocks in the first 1.2K, but that was it, and they were easy to avoid. There’s the occasional tree root, too.
There are three or four ultra-thin spots under heavy tree canopies but I never lacked for decent snow to ski on. There’s about two cm of new snow since the roller-packing was done.
Conditions start to change for the better at the Lynx junction. The coverage gets better and better with more new snow on the trail. At Packers junction which is 7.2K and an elevation gain of 160 metres, there was about 6 cm of new snow. Packers is at 1800 metres elevation, and that’s the magic number for good snow.
When I arrived at 3 pm, the air and snow temperature were both -3°C and it was trying to snow. There’s 10 cm of snow in the forecast for PLPP over the next two days.
As I was getting ready at the hut, Tracksetter Jody came along on the snowmobile pulling a roller. His ultimate destination was Lodgepole but he couldn’t access it from behind the hut because there is too much water at the bottom of suicide hill. Seems they opened the dam and the low area got flooded. He had to go a roundabout way over Pocaterra, Lynx, Woolley, Meadow to get to the other side of the road. I noticed he had a shovel and chainsaw at the ready.
Update Nov 26: Check the PLPP Live Grooming report to see the trails which were roller packed.
Jody says they need substantially more snow on Elk Pass to begin tracksetting with the snowcat.
It was dark and much colder by the time I returned to the hut. The temperature had dropped to -9 so I enjoyed the new fireplace which has been installed in the hut. The hut is open until 8:00 pm.
We still have a few more days to access Upper Pocaterra through the Back Door on Hwy #40 if you want to avoid the thin snow on the first part of the trail.
I’ve heard through the grapevine that people walking on the ski trails in PLPP will be subject to fines if they are creating a safety issue such as making big divots in the trail.
Thanks for today’s trip reports. I was pleased to see Miles’ report on the Canmore Nordic Centre. As he mentioned, the upcoming cold weather should bode well for snow making and opening up some more trails.