Monday morning update

Elk Pass meadow route to Blueberry Hill trail. Photo by Alf Skrastins

There’s not much in the way of new grooming to talk about. From David Percy’s trip report, we know the Parks Canada groomers were working on the Pipestone trails yesterday. 

Couch headquarters. Photo by Alf Skrastins

“West Elk Pass meadows: fantastic!!! Tons of fresh fluffy snow. Easy traveling.” – Tanya

It sounds like the Elk Pass meadows and Couch HQ were a busy place yesterday in PLPP. Tanya’s report made it sound wonderful.

MaSid’s couch building has opened up a whole new skiing experience in that area if you want to get off the trackset trails. It will give you a taste of backcountry skiing without much risk. 

The Weather Network is predicting greater than average snowfall for southern Alberta this winter…

“Given the forecast for above normal precipitation and colder than normal temperatures, it should come as no surprise that we also expect above normal snow totals across southern British Columbia, southern Alberta, and into southwestern Saskatchewan.”

Unfortunately we’ll have to wait a few weeks…

Patterson. Photo by Alf Skrastins

“Before this pattern sets up, though, the national pattern will actually be rather contrary to our winter forecast for a few weeks. Above seasonal temperatures will dominate through the first half of December across Western Canada, with record warmth for parts of the Prairies and into the territories.”

East Village in Calgary was hoping to have a trackset trail by Dec 4, but it will have to wait for snow…

East Village Nordic Loop – a groomed 1km free cross-country ski track, in partnership with Fort Calgary and Foothills Nordic Ski Club. Grab Life by the Poles and enjoy cross-country skiing (and snowshoeing) in the city!”

Read more Winning at winter in East Village

The interest in cross-country skiing this season has been overwhelming, and we’ve barely got started. Readership of this blog is up 94%…



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  1. Reading the list of risks laid out by MaSid, it got me thinking ”outside the trails”. Considering that cross-country and light touring skiing will be far more popular this winter, in part due to the pandemic, it might be appropriate to have a string of suggestions about equipment to bring along for safety purpose. I am thinking more for those less experienced and beginners. The lack of snow at WBC will bring a flood of Calgary skiers into PLPP, where conditions have been stellar for 5-6 weeks. A couple years ago on this site, many of us with lots of ski experience provided useful suggestions as such. If those prevent some unfortunate situation on the trail with proper planning for less experienced, far away from a parking lot, that would be good. Maybe add a section in the Resources tab. My two cents worth.

  2. Not skiing related but another neat outdoor option if it gets cold enough is the planned Ice River Skating Trail

    New for 2020: North Glenmore Ice Trail Pilot
    Coming soon: a new Ice Trail pilot project is launching at North Glenmore park in late 2020.

    This ice trail is a free and fun destination for Calgarians during colder months, and another way we’re helping to keep Calgarians safer as they stay connected this winter.

    You’ll be able to skate over 730 metres of connected track, through North Glenmore park, with an attached skating rink located in the centre. Benches, picnic sites and portable washrooms are available on site. This pilot is part of The City’s ongoing commitment to delivering value for Calgarians’ investment, creating exceptional experiences in public green spaces, and further activating parks during winter months.

    The ice trail and skating rink will be open from 11 AM – 10 PM daily.

    The North Glenmore Ice Trail is expected to open towards the end of December 2020.

  3. There are a few risks in the west elk pass meadows for those venturing off track with narrow skis:
    1. falling over due to soft snow/track, blown in track or an unintentional deep pole plant, and can be hard to get up in the ungroomed stuff
    2. getting lost if enough fresh new snow and no visible track to follow, can also sometimes be an abundance of tracks wandering about with no apparent destination at some times of year. Having some knowledge of the landscape and navigation skills is key in those times. If in doubt, just reverse course. But probably good travel conditions for the next few weeks until the above average snowfall arrives (unless it gets too warm).
    3. sun burn: it can get intense back there some times, especially at the couch if hanging out for a while (particularly the non-covid version of other years as it’s a big parabolic reflector that generates solar heat)
    4. addiction: its gorgeous throughout the meadows when the weather is nice, and if you brought a foamy to sit on at the couch, you might just stay too long and develop meadow narcolepsy (see #1 above).

    • MaSid, those are good reminders. Here’s what I wrote back on Jan 28, 2017(early days of the couch saga) when I visited the couch with my skinny skis and small baskets:

      “If you were on a quest to find the couch, it would be best to have large baskets on your poles. I had to be careful to keep my balance because there was no bottom for my poles to hit. Don’t go off the skier-set trail or you will be flailing around in very deep snow. Not sure what would happen if you met another person and had to pass each other.”

      I wrote a blog post that day with some other details of my quest to find the couch. Found it!

      • Unlike some prior years, travel is really good right now because of the early snow in October, the November rain crust and the amount of recent travel. The warmth of the coming weeks should further consolidate the base in preparation for the big dumps. A long cold stretch while the snow pack is shallow could make for some wallowing also. Powder baskets usually best along with light touring skis (LT).

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