Backcountry 2017 – 2018

Alf Skrastins has provided a list of trails that are suitable for xc touring skis.

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Scroll down to see the trip reports. To leave a report, click on add one.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MaSid November 19, 2017 at 5:13 pm

Sun nov 19: Smith dorrien spray Rd

No skiing (nasty cold), just a trailhead driving tour. Snowing lightly at north end this morning. Road up the hill in good shape, mostly gravel with a few icy patches on upper hill. Temps below zero above the hill. Goat creek trailhead looked quite thin. Mostly frozen gravel and compact snow on the road south of there. Spray lake mostly open water, windy with white caps. Moderate to heavy snowfall from buller to sawmill. Starting to accumulate on road. About an inch of fresh at shark parking lot at 11, -4 degrees. Smutts creek meadows still mostly meadows. Cars parked at rummel and tent ridge trailheads. Lots of cars at Chester. Full winter driving from shark to Chester. Skiers parked at commonwealth. Sawmill has 12-14 inches on top of picnic tables. Meadow crossing to Murray creek area probably just doable weaving around the willows. Creek crossings probably not? Couldn’t see Murray morraines. Snowing lightly most of afternoon at k lakes and north to k village.

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2 Pete November 18, 2017 at 7:13 pm

Had a wonderful quiet ski all to myself up Paradise valley today. Started at Moraine lake parking. The snow was a bit thin near the junction with Fairview Trail but after that snow depth improved greatly. No one had been up the trail since before the last big snowfall so I broke trail all day. Followed fresh wolverine tracks for a few km to the second bridge. At the third bridge I followed the creek instead of the trail towards the Giant steps but stopped when I hit the large avalanche runouts. I turned back and skied up to lake Annette. Tough trail breaking in the drifts before the lake (waist deep!). Continued on the trail towards Sentinel pass until I turned back on the boulder field under Mount Temple. Snowing and extremely windy at that spot (good views though). Had to walk a few narrow sections on the way out. At the start of the Paradise valley trail (instead of skiing back to Moraine lake road) I turned left and followed the hiking trail to the Lake Louise (difficult to ski as it’s very narrow). From there I skied tramline (hit a few rocks) in the dark back to Bow river trail and then over to the hostel. A long day but it was well worth it!

Amazing. It sounds like you’re taking over for Chuck while he’s recuperating. -Bob

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3 Pete November 18, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Maybe temporarily until he’s back on his skis again! Knowing Chuck he’ll be back out skiing in no time.

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4 Chuck November 18, 2017 at 10:21 pm

Wow… that is a huge trip for one day! If I was back to myself, I’d be stealing your tracks for one of the directions (towards the Giant Steps OR beyond Lake Annette) but not both.
Have a great weekend everyone.

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5 Pete November 18, 2017 at 11:19 pm

It was a long day but nice to have the whole valley to myself. It’s unfortunate though that the old trail near the third bridge was closed. I used to ski that way to the giant steps which was more direct. Now you can only get there in the winter if you ski up the creek through the runouts. Any idea why they closed the trail on the north side of the valley?

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6 Chuck November 19, 2017 at 9:47 am

I suspect that they closed the trail on the north side of Paradise Creek past the third bridge due to the avalanche danger and maintenance costs. As you know, even if the trail was open, you are faced with the same avalanche runouts. In winter, I think it would always be best to follow the creek where you can at least see things and have the choice of staying high on the south side. In summer, the trail via Lake Annette is spectacular.

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7 Pete November 19, 2017 at 3:33 pm

I thought it had something to do with disturbing bears in the area but your explanation makes more sense. Constantly clearing the trail of avalanche debris every summer would be time consuming and costly. The Lake Annette route to the giant steps doesn’t look feasible in the winter. To wind blown and it probably crosses significant avalanche terrain.

8 Chip Scialfa November 18, 2017 at 6:16 pm

Arethusa Cirque – November 18th

Steve Riggs’ post yesterday must have been spread far and wide. When we got the trailhead for Arethusa Cirque, just south of Highwood Pass, we encountered 4 other cars. By the time we left, the number had doubled. Although some of the slopes were pretty trashed from yesterday’s skiers, we found some very forgiving snow southeast of the bench below Little Arethusa.

A word of caution. There was a skier-triggered avalanche in the area today. One burial that ended well. Still, with the wind-loading and snow expected, it’s time to be very careful.

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9 Steve Riggs November 17, 2017 at 8:49 am

The Highwood area got a nice shot of new snow overnight on Wednesday, with at least 15 cm of new bringing the snowpack up to over 50 cm, in the treeline zone that we skied on Thursday afternoon. The open larch glades were skiing very nicely! Exiting via the trail was still a bit scratchy in a few spots lower down in the forest, where the trees are denser. In the alpine- coverage was much more variable as usual, with some barely covered rocks here and there. Winds in the alpine were quite gusty at times, coming from all over the map, with some soft slab formation noted.

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10 Chuck November 14, 2017 at 5:59 pm

MORAINE LAKE – Nov 14

Cooler temperatures and fresh snow made it worthwhile to go down to the lake, making this a backcountry trip.
Check out this link for details:
https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7iCfxt8zyiK8PrXG_

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11 Diana Piggott November 6, 2017 at 10:21 pm

Sheep River — Indian Oils trailhead to Dyson meadows

We had never been beyond Sandy McNabb in winter before, and with the new bridge and fresh snow it seemed like a good time to do it. Virgin powder would have been lovely, but alas, several hikers/ snowshoers/ equestrians had beaten us to it, and “lumpified” the trail. It was still pretty nice, lots of cold snow, especially in the long dark tunnel at the start, which might have been a fun descent………..?
Probably 30 cm powder on this shady section, and also some rocks. Uh-oh. I was lucky not to hit any on the way down, but Bart was not, and did come to grief on a rock, wearing his best new skis too 🙁
It may be a while before he (a) forgives me, and (b) goes skiing with me again.

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12 sheila November 14, 2017 at 6:27 pm

Wow, thanks for this, Diana! Have only hiked this area and never skied it. If my beloved recovers from his bronchitis before the gate closes we shall definitely give it a go!

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13 Gord F November 5, 2017 at 6:23 pm

Back to Burstall Pass Sunday Nov 5. Not a lot of new snow up at Burstall, maybe 8-10 cm on top of the old base. The HS is still around 50-55cm. Pretty wind-scoured up top. Lots of snowshoers and even a few post-holing hikers making their way up. Looks like the recent snowfall was largely upslope and the divide didn’t see the accumulations that hit the eastern slopes. Cold day, -17º at 9:00am warming to -12º by 2:00pm, had to keep moving so I didn’t shoot any photos.

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14 Gord F October 26, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Skied up to Burstall Pass today. Snowpack is pretty thin but hard and crusty so it’s very supportive. Only 2-4 inches on the trail out of the parking lot but all the rocks are buried so the going was good with skins, but would be terrible with wax. This will be a fantastic base for future snowfalls. I had to remove my skis and hike through the tight trees just before the meadow and again for the bottom 2/3 of the first headwall. A pit in the meadow at the top of the first headwall showed the depth was 57cm with a hard temperature crust on top, (sorry the photo is so blurry). There’s another hard crust at 20cm as well. I managed a few first-of-the-season turns off the top which was quite pleasant. I was surprised that Burstall isn’t getting the snowfall that’s hitting further north.

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipMG1_lo4okllIqY7DtYo_8KD_dvWgCFWP_VmBlucgdohZnZOt34h285Nxe3w48_pQ?key=SEVOWFQ5NWpScGtpVndsZ1hrUjduSUlIZ3V6WUFB

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15 MaSid October 28, 2017 at 10:11 am

Thanks for the up to date conditions info Gord.

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16 Chuck October 23, 2017 at 6:58 pm

MORAINE LAKE – Oct 23

The great thing about skiing at this time of year, is that the driving is easy and the snow is cold, but…You have to be early!
It was minus 2 when I started at 10 am, but the sunny whether soon took its toll.
By the time I met Skier Bob enthusiasts, I was concerned that they may have felt misled… but they seemed enthusiastic!
Nordic ski coaches, Tyson and Courtenay are looking forward to a groomed skating lane.
I hope Vladimir, from Kananaskis Photography posts his expected sunset photo from the Rock Pile this evening.
Simone & Todd were all smiles, maybe because they knew I would take the responsibility of reporting this time!
When I asked another recognizing face if he was blaming me for anything, he said “I blame you for everything, CHUCK”! Oops… I may no longer have my volunteer job at the upcoming Mountain Film Festival.
Great day!
And the photos please (with captions):
https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7h2tziRMYo3HPX8WE

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17 Henry L October 29, 2017 at 8:21 am

Does this mean that ‘truck setting’ can be added to the skiing maintenance manual?

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18 Chuck October 29, 2017 at 9:53 am

Actually yes Henry… the ‘truck setting’ proved very useful!
It allows for options. Hikers are obviously happy to walk along a truck tire track, and do not feel the need to walk on any skier set track that may be put in. And even for the skiers, a packed track might be easier than breaking trail, especially when looking for that perfect glide.
All in all, if parks is not going to track set until mid November, I have no problem with a ‘truck tire setting’ so long as they go and come back on the same track.

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19 Henry L October 22, 2017 at 8:30 am

OMG, what a sighting, and what wintery conditions.

If this amazing owl photo is a sign of things to come for this winter, I’m holding on to my seat.

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20 Pete October 22, 2017 at 12:46 am

Missed you by a week Chuck! I was up there last weekend on my way into (and out of) Egypt lakes. Not on skis mind you. Amazing what a few days of snow does to the conditions up there!

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21 Chuck October 21, 2017 at 8:27 pm

HEALY PASS – October 21

It’s winter at higher elevations… but the real treat today was the Northern Hawk Owl!
https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7h1M169_siNm6XXPJ

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22 Gordon Ferguson October 22, 2017 at 8:24 am

Chuck. Beautiful owl photo. Were you able to ski from the Sunshine parking lot or was there some hiking involved?

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23 Chuck October 22, 2017 at 3:59 pm

I wouldn’t put on skis until above the campground!

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24 Diana Piggott October 22, 2017 at 8:53 am

Breathtaking!!! <3

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