Thanks for the excellent update on this important topic. I was excited to see that you recently registered on the SkierRoger website where we’re all eager to read your trip reports.
By the way, if you would like me to add a special category for any blog comments you may have, just let me know. We all really value your insight.
Hopefully some of that is going back to pay for grooming in Bragg Creek. The blurb about the fee says that it is covering ski trail grooming, but Bragg Creek Trails sounded a bit doubtful last time I read anything.
Happy ‘retirement’ Bob. Hope you regain some sense of solitude and serenity on the trails again and may your next chapter be refreshing and bring you contentment.
—Yours in skiing, grooming and storytelling, JeremyN
No technical issues with the login to SkierRoger.ca folks!
The website is performing fine. In fact, a recent server upgrade has made it more efficient!
SOUTH BURSTALL/ BURSTALL PASSES/ ROBERTSON OUT WASH
Friday May 21 later afternoon/ night moonlit ski
I knew this would be a special day of skiing when I was driving Highway 40 and there was fresh snow with the Aspen trees popping out light green glistening leaves. This was a rare beautiful spring driving sight seeing event and there was no long week-end traffic.
There is excellent firm base snow conditions right from the Burstall Pass parking lot to the top of the South Burstall Pass. No bare patches exist anywhere on the ski trail, including in the tight trees near the Robertson out wash plain. Several centimeters of new snow overnight made for sweet May long week-end skiing.
There is roughly 2 feet or so of snow base at the parking lot. As soon as you get into the trees 300 meters away there is much more snow. Up the passes there is probably still 6 to 8 feet of snow. I could not push my poles in the snow more than about 3 cm. The base is very firm all along the trail and off the trail. I could ski wherever I pointed my skis without sinking into the snow. The skies were mainly cloudy, with some sun- until night when the skies cleared right up.
This was, by far, the best day of ski touring this season. Being that I could ski anywhere without sinking more than about 3 to 5 cm in the fresh snow made for incredible easy skiing. I did a lot of touring around, including to the weather station below the pass. This was my easiest and fastest day of ski traveling pleasure for the year. It did not take much more than 2 hours to get to the top of South Burstall Pass and I was not even putting in anywhere near maximum skiing effort. The grip skiing up on my unwaxed waxable Rossignol metal edge cross country skis was excellent. The fast glide was great too, for the most part, until I hit the meadows below the pass where the snow slowed to moderate speed.
South Burstall Pass was incredible eye candy. I took off my skis at the top and walked down some rock on the other side to eat while sitting on nice warm rock in the sunshine. In the olden days I would camp up there. Spray River below was open and it looked black in the white snow covered meadows. I had to hold myself back from skiing down the avalanche chute to my right to the valley bottom where I really wanted to ski. It looked like there was still 6 feet of snow along the banks of the Spray River in the stunning meadows below the Royal Group and below Palliser Pass. I could see no willows in the valley below.
I decided to go ski below Burstall Pass in Banff National Park to gain views of Leman Lake, where I was only weeks earlier. What a blast skiing that way. The snow had begun to crust up though and I had to pick and chose my snow. The fresh snow was crusty at this time and the wind blown areas were very firm and warp nine speed to ski. The skis seemed to accelerate from 0 to 100 kph faster than the new electric Mustangs which do that speed in 3.5 seconds. When I did hit the fresh stuff, it often ended in a flying crash, particularly in areas where the snow was drifted deeply.
The view of Leman Lake and the Spray River Valley from below Burstall Pass was stunning as was the lighting. Some mountains were in sun while others looked cold in the shadows. The Spray valley below was full of snow and the river looked covered in most places. Leman Lake was still looking white and frozen with a little open water near the BC side. If I would have brought more food and a sleeping bag, I would have dropped down to the Palliser Warden Cabin. The deep firm snow pack would have been ideal for digging a cosy snow den to camp in overnight.
The snow skiing down the pass to the parking lot was incredibly fast and crusty. It was basically survival skiing with my bad ankle which does not like crust. Once I hit the trail in the trees past the meadow, the crust disappeared and more winter like snow made for sweet skiing in the trees- thankfully. When I hit the out wash plain I decided to head to Robertson Glacier skiing on the right side of the valley (skiing up) which is usually the best way to get to the glacier. It is more wide open and offers better views. When I got to the section of the valley where the trees disappear, it was starting to get dark but the moon was shinning. I decided to stop below where fresh avalanches tore from the right to the left of the valley. I don’t like to ski in avalanche terrain traps- at any time of the day.
I skied down the valley on the right (skiers right going down opposite of skiing up). The creek had opened in a few spots on this side of the valley but it was still easily passable with the odd collapsed snow bridge. Instead of taking the main trail I continued down the out wash plain until I found an old road which brought me back to the main trail. Hikers had walked on parts of my ski track coming out but that was no problem. I got back to the car at 11:05 pm when I noticed a sign that said the parking lot was a day use area and was closed at 11 pm. There is nothing worse than a UCP government telling me when I can use a mountain area, other than now charging $90 dollars to use it.
One thing I noticed on the road home was that the UCP wasted huge sums of money putting Alberta Parks signs above every picnic site sign along the highway. This government says it has to charge a $90 dollar fee to enter the Kananaskis because it cost too much to maintain the park region, yet they waste huge money on unnecessary signs. I guess the UCP thought it would be a good idea to let people know they were still in Alberta Parks rather than accidentally traveling over to the BC side of the mountains. What terrible waste that probably cost tax payers millions. If we lived in a real democracy where you have the legalized right to vote on government bills along with having citizen-initiated legislation, you can bet Albertans would not waste tax dollars on unnecessary Alberta Parks signs like the UCP did.
Keep on skiing the high elevation north faces. It is all good. The Banff Jasper highway should offer some splendid skiing yet as well.
I have to post a final report on this great site Bob. I swapped my skis for paddles and did a tour around our new lake here in Quebec. The ski trails are mostly dry now but there is 150km of them outside our door. Looking forward to skiing next winter and skiing in the footsteps of Jackrabbit Johansen and the trails of Jack Wahlberg .
It was around this time, the mid forties, when cross country skiing began to absorb the interest of the Viking skiers and they soon had a North American Champion among their ranks. He was a Swedish native who came to Canada when he was twenty one years old. His name was Jack Wahlberg, a powerful competitor who at 80 years of age today continues one of the longest winning streaks in the world of sports. For the past 65 years he has won an award every year in either running or cross country skiing.
Some of the highlights of Jack’s remarkable career as an athlete include winning the 18km North American Championships race in New Hampshire in 1948 and representing Canada in the World Championships in 1950.
I have a love of outdoor activity he told writer Maureen Stern in a recent interview for the Gazette. “I like racing because you have light equipment, a mechanically prepared track, and you can use your poles properly…but I also like touring because you see tracks of animals. Jack Wahlberg’s advice to the reporter was straight forward and sincere. He told her, “The older you get, the more important it is to keep active and out in the fresh air, and to watch your weight.” They are not idle words. In 1982 Jack won the 15km race at the Canadian Masters Championships in the over 70 class.
He skis with such efficiency even seasoned skiers less than half his age have trouble keeping up with him. “I don’t move like an old man and that’s partly thanks to the exercise I do”, says Jack, who skis about 1,500 km every winter and paddles around in his racing kayak in the summer.
Something and someone you and I can aspire to Bob as we both sail, ski or paddle off into retirement.
Herewith, my final trip report (probably?!) for Skier Bob:
It was a spectacular morning in K-country, and I did my usual late spring tour up the Robertson Glacier valley, just as far as the last real trees. My car was the only one in the Burstall parking lot, which was surprising and a bit eerie. Yesterday’s tracks had no new snow on them, but fortunately it was mostly (backcountry) skier tracks, with a few snowshoers and the odd boot print.
There was perhaps 10cm of lovely powder early in the morning, but by 10 am it was good snowman material, and quite warm and wet by the time I was descending. By 11 am, storm clouds were gathering, but didn’t amount to much.
Although I struggled with ten ton high heels going up the “upper” Robertson valley, it was a surprisingly good descent, as the grade was sufficient to keep my momentum up.
Apparently I was the only one chicken enough to take the “flat” route, avoiding that crazy narrow trail through the trees. Descending the main trail was very slow.
A few photos:
MaSid: Nakiska looked great at 7 am, but by 2 pm it looked very sad with lots of dirt patches 🙁
West Bragg Creek
A total of 10-14cm of new snow fell at WBC overnight and Sunday morning, which provided a perfect opportunity for one more SkierBob report. I did a couple of loops among the Crystal Lines, Loggers and Sundog, sticking to the most shaded trails where the packed snow base from the winter still lingers. The new snow was sufficient to provide pretty enjoyable May conditions.
Thank you Bob, for creating an exceptional blog. Your hard work, enthusiasm and welcoming nature has produced a real sense of community among XC skiers in the region. That’s a fantastic legacy.
I look forward to seeing you on the trails!
PLPP- Skied up to Elk Pass on this gorgeous 9C Tuesday afternoon with a side trip thru Fox Creek on the way back. Overnite the Elk Pass P/L rec’d a skiff of snow increasing to 1 to 2 inches at the Pass. This covered all the Collembola, tree debris and dirty snow and made for a pretty good, enjoyable ski. Used Red Extra which provided good grip and glide though it was a little slow coning down. The snow base is still intact which should provide for a few more days of skiing as long as it survives tomorrows heat wave. Not very busy -no cars in P/L ad only one skier ” ODA ” who I run across at Elk Pass. He was doing a Packers/Pocaterra/Tyrwhitt/Elk Pass/ Patterson/Hydroline/Tyrwhitt/Whiskey Jack Loop and was equally enthused with the good ski conditions for this time of year. To the contrary Fox Creek is in poor shape largely covered with tree debris and not recommended.
Anyways my main reason for writing this is to thank you, Bob, for all the hard work and dedication you’ve put into this entertaining and very informative blog. You will be missed! I’ve followed you from the start and even won a treasured “Skihere.Ca” toque in one of your contests, I think in 2009. Wishing you the best in the future. Tom
It’s unfortunate that trip reporting on the new blog requires registration, login, password, email. These are barriers to participation in a system of user based information sharing.
REDEARTH CREEK- HAIDUK LAKE
Monday May 3 afternoon/ night ski.
Very good to excellent skiing conditions for the most part up Redearth Creek except for the first 1 km. The first 300m only has scattered snow patches with plenty of bare patches. Then it is icy up to about the 1 km mark. Then the snow pack becomes late spring like and firm with a couple of cms of soft snow on top. There are 3 small bare patches between the 1 km mark and the 2nd avalanche slope. Snow speed was variable from moderate to fast.
I skied up Pharoah Creek to the switch backs but decided to turn around and head up to Shadow Lake Lodge instead. At the warden cabin, I had to drop down 4 feet to sit by the door as there is still lots of snow.
The trail up to Shadow Lake Lodge was good with one small bare patch on a wicked steep corner. The trail has firm spring like snow with up to 5 cm of fresher snow on top. Just before I hit the Lodge, a big snow squall blew in and the valley was a white out. After having a snack and water the snow storm disappeared and left partly cloudy skies. That was sweet and the sun motivated me to keep skiing.
The trail to Shadow Lake was well defined as a number of people had been skiing up there in the last week.
When I hit Shadow Lake I was pleasantly surprised the ice had turned to a light blue color with white firm snow around the shore.
I followed a very faint snow covered track up the creek and then it disappeared in the meadows above. The meadows to Ball Pass Junction were very nice to ski with a fair bit of open water in the creek. There were still some useful snow bridges to use. Once I got near Ball Pass Junction it started to snow lightly again. As I made my way up to Haiduk Lake the snow hit real hard and it turned to a white out again.
As soon as I hit Haiduk Lake the snow stopped allowing for the usual spectacular scenery of the area. The wind was perfectly calm. The yodeling echos up at the lake were fantastic. What a treat. There was about 7 cm of fairly fresh fast snow in the valley.
Coming out of Haiduk was a fast blast through the meadows and avalanche slopes. This area offers amazing views which include glacier views. I had never been there in May before and it was a real treat and much more interesting than the dead of winter when everything is white.
One thing that shocked me was how dirty older snow was in some areas. With all the burning that the BC government does and permits in BC, the valleys can be pretty smoggy. I was sucking on a lot of smoke on my land in BC in recent weeks. The smoke particulate ends up falling on the snow pack and glaciers causing very significant reductions in light reflectance which in turn acts as a thermal conductor melting the ice and snow much faster. BC really needs to clean up its dirty unethical immoral burning acts and clean up the air which is having a significant impact on the melting of glaciers and snow packs. And they wonder way the salmon are disappearing. They are creating warmer river waters which salmon don’t like.
This was my best day of skiing this year. A big contrast from my worst day earlier in the week. May offers such more interesting skiing than any other month. There is much more eye candy at this time of year. Creeks are opening and allow for views of interesting rocks and birds, the smells are great and there are all sorts of wildlife moving about. Seeing the red and golden sunset colors on top of the creek waters below Shadow Lake was incredible. The creek looked red in many areas. You won’t get that effect in winter. The sound of numerous birds, including Robins, at Shadow Lake Lodge was something you don’t get to hear in winter.
As it got dark, the temperature at Shadow Lake Lodge was +4C. The snow was getting slightly crusty but was excellent and fast to ski on the way out. Only walking down the bare patches in the last 1/2 km of the Redearth trail slowed me down on my rock skis. I never took the skis off on any part of the trail. If it was not for the bare patches, I probably would have blown out from Shadow Lake Lodge in about 1/2 hour instead of 45 minutes.
Keep on skiing as there is plenty of good skiing to be had. May I suggest Healy Pass/ Egypt? I think it could be good judging by my Redearth trip.
Bryant Creek. May 3. After reading MAAD’s latest trip report I had to give this route a try. I don’t have his experience and I’m scared of the dark but I like oranges and I always wanted to check out the trail to Watridge and in towards Assiniboine. I should have gone in the winter instead of waiting until spring.
The skiing from Shark until the first bridge was actually OK. Soft snow, difficult to get a grip, but no clumping. There was a young strong skate skier doing the trails at Shark and he was really enjoying himself. The only footprinted part was the main trail to Watridge.
Past the first bridge the skiing became, for me, very marginal. Skier tracks from a few days previous had become raised casts. Lots of debris and ice. I stopped at the first warden cabin and, sadly, never made it to the meadow section of Bryant Creek that MADD described so well. Next year.
A few info points: the closed section of Hwy 40 is dry and bare as far as the eye can see (which is not so far). Aqua is right – the cyclepath riff raff will be there soon.
There was a large sow grizzly with three very large cubs on the highway at Eau Claire campground. They did not realize that it is not open yet.
Some sections of the Smith Dorrion are fixed a bit, but from Sparrowhawk down to Canmore is brutal.
Bob – not sure if this is the right forum but I’m sure I’m not the only one to wonder what set Roger apart from the other offers to continue your legacy?
Btw – I’m looking forward to Rogers site and am happy to see it’s been a relatively smooth transition and so many shared resources. Clearly you had a solid combined effort over a few months to make this happen, for which we are all grateful.
Why buy a pair of ice skates when you can use your XC boots on ice skate blades fitted with NNN or NNN-BC bindings!? It looks like this has been a “thing” for a while. Can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before!
Many thanks for supplying skiers & snowshoers with great information on grooming in our park areas. I’ve used your site for many years as my ‘go to’ before heading out.. Very grateful for all the hours you’ve put into this site – will miss seeing it but glad to see SkierRoger will continue. You’ve set up a great legacy…again thank you.
A correction: I think Helen’s “creative writing” comment was directed to MAAD, not myself. Wouldn’t want to steal anyone’s thunder.
CONSIDER BRYANT CREEK SKI PHOTOGRAPHY
I forgot to write about the snow layer reflections along the banks of the Bryant Creek beyond the Bryant Creek warden cabin after my Assiniboine assualt trip and after the last time I was in the area skiing some weeks ago.
It was absolutely stunning to see the reflections of the layers of snow in the calm water sections of Bryant Creek in the meadows. In some areas dozens of snow layers could be seen reflecting off the calm waters with anticline and syncline shapes which made it look like some of the snow layers were forming circles with the reflections in the water. None of the snow layers reflecting in the waters that I saw were perfectly flat- or I did not notice any because of the “eye candy” twisting and circular shapes that my eyes were attracted to. My description comes nowhere near to justifying how beautiful the snow layer reflections were as no words could describe what I saw- at least in my head.
If you have the opportunity, take the time to ski up there and go see what I am talking about and bring a camera. These could be some of the best potential pictures ever posted on SkierBob. The skiing along the creek in the meadows was absolutely spectacular with these reflections and it is a fairly rare event to see such unique rare beauty with the towering mountains in the background of the reflections.
At this time of writing, the weather forecast looks good to ski Sunday or Monday up Bryant Creek with the camera as overnight lows are expected to be -2C in Banff which should translate to maybe -4c in the Mount Shark area. Such temperatures overnight should allow for a relatively firm base to ski or ski skate on in the groomed trail sections.
Even on a cloudy day, the reflections along the creek in the meadow will look spectacular where the water is calm. It is a fantastic time to ski along Bryant Creek to explore it’s unique beauty. If you go up there, shoot some waterfowl or waterbirds along the creek as well- with your camera of course! If birds are in the areas of the stunning reflections, that could make for the SkierBob bird photos of the century.
Ski on, with tight screws in your bindings.
The best part of your site was your personality and the enthusiasm you injected(, plus the spirited debates on track setting, fat bikers, dogs and skate skiers). We are forever indebted to you for adding a whole new dimension to the best winter sport ever. Nothing beats a Skier Bob meeting on the trails. Thank you .!!
Thank you for helping to promote the ski trails in Cypress Hills. Hope to see you out here next winter.
Roger, thank you for continuing the great work that Bob has carried out.
Bob, thank you so much for your years of dedication to your blog! You have made such a huge difference for all of us who love to ski! I hope you continue to enjoy the trails, and will post on Roger’s blog.
Welcome, Roger! Your new blog is looking wonderful! Thank you for taking up the reins. I’m sure it will be a great success!
The end of the grooming at CNC for this season: a fun skate ski under sunny skies and warm wind out on Banff Trail to end of meadow, then picking my way on Meadowview over a snow and ice surface that was softening in the sun to the start of the downhill. That was the turnaround. The soft snow on the night loop was still good and not too slow, it was still possible to cautiously cruise down the teardrop and back up the other end.
Its been a good ski season. If the weather cools off with a good overnight freeze and some sunny days ahead crust skiing on lakes and meadows can still be enjoyed. So I won’t put away my skis yet and see what happens.
Bob, your comments and posts have been very welcome. We hate to see you go but welcome Rodger. Thanks for stepping up to the plate and taking over a huge job Roger.
SEEMS TO WORK WELL!
Thanks Roger for giving us an option.
I like the fact that one has to register to either Post or Comment.
THANK YOU BOB for all your work through the years, and managing my social media exposure!
This is encouraging me to go out for one more ski trip this season, just so that I can post about it.
And who is Roger, any introduction?
CTV Are Statistically Unscientific Junk Polls
The CTV CFCN poll that was conducted is statistically unscientific and should not even be considered anywhere near scientifically accurate. As a person who spent too much time studying statistics, I understand that every poll on CTV is not scientific as the polls can be pushed by people with an agenda and it is not a random poll which is required for good statistical science.
The polls may somewhat represent the views of the CFCN TV viewers only at best, but still not likely. The poll could have been pushed by UCP party members or supporters as far as we know.
The best poll on such a political question would be to allow the legalization of the right of people to vote on government bills. If the people had the choice, they likely would reject park tax fees which are a regressive tax. Regressive taxes are taxes that harm the less wealthy more than the wealthy and are based on a proportion of income. If a poor person earns $7000 dollars per year and has to pay the same $90 park entrance fee as a millionaire, it is a higher proportion of the poor persons income going to the tax as compared to the millionaire.
Here is the math:
$7000 poor income divided by $90 park fee tax equals 1.3% of total income.
$1,000,000 wealthy income divided by $90 park fee tax equals .009% of total income.
As one can see the millionaire is not affected much by the park fee whereas the poor person pays a large proportion of income to access the park.
The scientifically poor CTV CFCN poll results are also affected by income levels. Poor people can not afford a cable connection to watch CFCN CTV TV or even an internet connection so they would be unable to participate in the poll which skews the poll results even further in favor of wealthier people.
Most polling these days is junk as pollers can not access people in a random manner as easily or economically as in the past by land line telephone. The only other method to get random statistical surveys is to directly randomly poll people which is time consuming and expensive. All other polling methods do not give a scientifically accurate picture, as we have seen during recent elections.
Taking this opportunity to say thanks Bob for creating the blog and supporting this amazing community. My husband and I have visited the Rockies to ski every year or two for many years now, travelling from Ottawa. First few years, our visits were tacked on to an annual work trip to Calgary, and gradually extended over the years. I was one of the (probably now thousands of) smiling skiers that you have snapped a photo of, for me coming down Lake O’Hara Road on classic skis. Now we are retired and hoping to visit for longer. It is a fall tradition for us to start checking out your blog, especially in years we have planned a trip. You have brought joy and the chance to see the mountains to many who are not fortunate enough to live as close to them as most of your readers and contributors do. We would love to share our little corner of nordic ski heaven, the Gatineau Park, with you if you ever head out Ottawa way. Best of luck in your future plans!
UNIVERSAL PARK ACCESS- LIKE HEALTH CARE
There is nothing worse than an undemocratic dictatorial oligarchy government for the people or park users. If we lived in a real democracy where people make the decisions, it is highly likely that the people would reject Conservative oligarchy government user fees for parks.
The wealthy have gotten 30% richer during the COVID-19 crisis while most other people have lost wealth. It is only logical to make the wealthy pay more rather than the poor or the lower middle class. There are numerous ways to do this including raising license plate fees for luxury or gas guzzling vehicles. It would not bother some rich skier to pay $1000 dollars per year for a license plate for their BMW. The government should put in a luxury provincial sales tax if it needs money- with the consult of the people democratically. Or the government should raise oil royalties to Lougheed era rates. That would bring in billions of dollars of revenue for the oil you are a shareholder owner of. Our parks need to remain universal like our health care system so all people can have the opportunity to access them without being financially penalized.
Putting user fees on one park will spread to all others in the future if the oligarchy dictatorial political system remains. We the people own the park lands and we should have a democratic say in reguards to fees.
The intention of the UCP (United Charging Party) Government in charging park fees is to keep poor people out of the park so the trails are not so crowded for their wealthy supporters and to derive more funds to subsidize the unethical foreign controlled oil industry that I once shamefully worked for. The oil industry needs to pay its own way and the hundreds of billions of dollars in oil industry subsidies need to stop. The oil industry needs to clean up its own immoral unethical mess.
The $90 restricted Kananaskis park fee is much higher than the National Park fee which enables one to access many parks across the country. How Conservatively stupid is that?
We must get rid of the old school undemocratic Jason Kenney as Premier who has never stepped onto a cross country or hiking trail. This Ontarian is not a true Albertan and he does not understand Alberta’s lands or the people. He is a corporatist tax grabber that does not have the intelligence to raise non tax funds for the benefit of Albertans. He is making life hellish for the poor and for medial workers. Soon the poor will not be able to travel out of the cities or towns as they will have no place left to go to afford other than the prairies.
Corrupt people support corrupt anti democratic oligarchy political parties that reign over the people in a dictatorial undemocratic way. It is time to break the chains of political oligarchy oppression and make Alberta a real democracy to build a better province the way the people want it. Give people the legalized right to vote on Government bills along with citizen initiated legislation. This is what real democracy looks like and it will likely keep park fees at zero.
Hi All, who says the ski season is over. Met this wonderful skier on Elk -BBH junction and she says we have lots of skiing left. Snow Woman Trails through to Tyrwitt were in great shape.
Fantastic ski results Bob. Congrats ! U are an inspiration.
Keep skiing! How late do u think PLPP will last?
Not sure who will win the “metal ski tip” award for the last Trip Report this season, likely the BLOG-CREATOR SKIER BOB, but thank you MAAD (did I run into you on Bankhead one blizzardy day mid January? when we traded ski tracks) for all your reporting. You have a gift for creative writing and your personality shines through your unique reports. I am passionate about capturing Full Moon experiences, so thank you for this most recent, humbling one. I also enjoyed Mike W’s descriptive reports and have a question: how many kms have you skied at CNC this season? Sara M you are the “new kid on the block” and we welcome you with open arms/Covid hugs. It is ALL these unique reporters who share who they are and what they do that makes this blog such a gift to the rest of some of us, senior” armchair enthusiasts”. I have loved everyone’s reports AND pictures: (Chuck/Alf/Steve/Normand/Diana/Jeff/Erin …..ALL who post) and vicariously inhale every single word that is written and photo that is shared. My brain is still in transition between XC and hiking/biking, but I look forward to seeing you all next season which is only 1 jab more and 6 months away.
After all these epic trip reports, I’m a little embarrassed to share my tame ski tour of the Hogarth Lakes, using a combination of snowshoe and hiking trails, and who knows what?
At 8 am, the “snow” at the trailhead seemed pretty bulletproof, but by 10 am it was softening up and more pleasant. It was very quiet up there today.
The south end of the Smith-Dorrien road has been recently graded, and is in good early summer condition, even dusty!
Hi Bob et al. Regarding …” I’m surprised nobody asked Ken Hewitt about the slush fund of about $80,000 which was collected over-and-above what was required to pay the government. ”
Well… I don’t expect that there will be any problem finding worthwhile projects to spend the money on. With the Conservation Pass now announced, and grooming confirmed for the future, the 4 person committee has now scheduled its first meeting for next week to review a draft set of selection criteria. I’ll report back here afterwards.
WATRIDGE LAKE- MOUNT ASSINIBOINE PARK
Tuesday afternoon/ night ski
Excellent snow cover on the groomed trail to Watridge Lake. The trackset has been wiped out in the areas outside of the trees by wind and hikers. Some trackset remnants exist in the trees and more so after the Watridge Lake junction. The groomed trail has an excellent solid base with new snow on top from the weekend storm. The trail should be good for skiing for a couple of weeks if the temperatures can remain near normal or below. Coming out after midnight the trail had crusted up for the most part. There looks to be plenty of good skate skiing on the Shark trails still.
The trail from the Spray River Bridge to the Bryant Creek Warden cabin has generally excellent snow cover. A snowshoer destroyed the old ski track. I rebroke much of the trail to the cabin.
Thankfully the snowshoer did not go beyond the BR 14 cabin. Once I hit the smooth snow the skiing became a real pleasure. The meadow up to near BR17 was fantastic silky like spring skiing and fast. I was not going to go further but the snow was to sweet not to ski it up.
The trail breaking up Assiniboine Pass was generally easy but rather difficult to find the trail. I had to look way down into tree wells to find trail evidence and it was not always visible. I probably put an extra 1/2 km on the route as I was unable to find the trail in some areas. The ski penetration in the recent new snow generally was around 8cm. Once I got on top of the pass, I went left up through the trees for about 800 meters to gain views of Mount Assiniboine and some of the lower Wonder Pass area. Once the skies started to darken the snow turned to crust which was “Warp nine” speed fast. For every one second of the skis pointing down hill I must have accelerated 10 km/h. This was the fastest snow of the season on XC and downhill skis.
This was my 2nd worst day xc skiing in my life due to the following factors. My Vector breakfast cereal to start the day tasted burnt. That was a bad start. Then I forgot to drink water in the Shark parking lot before skiing and did not realize this until I hit BR9 campground. At this point I was dehydrated. The snowwshoer made the trail hell with 10 cm deep crusted holes which made for hard skiing. Last but not least I had more wipe outs coming back down on the trail than I have had in the last 25 years put together. I did not realize it until I got back to the warden cabin, but my screws in my bindings were lose. This made for wimbly wambly skis. I had nearly a cm of movement in the bindings from side to side which translated to many times more at the ski tip. Knowing this I slowed my skiing down to a crawl so I would not tear my bindings out of my skis (like I did at Mount Shark in about 1980- the worst skiing day of my life) and I did not make it back to the parking lot until 2:30 am. This ended up being about a 14.5 hour day of skiing.
I am wondering if the old church ski shop in Kennsington did a lousy job mounting the bindings into my Rossignol BC59 skis some years ago or if the skis can’t tolerate my skiing. I only have a few thousand kilometers of skiing on the skis. I ordered Rossignol bindings when I bought the skis but the shop put on Rottefella bindings instead- which I really dislike. They are not durable as the rubber is breaking and some days I can’t get my boot out of the binding in under 5 minutes. I have literally thought some days that I would have to drive home with my skis on! The bindings may have also had ice build up under the binding which may have caused lose screws as well. Who knows.
I am lucky to survive to ski another day in the Great Canadian Rockies. I might just leave that next ski day for next year though as it will take the crash aches a while to cure.
I am sure anyone else would have a more enjoyable day of skiing up there now. The Bryant trail is much improved now.
Ski long and prosper. Push for the legalization of real democracy if you want a corruption reduced political system that is superior. Watch for my Democracy Legalization Video on Youtube later this year. Ski ya later.
As a frequent user of WBC in all seasons, I will continue to donate in addition to the new park fees.
Your groundbreaking blog will never be forgotten Bob.
Discount for Seniors?
For those of you who didn’t listen to the press conference there are a few points that stood out. Calling it a conservation pass with an intent to minimize the amount of cars heading into Kananaskis. Nixon was very clear that starting June 1 people should car pool more ( Covid won’t be an issue by then.
I am very skeptical at the direct impact this will have on trails especially grooming. The 200k raised this winter really only went to offset an already reduced grooming budget. There are future costs coming up that are significantly more than that amount.
Did anyone see the story on Global News where a guy with three vehicles was complaining that he’d have to buy passes for each one? Some people have no sense of shame. (In reality, he’ll only have to buy two passes, but I think there should be a special rule for people with three vehicles; pay triple).
You have been a beacon of joy, hope and humour to millions of diverse people from around the world who share the common obsession for xc skiing. I thank you from the bottom of my sticky wax box for your constancy and unflappable enthusiasm you gave to us all, your readers. You will be missed. Every day.
PARADISE VALLEY – April 27
Another night of freezing temperatures called for a trip into our favourite valley.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
The ski season is far from done in BNP
Clear favoritism and privilege afforded to the OHV crowd!
April 27 – Shadow Lake and Ball Pass Junction
Mostly bare ice and lots of debris for the first 1.5km, then slightly better to 3km at which point the snow was actually something that could be called snow! I chose to skate ski since there isn’t a track left to ruin. Above the steep narrow hill, there was a ~5cm of snow from a few days ago that was still soft and hadn’t been transformed yet. At the top, the open areas had a nice supportive crust to skate on. The lake itself had some wind-transported snow on top of the crust and the skiing was a bit slower. The treed sections along up towards Ball Pass Junction weren’t too wallow-y, and the open sections were fantastic! On the way down from the lake, the warm temperatures had done their job and softened up most of the snow/ice that I was worried about on the lower sections of the trail. However there was more bare ice than in the morning. If, for some reason, I try to head up there again this season, I’ll be bringing shoes and microspikes for the first bit!
There should be a discount for Seniors
(What Would Bill Milne Think?)
People should read the press release or watch the video before commenting, or better yet go to https://www.alberta.ca/kananaskis-conservation-pass.aspx. The pass covers ski trail grooming, and that two vehicles can be registered on one pass. There is also provision for “low income” Albertans. The pass will operate much like the ParkPlus system in Calgary. The pass does NOT cover the Canmore Nordic Centre.
From CBC news, quote:
“Included in the new investments will be $1 million to begin planning work on upgrades to the Canmore Nordic Centre, the province said.”
Looking at the map of the area affected by the new fee’s, west Bragg Creek is included.
The cost to ski in PLPP has gone from $0 in 2019/20 to $90 in 2021/22. But corporations in Alberta during the same period are paying much less tax… Thanks UCP!
Big thumbs up!
If “winter trail grooming in Kananaskis will be supported by the new pass” means that the grooming at the CNC is going to be covered by this fee, this will actually be a significant cost saving verses the fee charged in previous years
I find it extremely ironic for this government to be touting “environmental concerns” when they would gladly sell off most of the mountains in this province to investors who would just leave their pollution behind.
Of course, we knew this was coming and I wouldn’t mind so much if the revenues weren’t being handled by an incompetent government. What I would like to know is if they are re-instating the visitor centers as well as re-instating the cross country ski grooming (I’d like proof of this please). I’m sure these fees will help to pay off the money they gave away to industry that ended up fleeing Alberta and leaving taxpayers with the bag.
I don’t trust this government one bit. I’m still trying to see how they are improving the lives of Albertans. They have no clue what they are doing.
Contributions by Skier Bob to the local xc ski community- innumerable!
See you on the trails.
Great to hear this! Jeez you nay sayers! Where does it say you’ll be paying for parking to ski?
You didnt have to pay this year. It was voluntary.
Coming from Quebec where fees are the norm we have been so blessed up to date
With the state of garbage lately in K country and the disgusting mess people leave I’m all for it. I feel so bad for parks staff and what they have to deal with
I wish it would be feasible to have people pass a how to dispose of garbage test (lol) before they come to our beautiful asset that we Albertans have.
Can’t see the forest through the fees.
I wonder how much the success of the grooming fee this winter set the stage for this?
I suppose that if it does lead to hiring of more conservation officers and parks staff than we will see some benefit. Time will tell.
Good point Jon – I don’t like the idea that I can’t transfer the pass to another vehicle. To me, this supports the idea that this is more of a cash grab, rather than about improving services and enforcement. To be a bit cheeky, if I ride my bicycle, does that mean I can go for free? 🙂
Not much to add, but huge appreciation for all that you have given us 🙂
We don’t know how we will manage without you, you will be sorely missed!
Thank you for everything, and congratulations on a remarkable record!
Wishing you many more years of great skiing 🙂
So, does this mean I will have to pay $15 a day pass, plus $10 for cross country skiing, or $90 annual fee, plus $50 annual fee for skiing? For a government that brags about lowering taxes they sure do love user fees.
Wow! 2854 posts is a remarkable number. I know how much work it is to put just one post together. Thank you!
Wow! That is an amazing record, Bob. You must be the fittest guy on the trails.
Thanks again for all your great tips and advice.
Congratulations on all your numbers, summarized today, Bob. While I have only come across you on the trails, once to my recollection, I have visited your site often and daily in the last quite long while. Your input to many skiers as they try to figure out where to go has been immeasurable. I for one will miss reading your blogs, seeing your trip and snow reports, and looking at the many photos you and others have posted.
Hopefully we will cross paths in the future and maybe share a couple of words along the way. Many of our seniors club skiers have benefitted from your website.
Thank you for all you have done over the years and all the best to you.
Bob and I spent what may be the last day of our ski seasons on the tour to Little Crowfoot in the Wapta Icefield area. Travel was easy with not much new snow over solid spring crusts, in winter conditions (and cold NW winds!) at the top, and full on spring weather low down as we returned in the mid-afternoon. Often really good powder skiing can be found off the peak, but it was not our day for that. Skiable but variable wind affected dry snow up high led to a mixed bag of grabby crusts with pockets of powder in the middle of the long descent, morphing to easy skiing granular corn snow below treeline. The supportive frozen crust remained intact all day despite the warm sun at lower elevations, with great coverage in the canyon, and no water, only snow, on Bow Lake. Despite the less than ideal powder skiing, it was a great spring tour!
I just saw that Kananaskis is going to charge admission:
I didn’t see that one coming….
Will this fee be on top of the grooming fee?
MOUNT NORQUAY – April 26
With yesterday’s grooming and last night’s snowfall, this was a great HIGH choice.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
No other skiers, but staff cheered us on while working on the roof!
PLPP: Excellent snow in the morning, made for good progress on Fox, Hydroline, and Lookout south. The curves on both S and N Lookout are a bit of a mangled mess, with heavy snow and lots of filled-in tracks going every which way, had to take it slow on the curves going down N. The views from Lookout made the slog up totally worthwhile, and luckily, we had zero wind at the top. Skied through Tyrwhitt, very sticky in the meadow, okay in the trees. We then dipped a smidgen into East Elk Pass for lunch on a quickly made insta-couch. After too long a lunch, we skied through Patterson meadow and then took a slow-as-molasses trip down Elk Pass. Skiers nicely plowed the descent down the big hill to Elk Pass parking, but the shade-sun transitions were tricky. This is a wrap for our second season in the SkierBob Empire, and we are grateful for the tremendous landscape that we get to ski in, for SkierBob, and for all the wild and wonderful skiers. Can’t help but be dazzled by it all. : )
CNC machine snow 26 Apr
Tons of fast skaters screaming around the trails earlier in the morning, including many wearing national team colours.
No joy for a mere mortal on wax skis in the hard / icy tracksetting – repeated application of the softest wax in my kit Swix yellow VR75 supplemented with gobs of ArmStrong did not provide enough gription.
Fishscales saved the day once things softened up. The magic hour between too icy and too slushy was from maybe 1030 to about 1130 when the stiction started.
Natural snow trails looked ugly.
Wildlife warning: aggressive spruce grouse attacked my poles near Jct 7 just before Banff Loop joins Banff 🙂
Hey Bob if you read this, thanks again for your sterling work over the last 13 years – your site has been an amazing resource, so much appreciated by so many skiers. And congratulations on reaching your 25,000 km milestone. Enjoy your sabbatical; look forward to seeing you on the trails next winter.
West Bragg Creek encore……
Lovely morning ski up lower WestCrystal – upper West Crystal – Loggers – Sundog – East Crystal. Lots of foot traffic, but still good skier tracks to follow.
Snow nice in the shade, very sticky in the sun, few little slushy spots appearing on Loggers.
The worst was East Crystal, with bare patches and exposed rocks, not recommended for descending as I did! In addition to the bare patches, there were sizable bear prints :O
Also I lost a black mitt, so if anyone found it………. 🙁
Many thanks to Aqua Toque for sharing the beautiful fox video!
It is very noble of you to try and take this on, maintaining a xcountry ski trail is very rewarding but can also be a lot of work. Calgary is not known for consistent or a lot of snow plus it is prone to chinooks . Shag and Confed are two areas that can give you lots of info on the trials and tribulations of keeping a ski trail going in the city.
As far as what you need the basics would be a decent skidoo with a minimum 503 cc low geared , forward and reverse. Some kind of roller at least 60” , a manual style track setter like an old Bachler or a newer YTS Ginzu or Todd Tech. In a park you will need volunteer snow shovelers and snow fence to catch the blown snow. A few well placed signs and you are more or less good to go.
Feel free to contact me directly firstname.lastname@example.org if you want some specifics and costs for equipment. I just retired after 40 years of ski grooming and like you I am setting up some local trails in my soon to be new home.
Bragg Creek – West Crystal line, moose connector, mountain road back to the trailhead (don’t do it!), West Crystal line, Crystal Link 4, Upper West Crystal line, Crystal Link 3 Middle Crystal line.
I thought I was done skiing for the season, but we couldn’t turn down the opportunity for another kick at the can. Snow was thin at the trailhead but fine in the trees. It was wet and slightly sticky, but no problems with clumping or sticking. I was using my skin skis and the grip was fine. Made the mistake of trying mountain road – it’s really, really thin and rocky closer to the trailhead, so best to avoid that move! The snow isn’t melting in the covered trails, which is great, so it’s best to stick to the inner trails.
Lots of people walking all over the trails, so be prepared for that.
Sun Apr 25: gypsum mine/ridge
Less new snow than expected. 1″ at the road, but 6″ of dust on crust up high on a nice steep north aspect. Last report of the ski season for me (tweaked the old back injury). Thanks everyone for all the informative reports over the winter! Happy trails and see you next year (-:
Hey Dylan, have you tried tried contacting the folks at Foothills Nordic Ski Club? They take care of Confederation Golf Course and Fort Calgary. I’m sure they would have lots of advice for you.
Great video of a pair of “red” foxes. One looks like he came from a strange background. Can you make a guess at what the scrap was?
CNC this AM 8:30 – 10:00 0C 5cm fresh on top of crust. Skins skis
Wow! Great skiing. Crust under new snow was soft allowing for fun downhills.
Snow was fresh enough that there wasnt any stop start skiing.
Manmade snow excellent. Natural snow was quite skiable. Lots of skier made tracks. Meadowview was groomed out to junction 31.
We skied up Banff Trail across meadow and onto Bruin,Wolverine and Silvertip then out Meadowview to junction 31 Returned via Rundle Meadowview and Olympic.
Only one spot on Rundle that has dirt showing. If you’re going North south ( heading back to Lodge) the hill is marked with logs. Safe way down is side step or walking down.
Especially on Natural snow there are spots with thin or no coverage. Just be careful.
pet peeve: is skaters skiing on the skier made tracks. Sometimes this time of year it’s unavoidable but other times skiing on the tracks is rude.
Started skiing this morning at -6C in 10cm of fresh snow at the Fairview trailhead. Quiet and mostly overcast, the temperature warmed upon reaching the Moraine Lake Road and the ski up the road was especially picturesque during the sun’s intermittent appearances. I used Rode Rossa and found it gripped well on the steepest sections returning up Fairview. Gliding down MLR was not fast but it was steady. A great, late-season day on the skis!
I didn’t get an answer to my question the other day about furniture polish so if anybody can help that would be great. Is it used on the top sheet or as a glide wax (or both)? Since I’m not doing much furniture polishing these days, what type or brand is recommended? Thanks.
Yes, still some scraps in the Bragg Creek area.
Probably the last XC ski of the season for me and my first Skier Bob post. It always seem everyone posts before I get to it and there is nothing to add.
Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, Lookout North, Lookout South, Hydroline, Fox Creek. Left the parking lot at 12 (late start after some powder skiing at Nakiska), many cars in the parking lot and curious pair of skis leaning up against a car. Nice skier set track up to Elk Pass, a family building a lovely snowman at Blueberry Junction with perfect packing snow. After Elk Pass only one person had skied Tyrwhitt. (Thanks for track.) By the time I was heading up Lookout it was quite sticky, with stilts forming. At the picnic table at top it was very stormy with graupel falling. No one had headed down the south side. My skis were not moving so I had to stop and scrape off the ice. Snowing very hard – glad I had goggles. For the most part, the descent was manageable with the new snow slowing things down. Sadly it may not be so nice tomorrow as I ran into two walkers and a dog, the first people I had seen since Elk Pass. Fox Creek was still in pretty good shape. There were still about 8 cars in the parking lot and the skis still leaning against the car.
Thank you to Skier Bob for all his work over the years, to all the people who have posted, and to the groomers!! It has been a great season! Stay well!
24 April – Whisky Jack, North Lookout.
1030 am – overcast, -3 at Boulton parking lot.
Was dismayed to see the trail head demolished to plow the camping pads when we parked. But once we got to the proper start of Whisky Jack we found the remains of the last grooming looking reasonable.
7 cm of fresh sticky snow on top of the old grooming. Good climbing on any colour of wax. My kid did well on red/silver, I did fine on blue violet mix.
No high heels until we turned the last corner at the top of lookout. The overcast was still present but just ever so slightly thinner. The increased solar effect was very quick to turn our kick zones into 4” heels. Fortunately the picnic table was in sight.
We scraped off our kick and rubbed some yellow Ku glide over our kick zones and enjoyed good glide down over the choppy base.
Whisky jack was colder and the snow that much drier for an even better decent back to the parking lot.
Had we arrived an hour earlier the snow would have been even better.
Well worth the drive if you ask me.
Let it snow.
Made tracks up to Blueberry Hill April 23rd and had a blast coming back down, had blue wax base with violet which held up very well. Couple others gave up with too much clumping on their waxless skis. There is a wet layer below the new 5cm layer.
We had some car trouble on our way out – got some help from some fellow skiers but didn’t get their names – big THANK YOU for saving us from a long cold walk!!
Sat Apr 24: elk pass
-6 and about an inch in the lot early this morning. ACC seems to be running a small human smuggling operation. 2-3″ at top of big hill. Dust on crust skiing under the power line for a few laps. Moist crust down low. About a dozen cars in the lot on return at 11, so tracks getting kept open prior to next snowfall.
PLPP yesterday: decent conditions with about 5cm of snow on top of somewhat icy old grooming. Went up Whisky Jack and Lookout and down Pocaterra and Packers. Not much grip with purple on blue wax but decent glide. The snow became slushy towards the top of the lookout but that’s probably just because the sun came out. Still remarkable good conditions for late April.
West Bragg Creek
I couldn’t let a SkierBob day go by without someone adding a report, so here it is.
The forecast snow event didn’t really meet expectations, but 5-7cm of new snow did fall at WBC. The base has melted out a bit more over this past week, but enough remains to allow for a nice ski on the core trails. Here are some photos from Sundog, Elbow, Loggers and some of the Crystal Line loops.
April 22 – PLPP
I was hoping to repeat BDski’s trip up to Highwood Pass, but the nasty cold wind at the gate was so demoralizing that I changed my plans and drove down to the Pocaterra parking lot. I skied out on Come Along and Pocaterra, up and over Lookout north to south, then took Hydroline, Elk Pass, Boulton, Wheeler, Amos, Lynx, Pocaterra, Come Along, and Rolly Road to get back to the car. Conditions generally improved to the south and with elevation, as expected. In most places, I could scrape away the fresh snow and find ice beneath it, but the depth of fresh snow varied. ~2cm at the parking lot when I started, 10-15cm on Lookout depending on aspect, wind exposure, etc. It snowed the entire time I was out, but absolutely puked snow for half an hour around noon. I hit one rock on Come Along, a small patch of gravel on Boulton, and lots of rocks on Rolly Road (which was also the iciest trail). The ploughed section of campground between Boulton and Wheeler was still ski-able, since the plow wasn’t able to remove the bottom layer of ice. With another week of snow in the forecast, conditions will probably improve! Only saw two other skiers out today, near the Fox Creek – Elk Pass junction.
With all due respect to the Shirelles, the slower version of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” recorded by co-writer Carole King in 1971 (and featuring James Taylor and Joni Mitchell on backup) is the superior one which definitively captures the spirit of the lyrics.
That would be great to have that trail groomed. A great place for families and people who just want to put some km’s on and beginners as well. Great wide open trail with amazing views.
Citadel Pass from Sunshine Village. Made good use of my Sunshine Spring Pass Wednesday April
21. Up the gondola at 8, leisurely latte at the base (how often can you backcountry ski with a fancy coffee shop at the trailhead, and have a beer garden waiting on your return?) Up Strawberry Chair, then headed south on NNN BC gear. Firm crust made for excellent skating across the meadows. Easily up and over the hump east of Quartz Ridge. Took the low route down to Howard Douglas Lake, on to Citadel Pass in under 1.5 hrs, such fast snow. Continued another 2 km south to top of the head wall. Return via high route, taking in numerous micro laps on low angle north east aspects with blown in powder for fast telemark turns. Back to the beer garden, then download the gondola.
I expect that a large percentage of new XC skiers (or those that returned after many years) will continue to develop their skills and interest… However for a fair percentage (~WAG ~20-40%) they’ll be of the “been there done that” mind set, or feel it’s too much work, or give up without giving it a fair attempt sadly. So… this next winter and the following I’m hoping for some great deals on lightly used decent equipment!!
– Same could be said for any of the Covid-mania goods such as cycling gear, camping goods, and sadly enough pets.
That all said, the increased awareness of our amazing outdoor facilities will hopefully generate increased development, maintenance, and funding for these terrific assets. That might include government funding, funding drives, and even sponsorships. I suspect government funding will be increasingly curtailed due to the excess and continued unrestrained federal spending problems.
South Burstall Pass. The weather was absolutely perfect today: -11C to start, +6C to finish, not a breath of wind, and not a cloud in the sky. However the snow was icy and crusty, and Sunday’s storms seems to to have dumped a lot more snow in my NW Calgary back yard than it did in the mountains. It was not enough to freshen up the skiing. Descending could best be described as “survival skiing”. I observed lots of pinwheels and loose snow avalanches on steep sun-affected slopes. All these were running in surface layers only and did not step down to deeper layers. SD Road is in abysmal shape between Blackprince and Burstall. Some sections with mud and deep ruts may be impassable for low-clearance cars.
Highway 40 straight up to Highwood Pass, going for the natural high to celebrate 4/20 LOL. Excellent crust/corn on the way out. Plan was to turn around at Elbow Pass, but I thought I would go up a lil further to inspect the first avi path. Upon seeing it had previously released, leaving very little snow to slide, I felt it within my risk tolerance to proceed. Same story at the next one. It got r e a l l y sticky near the top and I was banking on gravity to win out over friction on the way out. Luckily, that largely came to pass. Otherwise I would have been out there a looooong time in the pain cave. Tons of sun, zero clouds and a few spots of semi isothermic sinky snow on the homeward leg. Started to break thru a couple times, but avoided all ass over teakettle moments. This might be doable again in the AM if it drops below freezing overnight and given an early enough start. 36k w/ a lil over 600m of up. A top 3 day on the season plus parking 10 steps from km zero. Hello to the only two others I saw all day, glad for your trax down from Elbow.
Hi, I may have dropped my (green) Apple Mini I-Pod/Shuffle at PLPP on April 9. Moraine/Fox/Elk/BB/Tyrwhitt/WJ. Did anyone find it?
Monday 19th: Whiskey Jack 9:45 and -5. Snow still cold enough to head up Normand’s enticing turns to North Lookout. This was my last day of skiing (90 outings) and took a panorama on the Iphone on top. I could have stayed there all day by myself but feared the snow would get sticky, which it did by the time I made it to Tyrwhitt Meadows.
A final salute to a spectacular season thanks to ALL my ski friends, ALL the groomers for whom I could not bake cookies this year, for the excellent adoption of Nordic Pulse timely grooming reports, to Nordique Alberta and Ken Hewitt and volunteers for making our season even possible, and for skierbob whose website I am going to miss more than you will ever know. I am humbled with gratitude.
P.S. Wondered if magic Lemon Pledge was the secret polish? Chuck: trust you to capture yet another huge avalanche and post a visual warning to all who ski this road. And to all who capture their ski trips and share them on outstanding photos: I am still drooling!!!
West Bragg Creek
I did a short ski around the Crystal Line trails at WBC. The 12-14cm of new snow on the remaining base was enough for an enjoyable tour. This year saw lots of warm breaks, with marginal conditions… but 7 months after the big October dump, skiing is still possible. Might be even better at the end of this week.
Pocaterra mellow morning
I skied up Pocaterra from the hut to just beyond Lynx junction, returning via Come Along and Rolly Road, starting about 8 am with snow temp about -6C.
There seemed to be from 2 cm to maybe 5 or so cm of fresh snow, not much but enough for a good refresh and decent skiing all along this route. Pussy willows out!
Underneath the fresh snow is serious crud! Fortunately it is fairly smooth……..
April 19 – Palliser warden cabin
Finally, an off-trail day where my classic track skis actually felt wide enough! Starting from the parking lot, I broke trail in 5-10cm of new snow on top of old grooming and then old tracks. The snow was moderately supportive off the track within the trees, and rock-hard (under the fresh stuff) in open areas. The fresh snow was light and cold when I started in the morning, but turned heavy and wet at 11:30. Very good views up in the meadows! A fair bit of hiker traffic on the Watridge trail, but the snow is still solid enough that they aren’t doing tooooo much damage.
For clarity, there’s still an avalanche hazard on that and other slopes. It is NOT now safe for the rest of the winter to go to Moraine Lake for anyone who doesn’t have the appropriate avalanche safety and assessment equipment and training.
MORAINE LAKE – April 19
Great use of yesterday’s snowfall and cold temperatures.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
But iso-thermic conditions could come any day now!
Thank you to the lovely skier on Elk Pass near Blueberry hill who let us use her furniture polish so our skis would not ball up with snow. That was a great trick that I had never heard before. It made our ski much more enjoyable. Thanks again
Elizabeth and Jeanette
Ps thanks groomers and volunteers for a great season. See you next year
Mon Apr 19: east elk-west elk traverse.
An excellent day to sneak another traverse in with M&J. Mostly sunny and the north wind of the afternoon wasn’t too fierce, but kept the snow mostly cool enough. -6 in the parking lot at 8, +2 back at the car at 230. Normand’s tracks almost filled in again, but still appreciated. Went in via Patterson meadows. The east elk track was a little rough with icy ruts underfoot so set a new track for more pleasant cruising. Moist across the summit meadows by 11 so stuck to the shady side. Moist down the cut block but powdery enough for safe switchbacking turns. No clumping anyway until back in west elk meadows, again sticking to the shady side after some reapplication of glide material at the fork n meadow. What was previously sunny in the morning through the meadows and shady in the afternoon had formed a thin crust pretty quick (only hot in the sun). Elk pass track holding up well but will be glazed in places tomorrow, but wasn’t too slushy until closer to the car. The north descent down the big hill was challenging with the fresh snow now wet. South side provided good grip on return but will perhaps be frozen and a bit rough in the morning. But not a big ice patch yet. We all took a turn at tumbling on LT gear down the north side transitioning into sunny bits. A great day out nonetheless. More snow on the way (-:
PETER LOUGHEED PARK FIRE LOOKOUT – April 18
Started from Elk Pass parking lot at 10:45 am with snow falling heavily throughout the outing. Skied Elk Pass trail, Paterson, Lookout, Tyrwhitt and back via Elk Pass trail. Blizzard and whiteout conditions were far more prevalent in the open terrain, such as along Hydroline, the fire Lookout and Elk Pass. Anywhere from 5 cm of fresh snow at the start on the recent track setting, to 15 cm at the Lookout summit. Great soft snow to go down Lookout North and any other steep hills. Provided it does not warm up too much over the next couple days and the snow in the forecast for later in the week, conditions should still be good next weekend. I was on skin skis, with nice traction going up on the soft snow in the recent track setting. Met about 10 people, only the Elk Pass and Tyrwhitt trails. Slow in the downhills, but surprisingly good this time of the year, for a ski season that started exactly 6 months ago for me. Took some photos, but will spare the viewing of billions snow flakes.
Elk Pass Area. – Saturday. As Mike said, the conditions were surprisingly good. No clumping at all, and not too much grabbing. Everything that had been groomed that morning was excellent and fast. Older grooming (Tyrwhitt) was more challenging. Whiskey Jack descent was really good. Moraine Trail is finished. Icy, dirty, bare. Don’t go there.
Thanks to the groomers for a great season.
Great reports! We’ve really depended on the emails to decide whether to make the drive out to PLPP, our favourite ski place.
APR 17 PETER LOUGHEED PROVINCIAL PARK (PLPP)
Elk Pass Trail to lower Hydroline junction, Hydroline, Lookout south to north, Pocaterra, Whiskey Jack, Packers, Pocaterra, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass Trail, Blueberry Hill, Elk Pass Trail, Fox Creek, Boulton Creek to Elk Pass Trail and parking lot
Brilliant sunny day at PLPP today! -3C when I started skiing from Elk Pass parking at 0900, +13C on return at 1500. I was on my rock “waxless” skis with a crown-patterned kick zone. Vauhti Pure One LD liquid glide wax (+5C/-10C) over the entire ski, brushed in until it was really shiny. Zero clumping all day! This was my Farewell-To-PLPP-Grooming tour, mainly on trails that had been trackset in the past 2 days. But even the older trails (except for Fox Creek) still had reasonable trackset. Despite the temperature rising rapidly during the day (+7C on the top of Lookout at 1030, and +10C at Elk Pass at 1300), the snow didn’t start turning to slush until my return on Elk Pass from Blueberry Hill at about 1430. Even then, the trackset in the shade was in good shape. Still lots of snow. I measured about 150cm covering a Blueberry Hill bridge, and 120cm further down on Elk Pass. Fox Creek still has complete snow coverage, but it’s pretty dirty. I’ll probably be back to PLPP this season, but on my light touring skis.
I saw 15 other people during the day, mainly on my return from Blueberry Hill. Thanks to all the PLPP groomers for keeping the trails in great shape all winter!
Red klister worked perfectly on Fairview and Moraine Lake Road today. No surprise tracksetting today like there was last Saturday, but the dark blue, cloudless ski and +20C in the sun at the top of the road were generous compensation. Lots of snow on the ground still, hopefully more warm, easy days to come. 🙂
High Rockies Trail Goat creek south. Lt touring VR 70 and skins
Started out -3C at 9:30 finished +12C 1:00.
It was a nice day for a walk with skis on shoulders. Road down from parking to the creek was icy. After that we donned skis. We skied the meadows along the creek on wax and then switched to skins. We bordered the creek, had lunch and nearly waited too long to return. Broke through the crust until we intersected with the trail. Sweet spot was 10:30 -11:30. If you wanted to know were folks from Calgary were, they parked at Goat creek parking lot,both sides of the road from parking lot all the way back to the top of the hill. The road around Grassi Lake was jammed both sides.
Oh and the Smith Dorian is still in horrible shape.
Seeing the Nordic Pulse report on PLPP when I woke up this morning, I quickly got ready and headed out for a morning ski on the fresh grooming. I was very surprised to see only two other cars at Boulton, and one was a fellow who had just finished up. Never saw a single person on the trails! WJ was fantastic, as was all of Pocaterra above the Packers junction. Below the junction, the tracks became icy and dirty, despite the fresh grooming. So I turned around after a km or two and headed back up to the great conditions. WJ was softening up on the descent, but it was still fine as long as I was careful. The skin skis worked well. It was such a lovely ski, and will probably be my last PLPP visit this season. A huge thanks for all the great grooming this year.
Fri apr 16: twins cairns
Still some dry powder over prior crusts on the north aspect. Warmed up quick though today, even that powder had a bit of moisture after lunch. Ski out was soggy and slow, but no ice currently. And back to bugs on the windshield.
Wow! Just Wow! The 3rd picture of the goats looked like there were some pretty significant cornices just above the goats. Was that not a worry…or maybe it was an optical illusion as to distance from you?
WOW! You made my day with those Mountain Goat pictures and a peak into the area that is on my list to hike this summer!
CNC 10:30- 2:30 +3C- +10C Skin skis
Not a lot of folks on the trails. Blue Bird day!
Mid morning start hoping to catch the sweet spot for the snow.
Started off with good tracks, mostly margarita and some ice. Ended up with a mix of conditions with some H2O running freely down the tracks and pooling at the bottom of dips. We even had bow waves coming from our ski tips
Still pretty good skiing. As has been mentioned before watch for shady spots where the tracks are quick and transitions to the sun where a quick telemark position may be required. A few dirt patches are showing through.
We skied off the end of Cold Shoulder onto the meadows and wandered over towards the BNP boundary. Snow crust is still quite supportive.
A truly amazing day in the backcountry yesterday, on the circuit connecting the Burstall and Commonwealth valleys via Birdwood and Smuts passes. The weather was stellar, travel conditions were generally very good, avalanche hazard was minimized by a solid overnight freeze, and despite some wind affect in the alpine, we found some pockets of decent powder turns. But that’s not all- we had a wildlife encounter that was the highlight of my day!
Last week, we gathered some time-lapse with a phone propped up in a tree branch. It was blustery, the camera shifted, and resulting footage was too jittery. I’d always wanted to learn that stabilization software, so down the rabbit hole I went. Compositers! Renderers! Nodes! Oh My! It’s now watchable, and so earned my Jr.Blenderer badge.
Does anyone know what happens to the Lost and Found while the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre is closed?
Grand day into Skoki Lodge!
Morning snow temp at 9:30 am was -9 C making for an easy ascent up the Louise ski out. Views were stellar and with barely a breeze at Boulder and Deception passes there was ample time to enjoy them.
Noticed a well camouflaged ptarmigan at Boulder Pass summit. About 15 cm of fresh snow on a firm snowpack made for easy descents on narrow metal edged touring skis.
The lodge closed April 12th for the winter season. Had a nice chat with one of the workers, Georgia, who was part of the crew cleaning up.
It was a pleasant cool day but a stronger spring sun is starting to form a crust, especially at lower elevations and forthcoming higher temperatures later this week will certainly change conditions.
Looking for recommendations on metal edged skis. I recall a bit of chatter earlier this year about the benefits and would be interested in hearing what people are skiing on. Stability and control will be important for me. I’d like to say light and fast as well, but you can’t have everything. Perhaps a little of both is possible?
I’ve been forced to take this year off, but I hope to be back skiing next year.
West Burstall Pass. I figured today would offer one of the last chances of winter conditions, and winter conditions I got. It was -18C in the parking lot at 7:45. I saw only one other person today and he headed towards South Burstall Pass. I skied up to the north pass, then down into the big sinkhole, and then up the rolls on the west side of Burstall where I skied a few runs. Nice powdery now on N and E aspects, while S and W have some crusting issues. It was a bluebird day with not a cloud to be seen. Burstall Pass saw very little traffic over the past weekend and there are plenty of nice lines left for skiing. This season just keeps getting better and better! Smith-Dorrien road is in brutal shape. Don’t bust a wheel bearing or strut.
Elk Pass Extravaganza!
From the Elk Pass parking lot, fresh grooming was cold and hard this morning, and my green wax was perfect. Inspired by MaSid, I went back to West Elk Pass, and was quasi-trailbreaking following drifted-in tracks, looked like a single skier (MaSid, perhaps?).
Eventually the tracks and flagging did lead me to the powerline, where I had planned to turn left and head up to Elk Pass proper. Foolishly I was drawn to follow the old tracks up the cutblock on the other side, which was hard work but led to some stupendous views!
I thought the hard work was over, silly me! But no, the tracks led me a merry chase further uphill through the trees, a long and crazy route over to eventually find East Elk Pass and more recent tracks. Even those took a tortuous route past some startlingly deep tree wells, and finally out to a familiar bit of Tyrwhitt. By now the snow in the meadows was getting very warm and sticky, and back on the trail my green wax was pretty useless!
I completed the triple threat with a visit to Elk Pass proper, returning to the car via Hydroline, Patterson, Elk Pass trail – Fox Creek – Boulton – Elk Pass, all still in great shape.
It was truly an epic adventure on skis today, and I only wish my son could have been there, and brought a good camera along! Many thanks to MaSid for tracks and inspiration 🙂
(Photos to follow…..)
EPIC day!!! Such amazing conditions that everyone was out!
PLPP – elk pass-blueberry hill- elk pass-Tyrwhitt-Whiskey Jack- Moraine-Elk pass
Had a later start than usual around 11:15 am, -3 at the elk pass parking lot… which worked in our favour. As we were ascending Blueberry hill, around 12:10 pm, everyone was coming down, so we had a chance to enjoy the summit with only 3 other awesome people who graciously took our picture (thanks Shauna, Doreen and Ian), with an absolutely stunning backdrop. The descent was fast and truly stunning views.
Up elk pass was great and tyrwhitt was just starting to soften up by the sun… around 3 pm at this time!
Finished at 4 pm, 25 km later and if it’s the last day, then it was the perfect way to end the season, but I’m hoping for just one more day… maybe 2 ?
Tue Apr 13: east elk pass
-14 this morning at 730 in the the elk pass lot. Went in via Patterson meadows. Looked like a lone wolf had used the east elk track and visited Couch H2.0 early this morning (no surface hoar in the prints but on the ski track). Must read skier bob! As I was leaving, M&J came in, so back for more sun and talking turkey. One of the many subjects was wether we would see helen. On our return, there she was! We continued our happy tour back through Patterson meadows and into west elk pass and the Couch headquarters. No avalanches seen on fox, but heard. The elk pass grooming was in fine shape on the way back and should provide a few more days of mostly good travel. Some slushy spots on fox, but manageable. An excellent social day out, if it is one of the last good days, and perfect for day #70. Most I’ve ever skied in a single season, but nothing compared to helen. (-:
CNC 1:00-3:30 2C-5C Skin skis
What a great day at the Nordic Centre! It seemed all the natural snow trails past the meadow have been groomed and TS in the last two nights. Great skiing Tracks leaving the Stadium were either powder or margarita but on the way back 2.5h later slushy. Such is the nature of skiing this time of year. Skiing on the sunny side of a trail could be slow and in the shade rocket fast. Watch for shady spots and the quick transition to a sunny spot.
Not a whole lot of skiers in the PM but the tracks left by earlier skiers showed a lot of traffic.
We returned via Banff Trail later in the PM and the tracks and groomed trail was icing up.
Thanks to the CNC grooming crew for such great trails to ski on!
Tried the Cascade Fire Road Monday (because it was there). Wax did not work on the asphalt road so we walked to the Bankhead junction. Climbing the road was very clumpy even though air temp was-2. After lunch at the bridge the return was quite nice as our glide had reappeared. Snow depth was 5-20 cm, so still enough to ski. My advice would be to stick with the grooming in PLPP.
Thanks for everything Bob. Happy Trails!
STANLEY GLACIER – April 13
Best powder turns of the year!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Perfect timing, as avi conditions turn to “Considerable” at all levels tomorrow.
PLPP Skier Bob Special in reverse. Four of us started at the Elk Pass Parking lot (-10C) at 9:30 am and headed up new track setting on Elk Pass Trail. We took Fox Creek Trail which was skier tracked (pretty good conditions) and then up to Elk Pass on wonderful tracks. Tyrwhitt was skier set on one day-old grooming with a few cms. of snow on top, so the downhills to the picnic table were soft and controllable. Skiing north on Tyrwhitt, we started to encounter a few sticky spots on sun-exposed places, and the descent to the Whiskeyjack table was good but quite slow. After lunch, our descent of Whiskeyjack was pleasant, not too fast, and ice-free, except for one spot on the S bend. Moraine was icy at the Boulton end on the exposed section at and past the two benches. The rest of Moraine was quite good. By the end of the ski, the snow was getting quite sticky and the temp was +2C. I’m glad we started early! Magnificent day for a final ski of the season. Nice to see Helen Read on Tyrwhitt. Many thanks to the track setters for such excellent grooming this winter, to the guys who plow Hwy. 40 and to Skier Bob for the invaluable info on his blog! Happy trails to all of you!
Lionel was one of the engineers who surveyed the lakes for Calgary Power. 1930’s. Remnants of their camp remain on the little peninsula opposite Upper lake boat launch. My Valley – the Kananaskis, Ruth Oltman, p. 53.
It would be wonderful to have another beginner trail but …
There’s no way to know if this year’s sudden covid-related boom in outdoor activity will persist. Parking pass revenues could take a big hit post-pandemic, as early as next winter. Keeping some surplus funds as a reserve would be wise.
Some will argue that surplus revenues should be used to reduce the cost of parking passes.
Hwy 40 is plenty wide but any loop off of the highway would presumably need to exploit existing trails which it seems are just too narrow for multi-use.
If Lionel is resurrected, I would be one of the first to ski it, though.
PLPP still offers best skiing for mid April. 2nd car in Elk Pass parking lot and -6 C. Two using skin skis and me on Asnes with VR 45. Followed the new grooming up Hydroline then decided the perfect grooming with fresh powder were perfect conditions to climb up South Lookout. A little chilly/windy for a picnic and could barely see the mailbox buried by the flag pole. Met a passionate relatively new XC skier who is friend’s with the woman I met on Lionel yesterday. She graciously took our pic. Descending the north side was so enjoyable making nice slow S turns all the way down. Tyrwhitt did not disappoint although weather was all over the place today. Going down Elk Pass had alot of deep skier tracks to somewhat slow us down. Did not take in the East Elk Meadows today although tempting in the powder-trail was still visible. Fox was the perfect way to end the day; new snow buried any woodpecker bark chips. Speaking of chips, we deserved a few after our 20 kms circuit and over 500 M elevation (if I can believe Gaia)?
Oh … I forgot to mention how calm it was to drive west of Castle Junction with virtually no traffic, as Hwy 1 closed this morning east of Golden for construction, and all through traffic is routed south on Highway 93.
After Chuck’s intel from yesterday, we headed to Pipestone for “one last time” on the season. Saw only one other skier. Track surprisingly good, although a little thin and icy under some trees. Best on the farthest end of the loop. A few of the downhills were very fast. Merlin was a dream glide. Skin skis worked very well. Probably fastest I’ve ever skiied Pipestone-Merlin-Drummond.
thanks for all the positive reports on PLPP. I wanted one more time there and we were able to start at Pocaterra and up to Whiskey Jack and back down along the valley trails.The downhills were especially dreamy. Our R-Skin skis excelled today, fast and non-grippy. Some skiers’ skis were starting to stick around noon. We had fresh cougar tracks first thing on the new grooming along the first section up Pocaterra. Mix of sunshine light snow and just a few gusts of wind right when we stopped for lunch and got clobbered by tree bombs! Overall a lovely day!
Mon Apr 12: skogan pass.
4″ of fresh at nakiska base. 8-10″ up top. Nice soft descent all the way down. The snowshoers on hummingbird thankfully stayed out of track. Clearly exceptional people. Some moist krunkle in sunny patches below hummingbird, but dry in the shade mid aft. Thin right at nakiska on return (that 4″ settled out quickly), but otherwise a nice gift this late. Might be a window for a dawn start tomorrow, maybe.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Bob for all you have done for the X-country community over the years. Enjoy retirement and look forward to continue seeing on the trails.
Canmore Nordic Centre -5C at 8:15am with 5 cm new snow – Blue wax – Who Could Ask For Anything More!
Thanks Ken Hewitt for your report yesterday that Rundle was groomed to the end.
Hard to believe this is the end. It will be very strange not seeing your updates. Thank you for facilitating such a vibrant community of people sharing their ski experiences so others can follow. Wishing you the best in whatever comes next.
GIBBON PASS from RED EARTH CREEK – April 11
Excellent snow conditions from the Red Earth Creek parking lot, with VR40 working great all day to and from Shadow Lake Lodge. With about 5 cm of fresh and dry snow on a solid crust, I started on a nice skier-made track, until I passed a young couple before RE6 campground (which by the way should be RE7) and a lady by km 8. Then after I followed a couple days old ski track with 10 cm of soft snow to the lodge. The climb up to Gibbon Pass entailed an elevation gain of 450+ m over about 3 km. I was able to follow what appeared as the downhill ski track made by Mike W and Carl a week ago, for about 1 km. Then either I lost their trail or it got covered by more fresh snow. I ended up going an open drainage area a bit too far east, getting about 50 meters above the broad open pass meadows. It was quite cloudy and overcast, that Storm Mountain was barely visible. Did a bit of a tour over the meadows, looking for the Gibbon Pass stone cairn; no luck! All I found was a hiking trail sign barely sticking out of the snow. There were 25 cm of soft snow on a supportive crust in the meadow area. The return to the lodge was a lot faster, until I got into the steep switchbacks, awkward to handle with narrow light touring 205 cm long skis. After a snack by the lodge, the ski out was really nice and moderately fast at times, on the trail that had been skied by a few people earlier in the day. Still dry snow by late pm, easy for controlling on a few short steeper sections. Even the last downhill to the parking lot was easy to ski down; no crust exposed. Note sure if this was last day of skiing for the season, but certainly my last time of seven this winter to the Shadow Lake area until November. Total distance for the day was just over 33 km with 1130 total elevation gain.
Mount Shark – Upper Spray (a little)
My son managed to get a day off for the first time in months, so I enlisted his help to ski where I wouldn’t go alone!
It was a beautiful morning at Mt. Shark trailhead, and the access road had just been plowed! The snow temp. was about -9 C, and there was tons of fresh snow over Friday’s grooming. To our surprise, the snow was quite sticky, and we did experience a lot of clumping and slow travel all day.
After the bridge over the Spray, we found quite heavy trail-breaking up the Spray River trail. Fortunately my son is a strong young man who did most of the work, but it was slow and tiring. We enjoyed lunch in the big meadow, and ventured a bit further. An apparent detour (flood?) led us through the trees, which was not terribly pleasant. We came down to one of those crazy too-skinny-to-ski-over bridges, and turned around.
It was a mostly cloudy day in the Spray valley, so not quite magical, but a lovely place to be nonetheless. The return trip was quite pleasant, but after slogging back up the big hill we did encounter hiker footprints all over the place. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Smith-Dorrien highway was still mostly frozen and snow-covered for the afternoon drive home.
Photos might follow………..
Great to meet you on the trail today Bob! Such a beautiful day and amazing conditions. Thanks for the photos! Hope the end of your ski day was as great as the start!
Baker Creek to Protection Campground and beyond,
I persuaded my owners to stop at Baker Creek on their way to ski at Lake Louise. For this old dog, it was just the ticket.
-5 at the start, -1 at the finish, and the snow stayed soft and untransformed. The crust was supportive and paw penetration was 5-7 cm on the track we set. The exposed area near the railway tracks was still ok, but caution required. Stream crossings were no problem.
Mushers secret gave Pawsitively excellent grip, as did the waxless skis.No clumping on skis or paws. Animal tracks and smells abounded, so bear spray was a good idea.
Such a treat to ski this trail this late in the year. I skied my age in Human years,(not dog years)
Skied PLPP today on the new grooming. Conditions were great starting at Elkwood. Skied Wheeler, Whiskey Jack, Pocaterra, Packers…. Then had so much fun that I went back up Packers, Pocaterra and Whiskey to unwind. Return via Wheeler.
Skied down the big S bend on Whiskey twice…once while waiting for ski partner on the way up and also while unwinding. The S bend was in great shape today (wheeeee!!).
In response to Skier Bob……Not my final ski of the year. I commonly ski Whiskey between 10 and 20 times per year. My counting is not as precise as Skier Bob, but I certainly enjoy the trail.
Sun Apr 11: elk pass area.
Another beautiful spring day out harvesting the seasonal goodies while they’re ripe. And they were delicious! -15 this morning on arrival at 7. Nice cold snow. South side of big hill still in good shape. Patterson meadows provided good sun and warmth in the morning along with ankle ski pens (AT). Clouded over before lunch while hanging out at east elk pass so took advantage and did some runs on the west slopes of thyrwitt. Cold dry mid-boot powder over a dense base in sheltered trees. Just BTL in more open areas, recent storm snow sat atop an ice hard sun crust layer. Back over the ridge to the cut blocks and west elk pass via the summit meadows. Excellent travel across the top and down to the meadows while things were still shaded. Sun eventually reappeared in west elk pass and blueberry junction at 330, but snow remained mostly dry and no sticking, despite feeling hot. A slow descent for sure back to the car on the grooming but no real melt down. No snow fleas. Even the powerline descent paralleling the north side of the big hill was cold powder on the shady side. Elk pass trail and environs should provide good travel Monday and Tuesday too. Only saw 4 people all day. +1 back at the car at 5. This time last year, parks were closed, so felt like an extra bonus. No need to stop skiing yet with these conditions (and hopefully some more storms).
Thanks Alf, after reading your trip report on skiing the Lionel/ Pocaterra circuit we decided to follow in your tracks today. We certainly appreciated the efforts of Alf’s trail blazing yesterday and Helen ( who had an earlier start than us) refreshing the trail today.We did meet two ladies hiking up the road and thanked them for NOT walking in the tracks. We were also greeted by the two skiers coming down the hill who did the trip in reverse.Once we reached Pocaterra conditions were so delightful we headed up to Whiskey Jack before skiing back down.
Such a great adventure I wrote a poem.
Lionel oh Lionel wow so few new
A new trail to try with amazing views
On our waxable skis up the hill we did climb
For a ski in April it was truly sublime
We did encounter some snow that was clumpy
But not bad enough to make us grumpy
We have traveled this road by bike and car
But skiing on Lionel just raised the bar
When we arrived at Pocaterra the tracks were amazing
We strided and glided and went down the hill blazing
Enroute Charlie met his goal of 1500 k
What a great day Hip Hip Hooray!
I took David Percy’s advice and hit the Skogan trail. Wasn’t pretty but once you get past the skihill, there’s powder in them thar hills.
My alien blood 5G laced with chemtrails vacseen hit sapped my energy so I didn’t go past the sunburst junction, which was disappointing for me because the powder was even more plentiful and zero foot traffic from there!
Not sure the temp but I bundled up heading down for the chill.
Wide skis might help, I had no issues with foot traffic as there was a few cm of snow covering them but I did get bounced around a bit.
MORAINE LAKE ROAD and the GREAT DIVIDE – April 11
Not only was the MLR trackset, but so was the Great Divide!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
and so was the Pipestone!
ALF’s perfect description of Lionel/Pocaterra circuit combined with all those wonderful photos he shared of his trip yesterday, beckoned me to follow suit. Took my Asnes and VR 45 as temps -8 to -2 at end. I have never skied that route to Sounding Lake, off Rolly Road and such a pay off back in there!!! Saw alot of bear prints on Rolly Road corduroy so made my presence known since I was alone. Did struggle over the first wood debris across trail and post-holed my way to second log, but was determined to persevere. Once on Hwy 40, I was in my old stomping grounds and had AT tracks to ski in until I met a couple of skiers who were doing the ALF Lionel trip in reverse. So we happily exchanged skier set tracks as Alf’s were barely visible in places. The new grooming on Upper Pocaterra was divine and met a delightful family at Packers picnic table. I commend those young people who start their young families XC skiing. My distance was 18.3 kms. and was ready to see the hut, although it is closed for the season. Thank you again Alf, this ski was a stupendous way to enjoy cold snow so late in the season. Was rather surprised more did not get lured by your excellent Trip Report yesterday to explore this circuit for themselves.
Great conditions at Elk Pass today. Started at Bolton Bridge at -5, then Bolton Creek to Elk Pass Trail and Blueberry Hill. All good trails on skier track set on new soft snow. Using skin skis the grip was good and glide as well, no sticking at all. Very few people on the trail despite good mid winter conditions. Still great skiing to be had!
Canmore Nordic Centre was in superb condition today. Kudos to the grooming staff for tracking setting not only the man made show, but also packing several of the natural snow. In fact, Meadowview was trackset to the very end, and even Rundle (natural snow) had a fairly recent track in very good condition.
To Alf’s comment: “seems like reactivating Lionel as a ski trail should be a no brainer” — I’m not an expert in this stuff, but I don’t think it is quite as straightforward as we might all like it to be.
1) Grooming 8km of trail even once a week is a significant addition in terms of labour. It isn’t just one pass with the PB 100 – it would likely be four (or five to return). What other grooming would we be prepared to give up for this?
2) My understanding is that some years ago one of the grooming machines broke through the ice on Sounding Lake with a major rescue operation necessary to save it – and this is the reason it is no longer groomed for skiing.
3) Providing for parking at the gate (washrooms too) would be a pretty significant incremental cost – and moving the gate could also be expensive.
Not arguing against the idea — just trying to add a sort of reality check here.
I think Alf has a great idea for the beginners. That trail allows for a great introduction to x country skiing along with the space for skate skiers. If it were to be track set and packed it would add to the already great trails. I would suggest that along with the aforementioned it would also add to a round trip if the lower Pocaterra to the hut were to be remade. That would allow for two return routes from the Lynx intersection – one for beginners and one for intermediate to advanced skiers.
Fairview and Moraine Lake Road were both exceptional today. Sunny skies, high temperature below zero, windless – and tracksetting on the MLR! Rode Super Weiss wax worked brilliantly throughout the day. Today was a beautiful day to be on skis in a spectacular setting.
PLPP: Lionel-Pocaterra Loop
-Good overnight freeze… -5C at Boulton Creek. Check
-Weather forecast is cloudy, so no sun effect… and the temps should stay below 0C. Check
-Melt-Freeze cycles have created a strong, supportive base. Check
-A few cm of new, dry snow has fallen. Check
-The PLPP crew has groomed Pocaterra Trail. Check (Thanks, Jodi).
With all of the boxes checked off, it seemed like an ideal day to see if it is still possible to do the Lionel loop.
Lionel? For a few years in the 1990’s, the closed portion of Highway #40 was groomed as an XC ski trail, which was called Lionel, for some unknown reason.
Turns out, it’s still quite easy to do that trail. I started from Pocaterra Hut and took Rolly Road for about 500m. At a right-hand corner, the old “Sounding Lake” trail can be seen going straight ahead. An a few metres you get to Sounding Lake and the surrounding meadows, with exceptional views of Mt. Wintour and other Opal Range peaks. At the south east end of the lake, another set of meadows leads to a short bit of trail, which meets another trail at a T-intersection. This trail is the north end of Lionel. With the exception of a few skinny bits of deadfall and a few little christmas trees, Lionel is good to go right up onto Highway #40.
The closed portion of Highway #40 is Kananaskis Version of the Moraine Lake Road. It’s a wide, easy ski with plenty of snow and no hazards. It would be the best “green” ski trail in all of Kananaskis Country.
The new snow on top of the melt-freeze crust got deeper with every southward kilometre. After about 6 km, you could see the “back door” entrance to Pocaterra… which also used to be part of the Lionel trail.
The “back door” segment had the deepest snow. It joins Pocaterra Trail at a T-intersection.
The upper portion of Pocaterra has not been groomed for about a week, so there was 10cm or so of recent snow on the trail… but it had been nicely packed in by skiers. From Packers junction back to Pocaterra Hut, the trail was in wonderful condition. The few centimetres of new snow was nicely skied into the perfectly set tracks, so the skiing was fast and smooth. Amazing conditions for April!
Perhaps Lionel will be groomed again in the future… but as long as the current conditions last, it makes a great 18km tour!
Redearth Creek trail to the first campsite and back. Very sunny with around 10cm fresh snow. Nice fairly dry powder. Followed in tracks made by two other skiers. Thanks. Surprisingly sparse traffic for a Saturday with such nice snow conditions. A bit sticky but not bad once I scraped off most of my grip wax. V40 was about correct.
I expected to see many people up Healy today after the recent snow and perfect conditions. I arrived to an almost full Sunshine parking lot but to my surprise after a late 10am start I was breaking trail all the way to the pass. The snow was about 25 cm deep and quite dense. From the top I had to double pole down and follow my skin track as the snow was so slow turns were impossible. On the way down I passed a few people coming up on the trail so the glide improved with more tracks. Apart from the slow snow the conditions are the best I’ve seen all year with very few people out enjoying them.
Winter is not over!
PLPP – from Elkwood parking, we skied the fresh tracksetting: short section of Wheeler, Amos thru the campground, Lynx, and then Pocaterra south to Packers Jct. We returned by the same route, though it was so nice we repeated a few sections. -3C to start at 9:30am, with light snow for the first hour. Generally, about 2cm of fresh over the tracksetting, which gave a nice feel after being skied in by others. VR45 on my waxable skis, and my wife’s fishscale skis both worked well, with only minor clumping during the early snow period. Very nice to meet tracksetter James (on skis) and friend at the Packer’s picnic table, and chat with them. Quite a few people out enjoying the good conditions. 0C and cloudy at our 1:30pm finish. Should be good out there tomorrow.
CNC 9:00- 12:00. 0C- +3.5C Skin skis with 3-5Cm refresh snow.
We skied out Bow up onto Cold Shoulder and back via Silvertip/Banff Tr.
Bow was skier set Silvertip was groomed again (surprised) Skier set was slow and grippy (catch and release) TS trails were icy to powder.
We felt one could have gotten away with hard wax. Fish scale skis would have worked well. By the time we left tracks were glazing up. Parking lots were nearly full.
Like Arie- we found very good skiing today in the Smith-Dorrien, but also more skiers at our locale than expected for a weekday. This was at a well known spot with relatively easy access, but is indicative of how popular backcountry skiing has become. Nonetheless we had some great runs in the 25 cm of new snow, and found untracked lines as well. By mid-afternoon, winds out of the NW had increased and treeline snow on the NE aspect that we were skiing was slabbing up. Heading back, we noted that the underlying crust below about 1850m, while still being supportive- was grabby and not all that well frozen. Close to the road at around 1800m- the 20 cm of dry surface snow found in the morning had settled and was now moist and sticky. At 3 pm, the road was in OK shape from around Sawmill south, with occasional outbreaks of mud and scattered potholes.
PLPP- starting from Boulton, whiskey jack, lookout, Hydroline, Patterson’s, West Elk Pass, back down Fox and Boulton. Winter wonderland with huge snow pillows and warm spring air. Flat calm at the summit of the lookout which was a surprise after the gusts on Hwy 40. Veeeeeerrrry slow: extremely sticky trail breaking through at least 5 cms of fresh wet powder all the way to Elk Pass (couldn’t see my tips on Lookout) with avocado snow after that. Hot sun once I hit Hydroline made things slippery. But such a beautiful day there could be no complaining.
Fri Apr 9: fox/elk/blueberry +
-5 @ 830. First tracks on fox in the morning were dreamy cold snow. Some use of Anna’s tracks the rest of the way and up blueberry, continuing on cold dry snow. Ventured into the upper blueberry meadows for a sit in the sun, then continued the off trail tour up the east ridge of the turret (2 on LT, 1 XC, all fishscales, no skins). Good travel along the crest of the ridge. Started to get sticky at our high point on a south aspect at noon. Back to the blueberry grooming (sticky and tricky descending in spots) and into the lower blueberry meadows, taking the higher/longer shady route direct to fork n meadow lunch log. Clumping most of the way through the meadows at the peak heat of the day while the sun was out. Lounged at the log until clouds moved in, track cooled down and wind picked up with some light snow. Snow fleas present in the meadows of west elk pass. A party came through west elk from hydroline, so track is in now. Better glide in the existing track after 330 back through west elk pass to the blueberry junction. Some catch and release on the downhill back to the car. Fox was still reasonable travel to finish the day. -1 at the car at 5. A good day out with cheeky and Simona in fresh snow covered meadows and open forest.
The Nordic pulse Does not show any trackset in last night and Peter LPP.?
Does this mean they are done track setting for the year?
Smith-Dorrien. -6C at 8:30 am, +2C at 2:30 pm. Down by the road there was about 7 cm of new snow on top of a suncrust. As I ascended things improved quickly. At treeline I skied a north-facing slope that had knee-deep dry powder on top of a solid midpack. The skiing was fantastic – best turns of the season. Did five laps.
PLPP – West Elk Pass
I decided to visit West Elk Pass today, and it was quite lovely! Great skiing up the Elk Pass trail with lots of fresh snow over recent grooming, and only one person ahead of me today (until I got passed!).
Any hopes I might have had of finding a trail over to the hydroline were dashed when I found myself breaking trail through fresh powder after leaving the Elk Pass trail! It was well over my ankles, but relatively light so not too onerous.
I visited Couch HQ, where there is not much left now, and continued down the meadow a short distance before turning around. I have never made the loop with the hydroline over there, and don’t know the way, so don’t get excited when you see my tracks now, they don’t go very far!
Pipestone Blue up and Green Merlin/Drummond/Hector down. Yesterday’s hikers did not help the first stretch of blue but they turned off onto Drummond and then encountered deep post-holing by the pond and went back the way they came. Quite windy by Pipestone Pond so sheltered in the trees for lunch. Snow temp -4 at 12:30 with varying 5-8 cms in tracks of new snow. No worms as seen at CNC Wednesday or snow fleas-just clean cold snow. Saw one other couple and their dog. Merlin was a delight as always. No freezing up on blue 0 to -6 or clumping either. Supposed to be more snow tonight so check skilouise in am. Ma Sid tempted us to explore the meadows on MLR further but very happy with today’s choice.
Fairview at LL was a wonderful gift today ( April 9).
Skier track set in approximately 10 cms of fresh dry snow
By 2:00 it was starting to soften but I don’t expect it get to warm so tomorrow should also be great.
Started at Troll Falls and had to walk for about 2km until there was enough snow to ski. The snow improved steadily as I ascended. Once I was above the ski hill the snow became quite deep and I had to break trail all the way to the summit. Conditions varied from 2cm to 20cm of fresh snow. I didn’t see any other skiers and it looks like nobody has been there for a long time. There is still lots of snow and I recommend making the trip.
PLPP – Elk Pass parking to Blueberry Hill
Kananaskis is a winter wonderland! It snowed for a good portion of the day with the temperature around minus 3 or 4. The 5 cm or more of new snow over last night’s grooming caused icing issues for some skiers. Skin skis had minimal icing. Very enjoyable skiing, but slow.
CNC this AM 9:30 -3C 2-3CM fresh wet snow. Skins skis.
Clear sky then a snow squall.
On the way out, Man made was margarita snow. Tracks were fast, Skating was decent.
At the end of the meadow on natural snow depending on where one skied either it’s been groomed and TS or just groomed or just skier set.
Skied out Meadowview from meadow and found it skier set. 3/4 ways to the end trail was groomed up to Silvertip junction. Silvertip was groomed and TS (its been on its last legs for three weeks). Skied well from powder to margarita snow.
On the return the snow started to accumulate. Add maybe 3cm. Saw some folks using Klister. It appeared to be a struggle.
Website was maybe 50% accurate for grooming. There just didnt seem to be any logical pattern to the grooming. Just go ski!
Do you have all the trail maps in a zip that you could upload too Google drive or something like that?
Those are priceless
Anyone skied in Lake Louise over the last day or so, how are the conditions?
Has there been any announcement about when they will stop grooming and or track setting?
my pass says it’s good until April 5
A younger Alf in the day may well have awarded Sara with the “light gear touring award of the year” for this trip. I too followed along the great description, map in hand. Bravo Sara.
What a feat of perseverance Sarah. Nicely done and reported.
Good advice but nicely done Sara! An adventure survived always makes for a story that gets better with each telling. A great way to cap off the season and lead into scheming the next.
Sara M: so glad to meet you via this blog and how deserving you are to be featured after that ultra marathon of an obstacle course. I had to get out my old Banff Gem Trek map to check out your ski. So many of us have truly enjoyed your Trip (with a capital T) reports this season. Thank you for bringing such enthusiastic adventures forth and for taking such a terrific selfie!! No wonder you were smiling to make it that far. I’d happily have risked my car’s suspension to pick you up at Goat Creek had I known of this Spring Skiing Adventure. As Chuck said, an awesome description complete with poignant photos. The one of your feet on the snow is a winner as is your beautiful selfie.
Middle Spray trail – April 6
I’ve been super interested in this trail for a couple years, but never found a day to ski it until today. Long story short: I would not recommend skiing from Mt Shark to Goat Creek.
Short story long: I started skiing from Shark at 6am. I skied down to the lake and then straight across the the road below Mt Fortune. The snow on the road was crusty and I was able to skate most of the time. After visiting the decomissioned Fortune warden cabin, the road doubles back on itself and descends to the Spray River. At this point, the river has many smaller branches and I had to wade one of them. The next branch was bridged, but then the road was washed out and I had to bushwhack in the trees above the river for a bit. The next few kilometers were pretty smooth sailing. Then I got to a burned section, which is the section that makes this trip not worth repeating in my opinion.
There was a lot of deadfall that completely crossed the road, requiring either a careful step over, skiing off the road and around, or removing skis and climbing over. Individually none of the trees were too bad, but they added up and slowed me down considerably. Also, and perhaps more importantly, most of the streams coming down the slope have washed out the road, creating gullies with steep sides. Some were relatively straight-forward to cross. Others were much more involved and took closer to five minutes to reach the other side. At one, I had to use my skis as axes to anchor myself as I kicked steps to cross a particularly steep wall of snow. The burned section was ~3km long and it took me a little over an hour to cross, and I’m amazed that I didn’t break any equipment. From there, it was mostly smooth sailing down to the second bridge over the Spray and soon after that I reached the Spray warden cabin.
This is the part of the trip that I absolutely recommend. Between the cabin and Goat Creek, there is minimal deadfall and the travel is easy.
I only had to take my skis off once! The road passes through another burned section where Parks obviously maintains the path and clears deadfall, and the views are lovely.
I managed to make it to Goat Creek before the crust softened, which was great because I was able to skate and move quite quickly. I took Goat Creek up to Canmore and the snow was SLUSHY and the sun was hot. There isn’t any trackset left in this area and the walkers have taken over.
I don’t have much to add to Marijan’s report, except I can’t remember nicer conditions on Hydroline and Tyrwhitt! Jeff G and I both opted for skins, and they worked perfectly the whole way (or 99% of the way; any type of ski would have had trouble with the wonky shadowy-then-sunny snow going down the big Elk Pass hill to the parking lot…. luckily we both narrowly avoided face plants). I’ll add another big thank you to the groomers who are giving us beautiful April skiing!
What a day..skied Elk pass ,Hydroline ,Tyrwhitt ,Lookout ,Hydroline and back to Elk pass..grooming last night was amazing..perfect conditions..8:30am temp was -5 when I left around 12:30 was +5..Snow was really good until about noon then started to be sticky and rally slow on sunny sections for my fish scale skis..some icy spots under fresh grooming but nothing that bothered me on this sunny day ..
BURSTALL PASS – APRIL 5
An amazing day for a solo tour taking in both the north and south Burstall passes. With 7-10 cm of cold dry snow over a firm base, and a trailhead temperature of minus 11 at 9:15- travel conditions were fast, with blue wax working great on any flatter terrain where skins weren’t required. In the alpine- a underlying smooth concrete hard crust made for easy trailbreaking, and enjoyable turns in dust on crust. At treeline heading out- new snow that was not shaded was getting moist in the warm sun, and the underlying crust was a bit grabby at times. Back on level ground after an uneventful exit via the well filled in gully route- the mornings wax job still gave enjoyable quick kick and glide homeward across the flats. Until the final couple of km on the logging road that is- where wet snow conditions had taken over in the sunniest spots, and double poling pulled me through. As always at Burstall on such a day, the views were spectacular!
PARADISE VALLEY – April 5
Perfect conditions for this classic spring tour.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
We’ll be back!
Oh man, Steve Riggs/aka-bigsteve has been out there since the dawn of the internets –dispensing enthralling trip reports, words of wisdom and encouragement plus veiled hints of secret stashes on various platforms.
Long ago upon discovering that internet ski forums and blogs were a thing I took the plunge and began posting my first tentative TRs on a now long lost backcountry skiers’ forum. Steve’s positive response to those posts inspired me to continue taking photos and composing descriptions of various ski-related triumphs and failures.
So yeah, I blame him for everything!
I wonder if the groomers have any idea of all the joy they bring into our lives?
Today we skied freshly groomed trail in Peter Lougheed: A few loops of Meadow, Wheeler, Amos, Woolley.
-2 when we started and +4 at 3;00 pm. Usual Spring conditions with hard tracks in the morning and some catch and release happening by the end of the day. A beautiful day nevertheless.
We have been looking at Nordic Pulse & Bob’s blog (thank you Bob) every morning and keep going daily even though we’re tired because the countdown is on.
My husband and I skied over 1200 km this season and still counting!
Pictures of Wheeler on this link.
Mon Apr 5: west elk pass +
-10 in the elk pass parking at 7. +5 on return at 2. Nice dry powder in the morning on elk pass trail after losing any moisture over night. Snowmobile track all the way up elk pass over the uphill tracksetting, but no grooming. Made for fast travel on AT with wax, and a shallow skier set track on return. Looked like groomers had pushed snow from the powerline at the top of the big hill onto the south side of the hill. Easy descent in the morning. Excellent travel on a supportive crust through the meadows, on or off the old track. Skied a handfull of runs in the cut blocks before the heat got in there. Dust on crust skiing, on the thin side, but an excellent day regardless. Returning through west elk after noon made for some heavy clumping on the big sticks. Had to dodge over to the super shady side of lower blueberry meadows to make a good go of it. Scraped my wax off at blueberry and applied some parafin wax for glide (candle: two good tools in one!). The big hill back to the car was a slow descent in the sunny bits, and fairly chopped up for skinny skis at the top.
Packers – Pocaterra – Whiskey Jack morning powder run, up to a point! It was cold enough to start, but by 10:30 the sun was getting very warm, and I was only on the Pocaterra section.
The first section of Whiskey Jack was lovely, to the bottom of the steep hill. Then suddenly I hit sun-soaked snow which was instant superglue to my (waxable) skis! I don’t think I have ever experienced that before, and from there back to Boulton it alternated between somewhat slow and dead stop.
I am still optimistic, especially if grooming continues, and I will try to be finished morning powder runs before 10 am!
Upper Tramline/MLR to explore a meadow about 1.5 kms past Fairview turnoff, then back to F/V. Relaxing social ski chatting with a few people we met while sprawled out in the sun enjoying lunch. At 10 am snow was cold powder and no problems sticking. After our jaunt thru the meadow, at noon, things warmed up so another coat of glide went onto the fishscales to complete the Fairview circuit without incident. Because it was Easter Monday, patrols were directing traffic to maximize efficiently filling the LL parking lots. We saw maybe 6 people in 4 hours while skiing.
p.s. Michelle, I would love to know the name of the furniture polish you have been told works on fishscales.
Thanks Bob for all the photos, I just met a handful of reporters over the years but recognize some faces from brief encounters. I was hoping to see a photo of MAAD, but he’s or she’s like the « Arlésienne » as we say ion French.
Good to put faces to the names of regular posters from over the years. Looks like it was Steve Riggs I was chatting with at Patterson/Elk junction Saturday evening.
Started on Whiskey Jack on Saturday morn on pure ice but on Tyrwhitt the lurching began from shade to sun. Saw Moose & Wolverine tracks. We were warned about the huge spruce across Elk Pass Trail on the descent so no speed record this time.
10mins from arriving at the top of Blueberry as I was herringboning, the toe bar on my ski boots completely detached from my boot. My brother & I tried using tape & paracord to rig up the toe bar to the boot but no success. My brother had to leave but I continued to the top, stayed for an hour in the sun & light wind. A helicopter flew by below me & looks like a brief touch down at Rawson then it went to the Rawson parking lot…perhaps a rescue? I hiked back (on the side of the tracks) with my skis on my pack to Elk Pass parking lot. I’m lucky my gear failure didn’t happen off tracksetting on a longer trip. Saw a Boreal Chickadee & Steller’s Jay along the way. I was very appreciative to hitch a ride (with masks on) back to my vehicle at Boulton campground with a friendly couple I met up on Blueberry.
The top of Blueberry was great compared to the previous Sunday when I skied from 4:30pm-8:45pm to Blueberry Hill breaking trail in up to 25cms of snow over tracksetting during the big storm. On the drive, the visibility was the worst I’ve ever had in all these years doing adventures & couldn’t see a thing on Hwy40 north of Nakiska turn off so I made it to Lorette Ponds lot & hung out for an hour until the snow eased up & I continued on. I was kind of looking forward to spending the night out there. 3.5 hour total (including stop @ Lorette) to get back to Calgary.
This larger than you blog (not an easy feat) was an expertly curated and entertaining read over the past 10+ years. I’ll miss contributing, reading and scheming by it …but will still hear the mountains calling regardless. See ya out there Bob!
Mt Shark. Sunday morning at 11 am. 2 to 3 cm of fresh snow on top of recent grooming and lovely weather. I was fine breaking trail with skins skis and relatively fresh glide wax. My friend on fish scales struggled and we stopped after an hour as she was constantly stopping to scrape snow off her skis every few meters. I need to pick up some of that furniture polish people keep talking about to help her.
As everyone else says, the smith dorrien is brutal. It’s not too bad from Peter Lougheed to Mt Shark and maybe a few more kms north towards Canmore, but then it is constant potholes very similar to the Waiprous road. I should have gone back to Canmore via Hwy 40 as it would have been quicker.
APR 3 VISTA LAKE TO REDEARTH CREEK VIA ARNICA AND GIBBON PASSES
Yesterday, Carl VM and I toured from the Vista Lake trailhead on Hwy 93S to the Redearth Creek trailhead, via Arnica Lake, Arnica Pass, Twin Lakes, Gibbon Pass, and Shadow Lake Lodge. We were both on wide (89mm shovel width for me) light touring skis with metal edges. We used full-length skins. The starting temperature at 0915 was -6C, rising to about +6C during the day.
The 27km route follows the summer hiking trails, with 950m cumulative elevation gain and 1200m cumulative descent. The crux of the trip was at the start – the descent to Vista Lake. The trail was boot packed but was icy and has an exposed cliff section just above Vista Lake. We walked down carrying our skis, but had the trail been any icier we would have needed ice cleats. Once at the lake we put on our skis and skins and followed the boot-packed trench up toward Arnica Pass on the east shoulder of Storm Mt. The walkers had turned back about halfway up, but a faint ski track continued. For a few hundred metres there was a sugary snowpack that would collapse if you skied near a tree or over a bush. Higher up, the trailbreaking improved. We continued past Arnica Lake and up to Arnica Pass. Not sure what we would encounter on the Twin Lakes side, we kept our skins on for the start of the descent. We ended up keeping the skins on which slowed us down just enough to keep us on the hiking trail and around the curves.
On arrival at Upper Twin Lake we came across fresh ski tracks and a quinzhee shelter (see Wikipedia) consolidating itself before being excavated. The builders were nowhere to be seen, presumably off skiing for the day. It reminded me of Goldilocks with the 3 bears going for a walk waiting for their porridge to cool. Should we dig out the quinzhee and have lunch inside!? We decided to have lunch outside and skied off before the builders returned.
We continued down to Lower Twin Lake, and then the steady ascent up to Gibbon Pass. Despite applying skin wax to our skins at lunch time, we both had problems with major snow clumping on our skins, tripling the weight of our skis! As soon as the steepness of the trail tapered off, I took my skins off and continued on my fishscale base which immediately eliminated the clumping problem. Carl had a waxable base and decided to continue with his skins, but the clumping subsided as we got a bit higher. We both descended from Gibbon Pass without skins, and the steeper middle section was challenging negotiating the trail switchbacks in variable snow conditions. We sidestepped and kick-turned a few corners.
We took an extended break at Shadow Lake Lodge, having our third lunch and relaxing in the wooden chairs looking out toward Mount Ball. The place looked deserted, other than for fairly fresh snowmobile tracks. We set off on our final leg down Redearth Creek. Based on ski tracks, it looked like one or two people had skied up to the Lodge earlier in the day. Due sticky snow on the track, the descent to the trailhead was significantly slower than usual. It was a long but enjoyable day! Photos at https://photos.app.goo.gl/nmVTU3ZqNXXCz22E6.
Elk Pass area. Lots (10 cm+) of new snow came down today from 10am to 2:00. Temp was just above zero. Quite sticky going up towards Elk Pass so I changed plan and skied Fox, Moraine and Boulton Creek. Much less sticky there; not sure why. Windless and beautiful- still lots of snow in this area. Season is definitely not over.
it’s about time the Govmint widens & pave this P.O.S. road (the new parking pass program could cover the cost) so us heavy hittin x country back country snow beaters can rip out there in our big chevy escalades (1 person per vehicle please) and ski the be-jeepers outa those mountains and still get back home for happy hour and start posting ad nauseam of our exploits oh yeah !!
Don’t look at the potholes, look at the spaces between the potholes.
Excellent spring conditions made the day yesterday at Pipestone. New snow varying in depth from 1 to 5 centimeters had refreshed the landscape, and all skier-set tracks were superb. Rode violet wax covering violet klister worked very well on the skis. Lunch in the warm sun was matched only by the glide in the warm sun back to the trailhead. HIGHLY recommended! 🙂
Flurries, obscure skies, and 0 degrees C in Peter Lougheed PP, Info Centre.
Hope everyone has had a good season!
WARNING: There is a very large tree is across the Elk Pass trail- located at the base of the steepest downhill section coming down from Elk Pass before the Blueberry Hill junction. It is fairly visible so people should be able to stop well before, but still wouldn’t want someone to get hurt plowing into it. (Copied from email sent by Rhonda J late Saturday)
Snowshoe: while I am well aware that the snowshoe link is no longer on site, I wanted to share with you the DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS of Smith Dorrien yesterday all the way from Canmore end through Goat Creek and all way to Hwy 40. Shark Lake was a fabulous relatively easy destination, although a few short sections of serious groin deep post-holing by hikers. Located at the base of Mount Shark, I have yet to research it’s alternate name of MARUSHKA LK. While I was always opposed to having that road paved, I would seriously sign a petition today. The increased use of it during Covid has made for even worsening conditions. I can only imagine what it is like today in the rain/wet snow mix. A Drive-through MUD bath for sure!! Our friends, however, got a great shot of a moose licking a car parked at the road side.
Cross-country skiing books? I am looking for good Nordic skiing narratives other than guidebooks or instructional manuals. I cannot find many, so I might have to write one when I retire. Meanwhile, I sure would like to read more. I am writing from Oregon so maybe I am missing out on titles available in Canada?
Unlike the subjects of climbing and mountaineering, or hiking for that matter, there do not seem to be many good novels, memoirs or histories about xc skiing. _My Year of Living Strenuously_ by Bill McKibben (of Vermont) is excellent. _Brave Enough_ by Jesse Diggins (of US National Team and Minnesota) is good enough to read, and I just started _ Beyond Birkie Fever_ by Walter Rhein (Wisconsin) and I am enjoying the history of American XC and the Wisconsin Birkenbeiner.
Can anyone share any other book titles old or new? Thanks!
Congratulations and many thanks again for the wonderful work you have done for so many years
Goat Creek and West Spray
Parking lot to parking lot. Described as descent. A bit messy at the top. No trackset until after the first bridge. Conditions optimal through middle section to lunch shelter. Then quickly deteriorating to slush approaching the Springs parking.
I don’t think they’ll groom again this season. Definitely the last weekend unless there’s a big dump of snow.
Good morning it is -2 degrees at the Peter lougheed information centre. Skies partially cloud but the sun is peaking through!
I skied Mt. Shark late this afternoon/early evening. I skied the 10 K yellow loop. It was track set overnight so the tracks were in good shape. Most of the trail in the trees was just soft. The last few K that are more exposed were quite icy. I was on waxless skis and had good grip. But the going was pretty slow on the soft snow. Plenty of coverage but just either soft or icy. Good news is that the hills were all on the soft side rather than icy.
Congratulations Bob for the well deserved honour.
Skied out and back on LL’s Fairview today, tracks in good shape – more glazed closer to the Chateau but with our midday timing, things were soft enough to snowplow on the faster downhills. Thanks to beta from a happenchance meeting with the groomer, we skied the freshly-groomed-today Upper Telemark (small section trackset) – a real treat!
Skied PLPP this morning in beautiful weather. Calm at ground level and near freezing at 9:30am. Skied up Whiskey Jack, which was decent except one icy black section that had gotten sun exposed (definitely wouldn’t want to descent it). Pocaterra was fine, Lynx, Amos & Wheeler to finish back at Boulton where it was definitely softer and thinner lower down as the sun reached its apex. I was on fishscale waxless and had decent glide and grip throughout. Friends on waxed lost a bit of their kick halfway through, but not too bad. Single track skier set (or on top of older trackset) most the way varied in quality and you had to take care on the descents where the smoothed out area to snowplow got narrow (as you definitely couldn’t snowplow in the crusty old powder to the side). Minimal or debris most the way (worse lower down on north end). Overall a great morning ski on a gorgeous day in April where we saw almost no one!
PLPP south trails. Starting from Boulton I did the SkierBob Special, plus North Lookout and finishing on Boulton Creek. Extremely slushy conditions with very little to no grip (red wax) and lots and lots and lots of collembolas (Elk Pass looked like train tracks and my skis smell like earthworms now), but a beautiful day regardless.
I feel the track setting and trail grooming was very much “my monies worth”. Thank you to all the folks who organized the “pass” system and to all the volunteers that manned the parking lots etc.
Our seniors group/club did not get out as we normally would if our bus trips were still running. However, many of us have been driving out in our own cars and have enjoyed a wonderful season that is still going on as I write this on April 2.
Also thank you to Bob Truman “Skier Bob” for all his time over the years! Your website has been invaluable and I am sure that all the skiers thank you very much.
It has been a good year and hopefully we will have many more as x-country skiing has expanded at an exponential rate.
April 2 – Powderface Trail
I started from the Dawson PRA around noon today. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there was surprisingly good skiing on the closed Powderface Trail! It’s a snowmobile road in the winter, so it was well-packed even though the crust had softened up. There were a few thin/bare spots that I had to walk around, but mostly it was ski-able on skate skis. I reached a big bare section at 6.6km, had a late lunch, and then headed back. Fun little spring ski!
Conditions were less-than-ideal today at Pipestone, but if you could get past the first 150 m or so of icy trail, the snow got better. I had a good time. No grooming, but skier track was adequate. The sky was overcast so the snow didn’t get soft and sticky and it looked like snow from last month.
Congratulations on being awarded such a beautiful painting Bob! Thanks again for your wonderful blog and happy ski trails!
A beautiful painting and a well earned recognition. Thank you Bob for your amazing website. I will sure miss it.
PLPP North and South ends
Six of us parked at Elkwood (+4C) and skied Lodgepole out and Braille back, in order to avoid the debris we saw on the trails in the forest to the east of the parking lot. Braille was almost pristine, though a bit icy, while the first section of Lodgepole was somewhat littered with needles. Back at Elkwood, we then decided to try the new tracksetting so drove to the Upper lake lot and, after a tail-gate lunch, skied the connector to Elk Pass trail, then up Fox (nicely tracked) and up to the Blue-Elk table. All tracks going up were great, but by the time we came back down Elk Pass trail, the snow was softening and the tracks were playing ‘catch and release’ with us. The big hill down to Elk Pass Parking was glorious, with no icy spots. (+7C) I managed to squeak in my winter cumulative 1000 kms. today, with a little extra, in case it snows a ton in the next month and then I can reset my goal!
The snow cover on the Minnewanka Road is quite thin and icy, but once you get into the trees and start heading up the hill, it’s not bad. Up on top, there’s still a few cm of fresh snow from the other night and a fairly good skier-set track. I only went as far as the campground but the tracks continue beyond. It’s a shame they’ve stopped track-setting this trail for the season because there’s still plenty of good snow up there and definitely worth the trip. An overcast day made for consistent snow conditions and my skin-skis worked great.
I’m curious… what’s everyone’s average time to complete a return trip of Redearth creek trailhead to Shadow lake? It took me over 5hrs (I spent a lot of time taking my skis on and off being that it was my first time on the trail and not knowing what was round the corner on some of those crazy steep and narrow turns!) which seemed a lot more than what i’d planned for as previous reports only estimated 4hrs or so max.
April 1- PLPP- Elkwood Parking-CCW- Wheeler-Amos-Wooly-Meadow-Elkwood Parking
A nice day to get out. Good track setting with alternating snow with good texture and icy conditions. A fair amount of debris with the odd pine cone being the most dangerous, The centre median would soften up and become considerably slower then the groomed track.
Attention to the conditions of the trail was on the mind of the skier at all times due to the hazards present. We had one skier take a face plant. We cut the day short in order not to become too tired and savor what we had done up to that point
That is beautiful!! Congratulations, and thank you for everything! <3
Nordic Centre 9:30 – 11:30 still in surprisingly good shape. Bow Trail’s hard surface good for fast skating, Banff Trail similar. Classic tracks OK, mild to moderate pine needle infestation. Some thin areas easily avoided. Better, (very good) conditions on Meadowview. Was passed by a team athlete who said he had good grip with Swix VR60 on classic skis. Best conditions on Olympic and Centennial, although downhill sections just above day lodge hard and icy.
A huge thank you to Bob, Ken, and all the volunteers. Signage for the parking pass grooming program was prominently posted at the cash registers at Norseman ski shop. Quite a few customers asked about it, and we did our best to explain and promote the concept. Personally, I encouraged folks to contact their MLA and other politicians about the grooming and parks in general.
What a fitting gift. You deserve it, Bob!
We all thrive in some manner to make a difference in other peoples lives and ours.
You certainly did.
Thank you Bob.
That is just perfect and so fitting. Put it somewhere you can look at it from anywhere in your favourite room!
Although, like many of us who have followed this blog, I think it’s quite possible your favourite room has distant rock walls and an unlimited ceiling of February Rocky Mountain Blue.
A great recognition of all your hard work… Thank You Bob
Congratulations Bob, and Thank you so much for all your efforts and ski reports. You will be sorely missed… see you on the trails.
You bet! 😉
Thank you for your kind words! I am so pleased you love your painting.
As a frequent visitor of the ‘Skier Bob’ page, it was an honour to be able to help celebrate your well earned retirement!
More of my work can be found on Instagram @erinkerr.clubb
A beautiful painting and a well deserved special gift, of one of your favourite trails. Couldn’t quite tell if the skier was wearing a skihere toque.
So awesome. You deserve it Bob. Thank you for everything. Enjoy your next chapter and hope to see you on trails!
Well deserved recognition. Thanks for all your hard work.
OK, so this might be sacrilegious, but as one of the volunteers for Nordique, I find myself wondering just how useful it was, really, to have volunteers out in the parking lots. It seemed that in PLPP anyway, about 70% of skiers had their passes when they arrived. That is, they had been convinced already that buying the pass was a good idea. Since more money was raised than needed, perhaps the money from this 70%, who bought without volunteer encouragement, was sufficient. Sure, being a volunteer was pleasant enough, but I wonder how much it really contributed. Maybe next year it would be interesting to try advertising only, and see what the result is. Signs could be put at the entrances to the parking lots stating something to the effect of: Trail grooming is done due to voluntary contributions of users. Please buy a pass at:……….
That’s great news all around
Did this get recorded?
HasBrewster Healy XC trail been track set in the last few days
April 1 2021???
HAIDUK LAKE via RED EARTH CREEK AND SHADOW LAKE – March 31
Well, today I had 2 great news. First, I learned this morning before I hit the trail, that my wife will be getting her first shot of vaccine tomorrow. Then, I managed to find the strength to ski to Haiduk Lake and back from TCH1, only 6 weeks after pulling a hamstring and a groin abductor and no skiing for a month while recovering. Everyone this winter season seems to have a milestone they reached; well today I got mine.
After a couple coats of VR45 in the parking lot, I just decided to check the latest trip reports and saw MAAD’s on the great ski he had last night to Shadow Lake Lodge, with brand new track setting! I could not believe it the trail would be track set one more time this winter, in spite the lodge closed last weekend; unless they are expecting some Easter weekend guests. And yes, for me too, Red Earth Creek was in the best shape I have seen it in decades. Even the snowmobile packed last 3 km to the lodge was great to ski on. It was overcast until about 1 pm, which was excellent to keep the snow on cool side. Once I reached the turnaround point of MADD, halfway from the lodge to Shadow Lake, I had to dig in and break trail into 15-20 cm of fresh snow. No hint at all any previous ski or snowshoe trails. Skied along the SE shore of Shadow Lake, then up Haiduk Creek with all the way to the base of the ramp leading to the Whistling Valley and Haiduk Lake. The snow in the last 2 km before the lake was much dryer than lower down. I was happy to reach the lake, as I was getting tired to break trail. The return to the lodge was much faster and only then, did I realize that you climb quite a bit along Haiduk Creek to enjoy a smooth gentle downhill on my own trail. After a good break and snack by the lodge, it was smooth sailing back to TCH1. The REC trail by 5:30 pm was getting glazed in the sun. The lowermost 2 km before the parking lot were showing quite a bit of melt water already on the track. Very fast in places and I was glad to be on my metal edge touring skis for a good control, although the long day was starting to hit me. A great marathon+1 km spring-ski outing today. An awesome day. Will have to go back up there to clear some unfinished business, now the leg sure got a good test today.
MAR 31 SUNSHINE – SIMPSON PASS – MONARCH RAMPARTS – HEALY CREEK
Six Ramblers set out from the top of Wawa Chair on alpine touring, telemark, light touring fishscale, and light touring waxable skis. One of us had skinned up from the parking lot while the rest had passes or tickets to ride the gondola and chair. At 0930 it was about -8C with a 20-30 kph wind and light snow with sunny breaks. We broke trail in 20-30cm of powder snow down to Simpson Pass and headed south toward Eohippus Lake, where we climbed up the ramp onto the Monarch Ramparts. By this time the snow had stopped, it had warmed up to about -2C, but the wind was now 20-40 kph. Snowpack on the Ramparts varied from 20cm powder to wind-packed hard and icy crust. We followed the Ramparts north toward Healy Pass and descended from the Ramparts into the bowl and lake about 300m SE from Healy Pass. From there it was a quick descent down the packed Healy Creek trail back to the Sunshine parking lot. Another great day in the backcountry!
Pretty amazing result from Nordiq AB, Ken Hewitt and all the behind the scenes folks who helped to put it together.
Thanks to all of you!
My wife’s and I were part of the 162 volunteers who worked shifts at PLPP. We enjoyed talking to the skiers. We asked them where they were going, what wax they were using.
One can only hope going forward, that keeping Albertans mentally and physically healthy is a priority recognized by our Politicians. Reinstating the grooming program should be one of their top priorities.
Thanks Ken, Jeff, James, and volunteers!
Big shout out to the Nordiq Alberta volunteers!
Fabulous grooming and mid-winter conditions this AM on Hydroline, Lookout and Tyrwhitt. Fox Creek had skier tracks, and like always was very pretty. The temperature was a nice -10 at 8:00 AM which allowed for wax skis (V45). However, by noon it had warmed up to +6, so if you are heading out tomorrow these trails may be icy.
There were a couple wolves ahead of me but they were considerate and stayed out of the tracks.
Redearth Creek to Shadow Lake
We have wanted to ski this all winter, and MAAD’s report gave us the kick to get to it. What a sensational ski in such a magnificent landscape. A skier ahead of us continued MAAD’s track to the lake and beyond. We skied a short way up the lake on their track, and then ditched to have tea and lunch. MaSid will laugh at our half-baked effort at creating a lizard lounge, but it works so well, that we will be doing this from now on. The snow was really great, but got a bit sticky on our waxless, coming back from the lake, due to intermittent sun. However, once we got back to the snowmobile track, everything was fine, until much lower down when sun exposed snow was quite sticky for us, but the majority of the trail was excellent.
REDEARTH CREEK today all the way to Shadow lake lodge and then further to the lake (30k total.) What a beautiful day and absolutely perfect ski conditions! Single track set all the way up to the ‘hill’ section. The snow was was perfect, no icy sections and no slush. The weather was warm. My favourite ski this year so far! Spring Skiing is awesome!
SPRAY RIVER WEST to PARK BOUNDARY on GOAT CREEK – March 31
People know where to get the info they need… SkierBob.
The four Moms don’t waste their precious time out, by looking elsewhere!
Tom suggests that I am not living up to my history of ‘first-out long trips”… and does not accept my excuse that I’m happy to follow our new trendsetters!
Details of today’s trip in the photo descriptions here:
My VR 50 worked well, until it didn’t… glad the return is mainly downhill!
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park = PLPP
Skied from Elk Pass parking – Elk Pass- Tyrrwhitt -north Lookout- South Lookout – Hydroline -Elk Pass – Fox Creek. 20 km.
Superb conditions thanks to the groomers. -7C at 9:15AM. Above zero C at 1PM but super blue wax worked well most of the way. We persevered the final 2 km.
Thanks to Nordic Pulse for Live Grooming (see tab on SkierBob).
Thanks to the groomer for a superb job!
PLPP – Meadow – Sinclair – Braille – Lodgepole – Wheeler – WhiskeyJack – Pocaterra
Started at the Pocaterra parking lot at 0800 and finished the loop about 4 hrs later. Temperature at the trailhead was -12 when I started, and +5 when I finished. Meadow through to Wheeler at the Lower Lake junction were all trackset. Tracks were all hard (it was -12, after all), with the sun exposed areas being icy, but little to no debris on the trails.
From the Wheeler Lower Lake junction up Whisky and back on Pocaterra, all were skier trackset (quite a bit single) through 15-20 cm of snow, but well packed down. Had a couple of wicked wipeouts on the hills coming back on Pocaterra (one of these days I really should learn how to control my downhill runs…).
It was a quiet day on the trails – didn’t see anyone ’til after 1100, and even then, I think I saw maybe 12 people total. There were 7 cars in the parking lot when I left. I was starting to stick over the last few km, especially in the sunny areas, so I was quite happy with my timing. Skin skis did really well.
p.s. Forgot to mention – I had my annual Chuck encounter yesterday when I met up with him and Jeannette on Fairview. Always a treat – what a great couple!
We skied in PLPP late afternoon on Tuesday, starting at 2:30 pm. Waxless and skin skis. Fast enough in the newly trackset trails from Monday night of Meadow, Sinclair, Lodgepole, over to Wheeler. Returned to the visitor centre on skier-set trails of Amos, Wooley, Meadow. Conditions were great and very little ice. Should be good again today.
REDEARTH/ SHADOW LAKE LODGE +
Late Tuesday ski
Excellent fresh trackset skiing to the Shadow Lake Lodge turnoff. Winter snow for the most part- except the first 1/2 km. The ACC groomer trackset Redearth Creek trail at about 6 pm. Moderately fast skiing on Swix purple wax. The trackset improves greatly after about 1/2 km.
I broke the trail to the warden cabin. Boot top ski penetration. -5C shortly before dark thirty.
The trail to the Shadow Lake Lodge is snowmobile packed and in great winter shape.
I broke trail several hundred meters beyond the Lodge but it was too dark with my weak headlamp to find the trail to the Lake.
At the Lodge at about 9pm the temperature was -6C.
Skied Lake Louise ski hill until the lifts closed during the day. Some excellent skiing particularly in the trees and back shoots. Then I hit Pipestone. I was told it was good trackset skiing but it had some late day sun on it. So I went to Redearth instead where the sun does not shine so much. I was fortunate to have an exquisite straight trackset trail laid out for me in front of my eyes! This was the best skiing of the year up to Shadow. Get it while you can!
Kananaskis Lookout was a beautiful, if a tad slow, excursion today. Very few people going up that way, and no one went down the south side. I didn’t either, because it would have been terribly slow, especially all by my lonesome!
I parked at Boulton Bridge, skied up Whiskey Jack and Lookout North, returning the same way. The descent was lovely, alternating between the (minimal) tracks, and the thick soft pillows of snow.
Chickadee Valley. Maybe for some, this is a backcountry trip. But today it was the easiest ever, lots of powder, wide ski tracks from yesterday, the mountains, trees, and even the creek covered with lots of snow, and we only met one person in the whole day. Friend with just half skins was slipping on the way up, but full skins on light touring skis always work well.
PLPP centre an north end. I skied a route from the visitor centre to Bolton, then up Whiskey Jack, back down Pocaterra to the hut, over to the west side to finish on most of the loop options there. Several people have already reported on conditions for these trails. Whiskey Jack was skier tracked. I went up but there was enough snow on it that going down would not have been particularly bad. The fresh grooming on Meadow / West side trails was quite nice although the rest of the network was fine too. Overall, conditions were on the slow side. I finished at 1640 and even by then there was very little sun damage occurring so tomorrow morning should still be pretty good. My thermometer never went above -2 (shade temperatures).
PLPP north trails. Skier set only on Boulton Creek, Elk Pass to Blueberry Junction, Fox Creek, Moraine on the return. Thanks to the trail breakers (apparently Simon, Helen, Janice and a couple others). The dry powder was from 10 to 30 cm deep. No ice, rocks, debris, fleas, slush or dirt. Beautiful but slow skiing. Not a day for collecting km, but great for collecting scenery and peacefulness. This was truly winter snow, at temps from -8 to +2. V40, 45, and 50 each took their turn and worked fine. No one at Blueberry picnic table and no tracks going up Blueberry Hill or Patterson; some things I had not seen before.
MORAINE LAKE ROAD via FAIRVIEW – March 30
Cold powdery snow… all the way, and Swix Extra Blue (-1 to -10) was perfect.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Only mistake was getting there before tracksetting was done!
Arrived at Spray River trailhead this morning to find fresh tracksetting. Double trackset to the first bridge, then single. Turned around at 8km so didn’t see if the trackset went all the way. Very little traffic after the first bridge.
PLPP South Trails.
Starting at Bolton Creek (~10:30, -11C) I was excited to see fresh grooming starting at the parking lot! My enthusiasm quelled after I discovered they petered out after 50 m towards the east connector to Moraine/Whiskey Jack. Skier-set track along Moraine, had to break trail on Fox Creek. Soft and slow! About 10-15 cm of powder. Skier tracks picked up again at Elk Pass. I caught up with Helen R. and Janice about 500 m past the Hydroline junction, who turned out to be the ones busy making fresh tracks. I skied ahead to return the favour, and they caught up with me as I was having a snack at Blueberry Junction. We had a little chat about skiing, conditions, equipment, and compared plans – they were heading to the MaSid Meadow, and I continued up Elk Pass to the picnic table (Helen – I attempted to draw an arrow to where I thought the entrance was. Did you see it? Was I right?!)
At the Elk Pass summit, I could see skier-set tracks down Hydroline and south to the Elk Lakes Cabin, but I followed them down Tyrwhitt
and Whiskey Jack, and eventually back to Bolton Ck. Very few skiers out, although the parking lot had swelled to a whopping 10 cars at 1:30 pm (-4C air/+ C in the sun).
It was great to do the Skier Bob Special today in such soft, untouched conditions. I felt like a very slow marble rolling along a satin-covered, goose-down duvet. Quite a welcome change than some of the icy conditions that begin to appear in the spring.
Skied most of the major trails at Canmore today and the overall conditions were excellent. Grooming was great overall including the trails beyond the man made snow areas. In fact, the tracksetting was better on the trails further out. Used hard wax and had great grip.
More praise for PLPP middle trails.
I can add that Lynx and middle Pocaterra also had excellent skier set tracks.
It was no nice to ski on clean cold snow today but it was ominous to hear the constant tap-tap-tap of pole tips striking nasties just below the fresh.
PLPP North/Center Trails
Starting at Elkwood parking (10am, -15C), we skied Wheeler to Boulton parking, then returned by Wheeler, Amos, Woolley and Meadow to Elkwood, where we had lunch at the amphitheater. Wheeler was quite good, with several section having an icy feel where more sun exposed. Amos and Woolley and Meadow were marvelous – skier trackset in 3-5cm snow over the recent grooming , giving a soft, quiet feel. After lunch, we skied Lodgepole, Sinclair, Braille and Spruce Road, the recent tracksetting being generally excellent with a few short icy sections, mostly on Sinclair. -3C at our 2:30pm finish. These trails should still be great tomorrow.
Mar 30 Upper Lake Louise trails from the Chateau grooming team:
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March 30, good spring condition. Icy in places during the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.
Shoreline (#4): Double trackset, March 30, good spring condition. Icy in places during the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate path for walkers, March 30, good spring condition. Icy in places during the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.
Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5): Double trackset, March 26, poor condition. Icy in places during the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.
Tuesday March 30. Fabulous conditions at PLPP. -14C at 10 AM and -4C at 1:30 PM. From Visitor Centre on Meadow, Sinclair, Lodgepole, Braille, Spruce Road, Wheeler to Boulton, back to Visitor Centre via Wheeler and Meadow. Approx. 18 kms and 250 metres cumul elevation
Tue mar 30: tom snow south/mountain Rd.
-18 early this morning to start from station flats, following a pack of (3?) wolves who crossed over the road from the south in the night. Had to carry the skis in a few thin spots (namely downhills) until past bobcat jcn. Then good cruising all the way from there to the pump station at moose packers and top of ridgeback R4. Good snow on this upper section, and worth the initial semi-marginal bits. About a foot of snow on old mountain Rd with a good dense base. Some sticky sections on return after lunch, mostly below bobcat. Occasional short bare patches melted out by the time we came back. More sections walked on return. Several wipeouts were experienced by 2/3 of the crew in the lower section. No damage…..mostly. But still a decent day for the short drive. +2 back at the car at 2pm.
PIPESTONE: Fresh snow over the hard wax was perfect for skiing between 10 am and 2 pm, we used purple blue wax. Sun drenched areas will likely be icy tomorrow morning…..go early as the forecast is for warmer temps.
CNC 10:00 – 12:30 -9C – 0C We skied waxable VR 45 (purple) but ironed in a green hard wax first. The tracks were amazing going from powder to margarita mix to some ice. The Skaters flew by us on smooth soft tracks.
The talk of the day was the weird grooming (track setting) on the trails. I can only assume the Nordic Centre is down a machine after seeing some of the results.
If you go to the Trail Reports, the top of the page explains some of the challenges of grooming this time of year. The Pisten Bully blew through the base on one of the Bow Trail hills. Subsequently the tracks look like the groomer had a bit of a challenge keeping straight. This hill, two days ago, had H2O at the bottom and the tracks were saturated.
However there were spots where the tracks were less than straight and there didn’t appear to be an underlying reason for the squiggle. The grooming sometimes left a windrow right on top of the tracks.
We skied out Bow onto Cold Shoulder back on Silvertip which is no longer being groomed this winter so it was skier tracked. Returned up Bow and Bow Loop.
From Nakiska, who were reporting an honest 17 cm’s overnight, I skied Skogan up to the lower Skogan Loop junction for lunch, then over to the old lookout via High Level and Sunburst. Moderate trailbreaking and relatively slow travel was the order of the day, and I was quite happy to be following the footsteps of an earlier skier to his, and my highpoint, especially when he turned out to be a now grown-up skier from my Jackrabbit coaching days! The deep snow and icy base made for easy descending, with a few tele turns thrown in just for fun on steeper pitches. By the time I finished up with a visit to Troll Falls, the snow at lower elevations had settled and was getting moist. Upper areas should still offer enjoyable touring tomorrow morning.
We braved today’s icy, windy road conditions to enjoy skiing on VR 40. There was varying amounts of snow over the new grooming on Meadow, Wooley, Amos, and Wheeler. My husband reported 25 cm new snow at the top of Whiskey Jack. Meadow was so good, I skied it 3 times! The air temperature remained around minus 5 or 6 all afternoon.
SPRAY RIVER LOOP – March 29
15 cms of snow last night seemed to make this a locals only destination today!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Starting at minus 5 allowed me to use VR 50 with excellent results… but don’t stay out too long!
One thing for sure, Bob really knows how to grab a frame. That top vista really jumps out in the video.
Well done to all involved.
WBC today from 11 until 4. Sundog, Elbow, Iron Springs. Quite slushy, and if/when it freezes tonight it will be very choppy. I would be reluctant to go back there until lots of snow falls. Still, a fun day and waxless skis worked quite well.
It is 0 degrees in Peter Lougheed PP. It has been snowing lightly on and off since 10am.
MAR 27 WEST BRAGG CREEK
Telephone Loop, East Crystal, Iron Springs, Iron Springs South, Elbow South, Elbow, Sundog West
After Alf’s Telephone Loop report yesterday, Carl VM and I did the counter-clockwise tour today on light touring gear. I was on waxless and Carl was on waxable with Swix VR45. It was -6C when we set out at 0900. We had to walk up the ramp from the parking lot due to lack of snow. From there we were skiing on top of boot-packed snow to the upper Hostel Loop junction. Further north, we were on a combination of boot packed trail and Alf’s ski tracks. Snow conditions varied from 20cm of cold dry powder in the shade to hard suncrust, wet sticky snow, or no snow at all on sections that got a lot of sun yesterday. We walked down one hill that had poor coverage, but were able to ski everything else. We followed Alf’s tracks where he detoured over a lovely pond (or marsh or clearing) and a slightly less than lovely bushwhack in the wilderness about 500m south of the Disconnect junction. Once past Long Distance, there were only Alf’s ski tracks for 6km, which gave us great glide and grip; thanks Alf! We had no icing, but some clumping that just needed a good kick to release the snow. The footprints made their appearance again at the Reconnect junction. We didn’t see a single other skier until Mountain Road about 1km from the parking lot. Snow was getting pretty thin in places on Mountain Road. It was about 3C on return to the car.
After a snack, I headed out on my own with my rock waxless track skis for a loop on the south trails (see list at top). Temperature was pretty steady around 5C. I didn’t see a single skier, but lots of walkers who apparently thought it was already after March 31. Even so, the skiing was pretty good. The snow was getting thin on the usual sunny spots on Iron Springs. I broke trail on Iron Springs South, and walked down the steep hill that had poor snow coverage and some rocks sticking out. Other than that, I was either in a ski track or a well-flattened boot track. Another great day at West Bragg Creek!
Moraine lake road to Fairview to lake Louise, then skied to the second waterfall past the lake for a lunch break and same route back. Trails were in good shape with only a few icy spots. Beautiful day to be out there. Purple wax worked well.
Just wanted to say a huge thanks Bob for all you’ve done for all of us skiers. I’ve met you a few times out there – on skis and biking in the summer. Best wishes for all your future adventures!
Spotted fresh wolf tracks today on tom snow south. Also found a picked clean deer carcass off trail along one of the nearby ridges/cut blocks.
I wanted to ski 60 times since I turned 60 in December. I am thrilled that I achieved that goal today. I got to 1314 km for the season.
Jamie got to 50 ski outings today for a total of 1087 km.
Jamie and I skied to Shadow Lake and we did not see another person all day. We started early with a temperature of -2C. The conditions were iced up at the start but soon improved. We were happy to glide on the thin layer of fresh snow. We used our skis with metal edges with a mixture of old blue and purple wax. At the 11 km junction, we walked up some of the steep hill as some rocks were exposed. That is the only section that was not snow covered. The serenity was wonderful. We broke trail on the lake, as none was visible. We had lunch at the red chairs and witnessed an avalanche coming down Mount Ball. The snowmobile trail back was great to the 11 km junction (except for the steep hill, which we walked down). We encountered four spruce grouse; the male was strutting its stuff on the trail, trying to impress the females. As the temperature warmed up, the descent was on the slow side. We had no stickiness issues. We walked down the last hill to parking lot as it had become slick. What an awesome ski season!
Thank you for the blog, Bob! We skied the most ever this season, but never met you on the trails. We did encounter Jean Francois (on my birthday), Chuck & Jeannette (along the 1A near Morant’s Curve), and MaSid (enjoyed lunches on Fairview & Elk Pass couches).
By the way, Jamie found an axe on the trail just past the Lost Horse Creek Campground. It must have fallen off a load when the snowmobiles left Shadow Lake Lodge. I placed it against a tree at campsite #1.
Tom snow (south section) from station flats was still skiable early this morning before the crowds, especially north of the R3/bobcat junction. Unfortunately I wasn’t on skis. But the Bragg creek touring should be back in fine form if snow shows up there sun/mon.
PLPP – (+1C at 9:15am, Boulton Creek)
Skied Moraine, Fox Creek, Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, Elk Pass, Power line towards Elk Cabin, Tyrwhitt, Whiskey Jack.
All the trails skied were in good conditions and the snow was a bit sticky (I had only Swix V45 Violet) and the glide in the tracks was fine but as soon as you would ski outside the tracks, the glide was fair at best.
I attempted to go to Elk Cabin but had not realized you had to ski under the power line due to the construction. I managed to ski approximately 3km on top of former tracks but with my skinny skis it was becoming too difficult and I decided to go back on groomed trails.
I only saw a handful of people, what a contrast from earlier in the year!
Skied a loop from Pocaterra Hut.
Meadow, Woolley, Amos, Wheeler, Lynx, Pocaterra, Rolly Road
All trails were very skiable and enjoyable with waxless skis.
New groom was lightning fast and fun, old grooming was slower and stickier. Slushy as you got closer to the hut.
But very doable and all hills were in great condition.
It was cloudy all day so that really helped conditions. Never got above 5 degrees.
Mar 26 Yoho update from Kicking Horse Ski Club:
Skied the Kicking Horse around noon–after we got a few inches of fresh snow overnight and Joe tried to scratch a new track in a few days ago. It was quite perfect–considering late March! Snow off track was isothermal but the track itself is well packed and good. Joe moved the track setter to the Natural Bridge so he won’t be doing the section from Field–on the Tally Ho anymore. He plans to trailer the sled if he needs it –for the Kicking Horse or Emerald. Trails at Emerald are still skiable–good ski set track on the lake, good crust off track(and it will get better with more sun). The bridge at the top of the fan is melting out and quite bumpy–good to walk across and be safe. Fan trail is fine. Horse trail is in the shade and needs new snow or is too icy & fast. Tree hugger is a bit of a spring mess. Thats the scoop.
March 26 – Smith Dorrien. -6C to start at 8 am, +2C at 4:30 pm. At valley bottom there was an inch or so of new snow on top of suncrusted old snow. The snowpack was still mostly supportive except around treewells and bushes. Things improved rapidly as I gained elevation, and midway up to treeline it was only south-exposed aspects where the suncrust could still be felt beneath the new snow. At treeline there is excellent powder skiing, with a very solid midpack sporting 10-15 cm of dry powder on top. It was overcast all day with light now, and spindrift was coming off of the east-facing cliffs.
Trick is to stay scared enough so your always sqeezing out those rabbit pellets and making a Hansel and Gretel trail back to the car.
I’m tickled it was a front page item! We had intended to just document the hilltop navigation for our own reference, but were surprised the handheld footage was stable enough to watch. Turns out there’s much better stabilization in an entry level phone (iThingSE2 in this case) than a decade old mirror-stabilized outdoorsy camera.
Uncle Ave’s recent advisment rings true for nordic skiers too: You’ll want to feed your skis a little corn this time of year (just a little), else they’ll haunt your dreams.
Here’s the oo-la-la high-def version:
WATRIDGE LAKE- LEMAN LAKE
Friday afternoon/ moonlight night ski
Sweet groomed and trackset skiing to Watridge Lake and the Spray River. I had the best groomed ski turns of the year on the hills- even better than Lake Louise ski area. Moderate to somewhat fast skiing Friday night. Variable speed snow, faster in sun exposed areas on -2c to 0c Swix purple wax. The wax generally performed well and has been on my skis for since I skied the Panther Valley.
The trail up the upper Spray River is in excellent condition to the Palliser Warden Cabin. About 3km before the cabin the trail follows the river for some very nice scenery. Moderate to somewhat fast skiing coming out at night. Beyond the Palliser Warden cabin the skiing is excellent in the meadows with several cm’s of newer snow on a firm crust. The trail up to Leman Lake is also excellent. Looks like 5 or 6 feet of snow base in the area. Ski penetration averaged about ankle deep with the deepest being near boot top deep. Griz and wolf tracks in the lower end of the valley.
Some very nice near full moonlight was shinning in the heavens making for a nice ski back.
Absolutely awesome video! Exceptional views up there.
Fun skiing on the fifteen at Shark today! Perfect fresh grooming, with a dusting of cold new snow overtop in spots. VR 45 worked great until the sun popped out in full force in the early afternoon, forcing a switch to VR 60 which worked really well, although the speed was slower in wet snow, until clouds moved in again for the final loops winding around the Watridge road, firming things up and giving back the fast glide. There will be icy spots to be aware of tomorrow morning, for sure!
PLPP: waxless skis, started out at Boulton Bridge, Boulton Creek and Fox were great, from Elk Pass trail, we headed up Blueberry Hill. The Ramblers broke a fine trail through West Elk Pass meadow, so we had a very easy ski through the meadow. We stopped for lunch and lounging at fork ‘n meadow, which is always excellent, with great views and shelter from the wind. Had some clumping coming down Blueberry and going up the powerline from West Elk Pass meadow to Elk Pass, thanks to the Rambler who broke trail half way up the powerline. Everything sorted out on Tyrwhitt, Pocaterra and Whiskey Jack as more cloud moved in.
West Bragg Creek: Telephone Loop
Our initial plan at WBC, was to do a short ski on some of the sun shaded loops and then head home early. However, yesterdays new snow and the sight of only a few tracks was enough to entice us onto Snowshoe Hare trail. That took us to Telephone Loop, which had lots of snow and no tracks… so we just decided to continue all the way around the loop. I measured between 13cm and 22cm of recent snow, certainly enough to cover any ice, crust or bare patches. The first half of the loop had very nice cold powder conditions. But by the time we turned the corner to head south from Homestead Road junction we had above zero temperatures and the full impact of the late March sun. The sticky snow in the sun would ice up as soon as it hit the colder shaded snow… so there were regular stops for scraping. We took the neat little Moose single-track trail to Old Shell Road for the sunny descent to Mountain Road. Where the snow was fully in the sun, it was consistently wet, so grip and glide was good again. We finished the loop by following Snowy Owl, which was the original alignment of Telephone, when it really was a loop. A very pleasant surprise for late March!
Fairview – Moraine Lake Road
Back at Fairview again – it really is one of the prettiest trails. -2 deg at about noon, and maybe 2-3 cm of fresh now – enough to keep the trails revitalized. Tracks are still in excellent condition on both Fairview and MLR. A few icy spots on Fairview, but nothing to worry about. Lots of control still possible on the hills
Stupid company laptop won’t let me open the video…
Your “avatar” (photo beside your name) is fantastic, that’s what’s fantastic! Look at the teeth on that kitty!
I plan on doing the SkierBob classic loop Sunday, in homage to his dedication over the years. I wonder how Fox Creek and Moraine are going to be by then. Only one way to find out!
With kind regards,
Elk Lakes cabin: our group of Rambler skiers started just after 9 am from Elk Pass trailhead in -5C and beautiful fresh snow. Almost all of us were on light touring skis, some on waxables, some fishscales. Had good grip climbing up the steep hill, then following a skier track to the Blueberry Hill junction. From there we broke trail through West Elk Pass in powdery snow on a solid base. First time for me to check out the famous couch HQ, but not much left of it. What a beautiful meadow and view! We regained the powerline and cruised down in the powder. Hurrah, no snowmobile or snowshoers to be seen! After lunch in the sun in front of Elk Lakes cabin we followed the hiking trail through the trees to Lower Elk Lake and enjoyed the serenity and views. We had to deal with clumping on our skis on our climb back up the powerline, but everyone managed without using skins. Part of our group headed back through West Elk Pass while a few followed two skiers breaking trail up to Elk Pass. The run down from the pass was enjoyable, yet fairly slow in the sun affected snow. Happy that winter is not over yet.
Two of us skied at PLPP today with mixed results. We started in the morning, temperature was -6C, using our fish scale skies, at Elkwood Parking.the plan was to ski Wheeler, Moraine, Fox Creek, Elk Pass, Tyrwhit Pocatera to Lynx and the over Lynx and then directly back to Elkwood on Amos and Wheeler. We skied Wheeler, Moraine and Fox Creek on skier set tracks on 3 or so cm of new snow. This part was great, it was easy snow to ski. However on Elk Pass my skies started icing up, perhaps we should have turned around but we stuck to the plan. I kept having to scape ice off my skies, in particular the ice was sticking to the glide zone of my skies.My ski partner Keith had a bit of trouble but wasn’t affected as much. The sticking seemed to be worse where the sun had been shining. There were several places on Tyrwhit in particular but also on Pocatera. Fortunately the downhills on Tyrwhit and Pocatera were still quite skiable, although slower than we were used to.
I would note that at least some other people on the trails were having similar problems with icing.
There was some ice showing between Pocatera and its junction with Lynx. The snow was thinner on Lynx with some icy sections but in compensation there wasn’t so much icing up. Icy tracks are quite good at removing any ice buildup. it will be interesting to see if the track setters can set track in the south end of the park. If they do that should improve the skiing.
PLPP OUTER LOOP
We had a very enjoyable ski today in Spring conditions. Started from Pocaterra at 11:am ( should have started earlier), temperature-3 and waxed with V 45. Skied the lower trails that were well covered in fresh snow with ice underneath. Pocaterra, Lynx, Amos, Wheeler all had good coverage and nice tracks but slow snow. When we hit Moraine and Fox we were in for a treat with fast tracks due to the more recent grooming and tracksetting. Up Elk Pass with some clumping but we managed just fine. Tyrwitt was beautiful but slow as was Pocaterra. The lower stretches of Pocaterra were actually faster due to less fresh snow. A lovely 32 k ski under partly sunny skies.
Mar 26 Upper Lake Louise trails from the Chateau grooming team:
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March 24, fair spring condition. Icy in places during the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.
Shoreline (#4): Double trackset, March 26 good spring condition. Icy in places during the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate path for walkers, March 26, good spring condition. Icy in places during the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.
Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5): Double trackset, March 26, good spring condition. Icy in places during the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.
PLPP: up Lookout south to north and then back along Tyrwhitt and Elk Pass, then back to Boulton Creek on fox and boulton. Beautiful day but very sticky snow, especially on Hydroline and Lookout. Tyrwhitt and fox/Boulton were surprisingly good but still pretty sticky. Definitely a spring ski but also definitely worth the effort.
Does anyone have any idea about trail conditions on the Cascade Fire Road near Minnewanka?
PLPP: Tyrwhitt Loop (up Whiskey Jack, down Elk Pass)
This was spring skiing in its glory! Jeff G., Sam the Record Man, and I started out at about 10:15; when I pulled into the Boulton lot it was about -3 degrees. There looked to be at least 5 cm of new snow, and some pretty good skier set tracks the whole way. WJ was lovely…no ice to be found but it was slow going for me due to a bit of clumping on my VR45 wax. The snow was true spring snow – definitely on the wet side and the guys had more success with their fish scales. After a bit of scraping and buffing at the top of WJ, I was moving faster up Tyrwhitt, which was beautiful as usual (our guess is that when the sun came out in earnest, the snow there would get s-t-i-c-k-y!). Elk Pass was great, and the few spots at which the snow very suddenly slowed down kept us on our toes. The highlight of the ski was definitely Fox Creek and Moraine…the tracks were awesome, there was a lot less new snow there, and it was overall much less wet and sticky than the rest of the ski. A lovely way to end my 50th ski this year, and likely my last at PLPP until the back door opens up next year…
WBC. Sundog, Iron/Elbow
So much fun!!! We got out while it was still cloudy and had great glide, grip, and conditions on cold winter snow. So good to have real snow again instead of ice. And fluffy soft snow!! The hills were tricky as Helen mentioned. Hard to climb with all the fresh ungroomed snow and spicy on descent. Took one spectacular wipeout on a steep hill. Skied much more conservatively after that!
Once the sun came out it was sticky city but we were prepared and had no problems on our waxless skis.
Most trails have been skier tracked now including Moose.
Trails tomorrow could be a mess if the soft tracks freeze overnight on the hills creating the cheese grater effect on the descents.
Go early before it gets warm if you want to avoid sticky snow.
A 7 ft trail runner?
CNC with new snow is always a treat and took advantage of it today. Started early out of stadium up service roads x 3 all covered in powder, to Meadowview. Went across to west side of the meadow and it was so nice I went back for a second dose, including an out and back on untracked Osprey (I love that trail). Hit Rundle and stayed on it until junction 64 (before that big scary for me U-shaped dip towards the end). After Meadowview descent, skied over to Cold Shoulder (second favorite trail) but fish scales were not so happy there. Headed back up Meadowview and took Banff by the hut back. 19.8 kms. Beautiful day! Thank you Hugh for your good advice: “Sometimes you’ve got t0 go and ski it”
Started at -4C, about 10:30, lots of soft snow with skier set tracks. Loggers-Elbow-Iron Springs-East Crystal. One using purple wax, one on skin skis. Wax worked well until temp reached 0C and the sun came out then skin skis, which had been a struggle, started working well and the wax skis started clumping. Herring bone on the up hills was hard work and we took the down hills with more caution than normal due to unpredictable snow/glide.
CNC for yesterday Thurs March 25
-3C Fresh snow on grooming. Skin skis worked well. Skating lanes looked to be in great shape.
Skied up Banff Trail over Meadow on Coyote and out Meadowview. Returned via Silvertip which was in sore need of this new snow. We skied in and out of the tracks.
There was a photo shot going on yesterday. Swix Clothing was getting shots for next winter’s clothing line. They may even be out there today as well.
Contrary to speculations, the trails are in fine spring shape.
We benefited from a fresh overnight snowfall. My suggestion is to get the latest conditions from the CNC trails report before you commit. https://www.albertaparks.ca/parks/kananaskis/canmore-nordic-centre-pp/trail-report/trail-report-cnc/
Sometimes you’ve got to go and ski it!
Does anyone know if Parks Canada are still grooming and track setting ski trails at Lake Louise?
I called the LL Visitor’s Centre and listened their message service twice before leaving a message with my question. No response! What does this tell us? Everyone has gone backcountry skiing?
March 25 – PLPP- Bolton Creek-Fox Creek-Elk Pass- Tyrwhitt-Whiskey Jack-Bolton Creek Parking.
Good snow coverage throughout, getting better as one travelled further south and at higher elevations. Whiskey Jack had lots of snow but stilled lived up to its intimidating reputation. The only downer today was the flurries of fresh snow that came with a high moisture content and caused persistent clogging at least on my skis. The area is basically on a hard base that is dependent on all the fresh snow that it can get.
West Bragg Winter Wonderland.
Fifteen cm’s of cold dry snow over a crunchy layer, left behind after the snowfall earlier in the week, all on top of the old grooming which remains intact most everywhere that I skied, made for a fine ski tour at mid-day. I had brought along 2 pairs of skis just in case, but the waxless boards stayed put, and I opted for my waxable old rock skis with a wider 49 mm waist combined with VR45 for grip, which turned out to be the perfect choice. Although- with the consistent solid coverage- no rocks were hit. Following the tracks of an earlier skier, then breaking my own trail- I skied East Crystal-Iron Springs-Elbow, and Loggers, with a fun finish down the middle section of Ranger Summit all season trail to connect with lower Sundog. Not many people out today, but in addition to the myriad of tracks left behind by smaller critters, someone else was cruising the trails earlier in the morning:
FAIRVIEW – the definition of “short and sweet”. Today I followed the grooming, which meant I headed out to ski Fairview and the Lake Louise Lakeshore trail. It was around minus 1 C at the Lake Louise parking lot at 11:00 am. There was a thin cloud layer most of the day and thus the newly groomed tracks stayed dry all day. I headed east on Fairview to find exceptional conditions for late March. Only the second hard downhill, just before being dumped onto Moraine Lake Road, was a bit challenging. I then zipped up to Paradise Creek to see if it had opened up yet – see the pics! Then I headed back down to pick up Upper Tramline, which was in great shape. The last piece was a tour through the fresh grooming on Lake Louise. These were the best conditions on the lake that I have ever seen. The sun came out and really warmed things up on my return leg, so I worry that this piece might get a bit wet before freezing tonight. However the rest of the trails should still be great tomorrow. My skin skis performed perfectly all day and it was about plus 3 C when I finished up around 2:00 pm. See photos at https://photos.app.goo.gl/bWXymfnumUQ476MD8
PLPP South Trails:
First car at Boulton, -4C at 10:00am. About 1cm of fresh snow there. We skied Packers, upper Pocaterra, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Fox, and Moraine.
Packers – very good. First tracks. About 2cm fresh at the top. No sign of ice flow
Pocaterra – a bit slow in 2-3cm fresh snow, but quite pleasant
Tyrwhitt – now 3-4cm fresh snow. Others had broken trail. Slow but sublime
Elk Pass – now the sun came out. 2-3cm fresh, tracked in. Good but sticky/slow in spots
Fox – very thin new snow coverage. Many icy spots. Still, quite manageable.
Moraine – somewhat better than Fox. Fairly fast. Still some icy spots.
Generally a good day with cloudy conditions, except after lunch when the sun appeared for awhile. +1C at our 2pm finish
I finally conquered my winter goal of skiing 30km in a day. Now to finish my second goal (500km for the season.) Almost there.
We did a big loop from Boulton Creek at PLPP
Boulton Creek – skiable (and getting freshly groomed as we speak)
Fox Creek – also getting a grooming tonight
Elk Pass – icy until we passed the Hydroline junction. Then it was soft and quite lovely.
Blueberry Hill – soft snow. Great condition with just a couple of icy patches to watch out for
Back up Elk Pass
Tyrwhitt – overall quite good
Pocaterra – overall quite good. Soft snow so a bit slow
Lynx – overall good with a few icy patches
Amos and Wheeler to return – icy crusty tracks. Skiable but not awesome.
No glide wax necessary. Very little sticking or clumping.
Next time I go for 30km I might choose a loop with less climbing! 700 metres was a lot today added with the distance.
Lake O’Hara – Sherbrooke Lake March 22-23
We spent a couple of days touring on the Continental Divide, first to Lake O’Hara on Monday and up to Sherbrooke Lake on Tuesday. Lots of snow, mostly hardpack with a few cms of fresh. The ski into O’Hara was good, skier tracked, 2 cm fresh at the trailhead and about 10 at the lake. The luge-run up to Sherbrooke Lake was in typical shape for this time of year, super hard and fast. There was one steep section where we could barely gain traction with our skins, but otherwise no problem. Travelling was easy on the lake with ski pen about 15cm. Beautiful up there right now, no one else around, no tracks coming off the Wapta. Sunny, cloudy, clear, windy, calm, snowing, etc. at least no rain.
Lake Louise today. -2C at lake parking lot (11 am), snowing very lightly. 1 cm of fresh snow made for a easy, non-icy conditions. No problems on waxless skis. Fairview, MLR, Tramline. 4C at 1 pm.
Plan A: was to visit West Elk Meadows but decided it might be too icy at Elk Pass start. Plan B: Bryant Creek shelter IF Mt Shark had gotten groomed last night. It didn’t.
Plan C: “C” for Chuck, we chose Lake O’Hara Fire Rd. -5 at 10:30 and at least 3″ powder on arrival. Skied to start of big hills just before km. 8 and decided to turn around there at creek/bridge in case we started icing up upon our return. Fairly uneventful descent for the Asnes but skins iced up a little on the Madshus. Zero back at car. Beautiful snow and thanks Chuck for giving us the great Trip Report to switch our destination to.
p.s. J-F that is quite the impressive number of ski outings you have had in K-Country. A toonie a ski!!!
PLPP (-1C at 9:45am Boulton Creek parking lot)
Skied Whiskey Jack, Lookout, Hydroline, Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, Pocaterra and Packers.
V45 Violet did the work for most of the day and I was glad it was an overcast day with few sunny breaks.
Whiskey Jack is in great shape, just be careful of the icy patch before the steep S turns, the North lookout has no ice and is covered with shifty snow, the descent on the south side is fine until you reach the steepest parts, exposed to the sun, in these area the corduroy was super icy and on my track skis I was feeling going down a cheese grater especially with all the gouges created by herring boning. I removed my skis and walk around 50m before the first big S turn as I was very uncomfortable with no metal edges.
The hydroline was very nice, again the descent to Elk Pass trail was icy / boiler plate hard pack.
Blueberry was a delight and I had the pleasure to meet Tanya and her friends at the top.
Tyrwhitt has some sections with icy tracks but nothing to worry about except more arms work.
Pocaterra was also in great shape and Packers with the usual area where ice flow is slowly developing.
Overall a great day, but would love to see some new snow cover the icy parts…..many thanks to the groomers, today was my 30th time in PLPP / Kananaskis Village this winter.
March 24 Upper Lake Louise trails from the Chateau grooming team:
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March 24, good spring condition. Icy in the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.
Shoreline (#4): Double trackset, March 24, good spring condition. Icy in the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate path for walkers, March 24, good spring condition. Icy in the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.
Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5): Double trackset, March 20, fair spring condition. Icy in the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.
The Bob Trail?
Bob, quoted from above:
I’m a big believer in the motto “When one door closes, another one opens” so we’ll see what’s behind that door when the time comes.
Oh no, please don’t let it be fatbiking! Not that there’s anything wrong with that 🙂
Chickadee Valley, March 23.
A beautiful spring day for a very scenic tour, and some good turns in 15 cm’s of soft snow on top of a firm noisy ice crust on our east facing ski lines. Of interest for anyone contemplating a tour to the valley head on light metal edge gear- the final twisting descent beside the creek might be best described as a bobsled run.
Thanks for the great track setting on ElkPass-Hydroline-Lookout-Tyrwhitt-Hydroline-Elk Pass for Mar.23. VR45 & 60 worked well. Beautiful out there.
Peter Lougheed – Blueberry Hill
Sorry I missed almost everyone today! This was my first time on the Elk Pass trail this season :O
I was thinking of visiting West Elk Pass, but strangely found myself heading up Blueberry Hill, which was quite fun. I was too late in the day for the best powder, but conditions were still mostly good, a little moist in places and the steepest hills had been scraped down to something rather icy. It wasn’t scary, though, I was able to stay in control. Both herringbone and snowplow muscles got quite the workout today!
I had been worried about the sun-shade–herky-jerky, but there was almost none of that, so all in all it was a great day out 🙂
Canmore Nordic Centre: -4C on arrival at 9:00 am +4C at 2:30 pm the Stadium corduroy and tracks leading out were pristine in the morning. Skied Banff Trail to Banff NP and back to the Stadium on Bow Trail. Banff was fast with excellent tracks to the Mine Meadow. Tracks Banff tracks beyond and on Bow were shallower and softer. Out again on Banff then up to Meadowview and west to connect with Banff Trail again. Skied the corduroy on the steeper hills of Meadowview because I couldn’t commit to the very fast tracks. Banff Trail tracks, west of Mine Meadow, by the afternoon were beaten up by all the traffic. The snow stayed cool all day with where sunny it softened and the tracks were slushy only to the depth of the new snow. CNC closes at the end of March.
Fairview – Moraine
Nothing much to add to Mary Perrott’s excellent writeup. We started around noon (-4 deg.), so conditions were softer, and on the way back (+4 deg.) areas exposed to the sun most of the day were starting to be slushy. Here’s a 360 deg. photo taken in front of MaSid’s couch:
I skied Pocaterra this morning. Left Calgary at 9:30am so hwy 40 was a bit sketchy on the way there.
I was pleasantly suprised that the new snow at Pocaterra didn’t stick to my kick wax.
Around my house on the West side of Calgary we received just over 5cm of fresh snow last night. Not as much fell at Pocaterra. Still nice to be out on a blue sky day. Sounds like all the socializing was to be had at Elk Pass.
It’s unfortunate we missed you today Bob! We spotted some of the crew you were chatting with going through west elk pass while we lounged at the fork ‘n meadow log. Good times.
Tue Mar 23: east elk to west elk pass traverse.
-10 at 10 to start with just a skiff of snow over the new elk pass track setting. +1 on return at 430. The new grooming was slick in the track and corduroy with good grip at the edge. we dodged off to Fox creek to avoid the low fish scale grip. The older track setting past north hydroline was nicer with some fresh over yesterday’s ice patches. Diverted up Patterson and into the meadows to elk pass. Nice cold powder travel on the track through the meadows. Cheeky, Simona and I made good time to the top of the intervening ridge between east and west elk passes, but not quick enough to avoid some moist snow in the first summit meadow. We stuck to the shady side and avoided clumping. Moist snow across the top of the cut blocks so we kept on moving. Went a bit lower than the bench that Alf took instead of heading to the boundary cut line, eventually dropping down at the north end direct to west elk meadows on the mellower terrain of the new cut block. Those slopes will probably have a crust tomorrow. The west elk pass track was deep and noisy and sticky out of it so cheeky broke trail through the lower blueberry meadows on the western shady side. Excellent dry snow travel on that side through the warm meadows, sporting a variety of the latest in sun hat fashion wear. Hung out at blueberry table enjoying the sun while tracks cooled down a bit on the route home. A handfull of icy/wet patches but mostly good. Fox was a bit more scraped on return, but only the one difficult spot initially descending to the creek. An excellent day out taking advantage of the fresh snow. Highway was dry on the way home.
PLPP: Elk Pass – Tyrwhitt – Hydroline
My car said -8 when I arrived at the Elk Pass lot at 10:45, but it felt a few degrees warmer when Jeff G and I set out just after 11:00. The groomed sections (Elk Pass to the first Hydroline junction, Tyrwhitt, Hydroline on the way back) were just lovely! We climbed Elk Pass despite it not being groomed last night, and it was still quite good with the skier set tracks (although my skins had a bit of grip trouble on the loose snow… dad’s fish scales were perfect). There were a few cms of snow atop the grooming on Tyrwhitt but a few speedy skiers passed us and set the tracks for us. The meadows of Tyrwhitt were just gorgeous in the sunshine and we felt so lucky to be up there this late in the season! Hydroline was fast on the way down (this is where my skins were at their best!), and the big Elk Pass hill was easy on the descent with the wonderful and grippy grooming for snow plows. It was 2 degrees at the car at 2:00. Another beautiful ski in Alberta’s best playground!
Pocaterra Parking: Started on Rolly Road in -10 at 10:15. A little icy for my taste but that 1-2 cms (as Mary noted) certainly helped with those climbs and downhills. Lovely views and very grateful for the grooming of a few days ago. Come Along then Pocaterra to Lynx, Amos, and Wheeler at a sunny picnic table. Took shortcut back up Lynx via Amos and completed our figure of eight (17 kms.) on Pocaterra back to the hut. Thermometer there showed zero at 2pm. Snow softened around noon making ascents easier. Very quiet seeing maybe 3-4 couples all day and stellar scenery. A great workout for 5 of us. Surprised no one has commented on Elk Pass and new snow and grooming.
LAKE O’HARA – March 23
5 to 15 cms (depending on elevation) of cold fresh snow on a solid packed base. Vr 45 wax was perfect with temperatures well below zero all day… great glide.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
The best conditions that we have encountered here all season, and lots of happy skiers!
March 23 – Mt Shark
Around -10 when we started at 9am. There were a few centimeters of fresh snow from last night, plus the snow that fell over the weekend since the trails were last groomed. The new snow slowed us down quite a bit, but in spots we could tell that the snow beneath was pretty darn solid! We skied the 15km loop with a detour to/around Watridge Lake. The last few km were challenging as the temps approached 0 and the new snow got STICKY.
Fairview – Moraine
After seeing the fresh snow fall last evening in Canmore, we decided to chance it that Lake Louise would have got some as well. The 1-3 cms. was just enough to provide a wonderfully memorable ski today. A bit chilly to start (-10C) but 0C. at the finish. We started on Fairview and found lovely, silky, quiet snow that nicely covered the icy stuff and the needles and other debris. All the hills were easy and laid-back. We only saw one other skier (who broke track for us on MLR) before lunch. There were a few people afterwards, and more near the start of MLR and on Tramline back to the parking lot. The tracks on MLR were good, if a bit shallow in places, on the lower section. We got in the whole trip without encountering sticky snow.
West Bragg Creek
5-8 cm of new snow at WBC, with a morning low of -13C. It’s warming up quickly under a sunny sky.
Many of the sun exposed ski trails were down to bare ground and puddles yesterday. So, Mountain Road, Moose Loop, Moose Connector, Mountain View, Iron Springs, etc are not a good idea.
The main core Crystal Line trails still had a pretty good base of hard, icy snow, with only small bare patches. Set tracks were still present on the shady side of those trails. I’d recommend rock skis. It is forecast to get above 0C by late morning, so the snow will soften and compact by afternoon.
The parking lot has been cleared.
March 22 – Samson Mall-Tramline-Peyto-Great Divide-Far end of Lower Telemark-Great Divide- Tramline
I wanted to do the Tramline again because it has always been a feature of the Senior clubs as the bus would pick up the members at Samson Mall after they had completed the last leg of the day, the Tramline. Around Samson Mall the trail is very hazardous and does not get better until the river is crossed at the bridge. Conditions got better the higher I went. Peyto, Great Divide and Lower Telemark all had excellent snow and only the Lower Telemark did not have renewed tracksetting . I was hoping that on my return on the Tramline that conditions would have warmed up. It was not to be as the weather seemed to become colder after two thirty and the track iced up and became very fast. There were sections on my way down that I walked.
GREAT DIVIDE, PEYTO, LAKE LOUISE and TELEMARK – March 22
Some fresh snow on recent tracksetting made for excellent waxable conditions. With temperatures around minus 2, we used VR 45 wax which was perfect.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Extra points if you can identify that last one!
Mon mar 22: east elk pass
-4 early this morning at the elk pass lot, +1 on return at 230. Went up the big hill to see what the south side was like. Fairly scraped and icy but OK with the metal edge skis and keeping the speed down. Appears it won’t matter for tomorrow. Stayed out of the tracks on the way up for better grip in the bit of soft snow. Went up to elk pass via Patterson meadows. 2″ of cold dry powder over a mostly supportive crust provided good fast meadow travel. Same to east elk pass. Couch H2.0 is almost done for the season, being half couch, half bench and the wind wall has all but fallen over. No maintennave performed. Wandered down the tobermory drainage for a few km. Coming back up was sticky in the sun at noon. All it takes is a few degrees of south facing terrain angle. Returned the way I came (more skiers had been through Patterson meadows on the fresh track) other than taking fox creek back at the end. Some icy patches but reasonable/manageable relative to the alternative. No snow fell while out during the day.
Great Divide Trail East-West-East
First ski outing in a month, after nursing pulled harmstring and groin abductor (while skiing). Just trying something flat and easy to get back into it slowly and avoid any slipping back. A skiff of snow at the Lake Louise end over icy and older tracksetting. More snow (5-8 cm) past the 4 km mark and up to the Lake O’Hara parking lot. Vr50 was too much with clumping; once I removed all wax, it was a lot smoother. A short day, but worth testing the recovery. Not that many people on the trail.
Also, PLPP was dead!! We saw 15 people in 15km. So that’s one person per kilometer on average. It was a bit eerie.
PLPP today. Was overcast all day with temperature never rising above 3 degrees. Great for preserving the trails!
We climbed Whisky Jack, skied Pocaterra to Lynx, and then returned to Boulton Creek on Lynx, Amos, and Wheeler.
The fresh grooming (Lower Pocaterra and Lynx) was lightning fast and super fun on the descents. I’ve never skied the section from Packers to Lynx so fast! We were flying!
The trails groomed within the last few days had a dusting of fresh snow on them and were much slower. We applied fresh glide wax on Amos because we weren’t moving much (quite the contrast from Lynx!)
So choose your speed! Fresh grooming for racing, old grooming for softer slower snow.
PLPP (-3C at 9:30am Boulton Creek parking lot, no cars)
We skied Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Fox, Moraine, back on Whiskey Jack, Pocaterra, Packers.
Excellent tracks (with the odd icy bit) covered with a couple of cm of fresh snow on Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Pocaterra and Packers.
Fox Creek and Moraine are in marginal conditions but going downhill was easy and fast .
The snow was sticky and a fine layer of Swix V45 Violet provided good grip, however with the skis icing up, the downhills were quite slow.
Surprisingly, we saw no one until we reached Blueberry junction and just two skaters going up Elk pass (below Paterson junction) working hard uphill and also damaging the downhill tracks (snow was soft, so it was not too bad skiing in these tracks), we met them again when going up Whiskey Jack, this time no damage was done as it was all downhill for them…
Does anyone have any idea what the conditions on Cascade Fire Road might be?
Thanks to Tanya’s intel from yesterday, we went to Mt Shark today. We skied a variety of trails from 9 am to noon, in 2-4 cms new cold snow making for a nice silky texture in the tracks, temps. -2C the whole time. Only minor warm up of the snow in the stadium when the sun came out briefly around noon, otherwise it was snowing lightly all am. I used Fischer Twin Skins, which were great, hubby used VR45 with only occasional icing; skating looked good if a little deep for me, and a little rough underneath the new snow. If it stayed below 0C all pm, then it should still be good tomorrow. Great to ski some real winter snow again!
It’s currently -4, and overcast at the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre.
There is a dusting of snow on the ground.
Any updates from pipestone?
Haiduk Lake, via Shadow Lake – March 20
Staff challenged me to use the trail they had put in for guests, but to make it a day from the highway… Thanks to their delicious cookies, it worked!
Details in the photo descriptions here:
The lack of sun was a benefit… no clumping.
We skied the full 15km green loop at Shark. Snow was fabulous!! Waxless skis worked best in our group. Husband struggled on wax skis.
It snowed overnight and the Mt Shark road was a bit treacherous. Very snow covered early on and icy around noon (couple of people said they couldn’t make it up the road.) We made it up for 10:30. Skied for 4 hours and it was snowing all afternoon.
No slush, no ice, great control on hills.
Better than expected at PLPP
Jamie and I skied up Packers, up Upper Pocaterra, down & up again along this same stretch , down Whiskey Jack, and detoured to the Lower Group Campground.
Packers was in very good shape compared to our scary adventure down this one on March 7. Skiers should watch for the ice flow almost completely crossing the trail if coming down from Pocaterra. Stay to the left on the descent to avoid it. Upper Pocaterra was beautiful so we skied up to the Whiskey Jack junction, went back down to Packers junction and up again to Whiskey Jack. The downhill in the tracks was fast; but very controllable on the last descent to the Packers junction. The Whiskey Jack descent was fun and not icy at all on the steep downhill, followed by the S-turn. It could all change quickly but we lucked out. The trail was awesome to the Lower Campground. We used purple wax, which disappeared from our skis by the end of our ski. The temperature ranged from -2C this morning to +1C when we finished just after noon.
It is -5 and overcast in Peter Lougheed at the information centre.
Nordic Centre 9:00-12:00 +1 to ~+4, +1 at noon snow squall. Bit of everything today: beautiful full rainbow approaching Lac des Arcs, then heavy rain around Dead Man’s Flats, low cloud and drizzle changing to tiny granular snow at arrival. One guy was putting his skis away at 9 (!), said “skiing is not bad at all, as long as you don’t mind getting soaked”. He was. Took my time getting ready, was rewarded with diminishing precipitation, and some emerging blue sky. Was pleasantly surprised by smooth fast skating on perfect corduroy on Banff Trail. Think the rain softened what may have been a hard icy surface. Bow Trail back towards day lodge became soft in spots, so turned around to head up Meadowview, which was in very good condition. Olympic and Centennial also in good shape, except section of Centennial close to day lodge showing dirt and thin spots. From top of Meadowview saw dark clouds approaching from Banff, so called it a day mostly under blue skies just before the near horizontally blowing snow arrived.
Hello Bob and everyone,
Does anyone know why Park Canada has never been connected with the live grooming sites like Nordic Pulse (previously SkiTrails info)?
Or maybe they are considering it and I don’t know? Is there a fee for a groomer to connect on this?
In the conditions we’ve had lately, we all know that finding out the next day about grooming isn’t very helpful…
Have a wonderful birthday tomorrow, Bob!
Great Divide: Parked a car at O’Hara end and shocked by at least 8 cms in parking lot. Started at LL end with at least 4-6 cms. fresh snow around 11:45 and many skiers skied a ways then, struggling with “high heels” came back to re-wax or choose a Plan B. Conditions varied throughout our ski and skier tracks ended at west entrance to Lower Telemark. The untracked snow worked fairly well but remembering Chuck’s photo of skiing in the sled dog track, thought that would be worth a try. It worked well and got us safely down to the shelter. Snow temp was “big fat zero” at shelter. Applied more glide and the rest of our ski had the best conditions, breaking trail to O’Hara. Someone had started at O’Hara end but perhaps decided to go to a Plan B. If they groom GD and MLR, it should be great for the weekenders. No sign of bear activity at O’Hara end but it won’t be long. No sign of groomers upon return to our car at GD parking lot. Driving home it was +5. More snow on the way!!!
PLPP – Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, in and out on Tyrwhitt, down Hydroline, Patterson and back on Elk Pass.
Today was like winning the lottery.
The groomers worked their magic overnight in Peter Lougheed and Mother Nature put a cm of fresh snow on top of it.
We actually got to ski on clean snow! See pictures for proof; -)
We started at 11:30 at a temperature of +4 in the Elk Pass parking lot.
However by the time we came back, the tracks were already grey and so saturated with moisture. It will ice up again overnight.
When we left at the highway 40 turnoff at 4:00 pm it was zero degree and snowing. Hopefully it will cover the tracks again.
Mount Shark was perfection today as long as you stayed off Watridge Lake Road which was really slow and sticky. We did a loop on the advanced trails and enjoyed real snow with no ice! It was all buried under a cm of fresh snow. Snow was sticky climbing hills but I’ll take that over ice! We had reasonable success with waxless skis and glide wax. Just gave the skis a bit of a scrape against each other at the top of hills and carried on.
Every hill was incredibly easy to ski down in perfect control (and there are big hills on those loops!)
No slush, no ice, snow was perfectly white, and no grabbing on hills.
All in all a fabulous day!!!
CNC 12:00- 2:00 +5C dropping to +1C as a snow squall moved through.
More snow at North/west end of trails nearly filling the tracks.
Skiing with skin skis was really quite good. Slow skiing but we skied in and out of the tracks depending on the what was underneath. We skied out Banff/Bow trail up onto Meadowview and returned via Slivertip, Banff Trail. Groomed part of the trails were soft enough for decent snowplowing so we never reached Mach speed. On our return we found that previously skied tracks were icy, good for double poling but not much traction.
The trails were really empty today.
Check the CNC trails website and plan your ski accordingly.
We skied yesterday at 11:00 and waited today til 12:00.
We had a late start at CNC today. Conditions were slushy at the start but by 1:00 pm or so, it started snowing heavily! The storm lasted for about half an hour and left about 2 cm of much needed snow. The snow was very grabby.
Mar 19 Upper Lake Louise trails from the Chateau grooming team:
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March 19, good spring condition. Icy in the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.
Shoreline (#4): Double trackset, March 11, poor condition. Icy in the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate path for walkers, March 19, good spring condition. Icy in the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon
Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5): Double trackset, March 12, poor condition. Icy in the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon
Hi, has anyone been up to Mount Shake for skate or classic skiing lately?
From this we can conclude that a bear’s cue to wake up from hibernation is the sound of cussing skiers in the woods.
Skied Elk Pass area on Thursday. I started at 1:30 in the afternoon, and I think this was a good plan for anyone who does not like skiing on boilerplate snow. As several others have mentioned, Elk Pass Trail itself was a mix of fleas, debris, soft and hard snow. Patterson was similar. All of Hydroline was excellent as was the top of Tyrwhitt. I went into East Elk Pass meadows to have lunch at the famous couch. Not much left, but I appreciate all the effort by the architect. It was kind of like wandering around ancient ruins. Sunny and warm. At 6:30 I saw an unusual sight: my vehicle was alone at the Elk Pass lot.
I hope there’s a way to preserve all the old maps that are so useful and just neat to look at.
The resources on here are just outstanding.
“The Spray Lakes road is indeed a neverending stretch of potholes.”
Jeff, now that you’ve done your last shift, please accept many thanks from someone who has really appreciated your tracks since the 80’s.
You should take great satisfaction from having made so many people so happy so many times.
Good luck in PQ.
HOW OLD IS BOB TURNING TOMORROW? BD’s post reminded me of something I wanted to do today. I decided to pose it as a QUESTION because in my world, BD stands for BIRTHDAY and March 20th is Skier Bob’s birth date, only he is “a handful of years” younger than me. That serves as a clue. How lucky we all have been to be able to commence our last 13 winters by opening this page, which used to be http://www.skihere.ca to what has become the most unique and treasured one-stop shopping for anything and everything readers all over the world have every wanted to know about X-C skiing, back country skiing, trails, weather links, waxing, fabulous photos by treasured posters (you know who you are), even special posts for dogs such as Kazzy. The thing I will miss most is getting up in the winter mornings and not being able to check in on what everyone has written, including Bob’s thousands of Home page posts and pictures. I believe he deserves a place of honor in the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. What I will take away are the many relationships I have formed over the years via this website, friendships which I treasure, even people who I have yet to meet face to face. So to Birthday Boy, Skier Bob, I wish to donate (tab is located right under the Weather tab) on this day to vocalize my thanks to you and Cheryl and beloved Tessa on the eve of this _ _ birthday!
p.s. BD you are a man of perseverance!! I enjoyed your funny, descriptive post and glad you did not injure yourself on this marathon ski.
Thanks, Helen. I’ve enjoyed the encouragement you’ve given over the years, and not just the public blog things, but all the personal support and kindness which you’ve shown.-Bob
Lake Louise, PLPP
Lots of snow and cooler temperatures are predicted next week per the Weather Network.
After that, it is just the track setting.
March 18 morning/early PM. Headed for Pocaterra with an optimistic plan of skiing the cookie race route, but fully prepared – maybe even expecting – to have to do something else. Would have been very decent for road bike. Anyway, I was car number 3 under bright sunshine at around 10 or so. Klistered up and scraped and scratched my way along the ice of pocaterra, thinking that things would soften up soon. Lynx, still fast and icy. The klstr was holding up ok to that point but the climbs s u c k e d. Herringbone. Ice. Swearing. The middle trails ranged from almost winter conditions in places to soupy slush but the going was ok right to the bottom of WJ. Actually really nice along that bench over the valley, i think it’s called wheeler? One of my favorite spots in PLPP but I was getting worried that the decent going was luring me into going further and further south, where i might find myself with 20k of unskiable slush skiing btwn me and my car – with a work obligation lined up back in reality-ville. Starting up WJ, some clumping started and i considered abandoning at the junction and limping back on pocaterra. However, the glide improved and temp was staying cooler than expected, so i “confidently” proceeded up to tyrwhitt where i found brand spankin new tracks. Saw day old grizzly (i think) prints on that little connector to the lookout jct, nice distraction but i didn’t look too closely tbh. Klister started to fail but my strategy was to just tough it out with most of the serious climbing behind me. I’ve scene all the seenery here before anyway, so let’s just keep on keepin on. Elk pass was kind of ok to blueberry jct, from there it was ugly dirty soft icy semisothermic debris laden war zone to fox cr., which in turn offered some similarly affected snow for a hair-raising, jaw-clenching survival skiing session. Boulton parking was empty, slushy on the bridge, but better snow up toward Packers made for decent climbing. Up top it was soft and wet in the sun, slow but not as grabby as i expected. Variable travel but mostly firm and fast from P/P junction back to lynx junction, a bit more velcro-like in spots from there back to the hut. Full alert mode in the transitions from shade to sun. No crashes but a couple near misses, I’d be surprised if this full route is skiable again this season, at least not within the limits of enjoyment. Mine were tested today but I’m still glad i did it, knocked off a goal of mine in tough conditions. Did i mention what a delight the herringboning up the iced corduroy was?
Dolomite Peak circuit. Conditions today presented challenging skiing. There was a suncrust on just about all aspects, and the trail was quite icy. I found myself slipping on steep sidehills and steep uphills, even with the skins on. The headwall below Katherine Lake was heinous, brutal, miserable. I took my skis off for sections of it and booted up, and I noticed other skiers doing the same. But beyond Katherine Lake the going was easier, and I managed a few turns on the descent into Mosquito Creek. Snow-snakes were plentiful, though. The snowpack was very stable. Yesterday the steep cliffs produced lot of point releases, and this didn’t trigger anything on lower slopes. I skied from Mosquito Ck back to Helen Ck parking lot using the old road.
Mt. Shark under the blazing sun
+6c and parking lot at quarter capacity at 1pm, same temperature and one car at 4pm
Everything (!) was trackset last night, and as Bob mentioned Watridge trail had been refreshed to the lake only.
Snow was quite soft and saturated in sunny spots, but white-knuckle fast in the shade.
The road is indeed a neverending stretch of potholes.
PLPP : Middle and North Trails
After a quick reconnaissance of the trail at Elk Pass (too icy to be fun), we three seniors left Ray and the others and drove to Elkwood to find flatter terrain. We skied Wheeler south to take advantage of the downward trending trail. Wheeler tracks were showing signs of the Spring sun; super icy and screaming fast! Continued down the Lower Lakes trail all the while waiting for the sn’ice to warm for our climb back. We dallied by following a skier track into the lowest meadow for a short out and back tour. By now the sn’ice had softened and we climbed easily back to the Amos junction. Amos to Woolley junction was icy with slow sunny sections and had good tracks. Amos crossing to Wheeler had colder less sun affected snow. After lunch at the Amphitheater, we crossed to Lodgepole and Sinclair where we found barely used excellent tracks and grooming. Climbing on fish-scale waxless went quickly up Lodgepole in softer snow to the Discovery Centre. I had some misgivings about the steep hills going south on Meadow, but the grooming was unmarred and sunny spots weren’t too grabby. The short Meadow tail to Elkwood went quickly and we finished with 21 km to our credit.
The middle and north trails skied were remarkably good with smooth corduroy and for the most part sharp tracks.
Not the best day ever, but we all agreed it had been a success.
Note: Sn’ice is the matrix of snow and ice chunks. For the most part all tracks we skied are formed in this matrix. A big thanks to the groomer for keeping skiing alive in PLPP.
Went to Lake Louise for the first time. Bow River loop very icy south from the Station until you got near the campground then the trails were soft but pretty good. Beautiful day and very few people. Looks like a good place to go next year.
SKOKI and FOSSIL MOUNTAIN CIRCUIT – March 18
A well worn trail on a supportive snowpack facilitated an extension to this popular spring ski tour.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
I was on 59 mm metal edge skis with climbing skins occasionally and classic poles (no backcountry baskets).
PLPP : Elk Pass / Tyrwhitt
A group of 11 seniors met at Elk Pass parking (9:15am, -6C). After a quick reconnaissance of the trail there (firm and somewhat icy), 3 people opted to drive to Elkwood where the trails are less hilly. The rest set out on the day and a half old grooming of the Elk Pass trail, some walking up and down the big hill. At the Hydroline junction, we opted to continue on the Elk Pass trail – a poor choice as it turned out. This trail section up to the Blueberry Jct was week old tracks, lots of debris, ice, and collembola. No fun. Then, finally reaching Elk Pass itself, we headed back north on the fairly recent tracksetting of Tyrwhitt – much better though still somewhat icy in places. Turning around at the highpoint of the meadows, we skied back on fast and fun tracks to the Tyrwhitt table for lunch, then back to Elk Pass, and north on the fairly recent tracks of Hydroline – now a bit soft in the early afternoon sun. Great skiing here. By the time we returned over the big Elk Pass hill to the cars, we were experiencing grabbing as we passed from shadow to sun. All in all, a decent day, except for the poor section of Elk Pass. +7C to finish.
Here all we have here is sky
All the sky is is blue
All that blue is
Thanks to the wonderful Tracksetters for all the joy you spread through your service!
Moraine Lk Rd: Wednesday ST. Patrick’s Day: started at noon trying a pair of skin skis from Wilson’s: SPORTEN 64 165 cms. steel edges with single skin under foot. Started somewhat icy, which returning skiers classified as “sporty” but it got better going up. Skis pleasantly responded to tracks and also tried following making tracks in the meadow around km 4, but soon developed high heels in the untouched sun beaten snow. Always wondered about that meadow and will give it a shot again in fresh powder next year. Ski down was relatively easy because due to my slower pace it was mid afternoon. In the steeper hills, I took even more time as they were still in shade. Tracks higher up were in better shape than lower tracks that Perrott’s encountered likely much earlier day prior. Tracks lower down also had evidence of “invasion of the walkers” post-holing right in tracks. More opportunistic education required.
We decided to take advantage of the most recent grooming at PLPP, which was all at the north end of the network. Even with a noon start, the snow was still very hard and icy, so we opted to cross the road and go up Suicide Hill to Meadow to start. Meadow was fast on impeccable grooming and we followed it past the Visitor Centre to Woolley. Woolley (which actually has meadows) was wonderful. We looped around Marl Lake via Amos-Wheeler-Amos, then across Lynx to Pocaterra. As the snow softened, the sun exposed patches became stickier and slower, which was pretty exciting after a bit of icy downhill. Still it was an amazing day of warm weather skiing under a sunny blue sky with the fabulous Kananaskis scenery.
There were only a few skiers on the trails and the grooming will remain in good shape as this melt-freeze cycle continues. https://photos.app.goo.gl/wojGFasFNrHpraH59
Two of us skied the Fossil Mtn circuit today (near Skoki) Beautiful day with fast travel conditions. We used metal edged light touring skis which were appropriate for the conditions. Did the circuit counterclockwise. A skier set trail was present around the north side of the mountain but we could ski anywhere with minimal ski penetration. The descent on the return from Boulder Pass was hard fast and icy in places.
TOKUMM CREEK – March 17
Magnificent location for off track skiing with no ice.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Best to avoid the track up the creek from Marble Canyon!
Great Divide: skied from Lake Louise to the west and back. Started at 11am. Going west was super easy. Fast tracks, Snowplow on the hill, no issues. The tracks west of the Divide were somewhat better. Not quite as slick. Once we turned and headed back, track were beginning to soften up. Sunny tracks were a little sticky. After finishing Divide skied up a tram line to the lake. Way better going up than down! Great day !
GREAT DIVIDE. Our first choice was Pipestone, but the very icy tracks we found at the bottom at 11:00 am prompted us to switch to plan B, Great Divide. Shandra and I zipped over to the Lake O’Hara end and found quite good conditions. Other than the first half km or so, the tracks were pretty grippy for the most part. My skins were excellent but probably would have iced up if they hadn’t been treated with a good skin wax. Shandra had decent grip all day on a red wax, with only one reapplication required. It warmed nicely, but didn’t get too slushy at any point. The tracks were dirty in spots, but grip and glide weren’t impacted. Descending the big hill on the return was ok, as long as you are reasonably confident with snowplowing in fast conditions. The weather was nothing short of gorgeous and this was yet another fantastic ski in this amazing season. Should still be ok tomorrow..
Mar 17 Upper Lake Louise trails from the Chateau grooming team:
We have certainly transitioned into spring like weather quite quickly over the past week. The trails are icy and very hard in the mornings and slushy in the late afternoon with overall conditions deteriorating fast. At 4pm on March 17 it is +5c in the shade, don’t forget your sunscreen!
Below you will find the trail update for the cross-country ski and snowshoe trails that surround the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March 11, fair condition. Icy in the morning, slushy in the later afternoon.
Shoreline (#4): Double trackset, March 11, fair condition.Icy in the morning, slushy in the later afternoon
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate path for walkers, March 11, fair condition. Icy in the morning, slushy in the later afternoon
Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5): Double trackset, March 12, fair condition. Icy in the morning, slushy in the later afternoon
Upper Lake Louise: our plan was to ski up the Tramline, left on MLR then along Fairview, Peyto etc. We quickly ruled out the Fairview and Peyto plan due to the super icy conditions on Tramline and MLR. Going up worked well enough on our skin skis but even snowploughing back was nerve racking on the icy conditions. Stay away until we get more snow…
I’ve been cross country skiing for a few years, but never skied in the mountains. I was told Moraine Lake is great. Any other suggestions in the Canmore, Kananaskis, Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper area. I live in Edmonton so often ski at Waskehegan. I would be looking for a 15-25km ski. I’m not sure what the conditions are like this weekend. Also I may be skiing on my own so is it safe to do so. Open to your suggestions.
One more thing do you know of any instructors I could have come out with me for a few hours and what the costs might be.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
MOSQUITO CREEK – March 16
Another great high elevation location. Hard packed snow through the trees and then silent powder through the sights.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Nobody else around!
PLPP today. Left Visitor Centre parking lot at 11:00 at -2C, heading south on Meadow. Fresh tracksetting was wonderful. Right from the start we had control snowplowing on the downhills, although noisy. About noon the sun was doing its job and we had to watch for sunny patches on the hills suddenly slowing us down – one minor crash as a result, but no harm done! A loop was done Meadow-Woolley-Amos-Wheeler-Lodgepole-Sinclair-Meadow return to the parking lot. It was our first time on Sinclair and it was a fun trail. Calm when we started and a little breeze when we finished – bluebird day. +5C when we finished. Only 7 other skiers seen in 3 hours.
MLR, Great Divide
Four of us tested out Moraine Lake Road for just over 3 kms. but then turned around when we decided it was too icy to even contemplate the scary downhill on the frozen tracks. So, we drove over to Great Divide and headed out on something a bit flatter. We found the tracks there to be very skiable for fish scale, skin and waxed (V45) skis. The tracks were quite dark with collembola and ice near the start, but got better as we skied west. By the time we reached the divide, the tracks were very nice, but we didn’t venture all the way to the Lake O’Hara end, returning instead from the picnic shelter. It was a very noisy ski, with all the iciness, but also very quiet, people-wise. -6C to start and +5 by 2 pm.
March 16 – Redearth Creek
My plan today was to start early and ski for long enough that the trail would be soft-ish by the time I headed back down. It kinda worked. The first 5km was quite icy in the morning and although I was on classic gear, I ended up skating most of the way to the first campsite. The track (when it even existed) was so solid that my ski occasionally crossing it didn’t damage it at all. At 5km, I hit a dusting of fresh snow from last night and my wax (VR50) worked perfectly. At the Pharaoh Creek junction, I headed to the warden cabin. Plan A for the day was to see if there was a track broken on the Pharaoh Creek trail. There wasn’t one that I could see. I followed the trail up to the first switchback, but the weak crust on the surface of the snow wasn’t very fun and I slowly stepped my way back down. Then I followed the creek for ~1.5km, with somewhat better crust but still a fair bit of wallowing. I headed back to the groomed trail and headed up to Shadow Lake. Plan B was to just ski on/around the lake, but it should have been Plan A! I got there at noon and the snow on the lake still had a strong enough crust to support me skate skiing. The snow over solid ground was a bit less supportive and I broke through enough that it wasn’t fun. I skied to the far end of the lake where Chuck got some turns in a few days ago and had lunch. After some more aimless happy skiing on the lake, I headed back down. I walked the hill above the Pharaoh Creek junction, and the final hill before the parking lot. The snow had softened up a lot since the morning, but it was still quite hard and fast. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’ve got metal edges and/or you are a very strong downhill skier! I was on track skis, but my snowplow muscles were quite sore by the end and I also did one semi-controlled bail into the soft snow on the side of the trail.
Just awesome work and so greatly appreciated all the time but during a pandemic just so much more. Thank you for some great tracks this year.
I vote for keeping PLPP a skate-free and dog-free zone.
Had we taken gh and Frank’s advice we would have started later at Elk Pass. Upon arrival at 10am, one couple was walking back down to the parking lot, then another couple of gals decided not to persevere, and we became the third party to choose a Plan B. On such a stunning day, we had hopes for West Elk Meadows, but instead took in Spruce Road, Braille and Lodgepole, then Wheeler and Amos. Tracks were grey in many places and debris as per recent winds. But things definitely softened up after our leisurely lunch at Elkwood parking lot, and we managed well with our waxless skis. Fun meeting Vicki again on Wheeler. A few snow-shoers about, taking advantage of the many trails available now in PLPP.
Great Divide 1a / Peyto / Fairview to MaSid’s couch for the view.
Conditions this morning were a bit icy but softened by noon. There was some sticking in the afternoon in places that get a lot of sun but using liquid glide wax on my fish scales kick zone made for reasonable skiing except in the really sunny areas. One might want to start out late these days, say around 1100…
March 15 – PLPP -Elkwood-Wheeler-Moraine-return-Amos-Wooly-Meadow-Elkwood
While there were a few of us out there between 10:00am and 2:00 pm, conditions were so icy that I recommend anyone going out there in the next couple of days and probably to the next significant snowfall, to make their start after 1:00 pm. After that time things soften up enough to make skiing fairly comfortable. The melting is exposing previous vegetable debris to the surface. Significant amount of fresh vegetable debris in places. Skiing around this time is the usual getting out for the sun and not so much for ski conditions. Setting lower goals for distance is a good idea as it can become quite strenuous managing the difficult conditions.
Huge appreciation to all the tracksetters and groomers. Great job. In addition, we would like thank the many unknown faces who ploughed the roads and parking lots, so that we could get to all that wonderful tracksetting!
Oh sure, these tracksetters are really great and everything. Toiling away at all hours of the day and night for little or no pay.
But who here among us wouldn’t kill to toodle around in these uber-cool machines and be loved by all?
It looks like a pretty good gig.
A sad day in the Skier Bob universe when grooming is over for the season at Bragg Creek and Ribbon Creek. Here’s hoping for a few more weeks at Lake Louise, PLPP and Mt. Shark, we’re not ready for winter to be over yet! Many thanks to all the groomers, it’s been a great year!
Thanks to everyone who has worked on the trails for our enjoyment and safety. Your skill and dedication is very much appreciated.
Thank you! A few times I was out shortly after a big dump of snow, and I was amazed at how quickly the whole trail system was groomed. Thanks!
Thanks to everyone this year! More than any other year, this has made such a difference to our health and well being!
I really appreciate your dedication and excellent grooming and track setting skills! Thanks for making the season great.
Sounds like a great idea!
Thanks to everyone at BCT! While it wasn’t a season for the record books like 19-20, we still enjoyed plenty of fine skiing at Bragg. And like Mike W- I’m not giving up yet. My closing day there last year was April 6, with good skiing in dry new snow over firm old grooming. In terms of preserving the base, this week’s forecast isn’t looking too promising, though.
Thank you WBC grooming team! You did awesome!
Thank you to the team for a great season of grooming!
Spring skiing at Mt. Shark: the report of some fresh grooming at Mt. Shark enticed us to drive up there. On the road to Whiteman’s Gap a small wet slide had come down in the morning and folks were busy clearing the road with their shovels. It was a beautiful day at Mt. Shark trailhead and quite busy. We headed out on skate skis on freshly groomed corduroy in the stadium. Continued on the 15km loop on the older grooming. The downhills were screaming fast and just manageable for me. Then the snow softened in the sun with fast glide and slow snow alternating. Snow coverage was excellent and the views fantastic. We encountered quite a few skiers on the trails. On the rough drive home found out that the road was closed just past Goat Creek due to avalanches. A Parks person informed us that the road would not reopen until 6-8pm. Our gas tank did not have enough gas to drive the long way home. We had 2 options, ski the Goat Creek Trail to Banff on our light touring skis and take the bus to Canmore or walk the road down to Grassi Lakes and back home through downtown. We opted for the walk. This was our first hike of the season and legs got tired. All in all a good adventure. Next time we’ll make sure we have plenty of gas and a shovel in our car.
Thanks to the WBC grooming team for all the work this winter! My last ski there last winter was April 8. I’m figuring there’s going to be at least one more big dump and I’m hoping be back for at least one more ski this spring, with or without grooming!
MAR 13 PIPESTONE RIVER
A friend and I did a tour up the Pipestone River as far as Point Camp Meadows, about 7km past the end of the groomed Pipestone trails. We were both on metal-edged light touring skis. I was on fish scales and my friend was on waxables with Swix V60. By the time we reached the end of grooming, the temperature was about 0C in bright sun with a light breeze from down river. We followed what looked like old alpine touring tracks along the river the entire way. The tracks had a couple of cm of fresh snow on top. The fresh snow was moist and both of us had marginal snow clumping from time to time. The track was supportive, but the snowpack was weak next to the track, requiring careful pole plants to prevent the poles from plunging into the snowpack right to the handle! Snow coverage on the river is generally at least a metre, although open water can be seen in places. The temperature was about 6C when we reached Point Camp Meadows. On our return trip in the afternoon, it started clouding over and the wind picked up, both helping to keep the snowpack cool. No clumping on the return, which made for a fast track.
A beautiful day with great scenery and no one else around, other than 4 people on the groomed trails!
Burstall Flats: managed to get up there from Canmore by 10:00am. It was in such awful condition, that I said to my two friends, “I am driving home via Hwy 40”. Really appreciated Dan W’s warning about the condition of the road. Got to Burstall around 10:30 and temp +1. Two of us used Asnes skis c narrower skins and one on metal edged fishscales. Took shortcut down to the lake, avoiding that last ugly part of the hiking trail after the bike rack. Headed towards Burstall Pass trailhead then veered over to the AT ski track towards Robertson Glacier. Despite the heat of the sun, the snow temp was -2 at our lunch spot right in the middle of the open flat area. Enjoyed watching at least 8 AT skiers coming down the glacier while we were eating. Took off our skins and enjoyed the gentle ski out taking the same track we went up on. Managed to ski back along the flats past the weather station (?) gadget, taking the easier route back up to the main trail, despite walkers with grippers post-holing every other step on skier set tracks. Friends were happy I chose the long way home especially after hearing about the closure of road to Goat Creek due to avalanches. Main trail did not soften all that much so we put our skins back on for semi controlled ski out.
CHICKADEE VALLEY – March 14
Another beautiful day at higher elevations, with a magnificent destination.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
We used climbing skins for the ascent
That’s a terrific idea. I would use it.
I would assume that they would need more grooming equipment to take on more trails. They haven’t been able to keep up the trails they currently have after snow falls. When I last skied out there the trails we picked were is very rough shape, despite the groomers working long hours.
Gotta hand it to Alf. He’s always got his thinking cap on.
These are the views we would get from Lionel trail opened to skiing.
Any recent trail conditions at West Bragg Creek?
I love the idea of resurrection of “Lionel” but I can’t see it possibly going South of the “Back Door” due to Avalanche risks. Parking lot at the winter gate would be a nice addition and definitely need to bring back the trail connecting Pocaterra to “Lionel” which would allow for a loop.
Does anyone know why Lionel was decommissioned in the first place? What about the other decommissioned trails such as Sounding Lake, Rockwall, Canyon and Lakeside? I’m only 30 and never skied on any of those before decommissioning but my parents did and they have an old map from 1983.
Better check with Lionel.
I agree that the Hwy 40 groomed trail with an enlarged parking area on the existing pavement would make an excellent addition to the PLPP ski trail system. Another idea worth looking into would be to reintroduce the old alignment of the Pocaterra Trail from Pocaterra Hut to the Lynx junction. The trails were already there so a rebuild of the old bridges would allow for yet another beginner route (that we used to have) rather than the at best intermediate route when the trails were raised out of the valley. Yes the area flooded but how often? It would be interesting to find out an estimated cost for a project such as this.
The bottom line is that the monies left over from grooming should ONLY go back into the various areas where Kenney and Nixon made us pay for parking.
I like the idea of resurrecting Lionel. Earlier this year I skied from Boulton up Packers, out the Back Door, and on towards Highwood Pass. The section south of Back Door is very scenic and would make for an excellent xc trail as well. Being less protected by trees, the road does get more wind and drifting snow, though.
Great idea Alf!
Carl- looking at the satellite image, there appears to be nothing of concern regarding avalanche hazard up to at least the “back door”.
Cindy- I think the wildlife aspect of the closure applies more to the Highwood valley south of the pass, where open slopes and much less of a snowpack provide important overwintering terrain.
I think before a decision is made there should be an assessment on how it may impact the wildlife which is the primary reason for the road closure I believe.
East Elk Pass Meadow Tour
Conditions on the Elk Pass portion of the PLPP trails were very good today, even better than I had expected.
Thursdays grooming was still in excellent shape, although the tracks were a bit slick in the morning. Plenty of grip and lots of glide with our skin skis. Fox Creek was just beautiful. Kudos again to the trail crew who obviously worked very hard to transform this typically bumpy-lumpy-off camber trail into a smooth, even single-track dream. Outstanding work!
We took Patterson from the Elk Pass trail and then Hydroline up to Elk Pass. A fast descent on Tyrwhitt took us to MaSid’s East Elk Pass route. What a lovely meadow tour to the couch headquarters 2.o. From there, we toured along the Alberta-BC boundary and south to a set of about 10 year old logging cutblocks that provide an outstanding view of the Elk Lakes area.
From there, we descended slightly, along the top edge of the cut-blocks and followed a gentle bench through a short strip of forest to the new 2020 logging cut-block. The gentle bench of terrain continued across the cut-block and provided great views of the West Elk Pass meadows and Frozen Lake area. At the north end of the cut-block, we simply continued on the gentle bench until we intersected the Alberta-BC border again. This took us to the Elk Lakes Park side of the HydroLine trail and back over Elk Pass into Alberta.
By this time, it was late enough in the day that the shaded parts of the Elk Pass trail were starting to freeze up, making them lightening fast… until you hit a sunny patch which had about as much glide as a rubber mat. The alternating fast-slow/shade-sun continued to the Blueberry Hill junction picnic table. We waited a bit for the shadows to come across the Elk Pass Trail. Once the snow in the tracks started to freeze, the ride down Elk Pass trail was consistently fast. The return ski on Fox Creek was such a treat at the end. Fabulous day! https://photos.app.goo.gl/oKZyYmx45DhUMuwM6
Hidden Lake-Boulder Pass
This report is from Friday, March 12… for Chris, who asked about skiing to Hidden Lake via the Skoki trail.
Although you can certainly ski to halfway hut and follow the regular trail to Hidden Lake, there are options.
We left the Skoki trail once the trail breaks out into larger meadows. A gentle glide took us across the creek and then we followed the meadows on a gentle terrace to the west of the main creek. This wraps around the end of a slope and connects back onto the Hidden Lake Trail. Way more scenic, and it gets you off of that irritatingly bumpy Skoki snowmobile trail. https://photos.app.goo.gl/TB9qjVRqkn1PkCf88
I found this 1986 map from an old post you posted a few years ago and I guess the same map Carl is referring to.
I love this idea, but when I posted an enthusiastic note about doing this on Dec 19 2020 someone replied that they thought that Lionel had been decommissioned because it crosses an avalanche path.
That rang a bell for me, but I can’t think where that might be between the gate and the back door.
According to my 1980’s map, Lionel did not go all the way to the gate, but branched off from the old Pocaterra near the Rolly Road and Come Along junctions. It was marked as .8 km intermediate and 7.2 km easy.
An excellent idea. A loop connection would be good, allowing return from pocaterra to Hwy 40 parking. Not sure how feasible that would be given height gain/terrain. Same with extended grooming further south, allowing easier access to other terrain, but not essential (kinda like extending beyond MLR grooming to moraine lake). But also quite open and exposed to the elements. Worth a “pilot project” test regardless. Lots of cars were parked there the other day using the road.
March 13 Shaganappi Point golf course in Calgary update:
Skiing is over at Shaganappi.
This past week sublimated most of the snow away. There is a little bit of snow left in the driving range but essentially it’s spring, just in time for daylight savings!
We are already making plans and brainstorming ideas on how to make next winter at Shaganappi even more fun….
Five volunteers were at Shag this afternoon for 3-4 hours doing a lot of the winter teardown… with how quickly the snow is disappearing, it is quite possible golfers will be utilizing Shag very soon!
The Nordiq Alberta ski pass program has been a huge success. It has provided us with exceptional ski grooming plus the bonus of extra funds that could enhance skiing opportunities for next year.
The value of those surplus funds are not enough to purchase much equipment or to build much new trail.
So, my suggestion is to make better use of what we already have. Decades ago, Highway #40 was groomed for skiing from the winter gate to the Pocaterra “Back Door”… it was known as the Lionel trail.
Given the popularity of the Moraine Lake Road, grooming Highway #40 should be a no-brainer.
Ideally, the winter gate would be moved south by a few hundred metres to provide a paved parking lot. Add some portable toilets and a portable trailhead kiosk, and you’ve got a functional trailhead.
I would suggest that the highway could be groomed for multiple uses. Classic track setting would create an ideal “easy” trail. And it would create an obvious loop with Pocaterra trail.
A wide skate lane would provide an opportunity for skate skiers. A separate groomed lane could be created for fat-bikes, hikers, snowshoers, skijoerers, winter hikers, etc.
That is a small infrastructure cost, no additional grooming equipment… but more grooming staff time… and it would produce a tremendous addition to the PLPP trail network
I am wondering if any one skied at Lake Louise today —Cross country that is.
and if so – did wax work or skin skis?
And has anyone been up to O’Hara recently?
Mt. BALL via REDEARTH CREEK and SHADOW LAKE
The tracksetter did an amazing job with what he had to work with, but the real fun was higher up!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
I’ll be back
Another Milestone – Jamie got to 1000 km today!
Jamie reached 1000 km on the 15 km green loop at Mount Shark. The Para-Olympic skiers started to train just before 9 a.m. They are an inspiration! The trails were fast this morning and beautifully track set. We skied down to the Spray River and made a stop at Watridge Lake under a perfect blue sky.
Glorious day at Elk Pass. Started at 9:30 at Boulton Bridge at -2. The tracks all the way to the pass were recently groomed and in great shape. After the pass went down Tyrwhitt and Pocaterra. Snow over the last grooming but the tracks were well set by skiers, so almost as good as the climb up. Hills were firm but enough lose snow on top for good edging (no metal edges). After went down Packers. The steepest hill was hard ice but I was still able to have control on the way down. Getting lower down the tracks became more icy and eventually a bit slushy at the very end. Returned to the car and +10 C. Overall a fabulous day, I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the nay sayers in yesterday’s blog. Also glad to have the skin skies I bought just for days like today, they worked perfect through all conditions.
Paradise Valley: but a SNOWSHOE with hubby. It was SO glorious in there. At MLR parking lot at 9:15. Went to third bridge stopping at each to enjoy the views. Trail softened by time we were exiting around noon. Met the new administrator of Calgary YYC XC Skiing and her family, and only one other person. If I will remember anything about The Year of Covid, it will have been the invasion of walkers. They have NO place on a trail like Paradise Valley and had post-holed about halfway to second bridge. They apparently had no idea where they were going and had no idea of avalanche danger, etc. I blame this on Parks office being closed during Covid and a lack of local maps which should be available at many different kiosks. Upon our return to car, we met a family with two youngsters, all equipped with snowshoes. They asked us questions as they had NO idea where to go. I suggested Snowshoe Trail #27 off Great Divide but they could not access parking there. Perfect trail of 3.5 kms for them. Groomers were just starting their track-setting as we were walking down MLR.
Mt. Shark conditions excellent for our 11am ski. Did mostly the green 15km loop. Good grip except for the odd icier bit and great glide. Perfect weather-2 to start. +9 to finish. Not too busy. Worst part was the Smith Dorrien highway between Goat Creek parking area to first part of Spray Lk very rutted esp in the afternoon.
CNC 12:00 -2:00 +6C Parking lots full but strangely trails were quiet. Lots of folks making use of the picnic tables along the way with lots of tailgate parties in the parking lots.
Typical Nordic Centre, great grooming.
We skied up Centennial and onto Meadowview to the Meadow and returned via Banff Trail.
Skiing was usual spring conditions. If you stay in the tracks in the sun there were slow and sucky. In the shade they became rocket fast. the transitions from sun to shade to sun can be dangerous. The skating lane was uniformly slow for skin skis but the skaters were doing well.
Still lots of snow on the ground.
Jeff and I met in the bustling parking lot, somewhere between 9 and 10 AM. Temp was -5C at the Hut. We’ve skied together a bunch this year – often reflecting on how much we love the ski up Pocaterra. The ski up to Lookout was like a dream – “mid-winter” dream-like conditions with bright sunny skies.. Newly groomed up to Packers junction – thank you Groomer – new fluff on recently tracked, the rest of the way. Turned around at noon at the Lookout junction – fearing the dreaded sun. Swooshed down in about an hour – but we were right – the slush was developing in the sunny meadows on the way back.
Back to Pocaterra Hut, just after 1 PM. Temp was +8C in the shade. Parking Lot was a zoo – tailgate parties? (BTW – Foothills Nordic – please advise your young skiers about the social distancing thing – even on the trail!)
All in all – a great ski day. But..need some snow and cold!!! Here’s hoping.
Pipestone Loop (March 12): glorious bluebird day. Tracks were in decent condition, some of the hills were a little slick, but we had a time flying down them.
Friday: Skied Castle Lookout to RR tracks starting bit later in am, and softened up nicely. Saw four gals having a fun time wearing matching Hawaii type shirts!!! Hope they got some good photos. Then later in afternoon, tried out pr of Sporten skin skis from Wilson’s on Lower Telemark westbound, then some of GD and climbed up Peyto Blue to Peyto Green. Snow was still very nice on both routes and temps maybe got to +5.
Pig’s Back loop, March 12.
Three of us skied this popular little loop yesterday, finding a maze of meandering postholed uptracks low down in the forest, shallow wind pressed snow in the alpine that skied OK, and old tracks 😮 in our usual “members only” exit run. No new avalanche activity was observed despite the warm sun and looming cornices that threaten the route in a couple of spots. Things stayed cool above treeline due to wind that was throwing snow plumes off of the higher peaks at times, with only limited melting below treeline in the most sun exposed spots. Vestiges of VR45 from a previous tour worked fine in getting us across the flat areas on the way out. The winding forest trail was not icy, albeit undulating and sidesloped as always- skilled xc skiers on metal edge light touring gear may find the scenic out and back excursion to the open Commonwealth Creek valley flats rewarding, keeping in mind the huge avy slopes near the end. Trailhead air temp was plus 2 at 3pm, with a number of stretches of wet potholes growing along the SD road.
Fairview, Moraine Lake Rd
Took it easy today, and just did Fairview and up the hardest part of MLR twice. We actually passed Chris and Karl as they were coming down. Well, they flew by us on the descent as I was gasping my way up. Temperature was -3 at Lake Louise when we started at around noon, and hit its height at 8 deg (!!!!) while we were on MLR. Sections of both trails that were in the afternoon sun were getting soggy, so expect those to be pretty icy in the morning, but otherwise, the other 95% of the trails were in great shape. Lovely fresh tracksetting on Fairview, with lots of control in the descents.
When we were there, MLR hadn’t been trackset for a few days, with 3 or 4 cm of fresh snow between the tracks. The tracks themselves are in great shape, but they were getting softer as the afternoon wore on.
Mount Shark was fantastic this morning! I skied the 15 km green loop on fresh grooming and it was great all the way around. I swear they add more hills to that trail every year…..
Late morning the wind came up and scattered a few needles around, and the sun became very intense, but the snow did not seem to get too warm, so it should still be pretty good tomorrow 🙂
Today we did Blueberry Hill and Fire Lookout in Peter Lougheed. 30 km of pure fun under a blue sky. +2 at 11:00 am at Elk Pass parking lot.
The tracks were still well defined on Elk pass, Blueberry Hill and Tyrwhitt. They were getting glazed in sun exposed areas at the end of the day but mostly great. Fox creek was great coming up in the morning but had wicked ice downhill as you turn off from Elk pass so I would avoid that tomorrow.
The worst was slush and ice patches coming down the south side of Fire Lookout. We both had skin skis no metal edges but we both are solid downhill skiers. I would not recommend this tomorrow without metal edges or really late when it softens up again.
+4 at 4:00 pm.
I think tomorrow can still be a great day out there.
UPPER TRAMLINE, MORRAINE LAKE RD, LOWER TRAMLINE: Great conditions before noon today, warm blue wax was perfect. We had lunch at the lookout and after that the sun drenched tracks got wet, will be icy tomorrow.
We completed our 1000km quest today, warmer weather coming will make skiing more tricky. Celebrated with our favorite take out pizza. A pedicure would be nice too!
Thank you Skier Bob for your years of devotion, we will sure miss you but hope to see you on the trails next year. This blog has helped us enjoy our ski days so much more.
Fri Mar 12: east elk pass.
A few ice patches on fox creek. Low grip for first half of elk pass trail. Nice cold powder in the morning over M&J’s track to east elk. Excellent meadow travel. Couch H2.0 is a bit melty, but upright and functional. Up onto the ridge for some summit meadow touring and over to the cut block. The instant couch overlooking elk valley was a big hit with cheeky and Simona. The lizards lounged. Returned the same way with moist snow after lunch. Delaminated a boot sole en route but managed to make it back ok with some red green duct tape (actually blue). Most trails travelled today will be icy or glazed tomorrow. Glad we went today. A fire cooked meal topped it off nicely.
March 12 Upper Lake Louise trails from the Chateau grooming team:
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March 11, good condition.
Shoreline (#4): Double trackset, March 11, good condition.
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate path for walkers, March 11, good condition. Watch for icy patches in the mornings.
Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5): Double trackset, March 12, good condition.
Update from Jessica at Kicking Horse Ski Club:
Kicking Horse River trail still in good conditions. I had a great ski yesterday on the KHFR, there is still a little dusting of snow on top of the crust so get out there and enjoy before it gets warm again!
PLPP – Tyrwhitt Loop
Today was warm, sunny, and beautiful! The tracks were all around good (WJ, Tyrwhitt, Fox Creek, Moraine) or great (Elk Pass), although the S curve on Whiskey Jack was a sheet of ice and it took all my focus and edges to climb it…not a good option on the descent. The only other glitch was that the tracks disappeared on the last 0.5km of Moraine. Temp was 1 degree when I started out just before 11am, and 4 degrees when I returned at 1:15. The snow was a bit softer on the older tracks, but not too slow at all and quite fast going down Elk Pass. Tyrwhitt views were particularly majestic today!
Great conditions this morning at PLPP. Started from Boulton Bridge and skied of Boulton Creek and Fox Creek to head up Blueberry Hill. Great grooming on all these trails, and fast before it started to get hot. Then I went up Patterson’s and then across the Lookout south to north. By this time it had gotten pretty warm, and the south side of Lookout was translucent slush pretty much all the way to the summit. North side was much better. Whiskey Jack was also turning to slush with the S bend being particularly bad. Beautiful sunny day.
Waxless metal edges, we start at Ribbon Creek parking, temp +2, and take the connector, then cross the highway. Lower Skogan is icy, and has a large ice flow to walk past. Sunburst, High Level and Skogan Loop ccw, are in great condition, as there is a bit of snow over the corduroy, that made for really good descents. Heading down after the Sunburst junction, most of the skiing is in the shade, and fine with metal edges in icy sections, until one hits a patch of sun baked snow, that jarred us close to a stop. Temp at end of ski at 1:00 was +9, no clumping on the old beater skis. Had a fantastic day, not many skiers about.
Which one is the Hay Meadow temp site?
Good morning from Kananaskis , Peter Lougheed Visitor Centre.
It is -5 and overcast. Bit of blue skies and sunshine poking through!
Wonderful day! (PLPP March 11, 2021)
Did a loop through Braille- Lodgepole-Sinclair from the visitor centre, then headed up to do the Morraine-FoxCreek-Bolton Creek loop back to Bolton Parking. Moraine was icy and the southern end not a lot of fun…. but the rest was better. The run up and down Fox Creek and the return down Bolton Creek was as beautiful as it ever has been and the tracks and snow were still good!
Probably our last day for the year…a gift!
Thank you Bob for all your bright spirited, inspirational work…. during a year of challenges you have been a stalwart beacon, keeping our heads up, spirits bright and minds clear!
All the best!
We skied Pipestone on Thursday, March 10. We started at 9:30 when the temperature was -15C, by 1:30 when we finished the temperature was about 0C and starting to soften a little bit in the snow. There had been about 2-3 cm of fresh snow over the tracks. I used VR30, Blue, with mostly good success. There was a bit of slipping by the afternoon but was fine. We skied Pipestone to Pipestone Pond, then went up Merlin and skied back down to the pond. Then Hector out. Conditions were good and it was easy to ski down the hills as there was enough new snow to cover any icy sections.
Hello, was wondering if anyone can tell me if cross country skiing to hidden lake is possible along the skoki route? Not sure if it would be to steep coming out?
Nipika south trails.
A bluebird day, +1 to +3C in the afternoon. Trails are fast and in some places icy, with a few wet spots. Just a trace of fresh snow, skied into the hard base. If it doesn’t snow in the next day, you may want to think klister for the weekend. It was still quite enjoyable to ski there.
Nothing more to add to the previous reports on the excellent skiing at Elk Pass and Blueberry today, other than some pictures:
PLPP – Hello Jean Francois, the two cars at Boulton Creek parking lot were us and we skied out to Moraine behind you. We skied south on Moraine and quit after 100 metres because it appeared to not be trackset beyond. We drove onward to Upper Lake parking lot and started on the Connector to Elk Pass.
The new grooming on the Connector and Elk Pass were excellent as mentioned. We skied Fox when we saw it was groomed and trackset. At the Boulton and Moraine junctions we looked back and saw both were trackset as per the Alberta Parks report. Fox was in very good condition with only two spots being littered with bark. (too bad woodpeckers don’t migrate). We continued to Elk Pass and decided to follow skier tracks on Tyrwhitt to the high point at the north end of the north meadow. At this point Mary went alone to ski over Lookout and meet us at the bottom of Hydroline Hill. Mary reported the south descent of Lookout was sketchy because of the shallow snow over the hard packed icy base. Ray and I back tracked Tyrwhitt and Elk Pass for a sweet run on warming snow. Ray ventured down Hydroline and Patterson. Patterson was not groomed and trackset last night.
We met Skier Bob at the top of the Elk Pass “big hill” and stopped to visit a few minutes before our controlled descent to Elk Pass parking and the Connector to the cars. My one VR40 over two VR45 applications worked well all day, except the first hour when glide was a bit slow.
The trails groomed March 10th should be good for tomorrow but then the high temperatures will take their toll for the weekend.
Skogan Pass: THANK YOU DARWYN. We put first tracks onto your new grooming this morning starting from Nakiska around 9:30. We decided to put our “big lady panties on” and climb the Blue route up to the top junction. I got a photo of Fran standing on top of the picnic table halfway up at that scenic viewpoint. I walked partially down the second to last hill, and we were excited to learn we were still first to track up the last 2.5 kms. to the Skogan Pass viewpoint @ end of grooming. Maybe saw a dozen skiers as we enjoyed first tracks down. Fabulous job Darwyn, but being as I thrive on snowplowing down Skogan making a few turns on my Asnes, I likely would have left a few places out of the double-tracksetting.
Lake Ohara Road. -12C at start 0C at finish.
2cm on top of the base. Snow was soft. Waxable skis were working well.
No grooming but there had been a snow machine on the trail. The trail is wide enough to snow plough.
Great mix of skiers today. We were on AT, Light touring/metal edge folks, skinny skiers and a bunch of Families towing pulks
Great bluebird day.
Has anyone skied Pipestone today or yesterday? I might head there tomorrow. Wondering how the conditions are.
BOOM LAKE – March 11
Higher elevations gave us excellent conditions with fresh snow on a hard packed trail.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
More skiers than walkers today!
PLPP – a brisk -12C at 9:30am (Boulton Creek parking lot, only two cars)
we skied Moraine, Fox, Elk Pass, Blueberry, Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, Lookout (in & out), Pocaterra, Lynx, Amos, Wheeler.
As mentioned by Chuckley and Carl, overall excellent conditions (specially the southern trails) and a delightful day. Swix V40 blue extra worked well until I reached Lynx junction and I had to add a layer of V45 Violet to get some grip.
The lower trails (from Packers junction) did not receive new snow and the tracks are hard packed but still in excellent shape.
Blueberry was the highlight of the day!
Thu Mar 11: baker ck out and back.
-18 in the early morning to start. 1 degree back at the car at 330. Only about 2 ft of snow through the meadows (twiggy). To quote a skier on the trail today : “Rainer likes bush”. A bit annoying with wax on the AT gear combined with bottomless pole plants through the meadows. No double poling efficiency (at least with short AT poles anyway). Fine back in the forest on the way home. The off trail wallowing in the meadows was difficult, so kudos to the long distance touring team who set all that track. Made it to about a km from wonder valley. A good way to celebrate the 60th ski day of the season (thank you Covid!).
PLPP= Peter Lougheed Provincial Park- a bluebird day!
Skied Whiskey Jack – Lookout North, Lookout South, Hydroline to Patterson, Elk Pass to Fox Creek, and finally Boulton Creek. 750m of cumulative ascent, 17.5 km.
Excellent ski with blue wax due to 1 to 4cm new snow for the climbs. Under the new snow is very hard to icy grooming from a few days ago.
New grooming last night must have been during the snowfall as some had no new snow on top and some had up to a centimetre.
With heavy traffic in the next couple of days the steep downhill (we went up) on Whiskey Jack with a corner in it will be very tricky without steel edges – caution advised.
Thank you to the groomers – great job!!
March 11 – Helena Ridge East
Variable conditions today! Some hard, wind-hammered snow with a dusting of powder, some deep powder, some weak sun-crust that tried to kill me. The bottom 2km of the Rockbound Lake trail is icyyyyyyy, but the dusting of fresh snow from last night made a huge difference and I was able to stay in control the whole way down. Done on AT gear.
Anyone been skiing at Mt Shark in the last day or so? Looking for an update on trail conditions. I was hoping to go out this weekend but it’s looking like its gonna be pretty warm.
Update for Banff Tunnel Mtn Trails March 11-
We have been unable to trackset our trails as both of our sleds have mechanical issues. We will be back at it as soon as we can.
Skogan Pass groomed for perhaps the last time this season. It’s great skiing up there at the moment. A big shout out to our guest groomer Tracksetter Darwyn from Cypress hills Who was behind the wheel tonight getting some grooming training. Let him know how he did for anyone who skis up there.
March 10 Shaganappi Point golf course in Calgary update:
This evening Altius Ski Club was out on the snow at Shaganappi in the Driving Range and on Alasdair’s Alley skate-skiing, playing tag, and having a lot of fun. The coaches mentioned the skiing is still good, even though the snow surface is somewhat uneven because Shaganappi has not been groomed for over a week. The snow surface is chalky rather than icy, and fairly easy to skate-ski on.
Classic track setting where it hasn’t melted away is really icy in the colder temperatures but it’s nearly mid-March, so no surprise there!
Alasdair’s Alley (from junction 1 to 8) is still good skiing, as is the Driving Range loop.
The skiing this weekend should be fun and soft so if you want a last hurrah, get out to Shaganappi! It is highly likely this will be the last few days of skiing at Shaganappi due to the warm temperatures and rapid wind-induced sublimation of the snow.
Lake Louise – Fairview – Moraine Lake Road
Must have just missed Helen, as we started from the upper parking lot just before 1400 (-2 deg). Trails are in great condition. About 4 cm of fresh snow the night before, and then another 4-5 fell while we were on MLR. And boy did it snow! We turned around before reaching the end of MLR, and by the time we got back to the Fairview/MLR junction, all traces of activity between the up and down tracks had been completely covered over. And of course, after being pelted in the face by falling snow on the way down MLR, it stopped snowing as we climbed back up Fairview. Timing is everything…
Super temperatures for wax skis today at Lk Louise (-7 to -4). Starting parked at MLR and new grooming (track-setter got a big chocolate bar) on route up MLR. Skied to top of hill then back to Fairview which was in really good shape. Always scape off at top of initial climb, and rest was easy-peasy to Peyto, which was newly T/S yesterday. Explored some of trail behind Chateau and no one around. Ran into Chris and Carl and would gladly share their photo after we both skied Lower Telemark but this goal has never been reached by me before covid and before Skier Bob’s retirement. Chris soon to reach her MILESTONE SKI. Hope I am in same parking lot with your six-pack of beer to share with you when this comes to pass in next day or two. Congratulations Chris. It is a big milestone.
This is how Shadow Lake Lodge looked when we passed by in 1990:
PLPP Lower Trails
We started at the Vistors Centre and were pleased to see the west side trails had been groomed and trackset over night. Thus we crossed the road and skied south on Lodgepole, did the spruce road loop then crossed back across the road at Elkwood. The fresh tracks were wonderful and fast on waxless skis.
We were concerned that any tracksetting more than a day or two old would be icy. But not the case was we headed south on Wheeler then left on Amos to the lynx junction. The tracks were great and fast but not too icy. Inspired by Rainer’s recent backcountry adventours, we decided to ski the old lynx trail and avoid the hills. The crust was just strong enough to keep two skiers on top , but skier number three, a little heavier, did break through several times. It was great to ski the old trail, remembering zipping down the creek to the climb back up to the open aera. The final hill up was accomodated by taking off skis for the last several metres.
Then along the remainder of lynx to Pocaterra and then rolly road to the hut. The tracks were in great shape and fast. We dicouvered the rolly road grid for a short side trip. Then across the road and the grunt climb up lodgepole and meadow back to the Visitors centre.
Overall a very nice day in mostly sun and no new snow. Also very few cars on the road and in the parking lots and only a hand full or skiers. Get out and enjoy it if you can before the next thaw.
Anyone ski Goat Creek Canmore to Banff recently? Looking for an update on trail conditions.
We cannot come close to the happiness so evident our dogs experience skiing with us
Life is so much better when you love dogs!! We have a Wheaten and a Golden (both high energy breeds) and nothing makes me happier than to see them flat out exhausted after a long distance ski. I have had dogs all my life and the only drawback to having a dog is, of course, losing them. Wonderful to read a “pawsitive” story on dogs and skiing.
That is such a great story! Thanks for sharing! My husband and I rediscovered skiing this season. And it was my 9 year olds first time on skis. We started out for a couple of times at WBC and the pups on the trail kept us happy, even on the days we struggled. Last weekend my daughter decided she wanted to try to ski 20k, so we headed to the great divide. And the dog sled teams zipped back and forth all day. We didn’t notice any chance of tiring out on my daughter’s end. But those pups sure gave us great joy to see how happy they were! Thanks for sharing! And can’t wait to see more pups on the trail!
CNC 10:30-1:00 What Hugh and barbBanff wrote below, except skated the Masters World Cup 10k course: Expresso-Bow-Grey Wolf-Meadowview-Coyote-Banff trail return to start. -8 at start, light wind, bluebird sky just like Bob’s report yesterday. Skating sometimes “crunchy” but fast, smoother high up on Meadowview. After the 10k course, skated Olympic/Centennial loops, which have finally been fully groomed. Best non-icy conditions on those little used trails.
Burstall Pass. -22C at 8 am at the trailhead. Brrr. The snow was cold with about 15 cm of powder snow. No signs of spring yet! Near the foot of the headwall I literally ran into a wall of warmer air, and the temp must have risen by at least 10 degrees over a very short distance. Up higher it was a nice and sunny day, and I skied six laps at Burstall Pass South. Someone had postholed all the way to Burstall Pass, damaging the trail in many places. -4C at 5:30 pm back at the parking lot. Didn’t see another soul all day.
Baker Creek to L Louise, March 8
A long valley tour into an area that sees few skiers. On Monday four of us (Anders, Dave V., and Scott G.) ventured up the headwaters of Baker Creek. The first 6 km to the meadow were well travelled. From the 6km to 10km mark we followed filled in old tracks because venturing off these barely visible tracks sent us wallowing in deep depth hoar. From there to the 16km mark at Wildflower Creek campsite it was difficult to follow any kind of summer trail. Summer trails are surprisingly hard to follow in winter! Came across fresh Wolverine tracks, probably from earlier that morning in the Wildflower Creek drainage. These tracks were impressive because you could see the claw marks as he dragged his foot forward. The steepest climbing was at the 19km mark where we climbed through thick trees that finally opened up to a spectacular meadow below Baker Lake. The snow base was firmer at this elevation and travel was easier. On Baker Lake we again came across fresh Wolverine tracks that were heading south, we knew they were fresh because it had snowed overnight. Had trouble seeing the same long claw marks in these tracks so maybe a different Wolverine. It was a thrill to be in a beautiful sunny open area where few skiers venture. Got back to skier set tracks on Ptarmigan Lake and a fast run down from Boulder Pass. The light was poor flying down the ski out, back to the car at 7:15. All told it was about 34 km and took us just under 11 hours.
March 9 Upper Lake Louise trails from the Chateau grooming team:
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March 6, fair condition.
Shoreline (#4): Double trackset, March 6, fair condition.
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate path for walkers, March 9, good condition. Watch for icy patches in the mornings.
Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5): Double trackset, March 9, good condition.
March 9 – Lake O’Hara
A quick morning ski up to Lake O’Hara. After all the great trip reports from LL, I should have known that the snow would be great but I was still surprised to see soft, cold powder on the side of the trail! There was a bit of a skier-set track in some spots, but most of the trail was flat, packed surface. Once I got to the lake, I followed tracks counterclockwise halfway around the lake and then skied back across the middle of the lake to avoid the avalanche paths on the north side of the lake. After a quick snack break on the lake shore, I headed back down. The descent was fast and fun! The snow is still soft enough to snowplow if you are uncomfortable with high speeds, though. VR40 did the trick for me today. A good way to spend the morning!
A relaxed ski today under totally blue skies. We started at the O’Hara end at 10am; -13C. Skier set tracks in about 4cm of light powder snow to the AB/BC border, wobbly in places but very pleasant. Still mostly good tracks as we approached the Lk Louise end, though now a bit slicker with occasional sections that had an icy feel. After lunch (-3C) we returned the same way – tracks mostly still good but the sun doing its work in the more exposed places. 0C at our 1:30pm finish. Where have all the skiers gone? – pretty quiet out there, saw only a dozen others all day
PLPP: Pocaterra to the Lookout junction and back
Another beautiful day on the tracks! I started out at 10am at -9 and under sunny skies, and my skins did the trick with a bit of herring boning on the steeper hills along the way. The tracks were definitely on the icy side, particularly between the trailhead and Lynx, but they became noticeably less icy after that. The way back was fast and fun, and I was back to the parking lot at 12:45 at about 0 in the sun.
Tue Mar 9: Taylor lake.
Trail hard packed and very fast, almost ice lower down. Probably lost some steel today. Wouldn’t want to do it at night to see if that was true. Could do with some of that new stuff. But great sun and heat at the lake. Worthy of a quick throne. Several parties heading to panorama ridge. Encountered 6 walkers coming up on descent, who all responded rapidly and correctly. Must have been the loud scraping sounds. Not a significant dent to the main trail despite the number of boots! Did I say it was hard packed?
CNC 11:30 1:30. Temp around 0C tracks were crystalline and sometimes powder depending on the aspect to the sun.
We used Skintecs but talked to Barb B from Banff who was going to give VR50 a go. Probably would have worked maybe up to VR55
Tracks and groomed areas are still in great seasonal shape.
The skating lanes are flattening out and getting glazed.
We skied around noon and it was barely softening up.
Bow loop, Bow trail, to junction 14 returned via Banff Trail.
Skied towards Skogan Pass on Monday. Bright and sunny. Parking lot for ‘Troll Falls’ less than half full. No one else was skiing. Used waxless skis but still had to do a fair bit of antideclumpulating on the way up. Down was beautiful – just enough fresh snow (1-4cm) to grab safely. Skogan Pass trail, Skogan Loop clockwise, High Level, Hummingbird Lookout, Sunburst (very fun), Ruthie’s, Hay Meadow. Set tracks are still in good shape, but a bit of fresh snow overlies them. Lower down multiuse trails are a but rough, but that’s to be expected. The Eagle counters are expecting things to pick up in a week or so.
Scott lake hill is a skating rink this morning. Cars and trucks sliding everywhere.
March 8 Shaganappi Point golf course in Calgary update:
No new grooming or track setting, driving range and Alasdair’s Alley are good when soft.
The decision has been made to cease grooming (and track setting) operations at Shaganappi due to the weather-related rapid loss of snow in Calgary combined with the horrid environmental footprint of the 2-stroke snowmobiles and the exhaust they produce.
Snow coverage is still good in the driving range (green loop directly east of the winter parking lot) and along Alasdair’s Alley (junction 1 to 8, see the trail map).
Best time to ski is after the snow has softened, which isn’t until around 11am or noon on a sunny warm day. Icy conditions exist every morning and possibly all day if there is no sun exposure or the temperatures don’t warm up enough. Track setting if present will likely be icy just due to the fact they are frozen overnight.
All other trails are not recommended for skiing as there are potentially dangerous conditions especially when the trails are icy. There are un-skiable/potentially dangerous trail conditions due to bare asphalt and/or rocks and/or grass in one or many spots or along long sections of trail.
This is likely the last week and weekend that conditions are skiable at Shaganappi around the driving range and along Alasdair’s Alley. Have fun if you go!!!
Thanks a LOT to all the volunteers and individuals who provided support to Shaganappi winter operations on the ground, in the background, and also in mentoring/advisory roles. (Mentors/Advisors for on-the-ground operations: Jamie at Confed; Jeff aka Boomer Groomer @ WBC; Jeff @ Ribbon/K Country; Jasper from Cremona’s XC Trail network; Larry T, Graham S, and Alasdair F: retired grooming volunteers from the Calgary Ski Club; and likely more…)
It truly is a collective effort to keep SNO going as a non-profit society and also make skiing possible at Shaganappi every winter with the track setting and grooming frequency that SNO provides and is working to improve upon.
Lake Louise – Fairview, Moraine Lake Rd, Lake trail
Spent the late afternoon at Lake Louise, leaving from the upper Lake Louise parking lot, taking Fairview to the Moraine Lake Rd, went up part of the road, then back up Fairview and onto the lake.
As Marijan pointed out, there was 4 -5 cm of fresh snow. It was sunny and temp was -1 when we started at 1415 and -10 when we finished around 1730. Conditions were excellent, albeit a little slick on my skin skies. Better than sticking, though! Fairview was pretty worked in, but in really good condition. Moraine was the same – fresh snow over recent track setting. The areas most exposed to the sun have an ice crust just below the fresh snow, so any warmer temperatures will definitely have a negative effect on the tracks.
The lake was pretty icy, but remarkably enough, the tracks were pretty boot-free. I shifted the skies into full glide and just double poled the whole way. There aren’t many places where you can go full out on a flat surface, so it was kinda fun.
All in all, a fun, quick outing. Spoke with a number of skiers, and we all agreed the conditions were superb, and that we should enjoy it while we can!
Rio has been found! – https://www.facebook.com/groups/562727260820378/permalink/1153519731741125/
Rio was found tonight on sugar momma and has made it home.
A huge thank you to the community for all the support, it was great to see so many out looking.
talked to Lisa and dog is found?
Moraine rd today..I was first one to go up..was a bit hard but survived..I would say about 4-5 cm fresh snow over yesterday’s track setting..used fish scale skis was scared to take waxable skis..snow was slow and on some sections sticky..saw maybe 10 people that went all the way up to viewpoint..
Weather was fantastic..almost no wind,lots of sun..
did you find the dog yet? if not i will come and look tomorrow
LAKE OHARA ROAD: on the trail at 10 am, put warm blue wax on my bc skiis, ended up scraping a few times, the fresh snow was a bit sticky. Lots of sunshine today, really felt like spring skiing. Abundant new snow, but intermittent skier tracks due to AT travellers and a big taboggan track. Skiing down was fast and fun. Doeable on classic skiis right now although metal edges were nice. Minus 10 degrees at the lake.
Mount Guppy Secret Stash (not)
(a couple days ago)
With the current proliferation of noob backcountry skier traffic I thought I might impress the kid and her bf by taking them into one of the old man’s favourite secret stashes.
I hadn’t been there in years and my plan was to point out the way and let them do the trail breaking (so I could keep up).
Well, I’m hear to tell you that it is no longer a secret stash!
Despite the fact that the route is cleverly concealed by a popular skinny-ski-weenie trail network when we got to where you deak off the grooming there was a stinking highway of a skintrack! (so much for my “keeping up” strategy) .
Upon arrival at the zone we could hear voices (I HATE hearing voices).
Turns out, above us was what appeared to be an instructor and a gaggle of 7 or 8 wide-eyed students on an avalanche safety course….what the %#&*, dude?!!
Nevertheless, we managed to eek out good lines amongst the chaos of new and old tracks.
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a changin’.
Great Divide 10 am -7 and 4 cms powder. Hardly anyone on trails. Climbed up to Upper Tramline (my biggest workout of the day!) then down to MLR, up to Fairview (where we finally saw some skiers), Peyto had great skier tracks and always my favorite, GD west to Lower Telemark then back on it to car. No track-setting noted on any of these trails, but I prefer the fresh powder any day. Laggan’s closed Mon thru Wed so no Hazelnut Macaroon indulgence today. Waxing worked well after adding a warmer VR 45 over Rode -2 to -6. Grab these conditions while they are so good.
Pipestone trails with Jeff G
Our forays around the Pipestone trails could only be described as magical. The snow was both grippy and glidey against our skins, the tracks were lovely, the sunshine was warm (-7 when I arrived, 0 when I drove away), and the people we met were all as charmed by today as we were. Couldn’t be better!
KICKING HORSE RIVER TRAIL – March 8
Great conditions with a couple of cms of fresh snow on top of recent tracksetting.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Nobody else seen all day!
I did pretty much all the 1 and 2 day old tracks. Amos, Wheeler, Lynx, Comealong and Pocaterra from Lynx to hut. Started 9:30, first car at Elkwood parking. -7 to start, zero at 1:00. All tracks were in great shape, though hard, with 1 cm new snow on top to make the steeper downhills fine. I used skin skis, thinking by the time I was finished, I might not like the sticky waxes. I found I did need to herringbone up some slopes that I usually can walk up with wax skis. Overall a great day, and little sign of further sun damage when I left.
PLPP – A fair bit of snow on highway 40 between Nakiska and Fortress gas station this morning. At 9:15am, only two other cars in Pocaterra parking lot and a cool -9C .
We skied Pocaterra / Come Along, Lynx, Amos, Wheeler, Whiskey Jack, Pocaterra, back on Lynx, Woolley and Meadows back to the hut.
Overall very nice conditions with a skiff of snow over recent grooming and great tracks. V40 Blue extra and later on during the day V45 Violet special did the trick.
On Whiskey Jack the steep S turn is quite icy over 10m and caution is advised, similarly Meadows once we crossed the road from the Visitor center is very very icy (tracks and downhills) and I would recommend not to try to ski this area unless you are a dare devil!
Mon Mar 8: Boulder pass/ptarmigan lake.
No ice on the ski out above fish creek parking, just fresh grooming and snowmobile ruts. Cold dry powder up there along the trail beyond resort, with at least 4″ of fresh in vicinity of pass depending where you were exactly. Clouded up at pass and north before lunch with light snow falling. Kite skiers in attendance at the lake, but missed out on the launch as it was cold in the wind without sun. -1 back at the car at 130.
Pipestone grooming was sketchy as the hard pack prevented the tracks to be formed to depth. The downhill areas were almost solid ice with some rocks coming through. The trails overall were still 70 % avg
30% below. More snow needed 6-12” to rehabilitate the trail. Safety will become an issue bc soon.
Burstall Pass — March 4
I was out with friends skiing to Burstall Pass on the same day as Gord F. Lots of very good snow with little traffic in the upper Burstall valley beyond the ‘Robertson Flats’. Spring conditions in the upper valley but it’s still winter up at the pass! No sign of recent avalanches in the upper valley.
I would like the money to go towards obtaining the Fortress lease. That way the area could be managed more in line with the spirit of the surrounding area rather than what is planned.
Small update, she was seen late afternoon heading up Snowy Owl from Boundary towards West Bragg. She is very scared and bolted as soon as she saw the people. Search was called off for the night, will resume tomorrow morning.
Hate to think she is out there still tonight.
We spent 40 minutes in a traffic jam, going up Scott Lake Hill due to the semi trailer fire. It was near noon when we arrived at Pocaterra hut. Last night’s grooming on Pocterra and Lynx was beautiful so it was a shock to see the dark collembola covered iced tracks on Amos. Wheeler was slightly less icy but was still collembola covered. Packers was a big improvement but the first steep downhill was icy and difficult to control. A few skiers we met were very tentative on the icy areas, and rightly so. We would have skied further had there been more new grooming.
Pray for cooler weather, snow, and grooming.
PLPP – Pocaterra
Left parking lot at 10 am. Skied Pocaterrra, Come Along, Lynx, Amos, Wheeler, Whiskeyjack, Pocaterra loop.
Fresh track setting on all trails except 1 km of icy track on Amos.
Excellent conditions for skin skis and wax skis using purple wax. Beautiful day and parking lot was only 1/3 full.
I do hope they find Rio-so scary when a pup goes missing. Please post Bob if you hear anything.
Shark Lake. Touring on AT gear.-2to –4C We skied into Shark Lake and above through the jumble of rocks. Start point is the widening of the road into Mt Shark on the right hand side (east). Ski up the old logging road just beyond the parking and follow the trail over to Shark Lake 4.4km one way. Soft snow with quite a bit of snow shoe traffic. This could be done on non metal edge or light touring gear. There are a few long hills so good wax and decent downhill technique would be helpful. This is back country skiing with no grooming and no Avi potential.
However, there are tree wells as my wife found out. She tried to say she was doing a snow profile. Took her 6-7 minutes to get out. We always ski back country with a partner and no straps on the poles.
GREAT DIVIDE/TELEMARK: Parked at 10 am on the Yoho side, minus 1 when we started. Applied warm swix purple for grip plus a few swipes of special red swix behind my heels, worked perfect all day. Tracks were reasonably fast with no sticking. Telemark was more icy than the main trail but still good skiing. Cooler temps at the LLouise end. All in all, a great day.
Bill Milne loop – Wedge Connector – Evan Thomas
Skied this route on March 7th starting around 11am at the Kananaskis Golf Course. As a novice/beginner skier I found that the conditions made this trail difficult, including lots of debris on the trails. Icy trails made the ascents challenging and the descents too fast. There were many hikers coming up the Evan Thomas trail, and the tracks were significantly degraded from footsteps.
I am either a buyer or seller of a right or left (respectively) Swix carbon 145 ski pole after a minor mishap this weekend. Para-athletes and fellow tele-crash amateurs please reply or call and we will arrange the transaction we have both been dreaming of.
Pipestone (Lake Louise)
Conditions are quite good with fresh track-setting being done today (Sunday). Managed to get away with Rode Multigrade (0 – -2) and it was quite good. There were a few icy bits and a few slower powdery bits, but overall pretty good considering how warm is has been elsewhere.
PLPP – Pocaterra – 7 March
Tried wax skis but quickly returned to the truck for fishscales which worked very well. The fresh tracksetting on lower Pocaterra was great. The day-old tracks on upper Pocaterra are still very sharp. Top of Whisky Jack looked good. Spoke to a couple who said Tyrwhitt was wobbly. -4C at PHut at 9 a.m., +2C at 2 p.m. Quite overcast and noticeably cooler higher up – saw zero sun damage, experienced zero icing.
West Bragg Creek: Noted the inner trails had been groomed last night. Started at 11:00 am on waxless scale skis at +3C and found trails were still very icy. Skied West and East Crystal line twice then ventured up East Crystal Line to access Loggers Loop when conditions started to soften. Traversed to the decent to West Crystal Line and turned back for a fun run back to the East Crystal Line. The groomers always do a great job and the best they can with conditions. Starting or finishing last night the track setter was grabbing the snow and the uphill / south track on East Crystal and Loggers is very rough – staying in the tracks needs to be evaluated when descending.
Tried Castle Lookout to start at 10am with temps around -2, but after an icy dodgy descent down the hill towards the road, we went another 50m and turned around as too icy and lots of debris.
Rather than apply the klister, or risk injury slipping around on icy tracks, we went instead a little higher to Lake Louise where it was -2 but much better snow. We parked at MLR, which was full and skied Tramline, Fairview and down MLR for a quick 9km loop. Conditions much better, esp on Tramline, though a little icy in spots on Fairview and MLR descents, which had seen more sun.
Used classic scaled ski and had good grip and glide most the way. Trackset was excellent. Overall, can’t ever complain about a nice day out of town in the mountains.
March 7 has anyone a report on pipestone XC ski trail?
Conditions were very good the morning of March 7 at Canmore Nordic Centre. The temperature at 9 am was around -3. Skate lanes and tracks were freshly groomed and set. There was no debris on the trails.
65,000 x-c skiers if you count those who only ski once or twice a year in town or at West Bragg.
Skied emerald Lake and Alluvial fan on Saturday. Used VR70 and had zero grip. Double poled the whole thing, which normally is no problem, but on the skier set tracks on the lake the poles were going through the snow to the ice (about 6”) On the way back I stuck to the official trail on the lake shore, but that was maybe the most skied out trail I have ever seen. Basically no track on a side slope. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone. There is a third trail through the trees, which I didn’t torture myself with as I had no grip. Maybe it is a bit more skiable. Did the alluvial fan 2x. Once counter clockwise and once clockwise. A word to the wise: do not do it counter clockwise. The snow is soft on the gradual uphill and it’s near impossible to double pole. And then the steeper downhill is so skied out, people were falling left and right. Going clockwise was much better. The uphill was firmed up nicely for double poling and the gradual downhill was supper fast. Emerald lake trails are still the prettiest trails you can ski, so I’m glad I went. Had some klister in the car, but was saving it for today (Sunday) for the virtual Lake Louise Loppet. Looks like I might not need it, as lake Louise appears to have gotten fresh snow. I guess we’ll see.
Good Morning! It is overcast and -7 degrees in Peter Lougheed.
100,000 viewers .
Started the day on Great Divide at only -3C – with 7 centimetres of fluffy, light powder! Spring AND winter! Very sparing use of RODE violet gave great kick and glide. Nearing the halfway point along the road the groomer and tracksetter came through, and the superb skiing only got better. 🙂
Starting up Moraine Lake Road at 4 o’clock, the Swix V60 was perfect on the well-skied tracks set earlier in the day. It was much cooler at the end of the trackset, the already-great glide improved, and the afternoon light fading into sunset was a highlight of the day.
Skogan pass with Skogan loop Saturday starting around 9 am – grooming and tracksetting from March 2 was still in great condition, albeit a little slushy. Lots of debris from prior windstorms coming back through the snowpack. Downhills weren’t very fast given how sticky the snow was. By noon a squall rolled in and the snow got a bit faster.
Hello Bob and everyone,
Assuming there is snow, do you know when grooming in k-Country stops for the season? When is the cut off date?
Mount Shark conditions ?
Would love to hear about conditions at Mt Shark today. It seems they groomed most everything this morning. Was thinking of heading there tomorrow but it would be nice to know what to expect. One with skis that need waxing and the other with fishscales.
PLPP- March 6
Today would have been a perfect day to have skin skis, but unfortunately we had to resort to wax which made things difficult. We started from the Elk pass parking lot and headed up the Elk Pass trail on a skiff of fresh snow. Temperature was around +2 at 9:30 am. We continued onto Moraine but because of the wax issues gave up on Whiskey Jack and headed down Boulton which had fresh grooming. I tried a warmer wax which worked on and off along Boulton and Fox creek, then onto Elk pass trail again. Then more clumping, scraping, and cursing. We turned around at the Blueberry hill junction. I added som