What would be the penalty / fine for those parking without a purchased pass? A volunteer group would have no authority to issue fines and collect. Would they just leave a note asking them to pay next time?
Not everybody who uses the parking lots are part of the ski community and would have no knowledge of a pass required.
Thanks to Nordiq for taking the positive step of putting together this proposal as a possible solution.
All members of our household are in favour of user fees in some form or other in this instance.
How would they know if you are there to ski or to hike? Is it for hikers too?
What would be the cost to enforce this and pay for the administration / technology required? That on top of the money needed for operations. I’m surprised people are so quick to offer to pay but won’t hold the government accountable for giving away millions to corporations…
I just read that the government is going to spend 15 million dollars in Kananaskis. Does anyone know if any of this money is going towards grooming?
$43M to parks – think they could afford tracksetting?
For the weather geeks out there. Got this from a solo circumnavigation site of a Cdn just heading out from Vancouver.
Highwood Meadows has 4 inches of summer skiing snow! I could hardly wait to put on my rock skies this morning and take a few tours of the meadow. By the forth lap the track was tired and melting in the summer sun’s glow. Still lots of space there for fresh tracks of your own.
I encourage everyone here to write a letter to their MLA about this. A good template can be found at https://mailchi.mp/.www.kananaskisgrooming.ca/nordiqalberta.
In writing mine, I found the 2017 Alberta Recreation Survey at https://bit.ly/3lZGnaI. It finds that 9% of Albertans participate in XC skiing, same as the percentage playing ice hockey, so around 400,000 people. As an analogy, imagine what would happen if you closed half the hockey rinks in Alberta and made people play hockey on gravel parking lots.
I recognize that there are issues in charging a fee for groomed XC trails, but it is the only hope for a long-term solution for tracksetting that is not subject to the whims of politicians.
This campaign is getting lots of volunteers and attention. Consider donating to get a lawn sign, using the template to write to your MLA or even joining as a volunteer. We need every body when can help!! https://cpaws-southernalberta.org/defend-albertas-parks/
I am in favor of user fees. If one can afford the cost of a vehicle to travel to PLPP or other far flung areas then a nominal fee to cover the cost of grooming the trails is completely justified. I have paid to XC ski in many areas in BC and even in Washington State, so implementing a similar system here shouldn’t be difficult to instate by the government and be supported by those that enjoy the trails
User fees for parks creates a barrier to the park. I’m all in favour of a trail fee for skiing but people should be able to hike or sight see for free. This country is for all of us, not just those can afford it.
Our taxes (both business and personal) should buy us something.
I feel this email should be forwarded to the respective Canmore businesses, perhaps cc’ing dear Miranda Rosin.
VOTE GAÉTAN TURMEL in 2020-21!
Totally agree with you Gaétan , I am living Calgary and from Beauport Qc and right one there we pay roughly 20$ a day for nice cross country center , you are welcome back but yes if all we pay a cheap pass we can maintain a grooming !
Very valid point about revenues. I’d like to also caution people on jumping to the “I’d have no problem paying for use of the trails”. There are many Albertans right now and even during boom times who do not have a lot of money and I’m concerned that a demographic who may be more well off (do we have stats on who uses the trails, who would like to use the trails) will speak on behalf of all Albertans. Especially those who would want to cross country ski but cannot find the means to do so. So I’m not in favour of putting user fees on every single activity that occurs. I’m more in favour of 1) diversifying our economy and truly building resilience to the boom and bust of resource base industries 2) implementing a prov sales tax (let those who like to buy a lot of stuff, which has a direct impact on the sustainability of the planet pay proportionately and 3) perhaps implement a small entrance fee to provincial parks / recreation areas that gives enough choice (daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, annual rates)
I’m surprised the option of raising supplemental funds via a specialty license plate hasn’t been brought up anywhere. It was quite common in the States to pay extra for a special plate, with proceeds going to National or State Park organizations. BC next door has three plates to choose from with proceeds going toward provincial parks. Alberta already has a number of specialty plates.
Can we please have a fee to ski arrangement .
Why does anyone expect it to be free .?
Seems an easy fix to me .How much would it cost to cover the expense of grooming does any one know .?
Is anyone out group working on a proposal for a fee-based system? If so, I’d like to volunteer for that effort.
In the present reality, a petition asking for continuation of the past, govt funded, system will not meet the objective of keeping x-country skiing and will likely do more harm.
I don’t want the Government to keep funding the trail maintenance. There is not money and X-Country ski isn’t a essential activity (at least, in my opinion). I would have expected more people advocating for a Private Institution taking care of it. Cross-Country for a fee is the way to go in my opinion. I haven’t seen much movement on this regards, other that Fortress maybe?. Has anybody heard otherwise?
Thank you very much
RMO article on fee survey: https://www.rmotoday.com/kananaskis-country/alberta-parks-gauging-support-for-recreation-user-fees-2661026
Unfortunately, “the questionnaire on user fees is part of an online survey for campers who book campsites on reserve.Albertaparks.ca.“ — Hopefully they open up the questionnaire more generally to Albertans.
I’ve sent 2 letters to my MLA, 1 letter to Miranda Rosin, 2 to Jaosn Nixon and to Premier Kenney. The only response I’ve received is a form letter from Miranda Rosin telling me that economic times are tough and everything has to take a hit.
Interesting comments here … but most of them are irrelevant. At this point, the Alberta government is not even entertaining proposals for new funding sources, new groomers or ideas. How many of you that have commented here have actually written to your local MLA?
where can I sign the petition
All over the province there are people eyeing their particular favorite government program and crying “Oh no, don’t cut me!” What’s a poor debt ridden government to do?
I think under the circumstances the more realistic path (ski trail?) is to find some more creative solution than whining “don’t cut me” to the government. Some solution that doesn’t cost the government money (or even makes some).
Hi, everyone – I received the following update from Nordiq Alberta in my email today. Does anyone have an idea of what this means? It seems to imply perhaps that the Fortress proposal was rejected, and that the GOA is not planning on holding any discussions about user fees etc. Does any one have any information about this? It is all concerning to me.
This is the email I received:
August 20th Update
It has recently been brought to Nordiq Alberta’s attention that as things stand currently, the complete cancellation of grooming within Kananaskis Country is going forward as planned. Additional concerns for cross country skiers relate to the potential of additional operating budgets for next fiscal year. Sustained economic impacts due to COVID-19 continue to put pressure on public funds including Alberta Parks which involves areas such as Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park. This reality is saddening as more places we love to ski run the risk of ceasing operations.
It is now more important than ever for us to make our voices heard and broaden the message to our constituents that these funding cuts affect many Albertans who access these trails. We urge you to continue contacting your MLAs and ask them to advocate for a reconsideration on these budget cuts. It is also vital that we share this campaign widely within your network in order to maximize the response from all constituencies across the province. United we have the ability to affect change with our Government to ensure that access to winter trail networks remains possible in our beautiful province.
Nordiq Alberta is committed to communicating any and all changes to grooming as we become aware of them. We also recognize that there is more work to be done and are working to expand our network of contacts to ensure our voices reach a larger audience.
Thank you all for your support thus far, without the help of each and every one of you these conversations would not continue to occur.
I’m a bit skeptical. The Fortress “operators” have for years been promising a new resort, but all that’s materialized so far is some Hollywood blockbusters, a few car commercials, and some bottled water using their snow-making water allotment. Oh yeah and some cat-sking too, on windblasted slopes. Meanwhile backcountry skiers like myself are shut out from this publicly owned area. So, will they really come through and groom these trails for us? Or will they sell off access rights to some movie producer and put up gates to keep out the public?
Opening the door to “non-ski use” goes against all that is pure and good about winter.
I like it! I have no problem with paying a user fee. It hadn’t occurred to me that Fortress Mtn could be an operator but it makes perfect sense. Of course it should be a contract up for review every few years. Maybe RCR (Nakiska) could also be interested. Maybe Alberta Parks should put out a request for proposals ASAP.
Who The Hell Were These So Called Kananaskis Stake Holders? Corrupt Conservatives with lots of money?
I would be shocked if any cross country ski shop was in favor of eliminating free cross country skiing, because they would be shooting themselves in the foot with greatly reduced sales. Conservatives charging fees for cross country skiing will reduce the amount of cross country skiers in Alberta. Reducing the amount of skiers will put some shops out of business while many ski trails will lose skier visit- (all things being equal other than the increased cost of skiing). Any Conservative idiot who thinks otherwise does not understand economics. The Conservatives are harming jobs in the Alberta cross country ski industry with their cut and slash policies.
We the people are the stake holders in Kananaskis as the Park belongs to the people not greedy corporate profiteers. We the people should decide how our parks operate, not corrupt Conservatives.
There should be a referendum on Park fees in Alberta as that is what real democracy looks like. We can’t let the anti-democratic Conservatives dictate how our Parks will be shaped or formed for play grounds of the predominantly rich.
The Conservatives never had an election mandate to cut cross country skiing in our Parks. It was not an election promise and to cut out or charge for skiing without a mandate is politically corrupt. Conservatives just want to charge park user fees so they can subsidize another stupid raw oil pipeline to the USA so they can sell below market value oil to the Trumped up Americans to generate wealth in the USA and for there supporters who hold shares in American refineries. The Alberta Conservatives are highly American influenced and are destroying the Alberta Advantage with their piss poor economic policies that reduce the wealth of Alberta for the benefit of the American controlled oil industry. It is time to crush this government and the American influence in Alberta politics.
If some moron Conservative wants to charge me for using cross country ski trails which I utilize to access the back country because they are in my way, they will have to pry the money out of my dead hands first.
If we lived in a real democracy, Albertans as a whole would determine if Albertans will pay fees in parks, not corrupt anti-democratic American influenced Conservatives.
Support the Legalization of Real Democracy where you are given a right to vote on government bills and introduce citizen-initiated legislation. This is how our skiing will be maintained at no cost for all no matter your income level. Real legalized democracy is what the real Alberta Advantage really looks like. The Advantage of People in control, not a corrupt government.
Make way for real democracy and continued free skiing.
Elpex Wasa 610 Roller Skis are in Great Shape with Salomon Profile SNS bindings.
I believe user pay is not the way to go for the cross country ski trails in Alberta.
The people who advocate for user pay likely are amongst the privileged. It is important to make sure that recreation opportunities such as these are available to all Albertans, not just the elite who can afford to pay.
Instead of user-pay, I advocate that the parks system claws back the privatization of Kananaskis country campgrounds, and then use that Revenue stream to pay for winter operations and enhance summer operations.
I have been told that other parks in Alberta have taken back the privatization of their campgrounds and turn use that revenue stream to pay for their winter operations.
The parks decision to stop grooming in Kananaskis country on the Nordic ski trails was hasty, ill-advised, and not thought out, very likely a similar case to the last time this decision was made when the manager actually lost their job over it.
This decision to stop grooming of the Nordic ski trails in Kananaskis country has happened before, and that decision was reversed eventually after a lot of public outcry.
Word on the ground is that parks and the Alberta Government and The Minister’s office don’t want to hear any more about this, that means the public pressure has been annoying which is good.
It is very important to keep up the public pressure especially to the MLA to Bounce Town more and to The Minister’s office as well as to other Ministries wish this effects such as tourism.
Research needs to be done through foil tape and other means, of the actual numbers of visitors in the winter to Canada asked his country for Nordic skiing.
It is my understanding there actually are not any demographic statistics of the above-mentioned aspects which if my information is accurate, that is a grave error of judgment on behalf of parks and the tourism Ministry of Alberta.
Hi bob, can you do a little story about those hayfield trails, where they are, how to get there, any trail map links, who grooms them etc. For if and when other facilities are unavailable next season. Always nice to check out a new location regardless.
Interesting and positive development, something will surely result. The fee based concept has made me curios about a scenario such as this: Let’s imagine that some backcountry skiers are heading into Mt Assiniboine or Bryant Creek shelter, and starting from the Mt Shark trailhead on AT skis. Would they be subject to the fee system? Conversely, would the fee system perhaps be a deterrent to people walking in the tracks and leaving post-holes? How would it affect the fat biker’s? (Personally, as an AT skier, I’d be more than happy to pay a fee even it it was just to facilitate the first part of my backcountry trip, and even happier to pay double if it discouraged the latter two groups).
Spray Lakes Sawmills recently released their 10 year logging plan for public input. It includes cutblocks that would cover almost all of Ranger Hill including every trail on the hill as well as large parts of Elbow and Snagmore, and another block that would cover most of the east slope of Moose Mountain. The input period ends July 21.
Here’s the GBCTA post about it:https://www.braggcreektrails.org/sls-public-input-2021-forest-management-plan/
and the ArcGis link showing the logging area.: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=a8a918bd3f564cf795c681d1aac49735
Does anybody know if people are associating to, privately, groom on PLPP? It could be in form of a concession or similar (similar to West Bragg Creek)? Thanks
Who can I contact or group who is advocating ski trail grooming in PLPP.
Evidently the trail was misnamed.
Ticks were active and plentiful up high on south Lawson today. Stood still at one point for only a minute while my friend changed his camera battery and had a half dozen running up my pant legs!
Someone should step up and give that cougar a lesson on trail etiquette.
I saw a cougar crossing Hwy 546 in Sandy Mcnabb between the visitor centre and the campground turnoff in October. They’re definitely out there…
Missed that. Thanks!
WOW, that is so cool, what a great sighting, congrats Alf!
Oh wow! Was out on a portion of bobcat trail also yesterday. No sighting, but maybe it saw me? Surprised enough to run into Alf on return, let alone a cougar! Thankfully the family with small child jumping about in mud puddles on Fullerton didn’t make it that far.
MORAINE LAKE ROAD – May 11
With continuing solid freezes overnight, skate skiing was the way to go today.
Details available in the captions here:
Get it before it goes isothermic!
Has any one gone out on the Smith Dorrien this week? Is the road still in good condition and does any one know if the trail to Rummel is open Thanks!
Nice AT Skiing pictures. Now that the Parks are opening, have things changed with respect to messaging with respect to possible calls for first responders from the Visitor Safety teams, or is it still unclear at the moment?
Elk Lakes Cabin, May 5
I’ve only been to PLPP a couple of times this season because skiing was so good at West Bragg. I hadn’t yet been up Blueberry Hill or Lookout this season, so that was my original plan today. I was the first car at the Elk Pass trailhead at 1030 when I set out on my fishscale light touring skis. Temperature was +4C on departure with sunny skies. There was good snow coverage right from the parking lot, although it was a bit dirty with scattered pine needles. The crust was just beginning to soften up, which gave me a bit of grip, but I had to herringbone up the steep hill. As the snow softened, the grip improved and was great for ascending Blueberry Hill. It was even soft enough for a safe descent. I continued on toward Elk Pass, but then decided to head over to Elk Lakes Cabin first in order to make better use of the light touring skis. I took the West Elk Pass route. The snow was getting close to isothermal by the time I reached the Cabin, so I quickly headed up the power line to East Elk Pass, where I met a pair of hikers and their dog. I was going to continue on to Tyrwhitt and Lookout but due to a wardrobe malfunction (wrong sock combo) I had developed some hot spots on my heels and decided to head back to the car. I passed another pair of hikers at the Blueberry Hill junction, but not a single other skier all day. I took the Fox Creek / Boulton Creek detour on the way back. About +10C when I arrived back at the car. I think this was the latest date I’ve ever skied at PLPP, and it looks like the snow will be good there for at least another week. Photos at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1m1RXb7rqM-6FEFMn_ATOur-rXNP2sc3i. To view the photo descriptions, double-click on the first photo, then select “Details” from the menu at the top right corner.
Smith-Dorrien still has lots of snow!
At 8:30 this morning, the Chester Lake parking lot was closed, but the Burstall Pass lot was full to overflowing. While I was getting ready, a bus arrived. Okay it was a small bus, but still……??
As it turned out there were dozens and dozens of skate skiers on the trails. It was nice and cold, and there was superb crust skiing on and around Mud Lake. Maybe I should have stayed there, but I ventured up past Burstall Lakes into the Robertson Glacier valley, and was quite surprised to see lots of skate skiers up there. They went further than I did, right up onto what I guess is the terminal moraine?
As usual, by 10 am the sun was getting very hot and snow softening, but the hardy skate skiers kept doing laps up there. I found the descent occasionally challenging with alternating sun and shade, and met some backcountry skiers and hikers with dogs heading up in the late morning.
Great shot of Assinboine! And lucky enough to catch a Harlequin too.
BRYANT CREEK WARDEN CABIN – May 2
Excellent travel conditions today, and yet I did not see anybody else all day (despite it being the first day with Covid-19 access restrictions lifted by the province).
Details available in the captions here:
Get it before the snow goes isothermic.
Nakiska looked like it would have provided good corn skiing today from across the valley. More snow on the ground than usual for this a time of year. Spikes came in handy descending. A view of Barrier damn parking from above showed it overflowing onto Hwy 40 mid day as the larger upper parking area was gated. Conservation officers doing the rounds of the parking lots.
PLPP May 2. Parked at Boulton Bridge – Boulton Creek parking lot access is closed. Up Whiskey Jack, down Packers, out Moraine and back on Boulton Creek. Good snow coverage except for some short bare sections on Moraine near the bench and on the first hill leaving the parking lot. Travel conditions were reasonable with recent snowmobile traffic – looks like parks staff were changing over the winter signs.
My objective on the first day of the reopening of access to Parks and Public Lands was to check out conditions in the Kananaskis and Smith-Dorrien valleys. We encountered a seemingly random mix of taped off / barricaded parking lots and others that were open. Sawmill was open, with only one vehicle in the parking lot (Aqua toque?), so we decided to start from there. The Sawmill trails still have lots of snow and the surface was smooth and firm from several freeze-thaw cycles. Later, there was a nice corn-snow consistency, before becoming softer and stickier later in the afternoon. We even got some brief snow flurries. https://photos.app.goo.gl/NdmHhhGpmrefdK4d9
By the time we drove home, all the barricades and closure signs had been removed.
The Pocaterra end of the PLPP trails still have very good snow coverage, so I bet it’s quite good at the Elk Pass end. It also looked as if the higher Ribbon Creek trails are still snow covered, but the lower trails have thin or bare sections in sun exposed areas.
We drove back via Highway #68 and noticed that the south facing slopes on the north side of the road were mostly snow free and actually quite dry.
Anyhow, it’s great to be able to enjoy active, healthy outdoor activity, with plenty of space for physical distancing in our spectacular parks!
Phase 1 Day 1 woohoo
GordF, pics will address your query from other thread.
Not wanting to stress the system, we didn’t get too adventurous.
Found lots of pretty great corn, and actually the big north facing slopes didn’t look to be in their prime anywho.
CANMORE NORDIC CENTRE – May 1
We got there a little too early to avoid the barricade, but the skiing was as good as it has been all along. Barricade was down by the time we we were done. Poor staff had not been given the message!
Details available in the captions here:
What exhilaration… like being let out of school early!
Maybe some spring skiing options from high parking lots close to divide with AT gear, especially if BNP opens. Timing might make for some busy places in Kananaskis as the melt slowly peels open the dryer options. Significant potential for roll backs depending on use and users.
Hi Bob, yes, such great news! If you go to the actual provincial website, it states May 1 for vehicle access to parks. It also states that “no washrooms or garbage pickup will be available within provincial parks at this time. These services will be available as soon as Alberta Environment and Parks brings staff back.” With hope, people will behave responsibly and leave no trace.
Thanks, Kinga. I’ve updated my story with the link you provided. -Bob
Hey! Help needed if you want to advocate for K Country grooming and tracksetting. People who have the time to do a bunch of research to confirm/fact check information I have from a Parks staffer that it is financially feasable for Parks to keep up services as they are…er…were last winter.
Email me if you’re interested via loftsuiteATyahooDOTca
I have NO time for this, as I have COVID priorities.
BIG meeting this week about it with the MLA for Banff Canmore.
I can pass the info to at least one person attending.
Four turns! Better than zero.
Right you are Sid! I’ve been out on the bike quite a bit lately, mostly on city pathways in the NW, which are far busier than normal. Funny (actually, not!) how the powers that be think that squeezing city dwellers into tighter spaces is a better strategy, than having at least a proportion of them spread out in our so-called public lands.
On a positive note- two sure signs of spring yesterday: I rode comfortably in shorts, and spotted my first crocus of the year on a sunny Bowmont park hillside.
Yep. On a plus note, the bike riding season is afoot (-:
It’s time to isolate the vulnerable, and let the rest get back to work(and go camping).
Got some nice quaranturns in the backyard a couple days ago.
You did leave a trail of bread crumbs and I found it easily! Yup. Nice secret.
After walking up the Smith Dorrien from Canmore we skied Goat Creek to Banff today. Considering it’s April 13 conditions were actually quite reasonable. About 4-5cm of new snow. The glide was good, the grip not so much.
Emminently skiable snow at Confederation this morning.
Maybe 10 other skiers.
And we saw a horned owl.
That question is not from me!!
Hello, where are Hayfield trails? Thank you!
The snow at Confederation Golf Course was actually quite good this morning Just starting to turn a bit slushy at 2:00. Beats daytime TV. Maybe the last time out this year, but in Calgary, there are no assurances for April weather.
A brutal melt/freeze crust in Creekerland meant the skis stayed on the porch today.
Two brave warriors were observed near the summit of Patio Mountain engaging our global invisible enemy.
Glad you found somewhere to ski.
Cycling is about the only thing keeping me sane and not becoming obese and asthmatic.
Sorry for taking up so much space, but upon thinking about the sign more I realized what is happening is that if people persist in hanging out in the parking lot or on the beach, then all ocean access will be denied starting Tuesday April 7, which I suppose is analogous to what happened here for ski access.
I wish we could adopt for skiing the approach for surfing being used in Maui where surfing is viewed as essential to life. Hanging out in the parking lot or on the beach is prohibited but one can go directly into the ocean and directly home. Of course this doesn’t address the matter of potential injuries but I guess they decided to accept the risk. See photo of sign in surf report:
Doug, I’ve uploaded the sign Surfing Rules sign -Bob
I like this quote from Fridtjof Nansen:
“You are one with your skis and nature. This is something that develops not only the body but the soul as well, and it has a deeper meaning for a people than most of us perceive.”
(aka aqua toque)
Yeah, I’m fortunate enough to have had a base out here in the sticks since ’02 but I must say, this is the first time I’ve ever gone looking for and found turns right off the deck. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Nice one bob. Seems like a goood place so looking forward to more details next season (only 7 months away!). Enjoyed the outdoor council reference, especially the immunity and exercise link. Gotta keep moving to combat uncooperative joints.
I am looking for size 8 or 8.5 boots for my daughter. She has Salomon bindings. Please contact me if any available!
Sat apr 4: river bank skiing
Accessible valley bottom terrain had just enough snow for a short shuffle this morning. Boots probably would have been better though. Beautiful day regardless and much needed.
Thanks for all your hard work! We had a great winter!
Thanks for all the tracks, they were awesome!!
Can anyone tell where I can access the bear and pylon video that was featured Wednesday morning? Much obliged
Here’s the link. -Bob
Not so fast. With our vehicles parked in the garage we did something we have never done before. Grabbing our skis, we headed out back behind our house to the undisclosed river that always looks so innocent while frozen at this time of year. Never mind the 6 ft. social distancing in effect, after a week of total incarceration, (self inflicted), my beloved kept at least a half kilometer ahead of me, such was his joy in being outdoors. Not a sole around, cold, crisp, new fallen snow, and beautiful sunshine, I can honestly say that this was my best ski this year. May just have been that I thought it was all over but today’s gift of skiing was wonderful.
Thanks for all the great grooming this season!!
Thank you so much – you will be missed greatly.
To all the groomers – Thanks for the great work you tirelessly do at all hours of the day to bring enjoyment to so many people!
WHat a lovely way to end the season by thanking the tireless workers who have made this season such a joy for us all. Thank you so very much, tracksetters!??????
And now it is time to shut down the trip reports as well. At the risk of being ‘preachy’, it is the only responsible thing to do. People who continue to try and find loopholes and flout the directives that are out there are encouraging others to do the same. To take the position that you are not the problem is to not understand the insidious nature of this virus. ANYONE can potentially be an unwitting carrier.
PLEASE shut down for the season. When people read that very popular bloggers on your site have found yet another place to ski, it can indeed encourage irresponsible behaviour on the part of others.
Be a leader in this and let’s all enjoy running up and down our stairs at home.
This is a great post to see Bob. I’m extremely grateful for the work the groomers do at all hours of the day to keep the tracks in great condition. They all deserve a BIG THANK YOU!!
Many thanks to everyone who works so hard to give us safe trails to ski on!
Too bad a bunch of them are about to lose their jobs.
So much for Parks supposedly looking for someone else to groom the trails! Snowmobile tracks are hardly groomed ski trails. Looks like Jason Nixon is advancing his pro-ATV agenda.
Wed apr 1: an exploratory attempt to ski Kananaskis.
Despite a parking area outside provincial parkland and formal trails accessible from that location and officially listed as open (with no note of “trailhead parking closed”, unlike most trails), no access available. Worth checking regardless. Would have been a fantastic workout for the lungs, legs and mind. So back to finishing work on the “ski bow” to entertain myself with some element of “skiing” while hoping for a dump in town.
As one of the groomers out in WBC I would like to thank all you skiers,snowshoers, fatbikers and snow sport affectionados for your support and enthusiasm. Without all your smiles, waves, hugs (pre covid) and occasional cookies we wouldn’t be able to do this. It’s pleasure to groom those trails and see all the use we got and all the fun we can bring. It was our best year ever and it shows what we can do. Hopefully we can continue to groom the trails and bring enjoyment to thousands of snow folk.
I am away at work and I missed the end of the season but I’ll be back next year to do it all again!!
Thanks to Alf and Chuck for concluding a fun season of sharing your great trips and landscapes with the rest of the world. It’s great to see Cheryl have the last laugh, though she could catch a cold in that outfit.
I look forward to all of your reports next year which will keep at least one easterner partly sane.
So, here’s to more of:
– Chuck and Jeannette’s adventures
– Martin’s couches
– Helen’s cookies
– Normand seeking Shadow Lake at least one more time
– Steve’s great photos
– tree snow monsters
– Alf being Alf
For some reason I couldn’t get it to work by clicking play directly above. Copying and pasting the link into my browser worked fine.
In trail news- a “semi-reliable” source told me that parks have been in discussion with snowmobile groups, who for many years have apparently been coveting access to BC over Elk Pass, rather than the long drive around via Elkford. The idea is that opening up the soon to be underused PLPP trails to snow-mo’s would work to groom the trails as well. Win-win!
Somewhere in non-park Kananaskis
Before anyone gets too preachy… this report is from last week, before Alberta Parks were closed down. I just wanted to add the report before March ends and we move into April. All skiers arrived in separate vehicles and practiced social distancing throughout the day.
This remarkable snow season provided a rare opportunity to explore some areas in the foothills that are not normally considered as ski terrain. Starting from an undisclosed point in the Elbow Valley, we connected a few summer trails, a power line and a bunch of logging cut blocks for a nice day of touring and powder skiing. https://photos.app.goo.gl/8wFDzdkBrN6huS8T7
Who knows when we will see another ski season like this one?
Thanks for increadible dedication to this great website/blog of yours, Bob. Have a nice summer, and stay safe and healthy.
SOMEWHERE in BNP – March 31
Swore I wouldn’t post any more trip reports, but today was too remarkable!
No captions necessary for this link:
Apologies to all skiers who thought they were going to be featured on SkierBob today.
Thanks for the site Bob it’s much appreciated in the community. What a great season, looking forward to some biking now we can’t ski. Nice shots Steve!
Yes, despite the early closing, it was one of the best. Certainly at WBC, which we skied so often that we rarely went anywhere else to xc ski. Piper the retriever would agree!
With all the great skiing close to home- we didn’t do as much local backcountry either- I’m missing those longer alpine and glacier tours that usually get done in March and April. We were lucky though, to get in two weeks of amazing skiing at the Campbell Icefield Chalet, NW of Golden B.C. Our usual mid-February trip, with a group of friends (which included several other SkiHere! reporters), had an unbeatable combination of skiing and weather:
Pity we can’t take advantage of this late season snowfall today.
Thank you Bob for all you do and add to our lives.
Skied the Nordic Centre today. Considering there’s no grooming the “skier set” tracks-what with the recent 3-4cm snowfall -were all in pretty good shape.
First I want to say that I’m old guy from a very communist country.
And I’m amazed how something like a virus can make people so nasty to each other. Chuck you are my hero. You did nothing wrong. And to rest of you I say don’t be afraid.
Found: hat on Boulton Creek trail on the evening of March 27th. Now that all areas are closed I am not sure where to turn it in for lost and found. Any ideas? If it is yours please contact me.
A question for folks in banff, Canmore, kananaskis, Bragg, etc: Noticing any changes in animal behaviour/habitat expansion with less human presence and activity? An interesting time to learn something (other than ski conditions) and stave off the boredom a bit.
Is there something about “all vehicular access to provincial parks is prohibited” that’s confusing? You realize these precautions are in place FOR YOU, older people? This attitude of the rules not applying to you is pretty selfish and disappointing. If everyone disregarded the rules it would be mayhem…totally irresponsible.
Was in the area same day, skiing back to the car along fox creek (between Patterson and north hydroline junction) on the right of the downhill ski track (on AT gear) as the tracks were a little tight together. I was struck by size of the banks having skied right beside them, only inches away and being careful not to hit a blob. A bit droopy, overhanging and with icicles given the large snow pack and the heat of spring. The tops of the banks were at shoulder and head height. I don’t recall experiencing that amount of snow before, or just never noticed it on a spring day with track skis.
Where can I sign the petition for continuing grooming in PLPP, Mt Shark and Ribbon Ck?
Thanks very much,
If anyone knows of a petition, please leave a comment and a link. -Bob
Bob or for anyone who has answers! 2 questions for you, when you headed out for the last ski, did you check the grooming report? I was at Pocceterra because some trails around were the latest to be groomed in PLPP. I left Calgary around 1pm and checked the grooming report but nothing popped as groomed on the 26 or 27. I wish I had done blueberry instead but still nice to get out since it’s all closed. 2. What wax did you use? I did a poor mans purple wax (some blue and some red) but it wasn’t gripping all that well and then it would clump up after every herringbone.
I don’t know if anyone else noticed the excerpt below, found at the bottom of the final live grooming update from PLPP:
“While the first few months of 2020 have challenged Alberta’s Cross-Country Skiing Community, we appreciate your continued support and hope to see you out on the trails again in the future.
Please practice social distancing and stay safe everyone. If you have any thoughts or photographs to share, we will happily receive them at the following email address: email@example.com“
Worth letting them know how much we appreciate the grooming.
Not a trip report, but I thought I would post a copy of the form letter response that I received this past week, to a constructively worded email sent to Jason Nixon’s office on March 3 regarding the grooming changes. Clearly the government has many things to be preoccupied with these days, but I was disappointed (but not really surprised) that the reply did not address any of my specific concerns and was a boilerplate simply drafted by a Comms/PR person, and sent out to everyone who bothered to write in about concerns with Parks changes.
Thank you for your email about the recent announcement on restructuring the Alberta Parks system.
Our government is committed to a common sense conservation plan that will balance environmental concerns, recreation and economic opportunities in our province. As part of this commitment, it is important for Alberta Parks to find efficient ways to manage its system to meet this balance and help get our province’s spending under control.
This announcement impacts 0.3 per cent of the total Alberta Provincial Parks area. Environment and Parks used a number of metrics in selecting locations where we are currently seeking partnerships or making closures, including overall recreation, tourism and conservation value, and, utilization.
Our intention is to modernize our approach for how parks are managed and to challenge a long-held assumption that all parks must be managed by government employees. As noted in our platform, tens of thousands of volunteers across Alberta work every day to protect our natural environment.
Beginning fall 2020, government staff will no longer groom cross-country tracks in the Peter Lougheed, Mt. Shark and Kananaskis Village area of Kananaskis Region. Grooming will continue to occur at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Track-setting will also continue to occur in the West Bragg Creek area, done by the West Bragg Creek Trails Association.
My department will commence a process to explore management partnerships so that our parks can continue to provide important economic and recreational benefits to local communities. This will include expanding our partnerships for services like track setting. Government is committed to building a process that takes into account capacity support for partners.
Environmental stewardship and economic development go hand in hand. We’ve seen this exemplified in the province’s strong history of partnerships between government and volunteer, non-profit, municipal and First Nations groups in the management of our shared natural spaces. Our government is not in the practice of pitting groups against each other using lands planning as a political wedge – we want to create productive partnerships that will benefit our air, land, water and biodiversity and strengthen our economy and create opportunity for Albertans.
We are looking at these changes because we want our parks system to work for the largest number of Albertans possible, but we are also responsible to Alberta taxpayers. Albertans are doing more with less – we need to follow their lead.
For the most up-to-date information regarding changes to Alberta Parks, and to sign up to receive updates on the partnership process, please visit https://albertaparks.ca/news-events.
Minister of Environment and Parks
Bob, apologies if I’ve missed it elsewhere but has anyone organized a petition of support and/or plan to privately fund track setting next year? I would happily donate to such a cause. This resource is too valuable to lose! Thanks, Shawn
Writing to the Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon, and your MLA, is about all that can be done right now. -Bob
Great news! I had tossed Chickadee Valley out with the bath water. Guilty.
Back on the list. Thank you.
I read about a family in Italy being allowed to walk 100 metres from their home and that’s it. We should count our blessings.
That’s a lovely photo of Briony and Lyen. I don’t know them from Adam, but wow.
P.S. My last ski (last Sunday) was the Moose Loop/Mountain Road/Crystal Line West and East (East was a beeatch, being tired and with slippery skis) loop. Still a Grand Day Out, mind you.
I didn’t identify the last one – is that Whiskey Jack coming down through the campground …?
It’s Moraine at the Whiskey Jack junction. -Bob
The Crag & Canyon article with the suggestion that visitors “may access front country, backcountry and accessible green spaces, but are responsible for their own safety” sounds enticing, but really requires clarification directly from Parks Canada. Otherwise we skiers are left in the grey zone as what we’re still allowed to do.
Hi Bob. Love your blog and thank you for being such a central and objective voice for the outdoor community. Why do you say possibly forever??? I’m kicking myself for not getting out more this past glorious winter and if this pandemic teaches us anything it will be not to take what we have for granted. I had just found a pair of waxless skis for my husband and was so looking forward to getting out today. But of course we don’t own a helicopter and can’t get to the trails. I’m hoping we can convince our government the importance of connecting with the outdoors. I know economically it will be a challenge but one silver lining from all of this will be the recognition of importance of connecting with nature…and the ability to get people out in a way that is affordable. Hope all is well.
1 and 2 are on Whiskey Jack
4 is looking down Pocaterra from the Pocaterra-Whisky Jack junction
5 is at the North Lookout/Pocaterra/Tyrwhitt junction
6 is looking back down Pocaterra from said junction
7 is just entering the meadows on Tyrwhitt
8 is looking back to the entrance to the meadows on Tyrwhitt
9 is my favourite picnic table near the end of Tyrwhitt
10 is Elk Pass looking towards Mt Tyrwhitt
11, 13 and 14 are Elk Pass along Fox Creek
12 is the start of Blueberry Hill with a nice view of Mt Fox
15 is Boulton Creek?
The south end PLPP trails are my favourite ski trails and I’m really sad to see them go. There’s something indescribably magical about those secluded snow-covered subalpine forests. I always have the sense when I’m skiing there that it can’t quite be real.
All correct. I thought the Boulton Creek photo might be a tough one. Since there’s only one left, #16 is Moraine at the Whiskey Jack junction. -Bob
People have a tendency to express their restricted sense of agency in different ways.
Now, more than ever, the benefits of exercise are incredibly important, including mental health.
Thankfully, this has not gone unrecognized by some policymakers. In the UK, where enforcement of social distancing is now being strictly enforced by the police. The recognition of the importance of exercise and ‘getting out’ is reflected in the policy that allows people to go out for exercise once a day, even in dense urban areas.
It seems that the motivation for the subsequent policy closing provincial and national parks is not to prevent solitary x-country skiers, but instead to get ahead of the peak season that sees thousands of people hanging out in the recreation areas near large parking lots and the risks that that traffic creates for communities such Canmore . It’s understandable, but unfortunate that this has had the side effect of removing a very low risk option for personal exercise and introspection.
Whether we choose to come out the other side of this as a society of responsible individuals who look out for one another a little more, or a society of tin pot tyrants, is up to us.
So, Chuck, ignore the detractors. You were doing nothing wrong and risking the health of nobody.
Well it looks like our ski season has officially closed for most of us and what a great season it was. Thanks to Bob for his wonderful site that keeps us all informed and connected and of course our amazing groomers both volunteer and paid. We did venture for one more ski at CNC early this morning. The parking entrance was indeed closed with big concrete blocks. ( done by the Province I suppose).We parked in Quarry Lake parking lot and walked toting our skis and boots. We enjoyed a lovely classic ski although a bit icy. We encountered many people arriving with skis in tow looking like this was the norm. True skiers at heart ( even saw a biker with skis strapped on his bike.) Wishing good health to all. Now time to write my letters re tracksetting in K country next year.
Yes thanks to Bob for this wonderful resource, to the groomers for their unequivocal efforts and to all the people who posted reports and pictures. It was a great season which unfortunately ended on a sad note. Let’s wish for a positive outcome to all the obstacles in our way and that rational thought and action prevails in the new world order.
Thanks for the great insights Bob!
Jeremy – you comments are completely misplaced and you are playing into media sensationalism. Please get off your high horse. We are all following AHS guidelines and will continue to do that. There are a few bad apples out there like any cross section of a population. Rules and laws need to be enforced, but don’t paint everyone with that brush. I was out in PLPP last weekend and the vast majority of the people I saw were genuinely out for exercise, spending time with immediate family and following the social distancing guidelines. Unfortunately as these closures continue we confine people into smaller and smaller areas.
In a time like this exercise is critical. Mental health and the perpetuation of fear are real problems.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with individuals getting out and getting exercise in a responsible manner while following AHS guidelines, no one should be shamed for this.
Taiwan, South Korea, etc. are great examples of what can be done with a little common sense and some basic protocols. (BTW – both these countries have significantly denser populations than Canada)
Contrary to what you may believe it’s not necessary to lock yourself in your basement…
Brad’s admittance was still appreciated, nonetheless.
Chuck thanks for the inspirational trips reports and photos all season. You do a great job of getting off the beaten path to show us places further into the backcountry. Good to see you are still getting out as this activity doesn’t pose a risk to anyone.
Potential unintended Kananaskis consequences: 1) carpooling drop offs when people were driving solo before; 2) people going for a “drive” and if they can’t pull into gated parking lots to turn around, u-turns on roadways, random roadside stopping, etc., like peak summer tourism in banff kind of mayhem; 3) people driving further to ski with no place to stay overnight and driving home tired in the dark; 4) parking overload on adjacent roadways/neighbourhoods (and a stay out of my hood/park response, fish creek for example); 5) concentration of people in municipal parks; 6) people living/working in parks accessing trails and getting slammed for it; 7) more police/CO/peace officer resources necessary to manage the above.
Thanks Bob for all your work in keeping this ski community connected. It was a great year!
And a word of special thanks to all the track setters. They did a remarkable job with all the snow this year. I sincerely hope we will see them back on the job next winter.
I was listening to Jason Nixon at his news conference and he stated that the trails are still open just the access point facilities and parking areas are closed. He said you could still access the trails if you have someone drop you off near the trailhead. Did anyone else hear this?
Good question, Tom. I believe there’s some truth to this. I talked to the head groomer from Canmore and she said the CNC trails are still open but you would have to walk or, as you said, get someone to drop you off at the nearest point that’s accessible. I don’t know where Hwy #40 will be closed, if at all. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow. -Bob
Sigh- was at PLPP yesterday. It was beautiful and we saw only 6 other people the entire time. This keeps me sane, it’s perfectly safe when used responsibly. Any chance you can suggest any xc trails that might still be accessible without prov. park road access? Here’s hoping.
Great to see you out there tonight Bob! Hope you enjoyed the rest of your ski. Conditions were spectacular, if that’s our last ski for the season we have gone out on a beauty! Grateful for what we have been able to enjoy this season and am looking forward to the next with optimism.
Fyi: Prov. park roads now closed – I’m not sure which exactly though. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/provincial-parks-deena-hinshaw-jason-kenney-banff-jasper-1.5513246
Everthing in Banff and all other National Parks are closed. As Stated by parks:
All parking lots, vehicle services, trails, washrooms, day use facilities, showers, visitor centres, and all camping facilities, including oTENTiks, yurts and backcountry camping, are closed until further notice.
Chuck has shared so much with all of us this entire season! He is a fine person and the opposite of selfish. The entrance to Boom Lake was not in the list of prohibited areas if you read the details. Please apologize to Chuck so he continues to post next season.
Provincial Parks and Public Lands CLOSED. “If a car is required to access a park or recreation area, do not go. Please do not leave vehicles on the side of the road or on private property. Walking, hiking, biking, horseback riding and off-highway vehicle use are still permitted on designated trails and users are reminded to practice physical distancing”. If you don’t live on the boundary of a park, you can’t go right? And why the exemption for OHV? Is the rationale they can drive “beyond” the crowded parking lot and stay isolated?
Fri mar 27: elk pass
-5 at 730, +1 on return at 2. Fast travel on AT gear (wax) given the fresh corduroy this morning. After some safe backcountry skinning in dry snow on north aspect, zipped over to west elk pass and the couch for one last sit. Reasonably light winds at treeline and west elk pass, plus a bit of sun, made for a nice day, not realizing at the time it may be the last of the season. On return a couple of ladies were contemplating to go up blueberry. conditions were good and might not get to again for a while. Turned out to be the right choice.
Still not sure if things are really closed (although I haven’t dug through official material yet), cars only, or just not recommended. No real clarity. Sounds like it’s open to people who live there and are already there, but no external visitors.
Was a good season, but sure wish I could do more as it’s very easy to be safe and completely isolate without leaving a trace other than tracks in the snow. Should have gone and camped for a couple weeks solo in the middle of nowhere if I could be certain the car would still be there. Oh well.
No sign of any road or parking lot closure on return up highway 40 at 3pm
Just returned from skiing in PLPP. It was lovely but we have just learned that they literally closed the gates behind us. K-country now closed. You cannot drive into the area. We saw lots of vehicles leaving Mt. Kidd as the signage now says “Closed until May”.
Take only pictures, leave only footprints (or ski tracks).
Now is not the time to be posting trip reports, or on social media, about areas with questionable legal access for 99.99% of us.
Lets all be responsible and adhere to the requests.The more we do now, the sooner we can get back to doing what we love.
Lots of rumors about the Canmore Nordic Centre closing at midnight March 27.
However, after skiing there all week, including today, there is no notification of this closure anywhere – not on the reader board as you enter the area, not on the website nor any physical notices at the trail head.
I think it would be a serious mistake to close without notice as there will be hundreds of skiers going to CNC on the weekend expecting to ski. Everyone on the trails this week have been social distancing and very respectful. I drive out alone, park, ski and drive home and do not go into the town at all. the trails care in excellent condition and the grooming has been great.
Can this rumor be confirmed??
Evan-Thomas – Wedge – Bill Milne Loop
The grooming was still in very good shape this morning and we had a delightful ski around this loop! There is a bit of tree debris but nothing too serious. That might change if the winds come up this afternoon.
The worst bit was walking down to the bridge over Evan-Thomas Creek, as the trail was rather icy and tricky in ski boots.
I’m so glad they got in one last grooming pass here, pity about the rest of Ribbon Creek system.
I heard that Peter Lockheed is no longer
track setting as of yesterday
is this true?
We skied yesterday (March 26) from Bolton Campground. Whiskey jack to Thyrwitt then Hydro-line, Fox creekm Moraine and back to Bolton. Fox Creek was outstanding!! I had never seen the snow so fluffy!! We passed a guy who was grinning ear to ear and he said it was only his 2nd time on skies. He stated, “This is magical!” I thought to myself, he’ll be back!! The grooming was perfect, snow was excellent. The sun was shining and the wind only howled on the hydro-line. I truly believe that someone will take over the grooming of these exceptional trails next year!!! Go out and enjoy it friends!!!! Lisa
PLPP: Started at Boulton Bridge at noon and did a very fun loop that ended with the sweet downhill of Whiskey Jack all the way to the parking lot. Snow was great with our waxless skis and while most of the trails we hit weren’t recently track-set, there were lots of skier tracks and we felt so happy and grateful to be moving and enjoying such a special place. I hope this wasn’t the last time we get to ski in our favourite park (my late father taught me to ski in PLPP when I was just a toddler 30 years ago!).
Yesterday I attempted to complete the Nordic Centre trail system. Came up a little short finished with 55km. Will be planning to try again next week. Finished the day yesterday with Olympic and Centennial next time will definitely do them first to get that climbing done. Cougar is a new favourite trail. Conditions were nice a little sticky in the afternoon sun then a couple of small icy sections later in the day.
Seeing Alf’s recent pictures of the “big south meadow” off Mountain Road at WBC, and then looking at satellite images, had me plotting an on and off trail loop between the two Mountainviews. It worked out very well, with mostly easy travel off-trail with not a lot of wallowing, on 60 waisted mm metal edged light touring skis, combined with NNN-BC boots. Starting a bit after 11:00 with an air temp of around plus 1, the xc trails were still in fine shape. Swix VR 50 worked decently for the whole loop, other than at a couple of really sunny spots along MV West. There was still dry snow to be found on the more sheltered core trails on my return at 2:00, but also some wetter snow that will be icy in the morning. The only glitch in the plan was in the section between the end of the big south meadow, and the logging road connector to Mountain Road. On the satellite image, it looks pretty open and straightforward, and is- from a routefinding standpoint. But- there is a few hundred metre stretch mid-way along that featured a fair bit of meandering around though willows and bush, some wallowing, and a couple of thankfully still frozen creek crossings. Other than that- very enjoyable skiing for the whole loop. The northern connecting route between MV West and Mountain Road via a cutblock, an old road and the “north meadow” was simple to follow, with easy skiing and increasing amounts of ski tracking the closer I got to Mountain Road. The route, below:
I too will be very sad if these trails are not groomed next winter.
BOOM LAKE – March 26
Having not skied to the end of the lake this year, thought we better squeeze in a trip!
Details available in the captions here:
Eerily quiet in BNP.
WBC – a chilly -13C at 8:45am, skied Mountain road / view west, Moose loop (CCW), back on Mountain View west / road and back to the parking lot on West Crystal.
Excellent glide and good conditions for the seasons. Used a mix of Swix V40 and V45.
Have a good spring / summer and many thanks to Bob for maintaining this website of his empire!
PLPP – Elk Pass
It sounds like everyone else had a better time yesterday! I expected colder snow and used blue wax, but experienced extreme stickiness and stopped every 100 yards to scrape off huge clumps. It was very slow and tiring! Lots of fresh snow on the trails, maybe 10 to 15 cm?
Still a lovely sunny day, and having been deprived much of the winter it was good, even necessary, for my physical and especially mental health to get out there! I saw around 20 other skiers, mostly practising good distancing, and the others, well maybe they are roommates?
WBC: Still very good conditions on skier set tracks. Sundog/Elbow to Allen Bill, return via Iron Springs loop. Rode Green -4/-10 gave good grip on outbound leg, Holmenkol -6/-1 adequate grip with “armstrong” on return. You’ll need warmer wax tomorrow, or waxless/skin skis. Saw one skater , but it’s hard work pushing fairly deep, churned up snow. Parking lots half full at 11 am, 1/4 by 3 pm, almost all cars nicely spaced apart.
I skied a loop with my son around PLPP today on Amos, Moraine, Boulton, And Wheeler, and the snow was fabulous! We had warm sun but cold snow. We broke trail on Moraine through 10cm of fresh snow and still weren’t clumping! Yay for waxless skis!
Everything we skied had been skier tracked with no recent grooming since the last snow
It was easy to practice social distancing today and 90% of the other trail users were also being responsible. We saw several people skiing alone, a few couples out, and a few groups skiing with at least a 1-minute gap between each person.
Reminder that carpooling is not social distancing, nor is skiing side by side with friends you don’t live with. If you are not comfortable driving out alone or skiing alone, you might want to wait till next winter to get out skiing again. Many of us are scared we’ll lose access to Alberta’s parks soon so we all need to work together. ?
PLPP Whiskey Jack, Pocaterra and Wheeler
Wonderful sunny blue wax day. Both Boulton and Elkwood parking were about half full and there was plenty of room for social distancing. We had skier set tracks except for Whiskey Jack where we put down tracks on 20 cm of new snow. When we got to Lookout junction we started to clump up so we returned down Whiskey Jack on powder. You have to see the pictures to appreciate how great it was. We also met a famous local on the trail who gave us permission to post her picture.
Thanks for the remarkable photos! -Bob
These photos bring back fond memories as I sit at home in 14 day mandatory isolation after returning from out of the country. I was so fortunate to be able to ski on those winter wonderland trails. Those images will stay with me for a long time!
Many thanks for sharing Bob.
Wed mar 25:
Excellent cold fresh snow at treeline (20cm?) and below on north east aspect at an undisclosed Kananaskis location. Complete isolation with an early start and an obscure spot on a weekday in safe touring terrain. If it was the last of the season, a good one, might just sustain me.
Put the skis and ski rack away today, looking forward to a great season next year. Thanks to Skierbob for all the information and comments that helped us have a wonderful time skiing this year. These senior ladies are great examples of what healthy exercise skiing can be. Can’t wait for next winter.
CANMORE NORDIC CENTRE – March 25
Thanks Canmorites for the warm welcome to your amazing trail system today, while maintaining a responsible social distance.
Details available in the captions here:
Glad to still be able to get some fresh air and exercise, for my mental health.
A skiff of new snow overnight made for a great ski day, as it covered the icy tracks. We normally ski the north side, but opted to ski only on the south side as it is less hilly. Conditions were fast, and we sailed along on minor downhill slopes. Did not meet any skiers on the trails, met two skiers back at the parking lot, had a chat while maintaining physical distance. Due to the intensity of the sun, the snow got soft around noon, so we packed it in, after having tea and lunch while sitting on a log in the trees. Had a marvellous day in the beautiful Sheep River Valley.
I know that next season is a ways off and most of us are staying indoors… but maybe this is the ideal time to start thinking about how we can set up a volunteer organization to keep cross country skiing going in Kananaskis next winter?
We have access to some world class cross-country space in the mountains here. And there is no reason we need to rely on the government for providing this service for us when they will have soooo many other more important things to take care of.
Is anyone collecting the names of people interested in volunteering?? Please add me to the list if you are. Here is my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to travel for XC skiing in Complete Safety.
My work can involve disease control in plants, poisons, disinfectants, pesticides and extreme corrosives. A trace mishandling of some of this stuff causes instant damage.
-sick coughing infectious people won’t be in the car going skiing.
-to refuel, dedicate a hand to touching your credit card, touching nothing else with it. Take your gloves off right before you enter the car.
-while your otherwise staying at home; Time at temperature are automatic thorough viral disinfectants. Sunlight through the glass won’t reliably kill viruses but it will heat your car.
Re-West Bragg Creek stopped Grooming.
The safest place to be is romping in the woods and in our cars getting there. Same for the groomers.
Thanks to a reckless and long over due federal boarder policy, we have a million a week returning of high infection rate people going home to infect their house holds, making the scary new case numbers.
“Canadians aren’t getting the message to stay at home” is to imply it’s domestic spread causing much of the frightening amount of new cases, and that it’s our fault not theirs. These things aren’t true.
I’m with you on this, Bob. Kudos to those who have posted their opposing views here without resorting to the near hysteria and shaming that I have seen on some social media. Jeremy’s post in Trip Reports is especially thoughtful.
Yesterday at WBC, we parked well away from others, saw about 10 skiers out on the trails, everyone was careful to keep their distance. Only stop coming and going was for fuel on the way home- self serve with gloves on, sanitized before and after, at a nearly deserted co-op gas station. Being pretty much retired now- we have the luxury of going out in off-peak times, and will not be using the popular trailheads during busier periods.
By contrast- we walked the dog for a hour and a half in Bowmont Park this morning, encountering at least 40 others, but here too, everyone was keeping to at least the prescribed distancing.
Since you are quoting Dr. Hinshaw, she also recommended against travel to the provincial parks, or travel at all. We may be safe from the virus on the trails, but if anything happens to someone, on the trail, or on the road, we are adding stress the health care system. I had a close call on the road just last week, merging off of Three Sisters Drive on a quiet day – really got me thinking.
This is a link to her message on Monday, March 23. Go to 8:40. Take care, everyone!
WBC – Very pleasant ski from East Crystal, Iron Springs / Creek , Elbow, Sundog and West Crystal. Swix 45 worked well although the air temperature was -10C at 9:30am
Saw a max of 10 skiers today and social distancing was not an issue.
Agreed fully Bob. Dr. Hinshaw exudes competence and I’m prepared to follow all her recommendations.
I was at CNC both Saturday and Sunday– conditions were superb and I saw zero social distancing violations even though the parking lots were about 80% full.
No need to even stop anywhere else in town. No need to touch anything. Riding in the car by yourself or with housemates is very close to full home isolation except you’re not going crazy.
Going to buy groceries must be many times more risky. Obviously getting food is essential but mental health/exercise is also very important to our recovery.
“Going outside and being active should be encouraged.” – Dr Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health. “
. I wish people at the grocery stores were as responsible as the skiers I’ve encountered lately.
agree with the above, you can get coronavirus as easily at the grocery store or walking around your neighborhood, very unlike while skiing, last time I was in WBC, I don’t remember anyone being close to me, I was skiing, not hanging around with others
Hello, Does anyone know if you can ski at the Great Divide in Lake Louse? I heard that National Parks are closed.
It’s time to shut it down for the season.
Storage wax is going on a month early. It’s been a great year, but too many people are not getting the message. Congregating in parks, on trails, in parking areas. Passing around drinks and snacks.
Calgary region (which includes the Bow Valley and Kananaskis) is on track to become the hardest hit in the country, per capita. People aren’t taking the recommendations seriously. And our elected officials are reluctant to legislate what the medical community clearly advises: shelter in place. People seem hopeful that we won’t be another Italy, but there’s little hope in the slope of our infection rate. There is the very real possibility that our medical system will soon be unable to give care to victims of a car crash or other health emergency.
Canmore doesn’t want visitors. Nor does Banff. Nor even the wonderful volunteers at WBC. Bob, you suggest the unintended consequence of shuttering skiing is crowds in other places. We need to tell people to avoid ALL places where people can congregate. Today. Do sit ups or yoga in your home. Walk around your block for a bit of air and sun. Yes it sucks, but by continuing to broadcast that the trails are perfect and everyone is wonderfully socially distant, we are gently nudging more people to get out there. When more people congregate, density increases, mistakes are made. This would be fine at any other time. Not now.
For years now, this has been a wonderful webpage and resource for skiers. The work you’ve done on it, Bob, has enriched the lives of countless Albertans and visitors.
In life, we are occasionally faced with important moments. What we do at these moments can have broad impacts. And sometimes the right choice may not be popular at the time.
But the right message for today is: Stay Home. Ski You In October.
A very rewarding day on Bill Milne Trail: Skied from Wedge Pond to Nakiska access road and returned via Evan Thomas and Wedge Connector. Minus 5C at 10:30 am +1C at 3:00 pm. All three used waxless with good results. There was approx 2 cm fluffy snow over recent icy grooming. We didn’t need to plow tracks on Bill Milne thanks to the lone skier who started earlier. It snowed lightly most of the day. Returning the warming snow in open areas started sticking (near the Golf Course access road). Evan Thomas and Wedge connector had less ski traffic and sticking was a major issue after crossing Hwy 40. Daily more closures are announced and soon we will have to stay home despite adhering to proper social distancing.
WBC Moose Loop south / both Mountain Views / Hostel. Conditions were really good with between 10 and 15 cm of fresh snow on the last grooming. There were not a lot of people out. I have been getting out a fair bit (mostly to Bragg) in the past couple of weeks. It really is pretty easy to practise social distancing when one is out in the mountains. It is a shame that that seems to be coming to an end.
TUNNEL MOUNTAIN CAMPGROUND LOOPS – March 24
Lovely conditions today at this local location.
Details available in the captions here:
Looking forward to welcoming visitors to Banff National Park soon!
Very good skiing on the East Crystal-Iron-Elbow-Loggers etc loop this afternoon. 12 cm of light new snow, skier tracked, easy waxing with VR 45 other than a brief moment when the sun shone, and the snow turned sticky for a short stretch. Get it while you can!- for both the snow quality, and my feeling that cutting off access to provincial lands will not be far behind the national parks closure.
Winter Wonderland on Iron Creek:
Guess I squeaked this National Parks ski in, arriving at MLR to an empty parking lot at 9:15, 6 cms of fresh light snow and -7. Skied to top of avalanche slope and while tempted to ski to Moraine Lake, decided to come back down, as one never knows how the rising temps will alter the kick n glide to “high heels”. When I got to Fairview they had just groomed it, so I took it and Upper Tramline back to car. Saw one person in 4.5 hours. I was hoping to buy a lot of baking (Hazelnut Meringues) at Laggin’s, but alas it was closed. If this turns out to be my last ski of the season, I cannot complain and hope a new hip this Spring, brings me back, raring to go in early November. Keep safe and healthy.
Wow. Cascading effect now……probably guess the result.
WBC – Moose loop (CCW), Mountain View, Loggers, East Crystal. It was -5C at 10:00am and maybe 20 cars total in the parking lot that had been plowed.
As the grooming stopped, all the trails were skier tracked and even if it was a slow ski, it nice indeed to be able to exercise outdoors.
Just met maybe 15 skiers and a couple a snowshoers.
Hopefully the Canmore Nordic Centre keeps vehicle access open for locals with no car-pooling except for people who share accommodation. There is plenty of space on the trails for safe spacing. Its a long way to walk across town carrying gear, and I certainly don’t want to ride a bus anywhere. This is an outdoor exercise town with more than enough safe open space for resident population. I applaud the Mayor for telling drivers to stay on the highway and keep going.
It looks like Parks Canada is closing operations. I suspect this means it’s the end of the season for xc skiing as well.
West Bragg Creek, the GBCTA
lack of grooming won’t stop people from coming
Unfortunate about WBC. Must have been a busy parking lot over the weekend, if it was anything like Hwy 40 areas. Will the parking lot still get plowed?
In the interest of the health and safety of trail users and our local population, the GBCTA has elected to cease grooming operations as of yesterday. We have followed the lead of other ski and bike areas and are recommending that people recreate without travelling out of their own neighbourhoods, maintain social distancing, and stay home if they are symptomatic. A formal statement should be available from the GBCTA shortly, Thanks for a wonderful season and stay well. jth
March 23 update: for the Shaganappi golf course in Calgary:
Shaganappi is closed to the public now.
If anyone wants to help with winter teardown, email or PM us through the Shaganappi Nordic face book page.
We’ll be organizing a tear-down of signage, ropes, and the 3′ metal snow stakes once the snow is melted and the ground is unfrozen around them…all done on foot while maintaining physical distancing protocol.
Otherwise take care, listen to all directions about physical distancing…and enjoy the home time!
TWIN CAIRNS at SUNSHINE – March 23
Free powder skiing in bounds or out of bounds!
Details available in the captions here:
Now, if only it would quit snowing!
For the weather nerds/geeks
I was trying to determine where the Sask Hydrology stations are located, mostly interest. I see they do have the altitudes on each telemetry page.
Came across this gorgeous nugget
Well, not often Bob is wrong, but he is right again!! In my quest to ensure I was not breaking any rules at Sandy McNabb regarding off-leash dogs, we headed out there again today, dogs in tow, map in pocket and hopes of finding conservation officer at info center. Lucky me, he was just coming out of building (it is closed), but I was able to ask him from 6 ft. away the validity of the map and why such confusion. I first asked if there was any off-leash in Sandy and he said no which is when I pulled out map. Technically, we are talking about Crown Land which is all off leash and encompasses most of Logger’s, all of Macabee, and the majority of Pine Ridge. Wherever you see a Wild and Park Boundary, then you are entering an on-leash area. I have skied there for many years and knew this but the anger of the person I met yesterday made me think the map was, perhaps, outdated or maybe just for spring, summer, fall months. Thankfully, it is not. And to turn this into a trail report, between Thursday and Friday trails were groomed and tracked. Absolutely beautiful. Saturday brought everyone and their dog (sorry) with lots of walkers. Trails not so great today with many boot prints down middle of trail although a lot to the side as well so progress is being made.
It’s time to thank Parks Canada for their balanced decisions to facilitate our outdoor recreation in these trying times. Supporting the mental health of Canadians is an essential service. If we all remember to practice cleanly practices, we can get through this together. Carry your hand sanitizer with you, and use it.
Skied Moraine Lake Road Mar. 22 with air temp +2 and sunny. V45 Violet wax worked well in the shade, but not so well in the sun baked tracks. There was an icy glaze in sun-exposed areas later in the day.
I was surprised to see the public washroom was open at Lake Louise today. Parks Canada website says all visitor services are closed and I read somewhere that meant “anything with a door”. In my opinion a heavily used public washroom breaks the ‘social distancing’ rule – there is too much possibility of contact. Also the outhouse at MLR is open – not sure if there is hand sanitizer there.
Decided to check out Boom Lake today for some social distancing. The terrain resembled a luge run with its icy narrow chute but at least it made for a fun descent. Met a handful of hikers and a pair on AT skis but no cross country skiers. Washroom at the parking lot was unlocked.
I went for a lovely, final skate ski at Confederation Golf Course today, the last day of operations. I’m sad to see it come to an end, but I am so grateful for having had this in-the-city, close-to-home ski oasis all season long. A huge thank you to the Calgary Nordic Alliance, and many volunteers for an amazing job, and keeping it skiable even during Chinooks. I know from seeing the many people of all ages and abilities using the trails that you have provided a valuable service to thousands of Calgarians!
We were the first tracks(10am) on Goat Creek to Banff Springs today. Excellent conditions 4-5cm of new………….until it got warmER. Then it got sticky but 7.5/10 day. My crystal ball tells me with a good freeze Tues night then ski Wed should be equally good, or better. Enjoy!
In an effort to find a bit more space for social distancing, I decided to start from Station Flats, along Highway #66 today. Only 6 vehicles in the lot to start… perhaps a dozen later in the day. We headed up Diamond T to Ridgeback – Tom Snow for a while, and then set off across country, connecting north-east facing powder runs connected by easy tours… all thanks to the Spray Lakes Sawmills cut blocks. Lots of space out there to enjoy the outdoors! https://photos.app.goo.gl/U4KyZyDo6JbaSWD7A
Slushy skiing at Sandy McNabb. May as well ski on slurpees. Red wax did nothing except in fresh snow or under dark trees, but still a good time exploring the trails (many of which have been chewed up by walkers – but I don’t blame them, it’s too warm to ski). Fun off-trail explorations in the meadows around Long Prairie Ridge!
A LOT of people in the Sheep today! Amazing how they all dissipate once you get into the woods – they are great for social distancing.
West Bragg today 1-3pm. Definitely spring skiing with variable conditions ranging from soft/slow to icy.
We did Moose out & back through the trees. Only a few folks on the trail so social distancing was easy.
I was grateful to get out for some fresh air & exercise…I hope there is still more skiing this season & authorities don’t prevent folks from a healthy outlet.??
Posted a question in the “Ask a question, leave a comment” section. Would really appreciate a clear and concise response as today was rather unsettling, yet, would like to know if I am in the wrong, Will abide by anyone who knows the rules Thanks!!
Sheila, the area in white on the map is off-leash. I was given that information by a conservation officer at the Sandy McNabb info centre. -Bob
Does anyone know the status/legality of random winter/spring camping in the area west of the developed trail system at West Bragg Creek? (i.e. up past the cutblocks above the Mountain View trails), into the drainage to the west. My (limited) research seems to indicate that camping is okay as long as one is at least 1.6km/1mi away from a road, but what is considered a road? Any old logging or survey cut? Only roads that are still in use?
And, IF it’s okay to spent the night, any problems with leaving a vehicle overnight at West Bragg Creek?
CASCADE VALLEY – March 22
Yeah… winter is back in Banff!
Details available in the captions here:
Unfortunately, just as busy as mid summer.
Great skiing at Mt. Shark today. -8C at 10:15 am, pristine tracks in the stadium, blue sky. We skate skied the 15km loop, some sections were not groomed and had 3-4cm fresh, light snow on a solid, fast base. Fun cruising down the steep hills. We only met a couple of other skiers on classic skis on the loop. Lots of walkers/skiers on the Wartridge Lake trail. The parking lot was 3/4 full when we returned. We had no problem keeping distant from other skiers. A beautiful spring ski day!
Hi Bob: Question…We were out at Sandy McNabb today and while skiing with my dogs (on Loggers, off-leash) a “lady” skied by me with some rather nasty words and an obscenity (or two). I have very carefully studied map that is online and clearly shows the areas that are on-leash and off-leash in this area. I was (according to map) in the off leash part of Loggers. My question is, there is a large sign on right hand side of road that says “All dogs on leash or $115.00 fine”. There is also a sign that says “No off leash dogs on x-country trails”. Yet, official map posted on line clearly shows off and on leash areas. Is this just during summer? If so, that is not stated. I find this confusing, and, if you can clarify, that would be great. I carry a copy of map on me because this kind of encounter (although not nearly so rude) has happened before. If I am in the wrong, my dogs will be on leash in the off leash area regardless of what map states from now on. I am reasonable enough to also see why this is confusing to people who do not like to see dogs off leash on trails. But my trip was kind of wrecked after this “lady” tore a strip of me.
Sounds like a good plan.
I would pay if it was not too expensive.
Kananaskis Village – Only 3 cars at 9:00am and -11C in Ribbon Creek parking lot. As mentioned by MaSid and Normand, 15cm of fresh snow. Skied Coal Mine, Ribbon Creek where the S turns downhill were very safe, went up to Kovach and skied Terrace Link, Terrace North and Aspen. Swix V40 worked well but for the last 1/2 hour the snow was becoming sticky.
I only saw 5 kiers during my 3 hours ski and a couple of walkers / snowshoers and indeed I was surprised when I came back at noon to see a full parking lot and I guess most of them are walkers / snowshoers…..on my way back to Calgary, there were many cars going south on Highway 40..
Sun mar 22: nakiska
Road up to nakiska was not plowed beyond Stoney parking this morning so started from ribbon. First tracks all morning! Snow amounts didn’t increase much with elevation, with about 5 or 6 inches of fresh at the top. A handful or two people had the same idea, although some a bit late for the rapidly heating snow. 2nd run up from the base of the gold chair things were getting hot and sticky under foot by about 1130. Sunny slopes were fast dust on crust and a bit rough under foot. Good snow at the sides in the shade of the trees. Fun low risk “side country” day. Should be much improved after this next storm.
Skogan Pass, March 21
Starting at Ribbon Creek parking lot around 10:45 am. Up through Hidden and Sunburst Loop. Crusty and hard pack, challenging to get any grip. (VR 60). Far better and pleasant conditions after the junction to Skogan loop. Things soften enough to snow plow in steep section lower down toward the Nakiska; metal edges would have been good to have. Net elevation gain to the pass: 630 m; total elevation gain including Sunburst loop: 789 m. 24.6 km return
A beautiful day!
Sat, March 21st. Arrived to West Bragg late & started skiing 4pm…started on Moose outer loop but a ways up a woman advised that there were some icy/dicy sections so turned around & had a good ski on west & east crystal.
Lots of folks were driving away as I was driving in…the lot must have been full at one point as there were vehicles parked on one side of the road…I guess if the government doesn’t reverse their decision to stop grooming we’ll have overcrowded parking lots & ski trails to look forward to. #protectskiingparksalberta #protectourparksalberta
Disappointing folks not picking up dog poo right bedside the trail!
Got interviewed by Global News & made a plug for ski grooming…might have made the 11pm news but I don’t get the news so let me know. Cheers
Exercising outdoors is an acknowledged route to improved physical and mental well being and increased longevity.
Any reduction in the opportunity to exercise will lead inexorably to a reduction in the benefit of exercise.
It is therefore depressing that the Kenney government is intending to discontinue track setting and grooming in a number of provincial parks.
Skiing in most of its forms is one of the few outdoor winter sports accessible to seniors. For them track setting and grooming is almost a necessity. Without it they are less likely to participate and cross country businesses will decline. Meanwhile, and for a short time only, business at the unaffected locations will increase. But these facilities will become overstretched and customers will start to shy away.
The decision to summarily stop track setting in some parks smacks of thoughtless haste. It was thrust upon us with no attempt made to explain the cost benefit nor, so far as we know, to assess the upsides of a user fee.
Mr Kenney, please help us to stay healthy and revoke the decision to discontinue track setting and grooming in Kananaskis, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Ribbon Creek and Mount Shark Trails.
Ribbon creek parking lot: 3 inches of fresh and -12 this morning at 8AM. (-:
Excellent day in PLPP. Did Wheeler, Moraine, Boulton and back on on excellent track set. Amazing day; beautiful, busy but quiet.
We lost a black torque. Please let me know if you picked it up. Text Laurence at 403-700-1389, please and thanks.
West Bragg Creek
The West Bragg Creek trails were busy today and it was great to see the vast majority of skiers, snowshoers, hikers, trail runners and fat-bikers practicing their social distancing. Part of the reason that the parking lot was full is that many people drove separately, rather than car pooling. Once on the trails people kept a safe distance, even when stopping to chat.
I took my social distancing even further, by going beyond the groomed trails to find some powder skiing on the east facing slopes below Ridgeback trail. https://photos.app.goo.gl/5ygnzR5yfERAjFSb7
After 2pm the wind shifted, heavy clouds rolled in and it began to snow. Another refresh for Sunday, perhaps?
L’IL PIPESTONE CABIN – March 21
Another worthwhile destination, making use of the final tracksetting on the Pipestone Loops.
Details available in the captions here:
Could have used my track skis, but metal edges were nice to have descending the Pipestone Loops at the end of the day.
Not often I put on the snowshoes but decided to head up towards Tower Lake, spurred on by one of Chuck’s reports when he skied there likely over a month ago. 4 cars in Rockbound Parking lot, in sharp CONTRAST to an almost full parking lot at Johnston Canyon around noon. Social distancing???? I shudder to figure out why these parking lots are not barricaded off. Trail was very crusty and I was SO glad I did not have my light touring skis. I will NEVER ski that trail unless I wake up, in the years ahead, 30 years younger. Snow shoe’d to km. 5.5 when finally the views of Eisenhower started to show. When driving home via Castle Junction, there was a bear being photographed on railways tracks, until a train came along and he/she disappeared. So yes, to Bob’s advice, time for bear spray.
West Bragg: Mountain Views – Moose clockwise / East Crystal – Elbow/Iron Springs figure 8. Conditions were really good in the morning, softening in the early afternoon. The clouds rolled in around 1400 and that put an end to the melting. I ran into Nancy (from Skogan Pass in January) and had a nice chat. Some of the really sunny parts are icy. Most of the south facing down hill sections are a little icy but the north facing ones are in really good shape. The southern part of the figure 8 has been badly damaged by walkers coming up from Alan Bill.
Red Earth Creek
The grooming on the 17th was not evident this morning at 0900, -6c. A platoon of hikers and snowshoeing enthusiasts had done their best to obscure any trace of skier set track.
Our enthusiasm undiminished, we enjoyed decent travel on a supportive base. There are some needles for the first kilometre and most of the hikers surrendered at the campground.
After the campground only one set of snowshoe tracks diminished the skier set track.
One of the first days I have enjoyed skiing using 4 waxes, from green special to blue to violet to red silver. (The snow was cold as the overnight low was -11 and I suspect the sky was clear)
It was absolutely blue bird and we saw a grouse. He startled the lead skier of our group when he dropped out of a branch to the trail.
The outhouse at the trailhead was not locked. FYI.
Bragg Creek South side
Our intention of skiing Elbow, Sundog, Iron Springs was short-lived due to icy sections and spring conditions at 10:00 a.m; so back to Fullerton parking lot to exchange skis for hiking boots. Back up to Sugar Mumma, Bobcat and Fullerton, with a lovely, sunny, appropriately self-distancing patch of kinnickinick to enjoy our lunch. Back at Fullerton parking lot by 2:30 to an explosion of familes/cars filling Allen Bill parking as well as alongside the road. Please be mindful of families trying to cross the road
here as it was very busy.
Went to Bearberry Nordic Central to ski today. What a beautiful place with the nicest people. Track setting was a older and in several places blown in but tracks were in fairly good shape if somewhat icy in the morning and sticky later in the day. Saw some bear tracks, luckily not too fresh and had some challenges on some steeper hills with the icy track but there was no one else there until after noon. Great place to go on the weekend to avoid the crowds. This place will be on our list for next year.
So, I’ve been briefly abandoned (rest of the family is on a “get me back from university now” rescue mission), so headed out for a solo ski. Terrace, Ribbon Creek, Coal Mine, then Terrace back to the parking lot. Trails are in good shape, but sun and temp were tricky for wax. The big hills on Ribbon Creek were a mix of nice snow, sun baked, and re-frozen. Annoying climbing, but I would not try going down – go clockwise. Coal Mine was partly OK, partly really tough. Nice going down. Return from Ribbon Creek trailhead to Village would have been nicer if I hadn’t dropped my VR50 somewhere up Coal Mine since the descent scrubbed off all my wax. Anyway, someone will score an almost new tube of wax.
March 21 update from the Heritage Guides at Lake Louise:
Due to current global CORVID-19 events, we have stopped our trail maintenance and have removed all of our winter trail signage for the snowshoe trails and are working on removing nordic ski trail signage. Thank you all for a your understanding and for a great start and middle of our season. We are looking forward to the next winter season and seeing you all on the trails! Stay safe everyone.
Nordic Ski Trails:
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March. 16. Fair condition.
Fairview – Lake Louise Connector (BLUE #4): Double trackset, March. 16. Fair condition.
Forest Trail (#4) *formally the Shoreline*: Double trackset, March. 14. Fair condition.
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate walking path, March. 17. Fair condition.
Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5): Double trackset, March 14. Fair condition.
PLPP – Middle Trails
Our group started from Elkwood just after 10am to -8C. We skied Wheeler, a bit of Moraine, Amos, Woolley and south Meadow. During the morning hours, the tracks were mostly very good, with some glazed sections. The corduroy between the tracks was often very hard. Glide was excellent. After the lunch break, things were softening a bit, but generally peasant except for south facing aspects which were getting grippy. About +3C at 2pm. All the parking lots in PLPP were very busy, as was Hwy 40. Good to see so many people practicing their social distancing on the ski trails.
Hi! I’m looking to outfit my 3 teens with cross-country ski gear on a budget. They need everything. Ages 11, 13, 15. Shoe sizes approx 5-6, 8, 9. Wanting waxless skis. 15 year old can probably be fitted as a small ladies size. Does anyone have anything for sale that might work???
Confed Golf Course still very good.
The tracks are faster due to some icing and glazing from the overnight freeze, so grip waxing might be a bit tricky. There are a few bare spots showing, these are at the usual places on the green and the creek side of the blue – easy to avoid. The skating lanes were groomed again. Probably about 30 people out around 10:00 this morning.
Okay then . . . can someone puhleeeease tell me how to properly pronounce Tyrwhitt??
Is the “R” silent? Tyyyywhitt?
Is the “Y” silent? Trrrrwhitt?
Are neither silent? Tyyyrrrrwhitt?
Or should I just keep calling it . . . “That great trail in PLPP that I don’t now how to pronounce.
Yesterday’s sun wreaked havoc on some areas of the trail system. Freeze/thaw cycles have resulted in icy tracks especially on Mountain Road, Mountain View West, North Moose and Iron Springs. Core trails such as the Crystal Lines, Sundog and Loggers remain in very good shape but caution is advised especially on hills. The approach to Hostel and Telephone is not skiable. Meadow skipping would be an excellent alternative to track set trails if you’re looking to explore off the beaten path. jth
CNC – Banff Loop to Banff Boundary
Skied Banff Loop to Banff Boundary on March 20, 2020. Great groomed trail, great snow conditions, and great weather.
More cut block fun in the back yard at Bragg Creek. Makes for a pretty good school day!
Conditions were very good today for a quick tour around Telephone Loop. We started the loop by taking the east half of Hostel Loop for better track setting and snow conditions. The snow had nice grip and glide with Blue-Extra on East Telephone. The uphills had just a hint of sun effect and the downhills were still soft enough to control your speed. The north half of West Telephone was superb. After a sunny lunch, the south half of West Telephone was starting to get softened by the sun and above 0C temps, but the skiing was still good all the way back to the very busy parking lot. More snow on the way by Saturday afternoon!
It was courteous whatever it was.
Success! My 11 year old just reached his goal today of skiing 200 kilometres this winter!
We skied a big loop from Ribbon Creek on perfect corduroy with fresh tracksetting. Trails included Ribbon Creek, Coal Mine, Link, Kovach, Aspen, Kovach to the lookout (going down the steep side,) and down Terrace at the end. We did a LOT of climbing and got four steep long descents in.
Coal Mine was in the best shape I’ve seen it all winter so we finally made the climb up from the Ribbon Creek Trail. I’m always impressed with the view at the top.
And BATHROOMS: We drove up to the village and parked beside Mt Kidd Manor in the back parking lot. There are bathrooms inside that first building past the pub and they are open. We stopped there at the beginning and end of our ski.
Started at Boulton Parking and took Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Fox and Moraine. The steep hill on Whiskey Jack was icy in the morning, but everything else was fine. Upper section of Elk Pass has not been groomed lately, but has great skier tracks and was a blast on the descent. Watch out for snow bombs here and there on the tracks on Tyrwhitt. Had a fantastic day, stunning scenery with a vivid blue sky and a comfortable temperature, snow stayed really good. We skied Tyrwhitt at around 11:00 and saw the tracks but no bear.
It was a beautiful Blue Bird day in PLPP on SkierBob loop.
Started 11:30 ( late) -7 C on Fischer skintechs up Whiskey Jack to Trywhitt . Only Saw 3 other people up to Trywhitt then we saw the interesting animaltracks crisscrossing The groomed ski tracks on Trywhitt. Large cat or ? Another skier couple met us at Elk Pass and they informed us a previous skier couple had seen THE ? Bear!
Next time we’ll bring Bear Spray for spring skiing.
Return to car +5 @2:00. Excellent machine grooming on Moraine . BIG Thanks to PLPP trail groomers. FYI: Respectfully we Do Not carpool and we wear gloves fuelling gas car and any public place .
Thanks to all who are also self isolating.
West Bragg Creek Moose Loop – Mountain View West
A beautiful day with excellent track setting and snow. The temperature reached 5 degrees in bright sunshine so the trails will likely be icy in sun affected areas tomorrow. We met trail reporters Steve Riggs and Alf Skrastins but had packed up the camera by the time we met Alf heading out to the powder on his AT skis. Pictures are at:
Still excellent conditions on the Ribbon Creek/Bill Milne/Wedge Pond/Evan-Thomas circuit. Lots more people out than on Monday, also lots more boot prints. But they’re shallow and did not hinder skating, which was superb. Cloudy forecast tomorrow, so conditions should stay good for days to come.
SUNSHINE’S GREAT DIVIDE – March 20
A quiet day at Sunshine, especially at the top!
Details available in the captions here:
Ski High at these temperatures.
Fri mar 20: moose ridge/WBC
A cool -18 when I started this morning but warmed up quickly, too quickly (spring starts would be easier if not for the overnight fretting). But good to get out of the box for some open air backcountry isolation on the first full day of spring. Time to put the sun hat in the pack. Instead of moose packers, this time I went up the shell gas line ROW. It’s like a green ski run at nakiska, but with a few small trees and the odd lurking stump. Good coverage with just over a meter of snow at 6000 ft. Above that, the ankle ski pens (AT) turned to knee deep wallowing in an unsupportive snow pack by 1130 (too late in the day or too early in the year) so descended before it got any warmer to come back another day. Good mid pack crust below 6000 made for nice mellow turns. Returned via middle tom snow and through the “big meadow”. Ran into the boys pruning away, doing a top notch job keeping tom snow in fine shape. Couldn’t resist building a small single seater at the east end of meadow near mountain road, which afforded a distant view of folks skiing the cut blocks. So much to explore at WBC (that isn’t on the map) with the right gear for the job, either LT or AT, waxless, kicker skins, or full, when the snow pack is good. Wouldn’t know anything about it if not for Alf’s work, his reports and just looking around, wondering what’s around the corner. Now is the time before things thin out.
Confed Golf Course – what a delight to get out of the house, see other humans and expend some energy! I have been there every day this week and every day has been refreshing and lovely! And the fresh tracks today were absolutely wonderful! What a nice surprise and thank you for the resilience of the track-setters. Sounds like the golfers will be moving in after Sunday, so I highly recommend a whip-around before then if you have time. I saw the gal with the dog mentioned in previous posts and skipped a mid-track obstruction on the same day, although I don’t know if it was the same dog. Probably not, as her dog was on a leash. Who knows? I love dogs, snow-shoers, fat-bikers, skiers, etc, equally and hope we can all figure out how to work around and with each other…
Great conditions at WBC, blue sky and -14C at 9:30am, skied Mountain, Mt View West, Moose Loop (CCW), Mt View West, Loggers, Elbow, Iron Springs, East Crystal.
With the exception of some parts of Iron Springs that are wearing thin, all the trails were in excellent conditions with beautiful soft snow.
Best conditions of the year at Confed Golf Course!
Fresh set tracks on almost all of the trails, fresh grooming of all the skating lanes, all the ice and thin spots are covered again. About 20-30 people out there this morning.
Current plan is that this is the last weekend for skiing there and the golf course will start doing their spring preparations next week.
So if you’re not going to the mountains, give Confed a try!
Just want to post a big thank you to the unknown individual who put aside the skis and poles I had left at West Bragg. Had them cleaned up against the truck and drove away. Felt so dumb but then so relieved when I drove back to see them propped up in the snow bank. Awesome!
West Bragg Creek
Another 3 cm of new snow by early morning was a bonus refresher at West Bragg Creek. Pleasantly cool temperatures were perfect for fast skiing and preserving the snow quality.
My day included a mixture of groomed trail skiing, off-trail touring and some brushing-pruning work on Tom Snow trail. Lots of people were out enjoying the great conditions. https://photos.app.goo.gl/AYZLBn6mxd7XcLhJA
CROWFOOT PASS and CROWFOOT GLADES – March 19
A great way to welcome the first day of Spring Skiing!
Details available in the captions here:
… and FREE entry to the National Park during Covid-19… stay healthy.
Do not bother skiing Shaganappi Golf Course. Put 2 long gouges into my new ski bases. Lots of pavement and some gravel hiding under a skiff of new snow.
Great “Deserted” Divide from the O’Hara end. This time, there seemed to be slightly more snow on east side of the Divide and skate skiers would love the grooming! Skied west to east on Lower Telemark and would rate it as fair (maybe good considering first day of Spring skiing!) Ran into Heather D and Heather who used to work at Wilson’s. Wilson’s was closed but managed to buy two hazelnut macaroons from Laggin’s. They have implemented asking all who enter to use their sani-gel right by the front door. Drove down to O’Hara parking lot-it still looked in good shape with a skiff of new snow and those washrooms are still unlocked. I believe Lodge is closed today or tomorrow.
I’m with RitchieRich. Would you consider changing the plan? The snow is still so nice, and there’s no shortage of people out using the trails. With recreational facilities closed, it’s a place for people to go exercise. They won’t be opening the golf course any time soon.
Wonderful day at WBC. Arrived around 10:30 to see only a few cars in the parking lot. Headed out on Mountain Road. The light dusting of new snow in the tracks made them just grippy enough as the tracks were icy underneath in places due to sun exposure earlier in the week. Headed up Mountain View and conditions were lovely. We saw just a few people as we headed back towards the parking lot. All in all a great day. Thanks to the groomers for such fantastic upkeep this year.
Just returned from Sandy McNabb. Imagine, skiing Sandy McNabb in the middle of March?? Virus free trails, Loggers Loop and Pine Ridge. Watch out for bodies on Camper’s 🙂 Oh, and trails were snowmobile packed and skier tracked.
The cold weather and a skiff of new snow made for a very enjoyable powdery ski this morning. The set tracks are holding up well, just washing out a little on side hills. Seems lots of folk had the same idea – the parking lot was the busiest I’ve ever seen it.
West Bragg Creek
Got to be the first guy in the trails at 7:10 this morning in the light snow. Boomer Groomer Jeff was out redoing the skate lanes and the trackset was still good from yesterday. Brilliant conditions. Skied Mountain Road, Mountainview, Loggers, East crystal line for 14k. Saw only six people and two dogs by 9:20. Sun was out when i was leaving and traffic was on its way in with maybe a total of 2″ of fresh powder fallen. More snow in the forecast – should be great for days.
CNC -6C VR 40 +VR 45
Parking lots were 1/4 full .
Not much action in stadium but more skiers out on the trails.
We followed where the groomers had been. Worked our way up onto Rundle via Bow and Snowshoehare. Tracks were in great shape excepting on S aspects. Ran into mostly racers and some of the usual local Canmore/Banff skiers. Skied out to junction 65 and dropped onto Meadow view returned via Banff loop. Easy to SI on the trails
Here is southern Ontario our latest winter snow pack melted off about 2 weeks ago (It has been a very warm month of March).
So, in the last of the snow, about 3 to 4 weeks ago, we had great numbers of Snow Scorpionflies on winter walking trails. Interestingly I see that they are not related to your Snow Flea.
I have not seen mention any snow fleas on your trails yet.
Confed: anyone know if the gates will remain open for trail usage? … or if there’s a way to still get into there to enjoy this lovely snow?
Found – Adult skating poles found at Canmore Nordic Centre parking lot on March 18. We left them at Trail Sports which is closed, but you can call them.
West Bragg Creek
The groomed trails at West Bragg Creek were perfect today. Sparking new snow, beautifully groomed and lots of happy skiers. But there is more to West Bragg Creek than groomed trails, so I took advantage of this years exceptional snow pack to do the WBC equivalent of a “Chuck tour”. We started out on West Crystal, then continued on Snowy Shortcut and Snowy Owl… and just kept heading southwest across an absolutely huge meadow. We followed Ranger Creek to Snakes & Ladders and then to Bobcat and the Ridgeback/Tom Snow junction. Then up Tom Snow to the Ridgeback #3 north junction, and along Ridgeback to the west end of Snakes & Ladders. From there it was a powder descent to the Big Meadow, followed by a tour over a double hill to Mountain View. Then finally, back on the regular XC trails like West Crystal and back to the parking lot. Who knows when we’ll see conditions like this again?
Had a great last day of winter, skied up and back Pocaterra. Blue skies and calm winds. Air temperature was -2c with -5c snow temperature at noon at the start. Hut was closed due to Covid 19 but found one of the outhouses open. VR40 wax worked great until the end of the day when temperatures rose to +2c (air) and 0C (snow). Trail was well groomed and fast. Very quiet and peaceful. Only met 8 skiers all day. Didn’t hear a single jet flying over…A sign of the times in the Covid 19 era.
Parks Canada has announced there will be no more truck setting in Lake Louise or Yoho as of tomorrow .!,,,,,
Is plpp Going to continue??
A group of us stopped in at the ACC’s Louise and Richard Guy Hut recently.
I must say, the route to and from the place is not for the faint of heart.
Huge thanks to all the groomers who are doing a fantastic job grooming the trails at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Fabulous seeing all the skiers, young and old, out enjoying the many trails, their faces lit up with smiles. Surely, being out on the trails and in the fresh air will help to keep us healthy during these anxious days. Keep up the good work! I, only one of many, really appreciate the groomed trails.
West Bragg Ck. outhouses closed!
Between the time we started skiing and finishing around 2 pm, the outhouses had been taped off and COVID-19 signs posted.
Doesn’t sound like a idea to me. Or maybe somebody has taken all the toilet paper for their hoard!
STONEY CREEK – March 18
Another cm of snow last night made conditions at this elevation EXCELLENT.
Details available in the captions here:
And the outhouses are open!
Lake O’Hara Lodge is closed as of March 17. No more track setting.
Goat Creek: Canmore to 2nd Spray river bridge (AKA the bus shelter) and back. Around -10C to start with “crusty” glazed tracks thankfully covered by a couple cm of fresh snow. The descent to Goat Creek bridge was safe with the new snow and the tracks are still in good shape. Going back was a bit of a struggle with virtually no grip even with Swix V55 / Red wax….
Little Red Trails NW of Olds was mentioned. Where is it? Can’t find website or map.
PLPP March 18th
Beautiful blue sky day with V 30 or 40. From the Boulton bridge parking lot at 11:30am (only one other car when we arrived) we made our way through beautifully track set trails on Moraine and Fox creek. Elk Pass Trail was yet to be track set but the grooves were quite acceptable going up and coming back. On the way home we encountered fantastic grooming on the Boulton Creek trail all the way back to the parking lot. I think we ran into a total of 10 people the whole time.
After enjoying such beautiful conditions, I have a hard time accepting that we may lose experienced track setters who understand the terrain, the users and the machinery. Most skiers I talk to in the Canmore area are fine with a reasonable user fee. Time to write a letter to Mr. Nixon and Ms. Rosin methinks.
11:45am start was perfect to get “first tracks” on Telephone Loop (freshsly rolled and trackset). Things have definitely improved since the March 16 reports. With a temp of -8 tracks were firm and downhills completely enjoyable. Hostel, Sundog, Loggers & East Crystal were also in great shape. Finished up by 2:30 and temp had only gone up by a degree or two. The sun was starting to peak through so things may have softened up as the afternoon went on.
Boulton parking: first car in at 9:30 and -10. To note, both outhouses are fully LOCKED. To use a word we’ve heard a lot recently, the track-setting on Whiskey Jack and Tyrwhitt was “unprecedented” perfection. I played around in the meadows there x an hour all by myself until a couple skied by at noon. Self-isolating at its best! Chose Patterson over Elk Pass but neither were groomed-tricky snowplowing in sun-affected crusty powder. Moraine was better than Fox as more in the shade and less wood pecker land mines. Suggest starting earlier in day to minimize social contact.
In Alberta, everyone who operates a snowmobile on public land must: … Wear a safety-approved helmet
A light dusting of snow overnight recharged the conditions in West Bragg. All 65 km of trail have been re-track set. Expect tracks and skate lanes to be soft for now. Photos of conditions as of Wednesday morning:
March 17 update from the Heritage Guides at Lake Louise:
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March. 16. Good condition.
Fairview – Lake Louise Connector (BLUE #4): Double trackset, March. 16. Good condition.
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate walking path, March. 17. Good condition.
Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5): Double trackset, March 14. Good condition.
Teaching Grid: 5 lanes, March. 17. Good condition.
Budget has been passed as presented: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-legislature-approves-57-billion-budget-in-race-against-covid-19-spread-1.5501220
According to the Yoho website it was last groomed February 28! A week ago
I called park can at LL -staff was helpful. They said they would call
O’Hara. He couldn’t talk To any one Just a machine.
End of story.
Has any one been there?
West Bragg. Iron springs and Elbow.
Fresh flakes falling at 6pm, -3c. Good travel made possible by said flakes over the icy tracks. By the time we got back to the car, 5cm had fallen. Big fat clumps of flakes were still falling as we drove home. -5c.
CASTLE LOOKOUT – March 17
Get here before tourists realize this magnificent choice to self isolate from Covid-19!
Details available in the captions here:
Don’t tell anyone!
WBC afternoon shift.
1 p.m. launch worked out well – Iron Springs-Elbow inner loop was 95% softened up and fishscale skis gave good grip. Tracks are excellent. Beauty day. Lots of skiers out.
I am looking for some IFP xc bindings suitable for NNN boots or some screw mountable NNN bindings
WBC – Skied Mountain / Mt View W, Moose Loop (CCW), Loggers, East Crystal, Sundog, West Crystal.
At 9:00am it was -3C and Swix V45 / Violet worked well for the 1st 2 hours but with the warm sun until I had to add a layer of V55 / Red.
Some tracks were very icy in the morning but overall the trails are in good shape, the skiing pleasant and the descents safe.
I had the pleasure to meet Don C and his fellow skiers from Shell / Imperial old timers.
Confed Park, did the green, yellow, blue and purple this morning. Quite a strong wind which has mostly filled in the tracks, but the skating lane is fine. With the new snow the coverage is very good, only noticed two spots with a bit of grass. There’s plenty of base left (especially on the purple) so hopefully we’ll see the tracks reset before the weekend (once this wind calms down). Must have been about 20 people out this morning.
Does it not seem absurd that Alberta has to cut recreational funding for its residents but is still obliged to send revenue East in the name of Equalization?
March 16 Shaganappi grooming update:
Wow, the snowfarming/snow harvesting elves were busy today…thanks to whomever you are!
Two passes of grooming for the skate skiers were done this evening on most trails. Track setting for classic skiers was not redone for a couple reasons, and is mostly in good shape.
Expect the track setting to be icy until either new snow falls, or warm temperatures soften the snow. The snow is too thin in many areas to redo the track setting, and some of the trackvsetting has already melted down to the grass in some spots…but again, some magical mysterious snowfarming/snow harvesting elves worked on filling in the melted track setting today in some sections with the scoop shovels we left out for that exact purpose!
Conditions are great on wintery snow however there is definitely variable depths of snowcover on trails due to the crazy long spells of Chinook weather. The biggest risk is the shale cart paths under the snow, one section located at the bottom of the closed section of trail: the hill that runs beside the condos …that shale seems to jump up out of their hiding spots just under the snow to surprise you and will damage ski bases.
All other thin sections of trail tend to be either asphalt underneath or grass and tree roots which are all usually easy to see ahead of time and avoid…unless one is skiing at night without a headlamp!
There’s a new workaround trail section that is kinda fun…see if you can figure out what I’m referring to…just put it in tonight!
WBC – Telephone Loop
Finally got out skiing with Bart!! But not the greatest choice – not much to add to Steve’s report, but we found the hot sun really did a number on the snow (and our heads!), so to our surprise found the hills on the east side easier to negotiate than the ones on the west, where conditions had become the spring-like herky-jerky icy to slushy, and of course the softer snow was more chewed up by a multitude of different trail users.
Met a few other skiers on Moose who all agreed that they had expected better conditions today – how quickly things change! Lovely to get out, of course, but more tiring than fun.
I’m in the process of drafting another letter specifically addressing the issue of trail grooming and maintenance, responding to several replies from UCP MLA’s including my own, who of course toe the party line, with little or no understanding of xc skiing. Yes- with the current economic and Covid-19 situations- parks funding may seem to be of minor consequence, but normal life will resume eventually. We can’t let this get swept under the rug!
I’m in agreement with the GBCTA proposal for the most workable solution to funding trails, both winter and summer- a public lands recreation fee sticker or pass, available online, at visitor centres (oh, wait!) or along with your vehicle license. Yearly for residents, weekly for visitors. I believe that some American states use this approach.
A question to anyone belonging to one of the many local outdoor clubs: has your club sent out a general e-mail alerting the membership to the “Parks Optimization”? The club that we associate with has not, surprisingly, and I was talking recently to a member of another outdoor focused club that has also neglected to inform it’s members. Shame!
Finally- it would be a good idea to also include the opposition party in any correspondence:
WBC-March 16. Afternoon loop tour across Telephone Ridge using both xc and all season trails- Hostel W-DemiTel-Long Distance N-Telephone E- Hostel E. A great tour for more adventuresome skiers on light metal edged skis and supportive NNN-BC boots, when conditions allow. It would have been better from a wax perspective to have started earlier, but then I wouldn’t have met the fat bike grooming team just as they finished with Long Distance North, which made for very enjoyable groomed “nordic singletrack” skiing, mostly gently downhill, north to the junction with Telephone with no trail breaking. There were a few short barely covered spots along the way, and some sharp downhill corners where the trail was more like a trough, which provided some excitement, but there was always plenty of soft snow off to the side to keep things under control. If contemplating skiing Long Distance- I would recommend having ridden or hiked it first- just so you know what you are getting into.
East Telephone was mostly very enjoyable, featuring tracksetting that was still in good shape for the most part, with a couple of downhills already a bit chewed up and getting icy. That wasn’t helped by the dogsledder I met coming the other way, who had stopped the middle of the trail at a blind corner on one of the steeper descents- I barely avoided a collision! With the gouges that he had created in numerous spots on many of the steep hills, (uphills for me) along with the melt-freeze conditions on exposed sections- I would not highly recommend Telephone until a refresh of new snow.
As usual- Telephone became more chewed up by hiker/shoer traffic after the Snowshoe Hare junction- it was a relief to hang a left onto East Hostel trail to finish, where conditions remained very good, with some melting in a few exposed spots.
Nordic singletrack on Long Distance North:
BILL MILNE – was superb today! All of a sudden the days are much longer!!
WBC. Moose Loop, counter-clockwise. Lovely afternoon to take out the kids for a ski. This was late in the day, so some exposed areas were alternating between sticky slush and slippery ice. Some hills were getting icy, but in the woods, the conditions were still very good. Let’s consider that this is mid-March already! At this time of year, I’m grateful for any snow that we can get. It was so reassuring, what with all the alarming news out there, that fresh air and sunshine are still open and available for us to enjoy and de-stress.
Edmonton: March 12 – March 16
I’ve been in Edmonton for the past week, and thought I would report on some really terrific cross country skiing opportunities if any of you head up north here. Since all rec centres are closed, and I’ve been working remotely, I’ve been trying to practice social distancing by getting out on my cross country skis for an hour or two most days. In case you find yourself in Edmonton when there is good (and lots of!) snow, I can heartily recommend the following places:
1) Strathcona Wilderness Centre: this is a beautiful skiing area with about 15 km or so of gorgeously trackset trails. I’m told there is a Norwegian fellow who does the grooming – and it is superb. Quiet, beautiful scenery, lakes, woods and hills. The east side is mostly greens, the west side is mostly blues.
2) Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area – the grooming is difficult to predict, but when groomed, this area is amazing, and might be one of my favourites in the province. This is Birkieland – and during the week, during a pandemic, its a gorgeous sunny place of solitude. I can’t understate how beautiful this place is. Lots of kms of trails, you don’t have to do the same route twice. If you’re unsure about grooming, bring some metal edged skis.
3) Mayfair Golf Course – A fellow named Neal tracksets about 5-6 km of trails at this golf course right in Edmonton next to the U of A. I went for a lunch hour ski and did all of the trails and some extra loops today! It’s a really fun system, with little hills and dips, and great views of the city. Highly recommended if you just want to get out for an hour.
4) Goldbar Park – trackset by the Edmonton Nordic Ski Club. I haven’t had a chance to ski at Goldbar yet, but I’m told the conditions are always the best in the city.
5) SkiLocal trails – the Southwest Association of Community Leagues supports a volunteer organization that tracksets trails in local neighbourhoods and parks south of the Whitemud in Edmonton. The trails are mostly flat, but it is amazing to be able to easily access so many trails. There is actually quite an extensive trail setting network all over SW Edmonton – super impressive. The other day, I was literally able to go out the front door of where I’m staying, and ski a 10 km loop in this neighbourhood and the adjacent one. It’s pretty awesome, and you can follow the grooming on the SkiLocal facebook page.
Anyway, I’ve learned that Edmonton has lots of great xc skiing opportunities, and a really dedicated xc skiing community! It’s been lots of fun to be here! Later this week: I’ll be back in Kananaskis!
Absolutely lovely! What an amazing day in Lake Louise. We skied Moraine Lake Road today. Freshly track set this afternoon. We past the groomers on their way back around 230pm, and skied most of the way on fresh tracks! Double track set on the way out, single track set back and a skate ski Lane in the middle.
Ribbon Creek – Hummingbird Blume
Given the surreal events happening in the world, it was wonderful to get out into nature, while practising social distancing, which is easily accomplished with cross country skiing. We started out at Ribbon Creek parking and took Hidden to Nakiska, which was easy to cross as the ski hill is closed. We took Sunburst up to Hummingbird Blume, where we had our lunch in the beautiful sunshine, the views from the viewpoint are sensational. What was even more sensational was the descent on High Level and the Screamer, as the snow conditions are super. After getting back to the parking lot, we wanted to continue skiing as it was such a gorgeous day. We skied up to the lookout on Kovach, the descent was rather anti-climactic after coming down from Hummingbird Blume, but the conditions were excellent.
As part of my letter writing, I also wrote a letter to Miranda Rosin, MLA Banff Kananaskis. I got a reply today which, to be frank, was rude, and the ‘cut and paste’ section of it actually was clearly cut and paste because it accused me of things I didn’t even say in the letter. It did not address any of my concerns about the incorrect usage statistics at some of the provincial recreation areas, and did not address my safety concerns about closing Barrier Lake Visitor Centre. Anyway, beyond that, there was an interesting part that was added in about trail grooming in Kananaskis. Her office staff wrote:
“The decision to cease trail grooming was a difficult one, but I am confident we will find a solution that does not require tax funding.
I have had conversations with the Minister and his various staff members about this, and the decision to cease trail grooming will not be reversed. This being said, we need to find a solution to ensure that our trail network is still groomed and operational for next ski season and all seasons after that. I am hoping to help lead the charge on finding this solution.
Since the announcement to cease grooming, I’ve already had one local business express interest in taking over the duties in Kananaskis country, and have had many other businesses and recreators suggest trail fees. I’ll be speaking with industry professionals from the Kananaskis/Bow Valley area to brainstorm ideas of how the government can move forward while ensuring that trails are maintained and that local rental businesses are not harmed.
I will be looking to host a round table to coordinate this effort when the current environment allows. We will find a solution! But the solution to everything can’t be to throw more tax money at it. That is what got our government into the difficult position it is in now, unfortunately.”
So it sounds as if they are not reversing the grooming decision, but are looking for other formats. I do hope they host that round table – or perhaps several – I would definitely want to hear more about that.
Tunnel Mountain campground. Skier set.
Spray Loop West and East. 80%-90% excellent, 10%-20% icy. So nice to be out in the sun. Thanks Parks Canada for the ongoing grooming!
To quote Charles Dickens, this was one of those days when it was “spring in the sun and winter in the shade” on the south trails at West Bragg. Good cold snow on very fresh tracks (not set up yet) in the shade, translucent slush in the sun, and ice on south-facing downhills that were shaded by late afternoon. Such nice weather though: bluebird skies and glowing mountains.
South Elbow is groomed now, by the way, although it’s already completely trampled by walkers up to Fullerton junction. Because of the sun and soft tracksetting, most downhills have been churned up by snowplowing.
A good friend and woman passionate about Alberta Parks came to visit me last night. Since Barrier Info Centre will no longer be utilized after April 1st, could Hwy 40 be diverted through that Barrier parking area where one could show a Pass both for Alberta Parks and for all ski areas to continue to be utilized and groomed. I realize one would need to have a similar “gate” for those travelling in winter on Smith Dorrien but in summer it poses two more entry points on the other side of Highwood for those coming from Longview and Elbow hwy. This Pass would include X-C skiing at Bragg Creek, Ribbon, Skogan, Shark, and PLPP areas where grooming (and removal of hundreds of trees) is rather critical.
Second suggestion: people must pay to park all over the State of Arizona and likely other States to utilize any parks for hiking and other purposes. Everyone just knows they have to pay to park their vehicle and it is a relatively minor fee. This might encourage more car-pooling benefits as well.
Third suggestion: Incorporate the cost of Canmore Nordic Centre Pass to include PLPP and all those other areas. For downhill skiing, people choose to buy a more expensive pass if they want to ski in 2-3 different resorts all winter.
Lastly: write personal letters to your MLA and Jason Nixon and remember who you vote for at the next election.
Shaganappi Golf Course-Skate skied a few loops of the entire course. Some bare areas in the usual spots but otherwise fantastic and fast. Getting a bit soft though as I was finishing up so not sure how long it will last. Driving range and NE loop also very good. Thank you Linda and grooming crew for a great job this season-so appreciated!
Goat Creek: Canmore to Banff (thanks to my husband who just returned home at MN from BC). Likely -14 to start and -3 to finish, skiing from 9am-12:20. Saw no one until we were close to the invitingly sunny wooden shelter at West/East Spray junction. Maybe saw 8-10 skiers all day. Had been watching the Banff Trail Report for grooming on Goat Creek and almost jumped out of my chair, seeing 15-03 reported yesterday. Not sure if Don had problems with one of the machines, but we were surprised to see the tracker machine parked right at our favorite hill at the corner of that curve before the first Goat Creek bridge. VR 40 worked great until we got closer to Banff and in the sunnier tracks, but it did the trick overall. Thank you Don, for the VERY good grooming! I definitely owe you some cookies.
I know they’re not always successful, but I wonder if a fundraising drive would be of value. Avid skiers could consider it akin to a pass, but without needing to additionally fund personnel to police it.
Note: The UCP is threatening to push the budget through which may mean a very short turn around time for pushing changes.
You might want to add the tourism minister, Tanya Fir.
Do you know how safe it is to go on trails with the whole Covid-19 happening in the city?
Welcome back to sunny Alberta snowland, Bob and Cheryl, and best wishes of full, prompt recovery to Cheryl.
These trails are “under-used”, huh?
Don’t forget to not stop protesting the end of grooming. We still need to be lobbying…
Mount Shark Trails
We skied the 15 km trail of Mount Shark on Sunday. We had never skied that particular loop and were quite happy with some of the challenging uphills and downhills, with tight curves. The recent track setting was helpful. There was some drifted snow across the trails, which made some spots a bit tricky. We then went to Watridge Lake and had lunch in the hot sun under a perfectly blue sky. We then skied as far as the end of the track setting to the bridge, into Banff National Park. The big hill going down to that bridge was in excellent condition (best we’ve ever seen), fast, fun, with a totally controllable descent. What a day!
March 15 11pm Shaganappi golf course in Calgary update:
All trails were trackset and groomed this morning.
Skiing is generally good with some thin areas due to either wind exposure or the consistent chinooks in previous weeks which took snow away from some areas of trail.
Trails were regroomed this evening and the skiing should be really good Monday.
Have fun out there, if the forecast is accurate this snow will hopefully stick around all week!
West Bragg Creek-South
I waited until afternoon for the weather to warm up and the conditions were perfect for an exploration of the south end of the West Bragg Creek trail. Not being one to limit myself to groomed trails, my loop included a bit of everything. Starting from the Fullerton trailhead, any previous grooming of the Elbow trail was covered by a deep layer of new snow and lots of snowshoe and footprints. The result was sort of like grooming. From Elbow, I followed Snagmore to Sugar Daddy and then back onto Elbow and Iron Springs. Then down Iron Creek and the mystery trail on the east side of Snagmore hill. Shortly after the end of the roller-packing ended, I contoured across country through an amazing old aspen forest and over a low shoulder to connect back onto Snagmore trail. From there it was a simple matter of following Snagmore back to Elbow and the parking lot. Conditions like this don’t happen often at West Bragg Creek, so it’s great to be able to enjoy it while we can! https://photos.app.goo.gl/jtxGL9bwpsvyBT3u6
Skogan Loop and Hummingbird Plume
Perfect grooming, snow and weather. We met a lot of folks including Helen Read. The pictures are at the link below.
Stunningly beautiful sunny day at WBC today. Arrived at 2:30 pm as the temperature had risen to a balmy – 10 without wind. We heard Telephone loop was trackset so that was the obvious choice for a non crowded trail. The parking lot was very full when we arrived with lots of happy smiling faces ( on the dogs too). With the fresh snow the Telephone trail was in pristine condition and the downhills fun and safe . We continued on to do Moose loop followed by Mountain View and Mountain Road. A great day to forget for a moment the effect of the coronavirus on all of us and practice social distancing in the best way.
So happy to see you on the trail today Bob! Both glad to see you after some elusive sightings by others in the past and also to know you are back in your element. Every day is a GIFT.
Best to your wife. Stay strong. Physio is as important as the surgery. Encourage. Encourage. Encourage.
They had better not stop grooming these trails.
Ditto – Ribbon Creek and Bill Milne today were superb – it just doesn’t get any better than that. We were surprised that there were so few skiers in the area given Jeff’s notice to the SkierBob empire last evening. Kudos and bouquets to Jeff et al on the quality of the grooming done Mar13/14 – it set up beautifully for a double bluebird day today – most memorable of the season.
It’s been a season of superlatives at WBC, but today may have been the best yet!
Great skiing at Canmore Nordic Centre today. We found out that the Rundle Trail was groomed, Silvertip as well. Cold, clean tracks and wonderful sunshine through the meadow! 1-2 cm dry snow in the tracks on the ungroomed trails.
Nice ski on the south WBC trails starting from Allen Bill today. South Elbow and the southernmost bit of Iron Springs haven’t been groomed yet, but the snow was of excellent quality (although a mess of foot tracks). The rest of Iron Springs and Iron Creek have only been single trackset so far, but the track was really nice and the snow was great. I also made a side exploration down the side trail of Iron Springs that Steve Riggs mentioned – it hasn’t been groomed since the snowfall, but it sure is scenic!
Don’t think I’ve ever seen this much snow at West Bragg!
Skogan Loop Junction starting on Hidden Trail from Ribbon Creek. Forgot how much of a climb it was up Sunburst, but the picnic table at Hummingbird Plume to bask in the sun was a nice lunch break payoff. Lots of people came this route today and no wonder, think these were the best conditions, as Groomer Jeff told us, for descending the Screamer that I have ever experienced….even better than last Monday when we went to the Pass. Totally a perfect cloudless skies. Ran into Ian and Darlene and look forward to their pictures later, and Ray closer to the parking lot. Sure glad we went today as it will get stickier tomorrow. As previously noted by Jim Bruce, a lot of smiling faces trying to escape the serious news happening all around us.
PLPP: Visitor Centre to Whiskey Jack / Poccaterra / Lynx loop. The most recent grooming (Poccaterra, Lynx) has only of dusting of fresh snow on it. The rest of this route had about 2 cm of snow on the grooming so conditions were excellent. -17 to start at 1200 and 0 to finish at 1630. There was even a bit of sticking on my bases just before the end of the route. The sun warms thing up pretty quickly at this time of year.
We skied Bill Milne, Wedge Connector, Evan Thomas loop. Mostly great conditions but heavy foot traffic on Evan Thomas. Fortunately they avoided the track set! Even saw the man himself, Skier Bob, on our return to the car. A nice few hours to forget about the news…
WBC – fabulous conditions (a bit chilly with -19C at 11am) along Iron Springs / Creek – Elbow – Loggers – Moose Connector – Mountain road / view and back on Moose.
Beautiful snow, beautiful grooming & perfect tracks, made for lots of happy skiers this afternoon when it finally warmed up to -10. Thanks to the groomers! A nice change to ski in the city under that blue Alberta sky.
Crimson Lake Update:
Trails at Crimson Lake are in amazing shape. The snow we had over the last few days really helped cover the icy rutted mess. Amerada still has some thin spots but is looking great, and the track-set trails on North Woods, Wolf Track and Fallen Timber are golden! There was available time to groom the Buster Creek trail and it too is looking good, however, fat bikers beware, the Buster Creek bridge was cleared of ice and snow resulting in quite the lip, please use caution in that area.
Bob makes reference to a Hay Meadow thermometer on his update today. Does anyone have a link for it?
Best wishes for a fast recovery to your wife, Bob. Glad you are both back.
Bob and Cheryl,
It was great meeting ya’ll and getting to know you both.
Thanks for having me assist with the hotel and medical transport needs during your stay
If anyone is in need of surgery and tired of waiting in line, have them reach out and I can put them in touch with Dr. Kassman asap for discussion
Stay warm and healthy.
Thanks! We will be happy to recommend you and Dr Kassman. -Bob
It is -28 and clear in Peter Lougheed.
The lounge + discovery centre are closed to minimize large groups.
The info centre is still opened for emergencies, washrooms, and information.
Welcome home! We are happy to hear your good news, and hope to see you on the trails soon 🙂
Thank you! -Bob
Mar 14 update from the Heritage Guides at Lake Louise:
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March. 12. Fair condition.
Fairview – Lake Louise Connector (BLUE #4): Double trackset, March. 12. Fair condition.
Forest Trail (#4) *formally the Shoreline*: Double trackset, March. 14. Good condition.
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate walking path, March. 14. Good condition.
Teaching Grid: 8 lanes, March. 11. Fair condition.
Welcome back! We’re so happy you had a positive experience in resolving a difficult problem Health is everything. Good for you for being so proactive.
Bob – are you aware you should be self-isolating for 14 days after returning from AZ?
Great to here the surgery went well.
I’m well aware, and thanks! I returned to Alberta on March 10 when the self-isolation requirement was not yet in effect. XC ski trail grooming is perfectly designed to provide the recommended safe spacing and “social distancing.” -Bob
Pocaterra Hut starting on Rolly Road then onto Come Along with snow falling, wind blowing and -23 C. Vintage green (-10 to -15) worked stellar all day. Weather and snow improved heading up Pocaterra to Packers Junction, then I continued breaking trail to WJ junction, where temp was -11 !!! Blue skies cleared and did not need to even cover my face on the faster ride down. Not sure if I met Jean Francois as I was descending but heard a nice French accent. Due to the overnight wind, some needles are mixed into the new grooming but hardly any pine cones. Turned into a much nicer 20 kms. ski than initially thought at onset. Saw only (?) JF all day.
March 14 Shaganappi update: While the wind is still blowing and moving the snow around to fill in the grooming, it’s likely best to go classic if you have the gear..unless you prefer to go skate skiing, really know the trail routing well and don’t mind fresh snow!
We’re planning to go out grooming Sunday morning as early as we’re allowed by the noise bylaw which is 9am, as ecologicallly it seems silly to regroom this afternoon/evening and then regroom more windlblown snow tomorrow morning.
We have had up to 20 cm of snow in the last 48 hrs. All core trails are already track set and in excellent condition for classic and skate skiing. Outer trails (MVW and Telephone) have been roller packed and should be track set shortly. Enjoy! jth
March 13 update for Shaganappi Point golf course in Calgary:
Shaganappi Golf Course is open for Nordic skiing again!!!
Finally enough snow has fallen to reopen Shaganappi.
All the usual access gates are open and most trails have a decent amount of snow for skiing. Track setting may be done Saturday morning if the snow is deep enough, otherwise all trails have been groomed Friday evening by a volunteer. Skate skiing superhighways are baaack!
Beware there are some wind exposed areas with very thin to no snow coverage, and other areas are thin due to having been bare from the consistent Chinooks. The trail running parallel to the condos is not recommended and has been blocked off at the top. Hopefully we’ll get more snow to keep Shaganappi conditions decent all week.
Have fun out there, as it may be our last week of operations for the winter…time will tell…fingers crossed for more snow!!!
Please please please stay off of any hilly area that has a flat top as that is a tee box with very fragile non native turf just beneath the shallow snow that is damaged very easily.
We roped off many tee boxes but those pesky Coyotes had a great party time chewing through all our low-lying rope fencing…we’ll be working on a remedy for next winter to beat them at this game!
West Bragg Creek
As of this afternoon, West Bragg Creek had received 17-20+ cm of snow… and more is still expected.
GBCTA groomers were already out roller-packing the XC ski trails and packing the single-track trails for Fat-Biking, despite bitterly cold temperatures.
For me, all the new snow and a much deeper than normal snowpack provided an opportunity to ski tour on a combination of single-track trails, meadows and cut-blocks. We started on Snowshoe Hare and then toured off-trail up to the Long Distance Trail on Telephone Ridge, before powder skiing back down to Snowshoe Hare. Powder skiing at West Bragg Creek in March! Who would have guessed?
March 13th – From the Canmore Nordic Centre Website
CANMORE NORDIC CENTRE – COVID-19 UPDATE
The Canmore Nordic Centre is still open for Nordic skiing, fat biking, snowshoeing and public use however the daylodge facility will be restricted to ticket purchasing, information provision, washrooms and locker use. The Cafe is currently closed.
We are following the recommendations from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, approved by the Emergency Management Cabinet Committee released on March 12 as below:
All large gatherings of more than 250 people, or international events in the province are to be cancelled.
Any event that has less than 250 attendees and expects to have international participants, or involves critical infrastructure staff, seniors, or other high-risk populations should also be cancelled.
Our daylodge facility is frequented by seniors and international visitors therefore during this time we are unable to permit gatherings in this space.
We will continue to follow the advice of the public health office and provide updates to our customers.
We apologize for this inconvenience.
Thanks, JR. I’ve added this to my update. -Bob
Does anyone know if there still grooming there hasn’t been an update on the Yoho site since February 26th
The Urban Ski Tour!
Want to go for a ski – but don’t want to face the treacherous winter roads? Consider an urban ski tour. Put on your skis (probably your “rock skis”) at the front door and just start skiing – sidewalks, alleyways, green spaces, parks & little used side streets (this is probably illegal… but if you obey all the rules – you’ll miss all the fun). Skis were originally designed as a practical solution for winter travel; but no one really uses them in this way anymore. However, we still enjoy skis for recreation & competition. Skis are an amazingly elegant solution for travel on snow… capable of working with just a couple of centimeters up to many, many meters of snow. I am constantly amazed that such a simple device can provide such advantageous motion in snow.
It is my belief that altho signing onto an e-mail petition is better than nothing, if you really want your objections to have an effect with politicians, send and actual letter outlining your points- an actual letter like with paper and signature and envelope and stamp.
If anyone has additional information, I would love to hear it.
An excellent response and a good starting point. One caution though given my past experience with public consultation. Best to define what “meaningful consultation” is, or what the purpose or goal is, or when it is achieved, so that it doesnt end up just being a few meetings to “inform” rather than consult, with the outcome being the same (consultation achieved in the eyes of government leaders). The goal of consultation should be to find and review ALL options and alternatives that allow grooming to continue (Plus the facts to support the notion that it has value and is worthwhile to support in the long term), including the unique issues/sustainability of a volunteer/donation model at WBC, especially if it becomes the only groomed location in Kananaskis.
Only 1cm of fresh at castle junction this morning.
Lake Louise -12C VR40 10:30 am Peyto, Telemark Loops skier tracked in 20 cm recent snow. GD was being groomed as we returned to the Lake on Peyto / Upper Telemark. Used the short cut to Fairview – not highly recommended. Fairview was newly track set so a bit soft but a nice slide down the hills. MLR (fresh track set) to Tramlines and down to the river. We met the groomers half way down. Skied Bow River trail and campground loop on new’ish track set dusted with the start of the forecast snow. It will be a new white world for Friday and the weekend. Travel safely!
West Bragg Creek
It was another day of sunshine and great travel conditions at West Bragg Creek. In addition to skiing Moose Loop, we also toured up northbound Tom Snow trail and explored the cut-blocks and old logging roads on the west side of the creek. https://photos.app.goo.gl/29L8HDeqFc4djtAH7
I expect any tracks will be gone after the snow that is forecast to fall over the next few days.
Mount Shark – Watridge Lake to Spray River
Incredible day of skiing at Mt Shark!!
Arrived at ~11:00 to see groomers hard at work.
First ones on fresh track set to Spray River.
Thank you ‘Alberta Parks’ – you guys do great work!!
Lots of fresh snow (6-10 inches) in last week.
And more in forecast.
Groomers have done a fantastic job.
Most snow I’ve seen in recent memory – snow on bridges almost up to top railing. (wish I could share some pictures to make you more envious)
Skied from Bryant Creek to Big Springs – skier set but pristine!
Great day at Mt Shark! Best ever!?!
Doing our best to ‘self isolate’ and ‘socially distance’
(Comments totally inappropriate but meant to be humorous and taken lightly)
Mount Shark is in great shape for spring skiing.
There are 2 organizations who are taking on the provincial government over the parks privatization issue; if you go on their home page you’ll find a petition to address this very delicate matter and that involves you area MLA, not that these individuals are going to give any consideration to our concerns but is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil.
There is something else about the decision procedure of this government, first they drop the bomb and then everyone has to adapt, a responsible leadership would have found an alternative first and then announce that it would be privatized, this is what is occurring in Europe, the tracksetting is no longer a responsibility of the local government but rather a consortium of local businesses who want tourism to flow efficiently.
So, the 2 organizations are:
CPAWS and LEADNOW ( Jolan Bailey)
I apologize for the lack of computer skill.
Take care: Paolo
WBC- Under blue skies and no wind, I skied Telephone (CCW), Moose, Mountain View West and Mountain. Overall good conditions with the help of a few cm of fresh snow.
As usual on Telephone the eastern part is not as good as the western part, but for sure that will change with all the snow coming this weekend.
PLPP Hydroline/Patterson/Elk Pass/Blueberry Hill plus loop to MaSid’s couch and hydroline in BC. There was fresh grooming in the park on these trails last night so they were in excellent condition with temperatures a few degrees below zero and mainly sunny conditions. A large skier group had reset the back country trail by the couch and on to the hydroline. They did not actually stop at the couch, perhaps because they knew that I had a reservation for 1300. Thanks for the trail breaking though. It turns out that someone has built another couch where that backcountry trail meets up with the hydroline about half way down to Elk Lakes PP. On the return I skied back up the hydroline to the top of Elk Pass. Only a couple of snow shoe users have come down there since the last snow so the trail is broken but really bumpy. The route by MaSid’s couch is a much better alternative to access Elk Lakes right now although the coming storm may change all of that.
Canmore Nordic Center – perfect conditions the last 2 days, yesterday with 3 or 4 cms of fresh snow and today with pristine grooming and tracksetting. Skiied out Banff Trail and then back via Meadowview and Bow Trail, each day respectively. Very sad to hear the FIS event was cancelled, the CNC was in perfect condition to showcase Alberta and the Rockies in all their winter splendor.
Thu mar 12: Monarch rampart
Broken trail up heally but still lots of fresh to make the out good (and to be all refreshed again by tomorrow). Ankle ski pens (AT) off trail at treeline. Slabby feeling and lightly wind affected snow in open areas at treeline. No sastrugi except on top of ridge. Light cracking in a soft slab just below ridgeline, as forecasted. Skied the lower angled easterly avalanche slope on the way out after lunch. It was starting to gain some heat in the afternoon sun with some light pinwheeling just starting, but winds were keeping it cool enough. Clear skies most of the day with only occasional light snow flurries.
With a few hours free at mid-day, the timing was right to get out and enjoy the sun and excellent skiing conditions of the core trails at WBC. Sundog W-Crystal E-Sundog E-Loggers-Crystal W-Mountain View-Mountain Road-Moose Connector-etc-finishing off with the seemingly overlooked by many, fun curvy downhill of Middle W Crystal. It occurred to me when encountering the fresh grooming on MV that ironically- could it be that this amazingly long and consistent season (the best that I can remember in 30 years) at WBC has put more demands than usual on the financial and volunteer grooming resources there? Other than the skiing, a highlight was encountering a busload of happy teenagers on xc skis- kudos to their teachers!
Beautiful day on Bill Milne from Ribbon Creek. Tracks were a bit hit and miss but it didn’t matter as the new snow was light and fluffy. Minus 14 at 10:30 and again at 2 pm. Storm warning must have scared everyone away . Just two other skiers enjoyed a blue sky with little wind. Storm was coming as we left.
This is an excellent piece. Great thanks are due to the GBCTA for their out-sized contribution to our lives.
However, we are all dreaming thinking that K-Country skiing is coming back. Our family will head out to PLPP this weekend for what we expect to be our last ever ski there, ever. It was great while it lasted and we can all be happy for that. We will tell our kids about it when they are older and they will not believe us that we had paid government employees grooming tracks in the middle of nowhere. I’m just as sad as you are about it, but this is the reality.
The more important question is, how will we ensure the GBCTA gets the support they need to continue their work? If we as skiers want at least one other place to go, WBC is the most viable option that we have and we need to find a better way to support them and their sustainability.
It’s -15, and clear skies in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.
No snow overnight.
An ecotourism professor in Calgary says the government is the best steward when it comes to managing provincial parks, and calls the Alberta government’s plans shortsighted.
March 12: Shaganappi Point golf course in Calgary update:
if Shaganappi received enough snow to reopen for Nordic skiing, how many people would go this week?
(One forecast is predicting 20cm of snow for YYC by the time the storm system passes through on Saturday)
This confirms just how ill-considered the “Optimizing Alberta’s Parks” plan is- if you could call it a “plan” at all. I’m still wondering where the specific cost-cutting measures originated- were they decreed from on high by the ministry, or selected by Parks bureaucrats? Either way-it’s pathetic there was no informed consultation with park users, the tourism industry, and the very group they cite in an apparent effort to add some legitimacy to the decision to end grooming (GBCTA).
Now, in an ideal world- free general access to our parks would be recognized as a benefit to the health and well being of the populace as a whole, and funded accordingly- a much better use of tax dollars than that ridiculous “War Room”. As xc skiers though- I don’t think that it is reasonable anymore to expect that taxpayers fund grooming, while at the same time wanting other users banned from these trails.
Keep up the pressure- don’t let this issue fade away!
West Bragg Creek
Some new snow at West Bragg Creek, over recent grooming made for enjoyable skiing on Wednesday. Travel conditions are very good for off-trail exploration as well.
Frustrating that so many are “for” user fees. What about those whom can’t afford it???!!! One person mentioned if the Government took back the privatized campgrounds in K Country, their suspicion is that revenue stream alone would pay for winter ops in K Country and to their knowledge possibly operations costs all year ’round!
A lovely sunny warm day to the Lookout via Fox Creek and Hydroline and back via Tyrwhitt and Elk Pass. We met a group of school kids from Cochrane on Fox Creek and a few other skiers. Travel was slower on the new snow and quite interesting and enjoyable. Photos are at https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkPTdV4IGHve9–McWqhcXmy-E?e=Tv9ff6
Thank you GBCTA for your very thoughtful response to the UCP proposed cuts to our provincial parks. You are certainly in a position to directly address the problems associated with a not for profit organization attempting to take charge of tracksetting and trail maintenance in the areas PLPP, Mt, Shark and Kananaskis Village area. For the most part, it would appear that most users of these areas are not opposed to a user fee in order to maintain parks and services as they are now. This issue is much bigger than just the tracksetting and trail maintenance in the winter, it involves the trails and park services year round. I sincerely hope the government will listen and at the very least engage in public consultation.
Skied north on a portion of Bill Milne today starting from Mount Kidd RV Park access road. Wind drifts and new snowfall covered the tracks in open areas (and totally covered grooming at Evan Thomas) and partially filled the tracks on the 5km of trail skied. It was a beautiful afternoon and the meadows surrounded by snowy trees were spectacular in the sun. Good thing this trail is fairly flat because I forgot my poles and practiced basic xc-skiing all the way.
This is a very constructive and thought-provoking contribution to the discussion. Since the last attempt by the Alberta government to cease tracksetting (2001-2002), and an abandoned attempt in 2004 to institute fees, K-Country skiers have been happily fooling themselves that they can continue to be the only high-quality XC ski area without some sort of user fee. If this idea can be discussed with government reps, surely some solution for free or reduced fees for Wm Watson Lodge users and low-income families can be worked out. In light of the last paragraph, we must not under-estimate the costs of winter and summer trail maintenance and be prepared to contribute what we can.
Recon to check out West Elk Meadows. -5 late morning. Lunch at Cheeky and Simona’s Loveseat 2 hrs later when snow temp measured zero. Keith suggested bigger baskets and he was right-bigger baskets all way up Elk Pass Trail where I broke trail basically from parking lot to Blueberry junction. Snow shoers and a few skiers coming out from hut had broken trail through meadows. Snow-shoers do not like going snow shoe route to Elk Pass so they snow shoe’d down to parking lot on Elk Pass Trail. One could barely make out the track setting of March 5th. At least 20-25 cms of snow adjacent to skier tracks, also noted on Fox Creek. A nice ski although prefer the lighter powder. Hope to get to ACC hut tomorrow. As noted on trip report from Ribbon trails, hope cooler temps make ski easier a demain!
PLPP – Lookout Trail
Great day and conditions!
Started at Boulton, snow -4 C, up Whiskey Jack, then along Tyrwhitt to ski up the north side of Lookout. The sky opened up to a warming sun and great views at the top. Fun run down the south side with about 12 cm of fresh snow over an evenly groomed firm base.
Mar 11 update from the Heritage Guides at Lake Louise:
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March. 9. Fair condition.
Fairview – Lake Louise Connector (BLUE #4): Double trackset, March. 9. Fair condition.
Forest Trail (#4) *formally the Shoreline*: Double trackset, March. 11. Good condition.
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate walking path, March. 11. Good condition.
Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5): Double trackset, March 10. Good Condition.
Teaching Grid: 8 lanes, March. 11. Good condition.
We skied Ribbon Creek and the snow was fresh and wet. Not only our group of 4; 2 waxlless skies and 2 wax skies were used by our group. All clumped in the snow with the conditions today. We met several other parties who had experienced the same. It was a challenge to wax. We started off with Blue for the waxed skies and we either clumped or it was too slippery.
Wed mar 11: rockbound lake trail.
Only a light dusting over recent tracks but sides of trail were nice and soft for taking off a bit of speed on descent. Some thin sun crust on south aspect below the shoulder about 6000 ft in open areas. No crusty effect on south aspect trail. Not much midpack to the snow, especially lower down. Fine on north aspect exploring around between base of dragons back and trail to tower lk (ankle to mid boot ski pen). Crossing over onto the south aspect of the ridge was less supportive. A few large trees down on the main trail below the shoulder requiring some quick detours speeding down.
I skate skied this morning on yellow, green, purple and blue trails. Although there are some bare spots you can still get a workout. Some ice but the majority is a hard corduroy. The hills are not too icy and snowplowing is possible if needed. There are still set tracks but they appear to be quite icy in sun exposed spots.
I expect the trails will groomed again if we get the snow as forecast. Still worth a visit if you only have an hour or so.
My understanding is that the trails will cease to be maintained in the next 10-14 days.
Thank you for the update, Bob. Hope you and your family are doing well, and will be back with us soon 🙂
Banff Tunnel Mtn Campground trails were groomed Mar 9. Fantastic conditions. This is a great place for families, new skiers and the after work crowd.
We try to groom these trails 1-2 a week. The Parks Canada trail reports do not accurately reflect this.
Goat Creek and Spray River West this afternoon were pleasant and fast. Good though slightly wobbly tracks on Goat Creek that were free of debris. The big hill before the bridge as mentioned wasn’t groomed well and does have weird ridges and isn’t level, so I would go slow down that. Spray River West was not in as good of shape due to the amount of use. Tracks were really shallow (but there for the most part) and had skate ski marks through them which is expected for how narrow that trail is. The snow is soft enough that it doesn’t affect it much.
10 March, 2020 Elk Pass Parking -8C at 10:30am -2C at 3:30 pm on VR40 wax: Followed last nights grooming (with a detour through Fox Creek where snow was so deep poling was awkward) up Elk Pass trail to Hydroline junction, then Hydroline to Lookout junction. The top of Lookout was breezy but not uncomfortable in either temperature or velocity. The groomed snow was firm but not icy which made for comfortable climbing and a controlled decent to Tyrwhitt. Skiing Tyrwhitt today was my easiest of the winter. Elk Pass trail was skier tracked in very deep snow, so we opted to slide down Hydroline to Elk Pass. Flew over Elk Pass hill and landed safely at the parking lot. Ray offered to drive us to Elkwood and we finished the day skiing Lodgepole and Sinclair to Pocaterra Hut on excellent March 9 grooming and trackset topped with a cm of new/or wind blown snow. Trails groomed before the big snow event are deep in snow and difficult on skinny skis.
Ribbon trails (all of them on the Hotels side) plus Ribbon and Hidden on the Nakiska side. Snow conditions were quite good today, fairly soft on the recent grooming. There were no icy sections. Hills are mostly in good shape except for some damage due to walkers. Kovach down to Ribbon Creek is pretty beat up and I decided not to do the coal mine as the groomer has made one pass there but a walker (up and down) has made quite a mess of that trail. I have not skied on the trails at Ribbon for a couple of months now. I saw quite a few “skier only” clap board signs today that were not there when I last skied here. That is encouraging. Unfortunately, a few of them are at one end of a route but not at the other end. Even where they are at both ends (for example, trail to the Hotels leaving the Ribbon parking), walkers ignore them anyway. I suppose that with the coming Kenny cuts it is not going to matter next season.
I mostly do skating and when I came to Pocaterra first time with skate skis only I was very disappointed to see the sign which is very hard to miss. It is even harder to miss that the tracks are done for classic only, they are nowhere near wide enough, even if they would be only packed and not trackset. So it’s not only stupid, it’s just not enjoyable, there is no point in skating there at all. I did double poling that day. Some people are just assholes, don’t forget to remind them.
Frank, March 10th
First tracks on Fairview Loop;
we started the trail at 10:40 a.m. and -14 degrees Celsius. Once we got to the Fairview Loop cut off we noticed there were no indentations from ski poles in the snow. First Tracks! Perfect conditions there and back. No debris. Two hours later it was -1, the wind was rising and the snow started.
WBC – Skied Mountain, Mt View, Moose Loop CCW, Mt View, Loggers, East Crystal.
Most of the tracks are still in reasonably good shape and the skiing quite pleasant with a -1C when I started around 10:45am.
The North downhill of Mountain View West towards Moose is a bumpy and hard packed . The only areas where ice is visible and the trail deteriorating are the Mountain View west where there are many wooden posts / red plastic fence / net and the northern side of Moose.
Please continue to groom trails at PLPP, Mount Shark and Ribbon Creek. These three areas get well used by many skiers.
I would definitely pay a user fee or for an annual pass to keep the grooming up.
Cross country skiing in these areas is a joy. These trails are perfect terrain for this type of sport. Cross country skiing is quite affordable, great for fitness, and so much fun for many people.
LOST MITT! MEC black and grey, size XS, in or around the parking lot at PLPP Discovery Centre on Sunday. I called but there is nothing in their Lost and Found. If you find/found it please let me know :). Seems a bit silly to be posting about this but they were brand new- first time out and I didn’t get to use them!
pole to his midsection as he skates by.
Love your story!! Nakiska was amazing last weekend too!
Love your spirit.
Ellen, I have to admit that I “borrowed” this photo from the internet. I tried to find one with snow to no avail. -Bob
Hummingbird Plume Lookout – fantastic! I might have seen a few of the Skogan Pass skiers today too?
Lovely snow, lovely weather, beautiful scenery……… who could ask for anything more??
Oh, and I stopped in at the Barrier Info Centre, and the nice young man behind the desk informed me that they are slated to close on April 1st. April 1st?? That’s only three weeks away!!
Haven’t left a trip report for a long time, but I still follow religiously folks!
I waited for the Super Moon to rise over Grotto (mostly because my legs were tired from a bazillion turns (yes . . . they were all pure) at Nakiska today, and just returned from an absolutely incredible evening at C.N.C.
Skied Bow and Banff waxed with I don’t care and watched my moon shadow (MooooonshadowMoonshadow) follow me. Well, I guess I chased it at first, but that didn’t matter. I sang the song anyways.
Tracks were fast and wobbly (well, the wobbly was maybe me, I had a lovely flask of Malbec with me) and I almost took a Forever Nap twice while I admired Mr. Moon at inopportune moments. Gotta love the Bow Valley and Kananaskis. Even still folks. Even still.
Peter Lougheed had a concept of the “public good” when he created these parks and services. Should we let a new political party, whose leader wasn’t even born and raised in Alberta, destroy this legacy?
All I have seen so far of the UCP government is the financial rewarding of plush political appointments to boards and high-salary inside jobs to their cronies. The $30 million dollar/year ridiculous War Room is a good example of a waste of money paid out by Alberta taxpayers. It has made Alberta a laughing stock across Canada and beyond. Corporate tax cuts to billion dollar businesses is another, with very little evidence of any jobs generated from that.
For single income families like mine, cross country skiing has been a viable sport when so many others are out of our price range. Now that the kids are grown, they still come out to ski as often as they can.
As for a park fee and user fees, we have several National Parks right next door already competing for those same dollars. That is why Alberta’s provincial park system has been fee-free all these years. How many Albertans can afford to pay for both, especially now? Personally, I think it is high time we get off the unstable royalty roller coaster that pays for basic services and infrastructure, and start paying a PST like every other province. If we had done that years ago, we would have a generously sized Heritage Trust Fund today.
HILLSDALE TRAVERSE – March 9
Perfect conditions to re-visit an historic traverse.
Details available in the captions here:
The closure has been lifted!
We met Helen and the Canmore group on Skogan today, what a wonderful group of skiers! Started out at Ribbon Creek and skied the Skogan Loop on the way up, lovely views, and it was really snowy, the descent of the loop was a bit challenging in all the snow. Skogan Pass is such an exceptional ski trail and the conditions were superb. Coming down was extreme fun, and we absolutely loved it. The mountain views were beautiful against the gorgeous Alberta blue sky.
Mar 9 update from the Heritage Guides at Lake Louise:
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March. 9. Good condition.
Fairview – Lake Louise Connector (BLUE #4): Double trackset, March. 9. Good condition.
Forest Trail (#4) *formally the Shoreline*: Double trackset, March. 8. Good condition.
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate walking path, March. 8. Good condition. With fresh snow, comes slush from the added weight. It’s on our packed trail, so it’s mostly likely else where too. Boots recommended and keep to the packed trail.
Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5): Machine packed and Rolled, March 8. Poor Condition.
Teaching Grid: Machine packed and leveled, March. 6. Poor condition.
Beautiful conditions on all the Kananaskis village trails. Lots of snow, fresh grooming, and not many souls around. -16 to start, -5 at 1 p.m.
Good skier set tracks. Powder snow between the tracks made the last decent easy to control speed. Wondeffull sunny afternnon, -3oC. We skied 3km beyond the bridge – best tracks there.
Skogan Pass: just too many awesome reports to resist (thanks Ulrike and Alf and many others) and finally enough snow to not have to let out the “screamer” warnings. -16 starting at 10 am from Nakiska and thought we would be the first up there until one gentleman’s rapid pace put us all to shame. We had a lovely group of Canmore ladies who took it easy in both directions but there were many who started later in the day; Gwen and James from WWL who I sadly missed chatting to. The snow got appreciably heavier as we descended and we were grateful for the earlier start and cooler snow temp. A bit of wind picked up on our descent so might be a bit more snow from the trees tomorrow. It was absolutely majestic and I could not help but wonder if “this will be the last time” for such a memorable ski up there. Thank you Groomers for your skill in track-setting that massive route! 18.5 kms. and 600 M elevation
Spray River East/West
A quick afternoon ski. Headed out on Spray East – beat up by the golf course, but good trackset after the first 750m. Pleasant ski to the east/west junction and beyond. Returned on Spray West – decent if occasionally wobbly tracks, with the usual general deterioration as you near the hotel. -4C at 1:30pm; -2C at 4pm. Wonderful to ski under blue skies with no wind.
That’s a nice prediction, but we still need to be loud about it.
I had Goat Creek all to myself and she’s a beauty. If you’re coming from the Canmore side once the road opens, caution on the corner/downhill to Goat Creek bridge. The grooming is poor and ridges make it tricky to snowplow. The snow was soft so more traffic might flatten it out.
Heading out for a ski at West Bragg under the light of the super moon? You might not be the only one howling out there!
We spotted those, along with the smaller tracks of at least one other, paralleling the Moose Loop for a km this morning. Conditions on Moose, both Mountainviews, Mountain Road, Sundog and the Crystal Lines remain very good with dry snow over a hardpacked base. Hills and tracks were fast, but not icy, other than a couple of isolated short stretches of track on the usual exposed portions of Moose N and Mountain View West.
Skogan Pass Photos – March 8
We agree 100 percent with the previous reports saying it was a great day. Here are yet some more pictures to prove it.
SUPER MOON TONIGHT FOR SKIERS
You can search the rise/ set/ angle / direction on the internet for your area. I am unable to post the website here.
The rise will be about 7:32 in Calgary with a low 80 degree angle. It sounds like the moonlit skiing will be better later in the evening. Super moons are brighter moons to ski to. You just need the right angle.
We skied the Alluvial Fan Trail at Emerald Lake yesterday. Skier tracked when we started but we saw the snowmobile grooming and track setting later. Gorgeous place to ski!!! Very beginner-friendly, great snow, super beautiful, and we loved all the snow bridges. It was very warm too (close to zero when we finished.)
Waxless skis worked well.
We had lunch at the lodge and then skied down the connector trail to the Natural Bridge where we left a second car.
Smith Dorrien Powder- March 8.
Below treeline glades offered up excellent conditions on Sunday. The low density settled storm snow of around 35 cm lying on top of a crust was reasonably well bonded and showed little sign of slab formation in the sheltered glade runs that we skied. Nonetheless- with the elevated avalanche risk in mind- we stuck to moderate slopes with no overhead exposure and did not venture higher onto some inviting steeper terrain nearby at treeline. As expected on a good weather day after a dump, it was busy out there. We counted at least 14 others where we were, and all of the popular roadside parking spots had 6-10 vehicles by 10 AM- the easy access ski zones were getting hit hard.
CASTLE LOOKOUT TO BAKER- Broke trail all the way past the campground, when we met a party of 4 coming from Baker. Great snow everywhere, even under the trees! Had coffee and cookies at Baker Creek Chalets before returning back. A winter wonderland day, where was everyone?
I wonder how this person would feel if someone spoiled something they had just spent 10 hours working on, something that hundreds of people were relying on for their safety and enjoyment.
PLPP – Pocaterra
Busy day at Pocaterra (ok, that’s relative. The parking lot was full at 1400 when we arrived, but by contrast, I usually go during the week when there are maybe two other cars…), but the trails were perfect. Snow was around 2 deg in the parking lot, tracksetting was deep and firm. It will still be nice on Monday, as the tracks were still in great condition when we left at 1800.
It was a lazy day, so only made it to the Packers turn off, but the trails really couldn’t be any nicer all the way through. Grooming is soft enough for easy control on the hills.
RED EARTH CREEK – March 8
My intention was to ski to at least Shadow Lake Lodge, given the great sunny sky in the forecast. I figured there would be at least some broken trail on the fresh, so track skis seem good enough. There was indeed a broken trail from the parking lot, in at least 15 cm of fresh snow. Met the skier on his way back, who had decided to turn around about km 4.3 between the two avalanche paths. By then, it was anywhere between 25 to 35 cm of ski penetration, with not much of a firm base. I had to settle back on a less ambitious destination. Progress was very slow, with no hint at all for an old ski or skidoo trail. Good workout breaking trail. Reached the lodge turnoff (km 10.7) after 3 hr 45 min of hard work playing in the soft stuff; touring skis may have been a bit quicker. Knowing that heading back would be slow on a very soft self-made trail, it was a good call. Was glad to pick up some speed (5 km/hr!) about 2 km after RE6 on the way back. A good workout, in a winter wonderland. Unless it is trackset by the Parks until at least RE6, Red Earth Creek will become a ski touring-only destination from the road for the rest of the season.
Like many others, we took advantage of recent grooming and lots of new snow to enjoy the Skogan side of the Ribbon Creek trails. We parked at the Troll Falls trailhead and started out on Hay Meadow, the up Troll Falls/Ruthies to the Skogan Pass trail. We did the Skogan Loop. On the way back, we cut across to the Hummingbird Plume Lookout via High Level. And finally, we finished off by descending SunBurst and Skogan Pass Trails. It was a nice combination of a firm base, soft new snow, mild temps and sunny skies.
I was lured into skiing Skogan pass Sunday after reading the groomers report from Saturday morning . Unfortunately 15cm of fresh snow fell after the grooming, making the last bit of uphill difficult and the downhill a dangerous mess of snaking tracks. Snow plowing to control speed was next to impossible at the top. Probably felt differently for the first skiers down in untracked snow.
Hey folks, can we incorporate hashtags into our posts such as #protectalbertaparks & #protectourparksalberta & a hashtag to support grooming in our parks for the health benefits maybe #groomingbenefitshealthab
I was introduced to the wonderful trails of Kananaskis years ago by someone who taught me that what was important was just being out in the mountains. I used to often see skate skiers in PLPP (this was 10 to 20 years ago) and honestly never thought too much about it. I chuckle when people talk about conditions being “fair” when it’s a glorious day…there’s fresh snow but the tracks aren’t perfectly set. Maybe expectations are changing. It’s bad enough that we’re getting so divisive in our politics and now we seem to be getting divisive in our cross country skiing as well. I’m not a skate skier…but I also remember a friend of mine skate skiing on the Sawmill trails (this was over 20 years ago) while I was diagonal striding in about 20 cm of fresh powder…she could do it because she was tough and fit…and we both had a blast. I remember the fight between snowshoers and skiers…until both were educated…now they have their own trails (thankfully many of them were built before our current government came in) but if push came to shove both can be accommodated. What I would like to know is what’s happening with the recent planned changes to the provincial park system? Is anyone lobbying to maintain these services? I’m hearing from many that they would be happy to pay user fees…but have we studied the cost benefits of both options? I think we have bigger issues to worry about at this point. Has anyone proposed a meeting to discuss actions to take? I’ve seen a few links to petitions but I’m thinking a better idea is to come up with an actual plan for cross country skiing in the region. Where do we see the sport 30 years from now? (I know the government should be somewhat responsible for long term planning but no sign of this these days). When I say sport…I mean all aspects of cross country skiing ranging from hard core racing to backcountry exploration…and all things in between. I personally don’t care about having perfect track sets although I appreciate them when I find them.
We followed the recommendation from this website to head to Skogan Pass today! What a stunning day! Started from Nakiska in -13C, warming up very quickly in the sun; 15cm cold, fresh snow on top of the previous tracks. We had a skier ahead of us breaking trail until we met up with her at the powerline. Then it was our turn breaking trail for the last 4.5 km. The view from the top was fantastic with all surrounding peaks plastered in snow!
We skied down via the Skogan Loop, snow was already tracked by an earlier skier, tracks were moderately fast with the wet snow from Friday as a solid base; very enjoyable run down, as lots of skiers were climbing up. Here a few photos from an awesome day:
I think I wrote about that dude a few weeks back wrecking the Ribbon Creek track.
Bit of a loudmouth, had a friend. Pick up.
1000 km accomplished!
Jamie and I had a happy ski day at Skogan Pass, where I reached 1000 km of skiing in one ski season (first time for me).
The trails to Skogan Pass were snow covered but with various people on the trails, we shared the trail breaking. The blue sky and comfortable weather made it a pleasant ski, with a fun, controlled downhill.
We truly enjoy skiing at Ribbon Creek, PLPP, WBC, Lake Louise, Pipestone, Cascade Fire Road, and Sandy McNabb. We skied in Golden and at Kicking Horse this season. We even got to spend a couple of nights at Skoki Lodge a few weeks ago. What a splendid season!
It’s Jason Proche here. Further to Rhonda’s post. I was also out was also at PLPP today enjoying the amazing new snow, blue sky, and fresh tracks—that is until I came across the skate skier Rhonda mentioned. I came up on him from behind on Pocaterra as he was destroying the newly set tracks. I was friendly and simply mentioned that there are no skate lanes at PLPP, but told him areas where he could go. He played ignorant. After our friendly exchange I thought he’d turn around but kept climbing. I turned around and told him on behalf of the few hundred classic skiers that he should g9 and get his classic skis. He told me to call the RCMP. I WAS NOT IMPRESSED. So in jerk fashion, he continued his ski making divots in the fresh tracks. I’ll send you an email with his picture.
Ps I was thinking a letter from all your sponsors to the Minister of Parks would be a good way to get attention—UCP May actually listen to the business operators.
CASCADE VALLEY to STONEY CREEK CABIN – March 8
Trackset yesterday for the full 14 km to the Cabin, with another 5 cms since.
Details available in the captions here:
Needs more grooming!
It’s good to see trip reports again on this site and that people are skiing. It was a beautiful day in near Kananaskis Village today. That said, I’m still outraged that the government want to shut down XC ski in K-Country. Having signed the petitions and written the protest letters, I’m wondering what else we can do. There would be more impact if we were to direct our actions as a unified group, so I’m wondering if we can start listing clubs or groups that recreational skiers like me can get in touch with. If it’s a matter of fundraising or getting our voice out there so that someone listens, I’d really like to help in a meaningful way.
Bill Milne from Ribbon Creek Parking Lot. Wonderful afternoon and wonderful snow. Temperature at about -5°C to start and -3°C to finish. Followed the track-setter along brand-new pristine tracks. Couldn’t be better.
Big thanks to the groomer. We need to fight to keep XC going in Kananaskis because this is worth preserving.
West Bragg Creek
Great conditions today at WBC! Skied West Crystal, Mountain View, Mountain road, Tom Snow to the big meadow (where it appears a wolf pack bedded down over night), then back on Mountain road, Moose Connector, and West Crystal Line. The tracks were in nice shape and we didn’t encounter any ice along the way. Big thanks to the groomers for a doing such a great job! Photos
WBC – Skied East Crystal, Iron Springs and Creek, Elbow South to Highway 66 and back, Loggers, Moose Connector and back to the parking lot.
It was -15 C when I started and V20 / green worked very wells. With the exception of Elbow South, all the trails were perfectly groomed / trackset and it was a very pleasant ski.
Does anyone know if there is snow on hwy 66 beyond the winter gate at Elbow Falls?
EEOR Avy Control
Just an FYI that the avy control on EEOR this afternoon was very positive. The road will be closed for at least 24hrs. Current estimated reopening is tomorrow at 5pm with low confidence.
This would impact Goat Creek Trail access from Canmore.
Check the Alberta Parks website for updates, Kananaskis Public Safety does a great job of communicating on their Facebook and Twitter accounts too.
Strathmore golf club is skiable but not groomed or set.
One inch of snow made a world of difference at Confed Park.
They were able to groom and even trackset last night. The green and yellow have shallow tracks and only a couple of thin spots to avoid. The blue and purple were better, with purple even having reasonably deep tracks most of the way around it.
So should be reasonable skiing for a few more days.
March 8 12:00 Shaganappi golf course update in Calgary:
5cm of snow was not enough for Shaganappi to be reopened to the public.
Due to the somewhat consistent + temperatures over the past few weeks, there is a dangerous ice surface throughout the golf course that is now underneath a skiff of new snow. That ice surface is extremely dangerous to all pedestrian traffic, and makes for poor ski conditions.
We will monitor any new snowfall Shaganappi receives and may reopen if Shaganappi receives enough new snow in the coming week.
Wow… I had no idea the effort was this extensive.
I have used WBC alot this year for xc classic skiing. It is a great facility.
For the record, I would not be opposed to paying a seasonal fee to ensure these trails are well maintained.
March 8 08:00 Shaganappi Point golf course update: We are heading out on Skidoos as early as we are allowed to this morning to assess the snow depth and conditions and whether we can reopen Shaganappi to the Public. We will start Skidoo track packing the trails and an update will be posted here if conditions warrant a reopening. Stay tuned and cross your fingers!!!
West Bragg Creek
The West Bragg Creek trails got a nice snow refresh of between 5 and 10 cm. Because the Alberta Youth Championship XC ski races are taking place at WBC this weekend, the West Crystal Line and Crystal Link trails got most of the grooming attention. Hundreds of young XC ski racers were enjoying the great conditions on those trails today.
My tour today included some un-groomed skiing on the “West Meadow” between Mountain Road and Tom Snow trail and then looping back via Tom Snow. We also skied Mountain Road, Mountain View, West Crystal, Loggers, Sundog and East Crystal Line. Conditions ranged from wobbly worn tracks on Mountain Road to nice, new track setting. We ran into Groomer Bill as he was laying down some nice new track setting on East Crystal Line. Expect to see new grooming on some of the more outlying trails on Sunday.
FYI, Cascade Trail was trackset this morning – to the campground at bridge. Lovely winter conditions.
Confed… anyone know if it’ll be trackset after this snowfall?
Anyone know when they stop grooming?
Anyone know when ski access is cut off?
I seem to recall approx early/mid-March last year… and then we had another couple weeks of great ski weather/snow.
Pocaterra, Come Along and Rolly Road. Fun times on about 10cm over track set. Saw a moose hanging out having lunch in a meadow too.
SPRAY RIVER & GOAT CREEK – March 7
Glad so many people decided to ski while it is still snowing!
Details available in the captions here:
Surprised that Kris recognized me from just the pictures I have posted of my skis!
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park: As mentioned, lots of fresh snow and still snowing. We skier-trackset (aka ski-snowplowed) our way up from Boulton Bridge – Fox Creek – Elk Pass to the turnoff to Blueberry Hill. 20 – 40 cm fresh snow all the way, possibly some tracksetting somewhere below all the white fluff. No other skiers in sight. -10C felt nice, wax was VR30, but not much grip or glide in the deep snow.
Great, scenic ski, I just wish I had brought my gaiters.
Oslo 30kms women’s classical race. CBC has this event on their web sports page under video – skiing.
West Bragg Creek – Iron springs, all of it and back on Elbow.
A nice 5cm dusting over the chinook crust. -9c at 1230. Good travel on blue special. Still a trace of snow coming down when I got back to the car park. -9c at 1515. Hopefully it keeps dusting all night. Ski it early Sunday before it gets scraped clean down to the old crust.
Skogan Pass perfection
Whatever you are planning, think about changing plans and go ski Skogan. Powder over fresh trackset. Perfect climbing, enough powder on the downhills for wonderful control and almost no snowplough. You will never see it better than this.
Avalanche control work happening Sunday affecting roadways, in all the usual spots (whymper, Dennis, field, borgeau, etc), possibly continuing Monday. Likely EEOR/spray lakes hill to get added to the mix.
Wonderful. Report from my skiers that they had blue sky as soon as they hit highway 40, -9 at trailhead and clearing up.
Followed Jeff the groomer up Skogan Pass and it was terrific conditions! Decided to go around Sunburst & High Level as we had caught up to the groomer tracks. With the recent snow it was a nice down to the parking lot.
Glad you guys got the snowcat working and was able to lay down track over the super clumpy fresh snow and snowmobile track from Friday morning. Saw the Live Grooming Report and started from Nakiska around 11, only to find see a snowmobile heading up at the Hidden junction and then 2 guys on it headed back down at the top of the Screamer. A skier coming down said the cat got stuck near the top and the tracksetter had to walk down. Had to turn back on Sunburst due to the really slow, sticky and clumpy snow, but I guess I should probably try Skogan again this week if the conditions are the best it’s ever been.
For those who think it is a good idea to charge fees for tourism and health supporting cross country skiing think about this:
Would you want to pay for tolls on roads?
Would you want to pay the full cost of your health care?
Would you want to pay for the cost of putting out your house fire?
One for all and all for one. It is better for the economy and all involved.
As a lot of trails in the Parks are over growing with trees and the trails have become narrower over the years as a result. Trails like Elk Pass and Watrdige Lake use to have nice wide ski skating lanes but now they do not for the most part. This has had a negative impact on the ski skating industry of course along with the associated economic spin off effects.
As many of the ski trails now do not include skating lanes, the use of snow cat grooming machines is over kill. Trails that just have one or two tracksets could easily be groomed by snowmobile grooming equipment like what occurs at Shaganappi in Calgary or Banff. This would require a little more labour but it would reduce the capital and or operational costs of using snow cats- greatly.
There are ways to reduce xc trail tacksetting costs greatly while the existing ski trail system and maintaining Provincial Parks controlled services while not charging people for xc skiing. The benefits outweigh the negatives from an economic spin off effect point of view to maintain free skiing.
Furthermore, a number of trails have been closed down over the years, like ones that where accessed from the Chester Lake parking lot area. Alberta Parks has cut the cost of cross country ski trail grooming over the last decade or so. They can still make cuts without cutting back universally free skiing which boosts the tourism industry. Universal free skiing allows all Albertans to enjoy the sport including the poor, families and laid off workers.
When you are laid off from work, it is nice to know you can still enjoy a cheap day of xc skiing to get your mind off of the corporate rat race society we live.
Its cheaper to keep ‘er.
Thanks for the important links. Vive la resistance!
Keep them coming. Power to the people.
With new snow falling west of Banff this morning, I opted to tour up to Rockbound Lake. When that long, steep trail up to the upper basin is hard-packed and icy, it can make for a terrifying descent. But with soft, new snow, it’s a lot of fun. Starting out, the snow was damp and prone to icing up, but the snow depth and quality increased with elevation. No photos today. It was snowing too hard to see anything.
March 6 update from the Heritage Guides at Lake Louise:
Fairview Loop (#2): Machine packed and leveled, skier set, March. 6. Poor condition. We hope to trackset this tomorrow (March 7).
Fairview – Lake Louise Connector (BLUE #4): Machine packed and leveled, skier set, March. 6. Poor condition. We hope to trackset this tomorrow (March 7).
Forest Trail (#4) *formally the Shoreline*: Machine packed and leveled, skier set, March. 6. Poor condition. We hope to trackset this tomorrow (March 7).
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate walking path, March. 6. Fair condition and with continuing heavy snow fall overnight this will be in poor condition by morning (March 7).
Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5): Double trackset, March. 4. Poor condition with new snow.
Teaching Grid: Machine packed and leveled, March. 6. Poor condition. We hope to trackset this tomorrow (March 7).
Mt Shark: Good day for “roly-poly” in the snow for doggies, and good powder skating for my humans. Arrived at 10 am to find approx. 3 cms new over last nights grooming (must have started snowing right after the groomers left), temp -2C. Continued skiing/ski-joring till around noon by which time there was 6+ cms snow covering all the grooming, also getting a bit heavy/moist – getting a bit trickier for my humans skating but not a problem for me with my Canine 4 Paws Extra! Still around -2C and snowing hard when we left. Very happy to get to play in this dog-friendly area before Kenney implements his cut backs next season – woof!!
Bowness Park: sketchy but skiable 😛
Looking forward to the weekend refresher!
It’s currently 1 and snowing in peter lougheed!
Imho the grooming cancellation was just a distraction from the “sale” part of the announcement that was quietly removed from the website later. Those 164 sites listed for “partnership” is their main goal. I am guessing some of those sites were “promised” to “partners” who helped UPC to get back in power. Time to repay…
Risto posted this yesterday, but in case it got lost: xc-specific petition: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/community_petitions/minister_of_environment_jason_nixon_keep_trail_grooming_and_track_setting_alive_in_kananaskis
Its not xc specific, but these are events regarding the overall parks changes:
YYC Protest: https://m.facebook.com/events/568391263765367
YYC Townhall (limited seats): https://m.facebook.com/events/670529613694476
I’m unclear if there would be value in a xc ski-specific townhall – maybe to discuss options if our dear government doesn’t retract their $200k cut…?
West Bragg Creek:
Fantastic conditions on all core trails (Crystal Lines, Sundog, Loggers). Expect to see wind scoured snow/ice on trails with lots of exposure (think Mountain View West, Moose Loop, Mountain View).
We expect to see at least 10 cm of new snow in the next 24 hours.
Be aware that the Alberta Youth Championships will be held this weekend on West Crystal Line.
Hi Skiers. Im with a snowmobile club that been grooming our trails for years now. In 2000 the Alberta Snowmobile Association brought in a provincial trail pass to assist clubs with the cost of running a trail system. Groomers drags, trail maintenance, fuel, other equipment, all covered by trail pass and a HUGE amount of other fundraising. Raffles,bingo,casino rallies etc. You will do good as a group and self fund your activities and maybe do a better job than what the government has been doing for you. It has been over 15 years since the government groomed any snowmobile trails. We pay a fee for registration and get nothing back. Its time for a provincial trail pass for all users.
Sovereign Lake/Silver Star (SS): great Neuchatel Reunion last week; staying at The “funky” Bulldog. Skied back and forth across the two x-c ski areas every day. Seniors rates between $17-21 for just SS or combined resorts. Impeccable grooming but winds one night brought down a few tree bombs and tree beard. I believe there is an app for Sovereign Lake, which would be advantageous to trying to read the signage, which seems to appear around every corner. Snowed small amounts every night and temps stayed around -5 to -1, making VR 50 a perfect wax daily. One can get spoiled riding the gondola to start each day. Alder Point is a lovely lookout and the various cabins scattered throughout, with wood stoves and boxes of kindling and massive firewood, make for very civilized lunch stops. Stussi’s Ski Shop at base of Silver Star Road well worth a stop (08:30 to 5). Enjoyed the 4 kms.Night Loop this year for first time. SS Resort now owned by an American Company but locals are optimistic if/when they might make some positive changes in coming seasons. Now that I am home, I can focus on letter-writing re. proposed changes to PLPP, Barrier Info closure (ridiculous) and Ribbon trail maintenance. While people know I love fresh snow and breaking trail, I do not carry a chain saw for downed trees. One only has to look at Sawmill on Smith Dorrien to visualize the adverse affects of stopping grooming. Thank you Bob (and Cheryl) for keeping us aware of daily updates in this distressing matter and wish you both a safe and speedy return. This could not have come at a worse time for you.
I first posted this in the ‘Questions’ section but figured not many would see it.
My wife and I are staying a couple of nights in Field next week and we had planned to ski into Lake Ohara for lunch on Tuesday. I found out today that the lodge doesn’t offer lunch on weekdays so now I’m rethinking which trails we’ll ski. What are your favourite trails in the Field area? We’re up for a 20km ski or thereabouts. Little Yoho? Emerald Lake? Maybe Lake Ohara without lunch?
Any recommendations are appreciated. (We ave all sorts of skis, skins, etc.)
West Bragg Creek
Superb conditions on Hostel Loop on Thursday morning… and on all of the other wind-sheltered trails too.
Snow got warm and sticky in the afternoon, but should set up overnight.
Skogan Pass powder day.
We climbed the 600 metres up to the pass starting from Nakiska using waxless light touring skis with metal edges.
We skied through 10+ cm of heavy wet snow and huge thanks to the amazing Dave who got an earlier start than us and broke trail all the way to the bottom of the Skogan Loop.
We met Paul and Joy on the trail and took turns breaking trail with them the rest of the way to the pass.
Our tracks are well set now so skiers tomorrow will have a much easier trip. The Skogan Screamer wasn’t much fun on descent. My friend named it the “herringbone cheese grater.”
The snow was getting very sticky on descent so waxless skis are a good choice.
Parks cuts petition:
K Country winter trail maintenance cuts petition:
Great day skiing in PLPP. Started on Lodgepole and Braille on skier set tracks. Braille had one lone track only part way along. The rest looked like Arctic wilderness. Moved to Amos and Wheeler. Great conditions on skier set trails but got soft and sticky by later afternoon. We met lots of skiers enjoying the day.
PLPP – Elk Pass and Lookout
A wonderful day with temperatures just right for V40, fresh tracksetting, sun and a few manageable challenges.
Elk Pass – Perfect on new tracksetting. We did have a little excitement going up the steep section before the pass. A skier returning from the hut had a dog on a leash and as she was coming down at a fair clip the dog decided to run towards us to visit. She had trouble maintaining control with her heavy pack and the dog pulling her over to us but disaster was averted when we skooted over to the side and she made an impressive recovery on the other side of the trail.
Tyrwhitt – Very good skier trackset on about 10 to 15 cm of new snow over the old trackset.
Lookout – 15 to 20 cm of new snow on top of the previous grooming. We were the first skiers up but unfortunately two walkers were there before us. This was not an issue going up the north side but on the south side it did present a challenge because they had walked down the center of the trail The boot marks were quite deep and starting to harden. We had to snowplow a bit harder than usual to keep our speed down on the rough trail. With all the marks in the warm snow freezing tonight it’s going to be quite a mess tomorrow on the south side of Lookout. To the walkers credit, they did stay off the trackset so we had no issues between the creek and hydroline.
Hydroline – A very strong warm wind was filling in the tracks on the lower half.
Elk Pass return – Fast and fun. We will sure miss these types of conditions if somehow we don’t find a way to revive the tracksetting next year.
We met lots of folks enjoying the new tracksetting. The parking lot was almost full and a busload of students were on the trail. We enjoyed the opportunity to show some of them how to use their edges to herringbone more effectively up the first steep hill on Elk Pass.
Does anyone know the conditions on Cascade? Or if by some miracle there is tracksetting planned tomorrow morning?
I totally disagree with negotiating/starting discussions moving toward a non profit or for profit taking over the running of winter operations in K Countray as a first tactic.
Once a strong minded individual (or in this case government) sees weakness/any signs of acceptance, all is lost.
I feel a smarter first tactic is strong condemnation by all is the best first approach, and I am very disappointed that some Nordic Ski clubs and associations have issued arguably weak press releases and public statements on this matter.
Cross Country Alberta is assembling a round table sort of collective to address this decision to end winter trail maintenance in K Country who likely will be meeting in the next few weeks.
I have firsthand information from a 2+ hour phone discussion this week with an Alberta Parks insider on how this decision came about to begin with, and also all the work that encompasses running nordic ops for Parks. The last time this decision was put forward years ago, there was strong public pushback, and in the end, the manager lost their job.
It is not reasonable to say volunteers can take Nordic operations in PLPP over for so many reasons. In the next few days I will share some of the data and facts and figures and reasoning behind this statement that I have from firsthand information.
1) Most grooming and track setting must be done at night in PLPP and in a graveyard shift because due to safety reasons grooming and tracksetting can not be done during the day in PLPP because it is so busy.
2) Since the death of a West Bragg Creek Trails volunteer, volunteers in Alberta are not allowed to do any chainsaw work unless certified to do so alone through a strict certification process and it is nearly impossible for people from a volunteer organization to get certified due to the strict requirements which make a tonne of logical sense. It is my understanding that the West Bragg Creek Trails Association (WBC) has to pay contractors whenever there is chainsaw work to do on their trails. There are many occasions in which there are trees across trails in K Country, and the past 3 years have seen winds over 100km/hr resulting in hundreds of downed trees.
3) Volunteer organizations tend to be fraught with problems keeping skilled volunteers as the friends of Kananaskis Country can attest. The Friends of Kananaskis Country did a survey asking volunteers about volunteering and a HUGE amount of respondents said the demands of the job were too much work. Volunteer organizations such as WBC have been fraught with troubles and strain over the years some due to background issues behind the scenes so-to-speak and also funding challenges and WBC keeps facing funding challenges, according to my source.
Please, I beg you to not cave and then put on the “we/somebody else can take it over” hat as a first response.
Someone recently mentioned when things like these budget cuts happen, this is when some people choose to put on the greedy hat and figure they can turn this into a money maker for them.
Please pause, protest, and protest loudly!!!
Online petition about cuts to Parks: (please try to ignore the rhetoric and sign for the common good…)
Online petition specific to cuts to winter trail maintenance in K Country:
Outdoor protest rally for Calgary:
Please consider a few phone calls and written approaches:
Write letters (I hope of strong protest and condemnation) to the following 8 parties and cc the official opposition in all correspondence to the government:
The official opposition (it is important for the official opposition to be cc’d in on these letters to have a somewhat accurate gauge of how many letters of protest the government is receiving.)
5th Floor Edmonton Federal Building
9820 107 St NW, Edmonton, Alberta T5K 1E7
The minister of the Environment
The Finance Minister
The minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism
To find your MLA, go to the web address below, and slowly start typing in your street address:
Cross Country Alberta
My very unsolicited two cents but for things this important, I don’t give a d#*n!
My wife and I are staying a couple of nights in Field next week and we had planned to ski into Lake Ohara for lunch on Tuesday. I found out today that the lodge doesn’t offer lunch on weekdays so now I’m rethinking which trails we’ll ski. What are your favourite trails in the Field area? We’re up for a 20km ski or thereabouts.
Little Yoho? Emerald Lake? Maybe Lake Ohara without lunch?
Any recommendations are appreciated. (we have all sorts of skis, skins, etc.)
SKOKI – March 5
While I have done this day trip on track skis, I enjoyed having the metal edges on my light touring skis today… better control!
Details available in the captions here: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AgXbvmC40zK_hQuFsplPxHIlZObh?e=qV0iCj
Despite the wind, the snow was the best I have ever enjoyed over these passes.
PLPP Middle Trails: -5C 10:30 am start at William Watson Lodge with VR50 wax. Skied Wheeler to bottom of Whiskey Jack then back on Amos to WWL for lunch. Out again to ski Wooley south to north then south Meadow back to Elkwood parking and WWL. Two loops of spruce road completed a very satisfying 20 km ski of the mid-Park trails. All trails were skier tracked in recent snow. Glide was excellent and wax performed well. Only a few other skiers enjoying these beautiful trails on a warm sunny day. +1C at 3:00 pm at WWL.
Started at Ribbon Creek parking at 9:30 am, skied some of Kovach and Ribbon Creek. Lots of wind and a snow bank across the trail. It was a super easy climb up, due to lots of snow, but slow going down. Attempted to ski Hay Meadows, but it was all boot tracks and then blow-in and getting soft, so we made a loop back from the meadow. By the time we got back to the parking lot, the snow was very sticky. Not wanting to go home, we had lunch and then walked to Troll Falls, as we had never been there. Walkers built various snowmen in the middle of the trail.
March 5 update from the Heritage Guides at Lake Louise:
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March. 5. Good condition.
Fairview – Lake Louise Connector (BLUE #4): Double trackset, 5. Good condition.
Forest Trail (#4) *formally the Shoreline*: Double trackset, March. 4. Good condition.
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate walking path, March. 4. Good condition.
Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5): Double trackset, March. 4. Good condition.
Teaching Grid: 8 lanes, March 5. Good condition.
Had a great ski at West Bragg Creek today! Excellent, clean snow and track setting! We did Mountain Road, Moose Connector, West Crystal, Loggers, East Crystal. We were on skins and fish scales, and all was well! Thanks groomers, for the fantastic work!
From the outset I found it hard to imagine that there would be no grooming at venerable PLPP next year, however, how that will be accomplished remains in question. I’m wondering if there is going to be a coordinated response from clubs and groups and what will be the best way to provide input.
Myself for example would most like to see grooming preserved at PLPP and if that means sacrificing Mt. Shark and perhaps Ribbon Creek then so be it, however I recognize that others will see it differently. I’d also be willing to accept fees but as a more frequent user I’d favor a season pass that covers both CNC and PLPP and other provincial areas. I also think it is important that there be areas like west bragg creek and confederation where no fees are charged to avoid discouraging beginners.
I think there is a case to be made for maintaining the status quo, but I’m not sure in the current fiscal and political climate that will fly so I think the community that enjoys the trails should be prepared.
Started at 9:15am and 0C at Evan Thomas parking. High cloud and very windy in the Kananaskis Valley. I skied up the Evan T trail – rough early, but decent skier trackset after a couple of minutes, and mostly protected from the winds. After nearly 2km, I crossed Evan Thomas creek onto the Wedge Connector – good skier trackset in the shelter of the trees, all the way to Wedge Pond. I returned to my starting point by the same trails, then crossed Hwy 40 onto Bill Milne and skied to the golf course entrance – quite windy here and the tracks were often obliterated. I then drove up to Kananaskis Village. Now about Noon, +5C, and the clouds thinning, so the snow was getting quite sticky in places. I skied sections of Terrace and Kovach. Less wind in this area. +7C at 1pm when I finished. A slow but satisfying day.
They removed the word “sale” from their announcement on Alberta Parks.ca. I think the petition actually worked. Now they are trying to convince us they’ve never planned to sell anything… Good manipulation Kinga!
What’s one supposed to say? The people have spoken, and the people (or at least the majority of them) wanted Jason Kenney. You get what you vote for.
With kind regards,
P.S. Skier track-set skiing next year, here we come!
I can concur with the initial surprise/disappointment upon seeing that our beloved winter trails will no longer maintained for xc skiing. But there’s a lot of potential for a good outcome here. We have 8 months to figure this out before the next season and there are many options to consider. But we need strong spokespeople such as ski and other recreational clubs, parks people, themselves, and forums such as this – Bob, looking forward to having you back in the empire as a trusted voice for the xc ski community (and best wishes for your family).
As for the parks issues, the government has proposed to close or reduce funding to a number of parks that are often very difficult to access due to their isolation and are thus underused, which makes them relatively costly to maintain (see the list and google map them). This doesn’t mean people can’t continue to use some of them, they just won’t be serviced with amenities that sometimes have to be helicoptered in. Not that controversial a move. They have not indicated that any public lands will be sold but, rather, that services/facilities in those parks may be leased. This is already happening today. Many provincial campgrounds have private leases for their maintenance or to operate facilities. I used to work for a campground maintenance company, family-owned, back in the late 90s in the David Thompson area. The people that hold these leases are not making millions, they are often retired people looking to enjoy the outdoors and keep busy. They provide care and vigilance of public lands, a great service and more than what the government can afford. Hardly the image of a “profit-making private corporation” as stated in the Leadnow petition. The Leadnow and Y2Y petitions circulating in response to this issue contain misleading and incorrect statements (e.g. “fire-sale of Alberta’s provincial parks”) and should not be further promoted as they’re just playing off people’s initial emotional reactions to the headlines on this issue. This article in the Calgary Herald helps set some of the record straight on the government’s proposal.
Strong emotions and divisiveness make people feel like victims. We don’t have to play the victim card when it comes to our winter trails. Albertans are truly lucky to have access to such exceptional, world-class parks and trails in our back yards, winter and summer. Perhaps it’s time to show our love in different ways.
It’s 10:15, -7 degrees with broken clouds in PLPP.
No new snow.
This decision will affect thousands of Albertans. I would be willing to pay an entrance fee to keep grooming the trails and to maintain the visitors centres.
Compared to Health and Education I understand that Parks Alberta are not the top priority, but I question the provincial government approach to eliminate the deficit. They are still using the boom and bust approach. The stability provided by a provincial sales tax and user fees would be a more realistic approach when facing economic downturns.
Montana XC Ski Trails
Checking out some great xc skiing in Montana this week before the West Yellowstone Rendezvous 50k on Saturday. Homestake Lodge outside Butte is a hidden gem – PLPP width trails with Nipika-like facilities – groomed daily and only $18US. $25US today to ski pristine corduroy at Lone Mountain Ranch at Big Sky (south of Bozeman). Isaak Walton XC trails west of East Glacier, Montana (4hr south of Calgary) are rustic and charming. Gov’t of AB proposed user pay in 1999 and buckled to the pressure. I remember having to buy an annual prov. park pass in Ontario 30 over years ago to xc ski. Bring on user pay.
HI Bob. Is there somewhere we can email to comment directly to the government about this decision? I agree with the reader’s comment about being willing to pay a user fee to use the trackset trails, but am also wondering if their decision might be influenced by a large number of protests (offering suggestions for what can be done to continue tracksetting) directly to them?
200K, eh? That’s not “millions of dollars!” as claimed by Nixon!
Tourism is hardly a major mandate of this government. They claim it is, but they aren’t acting on it. They’ve been doing their best to keep the Castle parks under the radar, will do nothing for Bighorn Country, and are now launching this attack on existing Alberta Parks and the “signature destinations” in Kananaskis Country. I don’t mean to sound glib or anti-Conservative in general – I’m not anti-Conservative, most parks in Alberta were established by Conservative governments, and the original champion of Kananaskis Country was none other than Peter Lougheed – but this government is following a very anti-parks policy.
I’m concerned that these “cuts,” which produce only a small decrease in spending at the cost of much economic benefit elsewhere, are part of a subtle larger plan to reduce low-impact parks use and erode our parks system.
So much lovely snow out Lake Louise way….
Mar 2 skied in Field from the Visitor Center to Emerald Lake. Fresh tracks up to the Connector then skier tracked but snow was very good. It was +4C at end of the day and skin skis worked great.
Mar. 3 skied from the Lake Louise Hostel up Tramline, Morraine and Fairview to the Lake, down Peyto to Great Divide and Lower Telemark trails. Lots of needles but snow was great. There were some tracked trails and some skier tracked – skin skis worked well all day.
Mar. 4 Broke trail through 6” of lovely fresh powder on Pipestone to the couch – which we dusted off and then ate lunch. Blue wax worked well all day.
So much enthusiasm for user fees here! I’ll sign up for that when I get back my share of the subsidy given to the Calgary Flames…
Is that $200,000 track-setting cost specific to one area or all of K-country? I’d gladly donate to help support track-setting if that’s what it takes to keep the area alive.
Re: Fundraising for continued grooming in our parks. If only we could get a few days of the money allotted to the UCP War Room. 3 million / 365 = $82,191. Seriously. I don’t want to get political but just a small fraction would keep Albertan families active in the winter months.
Wondering how many you who read this website voted for the UCP and expected these cuts which were raised before a few years back..? User pay is NOT the answer when we share and care for our fellow Albertans and guests from elsewhere!
Wondering how many UCP MLA’s have ever skied or camped in PLPP?
Wondering how many NDP MLA’s have ever skied or camped in PLPP?
Wondering how clients of William Watson Lodge who XC ski in the area BECAUSE it is track set and safe will now no longer be served?
Wondering how many children of UCP MLA’s XC ski, and/or will when they come to an age of understanding ask their parent what in the world they were thinking… why doesn’t my school take me out camping, skiing, etc…
Great ski at the Nordic Centre today. We skied Silvertip all the way around and then Olympic and Lynx. All had been groomed and were in great shape. The overnight snow was still covering a lot of the other trails but conditions on these will be great as soon as they have had a chance to groom them.
Wed mar 4: elk/west elk.
Waited at pocaterra for the snowplow to deal with the remainder of Kananaskis lakes trail before heading to elk pass parking lot. Got to see a pine marten as a result checking out the hut environs. One person breaking trail in front of me from the elk pass lot. Slow going even in the track with snow that was a bit more dense and moist than normal. Caught up to the trail breaker and took my turn as far as the blueberry junction. The lone trail breaker was a “distinguished” gentleman staying at William watson. We chatted at blueberry junction and with no broken trail To blueberry, he remarked that if He didn’t do it now, he may never get to again, and so off he went, determined to get to the top! 6 inches of fresh snow on the blueberry junction picnic table. Easy ankle deep trail breaking off trail into the meadows and on to couch HQ. Another party came through and broke trail the rest of the way to the hydroline couch (thanks!). Additional wind protection was needed at the couch, some howling north wind barreling through the meadows around the lunch hour, old mans beard tumbleweeding by amongst the entertaining snow Devils. Cheeky and Simona showed up and brought sun, in time for more meadow trail packing to the hydroline and back. A good day out in snowy blowy conditions.
Bill Milne / Wedge Pond and connector / Evan Thomas. There was from 2 to about 8 cm of fresh snow on last night’s (perhaps the last time ever for this trail) grooming. Conditions were quite good with the temperature staying just below freezing. There were a few sticky places in areas with lots of sun. You were there awfully early MaSid. Sorry I missed you.
I would support trails that are open for all regardless of economic status, and grooming funded by fundraisers or suggested donations from those who can afford it. We would gladly chip in. The $200,000/ year does not sound insurmountable for our active community.
WBC, Wednesday afternoon.
What a great refresh, it’s always a bonus when you get such fine conditions here in March! I skied Middle Crystal Line, Moose Connector, Mountain Road and View, Loggers, Elbow, Iron Springs, Iron Creek, and Sundog. Plus some off the groomed trail excursions from Mountain Road and Iron Creek. As expected- the sheltered core trails were exceptional, winds had drifted in or scoured a few short spots on the more exposed Mountain Road and View, and Iron Springs had a bit of thinner coverage with some minor crunchy bits, but it was all good- easygoing skiing on a soft surface. Constant winds helped keep the snow cool and dry, although I noticed a few sticky spots in the sunniest places that will be glazed tomorrow. Conditions should remain very good overall, at least for the morning.
We skied Meadow, Wooley, Amos. Wheeler, Lynx, Pocaterra (from Lynx). There was 3 to 5 cm of overnight snow covering tracks when we arrived at 10:30 on Wednesday morning. By 2:30 it had all been nicely skied-in.
TELEMARK, PEYTO and GREAT DIVIDE – March 4
20 cms of snow overnight, obliterated yesterday’s tracksetting, but…
Details available in the captions here:
Just as we got back to the parking lot, the tracksetter headed out!
Mar 4 update from the Heritage Guides at Lake Louise:
Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March. 2. Poor condition. We hope to trackset this tomorrow afternoon (March 5).
Fairview – Lake Louise Connector (BLUE #4): Double trackset, March. 2. Poor condition. We hope to trackset this tomorrow afternoon (March 5).
Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate walking path, March. 4. Good condition, this might change to poor condition by morning (March 5) if the current strong winds continue.
Teaching Grid: 8 lanes, Mar. 2. Poor condition. We hope to trackset this tomorrow morning (March 5).
Petition to voice your opinion can be found here:
Here’s the petition:
Albertans love parks
Dear Premier Kenney and Minister Nixon,
I love Alberta’s parks. Your government’s decision to cut the budget and close or deregulate almost 200 parks in the province will affect Albertans and visitors looking to experience our amazing landscapes and recreation.They also ignore the environmental value that many of these areas provide towards a healthy, functioning landscape.
Please stop this short-sighted move.
$200k/year? So options are:
– insist government keep funding this chump change
– have YYC nordic groups organize an annual fundraising drive (ala $50 across 4k people) – means still free for low-income, etc
– get govt to implement park/trail fees
– have volunteer-run groups try to organize to trackset trails (which is tough in the cold, dead of night when it often happens – I believe confed struggles with volunteers already?)
– break out the AT skis for the lucky few, and practise dodging snowshoers and fat bikers, but since WBC is closer, it’ll be much less busy at PLPP and Mt Shark, especially if things start to overgrow (see: Sawmill trails…)
Why should we pay user fees when corporations are getting $4.7 billion in tax relief? We are spending $30 million per year on an embarrassing and ineffective “war room.” Jason Kenney is picking our pockets to pay for golden handshakes for his friends and political insiders. That’s just wrong.
Very good conditions this morning at West Bragg!
We had a great half day of skiing on Mountain Road & Moose Loop. About 10 cm of nice new snow had fallen on Tuesday night, and the wonderful volunteer trail crew were laying down excellent tracks. Most of the icy patches were covered. There was a strong westerly wind which should help to keep the tracks fresh with wind blown snow.
There is a cross country ski trail specific petition now.
Let’s share it as widely as we can.
Btw, I did some math
The AB budget is $42,600,000,000 (last I checked)
These trails cost 0.00047% of the budget.
There is no economic argument for these cuts.
I would take trail fees over a shutdown too, but trail fees would invariably lower casual usage, and a more sedentary population could lead to higher health care costs, which already make up a whopping 40% of the AB budget.
IF you want to comment on the recent changes to Alberta Parks …
Which are as follows…
1. Barrier Information Centre and Elbow Centre Closing
2. End of winter grooming in Mtn. Shark, Peter Lougheed, and Ribbon Creek (Kananaskis Village ) Area in 2020-2021 Winter Season
3. Fee Increases to some Campgrounds
4. Closure of Some Dayuse Areas (washroom facilities, and garbage removal) Eg. Sibbald Meadows Pond
Follow this link :
Scroll to the Bottom to write a comment to our premier.
There is a cross country skiing specific petition now.
Please sign and tell your friends.
March 4 Shaganappi golf course in Calgary update:
****SHAGANAPPI IS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC DUE TO SAFETY REASONS***
If we get enough snow this weekend, we may reopen.
We’ll gladly pay our way too. Perhaps xc-skiing is a want – not a need. But we want it!! So sign us up!
Yes, so grateful for this blog site at a time like this.
Thanks for the cost breakdown. With those figures, they sell an annual pass for $200 and the costs arr covered with the first 1000 skiers! Sign me up!
Thanks so much, Bob! I’m so glad your forum exists during this announcement. I hope that skiers can rally together and come up with an amenable solution.
Rocky Mountain Outlook reported that grooming the trails in Kananaskis costs $200,000 per year. I don’t know the accuracy of that figure, but to me it sounds like pocket change when you’re a government who generally speaks in millions of dollars.
And I can’t think of a single area in Alberta (outside of the national parks, which I’m not sure how they’re figured into Alberta’s economy given that they are federal) that has the same draw for winter tourism as Kananaskis, yet tourism is supposed to be one of the UPC’s big mandates for the next ten years.
And I think most of recognize we’ve enjoyed a free ride (glide?) in Kananaskis for years but massive fossil fuel revenues are history, and we’d be willing to pay user fees like most other places.
Makes no sense whatsoever to me, so I’m inclined to expect the same as Bob, that Kenney and Nixon decided to present us with the worst case scenario so that we’d readily accept the lesser evil of user fees. Let’s just hope they make them reasonable and/or provide an annual, multi-area option.
It’s very satisfying to tell a real human about your opposition to the funding cuts for Alberta Parks! Call AB Environment and Parks directly at 780-427-2391 on your lunch break, and keep those letters going too!
I would love to hear the exact annual cost of grooming the trails. So far, all I have heard from Nixon is that he doesn’t know the actual numbers. He tosses around that Parks cost 86 million and make 36 million. What of that 86 mill does this cost?
A way too easy solution…user fees. And perhaps friggin’ 5% provincial sales tax.
I thinks this all solidly smells like privatization. I sure hope the current grooming quality can be maintained with that plan!
Am I mad? Yes. Am I sad? Yes. This is so backward. Good thing they took Progressive out of their party name!
It’s -6 in PLPP.
The peter lougheed discovery centre will be closed at 12:30 pm today due to a Fortis Power Outage.
E comment for Alberta Parks Below.
Seems like many XC ski areas in BC do quite well with user fees. Dawn mountain in Golden is $12 for adult day pass – not bad eh? Having said that, where is the line drawn then on user fees? Why single out XC skiing only? What about trail fees for OHV and horse riders? (Costs $ to maintain their trails too). But maybe pay per use is avoided with year round day passes like national parks and most provinces have? Time for open and informed public discussion on all this. After all, don’t the parks belong to all Albertans, not the current government?
Nixon’s claims that these trails are “under-utilized” and that pouring “millions of dollars” into these trails is a “waste” are shameful. These trails aren’t under-utilized and they don’t cost millions to maintain.
We had a lot of snow at CNC also! Expect 15+cm of fresh snow on trails groomed prior to today. Take caution on Rundle and Silvertip as they were groomed whilst it was still snowing heavily leaving one side of the trail covered in more fresh snow than the other and a ridge near the middle, this will be rectified tonight. The team will also work to get Banff natural, Bow and Meadowview along with the regular manmade rec trails done tonight too. Banff trail, Banff Loop, Olympic and Centennial were all redone after the snow finished last night so should be in good shape. Manyt Biathon trails will have a fresh cover as they were done prior to the snow finishing.
Good morning everyone. I am reading the comments about this topic and disagree with almost all of them. The Province is broke. That is a fact: not oil, not money. As XC skier and as a citizen I want to see cuts before in recreation and Provincial Park rather than having those cuts in Health Care or Education (where there are also cuts). The main resource of the Province is oil, and without it, there is nothing (thinking otherwise is lying). I agree with tax relief to corporations, if they leave the problem will be even bigger. It is very sad the Province wont groom anymore Kananaskis, disgrace for all of us. We, XC skiers and normal citizen, should partner and try to maintain the tracks in partnership with AB Provincial Park, the same way is being maintained in West Bragg Creek. Quotes, membership fees, entrance fees,… are possible ways to finance the maintenance (notice that I have not idea how much is the season cost). My 2 cents. Thanks
I never thought the leopard would eat MY face, sob the xcountry skiers who voted for the Leopards Eating Faces Party.
Very briefly; I honestly think that it is time to send a letter to the federal government asking them to declare Kananaskis and Canmore, part of the Banff National park system, bypassing all the junk that this province is experiencing, this would address not only the tracksetting of PLPP , Mt.Shark and Ribbon Creek but also issues like poaching, ATV ‘s and ensuring a vital corridor to wildlife for migratory purposes.
I am shocked that the xc ski community is not more engaged in voicing their opinions on the government’s decision to stop grooming in K Country.
As a large group we need to voice our feelings to local MLAs and other officials. With Bob away does any one know how collective action should be taken ? We need to have some contact emails, numbers etc. Let’s not take this lying down people ! Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
4 inches of fresh snow this morning at wedge pond and -5c.
Canmore to Banff backcountry trail. Has anyone skied this trail lately. Are rock skis required. Thanks.
Goat Creek/Spray Lakes shows last groomed on Feb.12. Does anyone know the present condition of these trails?
WBC to Hwy #68
I figured it was about time to try a “Chuck-style” tour in the foothills. After setting up a car shuttle, we started off from West Bragg Creek, with the objective of skiing to Highway #68 in the Jumpingpound Valley.
At the WBC end, we toured along Snowy Owl, Old Shell Road and Moose Single-track. Then we followed Tom Snow trail all the way up to the Spruce Woods day use area on the Jumpingpound Demonstration Loop Drive… which is just off of Highway #68.
The snow pack is about twice as deep at West Bragg Creek than it is at the Jumpingpound end, even though there is little difference in elevation. In fact, we ran into a number of bare patches near the north end. The Tom Snow trail north of Moose Loop could use a lot of brush and branch pruning. The new (2017) part of Tom Snow trail is great, but has about 25 blown down trees across it.
It’s not every year that we have enough snow to actually do this tour.
The honourable Peter Lougheed will be turning in his grave this evening. Shame on you Kenney. I am reticent to use the word holistic should it be construed As a left wing conspiracy but hey, let’s keep people healthy and out of the doctor’s office and hospitals and get the f**k skiing!
I fear there is a push for either a non profit or for profit group to take over Nordic ski operations in PLPP (what about Ribbon and Mt. Shark?) with people thinking it’s easy, anyone can do it. That statement is very far from an accurate statement.
Suffice it to say my opinion has gone back to keep it in the hands of Parks staff, and goes further to say keep campgrounds in the hands of Parks, as they are HUGE revenue generators which translates to offsetting if not completely paying for Parks operations year round!
Privatization arguably means lower standards, and definitely means lower wages that are usually minimum wage, not a living wage.
Many Parks in Alberta have taken back the summer operations from private operators because of the simple fact that summer operations are revenue generators.
Notice in the budget cuts that summer campground operations are being scaled back in the campgrounds Parks still runs!
There is a chance the “Optimizing Alberta Parks” is a regurgitation of information from the “Rationalizing Alberta’s Parks” document which was the Conservative government’s Parks Management cutback plan that was created a long time ago (possibly decades) which I was told was then voted down at the time by their own party.
Facts and figures, and also dollars such as tourism impacts will speak volumes. Stats from hotels in K Country.
Funding cutbacks? There also is the argument the oil patch can be given tax breaks and yet the gov’t can’t spend some money on Parks?
Discussions are under way around the idea of forming a collective to weigh-in on the government’s decision to cease all Nordic operations in Kananaskis Country and also to Nordic operations that are closer to Edmonton.
This group is collectively so far different user groups (aka Nordic Clubs); Nordic operators comprised mostly of non profit societies, some with paid staff and others which are all volunteer run; Cross Country Alberta, and Nordiq Canada.
If your group wants to take part, please email me: shagnordicATgmailDOTcom
Suffice it to say my opinion has gone back to keep grooming and track setting in the hands of Parks staff, and I will further to say keep campgrounds in the hands of Parks, as they are HUGE revenue generators which translates to offsetting if not completely paying for Parks operations year round!
Many Parks in Alberta have taken back the summer operations from private operators because of the simple fact that summer operations are revenue generators.
Also notice in the budget cuts that summer campground operations are being scaled back in the campgrounds Parks still runs!
Lastly: It is likely emotions aren’t going to change the direction the gov’t has taken this. Facts and figures, and also dollars such as tourism impacts will speak volumes. Also the argument the oil patch can be given tax breaks and yet the gov’t can’t spend some money on Parks?
A couple legislative documents of interest:
One is the Kananaskis Recreation Policy under Klein in 1999, the other is Provincial Parks Act dated December 15, 2017.
A section from the Provincial Parks Act states: under Section 3 (d) Purposes of Parks:
“to facilitate their use & enjoyment for outdoor recreation, education & the appreciation & experiencing of Alberta’s natural heritage, and
(e) to ensure their lasting protection for the benefit of present & future generations.”
The same idea is under the Purposes of Recreation Areas, so I fail to see how this government is adhering to this current legislation!
I am by no means an expert but to my understanding our parks are protected lands…
I sent an email to the Environment Minister, I signed the petition & shared the petition on fb with outdoor groups, if anyone has any further ideas or can draft a letter referencing this legislation, please share so we can further support our opposition to this governments’ plans.
What’s next? No K-Country avi bulletin?
Oops, they probably don’t know about that. Better lay low.
Cascade Fire Road had pretty well defined tracks to the Cascade River Bridge. Beyond that we broke trail through maybe 2 inches of snow to the Stoney Creek Warden’s Cabin leaving behind a good set of tracks.
Also: “Groomed and track set cross-country ski trails will continue to be maintained in Peter Lougheed
Provincial Park and at Mt. Shark in Spray Valley Provincial Park. ”
Has there been a subsequent act passed that takes away these protections and objectives?
Further included in the below document:
‘The proposed management objectives in order of priority are:
Preservation: to preserve or enhance naturally occurring ecosystems including
especially rare or uncommon species and to ensure that natural ecological processes are allowed to occur.
Outdoor Recreation: to provide opportunities for recreational uses such as camping,
hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, boating, and fishing.
Heritage Appreciation: to provide opportunities for visitors to experience, understand
and appreciate the natural resources of the parks.
Heritage Tourism: to provide opportunities for visitors to experience and enjoy high
quality natural, cultural and scenic resources through provision of appropriate sustainable tourism facilities and services. “
This document dated April 2006 by the Alberta government concerning the management of Peter Lougheed Park and the Spray Lakes Provincial Parks:
It mentions that “The Peter Lougheed/Spray Valley Provincial Parks Area Management Plan provides a long-term
vision and day-to-day guidance for stewardship of this Protected Area. The plan was prepared
within the context of existing legislation and regulations. It outlines the type and extent
of outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities, facilities and services including the delivery
of heritage appreciation programs that assist Albertans and visitors to understand and appreciate
our natural heritage while ensuring its ongoing preservation.
The Management Plan was prepared with extensive public input and will be reviewed and revised
periodically to reflect the current thinking of Albertans about how our natural heritage will be
preserved for present and future generations.
The Minister responsible for Parks and Protected Areas has authorized the implementation of the
Management Plan and retains the authority to amend or interpret its provisions.”
It clearly states that our natural heritage is to be preserved for present and future generation, that there was extensive public consultation and it is a Protected Area!
I have to delve into the document, however, wanted to share this as I am under the impression that our parks were created to protect them from the ideas that this government is implementing….
XC POLITICS AND GROOMING COSTS
Do you know that some American states spend millions of dollars per year to groom snowmobile and cross country trails? But Alberta’s Government no longer will.
I have for sometime being advising people on Skier Bob’s website that the blizzard of XC skiing cuts was coming. When the citizens in the last Provincial election voted in Kenney, I knew that Park XC skiing cuts were coming for sure. When Kenney cut corporate taxes by over $4 billion and increased the deficit more than the last government, “the writing was on the snow” as to cuts to XC ski trails.
Kenney slashed corporate taxes by over 4 billion dollars which put the Province into a declining structural economic situation that economists were warning against. Yes, we needed to reduce the deficit but Kenney made it worse by bringing in corporate tax cuts at the worst possible time while not wanting to generate government revenues in other areas. The pro corporate Kenney government had other non tax and tax revenue options but they chose not to take them for ideological reasons and ignorance.
Kenney wants private management of the Provincial Parks. He suggests he would like First Nations or municipalities to take over the Provincial Governments job of running the parks but that is just not very realistic when the Parks were not meant to be revenue generators. Municipalities are having a hard time with debt as well these days due to many factors which the Provincial Government forces on them, such as the inability to collect taxes from oil corporations who fault on tax payments. Kenney may very well privatize all the parks which must be stopped if all Albertans, no matter their income level, are to enjoy the Parks universally. Our Parks belong to the people and are a form of a universal social program. They are good for our health, the environment, the economy, flood control and much more. Our Parks must not be privatized so only wealthy people can afford to play in them, like what is occurring in our National Parks like Banff. All people must have the opportunity to use the parks, not just the wealthy. This is an Albertan right not a privilege. This is the true Alberta Advantage which universally benefits all Albertans.
Now as for the above mentioned costs for trail grooming equipment, it seems a little high for the cost of leasing a groomer at $85k per year when a new one can be bought for $300k per year. Leasing is always a poor investment compared to buying. There are ways to get deals on snow cats to reduce prices, such as cooperative buying with ski resorts or other industries. Volume purchases mean cheaper costs. Also, there are different options for snow groomers in terms of size and brands. Tucker Sno Cat machines tend to be the cheapest on the market. They are also the easiest to service traditionally.
Buying used makes more sense than buying new. Ritche Bros Auctions often have snow groomers for sale in Alberta in December at the Edmonton/Leduc auction site. The oil industry tends to use these up north to maintain ice roads. These machines often make it to the auction.
Now big snow cat groomers, like Piston Bully’s make great trails for cross country skiing. However, in recent years these cats have become “over kill” on trails that do not have skating lanes. Many trails have had the ski skating lanes eliminated as trails have become overgrown by trees. There is no need to use big snow cats or groomers for trails when the trails are only track set for classic XC skiing. Snowmobiles work fine for this. Big snow cats are ideal for skate skiing XC trails. The one advantage of big snow groomers is that there is less grooming labour involved, usually, and they can make better trails with poorer snow when compared to snowmobile grooming equipment. Snowmobiles use much less fuel and are much cheaper to maintain. Used snowmobiles that can be used to groom the classic XC ski trails are very cheap. That is all Parks Canada in Banff uses.
Snow groomers and snow mobiles can be used for potentially a decade or more depending on maintenance. The snow groomers used in Peter Lougheed Park do not get the same kind of hard use as at ski hills. At the ski hills, the snow cats work much harder pushing around hard man made snow.
One way to save money on fuel for snow cats is to use bio diesel. Used frying oil from restaurants could potentially be obtained very cheaply or even free. Skiers may smell French fries as they ski behind such snow cats which might make them fell very hungry. Bio diesel drops could be made by skiers. Also, cheaper natural gas could be used to displace diesel as well potentially.
One last comment about XC skiing politics. Our political system in Alberta is stupid and archaic. Voting for parties that offer you limited or no real options is so old school it is ridiculous. I am sure many XC skiers voted for the UCP without knowing that funding for XC trail grooming would be eliminated. Kenney did not come out and say he would cut XC skiing, nor did he say he would cut corporate taxes by over $4 billion. In a modern computer era, the people should have the legalized right to vote on bills before the Legislative Assembly along with the ability to introduce citizen initiated legislation. This would enable people to stop legislation they don’t like that a party wants to bring in, which is what real democracy looks like. This is democratic choice. The oligarchy parties do not offer choice like what a democracy does. Furthermore the people would also have the option to introduce legislation and form the government in any way they wish. People could get rid of political parties if they wanted to for example.
If we had the legalized right to vote on bills before the Legislative Assembly, the corporate tax cuts and cross country ski trail cuts likely would not have occurred and our Province would be in much better shape financially today with less debt. There would be no undemocratic risk of our parks being privatized and made expensive to use.
Bill voting rights for you ends the same old same old corrupt political system which benefits the 1% mainly. Nothing else will This is what real democracy looks like.
Ski it up while you still can. Contact your MLA and tell them to reverse the cuts to ski trails and corporate taxes. Tell your friends and family to do the same. We have the cheapest corporate tax rates anywhere in Canada and one must ask why as it does not create more jobs or make for an Alberta Skiing Advantage.
Politics- if you don’t participate you collaborate with those in power. Silence can’t be heard. Demand Bill Voting Rights 4U.
Blueberry Hill – PLPP
Snow temp -2 C, air temp around 0 C
Starting from Boulton Bridge Parking, lots of wind debris on Moraine & Fox Ck. Good tracks up Elk Creek. If you want to experience what next year will be like skiing on ungroomed skier-set tracks in PLPP, take the trail up to Blueberry Hill. Returned via Boulton Creek, also liberally littered with debris.
To be honest with you folks, it doesn’t surprise me, I have been suspicious about this government ability to manage the future and the present of this province; my strong believe is that they are so skilled and obviously opportunistic, that it was quite obvious that they could count on a substantial amount of Albertans to believe indiscriminately to all the B.S. that was fed to the public about bringing back the fate of this province to the once claimed bonanza of the golden days.
The reality is that we are getting deeper and deeper into debt by diverting every penny subtracted from all the programs being cut, to support and subsidize an industry that is all about waste and massive devastation but many nostalgic of that philosophical line of thoughts, are not aware that more and more private funds have been invested towards the real future of this province and employment has been steadily increasing.
Perhaps the people of this province needs to experience real grief to determine that it is time to turn the page for good and have responsible people to take responsible decisions for everyone; the chance will come in 3 years so prepare for more ugly news because this is not the end , there is more to come and it is going to be even more outrageous than the end of tracksetting in Kananaskis, it will make you wish that the coronavirus will land to every UCP politician and do the job quietly, so we can finally think about enjoying this land with all the treasures, all the creatures, all the fun and make a living in compliance with Mother nature.
I am devastated at the governments’ move to close parks & stop grooming our beloved ski trails in Peter Lougheed & Kananaskis.
They suggest that CNC & West Bragg will suffice. I’m not sure West Bragg consistently has good conditions & I don’t think those 2 areas alone will support the population of skiers especially when you include snowshoers, walkers & fat bikers. I love the variety of trails that we have & would rather pay an annual pass (ski/hike) to maintain & groom the trails then have those areas closed. Could the staff at Barrier etc provide any stats on the number of users? Could the businesses indicate how much revenue they will lose by these measures. Beyond economics, outdoor activities & cross country skiing are excellent forms of affordable exercise which promotes better health improving the provinces health expenses. I think it is short sighted & greedy of the government to undertake these plans without any consultation with the stakeholders. Families with young children are sharing these activities with the next generation. Beyond economics & health benefits, we have a treasure, our parks that have to be protected!
We need a petition specifically for the ski trails and not just for the privatization/park deletion idea, which is a separate problems (which Nixon denies exists-see his Facebook page!).
Speaking of Facebook, we need to be bombarding the social media accounts of Alberta politicians, especially Kenney and Nixon, with comments informing both the politicians and the public of our disapproval of suddenly terminating these decades-old ski areas with no consultation and no middle ground.
Early today someone posted on one of the blogs –
Trip reports or ask a question- a List of Politicians address is to send our comments
I can’t find it anywhere? help please- I want to send things everywhere
I think the important thing is that the pressure stays on.
Letters, twitter, phone calls, petitions ( facebook).
The government has to provide other alternatives like user pay. I bet most skiers would gladly pay for the quality skiing we have in the park.
Skied Baker Creek to Castle Lookout and back on our R-skins. Dry snow, temperature hovered around zero from 10:30 – 1:30. Much of the tracks were blown in, some predictable breezy sections but still a lovely ski.
WBC March 3rd.
Sundog and Loggers loop were in surprisingly good shape. Mountain view, and Mountain road had some icy/thin spots. Did not have to ski lower Mountain road, the wind took me back!
Press Release by Cross Country Alberta:
It is time to write your MLA, the minister of Environment and Parks and Jason Kenney. Here is the email address for: The Honourable Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks, 323 Legislature Building, 10800-97 Ave. Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6 email@example.com
I sent a note to CBC Eyeopener last night. They did an excellent piece this morning:
Managed to ski Confed Park at lunch today, conditions are probably poor to ok for skaters. The best part were the blue and purple loops, except the tracks are pretty much gone.
The green loop has a couple of areas that are getting pools of water (or ice depending on the time of day). The east part of the yellow loop is also getting water damage and thin in spots.
If we do get some snow and cold on the weekend we might get another week out of this site.
MORAINE LAKE ROAD – March 3
Time for a Trip Report in this section!
Details available in the captions here:
Great to chat with Keith & Ray today
I sincerely hope you can find some great articulate people to meet with these reporters. What about the fact that an active lifestyle that the trails promote keeps people out of the health care system?
Not a trip report
There is a bigger issue than the grooming of Kannaskis trails which I agree is very important. The government is attempting to sell or transfer to third parties 164 provincial parks, day use and recreational areas. The government is removing the legal designation from 164 areas. Here I quote from the government website “Sites removed from the parks system would have their legal designations removed and could be open for alternative management practices. This includes potential Park Partnerships through sale or transfer” When you click on Park partnerships this states that ” Sites removed from the parks system allow a greater range of uses that were not possible under government regulations. Successful sale or transfer to a third party will enable these sites to continue to be part of the community while generating new economic opportunities” So in other words lots of really nice public land will available for private development.
Statistics on Nordic skiing in Canada in 2015
try Hugh Burton – he is One of your followers very knowledgable Of the cross country skiing
issues- history/ And politics
Our family would definitely pay a fee to use the trails! We will be losing out on so much if they discontinue keeping these trails open to the public. It’s important for health, tourism and family enjoyment. U bet if you check with the hotels and restaurants in the areas they will also suffer. Please reconsider and like I said a fee would even be worth looking at. Debi Lowther
XC skiing and exercise in general is how I cope with all the other terrible things happening in this province and world. I’m sure I am not alone in this.
It doesn’t matter what side of the debate you are on in regards to oil and gas, or the direction of the province at this point in time, these parks are what ground us all. The lack of consultation or consideration of how to move forward is concerning and unfortunately quite a common occurrence as of late. I hope we can unite together as exercise and recreation lovers to make the necessary changes to save our beloved parks. I am unsure who the best person to contact is as my MLA has been quite dismissive of other issues I’ve brought forward. How do we all move forward in a collective way that is meaningful?
I wrote both a “snail mail” as well as an electronic letter to Jason Nixon, Environment and Parks Minister as soon as I learned this today. CC’d it to Kananaskis lodge, as the tourism argument was valid.
It was almost too good to be true that we had access to this for decades, all for free.
Does anyone else remember back in the glory days of the late 80’s/early 90’s where there was a hot tub, pool and sauna at the village, free for anyone to use?
The Nordic centre was also free for years after the Olympics before they wised up to fees.
There also used to be a minimum security prison nearby and it wouldn’t be uncommon to see inmates shovelling snow. I think the Conservatives got rid of that too.
Collecting $5 or $10 per person at a gatehouse would be a great alternative. That’s the way it is in pretty much every other province. I’, surprised they didn’t go that route.
Hopefully enough of us get in touch with Mr. Nixon to make them change their minds.
I want to correct an earlier comment that I made. Gatineau Park, outside of Ottawa, has a lot of similarities to Kananaskis Country. It serves as a recreational haven for locals, and offers facilities for biking and hiking in summer, and for cross-country skiing in winter. There are numerous areas for people to enjoy picnics, and at least one lake where a private operator offers canoe and kayak rentals. It is the heart of outdoor community in Ottawa, just as Kananaskis is dear to the hearts of outdoor-loving Calgarians.
A few years ago, the governing body for Gatineau began outsourcing trail grooming and instituted a trail-use fee. I earlier suggested (incorrectly) that this was free. I’ve since asked a few locals, and cost is $20 for a one-time use, or you can buy a season pass for $200. I’m told the condition of the trails is excellent. It seems to me that the model works well for Gatineau. I see a similar structure at the CNC (as someone else pointed out). I’m wondering if it can work well for K-Country.
Everything for the parks over the past 10-15 years was paid for by oil and gas revenues. Now it is coming home to roost for the anti-energy people. Time for trail fees. If not then then those people can drive in their electric vehicles, put up a blockade at Hwy 40, and have a temper tantrum. People pushing Leadnow as a vehicle to a solution? They are the anti oil and gas clowns that caused the loss of revenues and hence the park budget cuts.
I am very disappointed in the lack of strategic thinking and the lack of dialogue from the government on the matter of Parks transitions and end of grooming trails. The longer term impact to the health and wellness of Albertans and added costs to future health care are going to escalate while our care options are being reduced. The economic impact for tourism will take a considerable hit. While it is understandable that we have to restrain spending, and that our oil and gas have given us many benefits for a long time, it would have been accepted to a much greater extent if a plan had been thought out in advance and presented as a transition.
User fees certainly appear to be a viable option elsewhere. Since this government is willing to continue to groom Canmore Nordic Centre where a fee structure is in place, it seems that it is a cost effective option.
While all the efforts to convince our elected representatives to reconsider are necessary, I hope we send them another message in the next election. This is unacceptable leadership in this province.
Happy to support a demonstration…let’s go!
Here is a start:
Make sure you call and email the Environment Minister:
It is not unusual for governments to make a bunch of unpopular announcements at once. Then they monitor the ones that get the most blow-back and save face by reversing those decision. So make a Ruckus everyone!
If anyone would consider chatting with CBC Calgary News, please let me know, as well.
I will gladly support any petition, and will write letters, but based on their actions over the last 12 months, I expect this government will be tone-deaf. I don’t think that they care about the well-being or health of this population, and we would be seen as a small special-interest group and not really worth their attention. Their interest is in the bottom line and this is how we should approach this problem.
I agree with Bob, that we need to look at practicalities and costs. WBC have done a tremendous job and it would be good to determine if that model can be applied to other areas, such as PLPP. It would be good to have the WBC people provide some guidance here.
How much would people be willing to pay for trail fees and would that even cover the cost of grooming?
What type of governance process would we need to organize and what is the best way to approach the government if we want change?
If it comes down to it and we could only pick one area for grooming in K-country to consolidate our efforts, which of the three would that be? PLPP? Mount Shark? Ribbon Creek?