Thanks for the excellent update on this important topic. I was excited to see that you recently registered on the SkierRoger website where we’re all eager to read your trip reports.
By the way, if you would like me to add a special category for any blog comments you may have, just let me know. We all really value your insight.
Hopefully some of that is going back to pay for grooming in Bragg Creek. The blurb about the fee says that it is covering ski trail grooming, but Bragg Creek Trails sounded a bit doubtful last time I read anything.
Happy ‘retirement’ Bob. Hope you regain some sense of solitude and serenity on the trails again and may your next chapter be refreshing and bring you contentment.
—Yours in skiing, grooming and storytelling, JeremyN
No technical issues with the login to SkierRoger.ca folks!
The website is performing fine. In fact, a recent server upgrade has made it more efficient!
SOUTH BURSTALL/ BURSTALL PASSES/ ROBERTSON OUT WASH
Friday May 21 later afternoon/ night moonlit ski
I knew this would be a special day of skiing when I was driving Highway 40 and there was fresh snow with the Aspen trees popping out light green glistening leaves. This was a rare beautiful spring driving sight seeing event and there was no long week-end traffic.
There is excellent firm base snow conditions right from the Burstall Pass parking lot to the top of the South Burstall Pass. No bare patches exist anywhere on the ski trail, including in the tight trees near the Robertson out wash plain. Several centimeters of new snow overnight made for sweet May long week-end skiing.
There is roughly 2 feet or so of snow base at the parking lot. As soon as you get into the trees 300 meters away there is much more snow. Up the passes there is probably still 6 to 8 feet of snow. I could not push my poles in the snow more than about 3 cm. The base is very firm all along the trail and off the trail. I could ski wherever I pointed my skis without sinking into the snow. The skies were mainly cloudy, with some sun- until night when the skies cleared right up.
This was, by far, the best day of ski touring this season. Being that I could ski anywhere without sinking more than about 3 to 5 cm in the fresh snow made for incredible easy skiing. I did a lot of touring around, including to the weather station below the pass. This was my easiest and fastest day of ski traveling pleasure for the year. It did not take much more than 2 hours to get to the top of South Burstall Pass and I was not even putting in anywhere near maximum skiing effort. The grip skiing up on my unwaxed waxable Rossignol metal edge cross country skis was excellent. The fast glide was great too, for the most part, until I hit the meadows below the pass where the snow slowed to moderate speed.
South Burstall Pass was incredible eye candy. I took off my skis at the top and walked down some rock on the other side to eat while sitting on nice warm rock in the sunshine. In the olden days I would camp up there. Spray River below was open and it looked black in the white snow covered meadows. I had to hold myself back from skiing down the avalanche chute to my right to the valley bottom where I really wanted to ski. It looked like there was still 6 feet of snow along the banks of the Spray River in the stunning meadows below the Royal Group and below Palliser Pass. I could see no willows in the valley below.
I decided to go ski below Burstall Pass in Banff National Park to gain views of Leman Lake, where I was only weeks earlier. What a blast skiing that way. The snow had begun to crust up though and I had to pick and chose my snow. The fresh snow was crusty at this time and the wind blown areas were very firm and warp nine speed to ski. The skis seemed to accelerate from 0 to 100 kph faster than the new electric Mustangs which do that speed in 3.5 seconds. When I did hit the fresh stuff, it often ended in a flying crash, particularly in areas where the snow was drifted deeply.
The view of Leman Lake and the Spray River Valley from below Burstall Pass was stunning as was the lighting. Some mountains were in sun while others looked cold in the shadows. The Spray valley below was full of snow and the river looked covered in most places. Leman Lake was still looking white and frozen with a little open water near the BC side. If I would have brought more food and a sleeping bag, I would have dropped down to the Palliser Warden Cabin. The deep firm snow pack would have been ideal for digging a cosy snow den to camp in overnight.
The snow skiing down the pass to the parking lot was incredibly fast and crusty. It was basically survival skiing with my bad ankle which does not like crust. Once I hit the trail in the trees past the meadow, the crust disappeared and more winter like snow made for sweet skiing in the trees- thankfully. When I hit the out wash plain I decided to head to Robertson Glacier skiing on the right side of the valley (skiing up) which is usually the best way to get to the glacier. It is more wide open and offers better views. When I got to the section of the valley where the trees disappear, it was starting to get dark but the moon was shinning. I decided to stop below where fresh avalanches tore from the right to the left of the valley. I don’t like to ski in avalanche terrain traps- at any time of the day.
I skied down the valley on the right (skiers right going down opposite of skiing up). The creek had opened in a few spots on this side of the valley but it was still easily passable with the odd collapsed snow bridge. Instead of taking the main trail I continued down the out wash plain until I found an old road which brought me back to the main trail. Hikers had walked on parts of my ski track coming out but that was no problem. I got back to the car at 11:05 pm when I noticed a sign that said the parking lot was a day use area and was closed at 11 pm. There is nothing worse than a UCP government telling me when I can use a mountain area, other than now charging $90 dollars to use it.
One thing I noticed on the road home was that the UCP wasted huge sums of money putting Alberta Parks signs above every picnic site sign along the highway. This government says it has to charge a $90 dollar fee to enter the Kananaskis because it cost too much to maintain the park region, yet they waste huge money on unnecessary signs. I guess the UCP thought it would be a good idea to let people know they were still in Alberta Parks rather than accidentally traveling over to the BC side of the mountains. What terrible waste that probably cost tax payers millions. If we lived in a real democracy where you have the legalized right to vote on government bills along with having citizen-initiated legislation, you can bet Albertans would not waste tax dollars on unnecessary Alberta Parks signs like the UCP did.
Keep on skiing the high elevation north faces. It is all good. The Banff Jasper highway should offer some splendid skiing yet as well.
I have to post a final report on this great site Bob. I swapped my skis for paddles and did a tour around our new lake here in Quebec. The ski trails are mostly dry now but there is 150km of them outside our door. Looking forward to skiing next winter and skiing in the footsteps of Jackrabbit Johansen and the trails of Jack Wahlberg .
It was around this time, the mid forties, when cross country skiing began to absorb the interest of the Viking skiers and they soon had a North American Champion among their ranks. He was a Swedish native who came to Canada when he was twenty one years old. His name was Jack Wahlberg, a powerful competitor who at 80 years of age today continues one of the longest winning streaks in the world of sports. For the past 65 years he has won an award every year in either running or cross country skiing.
Some of the highlights of Jack’s remarkable career as an athlete include winning the 18km North American Championships race in New Hampshire in 1948 and representing Canada in the World Championships in 1950.
I have a love of outdoor activity he told writer Maureen Stern in a recent interview for the Gazette. “I like racing because you have light equipment, a mechanically prepared track, and you can use your poles properly…but I also like touring because you see tracks of animals. Jack Wahlberg’s advice to the reporter was straight forward and sincere. He told her, “The older you get, the more important it is to keep active and out in the fresh air, and to watch your weight.” They are not idle words. In 1982 Jack won the 15km race at the Canadian Masters Championships in the over 70 class.
He skis with such efficiency even seasoned skiers less than half his age have trouble keeping up with him. “I don’t move like an old man and that’s partly thanks to the exercise I do”, says Jack, who skis about 1,500 km every winter and paddles around in his racing kayak in the summer.
Something and someone you and I can aspire to Bob as we both sail, ski or paddle off into retirement.
Herewith, my final trip report (probably?!) for Skier Bob:
It was a spectacular morning in K-country, and I did my usual late spring tour up the Robertson Glacier valley, just as far as the last real trees. My car was the only one in the Burstall parking lot, which was surprising and a bit eerie. Yesterday’s tracks had no new snow on them, but fortunately it was mostly (backcountry) skier tracks, with a few snowshoers and the odd boot print.
There was perhaps 10cm of lovely powder early in the morning, but by 10 am it was good snowman material, and quite warm and wet by the time I was descending. By 11 am, storm clouds were gathering, but didn’t amount to much.
Although I struggled with ten ton high heels going up the “upper” Robertson valley, it was a surprisingly good descent, as the grade was sufficient to keep my momentum up.
Apparently I was the only one chicken enough to take the “flat” route, avoiding that crazy narrow trail through the trees. Descending the main trail was very slow.
A few photos:
MaSid: Nakiska looked great at 7 am, but by 2 pm it looked very sad with lots of dirt patches 🙁
West Bragg Creek
A total of 10-14cm of new snow fell at WBC overnight and Sunday morning, which provided a perfect opportunity for one more SkierBob report. I did a couple of loops among the Crystal Lines, Loggers and Sundog, sticking to the most shaded trails where the packed snow base from the winter still lingers. The new snow was sufficient to provide pretty enjoyable May conditions.
Thank you Bob, for creating an exceptional blog. Your hard work, enthusiasm and welcoming nature has produced a real sense of community among XC skiers in the region. That’s a fantastic legacy.
I look forward to seeing you on the trails!
PLPP- Skied up to Elk Pass on this gorgeous 9C Tuesday afternoon with a side trip thru Fox Creek on the way back. Overnite the Elk Pass P/L rec’d a skiff of snow increasing to 1 to 2 inches at the Pass. This covered all the Collembola, tree debris and dirty snow and made for a pretty good, enjoyable ski. Used Red Extra which provided good grip and glide though it was a little slow coning down. The snow base is still intact which should provide for a few more days of skiing as long as it survives tomorrows heat wave. Not very busy -no cars in P/L ad only one skier ” ODA ” who I run across at Elk Pass. He was doing a Packers/Pocaterra/Tyrwhitt/Elk Pass/ Patterson/Hydroline/Tyrwhitt/Whiskey Jack Loop and was equally enthused with the good ski conditions for this time of year. To the contrary Fox Creek is in poor shape largely covered with tree debris and not recommended.
Anyways my main reason for writing this is to thank you, Bob, for all the hard work and dedication you’ve put into this entertaining and very informative blog. You will be missed! I’ve followed you from the start and even won a treasured “Skihere.Ca” toque in one of your contests, I think in 2009. Wishing you the best in the future. Tom
It’s unfortunate that trip reporting on the new blog requires registration, login, password, email. These are barriers to participation in a system of user based information sharing.
REDEARTH CREEK- HAIDUK LAKE
Monday May 3 afternoon/ night ski.
Very good to excellent skiing conditions for the most part up Redearth Creek except for the first 1 km. The first 300m only has scattered snow patches with plenty of bare patches. Then it is icy up to about the 1 km mark. Then the snow pack becomes late spring like and firm with a couple of cms of soft snow on top. There are 3 small bare patches between the 1 km mark and the 2nd avalanche slope. Snow speed was variable from moderate to fast.
I skied up Pharoah Creek to the switch backs but decided to turn around and head up to Shadow Lake Lodge instead. At the warden cabin, I had to drop down 4 feet to sit by the door as there is still lots of snow.
The trail up to Shadow Lake Lodge was good with one small bare patch on a wicked steep corner. The trail has firm spring like snow with up to 5 cm of fresher snow on top. Just before I hit the Lodge, a big snow squall blew in and the valley was a white out. After having a snack and water the snow storm disappeared and left partly cloudy skies. That was sweet and the sun motivated me to keep skiing.
The trail to Shadow Lake was well defined as a number of people had been skiing up there in the last week.
When I hit Shadow Lake I was pleasantly surprised the ice had turned to a light blue color with white firm snow around the shore.
I followed a very faint snow covered track up the creek and then it disappeared in the meadows above. The meadows to Ball Pass Junction were very nice to ski with a fair bit of open water in the creek. There were still some useful snow bridges to use. Once I got near Ball Pass Junction it started to snow lightly again. As I made my way up to Haiduk Lake the snow hit real hard and it turned to a white out again.
As soon as I hit Haiduk Lake the snow stopped allowing for the usual spectacular scenery of the area. The wind was perfectly calm. The yodeling echos up at the lake were fantastic. What a treat. There was about 7 cm of fairly fresh fast snow in the valley.
Coming out of Haiduk was a fast blast through the meadows and avalanche slopes. This area offers amazing views which include glacier views. I had never been there in May before and it was a real treat and much more interesting than the dead of winter when everything is white.
One thing that shocked me was how dirty older snow was in some areas. With all the burning that the BC government does and permits in BC, the valleys can be pretty smoggy. I was sucking on a lot of smoke on my land in BC in recent weeks. The smoke particulate ends up falling on the snow pack and glaciers causing very significant reductions in light reflectance which in turn acts as a thermal conductor melting the ice and snow much faster. BC really needs to clean up its dirty unethical immoral burning acts and clean up the air which is having a significant impact on the melting of glaciers and snow packs. And they wonder way the salmon are disappearing. They are creating warmer river waters which salmon don’t like.
This was my best day of skiing this year. A big contrast from my worst day earlier in the week. May offers such more interesting skiing than any other month. There is much more eye candy at this time of year. Creeks are opening and allow for views of interesting rocks and birds, the smells are great and there are all sorts of wildlife moving about. Seeing the red and golden sunset colors on top of the creek waters below Shadow Lake was incredible. The creek looked red in many areas. You won’t get that effect in winter. The sound of numerous birds, including Robins, at Shadow Lake Lodge was something you don’t get to hear in winter.
As it got dark, the temperature at Shadow Lake Lodge was +4C. The snow was getting slightly crusty but was excellent and fast to ski on the way out. Only walking down the bare patches in the last 1/2 km of the Redearth trail slowed me down on my rock skis. I never took the skis off on any part of the trail. If it was not for the bare patches, I probably would have blown out from Shadow Lake Lodge in about 1/2 hour instead of 45 minutes.
Keep on skiing as there is plenty of good skiing to be had. May I suggest Healy Pass/ Egypt? I think it could be good judging by my Redearth trip.
Bryant Creek. May 3. After reading MAAD’s latest trip report I had to give this route a try. I don’t have his experience and I’m scared of the dark but I like oranges and I always wanted to check out the trail to Watridge and in towards Assiniboine. I should have gone in the winter instead of waiting until spring.
The skiing from Shark until the first bridge was actually OK. Soft snow, difficult to get a grip, but no clumping. There was a young strong skate skier doing the trails at Shark and he was really enjoying himself. The only footprinted part was the main trail to Watridge.
Past the first bridge the skiing became, for me, very marginal. Skier tracks from a few days previous had become raised casts. Lots of debris and ice. I stopped at the first warden cabin and, sadly, never made it to the meadow section of Bryant Creek that MADD described so well. Next year.
A few info points: the closed section of Hwy 40 is dry and bare as far as the eye can see (which is not so far). Aqua is right – the cyclepath riff raff will be there soon.
There was a large sow grizzly with three very large cubs on the highway at Eau Claire campground. They did not realize that it is not open yet.
Some sections of the Smith Dorrion are fixed a bit, but from Sparrowhawk down to Canmore is brutal.
Bob – not sure if this is the right forum but I’m sure I’m not the only one to wonder what set Roger apart from the other offers to continue your legacy?
Btw – I’m looking forward to Rogers site and am happy to see it’s been a relatively smooth transition and so many shared resources. Clearly you had a solid combined effort over a few months to make this happen, for which we are all grateful.
Why buy a pair of ice skates when you can use your XC boots on ice skate blades fitted with NNN or NNN-BC bindings!? It looks like this has been a “thing” for a while. Can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before!
Many thanks for supplying skiers & snowshoers with great information on grooming in our park areas. I’ve used your site for many years as my ‘go to’ before heading out.. Very grateful for all the hours you’ve put into this site – will miss seeing it but glad to see SkierRoger will continue. You’ve set up a great legacy…again thank you.
A correction: I think Helen’s “creative writing” comment was directed to MAAD, not myself. Wouldn’t want to steal anyone’s thunder.
CONSIDER BRYANT CREEK SKI PHOTOGRAPHY
I forgot to write about the snow layer reflections along the banks of the Bryant Creek beyond the Bryant Creek warden cabin after my Assiniboine assualt trip and after the last time I was in the area skiing some weeks ago.
It was absolutely stunning to see the reflections of the layers of snow in the calm water sections of Bryant Creek in the meadows. In some areas dozens of snow layers could be seen reflecting off the calm waters with anticline and syncline shapes which made it look like some of the snow layers were forming circles with the reflections in the water. None of the snow layers reflecting in the waters that I saw were perfectly flat- or I did not notice any because of the “eye candy” twisting and circular shapes that my eyes were attracted to. My description comes nowhere near to justifying how beautiful the snow layer reflections were as no words could describe what I saw- at least in my head.
If you have the opportunity, take the time to ski up there and go see what I am talking about and bring a camera. These could be some of the best potential pictures ever posted on SkierBob. The skiing along the creek in the meadows was absolutely spectacular with these reflections and it is a fairly rare event to see such unique rare beauty with the towering mountains in the background of the reflections.
At this time of writing, the weather forecast looks good to ski Sunday or Monday up Bryant Creek with the camera as overnight lows are expected to be -2C in Banff which should translate to maybe -4c in the Mount Shark area. Such temperatures overnight should allow for a relatively firm base to ski or ski skate on in the groomed trail sections.
Even on a cloudy day, the reflections along the creek in the meadow will look spectacular where the water is calm. It is a fantastic time to ski along Bryant Creek to explore it’s unique beauty. If you go up there, shoot some waterfowl or waterbirds along the creek as well- with your camera of course! If birds are in the areas of the stunning reflections, that could make for the SkierBob bird photos of the century.
Ski on, with tight screws in your bindings.
The best part of your site was your personality and the enthusiasm you injected(, plus the spirited debates on track setting, fat bikers, dogs and skate skiers). We are forever indebted to you for adding a whole new dimension to the best winter sport ever. Nothing beats a Skier Bob meeting on the trails. Thank you .!!
Thank you for helping to promote the ski trails in Cypress Hills. Hope to see you out here next winter.
Roger, thank you for continuing the great work that Bob has carried out.
Bob, thank you so much for your years of dedication to your blog! You have made such a huge difference for all of us who love to ski! I hope you continue to enjoy the trails, and will post on Roger’s blog.
Welcome, Roger! Your new blog is looking wonderful! Thank you for taking up the reins. I’m sure it will be a great success!
The end of the grooming at CNC for this season: a fun skate ski under sunny skies and warm wind out on Banff Trail to end of meadow, then picking my way on Meadowview over a snow and ice surface that was softening in the sun to the start of the downhill. That was the turnaround. The soft snow on the night loop was still good and not too slow, it was still possible to cautiously cruise down the teardrop and back up the other end.
Its been a good ski season. If the weather cools off with a good overnight freeze and some sunny days ahead crust skiing on lakes and meadows can still be enjoyed. So I won’t put away my skis yet and see what happens.
Bob, your comments and posts have been very welcome. We hate to see you go but welcome Rodger. Thanks for stepping up to the plate and taking over a huge job Roger.
SEEMS TO WORK WELL!
Thanks Roger for giving us an option.
I like the fact that one has to register to either Post or Comment.
THANK YOU BOB for all your work through the years, and managing my social media exposure!
This is encouraging me to go out for one more ski trip this season, just so that I can post about it.
And who is Roger, any introduction?
CTV Are Statistically Unscientific Junk Polls
The CTV CFCN poll that was conducted is statistically unscientific and should not even be considered anywhere near scientifically accurate. As a person who spent too much time studying statistics, I understand that every poll on CTV is not scientific as the polls can be pushed by people with an agenda and it is not a random poll which is required for good statistical science.
The polls may somewhat represent the views of the CFCN TV viewers only at best, but still not likely. The poll could have been pushed by UCP party members or supporters as far as we know.
The best poll on such a political question would be to allow the legalization of the right of people to vote on government bills. If the people had the choice, they likely would reject park tax fees which are a regressive tax. Regressive taxes are taxes that harm the less wealthy more than the wealthy and are based on a proportion of income. If a poor person earns $7000 dollars per year and has to pay the same $90 park