Excellent “scraps” at West Bragg Creek

Moose Connector at West Bragg Creek. Photo by Ray Yong

Thanks to Ray Yong for the photo and report from West Bragg Creek…

“Snow was thin at the trailhead but fine in the trees.  It was wet and slightly sticky, but no problems with clumping or sticking.  I was using my skin skis and the grip was fine.  Made the mistake of trying mountain road – it’s really, really thin and rocky closer to the trailhead, so best to avoid that move!  The snow isn’t melting in the covered trails, which is great, so it’s best to stick to the inner trails.

Lots of people walking all over the trails, so be prepared for that.”

******

When Aqua Toque mentioned “scraps” at West Bragg Creek, I wasn’t expecting to see this. The photo above is a screen capture from the video. To see the 30-second video, click on this link Fox Video. 

Question about setting up ski trails in a Calgary park

Dylan Jones is looking for advice…

“I live in Woodbine in Calgary, and I’ve offered to help my community association potentially set up a ski trail/circuit in some park space that’s being underutilized. But I’ve got no idea what I’m doing lol!

I wanted to see if you could maybe help me out. Essentially I need to figure out what it takes to establish and maintain a ski trail: what equipment is needed? How much might it cost us? How much time/maintenance is required? etc.

Any tips you could help me out with would be really appreciated. I just recently got my family into the sport and am pretty new to it myself, and I’d love to help add some simple local access for my community.

p.s. really appreciate all the insights and help you offer on your site!”

Thanks a bunch,
Dylan Jones

West Bragg Creek; More snow on the way

Loggers at West Bragg Creek. Photo by Alf Skrastins

April 24, 2021

Thanks to Alf Skrastins for this report from West Bragg Creek: “5-7cm of new snow did fall at WBC.  The base has melted out a bit more over this past week, but enough remains to allow for a nice ski on the core trails.” 

West Crystal Line. Photo by Alf Skrastins

GMJ had this to say about yesterday’s skiing in PLPP(Whiskey Jack, Lookout, Upper Pocaterra, Packers): “Still remarkable good conditions for late April.”

A snowfall warning has been issued for Canmore and Kananaskis….

“A long duration snowfall event is expected to continue along the eastern slopes of the Rockies until Sunday evening. Snowfall accumulation of 20 to 30 cm is expected by the end of the weekend, with the highest amounts anticipated over communities at higher elevations.”

Grooming has ended in PLPP but the Canmore Nordic Centre is still tracksettting the man-made snow on Banff trail, Banff Loop, and Bow Teardrop until the end of this month. 

It’s -6°C at the Lower Lake this morning. Predicted high temperatures for today and Sunday in PLPP are -1°C and zero respectively, so the snow should be fairly cold. Things warm up on Monday and that will be the beginning of the end. 

Lionel

Lionel. Photo by Alf Skrastins

April 21, 2021

A few days ago, Alf Skrastins made a good case for resurrecting Lionel as a groomed ski trail  The easiest, longest, most scenic beginner trail in Kananaskis. 

The sky was overcast that day and his photos weren’t optimal for displaying the remarkable scenery along the trail. Yesterday, Alf returned to the scene and I’ve posted a few of the beautiful blue-sky photos. You can see more on Alf’s report. For those who are late to the game, Lionel is the closed portion of Hwy #40 from the winter gate to the Back Door, about 9K. 

 

Will Ski Mania continue?

I was reading an article in XCSkiResorts.com where they asked the question…

“We don’t know whether the introduction of XC skiing to many first-time XC skiers encouraged enough of them to become regular XC skiers”

As the Shirelles put it in their #1 hit song “Is this a lasting treasure, or just a moment’s pleasure?”

If things are back to normal by November, will the first-time skiers still be keen, or will there be lots of used gear for sale? Perhaps it begs the question, “Will Covid ever be conquered?” 12 months ago, I never dreamed the pandemic would still be raging.

Still skiing at West Bragg Creek and more snow to come

West Bragg Creek on April 19. Photo by Alf Skrastins

The recent snowfall produced a flurry of activity yesterday. Thanks for all the trip reports.  

West Bragg Creek. Photo by Alf Skrastins

Alf Skrastins at West Bragg Creek…

 “Did a short ski around the Crystal Line trails at WBC. The 12-14cm of new snow on the remaining base was enough for an enjoyable tour.  This year saw lots of warm breaks, with marginal conditions… but 7 months after the big October dump, skiing is still possible.  Might be even better at the end of this week.”

Helen Read

Farewell to ski season from Helen Read...

“A final salute to a spectacular season thanks to ALL my ski friends, ALL the groomers for whom I could not bake cookies this year, for the excellent adoption of Nordic Pulse timely grooming reports, to Nordique Alberta and Ken Hewitt and volunteers for making our season even possible, and for skierbob whose website I am going to miss more than you will ever know. I am humbled with gratitude.”

Perhaps a 91st trip is in Helen’s future. As Alf alluded to, there is a lot of snow in the forecast.  Snow-Forecast.com is predicting 30 cm of snow between Thursday and Sunday in PLPP along with cooler temperatures. West Bragg Creek is expected to get almost as much. 

Canmore Nordic Centre update:  

“Lots of bare/dirt areas appearing on trails along with thin spots.  Conditions vary from icy and hard to soft and slushy.  There is no further grooming occurring on the natural snow ski trails moving forward due to melting/thinning/disappearing snow base. Have fun and please use caution when skiing as trail conditions are changing hourly.”

BC has announced new travel restrictions. This is relevant to anyone who is skiing the Great Divide from Lake Louise to the Lake O’Hara parking lot in BC. See below…

Moraine Lake road avalanche

Moraine Lake road avalanche. Photo by Chuck

“It was a big one” – Chuck

Moraine Lake road avalanche. Photo by Chuck

All season long we caution skiers who go beyond the grooming on Moraine Lake road that you will be crossing avalanche paths. Now you see why. Thanks to Chuck for the spectacular photos. 

In addition to the avalanche photos, Chuck’s pictures show tracks in the snow from five different animals as well as a magnificent shot of Mt Temple. 

There is no more grooming on MLR, but as Chuck’s photos display, there’s still the warning sign when you reach 9K. Now that the avalanche has occurred, it was safe for Chuck to cross the runout and continue to the lake. 

Chuck further elaborated…

The debris across the road was actually only about 20 metres… I’ve seen it a lot wider and higher!
The avalanche path is about 500 metres beyond the warning sign, and it is not visible from there.
It probably occurred on Saturday, when temperatures hit 20 degrees.

We can consider the above my fourth instalment of favourite photos. 

The winter of social distancing

Keeping their distance: Dec 15 at Elk Pass/Hydroline/Tyrwhitt junction

April 18, 2021: Today’s snowfall should extend the season a bit. Thanks to Normand for his PLPP trip report. 

We’ve had the Year of Winter Wonderland 2019-20

the Year of the Pine Needle 2012-13 

the Year of the Deep Freeze 2016-17

the Best Ever Year 2019-20

This past winter will go down in history as the Year of the Pandemic.

Fortunately, xc skiing is an activity that is very safe and we were able to enjoy it without too much covid-related inconvenience. The Pocaterra hut wasn’t available and the PLPP Discovery Centre had shortened hours. Back on Dec 15 I wrote, “Matt made a point of stopping at the steepest part of the trail to have a chat, from a covid-approved distance of course.”

The biggest impact was felt, however, when attractive women stopped me on the trail to take a selfie. We couldn’t hug.

I’ve already posted, on March 12, and April 5 some of my favourite photos from the past winter. I’m adding some more in the gallery below:

Grooming is finished but the snow keeps falling

April 17, 2021

A snowfall warning has been issued for Kananaskis and Canmore. Snow-Forecast.com is predicting 11 cm for PLPP and 8 cm for the Canmore Nordic Centre on Sunday. 

Grooming Elk Pass on Nov 16, 2020. Photo by Steve Riggs.

The high temperature in PLPP is predicted to be -1°C on Sunday, April 18. 

As I write this at 10 pm, the final grooming shift in PLPP has begun. If you venture out on Sunday, the tracksetting will probably be covered with fresh snow. 

“Blading” the snow on Hydroline on Nov 22

We’ve enjoyed five solid months of grooming in PLPP(the first tracksetting on Elk Pass was on  Nov 16). Last year at this time we didn’t know if there would be groomed trails in PLPP for the 2020-21 season, but this year, all signs indicate that grooming will be back for next season. It’s a relief to not have to worry about that situation over the summer. 

Thanks to tracksetters James, Jody and Dylan for the excellent tracksetting in PLPP this winter. Looking forward to seeing you next season. 

With the new snow, I hope we see a few more trip reports in the coming week. Thanks to Mike W and Dave for today’s reports from PLPP and Lake Louise. 

I don’t know when the Canmore Nordic Centre will end grooming, but with this new snow, I expect it will continue for a few more days. 

Two more days of tracksetting in PLPP

April 16, 2021

Grooming has concluded for the season on the Mt Shark trails.

As long as everything goes according to plan, there will be grooming in Peter Lougheed Park until the night of April 17th.  

Canmore Nordic Centre: The man-made snow on Banff Loop, Banff to the meadow, and Bow trail was trackset overnight. 

Last night’s tracksetting in PLPP included…

  • Pocaterra from Lynx to Lookout
  • Whiskey Jack
  • Packers

The temperature at the Lower Lake at 7:30 a.m. is -8°C with a forecast high of +9. 

“Grooming on Thursday night took place under clear skies, as the icy base was broken up and tilled, with a little fresh snow to mix in, mainly in shady areas at higher elevations.  There are a few places on this recent grooming where the base is down to the ice layer, and the set tracks will be thin in a number of places, mainly at lower elevations. 

Polar bear having a snack. Photo by Jeannie McBroom

The base is very thin and/or down to ice in quite a number of places in the north end, as well as some of the middle trails.  Use extra caution on any trail north of Packers, as there are likely many sections of ice, with expanding bare spots in some areas. Use extra Caution if skiing Lower Lake Group Camp trail, as the snow bridge about 200m west of the KLT has almost fully collapsed (about one meters width left on which to cross on Apr 4th) and the remainder could collapse at any time.  The sun exposed hill above Boulton Bridge parking is also getting very thin and narrow (and other marginal spots are likely on Boulton Trail).”

“We were being watched”

Mountain goats on Birdwood Circuit. Photo by Steve Riggs

Even with Steve Riggs’ secondary camera, his photos are spectacular. Yesterday, on the Birdwood Circuit, he captured the rare sighting of mountain goats. Steve posted 27 photos with his trip report, and every photo is amazing

Birdwood circuit. Photo by Steve Riggs

I’m always fascinated by mountain goats’ ability to survive at high elevations with the scarcity of food. On the other hand, they avoid predators by living high above the valleys where the wolves and cougars roam. They also avoid being photographed very often. 

I’ve added Steve’s photo, and a few more from the past winter, to the Animals along the ski trail photo gallery below. Thanks to Chuck for providing so many of these wonderful photos.