Trip Reports – April, May 2019

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  1. Sunshine Meadows

    Looking for a July ski. Check out the snow in the meadows on the webcams in Sunshine.

  2. Highwood pass: about a foot of snow at the pass this morning. Lots of skiers hoping to sample the goods in all the usual spots. We bailed on hiking up to mist ridge when we came to a waterlogged flat spot that would have been a soaker on return. Lots of deciduous trees down on the trail. Bring a saw.

  3. Lake Louise: perhaps worse than usual traffic this summer at the lake. Construction at the 4 way stop and down to a single lane on the bridge over pipestone. If you must, go early.

  4. Highway #40… Highwood side
    Conditions were ideal on Sunday for cycling the closed portion of Highway #40. My preference is to bike the south side, from Highwood Junction to Highwood Pass.
    The road opens to traffic on June 15… so it’s a bike path for another 12 days.

    • Alf, I love how, when others think that there are perhaps two choices, say ski or hike, you’ll pick the third (cycling), or even fourth (kayaking), to change things up.

      I see roughly 600m elevation gain in your tour up to Highwood Pass from the south gate. What does your GPS show? That’s a heck of a way to get the quads, glutes, lungs, and heart going for summer!

  5. anyone know the status of MLake Road -specifically when it’s opened for vehicles?
    or the Conditions of hiwood pass?
    couldn’t make it to the sheep River this year-

  6. Hwy 546 (the Sheep River road) was excellent for cycling today.

    • Yes, it was a fantastic day on the Sheep River Road today. Only a few more days of traffic free cycling left!

      • Did you see the two black bears? One was very close to the road by the texas gate under Windy Point Ridge and the other was on the south slope of Windy Point Ridge above the dip on your last photo.

      • Thanks Alf for introducing me to this lovely stretch of highway 546, which I did for the first time yesterday. Rather a long 300 kms drive for a relatively short ride of 36 kms. but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sheep researchers were out counting sheep (or ticks) as were the Bluerock campground people getting ready for opening w/e. Lots of wildlife but I made lots of noise so did not see any bears. There were 4 coyotes standing right in middle of road (I chose to believe in hindsight, that they were not cougars) but they were very slow to move off the road. That is one long climb up after cycling down into the gorge. I am too chicken to cycle over cattle grids, so that was the main detraction. Will have to try to ski Sandy McNabb next winter. Thanks again for the head’s up. Might try #66 tomorrow.

        • You can shorten the drive (slightly) and lengthen the ride by starting at the Sheep Park Headquarters, or the Kananaskis Entrance flags, or even all the way back at Turner Valley. There isn’t much traffic on 546. It’s also worth doing a little side trip up the Gorge Creek road or down to Sandy McNabb campground.
          Same thing with Highway 66. You can start at Moose Mountain, Station Flats, Allen Bill or the Elbow Information Centre for a longer ride.

        • Michelle Saquet

          Helen..I used to be scared to go over cattle grids too. but started this month doing them. Keep some speed, stand on the pedals, mtn bike pose kinda and treat them like railroad tracks. Don’t go too slow as the vibration from tracks will slow you down. FYI. I am on a carbon road bike. I was on that road on Saturday. Rode from millarville and back….oh man that climb out of the gorge.

          • Had an even easier day today on #66 from Winter gate to Forgetmenot Pond. Lots of horse trailers passing me and people hitting all the trails like Prairie View and Powderface. I have not been out that way for eons.. Thanks Michelle for your tips on cattle grids. There was only one today and the kind I am OK with, but took your tips to heart. I am unlikely to ever cross the ones with just the round cylindrical tubes. Too many orthopods to my name already.

  7. Highway #66
    This is just a reminder that there are only a few days left for vehicle free cycling on Highway #66 (Elbow Road) and Highway 546 (Sheep Valley Road). The gates open for vehicle access on May 15.

  8. Skied to Watridge Lake today and only had to take skis off twice for a short distance.
    Saw a massive but well behaved grizzly using the trail as well.
    Found prescription glasses and a single contact lens at the Mt Shark parking lot. Claim them at the KCountry Canmore office in the provincial building.
    If you know who lost glasses please pass the word as I suspect they were found on the trail and relocated to the parking lot.


    OK, one more ski report from Lake Louise!
    With an overnight low of minus 5, conditions remain fast, providing excellent glide. Just wish I had better skate skiing technique.
    Details available in the captions here:!Avuc6aIvjGUAgmiigg23fHeu0pTY
    Best to be done by 11 am though.
    Too late to see the male bear (#138) chasing a sow and her two cubs down the lake!

  10. WBC-Moose Loop
    OK, one more ski report from West Bragg Creek. I skied around Moose Loop today, with full snow coverage for the entire distance. I don’t ever recall being able to do that in May. The overnight temperature got down to -3C, so the snow was firm and fast in the morning. It warmed up quickly and by the time I was half way around the loop, the snow was wet enough to create suction against the ski base, virtually eliminating any glide. By late afternoon, it had warmed up to +10C, so I’m pretty sure I will be the last skier around Moose Loop for this season.
    There were lots of animal tracks… including one bruin on his way to the Moose Marsh.


    Getting High can be Fun!
    Details available with captions here:!Avuc6aIvjGUAgmEH78HOPPijUbxK
    Black runs are the way to go!

    • Nakiska was skiable from the base area on Sunday, after a walk of a few hundred m. from the gate on the access road. Decent skiing in 12 cm moist powder up top, smooth wet spring snow down lower.


    Except for possible icefields trips, I didn’t plan to ski anymore this season. But after reading the last few reports from Alf and Chuck, with early May very nice snow conditions at both the doorsteps of Calgary and in the alpine, I debated whether to go for a short drive to WBC or try an above tree line destination a few hours drive. Given I had a full day, I opted for a tour to Sunshine Meadows, an area I last visited in 2003. The main parking lot was about half full of cars, when I arrived at 9:30 am. Skied up the ski out on short skins, although VR60 may have worked in places. The Sunshine Resort did not get more than 3 cm over the last few days, pushing me into an auto-pilot mode, as I was following Chuck’s track past the resort ski area boundary. Outside the track, there was at most 5 cm of ski penetration; easy travel. It was pretty cloudy over the area most of the time I was touring the alpine meadows. Decent views of Quartz Ridge, with Citadel Peak poking through the thick clouds for a few minutes. Got as far as the terrain just above Howard Douglas Lake. I made my own track for the return toward the Lookout chairlift at the ski resort. Although it was covered all day, I got a good raccoon look and medium cook face/neck. Quite slushy on the ski out, especially down from the Goat Eye chairlift area. Except for the last 100 meters before arriving to the parking lot, the ski out still has good coverage with about 25 cm on the lowermost section.

  13. West Bragg Creek
    An additional 9 cm of snow fell at West Bragg Creek, with overnight temperatures of -4C. Sounds like February, rather than May. We only had enough time for a half-day ski, so we decided to take advantage of the skiing at WBC, rather than driving farther for the same thing.
    Todays tour included West Crystal, Middle Crystal, Loggers, Elbow, Iron Springs, Sundog, Bunny Loop and Hostel Loop, plus Snowshoe Hare, DemiTel and a bit of Long Distance. Good coverage and good skiing everywhere. Late morning the temperature briefly warmed up to +1 C and the snow got a bit sticky on the sun exposed aspects. Still, it was a lot better skiing than we had in January!
    The forecast high for Monday is +13C and we could see +20C by the end of the week. Maybe now spring will really arrive!

  14. CYCLONE via SKOKI – May 3

    A longer trip, but these long days in a longer ski season, allow us to explore a little further. Travel conditions are ideal. Virtually no ski penetration… you can ski anywhere. No isothermic conditions in the alpine.
    Details available in the captions here:!Avuc6aIvjGUAglZMJHvASxvMEqxj
    Stay High

    • Chuck, the photo essay of your free spirited adventue has made my day.
      Can you remind me as to how many switchbacks there are on the homeward descent from Boulder Pass. I vaguely recall that “tricky” was the feeling one had (depending on skis used).
      Well done. You make 38 km with elevation gain seem like a walk in the park.

      • Hey Henry,
        You might mean the descent from Deception Pass? Yesterday was the first time I realized why it is so deceiving. No turns for me on my light touring skis, just a good solid snow plow… safety first!
        Glad to learn that the trip made somebody’s day, and enough so to make a comment. My body is glad for a day off!

        • Inspiring, as always. 🙂

          “killing me softly”

        • Chuck, I do recall the Deception Pass is a seemingly endless trail of pure white, and potentially very wind affected, I can’t remember if the short stretch up to the top of Boulder Pass is gnarly on the downhill because of the rocks. Memory foreshortens and can exaggerate things. I do remember the joy of cruising the remaining, gentle downhill grade back to the ski area.

          • Your memory is serving you well Henry.
            Yes, Boulder Pass is gnarly on the downhill, primarily because it is windblown and actually bare of snow most of the time (especially now that they have taken down the snow fences). It is dangerous if you forget to follow the ski traverse and choose to take the direct snowmobile route that takes the fall line so that they do not tip over sideways.
            And yes, that gentle downhill grade below Boulder Pass back to the ski area is pure cruising joy.
            Guess what… we got another 20 cms of snow last night!

            • “…we got another 20 cms of snow last night!”


            • Your trip report blows me away Chuck! Awesome. I was at Mud Lake on Friday, lots of wet snow, no crust skiing and windy! We trudged with our skate skis to the dam and back.
              CNC no more grooming!

            • Ulrike, that is sad but useful information, as I was planning to head up Mud Lake way later this week. 🙁

  15. We also tried out West Bragg. We skied up Alf’s track on East Hostel and then up East Telephone to just past the Long Distance junction. Easy going following Alf and Steve’s track, which had a bit of fresh snow and variable walker traffic on top, but a bit harder off track due to the fragile crust. I was glad I had my telemark skis which made the walker tracks and impossibility of snowplowing on downhills much easier to deal with. There was a bit of a crust early in the day and the snow was cold enough that yellow wax (and Swix universal glide) worked well. By the time we got back (about 2:45) the snow was slush and was good for glide (though a bit grabby in places) but had virtually no grip. I never had any trouble with clumping. On the way back we skied Telephone between the two legs of Hostel and there is a narrow, well beaten walking track that is good for skiing. Overall good coverage with a few bare spots, the occaisional rock sticking up, and one miniscule stream crossing (!) a few inches wide.
    Fun to be skiing in May – this is by far the latest I’ve ever skied on a real trail (as opposed to my backyard).

  16. QUARTZ HILL – May 2

    Thanks to the Snow Gods for the winter that keeps on giving!
    A backyard full of snow and a quick look at the Sunshine webcam this morning, was all it took to motivate me to check this area out today.
    Details available in the captions here:!Avuc6aIvjGUAgj_PUGYWZk7fYyQE
    Lots of easy travel destinations up there, and ski penetration was only ankle deep.

  17. WBC-Telephone Loop
    After -7C overnight temperatures and a bit more snow today, I decided to ski Telephone Loop at West Bragg Creek. I started out on Hostel Meadow and Hostel Loop and then continued up East Telephone from there. There was good coverage all the way around the loop, especially on the far north end. There were no other human tracks between Snowshoe Hare and Reconnect… but lots of animal tracks! The snow only really started to get soft and sticky south of Reconnect. Mountain Road had more mud than snow, so I took the adjacent Snowy Owl, which was still very snowy.

    • That looks delightful! I wonder if it will still be worth driving out tomorrow?

      • Lots of snow on the ground. Temperatures were below freezing all night. But it will warm up to about +8C by late afternoon.

        • Someone else was out on the trails yesterday morning as well.

          For reference- the ski tips are 62 mm wide.
          Diana- I used a wider light touring ski with fish scales yesterday, which generally worked well as long as I followed Alf’s track. Out of track was tough going. Wouldn’t have wanted to be using wax. Thanks Alf for your “track setting” on Tuesday.

  18. Ian and Darlene

    Blueberry Hill via Fox Creek and Elk Pass Trail
    We started skiing about noon with 3 to 5 cm of new snow overnight. Temperatures during the day were zero to plus 3. Unfortunately this combination resulted in clumping but we managed to control it somewhat by applying liquid glide wax. It was a lovely day for a workout. Pushing 3 to 5 cm of sticky snow on Fox Creek and Elk Pass and 10 cm of sticky snow ( three days of snow since the last skier set track) on Blueberry made it about twice as much effort as normal to reach the top. So, if anyone is interested, it is now skier trackset to the top of Blueberry. Our advice would be to start early before the snow warms up.
    Snow coverage on Elk Pass and Blueberry is good but Fox Creek is getting a bit thin in spots.


    Groomed yesterday! Only snowmobile packed, but oh so nice!
    Details available in the captions here:!Avuc6aIvjGUAgitlKHzF7NEgcS0h
    Conditions were so good, I did it twice!
    In the words of a wise man many of us know “When life gives you snow and fresh grooming, make tracks”.

  20. West Bragg Creek
    It’s the last day of April and it looked like Christmas at West Bragg Creek. Actually, I don’t think there was this much snow at Christmas. It snowed much of the afternoon, as I did a loop that included the Crystal Lines, Snowy Owl, Loggers and Sundog.

    • Thanks for the intel Alf. Wouldn’t have thought to ski there today without seeing your posts & photos. Beautiful morning ski. Started on Easr Telephone but a walker and fat biker had obliterated the ski tracks so turned around at the second Hostel intersection. Then followed fresh tracks on Crystal/Loggers and the bushwhack track through to Sundog. Unexpectedly great conditions for May 1.

  21. Elk Pass Parking to the Hut and Return
    The conditions were very good with 5 cm of new snow on top of the 25 cm that arrived on Saturday. Temperature at noon was zero degrees and it stayed close to that all day with a mixture of sun and cloud.
    Fox Creek had good coverage and was skier trackset. When we joined Elk Pass trail the fresh snow was causing icing on Ian’s SNS Pilot bindings that have a fancy lever under the boot that catches fresh snow and creates ice piles between the boot and ski. To avoid this we followed the snowshoe tracks up Hydroline all the way to the hut. The snowshoe group had left the hut after the snowfall so this made for a very solid snow packed base to ski on. On the steeper sections near the hut the snow was quite firm off the snowshoe track and we were able to comfortably ski off to the side of the snowshoe track with ankle deep penetration to control the speed. There were small creeks near the hut but with the recent snowfall we were able to find snow crossings and keep our skis dry. Coverage is minimal for the last 2 km near the hut and will probably not last long.
    On the return we took Elk Pass back instead of Hydroline and were pleased to meet another skier that had packed the skier set track. He was the only other skier we met all day. Coverage on Elk Pass is very good but the thin spots will be exposed in a few days.
    The skier we met expressed it quite well – “What a nice gift!”

    • Thanks for the great report. That was me you saw. Before I encountered you, I was starting to think that I was the only one out there! Too bad grooming has ended for the year with all that clean, fresh snow! Something you might try on your bindings is to spray them, and the bottoms of your boots, with silicone spray. I have the same type of bindings and find it helps a bit. There’s still some clumping when the snow is really wet but I did it before I went out yesterday and didn’t have any problems.
      I’m looking at my first robin of the year while I’m writing this, but it’s also snowing here in Banff. Maybe a sign that Spring might actually be here??

      • Ian and Darlene

        Darrell, thanks for the advice on the silicone spray. I am going to buy a can right away. Interestingly, the ice on the bindings was not a problem today with it being several degrees warmer. It was the clumping instead. I am not complaining – the warm weather and clean snow is wonderful to be in.

  22. West Bragg Creek
    The 32-36 cm of snow that West Bragg Creek got on Saturday would have been most welcome in January. At this time of year, most people think it is just delaying the mountain biking season. …But it’s snow, and I couldn’t resist.
    I skied an unusual loop that included East Telephone, Hostel Loop, Snowshoe Hare, Whitetail and Demi-Tel. I had good snow coverage and easy travel wherever I went… and no other tracks anywhere!

  23. To our surprise we found that grooming had happened at CNC on the night loop to the Meadow and part of the Olympic Trails. Very enjoyable skate skiing in soft powdery snow!

  24. Kananaskis Lookout
    I waited until mid-morning for driving conditions to improve along the Trans-Canada, before heading out from Calgary. The dozens of cars, trucks, semi-trailers and buses in the ditch provided start evidence of how nasty the winter storm was yesterday!
    Snowfall amounts varied a lot along the drive and in the end, we opted to ski up to the Kananaskis Fire Lookout in PLPP. The snow depths on Whiskey Jack ranged from 20cm at the bottom, to 30cm at the junction with Pocaterra. The temperature started out at -4C and eventually warmed to 0C. Great conditions! And nobody else out there.

  25. GREAT DIVIDE – April 28

    Yesterday’s snowfall on top of the solid packed base made for great fast conditions today in Lake Louise.
    Details available in the captions provided here:!Avuc6aIvjGUAghLQHam0DPmrBMA1
    The ski season is far from over!


    Bob must have heard about all the snow we are getting today on his favourite trail!
    Details as always here:!Avuc6aIvjGUAgggNh_PK8W8XwZAw
    Bob might even report!


    EGYPT LAKE CABIN and more

    Thursday afternoon and evening skiing.

    Skiing was generally excellent spring like skiing. The trail snow base is firm and rocket fast. I hiked up the Sunshine ski out to the Healy Pass trail. The Sunshine ski out was in excellent condition. The old ski out has some bare patches but still looked skiable. The further I skied in the more snow there was. I only had to take my skis off on the short trail that comes off the ski out to the main Healy Creek trail. – about 25 meters.

    The Healy Pass trail should be skiable well into May with minor walking before the first bridge. After the first bridge crossing on Healy Creek, the snow gets better and deeper.

    At Egypt Lake Hut there looks like there is nearly 6 feet of snow. Up on Healy Pass and the Monarch Ramparts there was light blowing snow in the afternoon. Some winter like snow made for very sweet turns. North and northwest faces were awesome for skiing. It was awesome coming down the Pass after the sun set.

    Only advanced skiers should attempt to ski into Healy Pass or Egypt Lake Hut.

    There is pretty sweet skiing up at Healy Pass. I could ski off trail anywhere and not sink in. Everything was nice and smooth up there which made for nice slalom turns on my metal edge 59mm x-x skis. This was my best day of x-c skiing this year even though I broke a Rossignol Pole strap which made things a little tricky in some areas.

    Unfortunately, someone cracked the glass on the new wood stove in Egypt Hut. The glass was also replaced on the new wood stove in Bryant Creek hut this winter with a steel plate. Some ignorant people just have no respect for glass on wood stoves in the huts. The glass makes for much better fire ambience in the huts.

    Keep on skiing because it will be getting better in the next few days with more snow. Healy Pass is a gem to ski and the scenery is spectacular. The avalanche hazard was extremely low today with below normal temperatures.


      I forgot to mention that I skied in with no wax on my skis. Travel to Egypt Lake Hut was a little over 2 hours.

      At this time of year I rarely use wax and I never use skins to climb.

  28. Elk Pass and Tyrwhitt (to Lookout Junction)
    The total return distance is about 21 km and we were able to ski 90 percent of the trail. There is snow/ice coverage for most of the trail but we had to walk up and down the big Elk Pass hill nearest to the parking lot due to icy conditions. After the Fox Creek junction it was good skiing all the way to the Tyrwhitt picnic table except for a big ice flow just west of the table. Beyond the picnic table there are many short sections with no snow coverage which are easily crossed without removing skis because they are grass covered. There was only one short rock exposed section that required crossing on boots. The meadows and downhill section of Tyrwhitt are still in good shape.
    It was a beautiful sunny warm day and we were able to enjoy several leisurely lunch breaks. The trails do need the snow that is coming this weekend.

    • PS. Bring bear spray if you decide to go on Tyrwhitt. We were glad we had ours when we saw where a small bear had crossed the trail between the high point and Lookout Junction. When it headed into the forest toward the lookout it was post holing up to its belly and leaving all sorts of claw marks where it was digging itself out. It may have been in a bad mood after all that!

  29. FAIRVIEW and a few other views beyond! – April 25

    With the good deep freeze last night (minus 12 this am) and forecasted clear skies, this was one of those days to phone in sick. The drooling details are available with captions here:!Avuc6aIvjGUAggU8sUm4LvT4blz4
    Still winter up here,.. and more snow on the way!
    Keep those ski reports coming

    • With the coming snow was wondering what the last standing couch might look like (and beyond). Thanks for reporting.

  30. Canmore Nordic Centre – April 24 – 6:30 AM
    Where is everyone? The CNC is fantastic – the grooming staff is amazing!

  31. Sheep Valley Road
    OK, I know it’s not XC skiing, but these photos from todays bike ride on the Sheep Valley Road. This is a reminder that there only about 3 weeks of vehicle-free riding left, before the road re-opens to traffic on May 15. The road is clear of snow and there is no gravel on the smooth pavement. Lots of bighorn sheep, mule deer and whitetail deer out today!

  32. Sun apr 21: ticks are out and about in southern Kananaskis west of Longview.


    BRYANT CREEK- beyond BR !4

    Later Saturday afternoon ski to well after dark

    From Mount Shark parking lot to the Spray River bridge the firm snow base is holding up well with excellent skiing conditions. Unethical hoards of hikers from hell did a lot of damage to the trackset however. This was the worst hiker damage I have seen in my life. Snow speed was moderate to fast.

    From the Spray River Bridge to the warden cabin beyond BR 14 campground hikers have also have damaged the ski trail. There are a number of areas where the hikers left a lot of post holes from sinking in. Beyond the warden cabin it is much smoother skiing. Due to some isothermal conditions off trail, there was not good off trail skiing as I would sink up to my knees. On trail though it was generally firm skiing. In this section of trail I had to cross three very small bare patches. Generally the skiing is very good otherwise, on a somewhat bumpy trail.

    There are cougars, lynx and wolves roaming through the valley and there are lots of signs of tracks. The temperature after dark at the warden cabin was -0.5 degrees with no wind. I used metal edge 59 mm skis with no wax and generally had great grip and glide.

  34. Moraine lake road still holding well on April 19 (skating possible), almost no one was there, 3 cars at 1 pm. Very light rain and overcast. Slow wet clean snow on higher elevations, a bit dirty at the parking end.
    Gate open and vehicle tracks at Great Divide, also signs “no winter parking”, not sure if they work cause it’s spring now 🙂

  35. CNC skate ski in light drizzle on groomed rain crust to the meadow and back through Biathlon trails; thin icy patches and puddles in some areas. The Banff Trail from the stadium is melting down to the pavement soon.

  36. MORAINE LAKE ROAD – April 16

    Glad to find that ski conditions are still excellent in the Lake Louise area.
    Details available with the captions here:!Avuc6aIvjGUAgTbGpY4CTe1ubNRm
    We chose to use waxable skis today, which worked perfectly in the new snow.

  37. Mount Shark

    I made the long drive today for my first ski at Mt Shark of the season (!), and it was well worth it! I started dressed for winter, and ended up in T-shirt and sun hat.
    I skipped the first two crazy loops, but skied almost all of the yellow-green loops. There was about a cm of fresh snow over very firm groomed base, and this morning it was a nice light powder. Conditions were surprisingly good, except that one high corner of the green loop, mentioned by the groomer – thank you very much for the detour!!
    By 11 am it was starting to soften up in the sun, and by noon sunny areas were quite warm and wet, so time for me to head home. Spectacular day up there, and huge numbers of bunny tracks, as well as other rodents, and something possibly more interesting…….. no claw marks visible, so maybe a cat of some kind? I will try to get photos up this evening 🙂


    UPPER SPRAY RIVER – via Mount Shark parking lot

    Later Monday afternoon ski until just after dark.

    Excellent trackset skiing to Watridge Lake and the Spray River. The trackset does have a few centimeters of new snow that fell today (Monday). This is on top of new snow yesterday. The snow base on the trails has actually been increasing in the last 48 hours or so. There is some minor ice within about 200 meters of the Mount Shark Parking Lot, but after that it is very sweet spring skiing. Expect variable speed snow in some areas as it is spring time and the sun aspects are warm while the shaded areas are somewhat winter like. There is a very firm base under the new snow.

    The Upper Spray River is generally very good skiing, The base is firm I could ski where I wanted without sinking in. Bears several days ago punched holes in the snow, up to there bellies in many places, along the trail from the trail head to well beyond White Man Pass turn-off. This made the trail breaking somewhat rough in some areas. I followed fresh , roughly 1 hour old, wolf pack tracks going up the valley while skiing in. On the way out, I was skiing over fresh Grizzly tracks that were on my fresh cut trail. It looked like the Griz had followed me up the valley for serval kilometers. This made for a interesting ski.

    There are 3 to 4 feet of snow in the Upper Spray Valley. I skied to within roughly 2.5 kilometers of the warden cabin. The snow was fairly slow skiing in but moderately fast skiing out after the sun went down behind the mountains which allowed for the snow to cool down, sinter and speed up.

    The moon is nice and bright for night skiing. Get your last moon light ski for the year and ski as much as possible this season as the next new Alberta Government may hack the cross country skiing budget for next year. There is a 50-50 chance this may be the last year of free cross country skiing on Provincial crown lands. Get it before it is all gone.

    • A note to others who may venture this direction: The spray is officially closed starting yesterday for its annual wildlife closure, and a steep fine in place.

    • Quite the adventure – sounds spine-tingling in more ways than one!


        What made the trip spine-tingling was my WALKING speed crash I had on the big hill before the Spray River bridge.

        The fresh snow that fell an hour before on this section of the trail was highly sun affected and “dead stop slow”. I had to walk down the hill with my skis on as the snow had no speed. (In the evening I actually skied up the hill far faster as the snow crystals changed). Suddenly my right ski uncontrollably went right and I suddenly ended up on the right bank of the trail. Then I suddenly veered left, dropping off the bank flying through the air about 10 feet and smashing the side of my skull into the middle of the icy trail covered by a few centimeters of fresh concussion reducing snow. Then the rest of my body followed my head.

        This was the only “head smashed in” x-c skiing accident I have ever had and the 3rd worst in my 50+ years of being on any type of skis. My neck and upper spine was extremely stiff after that crash. I knew from experience that I had to get up quick and keep skiing to loosen up the injured neck and upper spine. I suffered a minor concussion which made me feel rather weak after that and it prevented me from skiing as far as I wanted that day. The further I went up the Spray River in elevation, the more queasy I felt. Unfortunately I could not make it up to the Spray River warden cabin and beyond to get my usual spectacular scenic fix.

        Skiing powder on double black diamond chutes 2 days later at Lake Louise and everything was good with no pain. Snow makes me tingle in different ways- particularly when there is beautiful moon light for skiing like this week. Go out and enjoy it.

        • Wow… that sounds lucky!
          I understood that you were going towards the Palliser Cabin (south of Canyon Dam). The Spray River Cabin is north toward Banff, which is in this annual closed area:


            You have that right Chuck.

            Not the lucky part but the part about the warden cabin. My ongoing sport head smashed in concussion events at walking speed don’t seem to lucky to me. I am safer at higher speeds it seems.

            I have a problem of always referring to the Palliser Warden cabin as the Spray River warden cabin as I have in my mind that it is the only warden cabin left along the Spray River. I guess it is called the Palliser warden cabin because it is named after the above towering mountain range.

            I have never found that warden cabin in the Mid Spray River section in all the years I have backpacked and skied in the area. I thought Parks may have taken it out since they took out the campgrounds in that river section.

        • Ouch! Glad to hear you seem to be okay!

  39. Skied Mount Shark today.
    A few centimeters of fresh snow covered the icy base and the 10km was mostly good to go with no bare ground. Was snowing lightly during my departure. I’d say that it’s good to go for at least another week.

  40. Fairview to Moraine Lake Road and up to the viewpoint. Start Racing Special on my friend’s skis generally won out over my various klisters. There were 4-ish centimetres of new snow at Lake Louise, and nearly double that amount at the high point on MLR. Coverage on Fairview and MLR is good, and with the present cooler weather, skiing there will hopefully extend into May. A fun day outside!

  41. Mount Shark
    Starting at 11:00 am, we skied the 15 k green loop. The first couple of kms weren’t groomed or track set and were subsequently slow on waxless skis. However, soon enough there was new grooming and track setting which made for a pretty good ski. We encountered wind and snow flurries on the far end of the loop which made for wintery conditions. Overall, coverage is still pretty good. The track is often icy and there’s a few bare spots here and there but still very skiable.

  42. PLPP, Elk Pass
    It was looking a lot like spring on the drive down Highway #40, with more brown grass than snow along the road. However, at the Elk Pass parking lot, you could see a few centimetres of new snow on top of Thursday’s grooming. Only one other skier had gone up the Elk Pass trail and about 10 hikers/runners had come down the trail. I plastered my no-wax skis with glide spray and headed off, with good success… for a while. I followed parts of the Elk Pass snowshoe trail just to check it out, then went up Hydroline to Elk Pass, then toured over to West Elk Pass and re-joined the groomed trail at the Blueberry Hill junction. The anticipated descent down the Elk Pass trail didn’t go exactly as planned. By this time the glide spray had worn off and the new snow had warmed up and become sticky. I had alternating glide and clumping, as the snow changed from wet in the sunny areas to dry-ish in the shaded spots.
    There were no recent skier tracks on Fox Creek, Lookout, Patterson, Tyrwhitt or Blueberry Hill.
    The snow coverage is still good, but be prepared to deal with changeable grip-glide conditions!

    • Nice! But too many hikers/ runners on the snowiest trails :-/

      I was going to retrieve my Christmas ornaments last week, but they looked so attractive…….. I hope they last until next Christmas!

    • Looks like my fresh tracks on Thursday’s fresh grooming on Tyrwhitt got covered with more snow!

    • Alf,
      We started skiing at noon from Elk Pass Parking to the high point on Tyrwhitt Meadow via Fox Creek. We were on fishscales with liquid universal glide wax. Thanks to you and several other morning skiers we had very little trouble with clumping and minimal grabbing. There were a number of skiers out in the afternoon and the Elk Pass, Blueberry and Fox Creek trails were all well used by the time we left. Fox Creek was good at noon but was getting pretty thin and icy by late afternoon with all the traffic and thin fresh snow cover.

  43. NW Calgary

    If I lived closer, I would be skiing at Mt. Shark right now! But such a long drive……
    So I took my fish scales for a quick tour of the Silver Springs Birthplace Forest. With “up to” 6 cm of fresh wet snow, melting fast, it was fun if a little sketchy in places.

    On Wednesday, mine was the only car in the Burstall Pass parking lot all morning, and I was all alone on the trail. Fresh snow had just fallen, and continued to fall, and it was sticky! My BC65s did not do well, and most of my time and energy were spent kicking and scraping huge clumps of snow off the skis. Got as far as the Burstall flats, where the sun came out, which was very pretty but not so good for the snow. Maybe I need waxes “backcountry” skis??

    P.S. The base is still good there 🙂

  44. 6cm reported this morning at sunshine with temps staying just below zero, and more of same to follow for the next few days.

  45. Bob,
    Thanks for providing such a comprehensive venue and source of xcountry ski info for another wonderful ski season. I’m already looking forward to the next one.
    Happy cycling and hiking.
    Rhonda W

  46. Ian and Darlene

    Elk Pass to Tyrwhitt Meadows Return
    Thanks to the groomers for the fresh tracksetting!
    It made for very good skiing with fishscale skis. Temperature was plus 5 and there was a mixture of sun and cloud so conditions should hold for a while. It was snowing lightly when we left.

  47. Yesterday we skied Fairview from Lake Louise to the Moraine Lake Road, and then up the road to the viewpoint. Three or four centimetres of new snow freshened up the landscape, and my Multigrade klister worked fine. Down the road, up Tramline, a beautiful spring day in the Rockies.

  48. A lovely Spring ski on my zero’s ( Charlie on his hairies) up Elk Pass to Tyrwitt Meadows and back. Tracks were good but variable from glazed to some warm fresh snow which made for slower going. Probably our last ski of the season at PLPP. Biking and hiking awaits.

  49. Nice skate ski at CNC on soft, groomed snow at 9 am. The groomer had rolled Meadowview as far as the downhill, then continued East on Rundle Trail. I managed to stay on the Rundle Trail back to the Olympic Trail, thin ice cover alternating with good snow. Skiing is definitely coming to the end on the natural snow trails, but the man made snow will last for a while yet.

  50. We skied the Elk Pass trails yesterday (Thursday). It was +3 when we started, with a skiff of fresh snow on the trails. The new snow made the ascent easy on our skin skis. We did a loop with a ‘tail’. Up Elk Pass, left on Paterson, up Hydroline, out and back on Tyrrwhit as far as the meadow, back down Elk Pass and around the Fox Creek loop. There was a little snow clumping on our skis in isolated sections and overall it was slow. We mostly had fresh tracks, and saw only 8 other skiers all morning. Slow coming down, even where the tracks had been skied. Fox Creek still has snow cover with only a few dicey sections, but nothing that resembles a track. But considering that it is early April, it counts as an excellent ski day.

  51. This is a non-ski report, but I thought that many of the Skier Bob regulars would be interested to know that the Legacy Trail has been swept. I ventured out from Canmore to Valleyview today and met the sweeper just below the steep hill. By the time I came back, he was finishing up the last section near the gates. There were 2 small icy sections, one in the forest between Canmore and the park and one just before the Valleyview picnic area. I’m assuming that the rest of the trail to Banff has likely also been swept.

  52. PLPP
    Fresh grooming on the Elk Pass trail made for a delightful day of spring skiing, with the usual icy in the shade, slushy in the sun conditions.
    I did not go all the way to Elk Pass, but deviated to the meadows of West Elk Pass, where the crust was nicely supportive with just a little fresh on top. Sadly, the couch is seriously gone, and the sunshine very intense up there.
    I foolishly thought I might explore up to Fox Lake, where I have never been before. The beginning of the trail was easy to find and follow, but then I lost it at the same time as I found some interesting tracks, which caused me to turn back after taking a few photos. They were identified by a guy at the info centre as those of a small bear……….

    • It’s a sad couch year when it doesn’t last well into April. But good for you for venturing into the bright meadows one last time, perhaps to be the last skier through there this season. I hope those bear tracks weren’t too tiny.

      • MaSid, at first I thought uh-oh, a bear! But when I looked more closely I thought maybe a wolf? So how about wolf-sized bear tracks?
        Your tree is accumulating decorations, I hope they last 🙂

  53. The Shell Oiltimer’s last trip of the season was up to Elk Pass/Tyrwhitt today. Thanks to the fresh grooming and a couple of cm of fresh snow the trails were remarkably good. Even Fox Creek was skiable as the fresh snow was able to cover over the debris. I suspect that these conditions won’t last long so get out there while you can.

  54. I skied at CNC today. Several trails are being groomed everyday so Banff, Lynx, Salt Lake were quite good. I used waxless skies. Icy in the morning getting wetter as the temperature increased, but even at my slow pace my average speed was 7.5 km per hour. It appears that skiing at CNC will continue to be an enjoyable experience for a while.

  55. Well, we tried PLPP after the report yesterday. Parking at Elkwood left some hikers laughing at our efforts. Bare patches and wet snow but we persisted. Clumping, scraping more different waxes (glad no other skiers or hikers to hear my comments) finally we called it quits and headed to Boulton hoping for better. Not happening – up hill slow and downhill slower, many bare patches to add to the thrill downhill, so sadly we think PLPP has to be for next year…
    Lake Louise tomorrow –

  56. GREAT DIVIDE (or 1A) – April 1

    Skiing today on April 1, felt like skiing on May 1 in previous years!
    Details available in the captions here:!Avuc6aIvjGUAgRHAhUZKxhc88bCV

    • I can answer your question to where are the skiers? They are all working and missing out on skiing! Such is life!

      • First report of the year! April 2 at Mt. Shark, one of the best days I’ve ever had there. Took a really slow wander to Watridge Lake, added the little hike up to Karst Springs. Not real fast on fish scales but the tracks were decent, a little grabby here and there. A few spots there was untracked snow in the tracks, soft and corny. Cream corn to be exact. Felt like 20 degrees in the sun. The drive in was not bad, a few potholes on the Canmore end but once past the bridge, it was pretty smooth and dry. Not many days left there!

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