Trip Reports – April 2019

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

1 LEGALIZE REAL DEMOCRACY April 21, 2019 at 2:13 am

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.

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2 Igor April 19, 2019 at 9:53 pm

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 🙂

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3 Ulrike April 19, 2019 at 1:46 pm

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.

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4 Chuck April 16, 2019 at 6:46 pm

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:
https://1drv.ms/a/s!Avuc6aIvjGUAgTbGpY4CTe1ubNRm
We chose to use waxable skis today, which worked perfectly in the new snow.

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5 Diana Piggott April 16, 2019 at 9:20 pm

Wow, Chuck, that does look spectacular! You take some fabulous pictures 😀

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6 Chuck April 16, 2019 at 10:40 pm

Thanks Diana, but it’s not me… it’s the location!
Cold snow up at this elevation. Great glide today and well worth the drive for anyone.

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7 Diana Piggott April 16, 2019 at 5:34 pm

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 🙂

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8 Diana Piggott April 16, 2019 at 10:18 pm

Here we go:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/PT93kvdd1nSxU3CaA

More computer issues……..
I hope this works, and if the titles did not get transferred, I will try to fix that.

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9 LEGALIZE REAL DEMOCRACY April 16, 2019 at 12:37 am

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.

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10 MaSid April 16, 2019 at 7:15 am

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.

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11 MaSid April 16, 2019 at 7:22 am

Closure is north of canyon damn and spray lake, not south towards white man pass.

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12 Diana Piggott April 16, 2019 at 5:35 pm

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

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13 LEGALIZE REAL DEMOCRACY April 18, 2019 at 12:20 pm

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.

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14 Chuck April 18, 2019 at 2:40 pm

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:
https://www.pc.gc.ca/apps/scond/Cond_E.asp?oID=34948&oPark=100092

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15 LEGALIZE REAL DEMOCRACY April 19, 2019 at 12:23 pm

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.

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16 Chuck April 19, 2019 at 2:47 pm

Hey James,
You must have missed this report of mine from this time last year:
http://skierbob.ca/trip-reports-april-2018/#comment-740262
Recommended for your To Do List (We have done it at least 4 times)!

17 Diana Piggott April 18, 2019 at 10:51 pm

Ouch! Glad to hear you seem to be okay!

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18 Ken April 14, 2019 at 5:27 pm

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.

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19 Dave April 13, 2019 at 9:37 pm

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!

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20 ChrisD April 13, 2019 at 5:30 pm

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.

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21 Alf Skrastins April 13, 2019 at 12:22 am

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!
https://photos.app.goo.gl/75yY3ZQJ2H6Ggsq2A

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22 Diana Piggott April 13, 2019 at 1:25 pm

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!

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23 Chris Canmore April 13, 2019 at 2:39 pm

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

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24 Ian and Darlene April 13, 2019 at 8:16 pm

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.

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25 Ian and Darlene April 13, 2019 at 8:20 pm

We forgot to mention that Tyrwhitt was also well used and was in wonderful condition.

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26 Diana Piggott April 12, 2019 at 10:48 am

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 🙂

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27 Diana Piggott April 12, 2019 at 10:49 am

Oops! That should read “waxless”! My new autocorrect is super-annoying 🙁

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28 MaSid April 10, 2019 at 8:29 am

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

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29 Rhonda W April 9, 2019 at 9:40 pm

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

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30 Ian and Darlene April 7, 2019 at 7:58 pm

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.

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31 Dave April 7, 2019 at 7:49 pm

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.

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32 Janice April 6, 2019 at 8:38 pm

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.

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33 Ulrike April 5, 2019 at 3:23 pm

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.

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34 Kerrie April 5, 2019 at 9:39 am

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.

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35 Kerrie April 3, 2019 at 6:46 pm

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.

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36 Vikki April 5, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Thank you

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37 Diana Piggott April 2, 2019 at 10:54 pm

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……….

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38 MaSid April 3, 2019 at 8:33 am

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.

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39 Diana Piggott April 3, 2019 at 11:14 pm

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 🙂

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40 DonC April 2, 2019 at 5:02 pm

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.

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41 Eric Leavitt April 2, 2019 at 3:24 pm

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.

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42 Sibylla M Lane April 1, 2019 at 9:05 pm

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 –

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43 Chuck April 1, 2019 at 2:43 pm

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:
https://1drv.ms/a/s!Avuc6aIvjGUAgRHAhUZKxhc88bCV

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44 Ulrike April 1, 2019 at 4:29 pm

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

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45 Bill April 2, 2019 at 8:21 pm

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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