Trip reports – Dec 2014

Last year, the trip reports were viewed 75,636 times. Skiers are anxious to know what you found on your skiing adventure.

Let’s help each other have a great ski trip by sharing information on trail conditions. If you have photos, upload them to a photo-sharing site such as Flickr or Picasa, and leave a link with your comment.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed.

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  1. Did the last ski of the year on the Moraine Lake Road. Went all the way to the end and back. Sunny but cold day. The snow was quite grippy and though it was fine for climbing it made for less then ideal glide. Minus 15 was about as warm as it got and the run out made my fingers feel like icicles. Good snow and great grooming on the trail, just need some co-operation from Mother Nature on the temperature. Happy 2015!

  2. Stephen Vermeulen

    Skied PLPP yesterday (Dec 31) in the morning. Snow temp was about -19C at the Visitor’s Center. There were some needles on the VIC to Elkwood section of Meadow, but this improved as we got onto Wheeler. The little 500m bit at the end of Wheeler near the Packer’s junction had not been trackset, but the live grooming report now says it was done last night.

    The climb up Whiskey Jack was cold. The surface is pretty hard, so climbing is not as pleasant. Returning north on Pocaterra we found the tracks had been filled in on the first 600m or so with blowing snow, but once the descent started the tracks reappeared and then it was a nice fast run north past Packers and down to Lynx. Didn’t notice any needles along this section at all.

    Nice tricks on Lynx and Woolley back to the Visitor’s Center. No issues with needles here either.

  3. James the Wolf Tracking Skier

    CASCADE RIVER- to 3 Km Past Stoney Creek towards Flints Park

    Due to construction traffic to about 2 Km past the Cascade River Bridge, the skiing is only recommended if you have rock skis. The first 1 Km of trail from the parking lot is very thin and rated poor to fair due to plowing earlier in the year. You will see some pavement in the tracks in some places. Ski poles hit the pavement on the road.

    Once you get on the old Cascade River Fire Road the skiing conditions improve to fair to fairly good with lots of debris including small rocks in the tracks in some places. Tracked construction equipment stirred up the debris into the snow and it will take at least 10 to 15cm of new snow to make the ski conditions more acceptable for new skis and skate skiing.

    A new very temporary bridge is in at the River. A nice wide new trail has been cut where the big flood washout was about 1.5 km past the bridge. Once you get past the new trail section that was recently built, the skiing is very good to excellent. Past Stoney Creek, I broke trail for about 3 Km or so. Skiing is fairly fast. The snow base is very good with only ankle deep ski penetration with 56mm metal edge XC skis. You will see plenty of wolf tracks and even Mountain Lion tracks past Stoney Creek. The red sunset was quite nicely coloring the sky and mountains up there. Temperature at night -14 while the moon lit up the trail and made the night skiing illuminating. -7 to -17 green wax provided nice grip ‘n glide.

  4. It was -22 in LL late morning. Went into Laggan’s for hot choc and waited for the thermometer to crack -20. Then skied the Bow valley trail from Baker Creek back to nearly Castle Jct. It warmed up to mid teens. Snow was fast with VR 30 and track setting was good to Castle lookout then rough east of there on the power line. Then a long gentle uphill back to Baker Creek. Probably should have done the trip the other way: uphill first then downhill second. Overall a wonderful ski, blue skies, great scenery and good prep for the upcoming Lake Louise to Banff loppett.

  5. PLPP was cold, crystal clear, and sunny on Dec. 31. No new snow but the tracks are still fast and holding up well. Boulton, Whiskey, Tyrwhitt, Elk, Fox, Moraine. I thought the forecast was for warmer temps, and was surprised it was -16 at Boulton. It warmed to a balmy -15c at Elk Pass, and then -11c on the return. A bit windy too in open sections up high. This is such a stunning area when you get a bluebird day that it makes a little cold all worth it. Fox and Moraine are skier packed with some needles, but still just fine. I stopped at the Visitor Center and was not surprised to find lots of skiers enjoying the warmth of the fireplace.

  6. CNC: no new..sigh However Manmade is in good shape They were blowing snow on Bow and up on the race trails Centennial and Olympic to the east of the stadium. Piles of snow and or roughly pushed out piles throughout Centennial and Olympic. We returned from the Meadow up on Meadowview and turned off onto Rundle (old 10K yellow) above the Stadium. Great ski until we ran into the piles of snow at the far (east) end of Rundle. Bit of an adventure getting back down. Happy New Year everyone!!!!!!

  7. Didn’t have much time today (needed to be home to watch the Canada vs USA world junior game) so decided to head out on the Spray. We haven’t had any real snow I town since early December so my expectations were not high.

    It was pretty much as I expected. Icy tracks, lots of debris and not very smooth. I won’t be back on this trail until we get some snow and it has been rolled/track set.

  8. Tuesday, Dec 30 we skied Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, Whiskey Jack and Moraine. It was -23º when we departed around 10:45 and we made a very quick, possibly record-breaking dash to the top of the first big hill in an attempt to warm up. There was a stiff breeze chilling us whenever we emerged from the trees so the urge to run up the hills was very strong. The temperature rose to -15º up on Tyrwhitt but then plunged again when we descended to the bottom of Whiskey Jack. Skiing at -20º can be pleasant although stopping for any length of time is a challenge. At least the waxing is easy.

  9. -20 in Lake Louise at 1:00 pm today. Skied Fairview, partially up MLR, and back up Tramline. All were in pretty good shape.

  10. Kaninaskis Village area trails were groomed and track set yesterday and were in good shape today. Terrace, Kovach, and Aspen were in very good shape with only a few spots with significant needles or thin snow. It was cool but nicely sheltered from the biting wind.

  11. Skied for the first time this year at the Nordic center. It was great to see how many people were using this amazing facility. Looped around Banff trail several times on the man- made trails hoping to get some good distance in and found that my old Swix green v20 gave great kick on the excellent tracks. One cold day the lodge was a great place to relax and warm up.

  12. West Bragg- Now with 900% fewer thin spots!
    Seven cm of new snow and another round of grooming have done much to improve conditions. There are still some relatively minor thin spots, but they are easily stepped around if you pay attention. We left the rock skis at home and did not regret it. Sunshine and a mid afternoon temp. of -5 made for an overflowing parking lot, but things were quiet out on the trails beyond the first km.
    Moose Loop in particular was in really fine shape-

    • Steve… we likely crossed paths at some point on that loop. Today, first time ever, after seeing all the crowds and knowing how excellent Moose Loop is I decided to do it counterclockwise instead of my usual and more popular direction. Absolutely loved the change-up, ski tracks most definitely in a lot better condition. However that came at a price – I swear CCW is a lot harder! Once done my loop I really should have turned around and immediately done the loop clockwise to test my theory. Instead I finished Crystal, up Loggers Loop, then did the Elbow/Sundog and struggled to finish (low energy, low fitness, no food/drink left) my 20km loop just after 4pm… just under 2hrs moving time, just shy of 500meters climbing. Sore, but happy this eve given it was only my 2nd time out this year. Off to CNC tomorrow w/ kids, wife, and friends. That evil little Leprechaun will be out beating my legs (again) with his rubber hose reminding me that fitness is easily lost and hard won. 🙂

      In any case, met with the groomer close to finishing my Moose loop and had a nice chat. FINALLY had my chance to express thanks and gratitude for all the excellent work they’ve done this year and last. The evidence is clear based upon better conditions and significantly more people.

      • A possible exception to this might be the Hostel Loop, depending on one’s expectations of course, but we found it had many thin spots and hazards today and started calling it the “hostile” loop!

    14 Km trackset yesterday.
    Excellent for the last 7 km, but not so good before that.
    Considering that construction vehicles have been using the first 6 km until last week, conditions are pretty good. But a half km past the Cascade River Bridge, conditions are amazing, with full season snow.
    If you are only going to the first bridge, you might prefer to use your skate skis to more easily avoid the early season hazards.

  14. PLPP middle trails – a group of us skied Wheeler, Amos, Meadow, Woolley, Lodgepole and Braille today, using William Watson Lodge as our warming hut. -19C at 11am, -15C at 3pm. While all trails were quite good, it’s interesting that those trails that were not trackset yesterday (eg. Lodgepole) were actually better than those recently trackset. The Pisten-Bulley must dig a bit during track setting, and it unearthed lots of pine needles that were previously covered. The next snow fall will fix that.

  15. Headed out for a circuit of the south end of Peter Lougheed this morning. -26 in Boulton Bridge parking lot ~10am! Did the following trails: Packers (no track, some debris) –> Pocaterra (lovely!) –> Lookout (almost no herringbone needed on VR30, slower snow meant somewhat less terrifying drop down to Boulton Creek, picture here: –> Hydroline (windblown and wind in the face = yuck!) –> Elk Pass (also lovely, first people I saw after 15km of skiing) –> Boulton Creek (haven’t skied this since the flood so that was interesting, reasonable skier set track but skis off in several spots to get around fallen trees). -14 back at the parking lot at 1pm. A lovely outing and it actually felt like winter for a change!

    • Must have been you that I saw in the parking lot at 10:00 am as I headed out. I skied Elk Pass and Tyrwhitt out to the top of Whiskey Jack and then retraced my route back down mostly because I just love skiing Tyrwhitt. The track was reasonably good all the way with well skied on snow over the trackset. I didn’t see another skier until I got below the Blueberry Hill junction on the way back. All in all a wonderful ski on a bluebird if somewhat cold day. It was hard work though with very little of the much cherished glide nordic skiers love so much.

  16. Skied Dawn Mountain in Golden BC on excellent snow tracks and blazing sun.
    was a brisk -10 midday but dropped to -15 as the sun dipped behind the mountains. Very friendly club house with ski and snowshoe rentals for those who need equipment.

  17. More people than I anticipated seeing on this bluebird perfect/majestic mountain postcard day. Starting at 10:30 in minus 20, that old green wax (-10 to -15) worked like a charm walking straight up all those hills (except the steepest short one near top of Blueberry summit). Snow temp on top was -15 and that hot apple cider never tasted so good! Great ski down and decided to return from whence we came due to frozen thumbs and lingering Christmas hacking cold. Minus 18 was the temp driving home so stayed true to reports.

  18. Skied pipestone loop counter clock wise yesterday. Some variable snow conditions but all in all it was in great shape.

  19. We did Spray river West and East yesterday and were pleasantly surprised. A couple cm of fresh snow covered most ice and needles, except for the final descent into the golf course where it’s icy. Walking down would have saved some bruising. There’s been no recent grooming but tracks were still decent. The wooden shelter at the bridge is a nice(warmer on the buns) place to have a snack and chat with other skiers!

  20. Very good conditions on newly groomed track between Baker Creek, Protection Mtn, and beyond today. We didn’t ski it, but Jan at Baker Creek Chalet said they just finished grooming stretch from Chalet back to Morant’s Curve today. They don’t yet have permission to groom further back towards Lake Louise yet, but will get that as date of Loppet Relay (Jan 18) gets closer. A rather cool afternoon, so we put some old Swix green wax over blue.

  21. Skied from West Bragg to Allen Bill this morning. Good conditions with fresh grooming on Elbow. No grooming from Elbow to Allen Bill. Some thin spots near the top of the trail. Used V40 all day.

  22. We found very enjoyable skiing on the Ribbon Creek trails this afternoon, with 4-6 cm of new low density snow over firm grooming and tracksetting. Starting out at Ribbon Creek, we skied Terrace and Kovach over to the hotels, then back via Kovach, Aspen etc. Our warm inside lunch at the village was a treat, as the higher humidity and light breeze made the -12 seem colder than it was. Waxing was easy- pick a blue, any blue.
    A photo of typical conditions today at Ribbon-

  23. Great day today in Crowsnest Pass. On the way to BC, we tried Allison-Chinook for the first time. Coverage is a little thin and only some of the trails are track set, but with a fresh fall of snow it was almost perfect. We covered a lot of the trails, on snow that felt like silk. Lots a nice snow bombs on the trees, just waiting for the kids to drop them on each others heads.

    There are lots of interconnected trail options with excellent trail maps at every junction so it is easy to ski as little or as far as you want. Great place to stop when passing by, and also worth the trip from Calgary.

    Interesting note is that while the trails at the Allison trailhead are no-dogs, they have added an off leash area to the southe west of the main trails that I think it said was accessed off Tecumseh road. It is a trial for 2014 and 2015.

  24. Another great day in PLPP skied Fox, Elk, Blueberry, Elk, Tyrwhitt and Whisky excellent apart from Fox which is okay but not great

  25. Another great day at PLPP today. Sun on Lookout, Tyrwhitt and Elk Pass. Temps cooling off as the day went on: started at -11, ended at -14. V30 worked great and the snow was fast.

  26. West Bragg.
    Cooler conditions and a bunch of fresh snow, tapering off a bit after 1pm.
    Did a loop out of Crystal Line, Iron Springs, Elbow and Sundog. Conditions were early season with some twigs and grass and thin spots. Worked hard pushing the fresh snow down into the track but fortunately got passed by the groomer along Iron Springs. I took the shortcut to Elbow where I went back to breaking trail. After I bit I wised up and decided to pull off, have a snack, and wait for the groomer to go by. Sure enough, he did, and I had fresh tracks all the way back to the parking lot. The tracks hit bottom in a couple spots but the corduroy was perfect. Great work by the trail crews, I appreciate all the hard work that’s been put into the area.
    I hit a couple rocks on Elbow coming down the hill. So you know, don’t bring your nice skis, also its chilly out, darn near lost feeling to my face before hitting the bottom.

    Anyone have tips for waxing in these conditions? Air temp was about -10, I started out on blue extra, which worked great until it started collecting fresh snow turning my skis into anchors. Switched to green, which worked better but also started collecting snow.

    • We must have been in front of the groomers , we didn’t see any corduroy until we were almost back at the parking lot at 1pm – decent skier set though. We skied Crystal Line East, then Sundog , Iron Springs to the high point and back and then Sundog/Loggers/Crystal Line West back to the parking lot. Conditions were mostly really good , a few twigs and thin spots but a great ski in the falling snow nonetheless. As you say , great work by trail crews out there, much appreciated. I just used blue wax and it seemed to work fine, just had to refresh it a couple of times.

      • Skied West Bragg and must have followed in David’s tracks. Fresh snow was definitely needed to bring the trails back to decent skiing condition. Luckily the cold will stick around for a few days, albeit some city folk may be complaining, we skiers will be smiling as the trails will continue to improve (fingers crossed).

        Used green and seemed to work ok with some clumping when headed uphill in the afternoon. Otherwise, a great day to enjoy the waning days of 2014. Happy skiing all!

  27. Mostly sunny -11 @ LL

  28. Carol and I skied up to Shadow Lake Lodge today (Dec 27/14). Red Earth Creek was trackset relatively recently up to the Warden’s Cabin. Parks Canada listed it as fair/good, which is probably an accurate statement. We were pretty happy we used the Rossi 65’s with metal edges. Forgot the kicker skins, however, which would have been useful once we turned onto the Shadow Lake trail. On that trail there was an old set of tracks from sometime before Christmas (probably my brother’s!). The snow was crusty with some of that new powder from Dec 23. We boot kicked up the steep initial section and then skied to the lodge making some new tracks.

    We return to the Lodge porch to celebrate our engagement from Dec 2011. (yes we did get married!). Carol + I were pleased to see the Christmas ornament still hanging by the entrance to the Lodge . She had hung it there after she got her ring 3 years ago. Very nice of Shadow Lodge staff to leave it as . Thanks! We will look for it on future return Xmas trips.
    It took just over 2 hours to get back to the parking lot, as the tracks and snow were fast and it was a little easier that we thought to get out the Shadow trail.
    All in all, a GREAT ski and now established tradition for us to return annually. (NOTE : LODGE IS Closed at this time of year) .

    Here’s a link to the post I made on Dec 31, 2011 regarding Duane and Carol’s engagement -Bob

    There are more than one!
    Parks Canada website indicated that the Pipestone was also trackset on Christmas Day! So we had to check it out. We found the conditions to be very good. Merlin (#23) is excellent.

  30. Rhonda-re:found skis

    We found the other ski and the snowshoe in Sunalta.

  31. Rhonda: re: the lost skis

    We found one of the skis on Bow trail near Shag golf course today. Still looking for one Rossignal ski with U of C on it and one snowshoe somewhere between Strathcona and the NE.

    Thanks, Rhonda

  32. West bragg much better than expected but quite variable conditions on each trail. Could use a bit more coverage generally. Did Crystal to Moose Loop then back up Loggers Loop across to Sundog and back in Crystal. When done at 11am car park about 1/2 full incl bikers hikers skiiers and pooches. Nice to see new trail signs as well as ground level fold-out signs asking all users to be considerate. Even so a few skate skiier tracks chopping up the narrow trails. Even more fuel to the fire of confusion is a short skate ski loop. Would I go back out again tomorrow? Yes definitely, but might not bring my best skiis.

    90min ski and totally pooped. Longest exercise session since mid Oct. this is gonna hurt tomorrow!!

    • We skied Crystal W-MountainView-Loggers-Elbow-Iron Springs-Crystal E and associated connectors today and would echo Richie’s comments, with a special caution for the hill at the far south end of Iron Springs, which has a 10m long spot that is essentially bare ground underneath the new snow. It may be best to ski this part of Iron Springs CCW.
      Unlike most of the West Bragg trails, the south loop of Iron Springs is also ungroomed over old sno-mo packing only, but still skis nicely other than the aforementioned trouble spot. Apparently, Alberta Parks is responsible for grooming the far south part of Iron Springs as well as the trail up from HWY 66. Looks like they are falling behind the hard working volunteers of the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Assn., who have done a great job of keeping the trails in enjoyable shape despite minimal snowfalls recently.

  33. James the Wolf Tracking Skier

    SPRAY RIVER – Banff Springs to Us15

    Dec. 26 the skiing was good to excellent on the track set trail to Goat Creek. The first 2 kilometers of trail has light amounts of 2cm snow covered pine needles on it and a couple of thin spots on the parking lot return ski track. After about 2 kms the skiing is generally excellent with 2 to 4 cm of new snow. Grip ‘n glide with -7 to -13 green wax was excellent. Skiing was fast. The skating lane has lots of hard snow foot steps in it and is very bumpy for the first 3 km. After that it gets better and is in excellent shape beyond the 6 km mark with 3 to 4 cm of new snow on top.

    I finished breaking the trail from Goat Creek to Us15. The snow base is very good with about 6 cm of ski penetration into nice,soft, fast snow. Penetration increased a fair bit at Us15 in the open area. The trail is broken to the outhouse at Us15 for your convenience. Nice dry spot to hang out under a tree for dinner nearby. On the trail, one 3’ wide small creek crossing is encountered where the boards will have to come off.

    Lots of fairly fresh wolf tracks beyond Goat Creek. Some poor wolf appeared to have diarrhea (?) and a cut to a paw (?) which left a few drops of blood here and there. May the wolves have happy hunting.

    • James the Wolf Tracking Skier

      SPRAY RIVER- Banff Spring to Sp16 not Us15


      A little error to my above information. I skied to Sp16 not Us15!!
      I would be a super hero if I could have made it to Us15! I went there earlier in the week via Shark,

  34. Nine of us enjoyed great skiing on our annual Boxing Day Blowout at the Kananaskis Fire Lookout. Our loop took in Whiskyjack, Lookout, Hydroline, Fox and Moraine. Three to five cm of soft snow overtop of the grooming made for delightful skiing and a relatively mellow descent of the steep trail on the south side of the lookout. The creek at the bottom of Lookout south is still open, but for now can be negotiated carefully with skis on, after the “Fat Marmot” bridged the narrowest part of the gap with ice chunks and snow. Fox and Moraine are still bumpy and uneven with some exposed icier bits, but are very skiable nonetheless.
    Glorious weather made for a very pleasant summit picnic in the sun at minus 10, the view was outstanding as always-

  35. Arrived at Pocaterra late (around 1 pm) today, and skied over to the junction near Lynx – most of this section was decent, but there were a fair amount of pine needles on the trail.
    Heading up the big hill at Pocaterra, we got a surprise about 1 km up – a spruce grouse sitting directly on the trail. He started walking towards us, and decided to try and drive us off by pecking my boots. We started skiing away and he kept after us. At one point I tried to ski away faster, and my “upkick” lifted him into the air – amazingly it didn’t seem to deter him at all. Eventually I think he got tired, as when we looked back, he was still slowly waddling down the trail after us.
    The snow definitely improved as he headed up Pocaterra, and temperature was about -10 C. After a nice ski back down from Whiskeyjack junction, we spotted a moose in the river valley along Pocaterra Creek, near Come Along. Luckily he didn’t think we were worth bothering with, so we just skied on by So an interesting wildlife day, to go along with some great ski conditions.

    • Hey! We saw the same grouse! It was in the same place at about 12:10 pm when we skied by and tried to peck Ray as he skied down. Feisty bird.

      • That’s likely the same fella we filmed last spring at the same spot… doing exactly the same thing. A frame grab is Simona’s photo entry for the Emerald Lake Lodge draw. Go slowly and that territorial “fool’s hen” will ride on your skis – in between those boot pecking attacks!

  36. Hi,
    A pair of Rossignal class skis fell out of the back of our truck today somewhere between Strathcona SW and Merrill Dr NE. We back tracked but to no avail. They must be somewhere between Strathcona Dr SW, East on Bow Tr SW, 14St SW and NW to 20Ave NW to Merrill Dr NE.
    If you spot them we’d love to hear from you.

    Thanks so much, Rhonda and Dave

  37. PLPP – skied some of the central trails today. Starting at Elkwood parking, went south on Wheeler, up Packers, north on Pocaterra to Lynx which we skied to Amos, then north on Woolley, and back to Elkwood parking on Meadow. We then crossed the road and checked out the WWL trails. Overall, we were suprised (with one exception) at how good the trails were. One to two cm of snow covered the old grooming, and the tracks were very good, even excellent where they had been ironed in by previous skiers. The exception to all this is Packers, which was rough, and seemed very bad in the middle section – a roller coaster ride over erratic speed bumps and a couple of small ice flows – and would be very tricky even for experienced skiers if going downhill. Beautiful weather today – sunny skies, no wind temp -15C to -10C.

  38. I tried skate skiing the Great Divide Christmas day but it was a grunt. The skate lane hadn’t been groomed since a few inches of new snow. After an hour I switched to Classic and the classic lanes were very nicely groomed. Not many people out on Christmas day but I was ok with that.

    Christmas Gift from Don.
    The Redearth trail was track set by Parks Canada’s Banff Tracksetter on Christmas Day!

  40. Skied Bragg Creek, Crystal Line to Moose loop and back today. Conditions fair to good, with most areas having recent machine set tracks. Snow is a bit thin but the groomers have done a good job of making conditions as good as they can be.
    Enjoyable day!

  41. PLPP is in very good condition after latest snowfall.
    I would avoid new Pocaterra for now, there is lots of pine needles on the surface after latest grooming, start from visitor center or Elkwood parking. Fox Creek and Moraine are rough and bumpy but doable. For the grip I have used Skigo XC violet.
    Happy Holidays!

  42. Skied PLPP on Wednesday. About 2 cm of fresh snow made for a perfect blue wax day over Elk Pass.

  43. CNC: Merrry Christmas! -7C Rex Power grip blue (flubber) worked well,
    Great AM of skiing however where were the groomers yesterday? Second set of tracks washed out by skaters on man made snow. Huge opportunity to impress the 1X/year Christams crowd lost, IMHO.
    Rest of natural snow is boney but skiable. Tracks such as they are are getting rattly and washed out.

  44. Wow…oh, wow! Upper Lake Louise probably received about 10-15 cm of lovely new snow. Started from Deer Lodge on Peyto on good skier tracks over previous machine tracks. Took a right on Upper Telemark down to the 1A where I was thrilled to hit new machine tracks on Lower Telemark and 1A, then back up Peyto to Upper Telemark (skier tracked) to the top then down to the Lake Trail. This had also just been groomed and track-set and no one had walked in the tracks yet, so I happily skied to the end of the lake and back. There is a bit of glazing in spots in the newly set tracks and some pine needles here and there, but nothing to detract from skier euphoria! Temp was around -6C and I think I was skiing on old blue extra from 10 days ago!

    • A big shout-out to the groomers in all our x-c ski areas. You do an awesome job on the trails and keeping us informed. Many thanks!

      • I’d have to agree. You no sooner sent that comment, and I received another update from Parks Canada’s Jeff(see Groomer’s reports). They’re working today!

  45. Does anyone know how much snow LL received in the last 24 hours? There doesn’t appear to be any accurate reporting. I would also love to know if any further grooming is planned on Pipestone by Friday this week? Bob if you have any insider information would much appreciate it. Merry Christmas!

    • Hi Nancy,

      We did a late afternoon ski around the river campground loop and there was a good 10 cm of snow even through the forest. The trackset could still be seen but we were plowing through powder ! The dog is one tired pup today

  46. Skied Baker Creek to Protection Mountain yesterday. The power line had a well-defined hard frozen track set covered in a light dusting of snow so it was really fast. It was a bit icy with lots of pine needles in the woods and around the campground loops but still not too bad. It was snowing lightly but steadily the whole afternoon so those pesky pine needles should soon be all covered up.
    It would be great if they could plough a few parking spots at the campground. Those nice flat loops would be a perfect place to take a beginner skier or just go and practice gliding without any worries.

  47. Fine skating at west Bragg today – there are a few rocks here and there but overall no problem. Just need a little more snow so the people doing the excellent prep work can set a classic track.

  48. We agree, Tyrwhitt is a dream! We started at Boulton Campground and skied up Whiskey Jack, which is a bit messy with needles on the lower end, but very good to the top. We were literally flying on Tyrwhitt to the picnic table, then on to Elk Pass, returning the way we had come. We mostly used VR50 and that worked well for us. By the time we got back to Whiskey Jack the purple wax had worn off and the skis were very fast, as was the track. Down in 13 minutes. Not many people out today, so we practically had the place to ourselves.

  49. PLPP Elk-Pass-Hydroline-Lookout-Tyrwhitt-Elk Pass

    Conditions are great. Beautiful fresh grooming on Elk Pass and Hydroline. We were the first tracks up the Lookout. It’s only groomed, not trackset and was rock hard. On the first major descent from Hydroline there is a surprise at the bottom: An open creek and very icy snow surrounding it. My dad and I sure were glad we have a strong snowplow! VR40 wasn’t working on the ascent so we walked a few sections. Tyrwhitt is a dream right now.

  50. Any updates on West Bragg… is there any point attempting to ski there Wednesday morning?

    • Mountain Road, East Crystal, Iron Springs and east Sundog were groomed today. West Crystal and Moose Connector are still in good shape from grooming about a week ago.
      All the new map signs are up at each intersection in the XC ski network.

  51. PLPP webcam is back in operation, with some very nice improvements.

  52. I tried out my new no-wax skis on the Elk Pass route yesterday, and it was abominable. I really miserable experience. I wish I had Mike along to give advice as I found that any slope bigger than a few degrees meant I had almost no grip. Eventually, I gave up in disgust and headed back. What I think I shall do is go to CNC and have them rent me a pair of their no-wax so I can see if it’s just the skis I have.

    BTW, I’d like to have a word with the sadistic sonuvagun who spent all summer jacking up THE HILL so that it is steeper and higher than I remember it being last February!!!

    • Having skiid on Salomon X-ium waxless for a few years now through many varied conditions I can safely state that waxless are not appropriate for all conditions. I’ve had success with them from -20C to +10C, but also dismal failures in the same range on everything from fresh snow, to freshly groomed trails, and of course icy. Tricks I have learned:
      – If snow is too soft and fluffy – they don’t grip
      – if snow is very hardpack/icy – they don’t grip
      – put glide wax (iron-on) on the glide portions, but not the grip section
      – on warm Needlemania outings, waxless kick butt! (plus no needles to pull out of wax, and no icy-stilt build-up).
      – technique is EVERYTHING!! In other words proper weight transfer during kick and glide makes a huge difference. Think of putting your nose-over-your-kick-boot for each stride and you have the right idea.
      – not all waxless skiis are equal.
      – Much as I love my X-ium’s, in 2015 the plan is to upgrade to the Atomic Skintec Classics. Anyone interested in a pair of Salomon X-ium waxless, 208cm, good for ~160-180lbs, NNN bindings, more of a “racer” width, ~2005’ish, very good condition?

    • In addition to my reply to Jan (4 top-level comments below), I agree with everything RichieRich says: The no-wax grip pattern can’t dig into a very hard or icy track. The same problem occurs to a lesser extent with wax skis. The solution in both cases is to step out of the track to where the snow is softer.

      If the track is covered in soft and fluffy snow, I think temperature comes into play. If it’s warm enough and snow isn’t too deep, ski pressure will compress and consolidate the snow enough to create a firm platform that the grip area can dig into. At colder temperatures, the snow won’t consolidate, so there’s nothing for the grip to grip onto. I think the same problem occurs to a lesser extent with wax skis. No-wax skis will also have less glide in fresh snow because the entire ski, including the grip area, sinks into the snow when you’re gliding.

      As RichieRich says, technique is everything. If the no-wax grip area contacts the snow during a glide, it creates way more drag than a wax ski’s kick wax. Good technique is more important with no-wax skis than with wax skis.

      But perfect technique won’t compensate for no-wax skis with the wrong camber. Too little camber and you won’t get enough glide. Too much camber and you won’t get enough grip. With wax skis you can compensate somewhat by adjusting the length of the area where you apply kick wax. With no-wax skis, you’re stuck with the manufactured length of the grip pattern. When you do the camber test in the store, you want to be standing on the skis with the same weight of clothing and gear that you’d normally take while skiing. The salesperson should note what part of the ski is clear of the floor when you’re equally weighted on both skis. In my case, it came to about 3cm in front of the grip area and about 2cm behind it. A more aggressive skier would want more clearance, and vice-versa.

      Unless you’re willing to put up with poor performance, get the same quality of no-wax skis as what you have for wax skis. And expect to pay as much. Make sure the store will take back the skis if you aren’t happy with them. MEC for example. Finally, despite all the apparent bitching and whining above, I’m really happy with my new no-wax skis!

      • Gentlemen, thank you so much for the illuminating information. I must say I was quite down after yesterday’s debacle, and your words have given me new hope. (I’ll still try a rental comparison at Trail Sports though)

        That said, you did not address the problem of someone jacking THE HILL higher.

    • James The Wolf Tracking Skier

      I prefer 3/4 metal edge high camber 50mm waxable XC skis myself with a NNBC binding like the Rossignol binding you find at MEC, Life Sport or The Norseman. Madshuss made the above mentioned excellent skis at one time but I can’t find them anymore. Other metal edges skis are available too but are just a little slower.

      When you are in good shape, the metal edges enable you to skate up icy hills much easier and also give superior control coming down. Having a high camber enables higher speed.

      If you are on narrow icy trails or you just can’t skate well, then I recommend skins on the bottom of your skis, particularly if you are not an advance strong skier. Skins make skiing up hill soooo easy!

      Learning to select the right wax for the snow temperature is critical.

      Alberta can get some wild temperature variances in the snow pack, particularly in the spring. For example, if it has snowed and been -30 for a while then it warms to near 0 with sunny conditions, north facing slopes may require a polar wax where as south facing slopes may require a -1 to -7 blue wax. In variable conditions like this you can expect to have some difficulties with wax. The wax selected will work well on one slope aspect but not another due to snow temperature variances. On days like that, I sometimes prefer not to even have wax on. I will instead depend on arm muscle and leg skating power to get around, or, I will avoid skiing in such conditions. I really don’t like snow sticking to the bottoms of my skis unless I am doing a lot of climbing. Often if you just wait until the next snowfall, the conditions will improve greatly as the snow temperature will become more consistent.

      Knowing when to ski and when not to ski makes for a better day, as funny as that may sound, it is true (just like downhill skiing). It is all about experience and experience is how you become a better skier. XC skiing is more about mental power than physical power just like backpacking. You must make many calculations in your head in order to ski efficiently- looking for the right place to place your ski in the contours of the snow. It also takes mental power to overcome hills, the cold, pains in the body, fear of animals and much more.

      Keep on skiing. Your body will get more powerful as well as your mind.

  53. Great Divide in Lake Louise.

    A few cms of fresh snow. Trail is in pretty good shape. Swix V30 was working well. So much more snow here than in Banff.

  54. Watridge Lake Trail
    Monday, Dec. 22nd

    Following in SkierBob’s tracks, I decided to do a little trip to Mt. Shark today, as I haven’t visited the place in, oh, so many years. It was wonderful. The temperature was -2 when I started and ended with a few flurries, no wind and a mix of sun and cloud. Not wanting to test the icy loops, I went straight for the Banff Park boundary.

    I probably waxed to warm with VR-50. Because there was about 1 cm of new snow in the tracks, I was grabbing a bit. In fact, I iced up a little after climbing the hill from the bridge. Still, it was a fantastic ski and fresh snow made the “big drop” easier to negotiate. On the way in, I met a young couple who had stayed at the Bryant Creek cabin and ventured toward Mt. Assiniboine on snowshoes. They had to turn back because the snow was waist-deep. Nice to know for backcountry folks.

  55. PLPP from Visitor Centre
    -4C at Visitor Centre at 11am, 0C on return at 2pm

    After a couple of trips to Elk Pass, I figured it was time to try something different. A skiff of new snow on the tracks, which made for a nice skiing surface on the crusty tracks underneath. A scattering of pine needles and cones on Meadow and Wheeler. Packers was skier tracked only with the occasional easily avoided mogul and seepage. The surface was somewhat crusty and rough, but no other hazards. I forgot about all those uphill sections though!

    I tried out my new no-wax skis, which were almost as good as my wax skis. Plus I won’t have to pull all those pine needles out of my base when I get home!

    • What kind of no-wax skis are you using?

      • I’m using the Rossignol Zymax Classic NIS AR. I chose Rossignol because my current Classic and Skate skis are Rossignol. I initially purchased a somewhat cheaper model, the X?Tour Escape NIS AR, because I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a pair of skis that I’d just use around 0C or when there were lots of pine needles about.

        That was a mistake. It was agony skiing on them – lots of drag from the grip area because their camber is softer than my wax skis, the Zymax Classic NIS CL, even though the X-Tours were about 5cm longer. Took them back to MEC and got fitted by someone who actually knew what he was doing. I could have got by with the X-Tours at 10 or 15cm longer than my Zymax wax skis, but decided on getting the Zymax no-wax skis in the hope that I’d get performance similar to my Zymax wax skis. Even so, I opted for 5cm longer than my Zymax wax skis with a proportionally stiffer camber.

        I wasn’t disappointed. I figure their grip and glide performance was about 80-90% of what I was getting on my wax skis with a good wax job. (I did wax the entire surface of the no-wax skis, including the grip portion, with a universal fluoro paste wax.)

        The Rossignol grip pattern is very quiet; you rarely hear anything at all. I found you do have to adjust your skiing style somewhat. The problem is that although you can get reasonable glide on your wax skis if your kick wax contacts the snow, as soon as the no-wax pattern contacts the snow you may as well be throwing out an anchor. It’s vital to prevent the kick area from contacting the snow except when you’re kicking.

        When you’re gliding downhill on no-wax skis, you have to keep your weight well-balanced between the two skis so that the grip area doesn’t contact the snow. If your kick is too aggressive, too much weight gets transferred to the glide ski which also causes the grip area to make contact. Finally, if you’re on a bumpy track, there’s really no way of keeping the grip area off the snow as you travel over the tops of the bumps.

        With all of that in mind, I’m very happy with my no-wax skis but they definitely aren’t a replacement for my wax skis. I’ll only be using the no-wax skis when there are lots of pine needles on the tracks, or for temperatures near 0C and above.

        • Thanks for this reply….very helpful, especially the information about getting a no-wax ski with the appropriate camber. Happy skiing!

  56. PLPP-Blueberry Hill and Elk Pass
    Very nice conditions today at the south end of the Peter Lougheed Park trails.
    Several centimetres of new snow and a couple-day old grooming made for a great ski to Blueberry Hill and Elk Pass. We returned from Elk Pass via Hydroline and Fox Creek. The new snow has largely wiped out the track setting, so the trail worked best as a snowy skate lane. The new snow really helped Fox Creek, which had been icy and rough just a few days ago. The trail is packed & groomed, but not currently track set. The new snow made the narrow trail quite skiable…although there will still need to be more new snow before it can be track set. I used a thin layer of SWIX VR45, which worked well all day.

  57. Elk Pass had excellent conditions today (Dec 21/14). Used swix blue extra wax – thumbs up. Saw skier Bob on the trails too :). So happy to find some great snow!

  58. Great Divide Trail Lake Louise: -5 to -2C New snowfall 2cm at parking lot end and 4-5cm at far end near the Divide. Skier tracks in old tracks. Skaters had a nice powder ski in middle. Tracks could stand a refresh but it was a great ski.
    Skier traffic was light at 10:30 but got heavier by noon. Tracks did get harder/slicker after use and with warmer temps. Some used Fisher crowns and others waxed. Super Blue – Purple Mulitgrade (Rode) or VR 40- 45 Swix.

  59. West Bragg Creek
    2C at 11:30 Dec 21
    West Crystal Line & Moose Connector – Poor but ski-able
    Moose Loop – Fair
    Mountain Road – Poor for classic skiers (no tracks), Fair for skaters

    I didn’t have time today to get out to PLPP so I took a chance on West Bragg with my waxless skiis. Getting out to the Moose Loop there were poor tracks: skied out, soft and lots of needles and bare patches on the hills. Conditions were better on most of the Moose Loop. There are a couple of ice flows and 2 hills close to the junction with bare patches. The rest of the way had a decent track & snow cover. It could still use some more snow as bushes stick up in places. Didn’t see any moose but there were 3 grouse getting into the exposed soil at the edge of the trail. I took the Mountain Road back to the parking lot. It has no track and lots of footprints but I could get up a bit of a rhythm skating.

    Not the best ski-day ever but still better than hitting the gym!

  60. James The Wolf Tracking Skier

    How sweet the groomed trail was down to within 2 meters of the Spray River Bridge! Excellent skiing and the big hill going down to the Spray has been groomed very wide. So sweet with the metal edges carving those turns down!

    The trail up the Spray River, to within several hundred meters of US 15, has an excellent ski base. Ski penetration with 170 lbs, 205 cm length 56 mm metal edge XC skis is only about 6 cm! Great soft snow. Stunning for this time of year. A new foot bridge has been installed at Whiteman Creek as well as at the Spray River crossing further up. If you have a wide pack on you will have to walk sideways on the bridges as they are built extremely narrow. This is looking like an excellent snow base year to tour the Upper Spray Valley. Take it in while it is easy. I saw some old snow covered grizzly tracks and for many kilometers I followed 2 fresh wolf tracks that were going up the valley. These wolves were on a mission judging from the tracks. The trail is a little rough in some areas with old snow covered moose tracks. 10 cm of new snow will smooth things out nicely and make for excellent skiing.

    When I got back to my car at 9:30 pm, the groomer was still grooming the Shark trails! Temperature -4. Break out your boards and enjoy the snow before it gets cold.

    • Well done.
      Do tell us why you got back at 9:30 pm… I don’t know if my headlamp would work that long!
      Was the Spray frozen enough to use the horse trail, or did you have to cross White Man’s Creek?

    • So what is the idea of the stupid super-narrow bridges that Parks Canada is building these days? They are certainly not skier or backpacker friendly.
      They use enough material to make a decent bridge, but assemble it in a way that is nearly impossible to use, except for day hikers with a very light day pack. That bridge designer should be fired!

  61. Skied Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt to the picnic table then backtracked to Packers great conditions so far but packers was awful, don’t go there till we get more snow! I used my waxless which worked very well but waxed would have likely been a better choice.

  62. Started at Elkwood around midday, skied most of the recently groomed stuff: Wheeler-> Whiskey Jack -> Tyrwhitt -> Lookout -> Hydroline -> Elk Pass -> Blueberry -> Elk Pass -> Tyrwhitt -> Pocaterra -> Lynx -> Amos -> done! A little tired by the end. VR45 on one ski and a purple Start Fluor (+2 -3 I think) on the other (I want to say MFW but I don’t think it is). Both were fine, would pick up snow if not gliding but weren’t icing, though I left my cork at home so couldn’t re-apply after reaching the bottom of Hydroline, which made things a bit slippy from there on. Descent off Blueberry felt fast than Tuesday, might need a pitot/static system so I can check Mach number down some of those hills 🙂

    Be aware that the creek on the Hydroline side of Lookout is open and it’s a good foot+ wide. Thanks to the fellow who was on his way up for the warning, you can come upon the creek pretty quickly and it would require an impressive jump to clear. The chance of an unpleasant crash if you don’t stop in time is real.

    Temp seemed to range between about -2 to close to zero and back down. Dusting of fresh fell early afternoon. All the trails I listed above are great skiing, the little bit of fresh since yesterday has covered up most of the needles so I didn’t pick up any rubbish I didn’t mean to 🙂 Pocaterra from Whiskey Jack to Packers is really nice, from there to Lynx is still good but not as clean. Same deal for the trails leading back to Elkwood.

  63. Started at Elk Pass parking lot at 9:30 this morning, 3 cm new overnight and -5 air temp by the vehicle thermometer. We skied the new snow into the track all the way to the end of the meadow before the downhill on Terwitt. We turned around and returned via the same route. Ran into our first group at the table at the top of Elk Pass. From then on we saw a steady stream of people heading up. When we got back to the parking lot it was full and people were parking on the access road. Great day with not a pine needle in site. Used a purple wax covered with blue. Air temp when we were leaving was -2 at 12:30.

  64. Lost Head Lamp on Lake O’Hara Road.
    Yes, very embarrassing – I dropped my Black Diamond headlamp on the Ross Lake trail near the O’Hara road or on the lower portion of the road on Friday Dec 19, and was unable to get back to search. Am hoping someone might find it.
    Thanks, Ladd Snowsell (403-762-5728)

  65. Blueberry Hill and Elk Pass – generally teriffic conditions today. A little bit slick right out of the parking lot, but by the time the big hill is crested, conditions become quite good. Very good tracks all the way, particularly as you gain elevation south of the Hydroline Jct. Around Blueberry Hill and Elk Pass, one cm of fresh snow made for good control on the fast downhills. Temp hung around -2C for our trip (10:30am to 2pm), with cloudy conditions and light winds. Should be still great tomorrow (Saturday)

    The temperature never got above -1C at West Bragg Creek this afternoon, so the snow didn’t deteriorate during the day. Lots of people out today… I counted over 40 cars in the parking lot at 4:30pm! Conditions were generally good on the West Crystal Line Loops, Mountain View and Mountain Road. I toured west of the grooming on Mountain Road and Tom Snow trail just to check it out.
    Forecast looks OK for Saturday, but maybe too warm on Sunday. More snow would be nice, but it’s not in the forecast for the weekend.

  67. Peter Lougheed – Wheeler: great fresh tracks, unfortunately, it was warm (+1 at 12.30pm and 0 degree wax was barely gripping), and there were a LOT of pine needles in the tracks already) – I wished I’d had the foresight to take my waxless skis!

  68. CNC: 0C 10:00 AM skied Banff Tr. up to mine scar conditions good. groomed and tracked. Fencing at Bow Tr directs one up Banff Tr. and onto Freddies Flip/mine scar (rest of Banff Tr. as far as we could see is covered with piles of snow from the Snowmaking.)
    Met Len on a single track snowmachine dragging a Ginsu groomer. at the mine scar, He has shoveled where he can but reports there are rocks, sticks, dirt, further out. Skiable but not pretty.
    We continued on up into mine scar at our ski’s peril and turned back&up towards Meadowview and went out on Rundle past junction 67 to where Rundle drops downwards. Returned along Rundle onto Meadowview /Olympic back to stadium. Len was right twigs small trees rocks dirt. Considering what we snow have, skiing was good.

    • update from today. CNC has pushed out snow on Banff Tr to the end of mine scar. Bow Trail and Banff loop still closed with fencing.

  69. Just got back from skiing Tramline and Fairview this morning… conditions not too bad considering the lack of snow this year so far… Tramline was trackset and in pretty good shape. a couple of new cm’s of newer snow on top. Fairview hadn’t been trackset for a while and was icy under the newer snow… still – a great day day to be out!

    I did a couple of loops at the West Bragg Creek trails today. Overall pretty good conditions, given that it has not snowed for a few weeks. The main areas with thin snow cover are under big spruce trees, on steeper hills and on very sun exposed spots. The grooming on the main core of the trails south of the WBC parking lot has been refreshed in recent days.

  71. Got out for a West Bragg ski this afternoon. Crystal Line W, Loggers, Elbow, Iron Springs and Crystal Line E to finish. Conditions ranged from quite good to some beat-up sections, overall I’d say better than fair as long as your expectations are realistic. The southern-most leg of Iron Springs may not be skiable for long if it warms up again.

    A couple of applications of V50 and a lot of skating got me around my loop, the skating is better than the classic right now. I was cautious on downhills as I didn’t know what to expect but the descents were good, sporty here and there.

    Kudos to the groomers for doing a great job with the snow they have on hand. Great day to be out.

  72. Dec 18.
    Today we skied Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, Whiskey Jack and Moraine today at PLPP. We weighed the value of skiing at the ski hill or doing a backcountry tour but we think we made the right choice and ended up in the best place with the best conditions. The only sketchy trail was Moraine, but it wasn’t as bad as we expected. It’s got plenty of needles and is a bit icy, but there’s no rock or dirt showing so it could be a lot worse.

  73. Skied Blueberry Hill and Elk Pass, returned on Hydroline and Patterson. Given recent weather, one couldn’t ask for better conditions, although the steeper downhills on Blueberry and Elk Pass are, um, a little quickish.

  74. I second John’s report on Moraine Lake. I didn’t get as early a start as John — 1 pm at the trailhead — thus, more big beautiful snow had accumulated by then. (The snowflakes were of the joy-making voluptuous kind). In fact, the V40 started sticking halfway up and had to stop and scrape. I’d say more like 3-4 cm by the time I returned to the car at 4 (a slow downhill!). It was a day I was happy my partner skies faster and thus she was packing the tracks for me. Thanks love!

  75. I skied Lookout, Tyrwhitt, and Elk Pass today. All of them were in excellent shape. There were light flurries the whole time I was out.

    • Did the same loop myself today, in a counterclockwise direction. First time on lookout in many years, so some surprises. The descent down the south side toward hydro line had a couple of hazards. Some of the big switchback turns are a bit rough. One spot on the way up from tyrwitt looked like it require shovelling and raking by the trail magicians to cover a thin spot. Likely makes for a tough sn

      • Oops. My thumbs are too fat. One rough snow plow spot if going down toward tyrwitt. A couple of them on the other side towards hydroline, plus one barely bridged small watercourse crossing that really needs anther foot or two of snow.

        And thanks to the fast gentlemen who returned my foamy seatpad on Tuesday after chasing me down the descent from blueberry hill. He then returned to meet back up with ski partner, only to pass me again on descent before the junction. (-:

  76. Great Divide – Dec 18, 2014

    Very good conditions with about 2 cm of fresh falling snow on good Nordic tracks. Skied with V40 wax at about -5oC. Well worth the drive.

  77. Conditions on Moraine Lake Road were very nice today. There must have been some recent track setting, but I couldn’t tell how recent, given some recent flurry activity. Temperatures were around -11C at 10:30, warming to -4C by the end of our ski. Swix VR40 and Vauhti K18 were both kicking just nicely. The outside uphill track was occasionally a bit soft (= my skis were breaking a crust of snow). But the inside uphill track was perfect.

    We also heard a report from another skier that the Great Divide (=1A) was trackset yesterday and was is great shape at that time. We did not look at it today.

    Although it is a long drive from town, conditions at LL are worth the effort, at least given the alternatives.


  78. I joined Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association volunteers Jeff, David and Bill today to improve the base on on several areas of thin snow cover at the West Bragg Creek trails. We harvested snow from areas of good accumulation and moved this snow to thin areas. The areas were then roller packed and groomed.
    The main focus was on Sundog and Loggers Loop. Much of Iron Springs, Elbow, the south leg of Sundog, Loggers Loop, and portions of West Crystal, Mountain Road and Mountain View trails got re-packed and groomed.
    Conditions are generally “fair-good” as Steve Riggs described on Dec 14. Another snowfall would certainly help!

    • Thanks for the hard work! After talking to you guys on my bike n ski afternoon, I skied the Crystal lines E and W, Loggers and Sundog- the thin spots were much improved and the refreshed grooming has smoothed out many lumps and bumps. Overall, despite the thin areas, the skiing was great- fast and fun 🙂
      With the firm surface, many trails are in great shape for skating right now, but I still wouldn’t bring your best skis.
      Biking the Ranger Summit-Strange Brew loop was a blast too, studded tires highly recommended.

  79. Skied Elk, Tyrwhitt and Blueberry today. All good, especially once you get above Patterson junction. Low cloud hung in over the pass all day. Some steeper sections getting somewhat scraped off. New grooming on Tyrwhitt and Lookout (corduroy, presume it will get track set later). Swix blue -1 to -5 provided excellent grip and glide. Nothing to suggest conditions won’t be much the same tomorrow.

    Great destination… what else positive can I say!
    Bob has asked us to report, no matter what, so here goes:
    Gnarly, might best describe the trail! But, if you just want an excuse to try something new while we wait for more snow, grab your metal edge skis and take your skins. As you will see here, it’s not that bad:
    The good news is that the snowpack has a solid base, which will facilitate future travel!

  81. On Sunday afternoon I loaded up a full quiver of skis and headed to Emerald Lake Lodge for two nights (thanks for all the great contests Bob, here is my part of the bargain). There had been no fresh snow on top of the melt in the Field area so conditions are currently pretty icy but most of the trails have been packed and have a good base and are patiently awaiting new snow so they can be trackset.

    On Monday I noticed there had been packing done from the Natural Bridge trail head so I grabbed my skate skis to see where this would lead me. Conditions were quite fast but I had reasonable control, especially after the walking tracks doubled back, and after a few k’s the very thin skier set track also back tracked so I had only virgin frozen corduroy ahead of me. Though the trail was a little narrow for skating, it had been expertly packed and was crowned in the middle and this made for beautiful and easy skating, even on the section furthest afoot where the trail had no cord and was only double skidoo packed. As with the rest of the area, once there is enough new snow to get a decent track set, conditions should be excellent.

    On Tuesday I decided to check out Pipestone as I was with Dog and there were enough reports from the rest of Lake Louise and nothing yet from this area -although I notice there is now a Pipestone report (and yes I could see how conditions could be described as brutal). One look at the trail and I grabbed my skates again as the well packed base was very icy with not even much of a skier set track. The east part of the Pipestone Loop was more frozen and particularly sketchy, mainly due to frozen cookies created by snow shoes, and descending in this area was particularly exhilarating, maybe not in a good way. I found the rest of the area more reasonable, particularly the inner green trails that had not seen as much traffic (and no shoes). Again, Pipestone should be great once more snow hits the area and there is the opportunity to set a good track. Happy Trails…

  82. Pipestone on Sunday Dec 14th was also BRUTAL. In Dave’s words – it was “loud and not relaxing”. Need more snow!

  83. South end of Bragg (from Hwy 66) Yesterday we accessed Iron Spring via recently groomed Elbow, expecting trackset and “thin but decent”. Uh Unh. The first hill is too bare to decend on return and there’s at least 50 to 75m of walking over icy dirt up on the bench beyond it. The rest has tricky bare spots near/under trees. North of the junctions, both Elbow and Iron Springs are truely decent, trackset and fast-fast-fast! I don’t know the exact scientific explanation, but frost made it good.

    • While most of the West Bragg Creek trails are groomed by volunteers, a couple of trails are the responsibility of Alberta Parks. The south end of Elbow is one of those trails. Hostel and Telephone Loop are also done by Parks. Check the live grooming report before you go, because the grooming by paid Parks staff is a lot less frequent than the trails groomed by volunteers.
      For better ski quality, start from the West Bragg Creek parking lot.

  84. West Bragg on Tuesday.
    South side. Skiable but thin and dirty. Don’t take skis you like. I definitely have some new grooves in mine. Removed multiple rocks from the trail.

  85. Elk pass/blueberry, wed dec 16: still decent conditions today.

  86. Moraine Lake Road – had a really good ski there today. It was -15C at our 10:30am start, and the early morning hoar frost had left huge ice crystals all over the trail. A couple of skiers had gone before us, and had partially crunched the crystals in the tracks, but even at that, we had to rewax half way up. Still, we got very good grip with VR45, and though the poling and gliding were a bit noisy (the base, while not icy, is “crunchy”), we made it to the Valley of the Ten Peaks viewpoint in good time. Here, we were treated to a temperature of -5C (warm air aloft). The return trip was quite fast, as our glide was good, though we soon dropped down into the cold air and quickly suffered from brain freeze on the fast sections. A couple of cm of fresh snow will make the whole area perfect.

    • I can add my 2 cents here as well. Fairview is well packed and double tracked. Good braking is needed on the downhill slopes going from the Chateau to MLR. Tramline is good. Just above the hairpin turn that leads to the bridge crossing the river on the Tramline there is one 10″ square rock that is exposed – Take care!. The very cold weather was a mixed blessing as it made the downhills on the trails a little more manageable by reducing glide.

  87. Skied Great Divide – both skating & classic. Cold (-14) as no sun by 1 pm. Snow conditions better than last Friday when last there, especially in the tracks.

  88. Great Divide on a sunny Sunday afternoon was glorious! Great snow, perfect blue wax conditions (although we had to rewax on the way back after the crunchy snow scraped our wax off while snowplowing down the hill). Definitely worth the drive!

  89. My brother states Boom lake on skinnies was “horrific” . We also tried along castle – baker creek , crusty. And in the forest, pineneedlemania.

  90. Skied Canmore nordic center Bow, Banff, Meadowview. In general trails in ok shape, some icy sections and some debris, could use a little more snow. Used -5 wax and some slipping on the icy sections. Manmade snow around the lodge was excellent.

  91. Conditions at Elk Pass today were excellent. Once you get over the “”big hill” and out of the trees a bit past the Hydroline junction ,the snow really improves. in depth and quality Blueberry, Hydroline , Patterson and Tyrwhitt were all covered in 5-6 cm of fresh snow. VR40 worked just fine.

  92. West Bragg, December 14
    We had planned on Blueberry for Sunday, but after reading about fresh grooming and tracksetting in the morning e-mail update from GBCTA, changed our destination to West Bragg, much to our dog Tikka’s delight. A surprise 7-10 cm of Saturday snow gave a much welcomed refresh, with conditions best described as variable ranging from excellent to marginal, often within the space of 100m. Overall on our ski of Loggers-Moose etc we rated conditions as fair-good, with caution required on short very thin spots. Any deficiencies in the skiing conditions were more than made up for by the brilliant day. With temps. just below zero, V40 was the wax of the day for us.
    More comments, and gratuitous dog pics, here-

  93. Late Christmas party last night led to sleeping in really late, so if I wanted to get a ski in this weekend at all, it had to be a short drive. No one has posted recently on West Bragg, so I decided to take the risk and give it a shot. It was much better than I expected. They got some fresh snow yesterday, plus many trails groomed and trackset yesterday too. I skied the mountain road to Moose connector, then Moose Loop counter clockwise. It was mostly great conditions, cold snow but air temperatures warm enough for no gloves and jackets unzipped to my base layer. A few thin spots with rocks, tree debris and the occasional sketchy exposed ice flow (had to re wax after the last couple of km of the loop scraped the last of it off). Tracks were pretty good going in at 1:30pm, but coming out, in some sections, they had all but disappeared, and exposed sunnier sections a bit icy. Might be good skiing there for a few more days if it stays below 0C, but will really need some snow this week to be good by next weekend. The sheltered trails in the trees will probably stay in the best shape.

  94. A chilly start at 10:30 this morning on Moraine Lake Road was well worth it. Glorious sunshine, no wind and perfect track setting made this another memorable ski day. Fairview loop on the other hand needs some snow as was pointed out in a recent trip report.

  95. Has anyone tried Goat Creek yet this season?

  96. Ski-jacking again at pocatera (sat dec 13). No, not stealing skis on the trail. Forget ski-joring or biathlon, ski lumber jacking is where it’s at (don’t tell the hipsters). The workout starts when you stop skiing! Must have cut 20 fallen trees. Couple 3 inches or so of fresh over top of the debris made for a nice ski higher up where it was dry. A bit messy lower down on return but had the place mostly to myself. A mish-mash of non parallel ski tracks closer to the lot. Snow chewers were out packing the snow between the tracks (mostly).

    • Sweet Martin. Thanks for being pumped up like that. People like you make for better safer skiing trails for the next person while saving depleting Government resources that can be used elsewhere like tracking trails instead.

      Now do you call it ski-jacking because the lumber you are moving off the trails is Jack (Lodgepole) Pine?

      What kind of saw do you carry to cut the trees with, how big is it and how heavy is it?

      I wished I had one when I went up to Shadow Lake Lodge as there were 2 fallen trees out of 4 that I could not move off the trail.

      May your next sweet ski adventure be free of fallen trees on the trail. Keep on pumping it up- the trail.

  97. Chester Lake, December 13th.

    As Skier Bob foretold a very limited range of XC choicers for today, Vi and I headed to Chester Lake for a bit o’ the back country and some beacon practice. Thank goodness we took HWY 40 instead of going through Canmore. Apparently, the Spray Lakes Road was a hockey rink, left a few vehicles in the ditch, ended being closed and prevented a friend from joining us.

    That’s the bad part. The good part is all the rest.

    New snow of 5 cm or so meant nicer skiing, though there was an obvious rain crust that will pose avalanche problems for some time to come, I should think. There were only 3 other cars in the parking lot and we had the place to ourselves most of the day. Overcast, to be sure, but no wind and the mercury hovered around the freezing mark. The Elephant Rocks were gorgeous, as always.

    A big thanks to the folks who plow the roads. They do a great job, especially on HWY 40 and the Smith-Dorrien.

    Photo: Why we do it: Chester Lake at its best

  98. GREAT DIVIDE (1A or GD)
    Trackset yesterday with fresh snow. Tracks setup very nicely over night.
    Easy waxing, though we did have to re-wax to climb back from the Lake O’Hara turnaround point.
    Watch out for dog sleds:

  99. Great Divide to Lake O’Hara Rd

    Out early before it gets crowded. -4 at start good glide on VR40 by the time we got to turn around point snow was 2.5 above so start to slip. Added VR45 and it worked pretty well bit of slipping on the hills but pretty darn good given the temperatures in the last week. Started to see quite a few people on trail in last 2 k for us. Just ask those using the wrong tracks to look up every so often had couple of close calls assuming people would step before getting close. Won’t assume they are looking up next time.

  100. SHADOW LAKE LODGE (Friday)

    The snow skiing up Redearth Creek to the Shadow Lake junction was noisy, firm to icy, and faster than a rocket. Great super fast skiing if you have metal edge cross country skis and if you can pump yourself up with your arms. The first 1.5 kilometers of trail had a lot of pine needles in the track which provided good grip up the hills with -1 to -5 degree blue wax.. Further up the trail which is more sheltered from winds, it had only minor pine needles or spruce needles in the tracks. The snow base is excellent. Coming down this section of trail , the speed was rocket fast even when poling up hill. I love that kind of skiing- it gives such a rush.

    The Shadow Lake trail to the Lodge is now broken in and has been significantly skier packed fairly wide on the hills for easier skiing. If you go off trail you will hear massive wooomfs and see massive fractures running 20 meters with the snow settling at least 15 cm or more in some places. This indicates extreme avalanche hazard. A thick dense wet or crusty layer is now on top of the snowpack that will make for excellent low ski penetration touring after the next freeze and snowfall. It is now a good time for the snowmobile groomer to make a nice wide smooth run on the Shadow Lake Lodge trail. It should not get stuck now.

    This is the time to use your 50mm metal edge skis for a safer and more fun day and night of skiing. Pump it up and enjoy the grip of steel edges!

    • I will probably have mine out next week. I will be playing with klister as well. I was using the universal aerosol klister on Friday but it was being eroded off quite quickly. I have some tube klisters that I can try depending upon the conditions.

  101. West bragg has around 4 inches of new snow this morning. Just skier set so far , but very pretty.

  102. Lake Louise – December 12. What a difference a day makes!. I was up at Lake Louise again, this time with with a mixed level of proficiency of skiers. The tracks had set hard overnight and a crust had formed as well making skiing very fast. Moraine lake Road and I presume , the Great Divide were all manageable and as some have mentioned earlier, great fun especially on the downhill, but the Tramline and Fairview became high speed turnpikes. Many of our less able skiers actually stopped skiing. Good, consistant braking skills are needed presently on the Tramlime and Fairview. The Weather Channel is predicting a scant amount of snow for Lake Louise but 2 – 4 cm for Peter Lougheed park on Saturday and cool temperatures for both areas. Hopefully, our groomers can do something with the little snow if it arrives (80% POP for PLPP and 60% for Lake Louise)

    Everyone seems to be getting there before me… but how far did they ski??
    See the full story at:
    The uphill side has been groomed with 2 tracks for the first 5.8 km. Yesterday’s 2 cm of fresh snow was still ungroomed for the last section.
    A little glazed in the groomed tracks but VR45 worked well, especially with a little backup support of arm power!
    Downhill was real fun.

  104. I ran into Barbara at the grocery store today, a place which is much safer than the ski trails despite frenzied shoppers. She said the trails were icy and borderline dangerous at the nordic centre. It’s a little cooler today, and yesterday’s meltdown has now turned to ice. Check the CNC’s trail report for more details

  105. MLR up to Paradise tracks are hard. we skated with no set skate lane. Return track fast . Base is softening allowing occasional pole strikes through pole tracks.while dble poling

  106. The link in Diana Piggott’s trip report for the Lake O’Hara photos didn’t work, so here it is again:

  107. Lake Louise- Thursday, December 11. Excellent conditions on The \Great Divide, Moraine Lake Road and some icy sections on Fairview(heard in passing) on the downhill before the large meadow when travelling from the Chateau to Moraine Lake Road. As a rule of thumb, a packed and groomed trail will fare better in warm weather than one that has not been groomed regularly.

  108. West Bragg Cr – 11 Dec

    Hoped that late on such a warm afternoon, things might have softened up enough to make the waxless skis useful. This proved to be wishful thinking; and klister would not have been any better. The few lower trails I tried were totally glazed, topped with the usual windblown needles, dotted with bare ground and exposed rocks. Arm-intensive climbing and treacherous descents. Dog-walkers and snowshoers were also having difficulty.


  109. Lake O’Hara Fire Road

    As per someone’s request, we had a go at this today! Only skied about 4km up the road, as we could not get any grip with any of the waxes in our kit. I measured the snow temperature at about -1 C at the parking lot, but it had a very thin layer of what looked like frozen rain on top. The pass was very windy, as you might expect, and often obscured in fog.
    Someone had walked several km up the trail in ski boots. I hope they carried skis to get the fun run down!
    Here are a few not very interesting pictures:

  110. No such thing as a bad day in the mountains, but the weather has done nothing for ski conditions. We were up the Elk Pass trail Tuesday, Tuesday, December 9, and found the morning snow to be warm but still clear of wind blown debris. There are a number of large trees blown down completely over the width of the trail (between Hydroline and Patterson junctions). Coming back in the afternoon the warm winds had picked up and melt water was raining from the forest canopy with wet snow “phoomping” from the trees, some even landing on the trail. See also Frank Howard’s comments re trails in the north end of PLPP. I think this chinook has devastated ski trail conditions through the entire Park

  111. PLPP webcam

    It appears that the camera at the visitor centre will be back in action soon – here is an update from the province:

    From: TPR Alberta Parks
    Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2014 1:28 PM
    Subject: FW: Contact Us

    Hi there,

    The Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (PLPP) web cam, which is located at the PLPP Visitor Information Centre has been sent to California for repair. It should be returned to Alberta later this week, at which time it will be re-programmed by our contractor. The current estimate for re-installation is prior to Christmas, but this is dependent upon factors such as contractor availability, so time estimates may be altered.

    While other webcams would be terrific, as you may be able to appreciate, in a remote location such as PLPP, power and internet connectivity pose significant challenges.

    Thanks for your email and hope that helps.

  112. Skied MLR road today and like the 1A was in great shape with two tracks uphill and 1 downhill. Vr45 or 50 were the waxes that worked great.

  113. Lake Louise 1A – good tracks all the way out to the Lake O’Hara end now, thanks to re-grooming yesterday (no more windblown snow in the tracks beyond the Divide). Temps stayed below zero too, -5 at 11.30 am, -3 at 2 pm.


    The trail from the Mount Shark parking lot is currently not groomed due to Provincial Conservative cutbacks! There are heavily snowshoe and skier tracked dual trails to Watridge Lake. Good snow base up to 40 cm and deeper further up. I did not hit any rocks with the skis but I did hit the ground in some places with the poles. Ankle deep penetration with 56mm metal edge skis. Two denser layers in the snow pack make for reasonable off trail skiing. You will hear a lot of woomfs and big huge fracs when you go off trail. Ski or Die Extreme avalanche hazard in some areas off trail. Be aware that steeper hills as small as 30 feet in height may avalanche and bury you.

    This trail is normally a very busy trail due to the superb scenery in the first few kilometers. I talked to some ski tourists that would not ski this trail again because it was not groomed so it is very important for Parks to groom the trail and protect the “ski marketing” or reputation of the trail. Consistency in a product is key to marketing and encouraging growth of the Alberta tourism industry. After all, if people would not buy an inconsistent tasting beer, why would they ski an inconsistent groomed trail as it is too expensive or risky to travel to for an enjoyable day. This is the time to groom the trail Parks and protect the tourism industry particularly when other industries are in decline!
    Make way for smarter marketing of the XC ski tourism industry in Alberta.

    • Unless I am entering one of the contests, I make it a point to normally keep my comments to relevant trail, snow or weather conditions, and I don’t reply to some of the interesting ideas some people may have about what is or is not transpiring with relation to Alberta Parks. But there are many reasons a trail may not be groomed- one should not assume it is due to a cutback.

      When winter comes all at once it takes some time to catch up. PLPP is a priority, and the week following the massive snow fall was spent getting these trails in to reasonable shape for good skiing on the weekend (with more to come this week). The trails at Mt Shark will be undertaken very soon (probably as soon as I am back on my scheduled work week), and some or all of the trails should be in decent shape by the end of the week, depending on temperatures.

      Once the grooming has begun at Shark, it is normally maintained once a week, so if you like fresher grooming it is always a good idea to check the Trail Reports or Live Grooming, in conjunction with the weather, before heading up. Sometimes there is a lot of snow on the trail a day or two after the grooming, and sometimes conditions stay great until the next week. I am quite looking forward to sometime this week when I get in my first Shark ski of the season.

      Happy Trails…

      • Thanks for the clarification Jody.
        I, for one, am most appreciative of every single kilometer you track each winter. The fact that we can drive an hour and a half from our homes and have impeccably groomed ski trails for up to 6 months of the year, for FREE, we are extremely privileged. Toques off to you for your dedication to your craft.
        Enjoy that first Shark bite of the season! Happy trails to you too.

        • Jody, I noticed a Piston-Bully tracksetter at Ribbon Creek that looked very new. I have also read of a new tracksetter in PLPP. Can You tell me how many trackestters we have in the Kananaskis area and their vintage?

          • Interesting and a very good question Frank. It is a good idea for the public to know what grooming assets are available to provide those great ski tracks and where those assets are stationed. To add to this, the public should know how many kilometers of track set ski trails are available in the Kananskis. Why? Because the public may be able to provide valuable input that may improve the skiing experiences while this is a useful point for marketing Alberta’s ski tourism industry.

            As a graduate of Ski Resort Operations and Management, I know that Piston Bullies are not cheap machines and their life cycle costs are high compared to snowmobiles rigged up for track setting such as those commonly seen in Banff and other areas. Piston Bullies do a great job grooming but they may be over kill in some cases. Also they are much slower for single track track setting which adds to labour costs in some areas.

            Last season, the Watridge Lake trail was groomed very wide with 2 narrow track sets. There was no room between the track sets to skate ski. Excessive groomed space occurred on the outside of the tracks but the spaces were not wide enough for skate skiing also. I could not understand why this was done. This width of dual track setting does not require the cost of a Piston Bully. A snowmobile would have placed those tracks that close together just as well while requiring less fixed capital costs and less variable costs.

            In BC some ski trails have a dual door raised shipping container with a snowmobile groomer/track setter stored in it.This allows someone to quickly drive to the area and quickly groom the trails without the hassle of transporting equipment, unloading and loading it while saving on fuel costs. In some cases this may be a good idea here in Alberta to save on long term costs.

            As I ski no less than 600 kilometers per year (with a peak of over 1600 kms) I know the people grooming the trails in the Parks do a fine job with the limited budgets our Governments give them. Some people may consider my comments as whining, but I say them to keep the Government moving with those track setters so we can all better benefit with better skiing, along with the tourism industry. I too vote for more skiing- and sooner! Sweet moonlit trails to you!

          • Last week a new (leased) PB arrived for use in PLPP and at Mt Shark. I know the Pisten Bully red stays nice and shiny, but the snowcat Jeff is now using in the Kananaskis Village and area is actually a 2007 model (or thereabouts). I know because I was one of the first to drive it when it arrived new to the Callahan Valley/Whistler Olympic Park when that venue first began operations in the fall of 2007. I am not actually sure how many snowcats are at the CNC to round out the total for K-Country, and I think all areas have some snowmobile tracksetters for use on the narrower trails and for other uses if needed. Hope that satisfies your curiosity.

            • Perfect, Jody! Thank you . We enjoyed the impressive grooming at Peter Lougheed ,Tuesday, December 09. We started from Elk Pass parking lot and made our way on the lower trails over to William Watson Lodge. We saw that only Packers had not been groomed presumably because of its water issues higher up the trail. We headed over to Pocaterra Hut and saw a log blocking the trail competely on Sinclair just below a hill. At the bottom of Suicide Hill there is flooding and a few skiers had got their feed sopping wet. Fortunately the hut is close by. It was a 2km ski back for us to the road and then back down the road to the hut.

        • Must say I’m on board with Georgina’ s sentiments. We are privileged to live in a country such as Canada and enjoy the lifestyle that we do, let alone the opportunity to recreate in a world class destination. Many thanks to the groomers for all the time and hard work that goes into keeping our trails in such amazing condition, it is very much appreciated!

    • Wow! I vote for less whining and more skiing!
      (And thank you Jody for the wonderful job you do grooming and track setting the trails for most people to enjoy!)

      • I always get a good laugh when I start to read comments by skiers on how much better the grooming and tracksetting woud be if only we did …..?
        As someone that has groomed ski trails with a skidoo the equivalent of twice around the world and coming up on my first trip around the world in a Pisten Bully I can tell you that the fastest most efficient way to get good quality tracks bar none is with a snow cat, the labor costs are roughly 75% lower than with a skidoo doing the same amount of kilometers.
        The myth of just jumping onto a skiddoo and quickly setting a track only works in the eutopia of ski conditions ( a perfectly flat base with 4″ of fresh snow, no wind, no chinooks, no needles and of course only 20 skiers so it isn’t skied out too quickly). Whatever you do don’t snowplow down any of the hills becasue the poor slob who does the tracksetting is going to have to get off his skiddoo and shovel the trail flat again.
        I’m with Pete better to check the trail reports, find where the trails have been groomed or not make your choice and get out and enjoy the amazing variety of trails we have all within a very short driving distance.

  115. What an absolutely glorious thing that we have these amazing mountains so close to us. From the posts this week, and with the temperatures in Banff having stayed closer to 0 C compared to other areas, I decided to check out Redearth creek myself today and it was happy times indeed. Was surprised to find a half empty parking lot, and people clearing out as I arrived at 1pm. Didn’t check snow. temp, but sxix violet worked well the entire way. The trail is still in excellent shape (aside from some minor tree debris and twigs poking through tracks), and looked like it got a light dusting of new snow too since the tracksetting. Due to my late start, and no real workouts since my last hike in late October, I just skied to the campground (I heard in the parking lot that it was just skier set beyond there and slightly more challenging compared to the lovely grooming – thanks again to all you groomers for the fantastic work!). The bridges have much better snow cover now – I went across both the high new bridge and the log – take the log, it was way easier. The climb became very rewarding as the downhill back was so much fun – powder is still good for snowplowing, or simply hurtling forward at a fast and fun, but not terrifying speed. Hooray for ski days like today to make you happy to be alive!!

  116. Pocaterra: back at it again today for a longer lap. No more new trees down, unless someone else brought a saw. Followed a wolf pack track for about 5 k along pocatera towards whiskey jack and lookout. Maybe they went through in early morning or overnight. No sightings, despite trailing my carcass along.

  117. Skied Skogan today. Took Hidden Trail to Nakiska and ended up having an interesting adventure trying to find where the trail connected. We ended up meeting a super nice fellow from Calgary who was having the same challenge so we all ended up skiing together. Some cool Nakiska staff were heading past the trail entry and led us on our way. Can’t say I ever did a downhill run on cross country skis so that was a good experience! Started with violet wax, no grip since it was apparently +6 at the Ribbon Trailhead at 12:30 when we started. Went with Red and it was perfect for the rest of the way up. The descent was great until the lower few kilometres where the snow had iced up and there were some deep footprints in areas of the trail. Sketchy business! Also some deep moose prints higher up caused an endo or two. Awesome day out there!

  118. We had a glorious mid-day ski at West Bragg today, with snow conditions holding up very well on our loop of Sundog-Elbow-Iron Springs and the Crystal Lines both East and West. Temps of plus 1 starting out at 11, warming to about 4 at 2 pm, Start purple wax (-1 to +3) worked flawlessly except on two short, very sun exposed corners of Iron Springs. The tracksetting remains in very good shape, with some of the downhills being a bit choppy out of the track, thanks to walkers. At least they had the sense to not stomp in the tracks like the morons yesterday at Goat Creek! The far south loop of Iron Springs had been sno-mo packed only by the looks of it, but still skied nicely. With stunning blue skies, no wind, and sun in the aspens, West Bragg was at it’s finest today-

  119. PLPP
    Beautiful conditions, blue bird skies, no wind, warm temps, my wax skis worked a treat and stunning stunning scenery.

    Skied Pocaterra (on fantastic tracks), come along (packed), lynx, amos and lodgepole (great tracks). Started out at 0 at 10 am, and was up to +2 by 1pm. Said +6 as I drove past ribbon.

    Used v40 blue extra the whole day, some slipping on hills but good enough.

    There was bit of glazing on Pocaterra but it disappeared as you got higher up, past the lynx junction the conditions got better and better, but my conditioning was lacking so I doubled back to lynx.

    Thanks everyone for your excellent work clearing trees. There were some needles in the tracks, but not as bad as I’ve seen it. By mid day the tree bombs were starting up, and it was quite active around the pocaterra lodge.

  120. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (PLPP) – Yesterday it warmed quickly and there was even trace ‘precip’ (stepping around the r-word) at ~3pm. Saw that folks were glopp-stomping and shuffle-scraping their way along Meadow and Wheeler by this time, especially betwixt Info Center and Elkwood parking.

    Like others have reported here, we cleared two trees and had to step over others too large for us to deal with. Saw evidence that a LOT of trees that are bent over had very recently snapped. Became ‘uncomfortably aware’ of the high number of snags and extremely bent trees that are hanging over the tails in PLPP. It wasn’t windy, still lots of snow on trees and bombing was barely getting started. So I guess all it takes is a heavy snow load and a warming event like we just had.
    Be a scare, ski with dare.

  121. Along with Rhonda W, I was also surprised by how few folks were on the Lake Louise trails. Fairview was in fine shape late this afternoon, save for some fairly substantial body divots to dodge on the downhill sections (going counter-clockwise). It was snowing the whole way, air temp was -3, no wind and extra blue worked well.

  122. Great ski on the Great Divide trail today. Turned around at the GD sign. I was surprised at how quiet it was there and in the MLR parking lot. Kind of glad.. Happy skiing.

  123. Skied Skogan Pass up to and around the Skogan Pass loop today in almost perfect conditions. Warm at the parking lot when we started but the snow was perfect with Violet wax (VR 45/50). Coverage isn’t thick, but it was fine – one rock, one branch, and the steep hill at the top had a bit of dirt.

    Had lunch at the top viewpoint (chili and cheese buns, our standard family menu), and chatted with one of the group of South Koreans (now Calgarians) on the trail. One of them was a first time XC skier. Not sure that’s a trail I would pick for a first ever ski. Hope she has some downhill experience or the ride down may have been an adventure.

    The snow was absolutely perfect for the blast back down – firm with a slightly loose skiff on top, and very, very fast. I managed the best wipeout in years, head first with arms at my side into a snowbank. Ended up with snow packed behind my glasses and down the back of my jacket, which is always a sign of a good fail. Temperatures stayed nice and cool higher up, with no melting. The bottom section was pretty warm and melting by 3 pm – if it doesn’t cool off overnight it will be a bit challenging to wax tomorrow.

    First real (not on a Calgary golf course) ski of the year, and it was a great one.

  124. Starting from Banff, we skied the Spray River / Goat Creek trails to the Goat Creek trailhead and back. The fat bike damage from Dec 4 has now been replaced by damage from a woman carrying snowshoes in her backpack who decided she’d rather walk on one set of ski tracks on her way out from the Goat Creek trailhead to about halfway to the Goat Creek bridge, and then walk on the other set of ski tracks on her way back to the trailhead! Other than that, conditions were great, although it was 0C and drizzling lightly when we got back to the Banff trailhead at about 4pm.

  125. Pocatera sat dec 6: good trail conditions. Zero at lot mid day. Cooler snow. Main trail track set. Most others only groomed. A few brownish spots of no consequence. The odd hazard was the three trees that fell across the trail within the time I was out. Luckily when emptying my pack of Avi gear beforehand, I didn’t remove my folding saw. Thanks to the other passerby who helped with the large one. There was no wind or new snow so not sure why they fell other than the existing snow load and mild temps. Didn’t see them fall, so can’t confirm whether there was or wasn’t a sound.

    • Martin, you are brilliant! Those trees puzzled me too, thank you ever so much for clearing them away!
      We tried to return on Come Along, but were turned back by a huge slush puddle where it crosses the meadow near the bottom, near the old Pocaterra trail.

  126. Skied the Spray Loop today. Snow was in good condition and we were using 0 to -3 wax. There were quite a few of us today though, so although the tracks are still mostly in good shape, they are getting a bit worn in the usual places: hills and corners, mostly.

    It’s beautiful out there and we’re really glad we went.

  127. Waxless skis the order of the day for Kananaskis Village if you go out on Sunday. Rain and warm Pacific wind. Zero ish. glazed track.

  128. A bit of a late update but I skied Tramline from the MLR car park to the 1A, down to O’Hara and back, up to and along Fairview to MLR then up MLR and back down yesterday. Fairview is bumpy but well covered. There was a good 3cm of fresh snow (flurries ended early afternoon) which made the going slow as the tracks were fairly full. Maybe with the warm weather it will pack down but a reset in the not too distant future would be lovely. As a previous poster mentioned the section from the Divide arches to O’Hara was blown in so me and a fellow from Parks I meet at the O’Hara end packed it down for you all 🙂

  129. Red Earth Creek – Great first outing of the year

    On the trail early benefit was we were able the follow wolf tracks from K3 all the way to the ranger cabin. The wolf prefers to cross creek on ice and not the bridge. Temp good and snow it good shape a bit of debris pine needles as such along trail in the first few kilometres.

    Had the pleasure to cross paths with skier Bob today on way out first time we have met. First person we had seen from there others were heading out. Guess they read Chuck’s trip report from yesterday as well

  130. Kananaskis Village, Friday, December 05, great coditions there prevailed; weather never warmed up enough to cause deteriation to the snow.

  131. Skogan’s Pass

    Christine and I made the climb to Skogan’s Pass today under almost ideal conditions; fresh track, snow temperature hovering around -10 C at the Pass, sunshine and very little wind. On the way, we met Robbie and Alaric who were thrilled to be skiing in such heavenly conditions. We also met a couple of old acquaintances who can’t be named because they were skipping work to enjoy Mom Nature. Good for them! The world needs more examples of how to set the right priorities.

    Waxing was a bit of an issue for me. I started with Swix Special Blue and found it too cold. VR-45 seemed to work best, but on the steeper sections I was working a few muscle groups that have been on holiday since last winter.

    I’d recommend doing it tomorrow as the descent was quite sporty and will only become more challenging as the track sees more traffic.

    Here’s a page with some photos:

  132. Also skied Goat Creek today. Nice conditions since from what I read was re-groomed after the bikes were on it. I really appreciated the grooming, but yes it would be awesome if the snow between the tracks could be flattened. It makes it difficult to slow down on corners. The temperature warmed up to -3 by the end of the ski at the Goat Creek trailhead at 4:00 PM.

    Unbelievable, that despite Bob pointing out that Redearth Creek had been trackset yesterday, we were the only people who went there today!
    Thanks to the Banff tracksetter for not leaving a soft unpacked ridge between the tracks. It was Banff Bliss! The tracksetting goes as far as the 6 km campground, and then it is machine packed to the Redearth Warden Cabin. He also cut back some of the branches growing in from the side.
    Ski conditions today were better than I have ever seen on Redearth Creek. See for yourself at:

  134. Goat Creek and Spray River West Dec 5 – good news, Goat Creek has been re-trackset after being damaged by bikers recently. Also the skate lane between the classic tracks on the Spray West trail from the Goat Creek junction to the trailhead has been re groomed – the bikers apparently rode all the way along it too – they didn’t trash the tracks there so there was no need to redo them, though they did damage them in places on the down track, but in places you can still see the deep divots they caused between the tracks even after the new grooming, especially above the first bridge.

  135. Skied the Great Divide trail to the Lake O’Hara access road on good track set up to the big hill. Blown snow filled the track from the hill to the Lake O’Hara access road, but we set a skier track which probably won’t keep when the Chinook comes. Daily temperatures were minus 16 C low and minus 12 C high. Used VR40 wax and found the outward trip slow while the return was easier. Upper and lower tram line are showing some wear but are in good condition. To access The Village I recommend the Bow River trail west of the river. CP removed the derailment cleanup equipment and plowed a good deal of the trail away on the east side.

  136. CASTLE LOOKOUT to BAKER CREEK and return
    This complete section was trackset today on top of a previously packed base.
    Very good conditions despite a couple of exposed rocks which were easy to avoid.
    See how beautiful it is at:
    The sunniest section is closer to Castle Lookout, but if you are up for a longer ski, I would suggest starting at Baker Creek.

  137. Met up with three guys on rented fat bikes on Goat Creek this morning. Without the snow packed down between the tracks there was no where else for them to ride except right on the track. They were apologetic and polite about it but the tracks are destroyed (from both the wheels and their boots in areas where they got off to push). It would be a great dual use trail if the groomers could pack the snow down between the tracks. Is that possible?

    • Thanks Rochelle for this timely information.
      I will forward it directly to the Banff tracksetter.
      We have seen other examples where this middle unpacked ridge is causing a hazard for unsuspecting skiers on descents.
      He will be glad to learn the disadvantages of his efforts to “do more with less”.

    • Bikes on this trail seems to be a bit of an on going problem for skiers in the Goat Creek area. It is time for Parks to ban bikes on track set ski trails. Just a couple of bikes is all it takes to ruin expensive work and harm the ski tourism industry here. Bikes and (skate) skiers is not a good safe mix and it should not be encouraged. All trails are better without bike ruts.

    • It’s getting to be more and more, but I’ve seen snowshoers trash Goat Creek more often than not. There are few tracks around the Parks that aren’t sensitive to non-ski use. The most interesting/single trackish trails for the uninformed fatbiker tends also to be the tracks that can’t support them. Snowshoe trails are better for fatbiking and should be grouped on maps and guides as such. As an aside, Edmonton has just put up signage splitting runners+fatbikes from skiers on a popular River Valley trail system.

  138. Fairview in Lake Louise has been freshly groomed. It’s almost all double trackset now, and no significant foliage poking through. The Divide is in rough shape as you get closer to the border and eventually the tracks blow away completely. But the dogsled track is in fine form and much less effort!

  139. Ribbon Creek – excellent freshly groomed tracks this am on Terrace/Terrace Link/Aspen/Kovach – no need to bring the rock skis! Just one rough spot if coming down the steep hill at the N end of Aspen.

    Thanks Ray, for the report that this was groomed yesterday.
    Sundance is double trackset and Healy Creek is single trackset.
    We explored beyond the grooming to find the bridge for James Kohut!
    Well worthwhile!

    • Hi Chuck,

      I don’t imagine that bridge is re-useable eh? It would be nice if some helicopter pilot could put it back in place! It is a shame Parks does not groom or track set the trail to Sundance Lodge anymore. The deck there is like a snow beach in the sun and the rocking chairs, for this old man, feel great to rock on! This was one of my favorite places to ski and have lunch. If anyone sees a snowmobile track going up there, please inform the Skier Bob trail report so people can ski it.

      • There’s still a fair amount of flood damage along brewster creek on the way to Sundance lodge also. I believe Warner outfitting still snowmobile packs and tracksets brewster creek trail for their guests. Of course that depends on if they’re open this winter.

  141. Spray River Loop

    Just to add a few comments and a couple of pictures to the wealth already here!
    We skied the loop for the first time since the flood and were surprised by the new shelter at the turnaround point.
    The east side had the same kind of double track as (apparently) Goat Creek trail, and with all that snow I was a bit surprised to see the ice flow making an appearance. This is at the high point, just before the long descent to the campground, and absolutely no problem today.
    Returning on the west side, we took the spur down to the lower bridge to make our usual loop. It is not groomed, and a fun little descent. The last bit down the “lower east side” was pretty much a snowshoe trail. Those snowshoers are taking over the universe!!
    A very few pictures:

  142. Redearth Creek- to just short of RE 6 campground

    Not track set- due to Federal Government cutbacks? 30-40 cm of fairly good base snow. Denser layer about 12 cm from the top of the snow pack gives fairly good floatation with 56mm XC skis. About ankle deep penetration. Good to very good skiing conditions. Only hit one small rock with the skis. Poles hit ground in various places. Lots of 20 meter WOOMFS when breaking trail.

    Time to groom this trail Parks Superintendent and let the tourists ski! Spent much of the time doing trail maintenance. It will be excellent skiing once it is groomed, then after it gets another 7cm of snow and then track set.

  143. Brewster Creek via Sunshine Road

    Could not find the confounded bridge. Cheap Conservative Government cutbacks have resulted in no new bridge after the flood of 2013. This is not good for the tourism industry. Decided to go to Redearth.Creek.

  144. I’ll add to the praise for the great conditions and trail improvements at West Bragg. We skied Crystal Line, Moose, Loggers and assorted connecting trails this afternoon in perfect skiing weather. As noted in the other reports- fine skiing, all trackset, with some thin spots, a couple of ice flows, and exposed willows, all of no consequence.
    Our golden retriever Tikka was ecstatic about getting out for her first real ski of the season-West Bragg is for dogs too!

  145. The Seniors Outdoor Club of Calgary( hit Lake Louise on the coat tails of all the good reports already writtten on this site. Fairview as reported before is in need of snow, packed but not set but ultimately very skiable. The odd branch from a bush sticks out and the creek is open in spots but the snow is superb. Moraine Lake Road (MLR) is perfect. I skied back to MLR’s start and then went up the track set Upper Tramline and then crossed the road to Deer Lodge with the hope of taking Peyto over to The Great Divide Trail but alas nothing or no one has passed that way. My skinny skis were no match for the deep pristine snow but Howie and his back country Asnes’ would probably make short work of it. Apparently there is a creek in this area and there is a chance of wet skis. I returned on the Tramline and went on to the Village and the trackset Lower Tramline is very good as well. Some pine needles were seen on the trail but no problem for skiing. The weather was very cold but the sun came out and the result was a terrific day to be on skis.

  146. SPRAY RIVER to GOAT CREEK Trailhead, and Return
    With the Great News that the Spray and Goat had been trackset, the decision was easy.
    Conditions were very good, but be aware that the section from the Spray River bridge to the Park Boundary is not packed between the two tracks. Be careful not to rely on the untouched snow to slow down on the descents, because it is bottomless.
    And for the photos:
    Nice to meet Bob along the way. Now, I have to try and get my report in first!

    • Oh my goodness, did you pass us and did I miss the chance to meet you properly?? Not having the faintest idea what you look like…….

      • Hi Diana,
        Looks like Bob managed to get a photo of me today, and put it on his Home Page article! Hope you call out to me sometime.
        I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo of Bob.
        Glad you had a good ski.

  147. Stopped in at Kananaskis info centre this morning. Said grooming would start today at Ribbon Creek, which it did, some evidence of roller and track set when I left parking lot at 3pm, and that PLPP would start later in the week. Skied Skogen to the skier only loop at the top. Good skier tracks, fun decent in powder. Sunburst was snow shoed and more difficult to ski so I abandoned that route.

  148. Skied Bragg Creek with the Norsemen Ski Club today and it was fabulous given the amount of snow we have had. The new trail crew has done an excellent job of packing, grooming and track-setting to set up for a great year. The event coordinated by Tom Schlamp and guided by Eric Lloyd was fantastic as Eric was able to give commentary on all the work done to improve the trail system setting it up for all to enjoy for many years to come. Hats off to Eric and everyone that has donated time, money and resources to make the project a resounding success (recognizing of course that there is still more to be done).

  149. Skied at West Bragg Creek today. Excellent weather – sunny, mostly calm, -10C at the start, -5C at 1pm. We skied a variety of trails, including Crystal Line East & West, Loggers, Sundog, and the new MountainView (I think that’s the name) trail. Everything was trackset and in good early season condition. Sure, there were some thin spots, and lots of little branches sticking up through the tracks, but none of these factors caused nearly as much problem as the fact that I hadn’t skied in 8 months. Took a while to get the legs back. Ready for more….

  150. Healy creek/sundance canyon
    Pulled in just as the groomer was leaving. Trackset , super day.

  151. Goat Creek trail in excellent shape this morning. Double lane trackset, starting at the Banff NP boundary (less than 1 km from the parking lot). I just skied to the Goat Creek bridge at 7.2 km, but I’m sure the trail is trackset all the way to Banff.

  152. Anyone up at Chester Lake this past weekend or in the vicinity? Good snow?

    Or anyone in the Taylor Lake area this past weekend? Good snow?

    • Burstall pass approach yesterday was spectacular. When trailbreaking with mid-weight tele gear, I was still sinking in 20-30 cms. Temps climbed from -20 up to -11. Following previous skin tracks was MUCH faster but it was all magical.

    • I was up at Chester on Saturday, November 29 and there is lots of snow. I had my wide skis and was still sinking down a good foot and half. Skiing should be good once the snow consolidates

  153. Also would like to know if the Cascade Valley Trail Bridge is repaired/now open?

  154. Does anyone have any intel on when they will start grooming PLPP? Website has not been updated and I’m sure everyone is wondering like me with all this new snow.

    • We’re all curious. I can only surmise they are having problems with the snowcat. That’s usually the issue when there’s lots of snow but no grooming.

  155. Skied Shaganappi Golf Course on Monday afternoon. This area rec’d only 3to5 inches of snow during this last dump so the skiing was not as good as I expected. The trails were roller packed but not trackset as there is not enough snow to do so. Snow coverage on the packed trails was fairly good with just the odd patch of grass showing and the poles hitting the pavement where the trails followed the paved golf cart paths. Overall I would rate as fair.

  156. Skogan Pass

    What a gorgeous day on the trail to Skogan Pass! 40-60 cm of fresh, powdery snow was a pleasure to ski. The trail has not been roller packed, but there were skier tracks all the way to the Skogan loop and only about 1 km beyond has been tracked. The ski out was wonderful. High temperature about -12C under mostly sunny sky.

  157. Skied West Bragg Creek today. I headed towards the Moose Loop but stopped well short. Most trails I saw were packed and trackset. Considering the shallowness of the snow, I’d say the tracksetter did a great job. Some debris and dirt showing in places of course.

    For a Monday there were lots of people- snowshoers, cyclists, walkers and skier, all in their proper places.

    If I could have arranged a body transplant, it would have been a perfect outing.

    A magical day before the grooming gets done.
    Here are the long awaited photos:
    Nice to have a temporary bridge.
    Now we can go further… we just need fresh trail breakers!

    • Chuck, are you using light touring skis with a slightly heavier boot on an outing like that in untracked snow?

      • Yes Donna, this is what we like to use in untracked snow. Our light touring skis are 50 mm wide, and the boot is compatible with the NNN backcountry binding (a thicker metal crossbar in the boot) for greater stability. We have skins but usually wax is all we need.

  159. Hit up Maple Ridge golf course Saturday. Only one set of tracks around the perimeter. Blazed a trail on the East side back to the parking lot. Good cover and minimal hazards. Shaganappi on Sunday. Skier set track everywhere you’d expect to find it. Thin cover in some spots but easily avoided. A tad chilly but still great to get out!

  160. With all this fresh POW and words from the groomers saying they’re busy, just wondering if the links or LiveGrooming data ned to be refreshed? Other than CNC I don’t see anything… yet.

    I am REALLY REALLY keen to get out on the skinnies this week… hopefully Confed/Shaganappi midweek and Bragg or CNC end of the week. Anyone get out on our golf courses this weekend?
    Of course then it’s the post-ski leg and hip flexor pain for a couple days. It’s worth it!!

    • There is no live reports because we haven’t switched them on yet. Stay tuned during this week you should start to see some changes. When you go from zero to the snow we have now it takes a few days to get a base set up then trackset. It can’t be done all in the same day, So we try and not show the trails being groomed until we feel they are ready for skiing.

    • Confederation Park golf course was rolled and track set on Saturday. Great conditions.

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