Trip Reports – Dec 2015

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.

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  1. Skogan Pass was in good shape today, newly trackset. -3 at the bottom, -12 at the top. Should be in the same condition tomorrow.

  2. Another chilly ski today (-20). Skied with family and friends from the PLPP visitor center to William Watson lodge via meadow trail where we thawed out for a bit. Then back to Wheeler (temp-10),Amos, Lynx, and Pocaterra to Pocaterra hut to warm up again. Had a chat with Ray there then back to the visitor center via lodge pole and meadow. A great day out to finish 2015!

    • Good to run into you and your family there, Pete. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many skiers out in the cold weather, enjoying the very good track conditions. Happy New Year and happy skiing to all.

  3. BAKER CREEK to CASTLE LOOKOUT
    Today, we saw the year out with a cool (-20) ski on this segment of the Lake Louise to Banff Loppet.
    Great to see that the new owners of Baker Creek Chalets allow TJ to keep up the high standard of tracksetting here.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/110857225306442901854/BakerCreekToCastleLookout02?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCODGtti5k9Dhfg&feat=directlink
    Clear skies helped with the photography, and might even help with tonight’s Aurora Borealis!
    Happy New Year

  4. What beautiful to end 2015! Headed out with my dog to Wedge Pond for an imprompto ski. The grooming was fantastic with the tracks very fast! Snow temperature was -12 so my choice of VR30 worked perfectly! My dog had a blast but did require her boots due to the cold snow. Could not think of a better way to enjoy New Years Eve and welcome 2016!! Happy New Years Everyone???

  5. Rossland, B.C.
    Blackjack

    Ten Ramblers skied at Blackjack cross-country ski area outside of Rossland today and a good thing that we chose this day to skip the higher elevations as fairly thick cloud obscured the views for most of the day. Still, this is a beautiful area to ski, with amazing track-setting (pics to follow at some point), double tracked trails with a wide central skating lane, a couple of warming huts along way and a biathlon range at the south end of the system. No, it is not free but groups of 5 can get a discount.

    We skied from the ticket kiosk to the biathlon range on Gibbard’s trail (green) and the Biathlon connector (Blue) and then put in one more km of the Biathlon Loop, all in phenomenal condition. The temperature at the start was -8 and VR 40 was just perfect.

  6. My daughter Tegan and I skied Skogan Pass today. It has been a while since last groomed but the track is easily followed to the top due to other skiers packing in the track. We chose the 2.8 km add on near the top. Some folks on AT skis provided the grooming ( thanks Dennis & Nancy) on this fun side bar. A frosty descent from the top of Skogan. Screaming barfies as the hands slowly thawed and we chased the last of the sun. The recent dusting of snow made the descent fun, fast and frigid. Happy Trails!

  7. Skied Moose Loop counterclockwise at W Bragg Creek. Good snow & tracks. Liked mix of open views & forest. Parking lots crowded but you don’t have to ski far to get away from the crowd experience. Lucky this year with the skiing at WBC.

  8. The Bill Milne trail was in great shape today. Warmer than Canmore or Lake Louise. Fresh grooming on the trails and sunshine. Minus 11 when we started just before noon and a few degrees warmer three hours later.

  9. Ribbon Creek (Aspen, Terrace, Kovach) freshly track set in most sections, skier set on some parts. The snow holding up well on most sections with steep turns. Approx -15 C in the morning warming up a few degrees in afternoon, minimal wind. VR40(blue) worked well. A little bit of debris on trail but nothing serious. A beautiful day on this trail.

  10. Skied Goat Creek from Banff to top and back yesterday with Ray. -19 at 10:15 am, so VR40/30 mix worked well. No evidence of recent grooming, but decent skier-set tracks. The ridge in the center of the track did not seem as troubling as Bob reported, but maybe we were just lucky not to encounter traffic in those sections. All walkers stayed clear of the tracks, a pleasant surprise

  11. PLPP – Pocaterra
    Attempted to avoid the worst of the freeze by heading to PLPP early this afternoon. I think it worked as the temperature varied from -15 up to -11 with sun trickling through the trees until late in the afternoon.
    Took Pocaterra from the hut all the way up to the start of Lookout on Tyrwhitt. The tracks and snow was great throughout. Luckily I remembered my mitts for the fast ski back down to the hut 🙂

    • We started at 11 am in -18 so likely a bit ahead of Lawrence. The new Pocaterra from the hut was fun to ski today due to the good snow conditions, but I do feel for the families with young children who no longer have that first few kms of flat pre-flood trail. As stated many times before, this is no trail for beginners. Perhaps Come-Along is more beginner friendly? Took us 2 hours up to top of Whiskey Jack and 1 hour down. -12 back at the parking lot. If we learned anything last year, ya gotta grab the snow while it’s good. Time for turkey soup!!

      • Come Along is a better trail that the New Pocaterra, tough it does have two short steep sections that they have marked with black diamonds – but since these are straight and short they are better than the hairpin turns on Pocaterra.

        Honestly, I don’t know what the parks people were thinking when they designed the new trail – clearly the Hut is a great place for new skiers to start from, but the new trail is considerably more difficult than before.

  12. Maple Ridge golf course. The groomer was out later this afternoon. ( A few wavy spots in the track added to the interest!) The grass was showing through in a few spots, but pretty good conditions overall.

  13. Was going to head to P. Lougheed, but the -20 on my thermometer this morning changed that plan so I headed to CNC instead. Temp. was about -15. Snow was great with no tree debris. Prettty busy on Banff Ave. so I avoided this route with the multitude of other great trail options with few skiers. Not much for sun at CNC in the afternoons due to the mountain shadow so bundle up if these cooler temps. continue.

  14. Brrr! Chilly day skiing with my family on the Fairview loop at Lake Louise today. -18c and in the shade the whole way. Only saw a handful of people along the way. Moraine lake road, tramline and Fairview trails were all in great shape.
    Hopefully it warms up a bit tomorrow!

  15. Just back from another great ski at West Bragg Creek. Went to check out Telephone loop for the club ski on Friday and Parks had just completed packing and track setting! A little chilly at the start but wasn’t long before the sun and climbing warmed things up. Returned on Moose/Crystal Line and looked like the groomers were out sprucing things up again – fantastic. One rant – parking is limited so if you are the ones to start the row down the middle lets get two rows end to end going making room for many more vehicles. A couple feet between vehicles is plenty! Forcing vehicles to park on both sides of the access all the way back to and beyond the cattle guard is going to result in an accident and/or delays for everyone while tow trucks pull the inevitable stuck vehicle out of the ditch. Happy New Year!

    • Just back from there too. I skied Mountain Road-Moose Connector- the sunny side of Moose Loop – Mountain View West – Mountain View – West Crystal Line – Loggers – Sundog – East Crystal Line. Really excellent conditions throughout with the notable exception of Mountain View West. This is a great trail through interesting terrain, but parts of it do not seem to hold the snow. There are signs at both ends of the trail indicating marginal conditions, but actually 95% is fine (and was track set today) but there are sections where there is basically gravel and rocks with a thin cover of snow. I skied this counter clockwise (ie mainly uphill), at Alf Skrastin’s advice from an earlier post, but caution is strongly advised on the downhills if approaching from Mountain Road.

  16. Canmore Nordic Centre PP Cross Country Ski Challenge! Just in time for the New Year! There are 65km of groomed ski trails at CNC. Most of us have our favourites. This unofficial challenge is to get skiers to ski the more obscure trails and connectors.
    Challenge #1 is Jan 1-31,2016
    Ski all the trails and connectors at the Canmore Nordic Centre PP. Grab a trail map from the CNC. We use an highlighter to keep track of our progress.
    Post on the CNC Challenge Facebook page (link below). You’ll have to ask to join and i’ll accept you.
    Post things like: (Skied Classic, Bruin and Rundle today -10C VR 40 wax) add grooming comments or whatever. Reporting is on the honour system. Report what you ski.
    Please don’t poach trails which are closed for races or grooming. Save them for another day.
    Prizes: there are no prizes just for the fun of it the accomplishment.
    Categories: Classic, Skate, Combined.
    Have fun!

    Hugh

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1294354243924226/

  17. Pipestone Loop: Brrrr -27.5C this AM at the start warmed up to -20 by finish.
    We skied the outside loop counterclockwise. Tracks are in great shape, able it slow.
    A bit of debris on the trail but not an issue. Parking lot was full when we left at 12:30.

    • Pipestone loop – must have just missed you Hugh. Started at 12:15(?). All trails in great shape. Inner trails done yesterday. Slow snow in places for sure- forgot the Start Artic.
      So I will have a bit less faith in ‘Snow-forecast.com’ for The Lake. Minus 18 at start and finish. NO -9! However the Yoho forecast was bang on. At 10am, it read -27.5!, high of -16. That Wapta weather station is right again.

  18. Has anyone skied in to Lake O’Hara yet this season? If so, how were the conditions?

  19. Skied West Bragg yesterday, the 29th.
    Arrived at noon but managed to find a spot in the main parking lot right near the trailhead. Very lucky indeed as it was not a quiet day there.

    Just a word to dog owners choosing to ski with your pets, “technically” dogs are supposed to be on leash (at least the signs would indicate so.) I love dogs but do not appreciate when your feisty dog jumps out in front of my 6 year old child, knocking him over on his skis, and then proceeds to jump over top of him repeatedly while he’s lying on the ground. Meanwhile, the owner stood back doing nothing and uttered not a single apology. If you read this, you owe me one.
    The incident happened near the main bridge as we were ending our ski and the dogs were just starting their outing. It was mid-afternoon, not sure of the exact time. 2:30 perhaps.

  20. Skied the new Ribbon Creek trail today. Did we ever agree on an official name? I’m going to go with The Ribbon Ripper. It was in great shape, lots of fresh new snow, making the steep turns friendlier. The snow coverage was good, there was no debris on the trail, or rocks sticking out. Saw some fairly fresh kitty cat tracks on the east end of the trail, not sure if it was cougar or lynx. I then continued on to Kovach, Aspen and Terrace – all were in great shape. Guests staying at Ribbon Creek hostel, also reported that Troll Falls was in good shape for skiing, for those folks looking for a leisurely ski.

    • Thanks Anita. We were wondering what Troll Falls was like. Ribbon Creek’s exciting now, no?!
      I’ll come out some day to ski with you in the new year.

  21. Confed Golf Course Tuesday afternoon.

    Conditions are holding up pretty well, especially with the additional snow Monday. Some grass poking thru the tracks here and there but nothing too serious. Lots of folks out enjoying day. Groomer was out and about too. Perhaps get out and enjoy the in-the-city snow before the predicted temperature warm up later this week.

  22. PLPP – Dec. 29
    It was crisp (-18C) when we started out at Boulton Parking but the climb up Whiskey Jack warmed us up. We then headed up Tyrwhitt as far as the picnic table – approx. 3.5 km. There we turned around and went back to Packers and down to the parking lot. The temperature was around -12C when we finished at 2:45 pm.
    We met only a few other skiers along the way. There had been a light (1 to 2 cm) dusting of new snow on top of fairly recent tracksetting – a perfect combination. It was a great day!

  23. Skied from Banff Cave and Basin to Sundance Canyon. 3.2km each way. Brought a dog to join in the fun! Tracks are good, recommend classic here as the middle of the trail is multi use so not so good for skate skiing. Could use the help of some grooming, but not critical. Great, but chilly, Tuesday!

  24. Lake Louise: Chateau, Fairview, Moraine Lake Road to Lower Tramline and Village..
    Conditions good on all these trails on a very cold day. The lady tracksetters caught up to us on the Tramline. Lake Louise has been very vigilant in their tracksetting this year. As well, the groomers are always very pleasant and courteous with a very professional sense of customer service. I extend this to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, also. Thank you!

  25. I skied from Castle Junction to the west end of Protection Mountain campground (25 km return). The section from Castle Junction to the Castle Lookout parking lot has not been groomed for some time now but it sees very little traffic and there is enough snow to ski on. There were only two small thin spots near Castle Junction but they should not really pose a problem. This section also has a couple of small hills and one longer hill which could be intimidating to novice skiers. They are short though, so walking is a reasonable option.

    Track setting has been taking place from the lookout parking lot to Baker Creek. With a nice track, this section is considerably better to ski on. There is only one hill of note immediately west of the lookout parking lot that would pose problems for novice skiers. It is quite short but fairly steep and runs out into a road crossing. Other than that the track set section of the trail would be a great place to learn to ski.

    My Tracks phone application indicated a distance of 5.5 km from the Rockbound Lake parking lot (just east of Castle Junction) to the Castle Lookout parking lot. I skied another 7 km west through Protection Mountain campground. I turned around at that point as it was already late in the afternoon. I suspect that Baker Creek lodge was another km or so to the west.

    The track set portion of the trail follows the CPR tracks quite closely from the lookout parking lot to Protection Mountain campground. There are a couple of sections about 2 km west of the lookout parking lot where the trail gently climbs up about 40 m or so above the train track giving impressive views to the west and north west.

  26. For a less crowded experience try Invermere or Golden. Trails were perfect at Dawn Mountain (Golden) today. Reminded me of PLPP but with less people. Trails are interlacing loops, but overall shorter than PLPP. Panorama trails near Invermere are similar, but dogs are allowed. Invermere is a nicer town than Golden in my opinion. Trail fees are 12 bux but worth it considering the excellent level of upkeep and the low traffic on the trails. Panorama is 2 hours from Calgary and Golden is 3 hours.

  27. Skied Morainne today, excellent day, chilly, minus 15. Tracks need a grooming. Not too busy.

  28. Checked out Mt. Shark today. -14 and bluebird skies mid-afternoon. Did the 15 km loop except for the ungroomed portion. Good conditions though the downhills were slick in the middle from all the snow ploughing action. Quite a few cars in the parking lot when we arrived but the trails were not busy. Gorgeous drive out there on the Spray and enjoyed watching the dog sleds make their way accross the lake. Was getting nippy as the sun went behind the mountain so dress warm!

  29. Awesome conditions @ West Bragg Creek, skied Moose, Sundog and Iron Springs, excellent cover throughout, -12 snow temp, stayed with the fresh VR40 I already had which was fine, VR30 may have been a touch better.

    Get it while you can, sadly there is a Chinook coming, I hope it misses Bragg!

  30. Spray River East to Spray Bridge. If everyone was on Cascade yesterday, a good number were skating, snow-shoeing, tobogganing, and enjoying this stunning afternoon in -11 below the Banff Springs. Ironclad are doing a big construction project there on the bridge so parking a little less available. Tracks got thin in places on East Spray but the hill down to the Golf Course had ample coverage. The picnic table was in a new location at the West/East Spray junction (likely more sheltered from the wind.) The next section down to the bridge was, as always, a real treat. VR40 is one great investment in wax.

  31. Skied the Pocaterra trail from the hut up to the Whiskey Jack junction this morning. Quite cold, -20C snow and air temperature at the start, warmed up to about -12C at the end. Luckily there was no wind! Tracks were wonderful, silky smooth feeling to them, but glide was a bit slow.

    Despite the snow fall on highway 40 yesterday there was very little new snow on the trail, perhaps 1-2 cm at the most?

  32. Skogan Pass – great ski there today under blue skies and no wind. We took 4 people with us who had not done this trail, and they all had a great time. Started cold at -20C in the Ribbon Creek parking lot, but the air temperature rose as we gained elevation, and within 1/2 hr it was -14C. About 3cm of new snow (down low) increasing to 5cm (up high) covered the previous tracksetting. The early, low down portion of the trail (beneath Nakiska) is well beaten up by walkers, skiers, bikers, and has two ice flows this year. But once we got by the old Marmot Basin junction, conditions were very good, with the tracks holding up pretty well. The trip back down was a blast, as the fresh snow coverage let us be aggressive in the corners. -10C at the end.

  33. Brilliant outside cross country skiing in West Bragg… But a chilly -20 first thing this morning. Fresh snow, first tracks in new grooming, brilliant sunshine, picture postcard kind of day.

    Icicles on the goatee was a bit of a weird feeling but kept things a little warmer.

    Fresh snow kept things quite slow, as did the cold. Had the right combo of gear on to be comfy. Not sure why some folks pack monster “day bags” around?

    Only Crystal East and Sundog trackset although everything else groomed. Not the same as what the groomer tracksetting report said. Am assuming machine broke down?

    Skiers, Dogs, hikers, s’shoers, and bikers all friendly and well bahaved. Parking lot and road “only” 80% full at 1130 when I left.

  34. I skied Ribbon Creek Monday Dec 28th. The ski tracks had about an inch of fresh snow on them at 8am. I skied the trails on route to Skogan Pass and broke trail all the way up. It was snowing harder at higher elevations and in a couple places the tracks were completely drifted over. Upon reaching Skogan Pass I turned around and it felt like I was breaking trail all the way back down – the downhills were very slow which worked out well since I was forced to squint through alternating eyes to avoid being pelted by the falling snow (I forgot my glasses). I didn’t see a soul or another ski track during the whole three hours. I’d never been up those trails and I’m sure the viewpoints are lovely when you can see something (not in a blizzard).

  35. Had a nice ski with my family at Mount Shark yesterday (Monday). Did most of the 15km loop including the section that is growing in and not groomed anymore. (Not sure why it’s a lot of fun with nice scenery! Maybe track setter Jody knows why it’s been forgotten?) Used v30, temp round -9 with a skiff of fresh snow. We popped out on the trail to Watridge lake then skied back to car. Lots of fun had by all! (especially my nine year old who led most of the way).

  36. Fish Creek

    OK, it’s not the mountains, it’s not the most physically challenging, but if you are in Calgary and don’t have the time/energy/gas money to head to the mountains, skiing in Fish Creek Park along the creek is great right now. At least until we get a chinook, conditions are great. Nice skier set tracks, decent coverage, lots of wildlife. No excuses to stay inside.

  37. We just spent a couple of days in Waterton Lakes National Park and we skied into the brand new ACC Hut, the Cameron Lake Hut. It was a fabulous hut for ski touring. 2km in to the hut on the Cameron Lake Road which was relatively flat and had been freshly track set. From the hut it was another 0.3km (approximately) to the lake from where you could go further towards Summit Lake if you were on touring skis. You could also ski back half a kilometre and ski to Akamina Pass (again on touring skis.)
    We just spent one night at the hut so didn’t stray too far from it, but it was a great place to take kids for an easy backcountry ski trip.
    Not too many huts that are accessible by a track set trail that’s only 2km in distance.

  38. Very busy early morning on Trans Canada heading west to the ski hills. Cautious defensive driving and we were stopped for ten minutes east of Louise with crumpled van being lifted onto tow truck. Kicking Horse Trail had about 5 cms of fresh snow on it so fun playing on it in pristine track-setting. Groomer was out already laying corduroy on Kicking Horse as we were returning to the car at Natural Bridge. After visiting my favorite store at Emerald Lake and checking that the trail on the lake had been tracked we all enjoyed the excellent conditions on both the Horse Trail and Fan, thanks to the efforts of their volunteer groomers.

  39. CASCADE VALLEY
    The Cascade Valley was a busy place today…. Christmas isn’t over yet:
    https://picasaweb.google.com/110857225306442901854/CascadeValley05?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCIrKl_azm4OtggE&feat=directlink
    The Christmas decorations continue to make this a joyful ski.
    Great conditions with the recent tracksetting and last night’s fresh dusting of snow.

    • Sweet! I don’t think I’ve seen that star before. We have skied the Cascade road on Christmas Day two or three times, and been enchanted by the decorations! How long has that been going on??

  40. Confederation Golf Course was a happening place this afternoon — plenty of skiers, a few snowshoers fastidiously avoiding ski tracks, and the sledding crowd enjoying the hill at the SE corner. The snow coverage was good, tracks decent, and even some powder to be found. Who could ask for more? Oh! There was more — a new porta-potty in the main parking lot!
    I saw a groomer out plying his trade as well, just applying a “soft roller”?

  41. West Bragg Creek
    East Crystal- Sundog- Loggers Loop- West Crystal
    Rather than chance the K-Country-in-the-snow situation, Niece Tawndra and I opted to stay close and try West Bragg, and it was a great choice. Temperature steady at -6, snow falling all the while. (V-30 worked great) Snow was silky smooth. Tracks were well loved. Parking lot full by 10:55.
    No conditions were perfect today, yet somehow the total was far more than the sum of all the parts. It was one of the best days we have had in a long time, and from the friendly greetings we received on the trail and the smiles and good cheer in the parking lot, everyone seemed to be of the same opinion. Sometimes everything just clicks!

    • In addition to the loop you described above Pat we added in Moose Loop which was very good. There must have been late night tracks Ettinger on the 27th as moose still had well defined tracks. Amazing that even though the parking lot was full of skiers, bikers, snowshoes and dogs it just didn’t seem busy on the trails

      • Hey, Bernard. We avoided Moose Loop as we had heard rocks were showing thru in places. Oh well, maybe next time. You are totally right about the busy-ness of the trails. Near the parking lot, it was crowded, but up in the hills, we were often the only ones in sight.

        • Pat we did Moose Loop again today and there were no rocks just more snow. The only caution I have is that there is thin snow covered on the ice flow at the north end of the loop. Some are skiing over the bridge to miss the ice but like Bob mentioned other than that the conditions are amazing right now in WBC

  42. Went to Pipestone today. -12 in the parking lot. A couple of cm’s of new snow. The trail was in really good shape. As we were leaving the magical Parks Canada trail setters were just setting out. It will be even better tomorrow!

  43. Want to burn off holiday excesses, have a great ski but not drive too far.? Try Confederation or Shaganappi Golf courses in Calgary. Very good conditions right now. Skier set after today’s snowfall but tracks et on a regular basis by volunteers( thanks!)

    • The tracks were set late this afternoon at Confed, thanks Rayner and Foothills Nordic. Just enough snow fell, but there are some thin spots on the grass.

      • Is there night skiing in Confederation? Up to what time do you suppose people are allowed to ski there? I would love to ski after work.

        • You can ski there at night, but you should bring a headlamp. The only place with lighting is around the Christmas light display, which is kind of fun to ski past, but the snow gets packed down from people walking there.

  44. There was a vehicle injury collision on the road to West Bragg yesterday afternoon – just a reminder for caution with all the additional skier/biker/snowshoer vehicle traffic. I saw a couple moose just on the side of the road last week, another reason to drive more slowly. However, skiing conditions were great on Crystal and Loggers.

  45. Mountain Road to Mountain View trail of WBC Trail. As stated on the sign at the end of the Mountain Road trail and the beginning of the Mountain View Trail, please use caution. The conditions were excellent yesterday (December 27) with the trail nicely groomed and quite quiet given the number of cars in the parking lot. However, curiosity got the better of me and I went past the “Caution Marginal Conditions” sign. After climbing on a nice trail for about 800 meters, the trail begins a descent that allows for some good speed. After make a gradual right turn, I hit a section with much gravel and jutting out rocks. I catapulted forward…hitting the ground very hard. No broken bones, but much soreness today and a commitment to paying attention to the signage. Lesson learned.

    • Ouch! Hope you and your skis are okay?!
      We have encountered that section also, but going very slowly so managed to avoid disaster. We might try the reverse direction next time.

  46. Did Telephone Loop yesterday at WBC. There was not much for a defined trail. Be warned: there are rocks poking through thin snow on a few of the hills. My bases took a bit of a pounding.

  47. Just because we believe in Christmas miracles it was off to Sandy McNabb again because, for some strange reason, I do not follow my own trip reports. Anyhoo, zip, nada, nothing to report as far as grooming or track setting. Cross country skiers are considered world wide to be a highly intellectual group of individuals, Menza material if you will, so it was no surprise that we were the only skiers at Sandy. The rest were following the advice of all the trip reports and enjoying fantastic conditions. We did come across a couple on snowshoes who, in spite of the lack of grooming or track setting, were diligently trying to stay to the side of the skier (ours) tracks. Not only were these well informed people being very respectful of the tracks, they also loved our dogs so the bonding was, of course, instantaneous. Otherwise, we had these very marginal conditions all to ourselves. We are off to Kimberley for some Nordic and Alpine skiing until duty calls and I am back at work. Not sure if anyone is interested in conditions out in that neck of the woods but the x-country trails that are maintained by the Nordic club are pretty much always in pristine condition. Sadly, no dogs allowed and, something that is foreign to Albertans, a user fee is charged. To anyone not in the know, a 3km torchlight ski (well, you can go round and round as much as you like) on New Year’s Eve has been organized in previous years and we are hoping to enjoy the same this Thursday. Something almost medieval about skiing by torchlight but a beautiful way to bring in 2016. On that note, Happy New Year to all!!

  48. Castle Lookout to Baker Creek. Great conditions on recent tracksetting. Temps -15 to start, warming to -9 mid day. There is no tracksetting west of Baker Creek and older tracksetting east of Castle lookout. Lots of snow on the trees and great to see several people out on the trail.

    • Great to meet you today Chuck. We can back on Lower Telemark and it was truly amazing. Thanks for giving the “ladies” a lift to the Chateau while we waited for the tow truck to arrive to open our locked car. We were pretty chilly by the time he arrived.

      What to ski tomorrow? CFR, Pipestone or Goat Creek???

  49. BANFF – Cave and Basin to Sundance Canyon
    Set off at about 1.30pm today from the trailhead. Temperature gauge read -7C, but with the reported 70km/hr winds it felt more like -20C until we got to the hill before the canyon!
    Heading west from Cave and Basin, the tracks are in fairly good shape for the first 1km, then fair-poor for the next 1km along the river where snow has blown into them. They improve back to ‘good’ for the last 1.5km up to the canyon.
    Excellent snow coverage with only a couple of minor patches of tree debris.
    If any of the overnight snow materializes the tracks will surely needs some tracksetting…

  50. Skied Goat Creek expecting one-day-old tracksetting. Unless I’m losing my mind or unless there were a LOT of people out yesterday, that was not one-day-old tracksetting. Pleasant day anyway.

    • Goat creek tracksetting gets beat up within one day, especially on a weekend. I was there today, too, and it wasn’t too bad once you got out a few km.

  51. Decided to ski Bill Milne today in case the forecasted warm weather later this week degraded the trail. Started from Wedge pond, intending to ski Evan Thomas before crossing the highway, the trial isn’t skiable beyond the bridge, some unplanned hiking on icy rocks followed by lots of lumpy / bumpy skiing eventually ended at he parking lot and highway crossing.Expecting variable conditions I took waxless skies, I wasn’t disappointed, the remaining trail to Ribbon Creek was a bit of everything from good tracks to blown in and some ice, but overall a nice ski on a trail that often isn’t skiable all winter. Best conditions between Wedge pond and Mount Kid \

    I like to put my skis on just once per day, lost count how many time I had to take my skis off to cross roads and fallen tress on Evan Thomas!

  52. Sundance Lodge for lunch at noon, leaving in -13 at 9:30 am. Great snow especially past the Healy Creek turnoff. There is one part of this new Healy Creek trail that gets yucky snow on it from the big snowplows so one needs to tip toe across that short section which is closest to the Sunshine Road. Snow on Sundance Trail has a nice track and the rest groomed. No evidence of snow-shoers today and no ridge to concern oneself about on the lovely fast ski out. Met Stephen from Cape Breton, who is the chef there and he told us of the terrific meal he was preparing for his 8 guests who we saw no evidence of all day-I got back to the car at Sunshine Road at 1:30 while my friends skied to Cave n Basin and no sign of them on that longer route either. Sure hope they get up to the lodge before sunset !!!! The smell of the fire as we approached the Lodge was nose-worthy and sight-worthy were the lemon meringue pies he had just cooked. We decided we want to overnight there some time. Stephen has the unique job of being the one man custodian, chef, bartender, housekeeper, trouble shooter, groomer and track-setter, although he has someone to go grooming beyond the lodge with so they don’t get stranded and to spell him off for some “time out”. We looked for the curious pine marten that Chuck photographed early Dec. but Stephen saw a wolf last night in the horse paddock. Head up there Bob-you won’t be disappointed.

  53. West Bragg Creek…
    Just did the loop East Crystal Line – Iron Springs – Elbow – Sundog
    Great conditions and the track is holding up well where it has not recently been redone.
    Huge crowds in the parking lot at 1 pm so maybe things will change by the end of the day …

  54. Just finished a really enjoyable skate ski session at tunnel mountain… great conditions and terrain for developing/improving skate technique. For rookie skaters like us, it’s exactly what we need. Bit of a chilly breeze starting out but once in the shelter of the trees, it was perfect.

  55. Dec 26 PLLP Pocaterr

    Skied this yesterday early afternoon part way to packers beyond the junction with Lynx. Tracks were in great shape, albeit a bit worn. It was -14c when we left the parking lot, VR40, and had one of our best skis this year. Great skis no wind at all while we were out and simply a great afternoon. Came back and hopped on come along as well which was also still in great shape. Out with our oldest daughter Renee, and my FIL Gerry, and thanks to his eagle eyes and comments from another skier we also spotted a Moose having a nap just off the trail on the way back! She was having a bit of a lie down down a small side trail just down from the dbl pocaterra trail sign as you come back towards the parking lot from the pocaterra Lynx junction, and just about 100m before the first junction with pocaterra and come along. Fantastic ski all around!

  56. WEST BRAGG CREEK
    Our gamble in the “where’s the warmer air” lottery paid off, when we chose to go to West Bragg Creek today. The car thermometer got down to -20C at one point on the drive out, but it was only -13C at the West Bragg Creek parking lot. We opted for the Moose Loop, since it’s in the sun most of the way. By the time we were half way around Moose Loop, the temperature had warmed to -6C, so we decided to keep going, all the way around the new Mountain View West trail. Overhead, the tell-tale shapes of a building Chinook clouds indicated that warmer air was on it’s way. By the time we got part way around Mountain View West, the temperature topped out at -4C!
    As we returned along Mountain Road, Mountain View and West Crystal Line, the temperatures dropped steadily. Back at the parking lot, it was -9C.
    At this point, it’s a good idea to go around Mountain View West in a counter clockwise direction. There are a couple of thin areas, with gravel just below the new snow, but you’ll be crossing these areas in the uphill direction, if you start from Moose Loop. With the exception of those spots, the trails are all in great shape.
    You’ll recognize Steve and Joanne Riggs and their dog Tikka, in some of these photos.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=112757355578245802406&target=ALBUM&id=6232807759738797297&authkey=Gv1sRgCMy4zqGkvM6h_QE&feat=email

    • Lovely! Thanks for posting all those wonderful photos. You had a better day than I did.

      • John Roberts ~ FNSC

        Thanks for this report… also skied WBC yesterday… great trail conditions and weather.
        Also met Groomer Bill 🙂 out on East Crystal Line. Sincere thanks to Bill for grooming up to 50-60 km of trails in one outing, on this scenic trail system!
        Crystal line trails had fast glide and lots of double poling fun!

  57. Skogan’s Pass Boxing Day

    So what if the thermometer read -20? Hey! We’ve had much worse and at least the sun was shining. With only that for motivation, Ivo and I met at 10 a.m. and drove to Nakiska to ski Skogan’s Pass. It was a Swix Green day and slow at that, but the trip down took only 40 min and the lack of wind meant that we were actually shedding layers going up. Views at the top were postcard perfect and the track was in great shape. I’d do it again tomorrow if it was an option.

    Happy trackin’

  58. Winsport COP loop – After 3 weeks of bedrest with a sinus infection/ viral infection I went for a quick ski on the newly opened COP trails. I’m hoping it was slow because of the cold and my sickness…… but it was slow. Classic tracks are great and snow has full coverage. I’m assuming lots of the snow coverage is manmade so that may be why it felt a bit slow.

  59. Skied a loop at the south end of PLPP today. The grooming from Dec 17/22 is holding up surprisingly well, very pleasant skiing.

  60. Cascade fire road and Bankhead trails in great shape. Looked to be freshly groomed within the last twenty four hours.

  61. Christmas Day Delight

    So I decided to cook the turkey next week……….
    The four of us drove out to Banff yesterday afternoon. As the sun set, we skied a few km up the Spray River east side. Beautiful white snow, with a multitude of tracks, each in its own proper place, made for some lovely skiing. “Sweet dreams are made of this…”
    After a fabulous dinner at Ticino’s, we headed up to Lake Minnewanka for a moonlight ski down the road to Upper Bankhead. Bundled up and moving, we were not bothered by the cold at all, but wished for a little less shade from the big trees! The snow was just about perfect. It seemed to have been recently groomed, with only two pairs of bootprints visible in the middle. Such a treat to be surrounded by snowy, moon-washed mountains on such a beautiful night.
    Matthew obligingly wore the Santa hat, but we did not see another soul on either trail, not even a mouse 🙂

  62. I went to PLPP today. With current temperatures so low I was pessimistic. I was expecting eye watering cold and semi frozen face but this was not the case this time. On arrival at 1pm temperature was -7C. I had the place for myself practically, 7 cars at Pocaterra 1 at Elkwood and 1 at Boulton. Blue sky and windless. Fresh snow covers the very good grooming. I put some Swix V30 and VR40 on but had to scrape some off it was too much grip and little glide. On the return trip home I saw full moon in dark yellow over city horizon. Thanks to motorists for creating the smog Calgary looked like a Christmas tree with fog patches mixed in. It was truly great day.
    Have a Merry Christmas everybody.

  63. WEST BRAGG CREEK
    West Bragg Creek got several Christmas presents. It snowed about 4 cm on Christmas Eve. Volunteer groomer, Bill went out on one of the two ailing snowmobiles and groomed many of the trails, including Iron Springs, the Crystal Lines, Mountain View, Mountain Road, Moose Connector, Moose Loop, Mountain Road, Loggers and Sundog. Then it snowed another 3-4cm on top of that!
    Then, I understand that Santa dropped off a new piece of grooming machinery, which may be ready for operations in a few days!
    It briefly warmed up to -14C this afternoon. That was enough to allow for some good XC skiing, as long as you dressed warm enough and kept moving.
    Todays loop included West Crystal Line, Loggers Loop, Elbow, Iron Springs, Sundog and East Crystal Line. Very good conditions all the way around!
    https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=112757355578245802406&target=ALBUM&id=6232413900172226977&authkey=Gv1sRgCIOUt6ub1dXb6wE&feat=email

  64. EMERALD ALLUVIAL FAN LOOP
    Christmas Eve we enjoyed the track setting on this sunny loop.
    Great for a family outing.
    Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas

  65. Skied another Wheeler, Lynx, Pocaterra, Tyrwhitt , Elk, Fox, Moraine loop today, very quiet in PLPP today only saw a dozen other skiers. Snow temp was -12, VR30 worked well over the whole loop, good to excellent tracks with a few cms of fresh snow, Happy Christmas!

    • Skied PLPP today as well and agreed it was quiet, only meet a few skiers. The tracks on the valley trails were slow with the new snow. Happy Christmas to all and to all a great ski.

  66. Was out in West Bragg Creek this afternoon with my boys and our retriever. Was a great way to burn off a little pre-Christmas excitement with a counter-clockwise Iron Springs, Sundog and Elbow loop. Being locals, we went on at the groomers trailhead, missed the parking lot mayhem, and avoided the area with the dog-on-leash rules. The dog is happily near-comatose as I write this.

    Our wax choice of V20 was not warm enough and in places was a little slippery in the two inches of new fallen fine snow. Should have tried V30 or VR30. On Iron Springs, we met up with hard working nearby resident Bill who was on the one remaining functional groomer – we are all thankful for the operators’ efforts.

    Merry Christmas to all.

  67. An early Christmas present for West Bragg- several cm’s of light new snow 🙂
    This afternoon, I skied up Sundog W, around Crystal E , up Sundog E to Loggers, then to Mountain View and Road, finishing up on Moose connector and Lower west Crystal. Excellent smooth soft skiing was had, mostly on new snow covering various ages of prior grooming. Tracksets were generally in decent shape and coverage was great with no hazards observed. There was some fresh grooming of the new snow on east Sundog which continued south on Iron Springs, which I did not ski on. Waxing couldn’t have been easier, with only a smidgen of VR 30 needed in the cold snow.

  68. So we stomped into the woods on the east side of Boundary Ridge today to find a Christmas tree. Accordingly ths is not a ski trip report but we did walk on the mysterious trail not marked on any map starting from the trackset equipment storage place. We parked the truck at the little pullout used by locals and those “in the know”.
    So anyway, the lower bit of the trail was well packed and trackset (minus our footprints!) with new snow. At lower elevations, the older snow is a bit hard, faceted and thin, but the depth and condition improved as you get higher up.
    So that was a long comment for very little information!

  69. Ribbon Creek Trails

    Ray Potvin and I skied most of the south trails starting at Ribbon Creek today, essentially following Skier Bob’s itinerary of the 23rd (including Kovach, Terrace, Aspen, Link and Ribbon Creek). A skiff of new snow helped with grab on the uphills. I was using some old Swix green (-8 to -15 new snow) that worked very well, but does come off easily on the icier downhill sections.

    Bob’s video of Ribbon Creek looks…er…exhilarating. In fact, it underestimates the “thrill”, I believe. Ray thought it a good idea to do it starting from the Link junction rather than the parking lot. This was a great idea! In fact, I would NOT advise people to do it from the parking lot unless conditions are excellent and they are pretty advanced. Just my opinion, but I think it’s got some very challenging spots.

    Anyway, with the cold, we had the trails almost to ourselves. That will likely change as the weather warms.

    Merry Christmas to all!

  70. Skied upper Goat Creek to Goat pond return. Parked at Goat Creek parking lot and skied down the Goat Creek Trail to the BNP boundary. Fresh dusting of snow made it easier to ski on the hard packed trail. VR30 worked well but the fresh snow made for slow downhills
    Turned left at the boundary and skied down to creek and over the new bridge at the lift station. This downhill stretch to the creek is somewhat narrow and could be a luge track so be careful.
    Once across,we skied the trail counterclockwise. This entails skiing up the hill in front of you after crossing the creek. As you go up the hill, the trail return is one your left along the creek . The dogsleders are actively using the trail now and we met three teams as we skied the upper trail. Be sure to step off the trail when the approach as they are not all that moverable. The sleds leave large gouges in the track as they descend with brake on so going against the flow is a good idea. The dogsleders also have a lunch spot with firepits, tables etc on the bottom portion of the loop.
    As this is a mulit use trail you will meet snowshoers, fat bikes, hikers and dog sleds. Trip time today was 2h 45m We have done this in 2h We skied on light touring metal edges.
    BTW The Goat creek trail in BNP is totally flattened out by snowshoers Only a semblance of tracks are left

  71. Groomer Jeff set up a very good trail on Bill Milne; 8 of us, including 2 mothers and 3 daughters, skied it by moonlight at 7pm tonight (-12) starting right at the turnoff to Nakiska before the bridge. We turned off our headlamps and just enjoyed the beauty of the open terrain and variety of trees, skiing to the bright lights at the entrance to the Golf Course. The Christmas trees lit up at the Lodge looked beautiful from below. Highly recommended visitors at the Lodge taking a spin down there tomorrow night when there might even be some new snow in the tracks and an even bigger moon to ski under. Merry Christmas and thank you Bob and Cheryl for making this blog possible.

  72. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Elk Pass parking lot to Bolton Bridge, Moraine, Wheeler and William Watson Lodge.
    As per Mary Perrott, a very cold day. As per a previous report, we had done this from the other direction the day before when it was warmer and the snow was excellent. Imagine our surprise to arrive the next day to find the trails regroomed and retracked, hard and almost icy, making the downhills fast and very dependant on a skier’s edges. The overnight drop in temperature, combined with the mixing of snow caused by the grooming had caused the trail to become harder and faster. So this is an instance where a trail became worse from grooming rather than better. There is probably not much can be done about this as tracking and grooming is probably subject to a schedule rather than actual conditions and the new trail is now ready for any new snow that might arrive. A warming in temperature will soften the trail too. So this is not so much a criticism, as an advisory that these trails are a little on the fast side at this time.

  73. Skied the Canmore Nordic Centre last evening (Dec 22nd, 5:40pm). Coverage is still good although the tracks could use some freshening up. The tracks have seen a lot of traffic and it’s showing. Rundle and Silvertip had a fair amount of cones and debris in the tracks.

    • Tracks were freshly groomed when we skied this morning. They also had a pistonbully smoothing the man made snow leading down (at junction 19) to the ‘teardrop’ or ‘sweatdrop’ entrance to Bow trail. I would say that the access to Bow trail from Banff loop will be in great shape by Thurs. However, check grooming report Thurs. am.

  74. Tuesday I skied the Moose loop and a bit of West Mountainview trails at Brag Creek. The snow was hard and crunchy in the early morning -15 C temperatures after a fairly warm day Monday. I found the trail well skied but almost bullet proof so they should hold up to the traffic fairly well. There were a couple skied off area on the hills on Moose loop. West Mountainview trail started out very promising ( I joined it off of Moose loop) with the odd rock showing through but soon deteriorated to very sketchy in an exposed area where the wind has scoured the snow away. After picking my way through I met a fellow coming the other way who said there was a lot of damage to the trail and dirt showing (he suggested maybe logging activity?) so I turned back and completed Moose loop. So West Mountainview could use a good snow for a refresh.
    I love the trail system at West Brag Creek though and will ski there more when it gets good snow! If you ski there be sure to donate to the volunteer group that maintains the trails.

    • Definitely no logging activity happening at Bragg Creek.
      It’s snowing lightly this morning at West Bragg Creek, go the trails are getting a tiny bit of a refresh.

  75. Just saw Lawrence posted about Maple Ridge golf course but thought I would add my two cents worth. The golf course was track set last week along with Confed. thanks to the volunteer efforts of Foothills Nordic. When I skied there last week it was hard to ski in the tracks due to grass coming through. Since then we had a skiff of snow and tracks have been well skied in resulting in fast great conditions on almost 5 km of tracks. . Beware of a few thin areas and a few gravel spots. During the festive season it is great to be able to get out for a quick ski in the park before eating too much again. Seasons greeting to all.

  76. Winter Solstice on a Boreal Forest Trail – Rocky Lane Ski Club, Fort Vermillion. I hit the trail at sunrise (which was 9:40 today)! There is a really pretty series of trails along the Boyer River (I think). I skated today but there is also classic tracks set. On weekends (and holiday week) there is a small rental shop and indoor washrooms. A great side trip if you are in the area. I found it easily via the geotourismcanada.com page when googling Rocky Lane Nordic.

  77. Found lost pair of skis and poles. If you lost a pair of skis at Maple Ridge Golf Course, please let me know so I can get them back to you.

    Maple Ridge Golf Course: Good conditions, grooming has held up even though lots of traffic . Watch for fallen tree branches and a few thin spots. I was able to double-pole the entire course nearly three times without incident; fast and a little icy.

    Laurence
    403-245-8366.

    • Hello Lawrence!
      I left my classic solomon skis with old white poles at Maple Ridge golf course yesterday (Dec 22)
      I have a two year old who was not up for being pulled in the chariot at all yesterday, she was being very dramatic, and loud!
      So when I loaded her and the chariot up into my car I most have left the skis. They would have been on the inside of the fence!!!
      I would be forever grateful to get them back 🙂
      THANK YOU!!!!!
      Being that it is Christmas I can wait till boxing day or later if needed.

  78. Another COLD start to a ski day (-19C at William Watson Lodge and -10C at 2 pm). The blue skies and calm winds made things bearable though, and we enjoyed the new track set and grooming on Wheeler, a taste up Packers, and Amos before returning to WWL for lunch in a warm environment. After lunch we ventured on older tracks on Lodgepole, which was actually great, and then back along Meadow to Elkwood and to WWL. Warning for those who don’t like breathing in smoke – there were brush fires near the Visitor Centre that were burning as we skied by. Luckily, we managed to miss most of the smoke, but judging by the piles of slash awaiting burning, there may be smoke for some time to come.

  79. Skied a short loop at Kananaskis Village around Terrace and Aspen with a gaggle of kids.
    Tracks are getting a bit icy but the hills are still in good shape.
    There are a few natural hazards where trees have littered on the tracks with needles and cones but all in all, great destination for a short day trip and I’m not going to complain since we actually have snow this year for Christmas.

  80. Skied from Castle Mt Lookout to Baker Creek Chalets and back today. All track set and superb……cold but superb.

  81. All the trails of the Pipestone Loop were groomed and track set today. Despite the frigid temperatures and being a little nippy at -16C for a 12:30 start, there was no wind and the day was glorious. Don’t let the thermometer stop you from getting out. It was still -16C when I finished at 3:30. VR30 worked perfectly.

    • Ditto to Nancy’s comments. Minus 21 at 10:15 am. Minus 14 at 2:15
      Blue Pipestone up had new track-setting and met the two FEMALE groomers @ Merlin junction!! We skied Merlin to check out the sunshine on that side of the lake for lunch. What makes the “SkierBob” family so terrific is that I actually got to ski with Duane Kohut and his wife Carol today (after meeting them this past w/e) and he took lots of great pictures. We agreed I would post and he would add his pictures. I loved the beautiful dog we saw, wearing the gaitor-type dog booties.

  82. Any reports on whether Shaganappi or Confed has grooming or tracksets?

    Am thinking of getting the kidlets out for a quick outing, without committing to a bigger drive. Besides, Confed has the nice Christmas lights at night now which is a treat to ski around (except for all the foot traffic).

  83. Not a mountain trip report but I promised Skier Bob I would start posting more frequently again so here goes! Skied with my two girls through Bowness park and Baker park in n.w. Calgary and managed to do a 12.5 km loop ski which was a lot of fun and conditions were pretty good. Nicest thing was it was a five minute walk from our house to where we started skiing so no driving today!

  84. The kids and I enjoyed an easy loop along Terrace and Aspen trails near Kananaskis Village. The air was mild but the snow was still reasonable. This is a great practice trail for novice skiers.

  85. Redearth Creek, re-told

    Redearth Creek trail is in fine condition. We followed the venerable tracks of Chuck and Jeanette, and skied all the way to the Warden Cabin today. The upper part of the trail is a lovely revelation.
    Returning, it was surprisingly smooth sailing down to the Lost Horse campground, especially considering all the holes in the snow! The final few kilometres were a bit rougher and more bumpy. Kudos to the skiers who snowplowed before us, helping to smooth things out. We added a fair bit of smoothing also! A raspberry to the one who walked down at least 4 km. The boot holes were mostly small and not terribly damaging, but definitely not helpful.
    The multi-use trail has other challenges too, like trying to stay in or near the tracks, which are on the far right as you go up, and conversely far left as you descend. That is weird!
    We only saw two other skiers on the trail today. Air temps between -5 and -10, snow temps -10 to -14 if my thermometer can be believed.

  86. I followed the masses to West Bragg Creek today.
    Arrived there around noon and still found tons of parking though.
    We just did some easy loops on the south side (skiing with kids. Conditions were perhaps not “prime” but for those who don’t want to drive all the way to Louise or PLPP, it was definitely still enjoyable and I don’t mind skiing over the occasional pine needle or branch in my way. Hills were not terribly icy which was good to see and tracks were still generally well defined.

  87. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
    Good conditions from William Watson Lodge to Wheeler and Moraine.

  88. Ahhh, the magic of Tyrwhitt!

    Sun dappled meadows with a skiff of lite, dry gossamer on top of a near pristine track. …Utopia

  89. After reading Alf’s report of Telephone Loop I decided to give it a spin today. I tried last year and ran out of snow at one point and turned around. I used light touring skis with metal edges and they came in handy on the winding downhills. On one twisty down hill I quickly came up to two people on snowshoes with dogs taking up the entire trail. They did scramble out of the way at the last second after I shouted out, but it was close and the metal edges helped me keep control. As I threaded the needle between humans and dogs their exasperated comments indicated that they had no idea how fast a cross country skier moves when going downhill. Not sure what else to say but be full aware while skiing at Bragg Creek that there could be someone in the middle of the trail around every corner.

    It is too bad that parks did not complete the grooming and track setting on the west side of the loop. I wonder if the GBCTA could just do it for them. I would consider most of the trip to be in fair to good condition with just enough snow cover but there are a few rock hazards. Completed my ski with a counter clockwise ski around Moose Loop and Mountain Road to the parking lot. Overall a good 20 km workout.

    • WEST TELEPHONE LOOP
      Alberta Parks staff were at West Bragg Creek and groomed the west half of Telephone Loop. So, it should be smooth corduroy (but no track-set), for the Christmas break.

  90. Pipestone Delight December 21, 2015

    Today the conditions at Pipestone were super excellent. My best ski day this year. It was -10 when I started and ended the day. Had blue wax on the whole time and it worked out exceptionally well. Hardly saw anyone. Everything about the time spent there was Perfect!!

  91. Glorious day! PLPP Parked at Boulton and skied Boulton, Fox Creek, up Elk pass Tyrwhitt and back down Whiskey Jack.
    New snow in the tracks ranging from a dusting up on Tyrwhitt to almost filling the tracks along Elk pass Trail. Trail breaking wasn’t onerous at the stuff was fluffy!
    Lots of skiers out there but not really busy.
    One comment: We broke trail all the way up Elk pass in the right hand track and along most of Tyrwhitt. However on Elk pass there was quite a lot of up tracking in the left lane. Certainly would not want to be sifting down in the right lane meeting this large group. Ski to the right folks! Even along Tyrwhitt the left lane was skied in and the right was untouched. We did pass two groups of skiers who were travelling in the left lane and moving over when a skier approached. Not sure what they had against the right lane…….

  92. West Bragg Creek-Telephone Loop
    Many of todays other trip reports mentioned how quiet the trails were… well I think I know where everyone went! I arrived at West Bragg Creek parking lot at 9:30am and was actually able to find a spot for my van. By the time I finished waxing my skis, cars were starting to park along the access road. By the end of the day, cars were parked on both sides of the road all the way back to the Kananaskis Country entrance (about 1 km).
    People were heading off in every direction on skis, on fat-bikes, on snowshoes and on foot, being towed by dogs or towing chariots. Amazing!
    I headed up Hostel Meadow, then Hostel Loop and onto Telephone Loop.
    It was -10C, chillier than expected, at the parking lot, but quickly warmed to -5C at Snowshoe Hare junction and -2C at Long Distance junction. There was a Chinook arch overhead, so the temperature change was no surprise.
    We saw a few skiers on Hostel Loop and glimpsed a few snowshoers on the nearby Snowshoe Hare trail, but once we got onto east Telephone Loop, we had the place to ourselves.
    Most of east Telephone was nicely groomed, better south of Disconnect junction and a bit less so up to the Long Distance junction. West Telephone Loop, beyond Long Distance, was merely snowmobile packed. It looked as if the Alberta Parks crew just gave up grooming and headed for home. Hopefully they’ll come back to do a proper job of grooming and track setting before Christmas.
    Upon reaching the Braggin’ Rights junction, we saw scores of fat-bikes heading for Reconnect or Merlin View. Once onto Moose Loop and Mountain Road, there was a steady flow of skiers heading both ways. Great to see so many people enjoying themselves on a mild and sunny day!
    https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=112757355578245802406&target=ALBUM&id=6230615752624964401&authkey=Gv1sRgCPb26LDMrIPaHg&feat=email

  93. Goat Creek – Banff return
    The tracks are significantly damaged, more on the Goat Creek side, less but dirtier in the Spray Loop West area. However, it’s started snowing at 4pm, so others who go there this week may find the trails revitalized.
    -5 C, no wind, fast tracks, slightly icy downhills today. Swix LF7 gliding wax + V40 Blue Extra + V45 Violet Special kick waxes.
    I think it was Bob’s advice not to put any kick wax for the part of the trail from the Goat Creek parking lot to Goat Creek Bridge. I follow his advice and it helps saving on wax and gaining in speed 🙂

  94. 1A is great! Skied from Castle Lookout to Protection Mountain and back today. It is in great shape and nobody is out there (I ran in to a total of 4 people). Didn’t have enough time to make it to Baker Creek today, heard it is in great shape though!

    • We skied this section on the weekend. It definitely was fantastic! Some of the best grooming and track setting we’ve found this winter. We continued on to Castle Junction which sadly, was not in such great condition and was much harder. Should have done the Baker Creek section instead.

  95. REDEARTH CREEK – SHADOW LAKE
    Finally trackset (for the first 7 km)… today was the day.
    Don, Banff’s Tracksetter has not only set the track but also cleared the overhanging bush all the way to Redearth Cabin.
    If you choose to climb the short hill towards Shadow Lake, you will be rewarded with skiing on a simple skier set track through the best of nature:
    https://picasaweb.google.com/110857225306442901854/RedearthCreekShadowLake?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCKvf5evM3sm2VQ&feat=directlink

  96. I skied the Bill Milne trail from Wedge Pond to Centennial Drive crossing and back. The trail is still in good condition, tracks are getting a bit glazed to icy in a few spots. There’s a short 200m or so in the Mt. Kidd RV Campsite area thet has some needles, but it’s not too bad. It was a windy day and there was a little snow drifting into the tracks.

    Great trail for beginners, though the last 1km near Wedge Pond is too steep, so starting at the Ribbon Creek end or even the parking at the Golf Course (it that is actually open) would be better.

    Thanks for the meet-up event Bob, I enjoyed it!

  97. Jasper!
    Had a great opportunity to get up to Jasper for the weekend. Tried the Pyramid Lake Fire Road on Saturday. Not a lot of snow at the base, but enough for recent tracksetting. Very good higher up. The hills had just enough snow to make control really good on the desent.
    Sunday we skied Geraldine Lakes road. The tracksetting was often a bit too close to the insides of the corners forcing you to take the corners a bit wide (not a big issue). Fresh setting today (skate & classic). Pine needles causing some icing but overall very good conditions.

  98. PLPP Sunday, snow temp-7 @ Bolton Creek around noon, skied Wheeler, Lynx, Pocaterra, Tyrwhitt , Elk, Fox, Moraine in just perfect conditions, VR40 gave excellent grip throughout or was that my brand new awesome Fisher RCS skis (Santa really did arrive early with a very sweet deal from LifeSport), Fox Creek was exceptionally pretty, I even stopped and took a few pics, light snow towards the end of the day. All topped off by Skier Bob’s Xmas party, it really does not get any better than that. More power to you Bob!

  99. Cascade Valley. Ahh the Sunday night ski report. For all those Monday skiers out there. Well cheers to you indeed. Cascade is a bit of a secret I recon and despite the warm weather reports we found it perfectly cool and V40 worked well. Now the track is set to 14.5 km and I estimate that once you’re out there this is one of those great spots where there is no one around for miles. Then you get startled and passed by Olympian skate skiers. Well at least it’s mostly down ish on the way back but man oh man the track is wonky heading down the “big hill”. What a day!

  100. Did four loops on the Tunnel Mountain Campground trails practicing technique and double poling workouts on the relatively flat trails. A great set of trails that are well groomed and track set. All of this was under the watchful eye of a large bull elk in a clearing off the side of the trail. Waxed with Rode Weiss (-4 to -1) topped up with a thin layer of violet.

  101. Skied Moraine Lake Rd today Dec 20. Well groomed for skating and classic, very nice conditions, not crowded. 2 Cars when we started at 10am.
    Had a quick look at 1a. looked good for classic and sled dogs a bit lumpy for skating
    Cheers Peter D

  102. Canmore Nordic Centre: -5C Rex power grip wax. Parking lots were full by 9:30 and REALLY full by noon. Snow making still underway above stadium and a Biathlon race was in progress, so access to the rest of the trails was limited. However once you get beyond this, conditions on the available trails is good and the traffic thins out. Len was out again today grooming some of the original trails. IE Bruin (old 10K) Silvertip (rec 15) Tracks on the Naural snow need to be redone soon as they are getting glazed. The new warmup shelter on the mine scar “looks ” ready. I wonder if there is going to be a soft opening in time for the holidays?

    • It looks to me like there is quite a bit left to do on the hut. I looked at it yesterday.
      Great to hear Bruin was trackset! It needed some help. One of my favorite trails at CNC.

  103. Skied Bragg Creek today used VR45 it worked pretty good. The tracks are holding out pretty good but they need some snow and cooler weather.

  104. PLPP is in Great Shape

    After a month in Panama and reading all the reports of great XC conditions, I was anxious to get some snow under my feet. Yesterday was a downhill day, so with sore quads I headed out to K-Country this morning. As the thermometer read near zero at Ribbon Creek, I kept driving south and started at the Pocaterra Hut, where the temperature was -6. VR45 worked very well all day on fresh tracks, sometimes with a skiff of snow. The “loop” from the hut along Amos, Meadow and up Packers was a joy and coming down, of course, paradise. Surprisingly few people out but perhaps they are suffering through the Christmas shopping crowds. Their loss, eh?

    • Pretty much the same experience from Info Centre -Wooly- Wheeler-Meadow and back. Temp steady at -4 – a perfect blue-wax day. Tracks were not sharply incised. I would call them “gently loved.” Surprisingly few pine needles or litter in tracks despite wind gusts. Trails eerily quiet. Great to be out!

      • Just to complete the trail network report in PLPP, We started in Boulton this morning with only 6 or 7 cars in the parking lot. Tracksetting up the hill to the Moraine / Whiskey Jack junction were excellent. Whiskey jack itself was terrific. Tyrwhitt to Elk pass had a couple of cm of new snow but the tracks were in great shape. The hill down Elk pass was smooth and soft and then Elk pass was very quick. Fox Creek and Moraine are both holding their snow as well and we had a great run only seeing one other couple on that part of the loop. Temperatures at the visitor lodge on our way out at 3pm was – 6.

  105. Skied sandy mcnabb today. No sign of trackset anywhere and little sign of grooming either north or south of the highway. A couple of centimetres on the road so skied in a few kms. Headed down the river but little to no snow down there as well. Not sure where the live grooming report track set occurred. Good day for a hike! Always love sandy mcnabb!

  106. We drove to Sandy McNabb and checked out the trail conditions. The snow pack depths were very variable and the base was very thin, with logs and cow paddies protruding from the trail. The section of trail that we skied also didn’t seem to be trackset, although the skiinfo website indicated that they were trackset. We decided to cut our losses and ended up skiing Wedge Pond and Bill Milne instead, which were in good shape.

  107. We skied from Protection Mountain in Banff on hwy 1a back to Castle Junction. It was about 10km and we did it one way with kids. Dads skied back for the vehicles. Great ski if you are staying at the Castle Mt. Hostel. First section from Protection Mountain to Castle Mt. Lookout was fabulous! Track setting was great and skiing was easy. No idea why it shows up as blue on the map cause our kids had zero problems. Lovely scenery and possibly my new fav. Trail in Banff. The next section from the lookout back to Castle mountain junction though was a tough one!! I disagree with Parks Canada that it is a green trail. It was definitely a hard intermediate with some challenging hills. It has not been groomed or track set recently and snow was thin in spots.
    My suggestion is to ski out and back from Protection to Castle Mt. Lookout.

  108. Very good skiing in PLPP today. There is about an inch of fresh snow on Pocaterra trail and about 2 inches on Elkpass trail. There is no tree debris and snow is silky smooth. Blue waxing condition called for Swix VR40 kick wax which worked well. My car read -2C upon arrival and departure.

  109. Shadow Lk
    A salute to the groomer who groomed and trackset to Lost Horse Cr and packed the trail to Red Earth Cr cabin.
    There have now been a handful of people who have skied up to Shadow Lk lodge so the track is skier set at this point. I skinned up the big hill because they work so well. The final approach to the lodge follows the summer trail. I did break trail to the lake and along the north shore for a ways. As always, be ever cautious on this lake. There is always water under the snow on top of the ice – it is a question of where and how much. The water level will also change during the season. I probed the snow regularly and found slush in two places. Tomorrow, who knows. I turned around where a small drainage enters the lake. There were small pools covered with thin ice so that seemed like the place to stop. Perhaps one could carefully skirt farther onto the lake to get around these hazards.

  110. Did a late afternoon, early evening ski at West Bragg Creek today – out on crystalline then mountain road, mountain view and north side of moose loop. Back on mountain road to the parking lot. Great final ski along mountain road in the dusk with a half moon above.

    Mountain view is rough in places so the marginal conditions sign should be considered before doing it. Recommend taking skis off at one rocky spot and the tracks are shallow due to low snow cover in the upper parts. Interesting as the snow becomes less and less as the trail heads west and gains elevation. Like elsewhere, more snow would help.

    • We were there this afternoon too, and yes, unfortunately the wind has had it’s way with the south half of MV west. Wouldn’t highly recommend that bit. The north 2 km were still in good shape, as was the rest of our 20 km loop which also took in E Crystal-Loggers-Mountain View-Mountain Road, Moose south and various connectors. Would call conditions good or better overall- the tracks and steeper downhills are getting a bit worn though from all the traffic.

  111. Canmore Nordic Centre: overall good condition. The tracks are very fast and abrasive, even icy in spots, the snow old. Some tracks worn down. Little tree debris, but on some trails that hadn’t been groomed for a few days-like Bruin-there were a lot of pine cones. Wandering tracks syndrome on a few trails like upper Bruin and my favourite trail under the coal cut, which also has bush twig syndrome and dissapearing tracks syndrome!
    As mentioned the tracks are extremely fast verging on icy, making some hills (normally I seek out the steepest hills) a little nervous making. Much snow making on some trails and a few like Coyote are crudely packed and not trackset. In need of some snow.

  112. Skied various trails around Kananaskis Village today. Started at Wedge Pond, and skied a bit of the Wedge Connector before heading north on Bill Milne. The fairly new tracksetting was a bit icy, but covered with a dusting of snow so the skiing was enjoyable, even if the poleing was noisy. Around the Village, the various trails we skied generally had a softer feel for pleasant skiing. Exceptions were Link and upper Ribbon Creek, which were harder and a bit dirty with frequent little spruce cones. Lots of skiers out around the Village – many of them obviously beginners. Most were smiling. Temp -8C to start, -4C at mid-pm finish.

  113. Carol and I skied Whiskeyjack-Tyrwhitt-Elk Pass-Fox Ck-Moraine, and back to Boulton Bridge on Friday, and found it to be excellent! -7C, with a bit of new snow, windsift, and nice recent grooming on much of it. Some of it is as good as we’ve seen in years – especially before Christmas. We saw a 5 other people. Pictures at:
    http://www.grandviewchalet.com/blog/

  114. Cascade Fire Road stunning in the late afternoon light and warm, at -5. The tracks at this point are, shall we say, ‘well loved’ which made for a drunken dancing downhill on the way out. There are many post holes in the trail but not from a human, unless one has large hooves.

  115. CNC today. -10C Rex Power grip blue.
    Well the Nordic Centre is really back to hard pack snow on the Manmade and not as hard on the natural stuff. Hence the power grip. Still in great shape but in need of a dump.
    Tracks were clean (minimal pine needles ) Snow making on the race loops close to the stadium. No access back to stadium from Meadowview. We ran into Len on Coyote dragging the groomer. He was working on the more obscure trails today. Trails like Coyote,Bruin, Rundle really do need work.

  116. Lake O’Hara we had to ourselves today; minus 13 and snowing fairly heavily at 10:15. We three had our ASNES skis (thanks to the Norsemen) and waxing did the exclusive job for the 11 kms. Met the owners of the one other car in the parking lot who had spent the night in Liz Parker and were making fabulous turns on their wider AT skis in 3 cms of new powder. Ate on front deck of Le Relais after a short ski to the edge of the lake. We met a lot of people skiing in for a big birthday celebration so it should be a very fun place tonight. Took us 5 hours including lunch, and being only 3pm, we enjoyed each buying something on sale at our favorite Wilson’s store. Bruce has been out with the grooming machine to do a packing down of the top 1-2 kms. closest to the lodge. My favorite ski to date.

  117. PLPP
    To the report below I would add that more snow fell up high and with wind-blown tracks, Tyrwhitt and Elk Pass was slow going.

    • PLPP. Agreed – it was not fast skiing. Did 40+km from visitor center.
      Tucked straight down from elk pass, had to diagonal along the Creek!
      Fox & moraine were still fun!
      Sure looks like there’s enuf snow to reset Whiskey Jack?

  118. PLPP – skied Meadow, Wooley, Amos, Moraine, Fox Cr, Boulton Cr, Wheeler. Solid tracks with a skiff of new made for silky texture with blue wax. Very windy up high and in open areas so some wind sift in the tracks where exposed, some pine needles on Wheeler but not elsewhere. -10C at start, -4C at finish.

  119. Left Calgary this morning and weather network said it was -20 with wind chill. It was gloomy, socked in, overcast, and pretty bleak out. Arrived in Bragg Creek and God smiled down on me. Sunshine, ten degrees warmer, and no wind! Just goes to prove that Kananaskis is paradise and we all need to get out of the city regularly if not daily.
    Trails were great with a slight dusting of fresh snow overnight. Great coverage (even on Iron Springs and Elbow Loop.)
    Skiers can ignore the sign too that warns of marginal snow conditions on the Elbow/Iron Springs upper loop nearest Allen Bill. It’s fine. Perhaps a bit thinner according to other skiers who did it, but they reported that it was fine.
    We just did the shorter Elbow/Iron Springs loop with Sun Dog and East Crystal Line.
    Hills were all fabulous and ice-free. Easy to get up and down.

  120. Three days ago we did the Sunshine Rd. to Sundance Lodge and back. It’s trackset all the way now and in pristine condition.

  121. Did a big loop out in PLPP last night, the track on Fox Creek is the best I’ve ever seen it!

  122. West Bragg Creek
    Yes, West Bragg Creek was a busy place today, with everyone including XC skiers, snowshoers, fat-bikers, hikers, trail runners, dogs, and people of all ages from infants to seniors enjoying excellent conditions!
    I did a combination of loops on the trails north of the parking lot. Around Hostel Meadow-up west Hostel Loop, down east Telephone Loop, up east Hostel Loop, then up east Telephone Loop to the Long Distance junction, and all the way back down again on east Telephone Loop.
    Hostel Meadow is a short, flat 700m practice loop for skate skiing (with a classic track). Hostel Loop is a 3.7km intermediate classic XC ski loop that is narrow, winding, hilly… lots of fun in either direction. It is bisected by east Telephone Loop, so you can make any number of partial or figure-8 loops by combining the two.
    Telephone Loop is about 14km, if you go all around it. It is about 6 km to the junction with the Long Distance All-Season (hike, bike, snowshoe) trail. This east leg of Telephone Loop is interesting for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it is designed to become a bit more technically challenging with every kilometre that you go north. It starts off as an easy intermediate trail and becomes more hilly and twisty the farther you go. The other interesting aspect of this trail is that it is designated as both and XC ski trail AND as an all-season, multi-user trail. The way this is managed is that the trail is packed and groomed full width and a single classic XC track is set on the east side (right hand side heading north). The rest of the tread may be used by passing skiers, fat-bikers, snowshoers or hikers.
    Walkers generally go as far as Snowshoe Hare junction (2 km), snowshoers sometimes continue to the Disconnect junction (3.5km) and Fat-bikers will use east Telephone as a return from Long Distance (6 km). The trail traffic drops by about half at every junction. Beyond Long Distance, it’s just an XC ski trail.
    I think it’s a good example of how trail and grooming design can make it possible for all users to share a trail system.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=112757355578245802406&target=ALBUM&id=6229493558548105825&authkey=Gv1sRgCOKcxtLgrOSNhwE&feat=email
    Hostel Loop, Hostel Meadow and Telephone Loop were all groomed and track set today, so conditions were excellent!

  123. It was a wee bit snappy out there this evening my friends but the trails at WBC were simply marvelous! I did Iron Springs, Elbow, Loggers, West Crystal, Mountain View, Mountain Road, Mountain View West, Moose Loop and Back to West Crystal. As was mentioned in other reports from today, Mountain View West had some rocky section that I didn’t see with lousy headlamp until it was too late so I earned a few minor scrapes on my bases. I was too lazy to wax so I used the skintecs but it would have been a great evening for green wax. I should stop being so lazy. I’m tipping the conditions will be good into next week. A bit more snow would always be welcome.

  124. Couldn’t get out as early as planned but did a Telephone-Moose-Crystal Line loop at West Bragg this afternoon which was great save the rocks in the ice flow just past the first bike crossing before re-joining Moose. I would advise stopping and tip-toeing across. Put some boughs down to indicate the best route but wish I had stopped prior to the rocks. Telephone with the exception of the foregoing was the best I have ever encountered. The slashing of the alders really makes a difference. Thanks for the work of the volunteers!

  125. Skied at West Bragg Creek today. All the trails are in really good shape. Started at 9:45am to a crisp -22C (it was -25C as I drove through the Bragg Creek hamlet.) My glide was poor at first but got better after lunch as it warmed up to -12C. Parking lot was quite busy when I left. Thanks to all the groomers there. Should be great for the next few days.

    • I skied the late shift at WB today. Minus 10 at 3 as I pulled in, -15 at 5, so the temps dropped as fast as the afternoon sun. Good news is that Sunday was apparently the earliest sunset of the winter- the evenings are getting longer already!
      My route was Middle West Crystal-Mountainview-Mountain Road-Mountainview West- Moose Loop North, Moose Connector and Lower West Crystal. A really nice loop with very good conditions overall, save for Mountainview West- which as a whole I found to be in OK shape and very enjoyable, but there are a couple of hazardous spots to be aware of. Going S to N as I did, the only one to be really concerned about occurs on the series of downhills that come after climbing past a small pipeline related shack to a highpoint. The first pitch down is fine and you can let the skis run, then comes a flat spot after which the trail tilts down again. You want to be hitting the brakes before rounding the bend as there is really no safe line though the upcoming rocky bit if you are going fast!
      Continuing north, a couple of thin spots occur on flats or uphills, and are easily avoided. Going south I think the main hazard would be found on the final descents to Mountain road after the highpoint- where there are some half buried rocks in a spot or two. I managed to pry a couple loose but had limited time as the sun was sinking fast.
      Interesting to note- both times that I skied Mountainview West, I have met confused skiers going the other way who had somehow missed the left at the junction onto Moose Loop South!

      • Signage was posted this afternoon at the junction between Moose Loop and Mountain View West in order to assist those unfamiliar with the area.
        Hopefully it will eliminate the confusion that seems so prevalent at this junction. Many thanks to contributors for pointing out this hazard!

  126. Thu dec 17: elk pass/tyrwitt/whiskey loop again.
    -18 at car 1045 am, -15 end of day at 315. Frosty with the breeze. Misty at the pass again. Fresh grooming on fox, elk, and thyrwit to lookout. Whiskey still needs doing. Added more wind protection to the couch to keep warm. Stopped at the visitor centre and chatted with Brie and Tangle to find out what the situation is with the pocaterra fireplace. They have been “condemned” as a result of cracking in the mortar/brick work. Needs to be taken apart and redone. No specific schedule, but quite possible not this winter. It affects more than just pocaterra.

  127. Peter Lougheed near William Watson Lodge – Dec 17

    Trails are very well groomed but the snow is definitely older. Skied in the -18oC to -14oC range over the day. Old VR40 from Pipestone Tuesday worked fine for me but Nancy needed a bit of Start purple for grip. Definitely wax softer than you think.

  128. Well, I must say that being the self-appointed, non-official trail reporter for Sandy McNabb is the easiest (but least satisfying) job in the world. Nothing to report as far as grooming or tracking is concerned. To avoid injury from debris on trails we have been heading out to WBC which is, of course, beautifully taken care of and only a 1/2 hour drive from our home. Added bonus with WBC is our dog is able to join us. Seeing your four legged friend bounding, rolling, jumping, and generally having the best time of his life in the fluffy white stuff is almost as fun as the skiing itself! Thank you volunteers for the wonderful job you do at WBC.

    • Hi Sheila!
      Thank you for volunteering for this position! I was wondering if Sandy had received any of that snowfall yesterday? The lack of grooming is discouraging, but sometimes all you need is a bit of snow 🙂

      • Theoretically it should have, the snowfall where I live is usually about the same as Sandy Mcnabb which is the area of the Kananaskis I visit by far the most.

        • While I was preparing for Christmas, my husband and Bob the dog were at Sandy yesterday and there were lots of bare spots. Not for the faint of heart. It has never been tracked but a couple of attempts have been made to pack. Many walkers, too. Maybe they will have a new grooming budget for 2016. Fingers crossed! Which is a nice change from my skies being crossed!

  129. West Bragg Creek- New Snow!
    What a wonderful surprise! West Bragg Creek got fresh snow on Tuesday night-Wednesday morning. It was a bit of an odd storm, because about 10cm fell on the most easterly trails (like Hostel Loop, East Crystal Line) but only about 5cm was deposited on the most westerly trails (like Mountain View West or Moose Loop).
    The volunteer groomers got right at it and started roller packing & grooming all of the trails right away. This allows the snow to firm up in preparation for track-setting. By late afternoon, they started track-setting the core trails in the Crystal Line-Loggers-Iron Springs area. I understand they will continue grooming into the night and early Thursday, so that all trails will be track set by mid-day.
    I skied a loop that included Sundog-Loggers-West Crystal Line-Mountain View-Mountain Road-Mountain View West-Moose Loop-Moose Connector and lower West Crystal Line. Great conditions, except for some thin spots on Mountain View West.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=112757355578245802406&target=ALBUM&id=6229124629064065825&authkey=Gv1sRgCJPc0tjS3eDj5AE&feat=email

    • How is the coverage on Elbow South? There’s a green line there, but is it really good to go? Would like to start from Hwy 66 for something different – and the riverside views.

  130. Peter Lougheed PP, KCo
    What a beautiful day to be on skis! Perfect grooming and tracksetting in PLPP, plus scenic skier-set single-track under blue sky and sunshine, new snow on the trees and -14C. We made a 22.5 km loop from the visitor centre out to Elk Pass trail and back along Boulton Creek trail and Fox Creek (2 of my faves!). How lucky we are to have these great places to recreate!

  131. Anyone been to CNC lately?

    • Skied Classic at CNC yesterday (16th) – tracks firm and fast, occasional wash outs on the natural snow where not recently groomed. We Used Swix Extra Blue and VR50.

  132. I enjoyed a cold yet rewarding and peaceful ski on soft snow out at Mt. Shark with the Second Sixties Outdoor Club today. The road was immaculately plowed to boot. It looks like the temperatures will be warming up for the next few days which will make it even more enjoyable. I find this weather forecast most helpful for the area and I click on 2000m at the top:
    http://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Mount-Assiniboine/forecasts/2000

    Happy trails,
    Liz

  133. After a late start today, chased the sun and headed to Ribbon Creek. When I arrived at that parking lot there were 3 other cars…3 skiers and a couple of snowshoers. Car temp was -9C so went with wax from last weekend. Headed up Hidden and was lucky to find the continuation of that trail on the other side of Nakiska Day Lodge and several snowmaking machines that were running full tilt. Caught the Skogan Pass trail to High Level (that section from the Sunburst junction to the High Level junction is the longest 0.7 km…according to new Ribbon Creek trail map…section of any trail in our mtn area!) then up to the Hummingbird Plume Lookout and a late lunch in a patch of sun. Quick run back down Sunburst (15 cm light, fluffy powder) and Skogan Pass all the way to the parking lot where the car still read -9C. Bottom 1.6 km on Skogan has seen lots of walkers, but was fine with the dusting of powder and cold snow. I didn’t meet any other skiers on those trails today. First time for me on the High Level-Sunburst loop and the Lookout…lovely!

  134. I stopped by Confed Golf course on the way home from work for a quick ski. The usual loop has been rolled and track set (thanks!). The cover is a little thin and the tracks vary from stretches that are good to basically grass, although you can always hop onto the skier set tracks. Nice to have some skiing in town again.

  135. Redearth Creek today -17 and -13 at end (no wind). My Taylor thermometer is still hanging at Redearth Warden cabin from a few years ago and it registered -17 @ noon. Former corral has disappeared beside cabin. Skier set tracks still pretty good; a few overhanging branches to dodge and one small tree to ski over just past the campground. Only me on the trail today (had hoped to run into the groomer) and coming down was heavenly on upper part and not quite so stylish or fast on the trickier lower curvy bits. Snowshoe tracks comfortably adjacent to or even a metre away from skier tracks. Two new port a potties in parking lot-former wooden outhouses have been removed.

  136. Like Jim, I skied Crystal at WBC. Trail was rolled but not set. Temperature was about -12. Because I was too impatient/stupid to wait for my thermometer to cool from being inside the vehicle, I used V-40. Big mistake. Three stops to scrape skis still were not enough to get decent glide.
    You’d think that at my age…
    Sigh
    pat

  137. Great ski at West Bragg with the new snow and Norsemen. We did Moose, Mountain View and West Crystal Line and met the groomers on Mountain View doing another excellent job of getting things in shape. New snow was a little thin near the top of Mountain View so there are still a few gravel hazards near the snow fences and just before the steep turn on the steepest decent between the fences. Looking forward to the new tracks for tomorrow. Don’t forget your donation to support the great grooming efforts!

  138. Pipestone/Hector Loop – Dec 15 2015

    A little cooler than I like this morning in Lake Louise. Yesterday (Tues) was -10oC warming to -8oC in the early afternoon. Pipestone is nicely trackset and VR40 worked well on our counter-clockwise tour. No lodgepole pine needles to contend with. Expect it to be good going forward. Pretty good glide so took Hector down.

  139. Since we received a good bit of snow here in CGY this morning I went to the webcams page to see if anything might have come down in K-country and the mountains. The Bragg Creek cam is a bit ambiguous, but additional information can be gotten at this Alberta Environment remote weather station website that shows about 3 cm overnight:
    http://www.environment.alberta.ca/apps/basins/DisplayData.aspx?Type=Figure&BasinID=8&DataType=6&StationID=EBRS

    The data is usually only a couple hours old and there are numerous stations. Some also have temperature and wind info. Posting it in case some folks might find it useful. As for the webcams, I don’t find the PLPP one very useful ever as it is usually dark and grey and overlooking an area that appears to always be windswept so if there was a possibility to re-sight that camera I would be in favor.

    I read on Twitter that West Bragg is reported to have received 9 cm. 🙂 -Bob

    • Just spoke with a staff member at Barrier Lake Info Ctr and she reported Ribbon and PLPP received only a dusting of snow overnight.

    • Bear in mind that the accumulation depths on the chart are in mm of moisture equivalent. As a rule of thumb I assume that 1 mm moisture is equivalent to 1 cm of snow but if the snow is particularly light or heavy the ratio might be different. The stations may also not be recording or reporting accurately but I note that the Jumpingpound Ranger Station had 6+ mm of moisture overnight (according to the report)

      • I just discovered this on weathernetwork. If one types longhand to search “Peter Lougheed Provincial Park”, five options come up (Canyon, Elkwood, Interlakes, WWL, and Boulton). If one clicks on Boulton Creek option, the weather pops up for specifically Whiskey Jack Trail. They were all registering the same -16 today so not sure if this is helpful to anyone, but I had no idea of this drop-down list.

  140. West Bragg Creek
    After 2 weeks of backcountry skiing in the Monashee Mountains (with a 2.5 meter snowpack), I went out to the West Bragg Creek for some XC skiing.
    My loop included East Crystal Line, Sundog, Iron Springs, Elbow, Loggers Loop, West Crystal Line, Moose Connector and Mountain Road. The snowpack looked more or less unchanged since late November. South Iron Springs and Elbow were a bit glazed and the tracks were worn in places. On all of the other trails, the volunteer groomers had worked their magic and conditions were very good! Skiing was fast and smooth!
    The afternoon snow flurries that had been forecast didn’t show up, so the refresh didn’t happen. The forecast to Christmas doesn’t look promising either, but at least the temperatures will stay cold enough to preserve the existing snow.

  141. Tue dec 15: elk pass/tyrwit/whiskey/Morraine/fox.
    Couch maintenance day today. Breezy. Cloudy. Sunnier along northern chunk of tyrwit. But no sun in bc. The typical low misty cloud over elk valley was creeping into alberta. Lingered long enough at the couch to build a wind wall for protection from the south wind. Need to extend it for west wind protection next time. Met willy on the trail as I returned. Maybe he found the couch. Then ran into Ray and Mary!! South end of tyrwit had seen some snow recently. But good tracks. North end you could see the older grooming. Whiskey jack had nt been track set since the last round of storm snow. So a little rough in spots. Not the easiest descent, but not terrible either. The tracks have gotten quite sloppy from all the ski action. Morraine was better if not a bit glazed in spots. A good day out Nonetheless and super nice to run into some old acquaintances on the trail.

    • I did find the couch. Will be back to help with the build someday. Pushed on through to the powerline. Returned the same route.

  142. GOAT CREEK
    Rather than doing the Roam bus shuttle, or looking for someone with whom to exchange keys, I decided to just ski back to Banff. This 36 km return trip is still only half of the 72 km Lake Louise to Banff Loppet! Click this link and zoom in for details:
    http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=3292008&code=97bb232b939d6f367d00e87fdaf88488
    I recommend the return trip starting in Banff, because you start by going uphill into the morning sun and the Banff Springs is a good place for a celebratory Hot Chocolate at the end! No need to drive that gravel road.
    The tracks from the fat tire bikes near the Canmore end are not a problem. The riders obviously tried to avoid the tracksetting, and you can see that they had such a difficult time that I don’t think they will be back. The tracksetter has carefully merged the two lanes removing most of the snow ridge as you approach any danger on the downhills. But as always, stay in control!

  143. A cold but glorious day in PLPP. The Elk Pass parking lot was windy and cold (-15C) at 10:15 am when we started, but we quickly warmed up in the trees on the Elk Pas and Fox Creek trails. Today’s tracks were great, with a couple cms. of fresh snow. We skied on VR40 wax all day and had good grip and glide. From the BlueElk table, we skied up Blueberry to the end of trail and back down for lunch, as the wind was just too cold to sit overlooking the lakes. On Blueberry, the trees were laden with blocky snow, looking like rank after rank of Star Wars storm troopers, albeit prettier and far less menacing. The trip back down was fast and exhilarating. From the junction, we went up to Elk Pass where we reconnected with Martin, a hiking friend from days of yore (and trip reporter for Ski Here – who knew?!) Then, it was back down Elk Pass trail to Fox Creek. Fox was brighter in the afternoon than it had been in the morning; the light made it seem that we were skiing through butter cream icing. And after all that, the temp had only risen to about -11C. We were wishing for about 5 more degrees of heat and bit more sunshine, but completely happy with the snow and trail conditions.

  144. Skied the Canmore Nordic Centre last evening (Dec 14th, 6:30pm). The snow and tracks were fantastic.

  145. Skate skied at Mt Shark on Monday during the last couple hours of light and a little in the dark. Conditions are still excellent with 3cm’s and less of fresh cold snow on top of Fridays grooming. The snow crystals and/or my skies were a little grabby so I moved to the fast silky tracks whenever gravity was helping me out, but both skating and classic should be great tomorrow and probably all the way to the next grooming.

  146. YOHO VALLEY ROAD & KICKING HORSE TRAIL
    The captions on the photos say it all, but suffice it to say that today was a good day to do both:
    https://picasaweb.google.com/110857225306442901854/YohoValleyRoadKickingHorseTrail?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCNjV2LHozq-kVA&feat=directlink

  147. West Bragg Creek

    It was a treat to leave the oppressive gloom of Calgary today, and enjoy a quick ski in mostly sunny West Bragg! Crystal Line-Loggers-upper Sundog all still very good, but hard and fast! Snow getting a little old and worn, with some debris on East Crystal Line, but absolutely nothing to complain about. Perhaps not for the faint of heart until a little more snow falls?

  148. Four of our group started early for the new track-setting on Goat Creek to Banff while the remaining two of us pulled the “uphill straw” and skied Banff West Spray to Goat Creek. Exchanging keys halfway (generally around the Spray Bridge) has worked very well for those of us who chose not to “ROAM”. Sadly the last 40 minutes of our ski, approaching Goat Creek, the new tracks had been damaged on both sides by some fat bikers (who likely hit thebrand new tracks the night before). Weather was very pleasant starting at -9 and warming to 2+ at CNC sign. Thanks to skierbob reporting this route being trackset, we changed our plans which were originally to ski Redearth. Any recent reports on Redearth and when it might get trackset would be greatly appreciated.

  149. I skied Lake Louise area trails today. The trails seemed to have got about 5 cms of fresh over the existing tracksetting. Lower and Upper Tramline, Fairview, Peyto, and Upper Telemark were mostly skier set quite nicely in the existing track. Moraine Lake Road, Divide,and Lower Telemark had new track set over the day. Overall great conditions, -2C when I left at about 3pm.

  150. Fantastic skiing today at Pipestone. A few cm of new snow on the tracks this morning. Skied Hector, Pipestone Loop to the NW corner, then took a little detour on the Pipestone Trail but sadly turned around when we reached the creek. The creek is still flowing and I doubted that I could hop across the creek (not as nimble as I used to be!) on the stones, with my skis, and arrive on the other side with dry feet. Pretty sure hubby would have been fine, he’s got really long legs. Hope the creek will freeze over this winter so we can explore further. Returned to the parking lot on Pipestone Loop. A great day indeed!

  151. Had a great ski in PLPP today out of the Visitors Centre, with a long clockwise loop in the valley bottom. But where was everyone? They must have been skiing elsewhere or perhaps Christmas shopping, even Pocaterra Hut was quiet today. A bit of fresh snow helped to freshen up the tracks.

    Only concern were some people on snowshoes with two unleashed dogs heading up Lodgepole near Pocaterra. They did not seem to appreciate our concerns about their unleashed dogs in the park on the ski trails and suggested that we have a good day. They seemed to think it was fine as there were no signs stating that dogs are not allowed. I guess the park needs to post signs at every trail head. Although we found signs at West Bragg Creek yesterday suggesting that people with snowshoes stay off a particular trail were ignored by one party.

  152. Great Divide – Lk O’Hara Dec 12
    Wanting some distance, some elevation, and minimal trail breaking I decided to join these two routes into a long-ish day. Great Divide was in very good condition for my slightly wider skis. The track on the O’Hara road was well packed by skiers mostly with fat skis. On the steeper parts someone had walked down. My guess was that their energy / skill were not quite there. I think they would have done fine if they had gone beside the packed track. A great day.

  153. Skied the upper part of Goat Creek from the parking lot upstream to Goat pond and back. The track was groomed by skidoo a couple of weeks ago. A couple of cm of fresh on top on the trail. I assuming it was by the dogsleders from Spray Lake as the grooming appears to go further up from Goat pond towards the Spray. New this year is a bridge over Goat creek across from the pump/lift station. Lots of snow shoe ,fat bike and foot traffic close to the trailhead and at the Goat pond end.
    The loop is 13km around with a cutoff perhaps 1/3 of the way where one could make a shorter loop.
    On the return we skied up to the park boundary so find the Goat creek trail has been groomed to the boundary.

  154. Alberta’s grouse grind. This is a sad story and a plea for drivers to show more intelligence. Yesterday en route from Canmore to Mt. Shark we encountered 2 beautiful Spruce grouse pecking away in the middle of Spray Lakes Rd. The male (?) was strutting and waving his erect tail feathers side to side in a gorgeous ceremony. We pulled over & watched them for 5 minutes, and I had to flash my car lights to get oncoming vehicles (small tour bus operators returning to Canmore) to slow down and not kill them (grouse are not that aware of oncoming vehicles – they don’t fly off like other birds). Sure enough, on our drive home we found one of these noble creatures had been ground into the road. What a sad – but very predictable – outcome to how humans behave behind the wheel. Everyone, please drive slow enough to accommodate/appreciate wildlife, and let’s do what we can to monitor – and moderate – the behaviour of self-centred, speeding drivers who may be on the roads with us.

  155. Does anyone know what the conditions are like on the Bill Milne trail now?
    Thanks, Rhonda

    • It’s skiable but has a few thin spots according to Mark who skied it from Ribbon creek to the golf course yesterday. There was some snow overnight which might help the coverage. The other end, near Wedge, has lots of snow. I posted photos in my latest update.

      • Thanks Bob, Sounds like it might be best to park at the Wedge Pond end.
        Where do I find your latest update btw? I thought I knew where everything was on here. hmm
        Rhonda

        The photos are in the photo gallery at the bottom of this post http://skierbob.ca/2015/12/the-best-skiing-on-planet-earth/ -Bob

      • If one wanted to ski the section between Mt. Kidd RV Park and the Kovach Pond day use area, is there parking available at the RV Park? We’re thinking of doing it one way with a bunch of small kids with a shuttle and don’t want to start all the way back at Wedge Pond. Thanks.

        There’s no official parking lot near the trail at the RV park. I imagine it would be okay to park on the road where it meets the trail. The golf course has lots of parking adjacent to the trail. -Bob

  156. Lake Louise and MLR: We found great conditions on Moraine Lake Road today. Started at the upper parking lot and skied upper Tramline to MLR – a cold start to the day. Air temperatures were -7C at 10:30 am. With blue wax (VR 40) and very good tracks set, we easily climbed to the turn around point. After a quick lunch in the weak sun, we came down quickly with no braking required as the down track were soft from the new snow. Approximately -5C when we finished at 3:00 pm. One of the best double poling exercise trails in the Rockies. Very few people on the MLR trail today – it seems they were all at PLPP.

  157. Skied goat creek to Banff springs the first section from trailhead was trampled by snowshoes for about 5-6 kms the rest skier tracked. Still a beautiful day temps warming and some recently discovered Rex blue (if anyone knows where to buy it or has some to sell it, I would appreciate knowing) I was rolling on lightly waxed wax less and the glide and grip were perfection. The trail was fresh snow but it didn’t matter it was a heavenly experience. Arrived Banff and bused w skis to Canmore. I stepped off the bus and a young family saw the skis and offered me a ride to Goat Creek trail head….Fabulous!!! Big Thanks to mother Rachael (long time resident) and talkative and adorable daughter Vera (je m’appelle Vera) for the ride up. Isn’t skiing grand!!!

  158. Boom Lake

    Great conditions on X-country with grippy blue wax. Very little traffic in the morning with more encountered in the afternoon on our way down. About 1 m base with a good packed trail, especially from all the snowshoers. Skied part way up the lake but still soggy under 6″ of snow so we didn’t get too far.

  159. I did a great hill training workout today from Kananaskis Village. I got to ski down the crazy hill to the Ribbon Creek Parking Lot on Terrace (which was becoming quite icy and I was glad for metal edges.) The Terrace Loop at the Village was good but also becoming slick. Down at Ribbon Creek I finally got to try the new Ribbon Creek trail. I skied up from the parking lot and got to come down the steep switch backs to the creek. Three words – Holy freakin’ wow!! It was icy with thin snow and dirt showing through in spots and I was extremely grateful for my metal edges. But it was the most fun I’ve had on x-country skis this season!! If you like fun and fast descents, this is the trail for you. It is one of my new favorites now!
    Skiing was pleasant along the creek (still a bit icy) and then I climbed back up Kovach and Aspen to the village. The final descent off of Aspen was a bit thrilling today too with the slick conditions.
    Hills in this area not recommended for beginner skiers right now until we get more snow.

  160. Pipestone was in great shape today after yesterday’s tracksetting. Trees heavy with snow, the sun peeking through, around -5C and blue wax…doesn’t get much better. Met only 4 other skiers on the trail! The drive out this morning was magical…from the sunny 1A between Calgary and Cochrane, the fog-filled Bow Valley looked like a huge lake with the Rockies rising sheer up on the western shore. Wonderful!

  161. Had a short morning ski at Bragg Creek. Chilly start at -13 but the trails were fast – Iron Springs/Elbow loop. The groomers are doing a great job managing the snow that is there. Thanks!

    • Agreed!
      A gorgeous crisp blue sky, blue wax day out there. We skied Moose-Mountainview. Conditions were very fine in our opinion with good coverage and well defined tracks for the most part, and yes- fast!
      Despite a week of warm weather, and then rain on Tuesday- the groomers have done an amazing job of maintaining the great start to the season.

    • I skied Telephone Loop CCW in the morning on the 12th and was disappointed. The day was beautiful, but the skiing was not. When I read on the West Bragg website on Friday night that conditions were “good” and the loop was trackset, I chose West Bragg over PLPP. It was so firm (read: ice) underneath the 1 cm or so of fresh that the downhills were really treacherous. Quite a few exposed rocks, too. Once you get to the Homestead road, it was worse as it was only groomed, not trackset. With no lateral support on the rough grooming, it was not fun. Maybe this trail would be better with no grooming, just skiset. Or maybe one pass with an Alpine pulling a pan and single tracksetter. I would have rated it “fair to poor”, not “good”.

  162. Beautiful tracksetting on Tramline today in Louise. Got first tracks on it! Fairview was not set yet but I believe the setters were out working in it when I left. MLR was also in great shape.

  163. Yoho / Field
    Our annual Field, BC ski retreat. All major trails have been freshly trackset: the lake and basin on Dec 11, Kicking Horse river and the piece connecting Natural Bridge to Field on Dec 12. Huge thanks to Joe the Tracksetter who we spent a few minutes chatting with, for the best birthday present, the fresh tracks. Joe mentioned that he might be setting the Takakkaw road on Sunday Dec 13.
    Temps were around -2C, both air and snow, VR50 worked well.

  164. Thanks, Jody – Mt Shark was amazing!

    After reading Jody’s post this morning – Richard and I followed the grooming! And we were not disappointed.

    We started along the Yellow Trail – and the grooming/trail conditions were absolutely impeccable. The sun was in and out – with occasional flurries. But the temperature was perfect – a few degrees below zero – fantastic. At Marker 19 we skedaddled on to the Watridge Lake trail and zipped over to the lake and back, which was a blast – especially on the way back down. Wheeeeeeeee! We finished the remainder of the Yellow Trail – jumped in the car and had a wonderful drive through the Smith-Dorrien and Highway 40 – gorgeous winter landscapes everywhere.

    Another amazing day in the Mountains. And a major shout out and thanks to Jody and all the groomers, for all you do for us!

  165. Possibly the best conditions I can remember for classic skiing at Mt. Shark. Everything was groomed and trackset, and I think we skied nearly all of it. Thanks to Parks and the Tracksetters for keeping the live grooming reports up to date – I would never have thought of going to Shark today without the info on the new grooming 🙂

  166. Went out to Shark today and headed out to Watridge lake. After realizing the trails had all been groomed and trackset, we knew we wouldn’t be disappointed with the conditions!

    It was a beautiful ski, excellent conditions, and the weather was ideal. It was -3 or -4, light flurries, it was a winter wonderland!

    Upon arrival at the parking lot we were greeted by a momma moose and her daughter, who were enjoying the salt put down at the washrooms. One woman was held hostage inside the bathroom until mom left! too funny, and what a treat for all who saw!

    Photo of moose

  167. CNC tonight was in remarkable shape. I was planning to go to PLPP today but after so-so reports on Pocaterra decided to trust the raves about CNC and save myself the drive. The raves weren’t lying. Hard to believe given the icy mess outside my door in south Canmore but true. Did Meadowview and Bow. Snuck up to Meadowview (just a few nasty hops over snowmaking machine groves) and had skier set tracks until Rundle junction where had to skirt around a fence (oops). Hopefully, they’ll have it open soon. After that, nothing but sweetness.

  168. CASCADE VALLEY (to Lone Pine)
    Today, we had a couple of early birds (John and Dean) join us as far as Stoney Creek, and then we pushed the trail past the Elk Trap (and past Russell’s push) to Lone Pine.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/110857225306442901854/CascadeValleyToLonePine?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCJzPppf6oLyHLA&feat=directlink
    We are actually glad that Parks is only doing minimal grooming on the Cascade Valley trail this year. It keeps the crowds away. No hikers, no snowshoers and nobody in lycra skating past you! Dig out any old skis and enjoy a traditional cross country ski.

  169. While I can’t agree that West Bragg is “excellent” I can agree that the groomers have done an excellent job. Chrystal, Sundog, Loggers all very good today and should hold for the weekend. Nice to drive out of the fog too.

    • Agreed, sun was even trying to break through, Temp was nice and the grip was good with special violet even though it felt mushy at times. No high heels at all.

  170. Please, please, please, bring in trail fees or park pass system for PLPP so we can have some grooming. Went out today and the most well used trail in the area, Elk Pass, has not been groomed for a week. Lookout and Hydroline had been groomed but they are advanced trails that not all skiers even want to ski, never mind can ski. There were no complete loops groomed as Elk Pass, Whiskyjack and Packers are all deep with snow. To top it off a group of 4 hikers with large packs were hiking right up the middle of the trail, they must have been going to Elk Hut I assume. Once they got to the Hydroline Junction on Elk Pass trail they just walked right up the skier track set.
    Okay Rant over, but I would still pay for a PLPP fee that went towards grooming in the summer and trail maintenance in the winter as the park is starting to show that the Alberta Government has not invested any money in its upkeep.

    • Trail fees will not curtail the indiscretion of those that insist on walking on the ski trails or set tracks. Talked to the gentleman at the fire look out station last summer and really got the feeling that due to the reduction in staff to look after parks, trails and campgrounds there is a lot of bitterness within the remaining staff. That said the grooming staff do a remarkable job under sometimes less than ideal conditions so patience may be required some times, Rapidly changing weather and equipment availability can thwart best intentions. West Bragg in great condition and run on a volunteer basis!

      • As someone who works for Alberta Parks, I have not seen or felt any bitterness within the Parks system, though I am sure bitterness could be found anywhere.
        The trails in PLPP are normally groomed once a week each, but there are numerous reasons that can throw the schedule off. Losing two grooming shifts to a day of rain doesn’t help. There could be mechanical issues, sickness, I won’t go in to every possibility. Snow happens. There has been well over 30km’s of fresh grooming since the last snow and rain event on Tuesday, and there was excellent skiing to be found today within the Park (I wish I had the time for a ski up to Tyrwhitt, conditions would have been incredible). The amount of snow on Elk Pass could happen overnight, and often does. Trail fees would not have helped Elk pass to be groomed today, though I am certainly not against them. And yes, evidence of walkers and snowshoers on the ski trails are just as frustrating when I am grooming as when I am skiing.

        By the way, everything at Mt Shark was groomed and trackset over two grooming shifts on Friday and conditions should be excellent. Check out the Live Grooming report for PLPP for Sunday morning as there should be more fresh grooming overnight on Saturday (as long as there are no mechanical issues). Happy Trails…

        • I appreciate the time you took to post your comments about grooming and tracksetting in K Country. The contributions that all groomers in our fabulous x-country ski areas are outstanding and thanks are expressed often on this blog. Part of the fun of this sport is determining from weather, conditions (tracked or not), day of week, trail popularity and difficulty, road conditions, where to ski each outing. For some of us a trail that has some new, ungroomed snow might be preferable (i.e. Lookout, Whiskey Jack, Ribbon Roller). I am happy and so fortunate to have so many choices.

          • Echoing Jan’s sentiments here, just for reinforcement! We also enjoy some fresh snow, especially on steeper trails, and appreciate everything the groomers do.
            I don’t know what we can do about the increase in winter hiking, which is affecting trails all over, and often does a lot of damage.

          • I also appreciate your response, Jody. I love that this website has given us an opportunity to “meet” some of the people who create such fabulous conditions for us. I’ve skied in a few different places in western Canada and definitely feel that the trails in Kananaskis are the best anywhere (and they’re FREE!). Thank you for the care and attention you put into our trails, Jody, Jeff and the others!

        • The fact of the matter is the only thing groomers feel bitterness towards is cheery weather reporters smiling away as the exclaim ” another mild day here in Alberta temperatures expected to stay above 0 for the next several days” . As Jody mentioned snow and weather does not keep a predictable schedule, no amount of extra staff will ever ensure every trail is groomed immediately after a storm . The cool thing though is we have probably the best cross country skiing on the planet right here in our own backyard and for the most part it is free. My advice is log on to this site first thing in the morning check either the live grooming report, the groomers reports or stop at an information centre on your drive by. By the time you put your skis on you should know pretty much what kind of a ski day you’re about to have. In an uncertain world to me as a skier that is about as close to being able to control the weather so I am the cheery one exclaiming” heavy snowfall,warning and expected to stay below zero for the foreseeable future”. Happy Skiing

    • Don’t trust a government (ANY government) to use the proceeds of those fees towards improving/maintaining the trails. It would probably be redirected into something else that fits the agenda better. A.K.A. tax grab.

    • Wanted to mention the tree that has fallen over on the trail to Elk Pass – perhaps the groomers are waiting until that is cleared before they take the machine in there? It would definitely have been an “easier” ski with those trails groomed but it was still beautiful out there, and lots of snow, folks!

  171. Skied the Nordic Centre last evening (6:30pm). Excellent coverage and fresh tracks. The section of Banff Trail through the mine scar was not groomed and scattered with large piles of man made snow. I suspect they’ll have it groomed and opened for the weekend.

  172. West Bragg Creek

    Those groomers are really gung-ho!! We skied the following loop today: Sundog East – Loggers – West Crystal – Mountainview – Mountain Road – Mountain View West – Moose Loop (south leg) – Moose Connector – Mountain Road.
    Most of it was freshly groomed, and we met a groomer twice! Almost all was in very good condition, but the Mountain View West trail has some serious hazards (ice and rocks!!). It will be interesting to watch, as there seem to be challenges with getting sufficient snow cover.

    I have a couple of questions regarding distances…… Alf??
    Mountain Road: on the old map, the initial section to Moose Loop is 1.6 km. On a series of newer maps, I see a variety of distances for that section, and don’t know what to believe!
    Further along Mountain Road, and to help us calculate a distance for today’s outing, I cannot find the distance from Mountain View to Mountain View West. It seemed quite long!
    Thanks 🙂

    • Forgot to mention we met Jan at the junction of Mountain View West and Moose Loop! Also my husband’s name is Bart (yes he does actually have a name!)

    • Diana and Jan…
      The distance from the West Bragg Creek parking lot is still about 1.6km. There is now an easy shortcut to north Moose Connector (just short of 1.6km) and the regular Moose Connector junction (just a bit over 1.6km)
      Mountain Road is now groomed for another 2.5km west to the Mountain View West junction.
      Mountain View West is an additional 3.8 km to the junction with the SW corner of Moose Loop.
      Mountain View West is a Spray Lakes Sawmills haul road which is being test-groomed this season to evaluate snow capture and snow retention. Based on what is learned this winter, the trail will be repaired, re-routed or upgraded to make it into a great ski trail.

  173. Skied PLPP today from Boulton Bridge. We skied up Whiskey Jack which had not been freshly groomed or tracked. It was skier tracked but a bit tough climbing the steeper hills through boot deep snow. Still, conditions were great and we had wider skis which worked very well for the “touring conditions.” We had fabulous skiing on Pocaterra to Lynx and the trail was only starting to get icy as we got closer to Lynx. It was perfectly groomed with fresh corduroy and lovely tracks. We then skied Lynx and Amos to get back to our truck. Lynx was great but the steep hill was a bit icy and hard to climb. It would have been a very fast descent. Amos had not been freshly groomed or tracked but was easy to ski. All in all, fabulous ski day and great conditions for December!! Groomers were just heading towards the Elk Pass Trail when we left.

  174. Thu dec 10: castle lookout area
    Skied from hostel to protection mountain campground and back. Hostel to lookout was track set yesterday. Marginal. Tracks shallow, trail off camber, bumpy, icy in trees for the first bit. Power line more open and better snow but still a shallow track. From lookout to campground, track set before the snow of the last few days, and proper depth tracks, unlike east of lookout. Skier was on it yesterday to the high point on the old rail bed, pulling a pulk I think. Broke trail from there to campground. Bailed to the shelter for lunch and returned. No fresh skier tracks further west that I could see. Walked along the road from lookout to hostel, mostly for a change of pace instead of fight with thin conditions. No faster or slower than skiing that section and only a few cars. Drive to lookout and don’t bother with east side. No other skiers seen all day.

  175. BOOM LAKE
    With the new snow and cooler temperatures, today was a good day to check out Boom Lake.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/110857225306442901854/BoomLake02?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCNeaxaDI6dTiVw&feat=directlink
    Lots of snowshoers and back country skiers, but the ones having the most fun were on cross country skis!

  176. West Bragg Creek is in great shape – considering this crazy weather lately!
    The VOLUNTEER groomers and track setters are doing an amazing job keeping the trails in good shape – Just got in from doing the Iron Springs/Elbow/Loggers/Crystal loop and it was actually fabulous – nice (thin) soft layer of new snow to make the downhills easy and super fun. The south end of Ironsprings was getting a bit rough with debris/twigs popping through but no evidence of rocks to worry about.

  177. PLPP – checked the grooming early this am and saw that Pocaterra had been trackset from the hut to Lookout Jct. Arrived at Pocaterra parking at 9:30am – first vehicle. I skied the entire length of the trail – out and back. The conditions are best described in three sections.
    Hut to Lynx jct – snow was probably wet when trackset, and had quite an icy feel to it. Fast downhills, poor grip on uphills, noisy on the corners. Lots of needles stirred into the trackset.
    Lynx to Packers – much better. Less icy, more of a packed-snow feel. Still a few needles, not bothersome.
    Packers to Whiskey Jack and Lookout Jcts – pristine conditions; fabulous; skier’s heaven. Just the way it should be.
    Temperature -6C at the start; -6C at turnaround; -4C at the end. No wind.
    If a couple of cms of cold snow would fall on the north end of PLPP, it would make the whole trail great.

  178. Canmore Nordic Center

    Great skiing is back. Trails were groomed overnight and the Meadowview and Banff trails were excellent. V40 and -4oC provided lots of kick and glide. Meadowview hill good with soft snow pack – easy snowplowing or running.

  179. West Bragg received from 2 to 4 cm of new snow which yesterday which the groomers have jumped on and conditions are pretty decent and in some places excellent! Thank you. Did a Crystal-Iron Springs loop and was great. Can’t beat the grooming update to the in-box which only takes a donation for the cause!

  180. CNC today was awesome. Lots of fresh heavy snow on the ground. It makes skate skiing a real workout, especially on the less traveled trails like Meadowview. More snow at higher elevation maybe 3 inches. There is no signs of grooming yet only wobbly skier set tracks. Once they groom it the weekend should be great.

  181. ELK PASS – BLUEBERRY HILL in PLPP on Tuesday.
    About -1 when followed skier tracks up Elk Pass with V40 Blue wax working quite well and some light damp snow falling. Then turned and broke trail setting a fresh ski track to the end of Blueberry Hill in about 6-10 cm of snow. After lunch, more wet snow was falling pretty heavy. Scraped off the skis, which were starting to be sticky, for a better glide back to the parking lot.

    Unfortunately there was steady rain falling at William Watson Lodge in the evening. The roads were wet with slush making the hills at the south end of the park very difficult driving. Further north in the park, the roads were just wet with rain, then cleared as we got to the TCH.

    • PLPP on Tuesday:
      My waxless skis paid for themselves today making it possible to ski 25 km in less than great conditions. While LKW went south, I skied Moraine, and Amos back to WWL for lunch. First tracks were skier set with great kick and glide on waxless skis (fish scales). At noon the wet snow, mixed with rain, increased as I set out on east Lodgepole to explore further north. I encountered new grooming on west Lodgepole and then new trackset from Canyon Road to Sinclair and up Meadow back to the VIC. Sinclair and lower Meadow, while newly groomed, had not enough snow to hide the vast amounts of tree debris. I then skied Meadow, Wooley, Amos and Wheeler back to WWL on clean and good skier set tracks. I skied new track set from the Kananaskis Lakes Trail back to WWL. Seems I skied all around the groomer but saw only his tracks – not unlike my experience with other nocturnal creatures.

  182. West Bragg- Late Tuesday afternoon:
    Sorry folks, but I have to use the “R” word.
    Yes, rain! However, it was not as bad as it might seem. It started spitting a bit around 4 as I finished up the bike segment of a dual-sport outing, and continued as I changed modes, and skated a loop of E and W Crystal Line, and some out and back on Mountain Road. Conditions were a bit springlike, but coverage remained great, and despite the weather conditions- the skiing was very enjoyable, thanks to a recent refresh of the grooming. At 5 o’dark as I packed up, it was still plus 3 and coming down lightly, but that didn’t seem to deter the kids of XCBC who were heading out onto the trails.
    Fingers crossed that it switches to snow overnight. The forecast is for 10 or so cm!

  183. ELK PASS – BANFF NATIONAL PARK
    Surprised to find how well used this trail is used… by skiers!
    I followed ski tracks from yesterday (and before), with 2 to 5 cm of fresh snow, all the way to Elk Pass.
    Starting at the Mount Norquay ski resort, and getting an early start, made waxing successful with Rode Multigrade.
    Worth checking out:
    https://picasaweb.google.com/110857225306442901854/ElkPass02?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCIDj6o6vme_FsgE&feat=directlink

  184. With the warm weather and needing to get back early today, we opted to ski at Canmore Nordic Centre. There was a race going on (Buff Canada Sprint Series) and lots of teens and twenty-somethings participating on trails south of the day lodge, but it did not affect our ski at all. We mostly stayed on Banff and Bow Trails all day. Banff Trail was freshly groomed part way, but Bow Trail had not been groomed in several days. Still, the tracks were good, no ice, although the day was warm (+4C.). We skied happily on our waxless skis all day. It had begun to snow after lunch; some new natural snow would make things really good for the weekend!

  185. Started up Tramline around 10:15 with new snow on top of recent grooming. All four of us encountered challenging skiing, even me with waxless Fischers, since temps were -1 to +1: the waxing/waxless kiss of death in the tracks. Where are the Swix waxing gurus when we need them? Fairview was lovely (guess we’d scraped or skied off whatever wasn’t working) and we climbed a few more kms. on MLR before heading back down. Some people hiked in our tracks on Lower Tramline, perhaps unknowingly, so we left a note to remind them to please stay out of skier tracks. Sure hope the big dumps of snow they are promising coincide with colder temps. The trees were all in their heavy laden glory and thankfully no “Fairview” Grouse was around to marshall the trails.

    • Waxing was an issue today in Lake Louise. We started out on Pipestone and were sticking bad so we bailed and decided to see if a few hundred metres elevation would make a difference and it did (for whatever reason, temperature, trail, snow consistency or, perhaps, “user error” was corrected). Skied Fairview to MLR: thanks Helen for breaking trail over the 4 cm of new snow.

      (if you’re trying to guess what trail Skier Bob was on today, I’ll just say: we saw him)

  186. Skate skied Mt Shark today following the yellow markers of the 10km loop. The classic track looked a bit chewed up, but the skating lane was excellent. As a newbie skate skier, those hills sure kicked my butt. After my lunch of almonds, chocolate and bacon :D, I decided to check out PLPP. I classic skied the Moraine, Elk Pass, Fox Creek, Boulton Creek loop from the Boulton bridge parking lot. The first part was super frustrating. The tracks were glazed enough to need red wax, but outside the tracks even green would have done fine. Purple wax was perfect climbing elk pass, where the tracks were perfect. From there, it was a magical cruise home, though the skier set track was not much to look at. Fox Creek always has been my fave. All around a great day 🙂

  187. After reading the trip reports decided on Lake Louise area. 10 am start. – 8C. Skied Tramline to Peyto loop, to 1A, back with Fairview to Morriane, down and back on last bit of Tramline. Started with V20 -2 to -10. Worked well until temp warmed up. Better snow in morning. Best set tracks on the long runs – 1A and Morraine. Not as good in treed runs. Groomers came by on way towards O’Hara as we came down 1A. 24km total. Around 0C when we finished. A good day even with epic face plant into soft snow on Morrine.

  188. Stephen Vermeulen

    Pocaterra trail trip report for Sunday 6-Dec.

    As noted above, the first 3km from the hut to nearly the Lynx junction was heavily pine needled. Even double polling with no grip wax was slow!

    Once you pass Lynx and start up Pocaterra the trail improved greatly, there are still some needles up to the 6km point but they are not going to slow you down. A bit before the Packers junction you can say goodbye to the needles and it is wonderful conditions from that point on. The tracks between Packers and the Lookout junction are really nice and fast and still look brand new.

    Once you start up Tyrwhitt the tracks get a bit shaky, they are still fine, but there’s an occasional tree bomb bump to negotiate and the snow is still a little thin until you get to the meadow. The meadow, while not groomed recently, is still wonderful.

    I turned around at the picnic table at the 14km point so I can’t comment on the last km or so to Elk Pass.

    On the way back I encountered the KILLER GROUSE (again). I met this curious beastie last year and filmed it attacking my boots:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05VjTibH5mw

    This time it was causing mayhem on the fast, blind, corner at the end of the high speed section of Pocaterra. As I entered the corner I was already braking, there were two people who were standing in the middle of the trail and there was something black on the ground near them. I thought they had stopped to wax and had put a pack on the ground. I had to bail into the soft snow and when I had extracted myself I noticed the “pack” was moving. At that point I realized the grouse was back.

    As I skied down past them the grouse ran after me and managed to peck my boots a couple of times, I heard them say something like “it’s attacking him!”

    Pretty feisty bird, must be at least 3 years old by now! I’m surprised nothings eaten it yet. At least it isn’t a moose…

  189. Pipestone- after all the skier traffic and dogs yesterday, I was amazed to see good tracks on all but the steepest hills. And most of the dogs must have been leashed and trained as they didn’t walk in the track. Also saw moose and Lynx tracks. VR 45 over a bit of 50 worked well.

  190. Checked out Moraine Lake Road via Tramway and returned Fairview.
    -1 at 12:30 and voilet wax was the ticket. a few snow spiders and winged bugs on the tracks which was interesting to see – hearty little critters – so I was careful not to squash them. Gorgeous conditions out there. Skied 1A yesterday and as indicated through another trip report, conditions are superb as well.
    Please skiers – if you decide to relieve yourself near the trail, please cover up the yellow with some snow – it makes good sense and creates a much nicer skier experience. Its not cool skiing across urine blotches as I found out today at the end of Moraine… Enjoy the week out there – warm temps and some snow in the forecast!

  191. Cascade Fire Road – Dec 5
    I broke about a km of new track past the end of Chuck’s. The days are not very long and my ski legs are not all here yet.

    • From the parking lot the track was sun-glazed. Going up the hill the conditions were slick – V55 did the trick. A ways after the Cascade bridge things improve.

  192. Pipestone trails were holding up very well today, don’t think the temp got above zero today (though it must have been close). Soft snow and the machine tracks from Friday night were still pretty good.

  193. Attempted to ski at PLPP early this morning. Pine-needle disaster is the only way to describe it. If you haven’t left yet, save the trip and head to CNC. Or get some xmas shopping at a busy mall out of the way. Let’s hope some fresh stuff falls this week.

    • Wow, Dylan! That is such a different “scenario” than Bob’s report from yesterday. What trails were you on???? Was it windy last night in PLPP???? Am hoping to go on Tuesday, and as always, hoping for fresh, DRY snow.

      • I was wondering the same thing – which trails? Judith, the good news is there is snow in the forecast every day for the next six days. Let’s hope it materializes.

        • Pine-ageddon anywhere near the PLPP visitor centre. The only needle free tracks were Lodgepole in the open sections but without any tracks and lots of snow drifts. Not the best day for CX in PLPP I have to say…

      • Tried out Pocaterra from the Hut and looped back on Come Along for a meager 3.8km day. It was pretty windy at 9am and appeared to have blown in over night as we had read Bob’s report from Saturday and had hopes to get an early start while it was cold-ish. Even some smaller branches had made their way into the track. Would suspect many of the trails with tree cover (ie. Most in PLPP) will be pine-aggedon as aptly named by Harald. Fingers crossed for snow this week.

  194. Classic and skate skied the Great Divide (1A) in Lake Louise yesterday. Fantastic conditions, with a few cm of fresh snow. The snow is hanging off the trees in Lake Louise so made for a beautiful winter wonderland.
    My first ski was at 9:30 and as I passed the Moraine lake rd parking lot I was surprised there were no cars in the parking lot. There were 3 cars in the Great divide parking lot including mine.
    When I returned to classic ski the Great divide at 12:30 the Moraine L parking lot was half full, hmm, more surprise. The GD lot on the other hand, was full with cars starting to park on the road.
    FYI: Wilson Mountain Sports in LL is a great place to rent classic or skate skis for 25.00 for the day. The equipment is new and high quality. A friend rented classic yesterday and the staff were very helpful and friendly.

  195. Tunnel mountain campground loops. Freshly groomed, in very good shape considering the recent warm weather. Fun option in town. One lap with classic and one with waxless Classic.

  196. Redearth Creek

    Hit the trail at about 11:15 am today. Unfortunately a group of ~10 walkers hit the trail before I did and butchered the first 3km or so of trail. This made the ascent more difficult and the descent challenging and sketchy. Beyond the walkers turnaround point, the skiing was fun with great skier set tracks to the Wardens cabin.

  197. A Friday night refreshing in the form of 5-7 cm cold new snow made for delightful (the word of the day?) skiing on Elk Pass-Blueberry. The old tracksetting was still defined, and waxing easy with VR45 working very well, only clumping up when standing around for too long. Some tree bombs and rollers from previous warm weather made for a bit of bumpyness on the descents, but were nothing to worry about.
    Barrier Lake info were somewhat discouraging when we stopped by in the AM for weather and snow updates- saying that upper Blueberry was in poor shape with thin cover and hazards. Not true! It’s fine all the way to the top with only the final 150m being slighly uneven and off camber.
    A bonus to an already great day out- was sun and no wind at the top. One of the rare occasions that we’ve actually used that picnic table.
    Wildlife sighting of the day was 4 snowshoers toting snow saucers- heading up Blueberry as we were descending. No idea what their plan was- back down the trail or a fall line ride directly to the lake? Hmmm….

    https://picasaweb.google.com/steveandjoriggs/BlueberryHillDec52015

  198. Castle Junction – Castle Lookout-Protection Mnt.

    Two of us started from Castle Junction on Trail #1 at about noon. Air -3C, snow -4C. Used VR45 to start with. The trail is snowmobile packed (not trackset) to the Castle Lookout parking lot, rather uneven, but no hazards at all. Most of it seems to have been used by a wolf pack. From the lookout to the Protection Mnt (and likely all the way to Baker Creek), it is nicely trackset, and was absolute fun to ski on. The snow warmed up a bit on our way back, but a thin layer of VR50 improved the grip. It was overcast, but not snowing.

  199. Cindy, Alan and GH

    Decided to see how far we get up Paradise Valley today.
    Started out from Train Station at 9:30 am -3. Two of us were VR40 and one set of waxless. Some slippage but also occasionally sticky overall happy with skis given the temperature. Tram to Morraine (both trackset) to Fairview (skier sort of) trail to Paradise Valley had 3 inches of new snow since someone last skied. Trail along creek slow going need to be a bit higher skied to first bridge. Took summer trail back but a number of blown down trees. That trail good. Fairview was okay looking forward to next time it is trackset. Fast out from Lake Louise parking lot to train station. Good day.

  200. Mount Shark – Watridge Lake Trail
    Set off from the trailhead at about midday, back at the car 14.30. Tracks varied from nonexistent to fair but overall still very skiable. It appears there was 3-4 cm of new snow overnight that has covered some of the recent grooming and tracksetting from earlier this week. The open portions of the trail have had snow blow in/away, the trails in the woods are in generally better condition with defined tracks. No ice and debris on the trail was minimal. -2C throughout the day but windy, hoping it survives the high temps forecast this week.
    Our delight at being greeted by a male Moose in the car park was party quelled when it tried to charge us as we set out on the trail…!

  201. PIPESTONE TRACKSET
    Delighted to find on arrival that the main loop had just been trackset again this morning!
    With another 5 to 10 cm of fresh snow last night, conditions were velvety atop a well packed base.
    It was a busy place:
    https://picasaweb.google.com/110857225306442901854/PipestoneTrackset?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCOLS9e3n2_fduAE&feat=directlink
    Would be nice if Parks put an out-house at this busy trailhead.

  202. Pipestone Loops, by Lake Louise – really good conditions here today. When we started just after 10am, we were treated to fresh tracksetting on the eastern and northern aspects of the Pipestone loop. Temp was -4C, with V45 working quite well. We skied 3/4 of the way around the outside loop, then cut in at Pipestone Pond, and skied back up Merlin. Here we had to break trail in some 4cm of fresh snow. The we skied back down to Pipestone Pond, and took an inside trail (Pipestone – this section was skier trackset) back to the now totally full parking lot. Very nice conditions, even if our glide got a touch sticky near the end (-2C). No wind, several well behaved dogs, and lots of happy skiers.

  203. We tried to ski the Minnewanka Road to Upper Bankhead today. Very icy. Can not recommend anything in the Banff town area until we get more snow. Skates are a better choice over skis right now.

  204. At Mt Shark on Friday morning we found 2 cm of fresh ‘coach snow’ on top of the recent tracksetting, making it slower and just squishy enough to encourage you to use better form – to avoid wobbling. We encoutered less glopping up than reported in PLPP, only down near the lake and in the lowest elevations of the yellow loops. Another cm of mostly dry snow and some gropple fell over the course of the day. Left at dusk and drove trough several small but intense pockets of snow along the Spray Lakes road, adding another cm or two, likely.

  205. Checked out Louise this afternoon. -2 at 1:30 and at least 5 cm fresh snow. Tramway was trackset as well as Moraine. Fairviewwas skier set. A few wind gusts so hopefully there won’t be too much debris overnight since conditions are so beautiful currently.

  206. What’s happening at the Nordic Centre – you ask.

    Lots of questions and concerns about the closed trails, and lack of grooming at CNCPP. Hopefully one of the groomers there will post an explanation here soon, but here is my understanding of the situation

    It’s basically a weather issue — the staff were well into snowmaking last week, when the temperatures were below zero, and had guns going everywhere – even as far out as the Meadow. But then the temperature rose, before they could complete the intended amount of snow . Dilemma — do they pull in the snow guns, and groom the smaller amount of snow, or wait for colder temperatures so that grooming can be done properly?

    Another complication is this weekend’s cross country NorAm and Alberta cup races — so grooming is focussed on the biathlon trail area where those races are being held (mostly). Currently only 2 groomers at CNCPP (I think).

    Lastly, there has also been some additional skidoo and trailer traffic out to the new warming hut (which is 95% finished) — kinda messing up the trails a bit too.

    Guess the keyword right now is “patience”.

  207. Great Divide late morning today had 5cm of fresh powder snow. Temp -2C and light wind. No pine needles. Just white powder! Just behind other skiers making fresh tracks from last week’s track grooming. On our way out we passed the groomers (130pm) and its looking fantastic for the weekend

  208. MaSid beat me to it with the trip report for Elk/Tyrwitt/Whiskey Jack: perhaps that was you I saw at the Pocaterra-Whiskey Jack junction? We left from Boulton at 1:30 and were the last ones in the parking lot at 4:15, driving out in a white out of beautiful wet snow. At least 5 cm accumulated on the road by the time we left but it stopped when we hit Hwy 40. If it gets cold, PLPP will be fantastic this weekend. Otherwise, sticky and wobbly. Good core strengthening on those downhills (one of which, on Boulton, I didn’t make when an iced-up ski stopped and I didn’t!). We chose to use the Skin-tecs today and that was probably the right choice but no choice would have glided on the lower trails today. I’ve never gone so slow on the downhill from Elk Pass, but that meant I got to enjoy those beautiful snow-tufts along the creek.

  209. Fri dec 4: elk pass tyrwit whiskey jack Morraine.
    Somewhat of an epic day. Nice fresh coolish now in the morning. Sunny time at the couch. And then we decided to extend around for the loop. Once on the downhill portion of tyrwit, from there on it was sticky snow all the way back. Spent twise as much effort to go half the speed. Had to push myself down whiskey jack! The steeper sections were a struggle. Had too much friction with the waxless skis. Not the way to go today. My friend did ok with wax but we both eventually kept stopping to unclump as the snow was coming down moist. Became quite a task. Both of us were glad to be back at the car. Felt like we did way more work than 18 k. The road up the hill was a slippery affair with 3 or 4 inches of fresh on it. P.s. The couch now has a privy.

  210. Amanda, Mark & Mark

    1cm of fresh snow in PLPP really helped the conditions today. It covered many of the needles. We skied Pocaterra – Packers – Amos – Lynx – Pocaterra. Waxing was a bit of a challenge since it hovered around 0 all day. There was an icy crust underneath at the end of the day, but snow was starting to fall as we left at 3 pm. Not bad for early season conditions. Only saw 6 other skiers all day.

  211. Went out to West Bragg despite being skeptical about snow cover and possible wind debris. Was pleasantly surprised at conditions given the weather and must say conditions now continue to be better than last year on East Crystal, Loggers, West Crystal and Moose Connector. Still enough snow for the groomers tonight (hope). Don’t forget your donation to grooming!

    • Agree with you on above trails. Snow coverage still very good though track getting washed out. However also skied Elbow and Iron Springs. These trails must have got hit with yesterdays Chinook winds as there was a more tree debris on the trails and they were very hard and icy. In fact I walked a lot of the Iron Springs Trail. Temp. +1C at start -3C late in the afternoon. Swix Red worked OK but not on the ice.

  212. Baker Creek to Castle Lookout today – escaped the crust that had formed on the snow in Canmore/Banff today (caused by rain/freezing rain during the night??) by driving west – things turned to snow somewhere between Sunshine Junction and Castle Junction. -5C at Baker Creek at 10.30 am, approx. 3-4 cms new snow making for silky tracks (VR45 worked well). Slightly less snow (1-2 cms) by Castle Lookout and about 0C by 1 pm when we quit. Some sign of the snow moistening in the sun in the open so not sure what it will be like by tomorrow, and lots of icy patches in the trees on the last short stretch just before Castle Junction where the trees had shed their snow.

  213. Thursday December 3, my wife and I skied Upper Tramline, Fairview and out and back on Lake Morraine Road. Fantastic snow conditions!!

    • Thinking of heading that way tomorrow – how much new snow was there in the tracks, and how warm did it get? Thanks

      • Not too much new snow but clearly the weather had not warmed enough to spoil what is there .. and there is plenty.
        I think it got to about -3 degrees.
        Might be worth doing Pipestone Loop as an alternative since it has just been track set

  214. Castle Lookout to Baker Creek: We drove from Calgary to escape the Chinook winds. -11C at Castle Lookout parking with high overcast and light snow in the air that never amounted to any change to the tracks. At Baker Creek parking it was -5C and we lunched in the weak sun. The tracks are still great with only a slight amount of tree debris in the close-by pine forest. There are some rocks peeking into the tracks on the section above the river and railway – some nice person flagged the largest with a pine bough – thank you. We skied a short distance toward Castle Junction but saw no sign of track setting and turned back satisfied with our 22 km day.

  215. ELK TRAP
    Today, I pushed the Cascade Valley trail a little further beyond Stoney, to the Elk Trap.
    While this trail was snowmobile packed in previous years, now it would qualify as what Steve Riggs would call a Wilderness Trail. At the moment there are some natural hazards and only my skier set track.
    Enjoy it for what it is, with all the wildlife that abound here.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/110857225306442901854/ElkTrap?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCJetpOeYlZCcyQE&feat=directlink
    It was nice to see so many happy Skier Bob skiers, including Helen Read and her group at Stoney.

    • Chuck, amazing photos of the animal tracks. What is the Elk Trap? I’ve never heard of it.

      • Hi Bob,
        I understand that the Elk Trap was used back in the ‘60s to corral and enclose excess elk for later transport out of the park. This was when the Fire Road was open and navigable by vehicles.
        We have used it to hold our horses while on back country trips.
        It is a lovely spot, and now a cultural heritage site.

  216. We skied the Mt Shark cross-country trail system in Kananaskis Country today. The 5 and 10km loops were just groomed yesterday (Dec 2), as well as the main trail leading to Watridge Lake (probably down to the Spray Bridge). It was +4C with gusty Chinook winds as we pulled into the parking lot. Surprisingly, there were a few other cars there – but I don’t think we saw more than 2 or 3 people on the trails all day.

    The coniferous trees were shedding in the wind – but really not that bad. We started out with SkiGo Red HF (-3 to +1C), but ended up putting on a wee bit of SkiGo XC -1 to +3 just under the toe area. A little slick, but fast and not sticky. Didn’t even have pine needles or other detritus on the kicker when we finished.

    The grooming was excellent – soft and smooth! Easy turning in the tite corners. The entire biathalon area was groomed as well, so I’m thinking they are keeping the area up to snuff as a backup to the Canmore Nordic Centre (with so many important races coming up). That said, sometimes I refer to the loops as part of a big hamster track- or perhaps a hot wheels track. So many ups, downs, and all around! Glad they have one-way tracks…

    We did the 10 km loop, with a run out to Watridge Lake and back for good measure. I always like the 15km loop, but the outer loop doesn’t seem to get groomed anymore. But that’s OK. Not complaining – whadda you want for nothing?

    If you wish, there are a few iphone pictures posted at:
    http://www.grandviewchalet.com/blog/

  217. In Peter Lougheed Prov Park – PLPP, like in years past, there’s a spruce grouse staunchly defending his stretch of the Pocaterra trail. This particular (same?) guy has staked his claim a little further south than before, now closer to the Packers junction. Yesterday, we met him going both ways, hours apart, standing guard in the middle of the trail. He’s a feisty little guy! It’s hilarious to watch him size you up, then put his head down and charge at you like a bull. His photo is in the contest.
    Track was looking quite altered by frost, pine needles were moderate at times but it is not needlemania, yet.

  218. Thu dec 3: elk pass
    Another windy chinook day. -2.5 at elk lot at 1030. +2.5 at 330 back at the car. Full on melting at ribbon now. +7 @ 4 pm. Some snow and cooler temps likely necessary to make for a decent day at ribbon. Fairly cloudy though most of day. Made for a less than optimal couch day, but the wine evened it out. Some improvements made to the couch. Needs a wind wall and a bathroom next. (-:

  219. Jake and I met up with Bill Milne again early this morning(Dec 3). I’m not good at waxing my classics for warmer temps so in hindsight it would have been better to skate ski this morning. 2 degrees when I parked.
    Unless someone starts doing a serious snow dance this trail isn’t going to be covered for much longer. It’s getting thin. Thanks to Jeff for grooming again but like hardwood floor it can only be sanded/groomed so many times then it’s going to break.
    Forever praying for colder temps and more snow..

  220. Pipestone Trails…Skied yesterday Dec. 2. Pleasantly surprised to find very recent tracksetting as the Banff Trail report had not updated the information. Skied the Hector Trail (#21). The snow and tracks were in great shape and fairly fast with no hazards noted. I used VR 40 and had no issues with grip. No debris noted on the trail. However, near the end of my ski the wind was howling. Hopefully that does not mean too much ” needlemania” today!

  221. Kicking Horse fire road — lots of snow, a little tree debris, and quite a few little bushes poking through the tracks, especially beyond the Ottertail-view-picnic table. A dusting of fresh snow over recent grooming, double tracked to Amiskwi river, then single tracked to turnaround just beyond bridge over Otterhead River.
    Dark and gloomy to start, getting sunny as we left, naturally!
    Might post some photos if I find the energy…..(hoar frost nowhere near as pretty as on this side of the divide)

  222. Bill Milne trail at Ribbon Creek: snow temp -4 at 10 am, so Swix VR45 (-2..-8 old snow) worked well on outbound leg towards Mt Kidd RV park. Mild to moderate pine needle infestation in tracks in some sections, and windblown snow partially filled in other track sections. So about half the time it was easier to ski on the skate corduroy. +6 degrees air temp at the RV park, so Barbara applied the warmer Swix VR50. It gave little grip, so we relied mostly on arm muscles on the way to Wedge Pond. Fortunately, the sometimes strong wind blew us home. Still a beautiful blue sky day, and would have been great skating.

  223. West Bragg this afternoon. Trailhead temp of plus 2 at 3pm.
    I skied Sundog-Loggers-Mountain View-Mountain Road-Mountain View West- south Moose Loop- Moose Connector-lower West Crystal Line.
    Makes for a really nice 16-17 km loop !
    Conditions were mostly good-very good in dry snow, with only a few isolated sun glazed spots. The exception would be Mountain View West, about half of which has suffered from a triple whammy of sun exposure, careless skaters chopping up the soft surface, and a few spots of poor coverage. Not really recommended right now in my opinion, but once it has a better base, this rolling re-purposed logging road will be a lot of fun to ski when conditions are good.
    Sun exposure might be an issue though .
    VR 45 worked perfectly with the exception of the aforementioned glazed bits.

  224. Wed dec 2: elk pass/tyrwhit/whiskey jack/Morraine
    Windy again. Not as bad in the afternoon. Debri was worst on upper half of whiskey jack, but the steeper snow plow sections had been miraculously scraped. (-: The worst hazard today was the icy tree bomb remnants that have been finally coming off some of the trees. Sneaky little buggers. Get you when you least expect it (hopping up a steep section) and you’d completely lose traction with one ski. Maybe with a bit more traffic they’ll get mashed in. Only saw two people all day today. Built a new couch off trail. It’s a full four seater. See if you can find it. Bring a foam seat. Best from 12-2. Warm enough to melt the beard glacier. Off trail skiing was like skiing through chandeliers. Very nice. Looked like flurries on the divide and west most of day. Maybe smith dorrien got some fresh up high.

    Photo of couch

  225. Went up to Lake Louise today and skied the Divide. I thought with the recent winds there would be plenty of needles and debris, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it not only perfectly clean, but also JUST groomed. I put down the first skate marks of the day! It was glorious, so I did it twice.

  226. A little more debris on Terrace today with the winds the way they were, almost blew us off the road at one point! Tracks were very well in place. The worst debris was going up Terrace from the parking lot.

    No real damage to the tracks from walkers that we could see, winds were nonexistent once into the trees, beautiful day about +5 C

  227. Tue dec 1: ribbon creek
    Things are still in decent shape at ribbon south. Some debris on the more central trails but not an issue for the wax less skis. A few walkers in the tracks here and there. It was a windy day. Tough to find shelter and sun together. Hanging at the hostel all week so more report to come from k country before the weekend. -13 when I went to bed Tuesday night. Zero degrees Wednesday morning and blowing hard off the peaks.

  228. West Bragg Creek. ‘Mountain View (West)’ rocks but has rocks today.

    This is a great new trail. Headed out today on Mountain Road and at the usual end of grooming where the track turns left onto Mountain View, fresh tracksetting carried on up Mountain Road and onto a brand-new-to-me trail called Mountain View (West) which links up with the far reaches of Moose Loop. Great views, sunny wide trail, mostly gradual slope. Not many skier tracks, think I was skier number 12 at about 2 p.m.
    braggcreektrails.org/west-bragg-kananaskis-trails/winter-trails/winter-trail-maps.html

    Bad rocks today at the far side of this trail, esp. between km ‘8’ sign and the ‘narrow bridge’ sign but also in other spots. Walk sooner rather than later – a couple of skaters took hard falls after hitting rocks while running fast downhill. Thankfully no injury but unfortunately some badly shredded skis.

    Can’t say enough good things about the volunteers’ tracksetting and the trail improvements at WBC yet again this year. I think everyone should make a donation at the new donation box at the trailhead – WBC saves a lot of time, gas money and trail fees by not having to drive to PLPP or Ribbon or CNC.

    • As per Barry’s report there is a variable snow pack along this trail with 3 areas that are particularly hazardous due to wind transport of snow and solar degradation. This is the first time this year that it has been groomed and track set and we have identified the areas of concern. We will be setting up snow fencing and doing some snow harvesting in order to eliminate the hazards, but in the meantime please be cautious, as there is no signage warning of the hazardous areas.

  229. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
    We Seniors arrived at Elk Pass Parking today to find it cold at -17C with a 15 km/h wind. I couldn’t get on the trail fast enough. We skied Fox Creek and found very little tracks left. Continued to Elk pass on solid tracks and then down Tyrwhitt where we found the dry / crystalline snow made it difficult to keep a kick wax on. From Tyrwhitt table north to the meadows snow bombs and ice under the spruce trees made it difficult to maintain a smooth rhythm. Across the meadows was beautiful under the blue sky. The run down from Tyrwhitt high point to Lookout was fast and rough in places from frozen snow bombs. From Whiskeyjack junction down Pocaterra the tracks were and fast and holding well. We then tracked over Lynx to Wooley and Meadow back to the Discovery Centre (new name for the Visitor’s Information Centre). The lower trails are in decent conditions with the hills being scraped off somewhat. Others reported Wheeler was spectacular and Whiskeyjack had a good deal of tree debris.

  230. Cascade Valley – fabulous day for skiing this trail. Totally blue skies, no wind (the forecast for Banff/Canmore had brisk winds), and pretty good tracks. As was mentioned in a report yesterday, the tracks are a bit worn down on the big hill, but once up they’re better, and past the Cascade River bridge they’re great. Temperatures in the upper valley hung around -12C most of the day. The highlight of this trip was seeing the fantastic hoar frost crystals on the trailside bushes, mostly beyond the bridge. Some of these crystals had facets almost 2 cm to a side, and looked dazzling in the sunshine. We turned back at the warden’s cabin today – GPS clocked 27km.

  231. BREWSTER CREEK
    With reports of the first tracksetting on Brewster Creek… we had to check it out.
    Starting at the parking lot at the base of the Sunshine Road, we followed the double tracksetting around the crag and over the new bridge to the junction heading up to Sundance Lodge from the Healy Creek trail. The Brewster Creek trail is then single trackset to within 2.5 km of the Lodge. After that, the trail is snowmobile packed to within 500 metres of the Lodge. The final ungroomed section to arrive at the Sundance Lodge is lovely.
    A Pine Martin greets you from his hideout at the staff bunkhouse! We enjoyed our snack on the comfortable sunny deck of the Lodge.
    Check it out for yourselves:
    https://picasaweb.google.com/110857225306442901854/BrewsterCreek02?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCNn86MDjuIyWRw&feat=directlink
    To see an interactive map (Zoom In/Out etc.) that shows the new approach around the crag (that only adds about 1 km), see:
    http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=3263895&code=c44f93d87929d15411405e7b11ff6ee8
    We were very glad to see Skier Bob on our return descent.

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