Trip Reports – Dec 2016

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 OneDrive and leave a link with your comment.

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  1. MLR to Moraine Lake (Dec 31)
    Groomed trail was good. The section down to the lake had been broken and lightly packed but was covered with 4-6 inches of fresh snow – so I re-opened it. It was a good day. There was even a few minutes of sunshine in the early afternoon.

  2. Reading Helen and Hugh’s Pipestone reports and seeing the parks canada report that Pipestone was getting groomed today we headed out. Roads were in good shape on the way out and the sun even came out as we skied the blue loop. As described yesterday the snow was amazing and made even better by the fresh grooming and tracksetting completed during the day today. Started sking at -13 and finished at -7. Used V20 green and it worked very well.

  3. I skied MLR (Moraine Lake Rd) to Fairview up to the Chateau parking lot and back. Classic trails were great. there were only about 10 cars in the parking lot when I started around 1pm and about 4 when I returned. I was surprised there weren’t more skiers out.
    It was about -10 C in the air when I started so I used a mix of green and something else which I can’t recall now. I’m not a great waxer but it worked anyway. The skate lane on MLR looks like it needs a grooming or it would be good for resistance training.
    Looking forward to more great skiing in 2017.

  4. West Bragg – Telephone Loop
    Skied on Friday, Dec. 30th.
    Good thing I used my old “rock skis” as this loop is fairly rough with numerous sections of exposed rocks. If you’re nimble on your skis you can avoid most but if not, be prepared for some major base repair. And watch out for three fallen tree trunks across the trail along the east side. Check your speed on the downhills as you encounter these. Anyone tracksetting should bring along a chainsaw to clear them off the trail.
    West Bragg gets heavy traffic from bikers, skiers, snowshoers, and people simply walking the trails so it could really use another good dump (or two) of snow to improve conditions.

    REPLY

    • Good idea to check the West Bragg Creek Live Grooming report before heading out on one of the XC trails. You’ll note that Telephone Loop was last groomed 2 weeks ago and Moose Loop even longer ago than that. Neither has been trackset. If there had been enough snow they would have been groomed and trackset by now. Better to stick to the trails that have been recently groomed or trackset.
      If the forecast snow arrives, you can bet the trails with enough snow will be groomed.

  5. Today in PLPP temperature suppose to be -10C but it was -3C at 11am. I guess weatherman started New Year celebration early, good for him. I put Vauhti carrot on the grip zone, it worked well. Wheeler is a bit glazed and worn. Moraine and Fox Creek is in fair condition for a single track. Elk pass is fantastic. Tyrwhitt is good. Old Pocaterra is very good full speed no problem. Lynx is poor lots of twigs no tracks. Lots of people old and young in the park today. Most of them eating at the picnic tables, like 80%. I think we need more picnic tables, forget the PistonBully and track setting. It is the tables that draw folks into the woods. Happy New Year everybody.

  6. CASTLE JUNCTION to PROTECTION CAMPGROUND – Dec 31

    Even though Castle Junction to Castle Lookout has been allegedly groomed recently, the section from Castle Lookout to Protection Campground is still our favoured area. It is Skier Set and has been packed earlier. We love this section along the train tracks, for so many reasons:
    https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7gl7b2dtlCFDEukOT
    Sorry to have missed you Helen… you must have been walking along the road!

    • It was our family you passed yesterday at Castle Junction. Our first time there, my kind of bush trails (having moved from Whitecourt). Awesome photo of our 4th son, his bride & dogs Harvey & Kevin who belong to 3rd son. 2nd son was the one with 2 kids, eldest son a skate skier so he was at CNC.

  7. PLPP, skier paradise! Whiskey, Tyrwhitt, Elk, Blueberry, Fox and Moraine. -9.5C at Bolton Trading @ 12 noon, skis prepped with fresh VR40 which was not great till top of Whiskey and fresh grooming, from then on the kms flew by and made for an awesome ski, just perfect. My thanks to our groomers and weather gods.

  8. Bob has already waxed poetic about PLPP/Elk Pass area, so I will be brief…. it was fantastic today!!! 🙂

    • Ditto. Did the pocaterra-thyrwitt-elk pass loop. Everything pretty good other than lower pocaterra (always nice when you get to do it twice!) and Amos and Lynx. Morraine seemed better than normal. Nice to run into Mary and Ray. Lots of folks out. Limited real estate and turkey sandwhiches at the blueberry junction table. Snowing on the drive back along highway 1, difficult driving with all the random braking and varying speeds.

  9. I skied in the Ribbon Creek area today. I started at Nakiska and skied up Skogan all the way to the pass, also taking in Sunburst/Highlevel and Skogan Loops. The lower section from where you leave the Nakiska run to the “gate” where the road to Mid Mountain Day Lodge heads up the hill is quite bad. Going up is fine but I took my skis off on the way down. From the “gate” to the Skogan / Sunburst junction is okay, ski-able downhill with caution. Sunburst is fine if one goes up but I would not want to come down that way yet. Highlevel was fine up or down. Above the Skogan / Highlevel junction conditions improve. Skogan loop and beyond to the pass are in good condtion with about 8 cm of snow on top of the grooming that took place sometime ago. Hopefully the snow event forecast for this evening into tomorrow will bring some snow to this area.

  10. For anyone looking to venture a bit further out of town, highly recommend checking out the Dawn Mountain Nordic ski trails up at the base of Kicking Horse in Golden, BC. There is a wealth of beautiful ski trails nestled in the trees, with IMMACULATE grooming (probably some of the best I’ve ever skied!!). The snow is fantastic right now, and definitely worth checking out if you are in the area 🙂

    Happy new year, and happy trails!!!

  11. A week to remember!

    After waiting what seemed like forever, this past week Richard and I had three simply fabulous skis.

    Tuesday at Cascade Fire Road. While the first part of the trail, down towards Bankhead, was a bit thin – the remainder of the trail, towards the first bridge and beyond – magnifique! I read that the entire trail was groomed and trackset yesterday, so I imagine it is getting even better!

    Thursday at PLPP. Reading about grooming and tracksetting of Moraine and Fox Creek (thanks, Jody) – we arrived at Bolton and worked our way up to Elk Pass. First ski of the year at PLPP and it was a godsend. Like coming back home!

    Today at PLPP. The coup de grace – fantabulous! New grooming and track setting (thank you again, Jody!!!) from the Elk Pass parking area, all the way to Tyrwhitt meadows, made the early start a simply glorious day of up tempo skiing and fast downhills. Every second of the skiing was amazing – despite mid-day crowds making the return down to the parking area (at 1 PM) without collision a challenge!

    So, while the local 2016-2017 XC season came in with a bit of a whimper – 2016 is going out with a bang. And it’s snowing!!! Life is good…

  12. What a fun day of skiing at Cascade Fire road. Yes, there is enough snow, although our pole tips were striking asphalt on the short stretch of road before the trail. Another 10 cm would help. We only went as far as the bridge and some of us got there in just over and hour. The snow was perfect for blue kick wax and the run back down was exhilarating!

  13. Castle Junction to Castle Lookout: If yesterday was the best ski of the season for me, today was the worst! I ended up even walking on the 1-A back to my car at C/J until I got back to the first 2-3 kms. of trail, which is not too bad. Beyond that initial fair ski, I would not recommend it unless you want to see LOTS of animal tracks: wolf and big cat/littler cat: need Chuck for proper identification. Also saw big Caterpiller Cats and lots of machine equipment, a big ice flow or two, a big power pole looking like it was being replaced, piles of wood as if evident of active logging and the “muster station” sign still up. The Castle Mountain Resort has added a nice little track across its front yard to the parking lot and I cannot comment on #2 and #3 trails. Anxious to hear a report from those skiing Baker Creek at other end. Happy New Year!

  14. PLPP is wonderful this morning!
    Wherever you go, you find either tracks over fresh snow or nicely groomed trackset trails. Except for lower Pocaterra, Lynx, and southern Wheeler, where tracks aren’t excellent.
    Forecast promises snow this afternoon. If so, it it’ll be all new there in New Year 🙂

  15. Confederation Park Golf Course

    I was a little pressed for time today, I didn’t have time to drive too far, so I decided to try Confederation Park with the family. It was better than I expected, there were some bare spots to avoid but still enjoyable to get some strides in. Not too busy when I got there ( about 10:00) but was busier when I left. I put on some green special wax but I think I would have had better results with blue special. Oh well, no big deal, we just wanted to have some fun. I would go back to Confederation again. Happy New Year!

  16. Elk Lakes Provincial Park
    Generally excellent skiing. Down the power line about half way to the park was a little thin with a few sticks sticking out but no rocks. The trail is skier packed on the BC side.

    Met the groomer at about 6:30pm at the Blueberry Hill turn off. He was roll packing the trails at the time. Not sure if he was going to track set things.

  17. Cascade Fire Road

    Skied about 3 km beyond the Cascade River Bridge (about 17-18 km return). Even though the snow is not very deep the tracks are reasonable and the glide was great (blue with a touch of purple with an air temperature of -4oC). The first hill going in was soft enough with the recent dusting of snow to control speed. No parking problems.

  18. Lake Louise: Fairview and Moraine Lake Road were both freshly track set and a joy to ski on today after a lot of snow covered the area by last night. Lake Louise tracksetter Jeff was busy grooming Fairview around mid day and Parks Canada had finished setting tracks on Moraine Lake Road by the early afternoon. The conditions should be perfect for anyone who fancies going to Lake Louise tomorrow.

  19. Just got back from an evening ski at Maple Ridge golf course in Calgary, and I would rate conditions as somewhere between surprising and miraculous. Lots of very nice roller packing, some (I think) with a bit of thin track set, and lots of excellent skier set track. Bit thin in spots but no rocks, dirt, bare pavement, or any hazards (other than speed bumps going down the steep cart path- go down at the north end instead).

    Not just OK considering the thin snow cover, or OK considering that it is in Calgary – conditions are genuinely good.

    • That’s awesome! I have never been there to ski. Where do you normally park for access?

      • It is just north of Anderson Road, overlooking Deerfoot. Take Acadia Drive north from Anderson, then take the first right (Mapleglade Drive). Golf course is on your left, keep going until you see the gate.

  20. Cascade Valley – ten of us started out at 10am; with four turning back at the Cascade River bridge, and the other six skiing to the warden’s cabin. The trail had been trackset early in the morning, and we were passed 4 times by the tracksetter grooming the skating portion of the trail. The trackset is a bit thin, due to lack of snow to work with, but was generally quite adequate for an enjoyable ski. The tracks stop at the warden’s cabin, with grooming only from that point to the Stony River bridge. There are two big ice flows and a couple of smaller ones past the Cascade River, but they are avoidable. By the time we returned, many skiers had used the tracks, resulting in washed out sections. An enjoyable day! Thanks to the tracksetters for their hard work.

  21. EMERALD LAKE ALLUVIAL FAN – Dec 30

    In honour of the Contest, we had to check out Emerald Lake today… and we are so glad we did.
    SNOW, like we have not seen it yet this year.
    Check it out at:
    https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7gkVsUc0Lf3ynczCs

  22. First time skiing in PLPP today and it didn’t disappoint! Elk Pass, Hydroline and Tyrwhitt where all freshly groomed and trackset. Thanks to the family we ran in to at the Lookout Junction who recommended Whiskey Jack over Lookout or returning on the way we came.

    Whiskey Jack and Moraine were both skier set, however were in excellent shape. As an added bonus we ran into (not literally thank god) Skier Bob who was heading up the way we came.

    I will definately be back out to PLPP and would love to hear about other people’s favourite loops.

    Here’s a photo of Greg screeching to a stop as we met on Whiskey Jack -Bob

  23. Confederation Golf Course

    ………..was a very popular place this afternoon! A good day to stay off the highway, apparently, and take advantage of very good conditions right here in the city. Snow well packed and well used, especially in driving range which had the most reliable coverage. Elsewhere lots of good groomed tracks with some thin spots and hazards, including exposed asphalt around bridges. Hard wind slab on some slopes, with pockets of powder in sheltered areas. Perfect weather for a pleasant afternoon outing, and it looks set to stay in good condition for a while 🙂

  24. Exhilarated with the fresh powder (LL got 6 cms overnight) on Pipestone Blue. Minus 13 at 10:30 and warmed to -8 but sun, eg. down at Mud Lake made it feel even warmer. Lots of people enjoying #20 and a few skied the Hermit to the lake as did we. Such a pleasure to ski 20 kms without hearing evidence of rocks underfoot. These were the best snow conditions I’ve experienced in 24 outings. There was snow falling off the trees at times, giving us at least a dozen “snow facials”. Didn’t see any dogs??

  25. Pipestone loop and Hector; Left Canmore 9:30 with the Lake Louise 500 in fine form. Greasy roads and two full lanes of traffic. Idiots in left lane and really slow pokes in the right. Lots of off road marks in both ditches.
    At Sunshine Turnoff right lane backed up to Bow River bridge.
    Drove 60-100 kph to the lake. At Louise turn off right lane was backed up to Bow River bridge. Left lane was icy and moving 60 kph. If you were heading into Louise you could have snuck the left lane and then slid onto the off ramp. Best move would be to travel to Pipestone turnoff and do a U turn on the Pipestone road and come back at Louise from the west. Oh yeah skiing! -10C 6cm fresh skier track on top of groomed tracks. Rode Multigrade blue and some Rex green on top. Parking lot had six cars. Skied Counter clockwise dodging snow bombs off the trees, There is a tree down on approx 2km from the campground . Easy step around. Returned to full parking lot. TCH home had less traffic but still sketchy with one car on its side 2km east of Louise interchange.

  26. Elk Pass today. Started in parking lot with over 10 cm of fresh powder. Temp was ~-10C. Nice grooming up to Patterson. Looks like the groomer went up Hydroline. So, brook trail all the way to Elk Pass. Tried to stay on the left side (I know-wrong side) but I was thinking of not having to break trail coming back down and thought people going up would stay to the right. Didn’t happen. But snow was great. Brought back many memories of how it used to be in the late 1970’s. I remember breaking trail for Bob Lee and Tate McFedron, as well as Lou Goodwin. I was the young-one then! Not so much anymore. But hopefully all will have a very happy New Year with lots of new snow.
    ken

  27. Got out for a quick ski on the Spray trail from Banff to the bridge. -10 when I started, but warmed up to -6 by 11:00 am. The track is in reasonable condition the whole way, and the signage from Parks Canada is great as it seems to be keeping walkers and bikes off the trail past the 500 m mark where there is an alternate trail option.
    Any information on Healy Creek from anyone? Im looking for a dog friendly trail for tomorrow- Happy Skiing!

    I imagine Healy Creek will have some early-season hazards. Castle Junction to Castle Lookout has been groomed (not trackset) and is dog-friendly. -Bob

  28. Skied at Louise on Dec 29. Light snow was falling all day. Skied the Great Divide via Lower Telemark to the border and back. The Lower Telemark was in excellent shape with skier set tracks. No hazards encountered. Also skied down Tramline. The Bow River trails are closed so we had to walk from the parking lot at the Train Station to the Village.

  29. On Dec 29 the CNC live grooming map showed that Banff Trail had been groomed to the end of the natural snow part, so I took my rock skis to give it a try. The man-made section was excellent, but the natural snow section was quite poor. Still very thin, no track setting, poles easily hit the ground and some dirt starting to show through. A skater could move around the thin spots that I saw in the first 400m before I turned back, but not suitable for classic yet.

  30. Upper Goat Creek to Goat Pond Figure 8 loop. Started later in the day 1:30 .-4C Vahuti orange worked very well.
    Lots of Snowshoe and foot traffic . We stayed off the lower part of the N loop due to the walkers and SS but found our skier set tracks on the upper section have been flattened by nonski traffic. The further south we skied and after the figure8 junction our ski tracks reappeared, excepting for a couple of foot traffic folks who walked right on top of our tracks. I know this is a multi purpose trail but….
    The south end for the most part was still skier tracked. The dog sledders have yet to venture further north than Goat Pond. It was just starting to snow as we left around 4:00 .

  31. Cascade valley to Stoney Creek cabin good to excellent cover although the track set is getting to be more like skier set, my first time on this trail, always a bit of a concern doing a new out and return wondering of time and energy will suffice. I have to admit to not looking forward to the return leg until I saw the creek flowing back the way I’d come, did not realise it was a gentle climb all the way! It was a double pole fun most of the way back.

  32. Had a great ski at Mt Shark today. The groomers must have been out late yesterday, as the tracks were in great shape, although most of the shorter loops are only rollered – not enough snow to trackset. Skiied out to the park boundary west of Watridge Lake and around a couple of other short loops. Watch for twigs sticking up on some of the downhills Snowing lightly all day, but not much accumulation by mid-afternoon.

  33. I’ve never been to Pipestone LL before. It’s a nice place and nice people, about 20 cars in the parking lot at noon. Think about this place as a Fox Creek, Boulton Creek and Moraine combined on steroids. Mostly single track with lots of hills and better snow coverage. It was snowing whole day with temperatures of -6C. Rode blue multigrade worked well for grip. A tree has fallen across the Pipestone trail in approximately west-north corner, so… go slow when moving in counter clockwise direction. Also, there is a bit of an ice flow on the green Hector trail. Some sections are bumpy when going fast, but overall good snow cover and silky smooth skiing today. When conditions are good and traffic is light this place can be a lot of fun.

  34. Canmore Nordic, Avoid 🙁

    Saw that Meadow was open do figured I’d do my fav long loop out banff to Bow and back meadow. Big mistake. Bow is nice up to the turn around. Then shite. Probably should have delved deeper into the trail reports, have to figure out how to do that. But, my $0.02, if you’re thinking about CNC for serious skiing, save your cash $ and wait until they got some snow and set tracks. Trail looked marginal for skating, only saw two or three skaters. I did classic. When I connected back up with Banff it was as bad as Bow. Once you get back to the warming hut the trail is back and skiing is fine. But not worth the drive from YYC. Thinking about returning the car and bailing on skiing tomorrow.

    • Hmmmm wow. I’ve had 2 excellent ski outings there. Both classic and skate. Yes going off the officially packed and tracked trails is not good (well it’s fine for rock skis) I saw lots of people On them including racer types with expensive gear. Right now there is nothing even remotely close to these great tracks within an hour of Calgary.

      Perhaps your early season skiing elsewhere has been exceptionally exceptional then if you feel so strongly that this was a total waste for you? Where was that?

  35. ELK PASS (BNP) – Dec 29

    John’s Question about Cross Country Ski Trails at Norquay encouraged us to re-evaluate this for our ski community.
    The signage isn’t great, and you need at least Light Touring skis, but Norquay is a great place to start a ski tour. The elevation alone provides adequate snow to start, and an excellent destination is Elk Pass. There is no avalanche risk on this tour.
    Proceed to the trailhead just past the Mystic Chair, drop down to Forty Mile Creek, climb past the Cascade Amphitheatre junction to Elk Pass at the 12 Km mark (where there is a campground). There is still a lot of trail damage from the 2013 floods, so be prepared for rocks, especially this early in the season. As we had to break trail, this trip took longer than normal, but we got to the pass just before our turnaround time of 2:30 pm and got back to the resort before dark.
    Details are in this photo link:
    https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7gjZUL5ohwLY073Qq

    It’s pretty clear from Chuck’s report, but take note this is the Elk Pass in Banff, not in PLPP. -Bob

  36. From the sounds of Thursday’s two other West Bragg reports, we did good by following today’s grooming- finding good fun skiing on the various Crystal Lines, Sundog, Elbow, Iron Springs, Loggers. All featured renovated surfaces with generally good coverage, and track setting that was consistent and well defined for the most part. Numerous thin areas exist, but they are short and easy to avoid. Elbow has a large ice flow covering the trail that is simple enough to cross- it is midway along in the dip at the bottom of that steepish N facing hill. Iron Springs and Elbow south remain skier tracked only, but still offer decent skiing.
    In the wax department- Swix VR 45 worked perfectly.
    Bottom line is that although things are looking a bit more worn than our previous West Bragg ski on Tuesday- there is still plenty of good skiing, just don’t bring your best skis. We hit no rocks, but I did clear out a couple of dozen along the way.

  37. Skied Sandy McNabb today mid afternoon. Did Death Valley to Long Prairie Loop then came back on Pine Ridge and Meadow Loop. Beginning of Death Valley has been tracked through by snowshoers. Further up the snow is much better and a lot of snow has been blown onto the trails in open areas. The snow was pretty fast, and we only had to take off skis at one point where there was no snow. There are a ton of rocks and roots sticking out on all the trails – most of it is avoidable, but I did scuff up my skis on a few hidden ones on Pine Ridge.

    • If only Sandy McNabb wasn’t pretty much a snow desert…..Had a lovely afternoon on almost every trail north of the roadway today. Lots of skiing, bit of walking (some downhills are not OK, and the dirt from the rough trail base shows through here and there), definitely need rock skis. Only met one person – fellow wearing true classic skis that looked older than me. We agreed that the trails were a little doubtful in places, then literally simultaneously said “what a wonderful day”. It was a perfect reminder that what matters is getting out and appreciating the magical place we live in

  38. I skied Mountain Road to Moose Connector, south portion of Moose Loop, west portion of Mountain View to Mountain Road and then back along Mountain Road to the parking lot. I skied much of that route (in the reverse direction) a week and a half ago, before the recent snowfall. Mountain Road is certainly ski-able but near the parking lot one does have to keep a pretty close eye out for little rocks. The Moose Connector was okay. The steep bits are ski-able as well but only barely. On Moose Loop (south side) the hill down to the meadow was bad at the very bottom. You would have to be really good to get through there without taking off your skis. After that the section up to the Mountain View junction was quite good. Mountain View is still really marginal. It is not really feasible to go the entire way without removing your skis for most of the downhills. Amazingly enough the last hill heading down to the junction with Mountain Road was ski-able (it was not last time I did it).

  39. Skied Moose Loop counterclockwise (and considered the West Crystal Line but decided against it given conditions). The trail is skier set and very hard packed with rocks/gravel both visible and invisible, as well as grasses and twigs, so you have to keep your eyes on the trail. Some sections have wind blown snow over the track but nothing serious. On hills the trail is very scraped down with rocks poking out often at just the slots where you need to turn which make it rather dangerous and hard on the skis. Delighted to see a moose munching willows in the flat open area. The best skiing was after the Tom Snow intersection… Lovely hills with good snow coverage. Won’t be back until there is more snow.

  40. Just finished a loop at Confederation Park. Slightly patchy in areas (especially up on the hills) but good glide and I’m grateful for the opportunity to ski in Calgary. The driving range is the best volume of tracked snow, even though I could see the tops of driving range balls peeking out of the snow. As ever, thanks to the groomers for their tireless efforts.

  41. Confederation Park…still lots of snow but windblown and glazed. A gentle grooming would revitalize some of the packed or glazed areas

  42. CNC was great today with Olympic trails open and many loops below the biathlon range also open. Hardly any traffic on hear compared to the busy Banff Trail loop that so many do. Me incl. they’ve done a terrific job on all these groomed and trackset trails. Also heard quite a few Aussie accents from a visiting training group. I don’t exactly think of Oz as a snow destination – what am I missing?

    Sorry to hear about the wind damaging Shag. Trails. Bummer as that was the plan with the kids tomorrow. I haven’t read or heard anything about Confed. Either current conditions or the whole grooming and snowmaking permitting. Where can we find out more?

    • I was at Confed yesterday afternoon. Lots of people out with generally pretty decent conditions. The parking lot has been ploughed, although the gate is not yet open. There is a snow making machine ready to go in the parking lot.

  43. Larch Hills – Salmon Arm. First winter visit to the Larch Hills trail system. I’m not sure what “normal” looks like here at this time of year, but we found decent skiing with the odd twig and brown spots here and there. It snowed about 20cm in the general area on the 26th, 27th, which gave a nice boost. Based on alpine ski conditions at Silver Star (also aided by 20+cm fresh snow), I’d guess the nordic conditions there and Sovreign Lake would be very good. Alas, we’ll have to save that for another visit. Sounds like more snow in the forecast tomorrow, so if one was looking at a multi-day destination ski outing, I don’t think you’d be disappointed with the conditions in the area.

  44. Pipestone Trip Report and photo from Kellen Westman:

    Skied Pipestone this morning, it’s all “good” with a photo showing a typical track condition attached.

    Thanks for your great website!

    Kellen

    Pipestone Photo

  45. Today I skied moraine-fox creek-hydroline-lookout-whiskey jack.
    Lookout is in need of trackseeting as both sides have deep snow.
    The s turn hill on whiskey jack is thin but the ice flow no longer is visable.

  46. Skied at CNC today and after reading that grooming was done skied to the end of Banff trail. As described on the trail report, a lot of thin spots and after a couple of hidden rocks scraped my skis I slowed down and started picking rocks along the trail. It is skiable but I would use your rock skis if you plan to do the Meadowview banff loop. The trails with man made snow were excellent and it was fun seeing how many people of all ages were out using this great facility. Really enjoyed Lynx today as an alternative to the busy start of Banff Avenue. It was impeccably groomed for skate and classic and had very few users

  47. Just out of curiosity, I looked at the last 9 years of my X-C records of where I skied on or around Dec 28th since 2007. I often make little notes, descriptors like “awesome” and have to say, with the exception of Lk O’Hara Fire Road (with a terrific report from Chuck today) all the other places are lagging behind, in terms of snow depth and snow quality. This would include trails like Ribbon Creek and around Kananaskis Village, up to Sundance Lodge, Goat Creek, Fairview, Pocaterra, Amos, Lynx, Shark loops, and Cascade to name a few. Today was a lovely ski to Stoney Warden’s Cabin but, eg. I have not seen so many ice flows before or such low snow depth, esp. past the new bridge.
    Summary: My fear is that we must anticipate a new normal, lower our expectations and be grateful for what good snow we do find. As has been pointed out many times by Skier Bob, it is critical that we share the “not so good” reports as the “awesome conditions”. Thanks Bob for the warning on the “Rocky Road” likely up to Sundance Lodge. I greatly appreciated your back-breaking work taking all those rocks out of Spray West to Spray River when I skied it yesterday. You are getting a T-Y gift from me next time we connect on a trail! As Mikhail pointed out, we need more snow everywhere east and SE of Castle Junction. I even wonder when those trails out of Castle Junction to Baker Creek will get roller packed?? I am impatient for the massive dump like we got early last November which kept us going for the whole season!!! MaSid I am glad to hear the couch is ready for visitors.

    • The birds and animals had not touched the chocolate at all. Still in the ziplock unpecked. But had that old convenience store melt/freeze patina. It was not consumed. Nonetheless, still in a Christmassy foil, so timing worked well. In another week or so might have a back on the couch for some true lounging. I think it’s going to be a bigger semicircular couch this year, take advantage of the sun angle, no matter what time of arrival.

  48. LAKE O’HARA – Dec 28

    A Great Choice… Fresh snow and no hint of rocks:
    https://1drv.ms/i/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7giGJ4E_ZvgyXc1C_
    Loved passing all those line ups on the highway, backing up from the ski hill junctions!

    • Oops… here is the correct Link:
      https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7giJCEN_d6GiQHjZI
      And I should mention that while the fireroad is not been groomed, it feels like it has, presumably because of all the skiers pulling pulks on wider skis.

      • Regarding ski hill lineups, I spoke to a couple downhillers in the hot tub who said it took 90 minutes to get from the highway to Sunshine parking lot. Today’s skiing was the most fun I’ve had so far this winter. Making a full day of it, we’re having dinner out right now but I’ll have a very interesting update later.

  49. Wed dec 28: west elk pass/hydroline/lookout/fox.
    – 7 or 8 in the lot at 930, -5 at 230. Nice mild temps for a ski day. A dusting of fresh at the trailhead to make first tracks nice and smooth. 1cm on the picnic table at blueberry junction. Breezy day though. And light flurries most of the day. Came back from west elk and went up Patterson to hydroline. Good tracks on Patterson. Shallow skier set on hydroline but windy. Snow still soft though and made for a nice shoosh even without a defined track. Diverted up lookout south to the top of hill above Bolton creek. Broke trail in 3 inches on top of the machine groomed tracks to establish the double tracks. Some odds tracks back that way and on the rest of the return. Came back down rest of hydroline (again a nice cruise). Steep bit is a bit challenging being already snowplowed by folks and some ridges at the sides. I barely made the turn with a bit too much speed. 2 or 3 brownish spots on fox creek but fine if you want to avoid the hill or the winds up there. Just before the lot I discovered the reason for the odd tracks. An unlucky fellow had broken a boot toe piece and was skiing back with one ski on. Apparently from almost top of lookout. A good one leg workout on the descents I bet!
    Couch update: currently just a bench, and the makings of a wind wall. Finally found the gift left by Hellen, just 8 months later though. It survived. (-:

  50. We classic-skied part of the Cascade Valley trail for the first time today. In case you are also new, park at the Lake Minnewanka day use area, follow the other skiers to the gated road near where you entered the parking lot. Enjoy the gentle downhill heading roughly west. When it flattens out, look for a right-turn into a grassy meadow. If you end up in Bankhead you’ve missed the turn.

    Despite my poles telling me the snow cover was quite thin, we didn’t see rocks or bare patches. Track-setting has been heavily skied on, but I was able to hold a tuck most of the way down the big hill. Conditions were soft and it was snowing.

    On the topic of the hill at the beginning, after reading Bob’s report from 2015 that it is ‘notorious’ I was imagining something like the steep climb out of the Elk Pass parking lot. It wasn’t nearly that bad. Not steep at all, just long.

    We hope to go back when it’s sunny so we can enjoy the view!

  51. Better late than never:}

    Dec 25 – Canmore Nordic Center: natural snow trails (Bow, Meadow View btw mine scar and Olympic) were thin, but skiable. With todays packing (Dec 28) should be better.
    Dec 26 – Cascade Fire Service Road. One can tell there is still not much snow there… It was awesome to ski this trail though. But it would use some fresh grooming as there was ~2-4 cm of fresh snow on the last grooming (was it Dec24?). Tracks were set to ~13.5km – to the fork of downhill to warden cabin.
    Dec 27 – Elkwood-Lynx-Pocaterra-Tyrwitt-Elk Pass-Fox Creek-Moraine-Amos-Wheeler @ PLPP. Superb day! Great firm tracks of Dec 26-27 tracksetting. A little disappointed to see Tyrwitt not groomed with ~10 cm of fresh snow and only skier set. Out of all mentioned – Wheeler and Pocaterra South (past Lynx) were the best. Lynx and Amos only packed and groomed and still are quite thin with lots of twigs sticking out in some places.
    Overall – we need more snow on all trails to the east and south East of Castle Junction!

  52. Has anyone skate skied Cascade Fire road recently? The last trip report described the skate lane as mushy.

    thanks,
    Michael

    • Hi,
      I was there on 26th.
      I would not recommend skating on CFR – it has bunch of fresh snow between tracks and still is not even (just not enough snow).
      Having said this – if the urge is strong: it is so-so to skate to the first bridge (forget the name).
      But it would be pretty marginal past it.

  53. Skitrails.info (http://skitrails.info/report/sandymcnabb) reports that Sandy McNabb has been groomed yesterday. Anyone been out yet – is is roller-packed or more than that?

    • Thanks for noticing that one, George. It’s truly amazing and unusual to see every trail in green at Sandy McNabb. Also, on the Canmore Nordic Centre’s Live Grooming Report it shows a lot of new green on the natural snow trails.

      The PLPP Live Grooming report shows many trails in the north end being groomed last night.

      I am assuming all of the above is packing/grooming only, not tracksetting.

      The Banff trail report indicates Pipestone Loop and Hector were trackset on the 26th and are rated “Good.”

  54. What a treat to get a big classic ski in at Nipika today. Fresh tracks overtop of recent grooming made for fun skiing (especially Hell’s Hills) on the south side.

    On the north side where there was fresh track setting on the majority of the trails. There was the odd twig sticking out but overall it was in fantastic shape. It appears as though a big cat enjoyed a stroll on the trail recently as well!

    The track setter had also been out on the fat bike trails.

    If you have a chance, get out there!

  55. To complement today’s PLPP reports from Ian and Nikolai, skied from Boulton on Moraine, Fox (any day this trail is skiable is a great day!), Elk Pass then up Blueberry and return. Speeding down Blueberry was a blast, smooth, no rocks, and it was a nice fast run down Elk Pass. About a dozen cars in the Boulton lot when I started at 12:30. Although car temp said -6C, it was blowing hard up at Blueberry…at least -15C.

  56. WBC was colder than Calgary, -8 @ 11am, I had VR45 as per Steve’s report and was surprised how well it worked, the learning continues, Skied the groomed trails East Crystal, Iron Springs. Elbow, Sundog, West Crystal and ungroomed Moose connector, Moose loop, returning on Mountain road, all very enjoyable in early season condition as posted by Tanya. I parked on the road, did not even attempt the parking lot, lots of dogs around to greet but easy to escape the crowds once a few clicks out. Best ski was later half of Moose counterclockwise after the big climb.

  57. STONEY CREEK via the CASCADE VALLEY – Dec 27

    News that the Cascade Valley had been trackset to Stoney Creek left no doubt as to our destination today.
    It was a busy day with at least 100 skiers on the trail. Conditions have improved dramatically since our last trip on Dec 18… very few rocks.
    I was intrigued to meet Michael who was pulling a sled, practicing for a future Epic trip.
    Wildlife tracks tell another story, and I saw Cougar, Wolf and Moose tracks:
    https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7ghX-eAi-h1qwStnL
    On my return, very close to the Warden Cabin, it was surprising to be asked by Curtis, how much further it was to the Minnewanka Parking Lot. I informed him that he had to return the 13 km he had come from the parking lot. But he said, “I thought this was a Loop Trip”! Well, he had some explaining to do to his Saskatchewan friends whom he had assured they were “almost there”.

    • Would you still recommend rock skis?

    • Hi Chuck. My friend Terry and I met you and chatted at the Warden Cabin. It was good to meet you. Thanks for posting the pictures of the wildlife tracks – you’re clearly a lot more observant than we were.

      Trail conditions were decent and the scenery was magnificent.
      Don

  58. We followed Chuck’s tracks to Spray River east side. Considering the little amount of snow there is to work with, Don the track setter is a magician. It was a great ski to the second Spray bridge 10 km away. No hikers on signed section when we set off, but definitely on the way back. I turned some hikers around and off the ski tracks. The signs help us skiers help hikers get on the right trail, but I think they need to know why they should turn off the ski trail where it looks nice and flat and safe. Maybe posting a map would help, show it’s a short distance down to Spray River and views, that options exist once at the river, etc.

  59. My observations at PLPP differ somewhat from Nikolai’s!

    My first impression coming from Calgary was where’s all the snow?

    I arrived early at 9:30, and was the third car in the Elk Pass parking lot. When I returned the lot was mostly full.

    1. Up Elk Pass, skier set track, packed underneath. Solid snow cover.
    2. Tyrwhitt, skier set track, a bit rough. Lots of bush tops poking out of the snow. I don’t know if they are waiting for more snow before setting tracks.
    3. Whiskey Jack: trackset, hard packed and fast.
    4. Moraine, thin snow but good enough coverage with a shallow trackset.
    5. Fox Creek, thin, trackset, a few roots and rocks showing through

    Near the end, the wind was picking up and hopefully it won’t blow too much onto the tracks. There was already some bits on Moraine and Fox Creek.

    • Hi Ian! Yes, Fox Creek and Moraine have shallow tracks. They are the best I’ve ever seen there, for usually those two trails are completely worn out. Hope you enjoyed your day there. I certainly did, having made 32 km in 2 h 50 min 🙂

  60. Shark Mountain Dec 27

    We skied out to Watridge Lake today. The trail out to the lake is not well groomed or track set anymore, so it was a definite struggle. A lot of multi users with limited understanding of proper trail use.

    We did lose a pair of adidas sport sunglasses which we would love to get back if possible. Please contact me at rooneye (at) shaw.ca or leave a comment here and we can figure out how to get in touch. Thank you.

  61. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (PLPP)
    was as busy today as Calgary downtown on Sunday noon.
    Going clockwise from Pocattera hut:
    – Lower Pocaterra is messy, take it easy or skate.
    – Pocattera from Lynx to Lookout junction – nicely groomed and trackset.
    – Tyrwitt has skiers’ tracks, good enough.
    – Elk Pass is great and fast. Thank you the group I met on the steepest hill for paying attention and keeping on your right.
    – Fox Creek is trackset and is in the greatest condition I’ve ever seen it.
    – Morraine – same as Fox Creek.
    – Wheeler: is well packed and good to skate it.
    – Amos is nicely groomed and double trackset.
    – Lynx is now a world class trail for skate skiing. Really enjoyed it.
    – Come Along is packed, fast, though messy in parts and bushy in lower sections (epilation of which wouldn’t be a bad idea).
    Overall great trial conditions and it was a beautiful calm day too.

    • I was going to add a trip report, but this post covers everything very well. We started from William Watson lodge to avoid the untracked section of pocaterra.

      I will add that the moose in Peter Lougheed park have obviously read your blog: they quite curtiously avoided stepping on the track-set even though they wanted to use the pocaterra trail between packers and Whiskey jack

      C

      Photo of moose tracks

    • I just wanted to make a slight correction so any skate skiers don’t get the wrong idea, especially with the snow pack being so thin meaning nothing can be trackset (or re-trackset) north of Whiskey Jack without another good snowfall. Wheeler is definitely double trackset and would be best not to be skated; and northern section of Amos is groomed only and has not been machine trackset. Hopefully there is more snow in the near future and the Pistenbully can get out on more of the north trails soon. Happy Trails…

      • Skate skiing in PLPP is a woefully ignorant thing to be doing.
        The trails are not wide enough for it and you trash the tracks.
        There is signage about this at many of the trailheads.
        Lots of comments on this blog about over the years.
        Skate where it’s appropriate.
        PLPP is not for skating.
        Fair warning: You’ll get an earful from me on the trails.

  62. West Bragg Creek over the holidays – WOW. Both parking lots were jam packed today with extra vehicles parked a good half a kilometre down the main road. I’ve never seen the place so busy. On the bright side, it was wonderful to see how one area can attract so many different users. I saw dozens of groups starting out on snowshoes and many fat bikes riding through the parking lot. Of course the ski trails were well enjoyed too. Such a fabulous multi-use area.

    As for ski trail report, trails are in good early-season condition with several rocks still sticking out on hills. I removed a couple off of Sun Dog but there are still many more to be removed. All in all though, trails are much better than they were before Christmas and are certainly skiable/enjoyable.

  63. Skied montane trails in fernie last night. Track set for classic and skate. A few boot prints but in good shape. A couple of centimetres of blower powder was falling on the trails, didn’t really affect ski quality last night.

    Elk valley Nordic centre is now open for skate and classic.

    Full trail conditions for the fernie area can be found at:

    http://www.fernienordic.com/grooming

  64. Has anyone been on the lake o’hara fire road trail yet? It’s indicated as only skier set by parks Canada.

    • Until O’Hara Lodge opens up for winter operation (end of January – beginning of February), and lodge staff grooms and tracksets the fire road weekly, tracks are mostly skier set by folks going to /from Elizabeth Parker hut, and day trip skiers. We skied it one month ago, and conditions were good.

  65. SPRAY WEST and GOAT CREEK return – Dec 26

    Thanks Don (Banff Park Tracksetter) for working over the weekend to get this area ready for the holidays. The new signage promises to be excellent. Starting at the Banff Springs there is a 700 metre stretch that is open to everyone, so it is heavily tracked. Then the signs indicate no walking, and it seems to be observed as there were only ski tracks after that this morning. It is double trackset to the first bridge (5 km from Banff) but thin so some dirt appears in the tracks. Skate skiing would be recommended for this section. The next section to the 10 km bridge (also over the Spray River) is very pleasant, but a few rocks start to appear as you approach the Goat Creek Bridge. East of Goat Creek, there are a lot of rocks, so be prepared!
    Check it out at:
    https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7ggrtkGMBEDKsZhb7

    • Nice running into you today, Chuck. I really like the new configuration of the trails. I’ll have a detailed report on Goat Creek later. Just got home from picking rocks!

  66. No Boxing Day crowds out at Kicking Horse Fire Road at Natural Bridge. Parking lot had just been perfectly plowed out when we arrived. Minus 15 and NO wind! Double trackset down the first hilly section and then single track to end of trail. A few twigs sticking up but did not slow us down much. We 3 saw not a soul until we were back in the car.
    Thanks Ray for your Nirvana report on Redearth last week. Chuck took our Santa hat picture when we met him the next day in the parking lot. Chuck was headed into Shadow Lk Lodge, so we had to wait to see his excellent pictures of the dipper and snow hare, and the 7 of us.

  67. West Bragg Creek – drive less, ski more 🙂
    Just now, great conditions for skating on freshly groomed east side of Iron Springs and on Crystal trail system. Okay conditions for classics. Some hazards; the faster you go, the harder you watch out.

    • Hostel Loop is great for classic, although one of the two classic lanes was damaged a little by a group of snowshoers yesterday.

    • big crowds today at WBC, parking full!, skiing OK

      • One hazard at WBC to be aware of is a giant ice flow on the Elbow Trail about 1.5km south of Sundog. If you’re skiing north on this section of Elbow, you come down a fairly big, steep hill, and as you bend right at the bottom, you’re suddenly confronted with a 10m long ice flow that covers 95% of the width of the trail, leaving a very skinny bypass track on the right. Caution advised here!

      • ARRIVED AT WBC at 3:40 as the crowds were thinning out. Skied up Mountain Road with my dog (on leash) with blue wax v30 which was working perfect in the -7 temperature. Track setting was still pretty good given the apparent heavy use today. Few patches where you had to lift your skis and work on balance but overall a great ski

    • We followed this mornings fresh tracksetting- Crystal East-Iron Springs out and back, and Sundog. Soft snow over a well packed base, easy waxing (V45), fast gliding and glorious weather made for a great Boxing Day ski. The far south end of Iron Springs had no recent grooming, but featured a good skier set track. There are a few thin spots (I’m not quite ready to bring out the best skis) and on one fast downhill- a bump or two to watch out for :O
      Overall- I would rate conditions as good or better 🙂

    • Skied Crystal Line West Boxing Day, mid afternoon. Very busy day and tracks had taken a bit of a beating in a few areas and snow is quite soft. A few thin areas but overall we had a great time! Kudos to all those who track set over the holidays.

  68. Many skiers were out Christmas Day on the trails in Golden. Dawn Mountain near Kicking Horse resort has all trails groomed perfectly. The temperatures are predicted to be that sweet blue wax -5C to -10C in the next week, so worth the trip. The new Marmot trail, combined with the Caribou and Moose loop rocks!

  69. Buckle up, everyone! First trip report for Sandy McNabb in at least a year! Hopefully, not the last. Although there was no grooming or track setting, I have to say we had a very nice day breaking trail at Sandy. Truth be told, I did not break any trail as I have an older husband and younger children to do that for me. Did not come across any other skiers and, while I am far from antisocial, it was a rather pleasant change from the hustle and bustle of WBC. For the most part, snow was good. A little bare in the trees and lots of hidden debris under the snow Maybe I should repeat that just for emphasis. LOTS of hidden debris. Sandy, at the present time, is not for those new to the sport or for the faint of heart. Especially the hills. We stuck to flat trails as our youngest (grandchild) was in a chariot. Fingers crossed that grooming will take place so the base is saved and additional snowfalls will make this area skiable for everyone. Would be nice to be able to take some pressure of WBC.

  70. Conditions were very nice at West Bragg Creek, for a mid-afternoon Christmas ski. There was some new snow on top of yesterdays grooming on West & Middle Crystal Line, Mountain View and Mountain Road. The double trackset on Hostel Loop was mostly holding up, except on hills and turns. Excellent conditions for snowshoeing and fat-biking too!

    • Further to Alf’s report, skied Hostel for the first time, good snow coverage but chilly today as it’s mostly in the trees. Continued in the sun on Mtn Rd and decided to check out Moose Loop for more sun. It has been groomed not yet trackset, and was wonderful. Recommend skiing this loop counterclockwise just now due to some ice and a few exposed rocks, easily navigated, on uphill slopes going in this direction. Scraped off some blue wax layers and had excellent grip and glide. Temp was -14C at start and -16C at end. Little wind.

  71. Fresh track setting on Moraine Lake Road mid day today.
    Thank you to the tracksetters (3) for working Christmas Day.
    A beautiful sunny day, but chilly 18 C air temperature.
    Green wax worked beautifully and gave a fast trip out.

  72. Sun dec 25: pocaterra and tyrwhitt.
    -22 at 10 am. -16 on return at 4 pm. A bit washed out at the start. But one decent track anyway. Machine groomed and track set from Linx junction to lookout junction (upper pocaterra). Skier set only past that on tyrwhitt. About an inch of fresh on top of old grooming at the lookout junction and about 4 inches at the tyrwhitt picnic table. It was silky smooth and sunny so bailed on the loop plan and just came back the same way. Good thing too as I was feeling a bit tired by the end. Didn’t eat and drink enough probably, just kept moving. Much faster once back in the upper pocaterra trackset. Only saw a handful of people. I did my best impression of Santa with a frosty white beard all day. Hunger made me stop in k village on the way back, see if I could wrestle up some turkey supper. $70 bucks a head for the Christmas buffet so ate at one of the new restaurants, just opened a week ago (forte?). New coffeshop/market there too. Didn’t investigate ribbon creek trail quality so nothing to report there.

  73. Many Calgary city parks have enough snow to ski, though the diligent City workers have got to many paths, so if you want to go far, be prepared to have to deal with stopping and crossing pavement.

    Looking forward to seeing what FNSC can do with this base over at Confederation Golf Course.

    Jack

  74. skied skogan to sunburst trail.

    take your rock skis.

    climbed easy enough, but she is a steep trail and we scraped a lot of the snow off of her on our way back down, we got the Ptex scars to prove it.

    Calgary got way more snow than Nakiska did.

  75. PLPP on Saturday delighted few skiers with a new snow, about an inch on the North side and about 2 inches on the South. All the recent grooming was pretty much buried under the new snow, but fear not I saw the snowcat working Amos late afternoon. You should expect some new grooming for Christmas day.
    Rode blue multigrade grip wax worked perfectly all day. I have started at noon with temperature of -6C and finished at 5pm with -12C. Tyrwitt trail is in much better shape than last week and is ski able. The only hazards are twigs sticking out. Have a Merry Christmas.

  76. West Bragg- adding to Tanya’s report from Hostel loop, which late this afternoon still had well defined tracksetting. I also skied Sundog, Loggers, Mountain View and Road, Moose connector, Crystal Line, finding decent coverage with skier tracked new snow over the recent grooming on those trails. Waxing was easy- a thin layer of Swix Blue worked perfectly. A very enjoyable short ski- what a great Christmas present! Met up with the wife of one of the groomers- he had been out since 7 am and was planning on keeping at it until well into the evening. Kudos!

    • West Bragg Moose Loop was beautiful skiing yesterday afternoon with snow laden evergreens. I’m guessing there was close to 18-20cm of fresh snow. We completed the loop close to 3:30 as one of the groomers was starting the loop to pack it with the snowmobile. Great conditions with only a few shrubs sticking out of the SE end before the climb back up into the trees. Keep your eyes open for the 2 Great Grey Owls on the drive between Bragg Creek and the parking lot!

  77. Backdoor ski for me today, enjoyed an hour making fresh tracks around Bearspaw, lots of fresh snow and almost no base, for a time constrained Xmas eve I’ve no complaints, Happy Christmas Bob and all.

  78. Canmore Nordic centre rolled meadowview, bow and Banff. coverage is okay (really good rock skiing). meadowview downhill (at the end far end) has a lots of rocks. everywhere else the rocks are avoidable.

  79. Upper Goat Creek to Goat Pond figure 8 loop.
    Parked at access Rd gate just past Goat creek parking lot. -9C fresh powder Rode multigrade blue and some Vauhti Orange underneath. Fresh snow misting down. Great grip, glide was a bit slow.
    This new powder snow 3-4cm covered the gravel enough on the road down to the upper Goat Creek bridge to allow for a few parallel turns on the way down.
    Trails are still skier packed or more rightly snowshoe packed. We had to reset the ski tracks keeping off to one side or the other in the hopes they won’t be flattened over the holidays. Once we got to the junction of the figure 8 a snow machine (presumably Dog Sledders) had made a pass on the South end of the figure 8 . We skied the upper part of the south end and returned the bottom section until the junction. Snow machine packing helped but the dips, Labrador tea and willows made for a bit of a picky ski. We avoided the lower section of the north end of the trail due to said dips and brush. Great trail to ski 10 minutes from our ?

  80. West Bragg Creek was amazing today. We just did the Hostel Loop for a short outing but the amount of snow compared to the last few weeks is incredible. The hills are powdery soft and the snow was fluffy and beautiful! Our loop had been track set but the tracks were quickly filling in with new snow falling. Be careful when coming down the steep part of the loop (skiing counter clockwise direction) because there are still a few rocks here and there. I was going too fast to stop and remove them but did clear one off the trail while climbing near the beginning of the loop.

  81. Let the city skiing truly begin with this dump of powdery snow! Confederation Golf Course at 10am today had good coverage of asphalt and gravel paths, all currently skier set. A pleasure to ski it compared with the thin patchy coverage of the past week or so.

  82. Elk Pass and Blueberry at PLPP

    Pretty much perfection today. Silky smooth fresh snow all day on nice trackset making for easly climbing (VR45 all day) and screaming fast but totally controlled downhills. No snowplowing down Blueberry, just take a deep breath and let the skis run. Absolutely wonderful.

    Doesn’t look like a big dump, but everything that was at least skiable at PLPP should be awesome tomorrow if you can get there. Today was one of those days where you climb up wondering what the big deal is, and sail down laughing.

  83. Skied from my back yard gate along the CPR/ Calgary transit right of way to the Southland dry pond and did a couple of laps including the toboggan hill. If you live in Calgary, ski season is here.

    • Had excellent skiing at Nipika the last 2 days.
      Most trails groomed and track set, snowing heavily.
      Looks like a spectacular Christmas period for skiing!

  84. We were all set to ski Canmore NC tonight. After the folks at Google predicted 2 hours and 20 minutes from my place in Bragg Creek to CNC, I decided to go for a headlamp ski out at West Bragg Creek. Oliver and I checked out all the fresh grooming (just finished) on West Crystal Line, the mountain road and a few others as well as Mountain View West. The four-five inches of fresh snow seems to have been converted by those great community groomers of ours into something pretty skiable for an hour or so. Much better than it was yesterday after several days of wind put innumerable cones and needles onto the trail system. Mountain View West was ungroomed when we got to it, and may still be. Quite a few rocks hidden beneath (ski ouch!). Also quite a few rocks hidden in the trackset on the mountain road. We’d recommend staying out of them until the next snow, or maybe until tomorrow if the snow continues to come down. That Charlie needs to come back so we can reski the system with his geologist’s hammer! V30 worked well at -7C.

  85. West Bragg Creek
    After an extended snow drought, West Bragg Creek finally got a Christmas present of about 10cm of new snow. It’s enough to cover the needles and debris that was blown onto the trails over the past 3 days. Volunteers have been busy removing fallen trees and broken branches. As of 5 pm, groomers were out roller packing the snow in the West Crystal Line area. I expect that more trails will have been groomed by Saturday morning.
    There were lots of snowshoers and fat-bikers out on the trails today. Those trails are in great shape now!

  86. Finished up 3 days of skiing at Lake Louise today with a short circuit from Deer Lodge…Peyto, Lower Telemark, 1A and back up Peyto, before the white-knuckle drive back to Calgary. All skier tracked but in decent condition and very quiet. Warmest blue wax from yesterday worked fine. Snowed all yesterday and today….should be great conditions over the holiday.

  87. Work shut down early today so was determined to go ski. My original plan to head out of town immediately at noon was thwarted by poor productivity, plus nasty road conditions, so I ended up at Maple Ridge golf course, not sure what to expect. No grooming, and soft snow, but pretty good coverage that had been falling all day (& getting heavier when I left at 5:30). VR40 blue wax worked great.Ran into 1 resident going the other way who made very nice even tracks so I got decent glide following them. The tracks we made will likely be gone tomorrow, but more snow will make for great skiing for a little while at least.

  88. SHADOW LAKE – Dec 23

    Shirked all family responsibilities and went skiing instead!
    Consider this trip as an extension to our Redearth Creek trip on Dec 20.
    The fresh snow last night only barely covered the pine needles lower down.
    The tracksetting done on Dec 21 is great but it stopped about 1 km short of Redearth Creek Warden Cabin.
    So many people have gone up to Shadow Lake Lodge, that I was able to ski up the steep hill from the junction, even without skins! Don’t ask what kind of wax I had on… I am still using whatever is on there since last year. Maybe it’s called Herringbone Wax.
    I had to break trail to the lake, but that was the rewarding part. Lots of American Dippers flying up and down the creek, and I even a Snowshoe Hare!
    These photos tell the story:
    https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7gXzqGbnw-kDawqYI
    On the return, I checked out Lost Horse Creek Cabin.
    Merry Christmas… you are guaranteed a White Christmas if you take a trip up here, as it snowed all day!

  89. Lake Louise, fairview, moraine lake, trameline

    Did the 15 km loop this afternoon. was track set but soft snow and other skiers made the tracks more of a suggestion in spots. plenty of snow, though did see a patch of earth showing in one or two spots but nothing to worry about. base is plenty deep. no idea how those spots (really one maybe two) go there. Problem was grip. Tough getting any grip, used plain old blue swix, no idea what i should have used. once it stops snowing and tracks are set again it will be really fun. Greatly appreciate that they split the trail into one direction (Fairview) on some of the steeper sections. Moraine road, the short bit i skied, was in better shape than Fairview or Tramline. Wasn’t great day because of tracks not holding up and poor grip; but a so-so day of skiing is still better than a good day doing most anything else.

    • Skied a similar loop today but went along Moraine Road to the turn around point. Had great grip with Rode Weiss wax. The tracks were slow with the new snow but a great day to be out with not a lot of other skiers.

      • Skied MLR to the turnaround point Dec 23 and agree with Doug’s report. Grip was fine with blue wax on the uphill but tracks were slow coming down . Lots of new snow.

    • Ha- I also did a similar ski up from tramline at Station restaurant. That section was just being reset- single track. Moraine was also reset this am. So all tracks a bit soft, it seemed the fresh snow was warmer than temp – about -6. Used VR 30 with 40 on top. Bit slippery. Then went to Pipestone, added VR 45- too sticky – bit of icing. Decent track still.
      But a nice ski in the woods, lots of snow in trees and not busy anywhere. Except the highway.

  90. South end of PLPP today. We started at Boulton Campground and skied up Whiskeyjack to the track setting on Upper Pocaterra to the Lookout Junction. Tyrwhitt had not been track set, but we had not skied this trail yet this season, so we decided to check it out. I have never seen Tyrwhitt so devoid of snow! The meadows that are usually voluptuous with whipped cream were stubbly with dark willow shoots. The trail, too, had twigs poking up here and there, but they did not affect our skiing. As we went south, the snow got better. After lunching at Elf Pass we went down Hydroline, which had new snow almost burying yesterday’s track set. Other skiers had joined the Hydroline trail at Patterson, so the tracks were great and surprisingly fast. The steep hill at the bottom was positively buttery! We have never seen it so good – just let yourself gooooo…. We returned via Fox Creek and Moraine, which still have not been track set, but were good nonetheless. Temperatures were between -8 and -10 all day, and it snowed lightly most of the time we were out. Merry Christmas to all!

    • Just a note on Mary’s post. Nancy and I skied Elk Pass-Hydroline-Lookout-Tyrwhitt-Elk Pass and down. The climb to Lookout was “breathtaking” but the ski down about the best ever. More snow falling all day, though not much accumulation. VR40 worked…sort of.

  91. Hi Bob,

    We had a great family ski yesterday up Red Earth creek. As of noon on Dec 22, the trail was trackset for about 10 km. The last 1000m before the warden’s cabin was packed without tracks to account for some bumps, a small icy section (easily navigated) and some evidence of bush pruning.

  92. Moraine Lake Road/Fairview Loop today. Lots of gentle snow falling and -5°C. Visibility was poor but trail condition was very nice! Much gratitude to the trail groomer on an excellent job done.

  93. My parents towed me around the trails at Nipika today. I enjoyed the scenery but to be perfectly honest I was asleep most of the time. My chariot is a great place to take a nap. My parents said the conditions were great with freshly groomed trails and the weather was perfect for skiing with a little one because it wasn’t cold. I was pretty excited because I saw some huge paw pints in the snow, it turns out they were wolf tracks! I also enjoyed eating gingerbread cookies and oranges surrounded by the mountains and fresh snow.

  94. Skied the Cascade Fire Road today for about 9km one way before turning back. Not sure what wax goes best with pavement but the road is getting pretty thin. Thank goodness Banff is supposed to get snow over the next couple of days. The meadow was also very thin with many rocks starting to show. After that, the fire road had thin snow but was definitely skiable. Snow was very slow today though. Felt like we went up hill in both directions.

  95. Mt. Shark today, great conditions, not too much wind & light snow falling. Thanks to groomers who packed & double track-set Watridge Lake Trail. Infortunately dog sledders are using that trail so tracks have been obliterated. A little unnerving to come down a hill around a corner and find 6 or 8 sleds & dog teams stopped in the middle of the trail??. Not sure who they were, but we met 3 Howling Dog vans on the way back to Canmore. Maybe their permit would cover the cost of re-grooming?

    • Yes, we encountered the same today at Mt. Shark. Headed out on Watridge Lake Trail at 9:15 am on beautiful set tracks (apparently these were set late on the afternoon of the 22nd). On the way back, we too ran into the same dog sled teams around 10:45 am. Not only did they mess up the grooming, they insisted on using both tracks, their dogs had pooped over a large section of trail, and they had a snowmobile out on the same track. We got the license plate of the trailer the dogs came in and will send it into Alberta parks tomorrow. We didn’t think their permit would allow all this. By our count, only about 6 skiers including ourselves got to enjoy the set tracks before they were obliterated. Realize people have to make a living, but we were not very impressed by their actions….

  96. Thu dec 22: elk pass.
    -4 at the parking lot at 930, -5 on return, 1pm. Light snow and moderate winds all day at the south end of the trail system. The tracks are fairly washed out all the way along and a fair share of debris. Lots of hut folk, skiing, walking, dragging sleds. Diverted to west elk first. Only about 2 feet of snow in the meadows and not much support off the old track which was blown in and hard to follow. Seems like we are behind on snow amounts back there for this time of year. Lots of the drainages not filled in yet. Started the couch building process but not a lot to work with. No seating yet, only stamped out a big pad to consolidate the manky snow. Maybe after the next few days of snow I can get more done. Went up to the main elk pass on return. Then down hydroline, freshly roller packed, no tracks. Bailed to Patterson to get out of the wind. Better tracks and less debri. No sign of that bailing wire so must have been dealt with. Bypassed the big hill at the end via fox creek just to check it out. Enough snow back there. No issues. The odd root/pole bang but that was it. No track setting. Had a fire at the hut on the way back. Nice to have that working again. The baked potatoe and butter was awesome.

  97. Kimberly BC trails were in great condition on Dec 19. Fresh snow was wonderful. The outer loops and a few other trails were freshly groomed and trackset. It’s not a long trail system but they take good care of it. Intersections are well marked, the clubhouse is good, and there are even thermometers hanging from trees! Kimberly is a nice town and the drive is scenic. So if you need to get away from the inlaws this Christmas, the Kimberly nordic trails are an excellent excuse.

    PS> recent snow in Invermere should make the Panorama nordic trails ready but I haven’t checked.

  98. 3 reasons to ski at Kananaskis Village right now:
    1. You have young children and can’t justify driving more than an hour to ski 3-6km at most.

    2. You are staying at the Delta without a car to go anywhere else to ski.

    3. You want a trail that you can ski with a dog.

    Other than those reasons, I really can’t recommend skiing at the Village right now. Trails are covered in pine cones, needles and branches, rocks are starting to show, two trees were down across Aspen (I cleared one,) and nothing has been freshly groomed. (packed maybe but there is no corduroy near the Village.)

    We skied the Kovach/Aspen/Terrace Loop.
    If you are still determined to ski here, bring waxless skis because I can’t imagine the damage the pine needles and branches would do to your wax.

  99. Had a nice ski up blueberry hill today in PLPP. No recent track setting but that didn’t matter as the old tracks were fine. Vr 40 worked well all day. Windy in the parking lot and at the top but otherwise very calm and peaceful. Lots of smiling faces along the way. Nice to be back skiing at PLPP!

  100. LAKE LOUISE TRAILS – Dec. 21
    Happy Winter Solstice day!
    Nice conditions on Lower and Upper Tramline; double trackset all the way; fast travelling in both directions. Fairview a lot of fun in soft snow, Moraine Lake road in great shape; tracks and skating lane in fine condition.
    -3C to -5C all day; nice to be skiing in baseball caps and thin gloves after last week’s deep freeze.
    Met Helen and friend while descending Lower Tramline; did a Brandy Bean intervention to assist with the effort of their ascent.
    Shortest day of the year…….here’s to increasing sun and snow!

    • Those Brandy Beans were just what the doctor ordered to celebrate a lovely Winter Solstice afternoon. Methinks there will be lots on sale half price after Christmas. Great remedy for what ails ya, Dr. Peter!

      • Skied Lower Tramline>Moraine Lake Road>Fairview>Upper Tramline on December 22nd and they were all track set and had good coverage.

  101. Cascade Fire Road

    We finally got out late this afternoon for a quick ski, and holy moly was it windy!!! Still good skiing, though windswept in open areas, and extremely slow descending big hill against gale force upslope breeze.
    Too breezy for ornaments, methinks……

  102. CNC has pretty good snow for both skate and classic. Banff trail goes to end of the meadow. Some debris and needles but nothing to worry about. I had my atomic waxless and friend had waxables and were same speed everywhere. For skate same speed similar waxes. Not busy.

    Most of the lower trails below the biathlon range are open. Night loops all open. Easy enough to get 20km if you don’t mind making a few loops. Warming hut open and very basic (no bathroom) but nice. Looked like they were preparing trails above the lodge so Olympic area’ish

  103. The Great Divide at Lake Louise was track set today for classic and skate ski Wednesday December 21. See link for pictures on the web.
    http://willski.ca/cross-country-skiing-the-great-divide-lake-louise/

  104. Lake Louise

    I skied MLR but stopped in at the 1A to have a look. It had been freshly trackset.

  105. RedEarth Creek: Nirvana (mostly). Arrived at the parking lot at 9:30am to see a Parks Canada truck and snowmobile trailer sitting there. Started out skiing in the old trackset, right beside the newly packed (downhill) side of the trail. Lots of needles in the first 2km, and the tracks (or at least the left ski one) were often covered by the edging of the snowmobile packing. After 3km, the trail had much less debris, and the old trackset was a bit better. Then, at the 5km mark, the tracksetter passed us as he headed back downhill, leaving a set of beautiful new tracks! We resisted skiing in them for about 15 min, but then from the campground (7km) on conditions were terrific, except for the last km to the warden’s cabin which had a small ice flow, a 50m stretch of alder branches, and only a single snowmobile width packing with no tracks. Fabulous snowy trees up there. The return trip (now on the new tracksetting) was good fun, except for the last km to the parking lot, which requires some defensive skiing. Temps around -6C all day; virtually no wind.

    • Huh, funny – we skied Redearth creek on the 21st around 1 pm, and couldn’t tell at all that it had been trackset that morning. I would have thought it was just skier trackset, or trackset several days ago! Was definitely a busy place, tricky for those descending with so many people going uphill. Warm & soft snow conditions and a beautiful day.

  106. Parked at Elk Pass yesterday (Dec. 20) and surprised to see so many cars. It snowed throughout the day (~10cms) which covered up a bunch of crusty-looking stuff. Conditions were soft. Not recently groomed. Lot’s of folks it seems coming and going from Elk Lakes Cabin. Skied all the way up to Blueberry hill. No ice or debris on the trail. Needs a good grooming though.

  107. Skied West Bragg Ck yesterday, starting at Allen Bill Pond. The first 0.5 km from Allen Bill Pond is in poor shape with marginal skiing, but things improve beyond. Iron springs is in fair-good shape with a few rocks showing and some thin areas. East and West Chrystal Line and Loggers Loop are good, just a few rocks. The snowpack is generally thin and lots of debris (branches, pine needles, dirt) has been blown on the tracks. Most set tracks have been obliterated by other users. We can use some more snow! A fine day out skiing though.

  108. Skied the Great Divide Trail yesterday and it has lots of new snow but it isn’t groomed..tracks are in ok condition for skiing.

  109. Had a nice ski this afternoon at the Nordic Centre. The Banff trail and Lynx have lots of snow and are track set. Many of the surrounding trails looked groomed but no tracks. Heavy snow falling and lots of wind when we left.

  110. Spent the last 3 days in Lake Louise and there has been plenty of new snowfall. I’m guessing 20 cm’s of new snow in the last 2-3 days. No new grooming or any Groomers in sight. I’m wondering if the equipment is broken down or it’s just budget cuts again. Still had a lovely time but it was disappointing not to have more groomed options to ski.

  111. SNOW!!! at Blueberry Hill in PLPP. A delightful day skiing up Elf Pass Trail in the snow, in the snow, in the gently falling snow. What began as a few flurries at the parking lot became almost a blizzard at times. With temperatures ranging from -7 to -5 it was not cold, except for the breeze. Tracks on Elf Pass Trail were lightly dusted with the white stuff, but by the time we skied up Blueberry Hill, they were heavily snowed under, which made for a slower than usual descent, even on the steeper sections. Skirling wind and swirling snow at the Blueberry picnic table had us doing a quick turn-about and heading down to more hospitable climes for lunch. Snow was somewhat sticky, which was great for climbing, but not so great for gliding. I scraped off my wax at the top of the big hill back to the parking lot to get a nice fast descent. A good, if slower day, but who’s complaining when we get that kind of snow?

  112. REDEARTH CREEK – Dec 20

    Another couple of cms of new snow, and the set track is still excellent. The only rocks we found were just in front of Brian Neihaus’ low level bridge at Lost Horse Creek. It’s a Winter Wonderland:
    https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AAEu8W2kcCheDyI&v=photos&id=7BC5BC3B115C5915%21237&cid=7BC5BC3B115C5915
    And it was started snowing again today just as we got to the Warden Cabin, so conditions are only improving.

  113. Skied Hostel Loop at West Bragg yesterday. Lots of sticks and needles on the trail with all the wind. Rocks showing through in quite a few places, but I still enjoyed myself. If you’re really worried about your skis I’d skip it but if you are desperate it will do.

    Tried to remove any large branches I found along the way.

    Also found the rubber piece of an SNS binding along the straight downhill section, placed it in the lost and found deep in the front right corner if it’s yours!

  114. On my way to Redearth Creek yesterday, I stopped at the Spray River west trailhead behind Banff Springs Hotel. It is unskiable. Very little snow and lots of exposed dirt and rocks.

  115. Thank you to all the rock pickers on the Cascade this weekend. With the skiff of snow over the packed trail it was a lovely ski to bridge and back, out of the wind for the most part too. Kept an eagle eye for rocks on the way down as it was smooth and speedy, but not a one. Good job!

    • I too was on Cascade today – found just one rock, so the rock pickers of the past few days get my thanks too. I also skied Upper Bankhead – blustery in places and the tracks often filled with blowing snow. Looked like the morning snowfall amounted to about 1cm, if you round upwards. Still, as mentioned yesterday, the tracks were quite good considering the amount of snow to work with. Temperatures were around -7C for my short afternoon ski.

  116. Minus 9 and 2 cms new snow (very little wind) at Mt Shark. Started our ski up to helipad-twigs to ski around on descent but no rocks. We set some tracks in the still visible track-setting of Dec 7 to Watridge Lake; imagine it will be terrific when it gets a re-groom this week. Got lazy and did not ski down to the bridge, but others were heading there. S-D and Shark Rd in great shape. Re. answer to Diana’s question about ornaments on Cascade: I have never put any up there but last year there were even homemade snowflakes and can’t think of a better time than now to hang a Christmas ornament, even though I suspect this is not a practise encouraged by Parks. Re. Ma Sid finding it too cold lately-he who creates beautiful snow chesterfields in the back country and encourages us to bring a foamie to sit on them?? Don’t forget the Calvados “antifreeze”.

    • (-: the tipple is more warming when shared unexpectedly, just like the furniture, ornaments and all. might be getting a cold unfortunately, been a bit chilly. )-:

  117. Pipestone and Emerald Lake – Dec 17/18

    PIPESTONE – Dec 17
    A frosty -23C all day; saw no other cars in the parking lot or skiers on the trails. Skied the Pipestone Loop (#20) counterclockwise. First 2 km hardpacked, tracks washed out in many places, divots from hikers. Better travelling farther in on a single set of machine set tracks. Thin snow cover, some debris on trail. Tracksetting ends at the northern end of the loop where the trail reaches the Pipestone River and makes the turn back south………wolf tracks on the river.
    The trail back on the western section of #20 VERY rough. No grooming or tracksetting, just packed by a few snowmobile runs. Numerous ruts, ditches, uneven surface, shrubs, etc. If you don’t like the trail the first few minutes after tracksetting ends by the river, better to turn around and go back the way you came. We persevered but it was “adventure” skiing, at times a bit treacherous on skinny skis; definitely NOT a route for novice/tenuous skiers right now.
    Other trails in the Pipestone system seemed to have been packed by snowmobile at least once. (Note; not “groomed” with the roller, but just a few runs with a skidoo, leaving the trail in rough/uneven condition for skiing). Until the area gets more snow, probably better to head across the valley to the Lake Louise trails, Lake O’Hara road, etc, where is more snow and much better conditions.

    EMERALD LAKE – Dec 18
    Heat Wave! -19C in the morning, up to a balmy -12C by afternoon.
    Still not enough snow for tracksetting; one loop trail had just been set around the perimeter of the lake, but a surprisingly thin snowpack (2-3cm) meant some exposed ice in the tracks, poles skidding across the surface, etc. No tracks set into the Alluvial Fan, other trails in the area foot/snowshoe packed, or machine packed in preparation for tracksetting with a bit more snow.
    Light snow was falling as we left Sunday pm so there is hope!

  118. December 18th

    Great day at Elk Pass/Blueberry at PPLP. Much colder than expected (-17 said the car!) so we kept moving at a good pace. Pleasantly surprised by the quality of the snow on the hills on Elk Pass; I was expecting icy sections, but there was good grip and pleasant snow the entire way down. Some twigs on the tracks along the rest of Elk Pass, but Blueberry delivered as always with tons of fluffy white snow on the trail and on the trees. We missed the Whiskey Jacks at lunch…

  119. Took a reconnaissance trip to Invermere on Saturday to find warm weather. The Windermere Whiteway looks like it will be ready to go soon. The lake is frozen and snow covered. Just needs to get track set and cleared for skating. The Lake Lillian Whiteway is skier tracked and made for a good short outing. Poles go right down to the ice as the snow is very thin, but it’s still not a bad place to ski a short loop in the valley.
    Both should be great by New Years.

    Also skied at the Canmore Nordic Centre on Sunday around the yellow loop. BUSY. Best to go here mid-week.

  120. Ribbon Creek – Daughter & Dad day of delight here as trails groomed with 1″ fresh powder a top kovach for a fun rock & debris free decent to the lodge. Wind sift and needle debris throughout much of lower network but Terrace was in fact double trackset. Only saw 5 others out (skiing or otherwise all afternoon) as it seemed everyone was elsewhere. Excellent skill working base with minimal snow.

  121. Canmore Nordic Centre
    I skied the Canmore Nordic Centre today (Dec 18) and it was pretty close to perfect. Trails have been set on the Banff loop to just past the warming hut. Temp was around -10C and there was a stiff wind near the lodge and in the meadow but otherwise within the trees it was great.
    The wax that worked for me was V20 which was a great mix of glide and grip in the tracks.
    The only thing that could have made it better would have been a clear sky but other than that – perfect.

  122. I skied at West Bragg Creek today. I did the Hostel Loop twice (each direction) in the morning. The coverage there is pretty decent (as per the remarks in one of the posts from December 17). Skiing counter clockwise is slightly better in terms of rough bits on the down hills. I also skied Mountain Road to Mountain View West and then back via the south portion of Moose Loop / Moose Connector / Lower Crystal Line. Mountain Road is pretty good except for the small hill coming out of the valley after crossing Bragg Creek. Mountain View is fine except for wind exposed areas on its southern half. The substantial hill encountered as you leave Mountain Road (or just before encountering it if skiing from Moose Loop) is fine to ski up but you have to really not like your skis if you want to ski down it. I walked that bit. The southern half of the Moose Loop has not yet been groomed but is largely wind sheltered so conditions were quite good on skier set tracks. Condition were quite poor on the bit where one crosses over the bridge heading back up to the Moose Connector. The lowest part of that hill was okay to walk up but would be rather unpleasant to ski down. Moose connector was surprising good. It was ski-able the entire way. Lower Crystal line is okay. There is very little snow. It is amazing what the volunteers have been able to do with so little to work with. You might have fun Carole. I had a reasonably good ski.

  123. Noon start on Peyto Green behind Deer Lodge. While it had been groomed and tracked, it had some big holes in it, almost like a bunch of moose had come through. The lower part of Peyto Green leading into Lower Telemark was much better. Friends skied the Divide to the O’Hara end right into very cold blustery westerly winds. Tracks were reportedly very windswept esp at far end with debris blown onto trail. I wanted to check out Lower Telemark which was well described by Miles: ditto to exercise caution at a couple of “ski snapping creek dips”. An incredible pumpkin loaf was generously being shared at Great Divide shelter and was packed full of healthy stuff and chocolate chips. It sure helped with the uphill return ski via Blue Peyto, which was in great shape, back to the car.

  124. CASCADE VALLEY – DEC 18

    Amazing what Don (the Banff Track Setter) can do with a little bit of snow. While there are still rocks in certain places, the grooming has nicely packed the snow, making for very reasonable early season conditions.
    Everyone was doing their bit, picking rocks where possible. The ones with blue paint are the troublesome ones!
    Three wolves crossed the Cascade River and have obviously enjoyed the recent full moon north of the first bridge.
    We saw a Pygmy Owl… the day after our Bow Valley Christmas Bird Count!
    Check it all out at:
    https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7gWNFbOPJBpZu8Rwm

  125. Goat Creek to Goat Pond High Rockies. (Bob likes Goat Creek Trail, we like this one) Parked at access road , just past Goat Cr parking lot by the gate. Skied/walked down to the new bridge over Goat Cr. . We went straight up the hill as you pass over the bridge. Trail is skier packed and not much action on it since last w/e . This trail has a figure 8 configuration with an upper and lower section. We skied the upper as it is more open, hence better snow pack. We skied out and back to Goat pond. 2h ski on metal edged touring skis. Dog sledders have yet to pack this section but have run their snow machine from Goat pond to Spray Lakes. More skier traffic at the Goat Pond end as well as hikers. On our return we ran into snowshoers who had made every effort to avoid the ski tracks. Nice to see! We used reallly old Rex green wax. Probably -10C

  126. Hello fellow skiers!

    Was out at the West Bragg trails today skate skiing down Mountain Road. Just a recommendation to be careful going down the backside. There are a large number of exposed rocks. I caught one and landed pretty hard, snapping my brand new Leki pole in two :(. Hoping Santa can find me to deliver a new one this Christmas…so safe skiing out there with the small amount of white stuff we have.

  127. Canmore Nordic Centre

    Lots of people at CNC today! Good conditions but windy in the parking lot, stadium and mine scar, thus needles are starting to fall.

  128. PLPP arrived 12 noon -17, snow -13, skied Fox, Moraine, Elk, Hydroline, up to Lookout and returned down Whiskey, plenty of skiers about and the grooming is still good, it must be hard as concrete. Only -8 top of Lookout to and only a light breeze top of both Elk an lookout. hoping it snows soon.

  129. Lake Louise Trails.

    Skied a “Mini Grand Tour” of Lake Louise trails today from the Station trail head: Tramline to Moraine Lake Road, back on Fairview to the Lake, across the lake to Upper Telemark, Lower Telemark and back on the 1A and Tramline.

    Tramline (Upper and Lower sections), MLR and 1A are in good shape with perhaps 5 cm of fresh on top of the tracksetting and have all seen lots of traffic. Fairview is in great shape considering the overall snow pack – fairly typical mid-season conditions for that trail. Upper Telemark is mostly fine with a few sections requiring nimble footwork to negotiate rougher sections. Lower Telemark is skiable with care, packed and skier set track only. Watch out for a downed tree and a couple of potentially ski snapping creek dips. The connector trail from the 1A trailhead back up to Tramline was freshly rolled this afternoon, making it just possible to ascend without taking skis off.

  130. Great ski on Cascade today with Charlie. Expected to see tons of people but only met a few ( all enjoying the good snow.) Temperature at trailhead at noon was -11 with some wind. Temperature at the wardens cabin a couple of hours later was -10. The trail was groomed but not trackset, non the less quite fast with good old fashion Swix green wax. There were some rocks but way fewer when we were done all our digging and tossing. There were wolf tracks shortly after the first bridge that continued all the way past the turnoff to the wardens cabin. I wouldn’t have wanted to be skiing alone.

  131. I’m looking to head to Pocaterra(Lynx/Amos/Wheeler/Lodgepole) Thursday or Friday
    Anyone have any updated info on trails conditions? Thanks!

  132. Kananaskis Village (Terrace – Kovach Link (Kovach)

    We skied a few trails in Kananaskis Village on Dec 17 in -15C. Lower Terrace is freshly (yesterday) groomed and trackset, but tracks are shallow, with a lot of dirt, rocks, grass, and twigs in them. Not recommended.
    Kovach Link and Kovach are skiable , with a a few thin spots here and there, and some rocks protruding that could be avoided. No skier set tracks to talk about there though. Still, we rather enjoyed the day out skiing.

  133. Trails at west Bragg Creek were very good with rock skis. Janice, George and I brought a geologist’s hammer and dug out and tossed many rocks. We wouldn’t pass a rock until almost dusk but then had to leave some for next time or for other rock hounds.

  134. Skied montane loop in fernie today, 8.6 km. Track is set for skate skiing, classic tracks have not been set yet. Conditions were pretty good. -20 C, sounds like a slight bit warmer than K-country.

    Our golf course has been trackset for classic and skating and conditions there are reportedly good (they were ok when I skied there last week)

    The elk valley Nordic centre is taking some time to open – we’ve had “blower” powder fall and I think there some ongoing issues packing it down.

    Haven’t hit island lake yet – suspect it’s pretty good there based on skiing elsehwere.

  135. West Bragg Creek, skating on groomed trails (not trackset): Crystal + Iron Springs. Some hazards, which are easy to negotiate. Overall enough snow.

    Met a groomer and he said Hostel Loop has the best conditions right now.

    • Yes, Hostel Loop got groomed again on Saturday morning, so it has fresh corduroy… but no track setting yet. It generally has good coverage and no rocks or ice flows that I noticed.

  136. PLPP – Patterson – Warning
    About halfway up Patterson, near the base of the long steady climb, there is 1m+ of heavy gauge wire sticking out of the recently groomed snow – middle of eastbound climbing side, just before the long stretch of tracksetting. It is frozen into place and rather than break it off near the groomed surface, we thought it best to leave it and ask someone to make parks staff aware of it today, if they’re there on Sat. They’ll need to dig down into the snow and use some side-cutters to snip it off at a lower point.

  137. Skied a squeeky cold -24 West-Bragg this morning in anticipation of a trackset Telephone loop per skitrails.info only to find out that there, and south loops incl. loggers-iron springs-elbow trails all snowmobile packed ONLY. More bikers than skiers today. Thin 2″ base in spots with no skier track set trails either b/c of very uneven snowmobile tred (could have groomed and leveller combed Iron Springs. Something is to be said for leaving a skier set track on margin or in centre to let early season skiers enjoy ‘enough’ snow but I do realize the trade off in base prep. Always fun nonetheless. Pics avail.

  138. Thanks to Zuzana’s post, 3 of us opted to ski Cascade this morning and skied to include the campground loop. Only a few rocks evident (some of which we could throw off trail) and snow was firmer than Zuzana’s ski yesterday. Even the meadow crossing was fairly good. Temps -24 warming to -19. What was incredulous was having this trail all to ourselves the entire time! Doubt this will be the case on the w/e. I missed the Christmas ornaments so please hang up a few if you go.

    • Helen! Are the Christmas ornaments usually up this early??
      I have wondered about those things, about who, and when, and do they take them down again? And what do the wardens think??

  139. Trails at Panorama in Invermere are almost ready. Although Panorama’s website says the trails are groomed don’t confuse that with ready for skiing. Still lots of dirt, gravel, rocks and grass in the trackset and skating lane. Fine if you have old skis but it will wreck any ski you care about. All they need is a couple more inches and Panorama’s fun and scenic little network of trails will be ready! FYI – a sign at the trailhead indicated they want to expand their trail network. Right now it’s 17km end to end, with lots of extra loops and a warming hut halfway.

  140. Cascade valley to the bridge was groomed today in the afternoon, not yet track set. Great skiing, the lower part had some rocks and the snow was soft.

  141. Hit up Maple Ridge golf course last evening for a quick loop just to check things out. Surprisingly ski-able in skier set track. No packing yet, thin base and hazards when crossing gravel paths and bare spots around tree wells. Overall however, great to get out close to home.

  142. Any feedback on conditions at Confed and Shaganappi golf courses from yesterday or today?

    • We live proximate to Confederation Park golf course and have now skied there 4 times, Foothills has done an AMAZING job of roller packing the course so there is an excellent, albeit thin base to ski on. Also a myriad of skier set tracks if you prefer that. Bring your rock skis though or ski in daylight as the trails criss cross many gravel paths.

  143. Thursday morning temperatures: My thermometer in Canmore says -25. The Canmore Nordic Centre’s #5 weather station says -24. The Weather Network says -31. Environment Canada’s Banff temp is -32. We can all agree on one thing: it’s cold.

  144. Does anyone have an update on what became of the proposed snow making at Confederation Park?

    • This was posted a few days ago by the Foothills Nordic Ski Club:

      “With regards to snow making at Confederation Park Golf Course: Foothills Nordic and the City of Calgary have made much progress in the last couple of months and are close to finalizing an agreement.”

  145. Skied West Bragg this afternoon and have to say I am LOVING the new warming hut. Great place to put your boots and extra layers on inside before starting out so that you don’t have frozen fingers before you even start skiing.
    Also great with kids who need some place warm to hang out while waiting for you to get the skis ready, waxed, etc.

    Trails we skied:
    Sun Dog East (up the big hill, dodging rocks everywhere, and feeling thankful we didn’t come down this way.)
    Across the top of Sun Dog (snow improving, less rocks, better snow)
    Loggers Loop (Loop was fabulous. Lots of snow, for WBC anyway right now, and no rocks. Hills were scary because they weren’t very level or smooth but we had success with no falls.)
    Loop of upper and lower East Crystal Line trails (Upper one was good but by the time you get down to the bottom trail leading back to the parking lot, you realize how good the snow was up to this point. Trail was like a big skating rink. Not icy exactly but just very polished and smooth. Hard to ski on. Maybe good for skate skiing.)

    Basic secret for WBC right now, get on to the trails higher up as fast as you can. Upper Trails have much more snow. Avoid lower ones.

    • WBC: HOSTEL LOOP
      Just adding to Tanya & Martin’s reports. In addition to some of the trails already mentioned, I checked out Hostel Loop and Hostel Meadow. Both are roller-packed, with a few centimetres of more recent snow on top. Not enough snow to track-set, but enough to provide for good skiing and no rocks or hazards along the way.
      More snow would certainly be welcome!

  146. Dec 14th Wednesday just skied PLPP Blueberry Hill via Elk Pass and back along Fox Creek. All the info and pictures on
    http://willski.ca/blueberry-hill-cross-country-skiing-kananaskis/

  147. My first ski of the year @ WBC this afternoon, got bored waiting for more snow, I should have started sooner! it was a pretty decent ski and great to get out again on the white stuff. Arrived at the parking lot around 1:30 & -13, slapped 5 layers of VR40 on my oldest skies over whatever was there previously, why don’t I service these skies when I tune their superiors? Skied Crystal west, impressive ice flow beneath the trail at the start, Moose to Mountain View west, best skier set tracks, Mountain View to Mountain Road, freshly packed, that was a bonus, picked some rocks along the way and returned on the road to the parking lot. I dressed for the cold with 3 layers including a windstopper fleece and lobster gloves which turned out to be a little to much but paid off as the sun got shallow. All in all a nice couple of hours skiing and very quiet.

  148. Elk Pass – Just got back from a very cold ski and now sitting at the computer when what does my loving husband bring me but a bowl of ice cream! We started at Elk Pass Parking in -18C temps and it really didn’t warm up much. Fox Creek was pretty, and warmed us up as it required a lot more effort to ski where there was no trackset. The Elk Pass Trail was great – the trackset is holding up very well – and V40 wax worked well all day. The sun shone brilliantly, the sky was blue and the trees were bowed down with dollops of whipped cream snow. Although we experienced -14 at the BlueElk picnic table, the top of Elk Pass registered -20 with a breeze. Fast coming down though. The best part of the day was the hill back to the parking lot. Nice and hard with no one in sight. Zoom!!!

  149. BANKHEAD TRACKSET

    What a difference a day makes… today Bankhead is Trackset!
    Unfortunately, the track exposes some pavement, but skate skiing is great now that the grooming has had time to set up.
    https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7gVkB2ukw-LDRJ19k
    Start at the Lake Minnewanka parking area which is groomed. If you try to start at the Cascade Ponds area, there is less snow (due to the lower elevation) and that access is never groomed.

  150. Re: CNC
    Most of Banff loop was done this am too!

  151. Thanks for the encouragement to go to PLPP today. Skied up to Blueberry Hill, new for us, and it was a hoot. Wouldn’t say it was warm, but the tracks were hard and fast and we were well dressed for the descent. My new VR30 was perfect for the conditions.

    • Maybe we saw you on the trail? We just did the Elk Pass trail this afternoon, very impresssed by the quality of the snow and grooming, but surprised by the cold. Although well dressed, we found the wind chill on the descents to be quite wicked! Spectacular day in the mountains 🙂

  152. HEAD UP TO BANKHEAD
    No need for Banffites to get on the Highway.
    While your poles may hit the pavement, your skis will not!
    And tomorrow is another reasonably warm day (especially in this sunny location):
    https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AAr0irf-7d1QB6A&v=photos&id=7BC5BC3B115C5915%21209&cid=7BC5BC3B115C5915

  153. Kananaskis Village – we skied various combinations and sections of the Terrace, Kovach, and Link trails, for a total of about 13km. The grooming of Dec. 4 was covered with about 2cm of newer snow, and skier trackset. This trackset was generally shallow and quite washed out, but the snow coverage is mostly good. Some sections have small sticks / grass poking though the snow, but these are usually avoidable. Started just before noon (at -17C) and finished about 2:30pm (-15C), including a warm-up break at the camper’s center. Obviously, we’re not as tough as Helen Read and her friends. Still, an enjoyable outing, mostly because there was no wind.

  154. Had my first ski of the year at the Nordic Centre tonight and, as Skier Bob’s post says, the tracks on Banff were perfect, even if only to the meadow. If Skier Bob were running a contest to pick the date for when Banff loop was to be groomed, I’d pick tomorrow. The moon that greeted me as I came up the big hill behind the biathlon range was worth the frozen toes!

  155. I received this email from Ivo:

    Hello Bob,
    Inspired by your Saturday article about skiing in Kananaskis, my wife and myself decided today to follow in you footsteps and also go ta Kananaskis. When we left Calgary at about 9:00, the temperature was -17. driving by Nakiska the thermometer was reading -27 and at Peter Lougheed visitors centre it was -24. We were just about to give up and go home, but in order not to waste the whole day decided to go to Elkwood parking and do 1 km on Wheeler. After 1 km it was not too bad, we went further and at the bottom of Whiskey Jack we decided that going home would be a waste of a day, went up Whiskey Jack and down to Pocaterra to Lynx and back to the car. Lynx is a bit thin but no real problems.

  156. Did a re-con of Elk Pass/Blueberry Hill today starting in -24 (a new record for we 3). Thank goodness for hand warmers and finishing in a balmy -14. Our descent was not quite as fast as Skier Bob alluded to a few days ago, but then my descents never are. Some new snow made for relative ease walking up the big hills. Saw more people than on previous cold days-cabin fever must be setting in. Off to see Christmas Train come into Canmore.

  157. Pleasant skiing at WBC this afternoon. It was easy to stay toasty thanks to a lack of wind, and slow glide on VR30 which was a bit too warm a choice, exacerbated by my old, losing their camber rock skis. Snow coverage overall was better than I expected on my route- Crystal west-Mountain View-Mountain Road-Mountain View West-Moose south leg-Moose Connector-Crystal. I didn’t hit any rocks, but removed quite a few in my travels. Generally the trails are skier tracked with a somewhat uneven surface, with about 2-3 cm recent snow over the older roller packing. Most hills have enough of a base for safe careful schussing. The best skiing was on the much smoother Mountain Road beyond Moose Connector which has a decent skier set track except for where thoughtless fatbikers have chewed it up, and on Mountain View West, where improvements have made the two main trouble spots from last season easily skiable, despite the shallow snow cover. A few ice flows that could prove a challenge soon are encroaching on MV west, about a km south Moose junction.
    Bottom line- despite the early season conditions, it was a very enjoyable ski!

    • One other observation- NO PARKING signs have gone up along the north side of the West Bragg road. In the past, people parking along both sides have created a bit of a bottleneck at times, but in the absence of an expanded lot, parking will now be at even more of a premium during busy periods.

  158. After Bob’s beautiful pictures of Elk pass yesterday, I was bound and determined to get out there today. Unfortunately, I slept in, and awoke pinned under 2 purring warm pointy eared furballs that detained me getting out of bed, so I had a very late start. I headed out around 1pm from the city, and by the time I hit hwy 40 the blowing snow, icy roads and oppressive clouds made me opt for more skiing, less scary driving and stopped at Ribbon Creek instead. 2 other cars in the lot, I headed out on Terrace, snow temp. -5.2, air about -18. Ran into another skier coming out who said it was good ahead, with only a few exposed rocks near the bridge going up the hill. It indeed got better as I climbed. The snow cover is thinnest on Terrace, but only for the first bit and rocks are easily avoidable. There’s good rollered base all the way, few bumps. Went little way on Aspen then back along Kovach and out Terrace. light fine snow fell on and off the entire time. Not enough snow to track set it yet, but there’s enough to ski on,and rock skis not needed (a few more cms would make it perfect). Lots of animal tracks too – a small cat of some sort stalking a rabbit mixed with a variety of ungulates too. Great first ski of the season. Welcome back everyone!

  159. I skated at confederation golf course today (Sunday). All trails have been rolled but not trackset. Skating was okay on the grass parts of the golf course. Crossing dirt/gravel/paved pathways was tricky.

    Summary: Not back rock skiing but you need to have a pair of skis you don’t mind getting deep scratches in. Another 2 inches of now would really help.

    There are skier set tracks on most of the trails. I will likely try classic this week. I would caution skiing in the dark for the first time as you would not know where the gravel/dirt patches are.

    • Thank you for this report. Was contemplating skiing around the course at night to see the lights. Will wait for some more snow.

  160. Did a short loop at West Bragg Creek with my son today. Skied West Crystal Line, Moose Connector and Mountain Road. Snow was very thin but the loop was skiable with few rocks. Lots of rocks on Mountain Road though (easily seen and avoidable.). The grassy trails are better for skiing right now. No tracks, just old grooming. Still, not a bad short outing on a cold day. Temperature was -14 when we left.

  161. Wonderful ski at PLPP today!
    There were 10 cars in the Elk Pass parking lot at 10:45 a.m. as we set off to Blueberry Hill with a temperature of -17C. The tracks were beautiful. We had lunch at Blueberry Hill, with no wind and no view. We had not expected to be able to eat outside but it was quite bearable. A light snowfall welcomed us to the “viewpoint”. The skiing conditions were great, so we continued up to Elk Pass and down the Hydroline. I did the extra Fox Creek loop at the end, just for the fun of it. I got to do “the big uphill and downhill” twice. The parking lot hosted 21 cars at 2:30 p.m., with a temperature of -10C. It wasn’t too busy on the trails but skiers seemed to be enjoying themselves. It was a happy skiing day and well worth it!

  162. CNC on Sunday morning was cold, but little wind. Banff Trail is now open to the east end of the mine meadow, so there’s 2.5km out and back available.

  163. Goat Creek to Got Pond /High Rockies Trail.
    Light Touring skis. We parked at the gate on the access road just S of the Goat trail parking lot.
    Snow cover is thin so be skied/walked down the hill and walked across the bridge over Goat Creek. The Dog sledders have not groomed the trail system yet so this is touring at it best. Following skier set tracks, we skied up the hill and skied to within 500 m of Goat pond before turning around. Round trip 2h 10m. Snow Cover is OK but it was getting skinnier the further south we skied. We had heard from a friend, that the lower section, which has more tree coverage, is still pretty bumpy with foot traffic and Fat bikes. Our section had a bit of foot traffic and one fat tire.

  164. Canmore Nordic Center

    First ski of the season at CNC. Pleasantly surprised by the conditions yesterday, -13oC and some fresh snow (green wax). Skied Banff/Lynx Loop (maybe 2.5 km) several times and some of the in between trails. Work continues on Banff Trail. Worth the trip if you live nearby.

  165. -20 in Calgary but -10 at Kananaskis Village this afternoon!! Awesome temps for a short ski around Terrace, Kovach and Aspen as a family. Snow is thin but no rock skis needed. No hazards other than a few bumps and uneven spots on the big hill coming off Aspen and down Kovach to the Village. Great conditions overall for those wanting a close spot to ski without the longer drive to PLPP. No complaints here. Note that the track setting is under fresh snow. Trails are Skier tracked only.

  166. Bob’s photo taken last night at 5:30 with the help of his headlights shining on the brand new grooming on Elk Pass gave me “visions of ice crystals dancing in my head all night as I slept”. Was eager and delighted to be first in the parking lot at 9:30 in -18. I heeded Bob’s advise using blue wax (as well as green) and was able to walk straight up the hill that I like to refer to as the Three Bears (Baby first, then Mama, then Papa bear for the top hill). Switched up Patterson, then Hydroline to be first at Elk Pass at 11am. The snow temp was -12 up there. Speedy ski back down to the car where I met Bob at noon, thanking him for that particular photo. The groomers did a tremendous job of snow transplanting, branch pruning and setting tracks, and likely all in minus 25C weather. Today must have been a Coyote Convention because I counted 7 coyotes on the Kananaskis roads.

  167. This is not a trip report but rather a query about CNC weather station reliability. Since it may be of general interest to the xc skiing community, I place it here.
    Our training group had to make a cancellation decision for the CNC this morning. At about 0730h, the Weather Network reported -22C and 15 kph gusting to 27 kph (i.e. -33 wind chill), while the CNC weather stations were reporting about -20C with light winds. As of about 10 am (when our training was to start), the Weather Network was reporting -21C with average wind speed increased to 17 kph. By comparison the CNC weather station reported about -18C with winds still below 5 kph. It would be great if we could rely on the local reporting! Thanks if anyone can shed light on this issue.

    • The CNC weather stations are located on site (you can see some of them by the trails), so when they are working (there was one that was broken all last year) they should give you the best data. I’ve often noticed that CNC can be quite a bit warmer than Canmore/Banff. It also appears that the “Canmore” weather reported by weather.gc.ca is just a copy of the Banff weather, so the official weather might be quite a bit different.

      My experience (as a CNC season pass skier from Calgary) has been the CNC weather stations are closer to the truth than the official weather. Because Bob is a Canmore resident he’s probably got the best feeling for this.

      • Hi Tom. Being a local, I check both the weathernet and environment canada who are sometimes very different. I split the difference. I never take the wind forecast into account unless there is a storm front coming through. A west storm front with wind will hug the Cougar Creek side of the valley and generally not bother the CNC side. An upslope storm from the east will hug the CNC side of the valley and in the winter is the dangerous wind. For the most part, there is enough trees at CNC wind is generally not an issue, unless it is an upslope. Another trick is to check the flags on Trail Sports website for real time wind you can see. Trail Sports temp is generally a couple of degrees warmer than real temp as it is on a building. I also have found the CNC reporting temps are generally warmer than Weathernet. They are somewhat unreliable though but you can tell which one/two/three are not working. Today was a great classic day as the temps came up and we had good glide into the afternoon.

      • The temperature this morning at SkiHere’s world headquarters in Canmore agrees precisely with the Canmore Nordic Centre’s temperature near the daylodge at -19(Weather stations #5 and #6). Not much wind at CNC and not much here; the chimney smoke is mostly going straight up. The Weather Network says it’s -15 with a 22 Km/h wind.

        • As a local I use the Storm app (weather underground) for accurate temps. I also use an app for Netatmo which shows the temp outside my house and it corresponds to CNC temp very closely. If you check weather underground and zoom in on Canmore you will see the Temp reading for my location. Just south on the Nordic Centre reading.

  168. Red Earth Creek 3pm Dec 9, -22 deg
    Just wanted to warn folks that there are quite a few nasty exposed rocks that are frozen in place and thus can’t be moved off the trail- they make for an interesting decent! Be careful and stay warm out there, and get praying to the snow gods!

  169. Jean-Francois Richy

    Yesterday I skied (counter clockwise) the pipestone loop, the initial 7km along the pipestone river are not too bad but from there it’s a rough trail with a lots of creek crossing and bumps. The return was far from pleasant and I would suggest to avoid this area until some grooming is done.

    Today I went to Mt Shark and skied to Watridge lake and to the end of the groomed trail (bridge over the Spray river after a long downhill). There are a few spots where you can see some dirts but overall the best trail I have skied this season. It was very cold (-31ºC) and the Swix Grip Wax V05 Polar worked beautifully

  170. West Bragg Creek
    Dec. 9th.

    After more than a week without skiing, I was bound and determined to get some track time today. Ray, K, and I headed to West Bragg Creek at noon, hoping that we’d benefit from a bit of mid-day warmth. Actually, it was quite nice out, with hardly any wind, gorgeous sunshine and hardly a soul on the trail but ourselves. The trails are “marginal”. Ray picked out quite a few rocks and scraped across a few more. Still, the Moose Loop provided a very enjoyable break from the indoors. I used a -12 and colder, older Toko wax and had good grip and a surprising amount of glide even though I was skiing on storage wax.

  171. Confederation Golf Course

    I dropped by late this afternoon for a quick ski as the sun was going down. Parking is still on the road: the parking lot is closed, but makes a reasonable skiing surface. There is no sign of snow-making yet, which is a pity given the cold weather.
    Snow coverage is very thin, but skiable, and on grass you don’t need rock skis! On the other hand, there seem to be more gravelled paths than I remember. Snowmobiles have squashed some of the snow, and there are coloured flags all over the place, but random skiing is best. Skiing out with the wind was fine, skiing back into the wind a bit less so…….

  172. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park – Elkwood Parking lot – Tuesday December 06 Wheeler and Moraine
    A spectacular day in PLPP. On the way passing through Morley Flats on the number one highway, the mountains loomed 50 per cent larger than normal, resulting from a fine mist of ice crystals that hovered in the air. Mount Yamnuska’s top was covered by its very own cloud. On the number 40, Nakiska was sending white beacons from each of its snowmaking machines. The sun shone brightly, hiding the reality of the minus seventeen celsus temperatures.It is well known that PLPP is in need of snow. There was little sign of the predicted 10 mm dump of Sunday past. The groomers have done their job of grooming what there is, in particular with the corduroy roller. There is one area, just below the intersection of Packers and Wheeler when going back towards Elkwood that is just full of twigs sticking out of the snow. It was here that I met Carol who advised me to continue on to Moraine where no recent grooming has been done. She was right: it was great.The thing that holds all of this together is the great quality of the snow, making skiing there a very enjoyable experience, enhanced even more with the sun steaming through the trees.

  173. Elk Pass – Monday Dec 5
    Very good coverage on the big hill now. 4cm more fell since the Sunday night reports and maybe 1cm over the day. Very wobbly tracks though – skier set by everything from skinny nordic skis to wide split-boards going to/from Elk Lakes. The dusting of small, fine fog-snow crystals provided better glide than us waxless-hacks expected at these temps, -15 to -20-ish. Grandpa’s 50+ years old green glide-wax still works, I guess.

  174. West Bragg Creek

    Well, we had to check it out! Some “preliminary” grooming has taken place, but the snow is very thin and rock skis are highly recommended. Many hazards lurk just beneath the surface, and I scraped many times 🙁

    Keep doing the snow dance, and meanwhile better to ski somewhere else!

    Also quickly poked my head into the new Trails Centre – it seems very warm and inviting on a chilly day 🙂

  175. Well, some news on Confederation!
    The latest snow has been pressed and there has been some skiing however the sparse cover leads to a lot of grass/dirt dodging. It is possible to do what could be called the ‘polar shuffle’, more shuffle than kick/glide AND it is frigid this week, to add another ‘polar’ dimension. But will be out again this week anyway!!!

  176. 6 Meanderthals braved the -17 at 10:15 am at LL Railway Station: Skied up Lower Tramline to Fairview, with its current abundance of snow and rolly-polly nature of trail, and then met the groomer just heading down Upper Tramline. So the lunch decision was easy to make, enjoying the new track all the way down and eating/warming up at Laggin’s. -13 at end of ski. T-C hwy is in good shape.

  177. PLPP – Pocaterra, Come Along, Lynx, Woolley, Meadow
    Lots of fresh snow today, good cover on the trails with bushes showing through in places. Well over a dozen fallen trees across or partially across the trails on Pocaterra and Lynx. Can either navigate around or step over them. Nothing track set today – Pocaterra was skier tracked, but the rest was fresh snow. Heading south on Lynx, we came to the pond at the bottom of the big hill. The signs said keep right so we did – not sure if the pond was well frozen yet. There were snow covered ski tracks off to the right and the big hill to the left. Even though I knew the big hill was the right trail, we went off to the right instead to avoid the pond and in hope of a shortcut. DON’T FOLLOW OUR TRACKS! What seems at first like a real trail peters off and has you skiing along the bottom of a ravine through bushes and climbing over fallen trees. In the end, the tracks we followed took us back to Lynx but it would have been faster and easier to climb up the big hill. Very surprised to find that at 2pm on Sunday no one else had skied Woolley or Meadow. Got a bit lost trying to find Pocaterra Hut at the end of Meadow and unfortunately the trails from the power line had ski gouging rocks hidden under the snow. Still a great day to be out – fresh snow and not very cold. Tell the groomers to bring chainsaws when they go out!

  178. Nice to finally see some posts from Elk Pass and vicinity and thanks to those who broke trail for us. We skied from Boulton Bridge along Boulton Creek up to Elk Pass, across Tyrwhitt and down Whiskey Jack. Storm snow at Boulton was 10cm at 10am, -7º. At Blueberry Hill Junction it was 16cm and was 20cm at the top of Elk Pass, (HS 60cm.) Tyrwhitt was a bit rough in spots, some brush and open water but generally very good. I measured 18cm new snow in the upper meadows on Trywhitt. A cold wind was blowing up high and the temp dropped to -10º then recovered to -7º in the valley. I think PLPP is on.
    https://goo.gl/photos/xob7NsgLM3oEgUr26

  179. We headed to the Great Divide Trail with fairly steady snowfall from around Jumping Pound to the trailhead. The temperature was a constant -6C. Our V30 worked perfectly all day. The road was a bit soft, but Parks had set a single track on the return lane and there was a skier-set track outgoing. In spite of the constant snowfall, we made good time. When we arrived at the O’Hara end of the trail, the Parks Skidoo was there with a couple of cm of snow on it. It appeared there had been a breakdown so we had to share the single track on our return as well. In spite of this, it was an ideal day with lots of friendly faces enjoying the silky snow.

  180. Drove out to Lake Louise early today, apparently beating the worst of the weather (only really bad from castle junction on). Dropped the kids at downhill lessons and then skied Fairview (still a roller coaster, setting track as I passed one other skier), Moraine (fantastic), and Upper Tramline (also essentially skier set track). It was snowing fairly heavily until around noon – should be lots of snow for the wonderful track setters to work with now. Continued to have traces of snow throughout the afternoon while downhill skiing, now for the drive back….

  181. Jean-Francois Richy

    Just came back from Peter Lougheed – we had to break trail along Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt all the way to Elk Pass. The snow cover was very good (10 to 20cm of fresh snow) and the skiing enjoyable as we only saw a couple of skiers. The descent from Elk pass was a bit busier with folks going to Elk Lakes hut and the downhill was pleasant.
    We came back through Fox creek and Moraine and again had to break trail, the snow cover is only 5cm of fresh snow but good skiing.
    An excellent day!

  182. We headed to Elk Pass Saturday morning. We took hiking boots expecting to hike to find snow but were able to ski right out of the parking lot. Elk Pass trail has been packed but with very little snow since and a fair bit of traffic there lots of tracks, but none particularly helpful. The base was fine, but there is some shrubs poking through between Hydroline and Patterson junctions. We decided to try Blueberry for the first time. This was also our first ski of the season, highlighting our family motto of, “If it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing”. Blueberry was really nice with a pretty good skier set track and an inch or two of fluffy snow to help with the speed control coming down. On our return down Elk Pass trail we noticed that the hill down from under the powerline going to Hydroline junction was getting scraped pretty thin. The rocks were not poking through, but you could see the shading of where they were (I got a good look as I plodded my way up!) coming down the big hill was good, still lots of control. There was a light flurry as we were leaving.

    • Excellent! Thanks for the report. Sounds like it’s a go now at the south end after this snow fall finishes (other than the expected cold temps, but that should at least deal with any open water). Time to start the couch building process. (-:

  183. Dec 3rd: Parked at Pocaterra Hut around 10:30am. Skied Pocaterra to Lynx to Woolley to Meadow. Lunch at Visitor Center and then short ski back via Sinclair. The trails have decent snow but lots of sticks/branches and the occasional (well, very occasional) rocks – obstacles which made the downhills extra thrilling 😉 Pocaterra was ok. We broke trail on Lynx and the first bit was the best of the day (fluffy snow!) but then deteriorated as we skied along. Meadow was snow packed so that helped. And it was quiet! Apart from a group practicing by the hut, we didn’t see anyone else on the trails. Overall an okay ski day, still enjoyable with great company 🙂 Need more snow in this area though!

  184. Has anyone skied at Shark Mountain? Thanks,

    • This was posted tonight on Mountain Bike Trail Reports re: Mt Shark…

      I rode Watridge Lake Trail at the Mt Shark XC trails. It was a short ride (only about 5 km out and back) but there was lots of snow for fat biking and it was snowing a lot all up and down the Smith Dorrien. My tracks were partially covered by the time I started back. I started at 1:30 and only saw three other groups while out for and hour and a half.

      If you click over, you can see Ian Folinsbee’s photos https://www.facebook.com/groups/WinterMTB/

  185. We skied Fairview from the Chateau parking lot. It was wonderful, a few bumps and thin as we skied down to Moraine road. It was busy in both directions. Waxing was tricky, we waxed with VR40, others in our group had much warmer waxes. There was light snow towards the end of the day.

    • I happened across the groomer (I should have asked his name) as he was shovelling snow snow onto the trail onto the junction of Tramline and the connector that goes steeply down to the Great Divide Trail. He said he trackset Fairview for the first time Saturday but it was still rough and thin in spots.
      By the way he said that connector “trail” from Tramline to
      Great Divide is a staircase in the summer. No wonder is so steep and narrow. I notice its not even marked on the maps. Unless you are very comfortable on your skies it’s best to avoid it or take your skies off and walk.

  186. The “spiders” are snow fleas, also known as springtails or by their scientific name of Collembolas. They appear around 0 degrees on top of the snow. According to Ben Gadd: “hatching from eggs laid in soil, the tiny nymphs mature so late in the year that they reach the adult stage in winter. Adults.. reach the snow surface, where they mate in a swarm … on the thin, early-wintersnowpack of November and December. You may also see them in February and March (go to page 145 in the latest version for the steamy details!)

  187. Lake O’Hara – Dec. 2

    As noted in previous posts, nice skiing up the road on skier set tracks. Soft snow, fast in and out, decent coverage.
    Talked to folks who overnighted at the ACC hut and came across a “small grizzly” along the road around the 7km mark, apparently also enjoying the fine travelling conditions. Don’t put the bear spray away just yet!

  188. Dec 3 – Pocaterra Hut 12pm to 4 pm.
    Temp – 3
    Snow coverage very thin with debris and rocks
    Ideal for very desperate skiers with rock skis

    • On what trails and how far did you ski? I was thinking it might be snowing up there this afternoon and we may try Elk Pass trail tomorrow.

  189. Lake Louise Campground – kudos and thanks to the grooming crew at LL for getting creative and setting some new trails! As Bob said yesterday, in addition to the normal campground loop (2 kms), and the lane through the middle (700 m), they have set several inner loops, totaling 3.3 kms, some single track set, some double track set, and all fun for kids of all ages! 2-3 cms new snow, -6 at 10.30 am, various shades of blue wax worked well. Very few people there so a good way to avoid the crowds that we saw later on MLR after skiing up Tramline.

  190. Recon on Pipestone Blue: not my idea of a good ski. Turned around at junction with green run and Mud Lake. Headed for Lower Tramline and it was the best conditions I’ve had on it in a long time. Temps -6 to -3. Up MLR to Fairview and the coverage was way better than anticipated-must have been all of Jeff and team’s shovelling. Fairview is soulful and it was even snowing lightly. Enjoyed the gentle downhill back down to Railway Restaurant.

  191. Skied classic on great divide today. Lots of people out including the dog sleds. Rolling and track setting were also happening. The tracks were a little choppy near the start due to the number of skiers but improved further on. Nice cold snow so vr40 worked well. Skate skiers were having a difficult time though due to fresh snow and soft conditions.

  192. Skied for the first time yesterday on MLR and found the conditions to be perfect! It was -8 when we started and lightly snowing …
    magical. Can’t wait for more snow to expand the mountain options.

  193. Snow-spiders… Good question.
    I count six legs, not eight.
    From a “beetle” category then, maybe?

  194. Hey All, Does anyone know what kind of spiders were hanging around the MLR classic trails? We saw them a few days ago and have been stymied in searches on the internet.

  195. Started the day to find wonderful fresh track setting on the Campground loop in Lake Louise. I had never skied it before and found the one long gentle hill makes for a great warm-up for further skiing.
    The groomers hadn’t made it the Divide when I got there at 11am, but after skiing out and back I ducked over to Fairview to find a good first attempt at track setting. It is stil very lumpy and the downhill towards MLR was like doing mini moguls – still fiun!!

  196. We skied Moraine Lake road on old but still excellent tracks. 1.1 km up a pine martin was taking a squirrel to (for) lunch. Marty struggled up the right hand bank with dinner in her/his mouth then zigzagged still further up and into the forest. Plentiful hare and martin tracks up the road.

    We spoke with the groomer who had just come out from Fairview. He dragged it again, said it is much to rough and not enough snow to set a track.

    After Moraine, we skied up and back the tramline on excellent tracks. Looked like 3 sets of walker footprints, all in the middle and not at all on the ski tracks!!

  197. Despite required slower driving conditions yesterday out to Lake O’Hara Fire Road, 8 Meanderthals were greeted with blue skies opening up, 3 cms new powder on skier tracks and -7 to -3 temps. Three of our group skied all the way to the lake, and reported “screaming on back in perfect conditions”, while the other 4 of us had committed to ski to kms7.5 just before the going gets tougher, and enjoyed the powder to slow us down a little. We only saw five others heading into the hut with big backpacks. When asked how many more hills there were to climb (and they were at kms 2-3 at this point), I responded “pace yourself” and ENJOY! The Lodge reopens on Feb 2nd!!!!

  198. Lake Louise again today. Beautiful sunny conditions and no wind. Temperatures were minus 9 to minus 4 and a special blue worked perfectly. All trails skied were very good with a new dusting of overnight snow. (Total snowfall didn’t meet the forecasts.) Most of the day I was on the Great Divide where the outgoing track offered the better skiing. Beyond the shelter to Lake O’Hara road, Great Divide is still thinly snow covered with pavement pole strikes being common. Skied a ways up Moraine Lake road and found very good tracks still but the recent snows are causing the tracks to be shallow. Upper tramline excellent as Bob noted and lower tramline is very good and double track set to the Bow River. The Townsite trails are groomed but not trackset and are rough. No sign of work on the Upper Telemark and Peyto trails. Lower Telemark loops are still only groomed.

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