Trip Reports – Feb 2015

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  1. Skied the fire road to Lake O’Hara today. Day started under clear blue skies, but cold (-17 C). We were hoping that the recent snow that fell in the Calgary area within the last few days, also fell in the Lake O’Hara region. Alas, this was not to be. Snow conditions for most if not all the way to Lake O’Hara can be best described as being “bullet-proof” – hard-packed track and road, making the climb up the hills quite difficult for the less than advanced skier. Arrived at the Lodge feeling quite knackered, but a wonderful lunch served by very friendly and capable staff provided for significant rejuvenation. Temperature warmed up in the afternoon (to about -2 C). Trip back down was, as expected, quite fast. Although the few uphills during the return trip were still difficult, there was sufficient (but barely enough) snow to allow for a reasonable control of speed on the steep downhill sections.

    Although conditions were challenging today, Lake O’Hara on a clear, blue-sky day is unforgettable making the trip completely worthwhile.

  2. Skied Tramline trail from the chateau parking lot, Moraine lake road and finally Fairview loop back to Lake Louise. Only one short icy hill on the way up Fairview and a few pine needly bits. Otherwise good conditions and a beautiful blue sky day. Temp round -7. Did the two km loop on the lake which was fast even though it had been walked on. Looks like conditions should be good for the loppet tomorrow!

  3. Awesome afternoon ski in PLPP as a farewell to February…

    Thanks to a kind person who left delicious apples and banana pieces in Pocaterra Hut for other tiered skiers!

    Kudos to a beautiful skier in orange jacket, who I met near Pocaterra-Tyrwitt junction and then briefly saw in Pocaterra Hut at 6pm. If you are reading this, I want you to know that I’d be happy to chat with you 5877001685 😉

  4. West Bragg Creek… 50 shades of grooming! As others have mentioned, the groomers out here have worked amazing feats with less snow than I can find in my freezer at home.

    Went in from the Allan Bill Pond parking lot to avoid the hordes of snowshoers mentioned by Alf, and to avoid the usual weekend parking lot hassle. Apparently also missed the snow machines encountered by Dylan (what the heck were those doing out there today??).

    Super-thin powder on the multi-use connector, followed by a few cms of powder once the ski trail proper was reached – pretty slippery on an icy base, plus I was “breaking trail” such as it was. First one to ski from this direction, didn’t encounter anyone until halfway through Iron Springs, where the grooming and track setting really picked up, especially where there was deeper snow in the shaded trail areas. Some south-facing slopes will no doubt have far less snow on them tomorrow, after some serious snow-plowing from skiers and temps close to 0 by noon.

    Took Sundog west and then back south on Elbow, which was in great shape all the way back to my original lonely ski-track. The multi-use connector was a bit more beaten up by hikers and fat-bikers, but still doable until the final hill to the parking lot (where I should have taken the skis off and walked down, instead of tripping over loose pebbles only meters from my car…).

  5. I believe my best ski conditions of the winter were in PLPP today! It will still be there Sunday also!
    Skied from Boulton Parking today – started at -15 C with VR40 over VR45. Kick and glide were perfect in a small dusting of new snow over excellent track set on the most of our trails today. We skied up Packers in cold perfect conditions – the ice flow is completely across the trail mid-way and looks like a death trap for skiers coming down. Then up south Pocaterra and Tyrwhitt to Elk Pass. Sam captured it perfectly “And then – without a cloud in the ski – the magical ski from Tyrwhitt towards Elk Pass – as beautiful as I can remember.” It was so good we turned around at Elk Pass and skied back on Tyrwhitt. At the Tyrwhitt table I applied more VR45 with the air temperature at -5 C for the uphill glide through the meadows. We exited out WhiskeyJack where we found the track set holding up to the wear and enough new snow over the groomed ice to control the hills. There is an icy patch at the last downhill turn of the S-bend that could throw a skier of track. Ventured south on Moraine for a kilometre where we found a single thin track set on recent grooming.

  6. West Bragg Saturday – while the conditions could have allowed for a good ski, Bragg Creek was a bit of a disaster today. We found ourselves contenting with snowmobiles on the ski trails, riding up and down groomed trails and over what groom and track there was. This left a lot of trails in really bad shape. Not to mention dangerous, at one point we rounded a downhill to find a couple machines stopped across the trail at the bottom. This just doesn’t seem consistent with the intended use of this otherwise great park.

  7. A perfect ski at PLPP

    Well – with sketchy reports and -18C in the AM – we didn’t know what to expect. When Richard and I decided to pursue my favourite loop, our fingers were crossed. Turns out there was no need to fret – it was amazing!

    Parking at Boulton, we immediately noted the trace of new snow over the past couple of days – that were the perfect addition to what had been groomed. Up Whiskey Jack – in a jiffy – I sensed this was looking very promising. The trail up to the Tyrwhitt meadows was equally easy – great glide. And then – without a cloud in the ski – the magical ski from Tyrwhitt towards Elk Pass – as beautiful as I can remember. And again, the glide was amazing. After a quick bite at the picnic bench, we swooshed down Elk Pass trail – outstanding conditions. We descended along the Fox Creek and Moraine trails – recently groomed – and they were fast! Not sure how much longer Moraine will last without more snow – but today it made for a magnificent end to a magical day.

    Surprisingly, when were were back at the car around 1 PM – the Boulton lot was relatively sparse. Where is everyone? I think tomorrow should be equally great – so, folks, get out there!

  8. Peter Lougheed Park (PLPP)

    Conditions remained good at PLPP today. A couple of centimeters of fresh snow fell over a hard icy base making conditions good. We did Elk Pass parking lot to Bolton Creek to Moraine (the groomer had just finished but no tracksetting thus the trail was a little skittish). Crossed over to Wheeler, old tracksetting but good. Similarly Amos and across the road to William Watson Lodge. Take care in descending the long downhill on Moraine to the open area where the bench is, as the fresh snow was thin and the trail there, icy.

  9. West Bragg Creek – a perfect blue wax day?
    Oh, Richie, I am sorry you had such a disappointing morning. We had quite the opposite:
    A fresh dusting of new, cold snow on top of recent grooming made for nearly ideal conditions this morning. We skied up Mountain Road, around Moose Loop, returning via Moose Connector and lower West Crystal Line. I guess we haven’t done the Moose Loop for a couple of years as we really noticed some changes, mainly logging. That north bit of Moose Connector seems to have been “gentrified”, i.e. the scary bits removed, so there is nothing really challenging there now. Only a few rather thin spots and the odd lurking rock made it less than ideal, but Moose Loop is a good place to escape the non-skiing crowds!
    I’m sure heavy weekend traffic will change everything, but for now it is very pleasant.

    • I’m to blame for the “gentrification” of north Moose Loop. Sorry if you were disappointed by the lack of challenge on that part of the trail. The intention of the re-route and re-grading of that part of the trail was twofold. The main purpose was to replace the sun-baked, icy, scraped to dirt portions of the old trail with aspects and slope angles that are better at capturing and retaining snow. The second objective was to introduce a flowing character to the trail, rather than just following a cut-line. You may have noticed that you can now descend from Moose Loop to the Bragg Creek bridge, without stopping or climbing.
      Anyhow, I agree with Diana, conditions were really good at West Bragg Creek today.
      If you’re heading out there on Saturday, take note that there is a big snowshoe event in the morning, so the parking lot may be quite busy!

  10. Warning: Rant ahead. Sigh…

    Friday morning outing to WBC. Right now especially with the shortage of snow the trails there really aren’t generally speaking wide enough to accommodate skate and classic, hence the general classic nature of WBC. To quote Mr. Carmudgeon below, that “indignant clown” out in West Bragg was at it again this Friday morning. Really p*ssed me off because he was skating edge to edge on at least 8km of the track that had been freshly rolled and trackset. I was there, I saw the tracksetting and the skater!! grrr. He was slicing right across the not-yet-set tracks too. And not the area that is signed and designated as skate-friendly.

    Hope he’s reading this, or one of his friends.

    Mr Clown evidently is being a greedy-guss looking after his own interests, but I can’t really say that honestly. Why? Well… not that I am a ski instructor but I’ve been around long enough, skiid enough, done loads of skate skiing too… and honestly Mr. Clown you need to go take some lessons to truly look after your interests, and not look like such a…er… middle-aged clown, but you’re still a dinkus-maximus. True enough, hard to teach some dogs new tricks, but I’m sure you’re intelligent enough to benefit from lessons. Corrections required as follows:
    – Arm placement during your reach and push incorrect. Wasted energy.
    – Pole plant locations: too wide, erratic, not correct fore/aft position.
    – Foot stance and placement of feet when pushing is really awkard and shows during your short strides and lack of power.
    – Head position… well, you’re not commiting to your stride and head placement (just like in classic) is important as it helps lead your shoulders, hips, and weight balance.
    – Balance…. granted with the fresh soft snow and running over the tracks it made it more challenging, plus dodging the verbal insults. Well, lets just say some effort and practice required there.
    There are some excellent instructors out at CNC who would be pleased to teach you and help you improve. If nothing else to keep a narrower stride so you don’t bugger up my tracks!! This weekend I’ll be at CNC, so I can go SKATE ski there.

    **RANT OVER**

    Oh yeah… WBC has received a fair amount of snow and the tracksetter(s) are doing as brilliant a job as possible. The lower trails have a shallow depth of fresh snow with hard ice below. As one climbs up everything gets better and better. There are definitely a few areas with exposed twigs, the odd rock, and short sections of ice. WBC could definitely use another 20cm of snow overall to return to it’s earlier glory this year, but it still enjoyable nonetheless thanks to the excellent work of the trail association out there. After the hordes descend this weekend it’s a safe bet by Monday the trails will need refreshing.

    Sorry ’bout the epic long post folks…

  11. Skied at Peter Lougheed PP Thursday, Feb 26. Skied from Elk Pass Parking lot over Fox Creek, Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, Pocatera, Lynx, Amos, Lodgepole, And Sinclair. Snow conditions were good to excellent as the bottom trails, including Lodgepole and Sinclair had been track set late on Wednesday. The south trails, Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, etc. were especially great and the sun was shining. The only problem was that the last big hill on Lodgepole (Suicide Hill) was closed as the bottom of the hill is flooded. Yesterday they were releasing water, a lot of water, from the lakes and this caused flooding at the bottom. This meant going up Meadow to the visitor center where fortunately our bus picked us up. I suspect that this closure might be in place for the remainder of the season unless it gets really cold so the water can freeze and then be snowed over.

  12. I’d have to say today was one of my most enjoyable days of skiing all season, trying a new circuit: Elk Pass parking lot (-9), up steep hill of Hydroline, then up even steeper (steepest?) side of Lookout. Winds died down for us around 1pm and so lunch on “top of the PLPP world” was most enjoyable. Down to Tyrwhitt junction and took Tyrwhitt back to Elk Pass and car (-3). 1-2 cms of fresh snow in the tracks and being back on my waxable skis made for one happy Helen. I was tempted to walk up that final big hill before the final ski down to the car, as it was getting hard to herringbone and pole plant. Ran into two different groups of young people heading in/out of ACC cabin-got to take my hat off to these extremely fit and enthusiastic parents who truly put forth the HUGE effort to take their bambinos to back country huts.

  13. Great Divide Trail at Lake Louise. Needing something easy after two days of energetic skiing, we skied the Great Divide out and back, starting at the west end (by the Lake O’Hara access road). A 1 cm early morning snowfall greatly enhanced the tracks, which are in pretty good shape, though icy underneath. A group of skate skiers passed us and looked very comfortable in the skating lane. Good grip with VR40, and later VR45, though we were picking up some needles near the AB-BC border in the afternoon. Started at -10C, finished at -4C. Our pole plants were noisy, but other than that it was an enjoyable ski.

  14. West Bragg was much better than I expected this afternoon. A very few patches sneaking through on the tracks on East Crystal, but even the top of Logger’s, which was quite bare even before our little false “spring”, was almost completely covered. Have to say… the volunteers/track setters have taken advantage of every cm this year, and so quickly after it’s fallen. I for one, really appreciate the effort!

    • Thur PM Iron Springs sunny spots were melting with bare spots showing up already.
      Thur AM good coverage on Loggers N-S leg not yet trackset but beautifully roller packed – and trashed full width – by 5 walkers very shortly after the groomer passed judging by the footprint swale. Elbow – same thing by 2 walkers each way wherever there wasn’t track – though it’s already regroomed by the looks of it.
      ( (( ((( GONG ))) )) )
      We increasingly choose carbon intensive PLPP trips where we only have to put up with that indignant clown who occasionally skates all over it.

  15. Just wondering what the conditions are like at Mt. Shark? Anyone been there recently?

  16. Nordic Centre was bit better than you might expect yesterday. Groomers did what was possible with the trace amounts of new snow. Meadowview was trackset in both directions from the mine scar. On some stretches there just wasn’t enough snow for a track of any depth, and there were icy patches. Trails directly above the day lodge (Centennial and Olympic) were in very good condition due to their deep base of artificial snow. VR45 (-2/-8) aka purple was the “safe” wax of choice; VR40 (-4/-12) aka blue worked with good technique and firm pole plants. Conditions that were less than ideal for classic were fine for skating: slightly icy and fast.

  17. Feb 26th 2015 – We are hoping to head out for some xcountry skiing this weekend. Just wondering if anyones been out to Kananaskis Valley and skiied on any of the trails around the Delta Hotel, That would be the Terrace Link, Kovach or Aspen Trails. What kind of condition are they in at this time? We haven’t been very lucky with snow. The last few times we’ve tried to ski (no in k-country) we’ve ended up hiking instead. Thanks

    • Suggest ski anywhere south of Lynx trail and Elk Pass in PLPP. Skied those trails 3 times in past 5 days and heading back there today for loop with Lookout. According to “live grooming link” there has been no grooming around Delta since mid Jan. due to lack of snow.

    • We found very good skiing at Kananaskis Village last Saturday, as there had just been a good dump of snow. It is unfortunate that no grooming has been done there, but with more new snow might still be worth a try. If it doesn’t work out, you can always drive further south!

  18. West Bragg Creek
    The winner of the snow lottery today was West Bragg Creek. There was 10cm of new snow overnight in addition to the 10cm that fell on the weekend. Winter is back and the volunteer groomers have been out packing and grooming the trails. There may be a few thin spots under large trees or on south facing hills, but everything I skied was in great shape. And the good news is that it was still snowing at the end of the day!

  19. Peter Lougheed, Elkwood parking today. -5 in the morning; -2 afternoon, blue worked well. Meadow, Wooley, Lynx, Pocaterra, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass all in great condition (excellent track setting); Fox Creek, Moraine, Wheeler dusting of new snow with skier set tracks over ice, but not too bad – good day to be out.

  20. Planning to classic ski in the Lake Louise area this upcoming Saturday 28th.
    I had wanted to ski Pipestone, but the LL ski report does not recommend it at the moment.
    Any advice as to where the best trail conditions can be found, given the abysmal lack of fresh snow these days 🙁 ?
    Thanks for any tips that can point me in the right direction!

    • Helen
      I was skiing on Moraine Lake Road on Saturday. Great conditions for skating and the classics skiers agreed. It has been nice and cold since so the conditions should be still quite good. It was WINTER there.
      We have to find a way to get Parks to find out about the RIGHT conditions and have them ski the trails since they are not grooming every day!
      Andrew had done a great job on Saturday but the website did not know about it!
      Go there and enjoy every minute of it.

    • Helen et al — Skied Great Divide trail today. 0ºC at parking lot, and seemed to warm up later in bright sunshine. Started down Lower Telemark (#8) on an old, thin track but it soon was lost under skidoo tracks. It appears that maybe the Loppett folks have been out working the trail (?) and thus the thin track is mostly gone. Snow was hard pack, frozen — so we turned around after 1km, went back, and continued down Great Divide to top of downhill. Came back on Peyto (#7) and it was a bit better – “fair skiing” — overall not great conditions but things were more or less skiable today.

    • Hi Helen,
      I classic skied on Moraine Lake Rd today. It was very good with solid tracks. A bit of fresh (grouple?) in the track made my kick wax – Magnar 3.5 covered with 3 a bit slow but good for the first round up. Returning to the car the skiff of new snow was gone and SkiGo +1 to -3 did the trick for the second time up. No ice to be found but snow is coarse so add lots of layers!
      I had the trail mostly to myself except for running into Chuck and Jeanette the “Old Faithfull’s”

    • Great Divide was hard and fast on February 25th.Super kick and glide. Just around 0oC so a +1 to -1 wax worked great. I have to think that the wooded trails would be a challenge going down as there is nothing soft!

  21. Tues Feb 24 – skied Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, and Lookout today. All were in good condition, with recent tracksetting. I had Lookout to myself, although I saw tracks of two skiers who had done it in the opposite direction earlier today. Had fun coming down, the grooming across the whole width of the trail made it easy to control speed. There wasn’t any sign of melting until I hit the Hydroline trail on the way out, from there in sunny areas the bottom of the tracks were starting to melt, but I think conditions should still be good tomorrow.

    • Hi There, I also skied lookout this evening, it was the first time I’ve been on it when it was groomed, I would have liked to seen more tracks, is today’s track setting normal? I came up from the hydro line, the flattish part before the summit should have been compleat ly tracked (in my opinion) and the climb coming up from Tyrwhitt had almost nothing?
      Anyone else share my opinion?

  22. Moraine Lake Road – a pretty enjoyable ski today. The first couple of Km up to the Paradise Valley trailhead were occasionally icy and had some needle debris, but after that the tracks were a bit snowier and generally cleaner. There were some very nice sections up high. The skating lane looked really good everywhere. Our V45 wax worked well to get us up – and the glide on the flat sections was great. We had lunch in the warm sun at the turn-around spot, where we also needed to scrape off a few needles. The return trip was fairly fast, and we then skied up Tramline to the upper Louise parking lot, and returned. Tramline was only in fair shape – a bit icy and quite a lot of needles. Started the day at 0C, finished about 2:30pm at +3C. A relaxing, pleasant outing. A few cm of new snow would make for really great conditions.

    Today was the day to enjoy a classic spring tour in February.
    The Icefields Parkway is bare and dry, and the skies are blue.
    Skiing conditions couldn’t be better:
    What more could you want?

  24. Skied a 11.5 loop today starting at the PLPP Visitor Information Centre which encompassed Meadow to Woolley to Amos to Wheeler and back to the Information Centre via Lodgepole. Temperature was -4 at the start (10:45 AM), which rose to +5 C when we were back at about 2:00 PM. V40 wax worked reasonably well. All the trails had been recently track-set, with the exception of Wheeler, which had sections of thick ice below the thin snow covering. However, the great views from Wheeler and wonderful lunch spots at several picnic tables along this way made up for difficult skiing during this section of the loop. Tracks were starting to get somewhat icy by the end of the trip. A most enjoyable day!

  25. Did a loop starting at Elk Pass parking, headed through Fox Creek then up the Hydroline before coming down through Elk pass then over the big hill and back to the parking lot. Conditions were the best they’ve been in what seems like months. Everything was skier set and Fox Creek had one or two icy patches, but all in all great snow. The steep hill going up the hydroline was in great shape and was easier to climb than normal. The Hydroline was snowblown but soft. Elk Pass was beautiful with lots of fresh snow and skied fast. The big hill back to the parking lot was also in great shape. We used the green wax all day and had great traction.

    All in all a great day.

  26. My plan today was to ski Whiskey Jack up to Tyrwhitt, down Elk Pass, Fox Creek and Moraine back to the Boulton Creek Parking lot, but alas, shortly after saying hello to Bob and Chip at the Whiskey Jack / Pocaterra Jtn, I only reached the Tyrwhitt Meadow and the metal clip in my bindings snapped off leaving no way to reattach it. After unsuccessfully trying to rig up a way to keep my toe anchored to my ski, I gave up, strapped it to my pack and turned back to attempt a one legged ski back the way I came. It was easier in the soft snow and skier set tracks to try to ride my skinny ski a little like a skateboard downhill, using my poles for balance (it was far from graceful, but I managed stayed on my feet). Once I hit the lovely set tracks at the Lookout Jtn, it became a little trickier to place that back foot, but somehow I made it down Whiskey Jack (ski-walking the steep hills). Exhausting, but still wonderful to be out in such great conditions learning a new skill (that I hope not to become an expert at – far more fun on 2 skis). I didn’t make it to Fox Creek & Moraine, but spoke to a group that had just come that way, and they said it was very icy, so I suppose it was better I didn’t. If the binding was going to go, at least it snapped while I was on trails that weren’t icy and were very hard packed, so I couldn’t wreck the grooming. Still so great to see so many beaming faces after such a long stretch of less than ideal conditions. It was fantastic out there today!

  27. CNC: blue bird day today. Man made snow was great groomed and tracked if not a little abrasive.VR 45 worked well.
    Went out Banff trial and came back Bow trail. Trails was groomed but NOT track set. Skier set tracks on Banff trail were rattley. No tracks on Bow (lower Banff Tr for you oldies). There is ice underneath all of this with the occasional rock or gravel. No chance for the groomers to put in a track.

  28. Incredible day at Lake O’Hara today. The road was groomed on Thursday and the conditions were still good with a light layer of packed snow on top of the ice. A chilly start at 10 a.m so waxed with V20 (-10/-18C). It held until close to the top of the road when the temp really started to go up so switched to V40 (-3/-10). The trip down was great and easy to control with metal edged skiis. I have been to Lake O’Hara a lot in the summer but never in the winter and I could not have asked for a more perfect day!

  29. One more thing. On reading the MtnGirl report below It seems that the conditions on Moraine Lake Road were as good today as yesterday when I skied there after Andrew groomed the trail.
    It would be nice if the Parks Website could realistically reflect conditions which were posted today as FAIR/POOR but are really VERY GOOD/EXCELLENT.

  30. Skiing Nordic Centre today. Very good conditions. Even Bow, Banff Trail and Meadowview had fantastic skiing. Maybe we have to thank Len for that!
    Beautiful day again.

  31. Checked out Moraine Lake Road today. Great classic conditions with a starting temperature of about -8 at 11:00 AM. Used -5 to -9 wax and switched to violet on the way down since it warmed up to -1. t was a bluebird day with a mix of classic and also some skate skiers. Start of Fairview was icy from Moraine but we heard the trail is fine once you get past the icy section.

  32. Ribbon Creek – brief report
    Lots of fresh snow here! Depth rather variable, with danger lurking just beneath the surface in some places: mostly sheer ice, with lots of needles and other debris, which we occasionally scraped on. These spots were the exception, though, and coverage was mostly very good.
    We parked at Ribbon Creek and skied up Terrace, then around Terrace-Kovach-Terrace. The first bit of Terrace was the sketchiest, with snow depth increasing with altitude. The north side of Kovach had very deep snow, at least 20 cm, which was a bit of work to herringbone uphill through, but the descent was fun, mostly through deep powder with just the odd thin spot.
    It was pretty quiet, too, some snowshoers apparently heading up Ribbon Creek as their tracks diverged from ours at Kovach-Link junction.
    Lovely day – perfect temperature, nice fresh powder, no crowds……
    Much as I enjoyed the powder, I would have to say that some grooming would help to preserve this snow. It looks like the whole system has this terribly icy base which is too easily exposed.

    • Update from Sunday the 22nd.
      Skied Terrace, Terrace Link, Aspen and the parts of Kovach required to make a loop back to the parking lot by the skating rink. The snow was beautiful! V55 worked ok for me. Something a little less grippy would have probably worked OK too. The snow is skier packed down to about 1 to 3 inches. My poles were going through the snow about 50% of the time. maybe sharper tips or bigger baskets would have helped. The track was a really badly skied out skierset track. Running a snowmobile over it would go a long way. All things considered, it was way better than an icy mess and it was a fun challenge.

  33. Skied at the Canmore Nordic Centre Saturday morning. All manufactured snow trails that I skied on were V.Good to Excellent (Banff Loop, Olympic, Lynx). Meadowview was surprisingly good despite signs warning to the contrary and made for a nice loop. However Bow and Banff Ave past the end of the snow making were both very sketchy in places with exposed gravelly ice. Hopefully a bit more snow and some grooming might improve these trails but otherwise they’re rock ski territory!

  34. PLPP-middle trails
    Like Mary Perrott, I did a tour of some of the middle trails at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, starting from Elkwood. The loop included trails that were groomed yesterday, like Meadow, Woolley and Amos, as well as trails that had been groomed earlier in the week, including Lynx, Pocaterra, Packers and the sunny escarpment-edge part of Wheeler. There was 2-3cm new snow on top of the most recent grooming and as much as 10cm on top of the older grooming. In fact, we ended up breaking trail on much of the older grooming…but the snow was soft and light, so that was really quite a pleasure. The only section that was a bit sketchy was the middle part of Wheeler, with the nice views. Underneath the thin layer of new snow, it was mostly clear ice. It was still surprisingly skiable, however. Beautiful temperatures, blue skies, new snow and great grooming. It couldn’t be better… except maybe if I had run into Bob!

    Winter has returned with cold fresh snow.
    Don’t despair at the sight of ice under the snow near the parking lot, you just have to climb a little.
    Soon you will forget why we were complaining:

    • Don’t 4 get to report txs.
      Wish I were there!!! After our wonderful ! 1A-Ohara- 1A loop on sat, I got ‘sick’. Still down for count. But great getting the news.

  36. Fantastic skiing on Moraine Lake Road. Andrew had just finished going over the skating section as I was starting at 10:30. I felt he had done that just for me as I was the only skater until 12:00!! The classic tracks were a little slow because of the new snow but the skiers were enjoying themselves.
    I heard that there are a lot of trails which are not in very good conditions for either skating or classic but MLR and GD (1A) are in great shape. Andrew told he was going to groom GD after MLR.
    Parks Website should try to communicate the right information about the trail conditions as I strongly disagree with their rating of ICY and “FAIR” for MLR and GD which appeared on the website all week. I skied every day on those trails and they were good to very good.
    And today MLR was EXCELLENT.

  37. Great day on some pretty nice trails at PLPP. We skied all trails that were track set last night: Amos, Wheeler South, Woolley, Meadow, Braille, and Lodgepole. Meadow on the W. side was not track set but still quite fast in skier set tracks. Temp at start was – 10C and rose to -6 at the end of the day. The day started with some flurries in the morning, but sunny by the afternoon. In fact, going S. on Braille, it was getting quite warm in the brilliant sunshine. Trails were good overall with 3-5 cm. of new snow over the hard pack/ice. Amos and Wheeler had a few icy patches. There was a fair bit more snow around Nakiska and Barrier Lake (maybe 10 cm.) All in all, a good bit of exercise on lightly-populated trails!

  38. Was skiing on 1A again. 2cm of snow and deeper as you go west. Maybe 5cm. Slower than yesterday. I was skating and talked to the classic skiers and it was a bit slow for them also.
    If they groomed this afternoon or tonight it will feel like winter again.
    Let’s hope.

  39. I went for a short ski outing to Boom Lake this morning with a friend. Had 1-2 cm new snow on a very hard crust all the way to the lake. The trail was all snow covered with no rocks or debris. Enjoyed a calm lunch at the lakeshore before another snow cloud moved in. We both were happy that we had our AT gear to cruise down on the hard packed crusty trail. Maybe there is still hope for this winter to come back.

  40. Gave Mt. Shark a try on Thursday. The temp was fine but the trails are in desperate need of grooming and tracksetting. We gave the 5 and 10 km loops a try and ended up walking down some hills because of ice. The 2km loop seemed to be in the best shape. Not worth the drive until it is groomed.

    • They might be waiting for some fresh snow to groom and trackset.

      • Hopefully the snow today will help the groomers on all of the trails! In the meantime, Canmore Nordic Centre is still great if you stay on the manmade snow.

    • Unfortunately the trailer that hauls the snowcat up to Mt Shark is temporarily out of service so there will be no grooming on the Mt Shark trails until at least the middle of next week.

      In PLPP, as of 7AM, there was about 6cm’s of new snow in the Pocaterra Hut area, and around 8cm’s or so fresh around the Boulton parking lot area- I assume there was a bit more further south.

      Congratulations to Alex Harvey who just won another medal at the World Championships in Falun. This time a bronze in the 30km Skiathlon.

  41. Playing “hard and fast” at Lake Louise today. Conditions reported by Doug Connery’s yesterday hadn’t changed – even though I was thinking snow. Temperatures at the Visitor Centre ranged from -3C to +2C.
    Started on Rode blue from the GD parking lot and went to the Lake O’Hara access road on very fast tracks. Some tree debris on the tracks paralleling SE Lower Telemark and at the hill top before the BC border. The trail from the shelter to the Lake O’Hara road was the best part of the trail. Applied Rode violet for the return and skied with the wind in our backs to the bottom of Peyto trail. The climb up Peyto was easy in good snow and tracks and experienced skiers will find the down track manageable. Tramline was variable with slow snow above MLT, faster snow to the road crossing and very icy tracks to the river. If I wasn’t so lazy, I would have carried my skis back to the Village along the Bow River trail – anyway double poling through the tree debris was easy on the ice track. Time to post this and go clean my skis.

  42. We were pleasantly surprised skiing up to Lake O’Hara today. Yes, it is hard packed, but it’s been recently track set and overall it proved to work for us. We were on a variety of skis – new and old waxless, mini-skins and good old purple wax — all worked most of the time. The worst hazard was definitely the parking lot and accessing the trail — it is total ice so be careful getting there and out of your car!

  43. Hadn’t really planned on skiing today but when I saw the live grooming report for PLPP I decided to take a chance. Good call! Left the Elk Pass parking lot at noon and skied up Blueberry. Started out on V40 but had a little bit of slipping so added another layer of V40 and extended it into the glide zone. That did the trick but at the Elk Pass – Blueberry table we added some V45 so we would have more grip for the Blueberry climb. That worked for the rest of the day. Not sure what the temp was but it was warm and sunny. A great day and it was just amazing to see what the groomer’s could do with so little snow!

  44. Skied on the 1A today. I think it is probably easier to skate than classic at the moment. Although double poling in the middle rather than in the tracks was quite good and very fast.
    If the groomers just “brushed” the middle section for skating it would be really good.
    Could be worse we could be without snow completely. What are the easterners doing to deserve that much snow! Not fair.

  45. Lower Telemark and Great Divide
    Skied Lower Telemark and the Great Divide to just before it drops down to the divide. Telemark was fair on the east side degrading to poor with ice and debris on the west side. Similar conditions on the Great Divide trail, okay at the parking lot, becoming icy with more debris as one heads west.

  46. On Tuesday 18-Feb I did a test run of the 24k Cookie Race course. Started at about 10:00 there were only two cars in the Pocaterra Hut parking lot. Air temperature was around 0C the whole time. Tracks were largely hard icy conditions, there has been a little snow, we’re talking about 1-3mm so some places there’s a thin, hard packed snow over the ice in the tracks, most of the lower trails have icy sections and very glazed tracks.

    The Come Along trail is in better shape than the section of Pocaterra that it twins, so use that if you can. Once you are past the junction where Come Along and Pocaterra combine to one trail the tracks are pretty good, north of that and there are sections with little to no tacks. No areas of dirt to avoid, just some very hard to icy flat areas. And debris were not really an issue.

    The snow on the top of Packers and the Pocaterra back to Lynx was great. The tracks going down the Pocetarra hill to Lynx were still well defined, but are pretty icy so climbing them would be some work, but a super fast and smooth downhill experience.

    There were three main hazardous areas to avoid:

    1. one of the early hills on Pocaterra, perhaps 1.5km from the hut has a nasty 50ft section of ice flows, you can ski down through this if you stick to the very outer foot of the trail.

    2. the Wheeler trail has a long section of ice flow wash out, pretty much for the whole 1km or so where it gets a lot of sun, Not much lateral stability on this at all! The tracks are pretty much non-existent through this section so you can’t even use them to guide your skis.

    3. the ice flow at the east end (top end) of Packers is back with a vengeance. If you are climbing Packers you can just squeeze by, but going down hill would be terrible. Here’s the scenario, you turn onto Packers from Pocaterra and head west, the meadow at the top has great snow and glide, all is feeling fine, you reach the black diamond hill and it doesn’t look too bad, with a bit of aggressive snow plowing you make it through to the meadows, thinking that’s not so bad, then meadows run a bit downhill for about 500m and by the time you reach the next descent in the trees you have forgotten about how hard you had to plow. You turn into the trees, start accelerating downhill and then, on the first corner, it goes HORRIBLY WRONG! There’s a good sized ice flow right across the trail (except for about a foot by the south edge of the tail) and from this point on to the bottom of that hill there are more ice patches.

  47. Skied on 1A to the far parking lot. Although not groomed today the skating was still pretty good. Hard but not problems. The classic track was quite hard according to the classic skiers but for skaters it was double poling and fast.
    Moraine Lake Road was groomed yesterday but the skating section only.
    Great day.

  48. Moraine Lake Road today. -5ºC at 11:00 AM at parking lot. No new snow, no recent grooming. Classic tracks were a bit thin, but very skiable. Rhode violet worked very well, and skaters seemed to be managing well too. About -9C at high point on MLR. Started up Fairview, but turned around on the very icy first hills — perhaps the upper meadows would be OK, but never got there. Parking lot was full at 1:30 when we departed. NOTE that Calgary Ski Club grooming machines will be working in the upper Lake Louise area preparing for March 1 loppet.

  49. Dawn Mountain – Golden, BC
    Skied at Dawn Mountain today. Conditions are icy but manageable with Skintecs or skating skis. This was a great opportunity to compare fish scale vs skintecs on iced tracks and the skintecs won hands down. The fish scales had next to no grip but the skintecs just kept on going up the hills.

    Dawn Mountain is a great nordic area at the base of Kicking Horse Resort. There are 34 km of groomed trails, a geothermal heated daylodge and lots of friendly locals to chat with. It is worth visiting for a day of skiing when conditions are “normal”.

  50. Originally I was hoping to go ice climbing today but plans didn’t eventuate so I skied PLPP instead, nice to be back on dry wax. Skied from Boulton up Packers (ice flow is substantial, bordering on WI2, would be great one swing sticks in its present condition ;), over Elk Pass, Blueberry, back up Hydroline, and returned via Whiskey Jack. -5C or so when I started, snow was -5 in the shade at the Blueberry picnic table, -1 in the sun at the Tyrwhitt picnic table on the way back, air temp 1C at the car park as I left.

    Vauhti K15 worked well, I topped it up with VR50 at the Tyrwhitt table on the way back, tracks are still a bit aggressive in terms of stripping wax. No grip on Whiskey Jack on the way down as it was hard and fast.

    It won’t take much fresh snow to see off the ice in the bottom of the tracks, some of the frozen tree bombs might take a bit longer! While the bottom of most tracks are ice or very hard there is typically enough fresh snow in there now to get grip. Steep descents where people are snow plowing aggressively are… fast.

    A lovely sunny day for the most part, it was definitely worth the trip. Not many people out but I said hi to a few who were stopped at various tables for a bite to eat.

  51. Skied PLPP from Elk Pass parking today – started at -10 C with VR40 which worked perfectly until after noon. Then you had to be perfect with weight transfer and it still worked. We skied to Elk Pass, with a quick detour to Blueberry, and returned down on Hydroline. Hydroline was so good we returned to the Lookout Junction for another half run. All tracks were dusted with about 1 cm of recent snow giving us good kick and glide. Beneath this slight dusting though lurks the beginning of the next era of continental glaciation! Returning, we split up at Elk Pass / Fox Creek junction. Fox creek is not recommended by this skier until more snow arrives. The Elk Pass trail hill was reported to be a very good choice for the trip back to the parking lot.

  52. Hi hard working “skiers”, Well it is work isn’t?
    I was skate skiing on Moraine Lake Road between 10:00 and 12:00 this morning . Started at -8C and finish at -3C. It was fantastic as one groomer had done two passes on the skating lane. When I started I was the first one on the new groomed section but soon was passed by two much “younger” ladies. OH! to be young again!
    And it was beautifully sunny. Worth the drive.
    See you there again

    about 2 km short of Warden Cabin near Molar Pass/ Little Pipestone Creek Junctions

    Track setting job is currently dangerous on the main #20 ski trail to the Pipestone River Trail junction.

    The track set trail going up the Pipestone River was set in a way that it crosses back and forth on the trail particularly on corners at the bottom of hills or slopes. I had someone wipe out in front of me when their ski got caught in the track where the ski track shifted from one side of the trail to the other. Thankfully the skier was not going faster otherwise I would have likely been taken out also. This was a completely avoidable crash- if the track setting would have been done in a way that conformed to industry standards.This is a very dangerous situation for less experienced skiers without metal edged skis, particularly under very firm or icy conditions as they are now.

    With the ski track going from one side of the trail to the next, no one knows what side of the trail they should be on. Downhill traveling skiers generally want to be on the side where there is no track. When the track shifts from one side to the other with people on the slope, confusion occurs. This is not what good safety standards look like.

    Obviously the person who set this trail is not a highly experienced skier or well trained in track setting. Track setting should be confined to one side of the trail only for obvious safety reasons rather than going from side to side. Parks needs to be aware of this safety issue.

    Furthermore the trail is somewhat narrower in many places as compared to last year by about 30 to 60 cm. This makes for more difficult snow plowing down some hills on the narrower track.

    The skiing up the tracks otherwise was mainly icy fast. The base is excellent.
    Skiing up the Pipestone River off the tracks set trail is excellent. 1 to 3 cm of ski penetration. Great firm base for ski touring with 56mm skis. Once you hit the big meadow it may be best to stick to the east side of the valley to avoid open waters of the creeks that are not completely frozen. This should speed up your travel towards the Warden Cabin and towards the Skoki Lodge area. This is extremely rare firm base for this area at this time of the year. Take advantage of it and take your camera if you have never been here before. This is more like April conditions. Enjoy the spectacular scenery of the huge meadows on a sunny day up there while you have the chance.

  54. Hi All – Skied at the Canmore Nordic Centre this morning in -11°C tempature at about 7:30am. The snow was cold and icy but overall I had good grip using VR 40 wax (-4 to -12). I quickly did the Banff loop and had to reapply wax by the time I reached the meadow before a quick decent down to the stadium area.

    • Hi Beau,
      Thanks for the post. Were the trails sketchy icy or ok icy (on downhills in particular)? Just wondering if it’s worth a trip from Calgary just now.

      • Hi Larissa – I didn’t really feel like they were “sketchy-icy” so I’d have to say that they were that man made snow “ok-icy”. The tracks were fast on downhills but nothing crazy and the corduroy was fine. The weather has warmed up from this morning so things may have softened up. I guess the question would be how soft the snow is?

  55. We headed out to PLPP for an afternoon family ski with Calgary Nordic Training Group today, Family Day. We were a mixed crew of adults of varying abilities, and kids from age 7 – 16. We started out from Pocaterrra hut just after 1:00. The temperature was minus 2 when we left, and it may have gone up to zero while were there. The sun showed up every so often. The conditions were quite varied, and improved as we went further away from the hut. For the most part, the track was icy, with a thin covering of fresh snow. As Coach George instructed us, most of us used Swix universal klister with extra blue on top. I must say, I was skeptical, but it worked great! We had excellent grip and great glide! That coach really knows his wax! It turned out to be a very enjoyable couple of hours of skiing! I must compliment the track setters out there. They have done an amazing job with what little snow there is. Let’s hope we get some more snow before the Cookie Race!

  56. Mon – Feb. 16 – Used metal edged touring skis and skied up to the 5km picnic area on the Lake O’Hara fire road today using VR45. The grip going up was just OK, slipped on several icy areas, but coming down on the hard packed, chewed up snow was a challenge. It was difficult to step out of the track and snow plow even with metal edges. Skiers coming out from the lodge said it rained on Friday the whole time they were skiing in.

  57. PLPP, South end
    Conditions were very good in the Boulton Creek to Elk Pass end of PLPP today.
    There was nobody at the Boulton Creek parking lot, when we arrived in the morning…but there was 1-2 cm of new snow on top of the freshly groomed tracks. That was just enough new snow to allow wax able skis to get good grip on the hills. Swix VR45 worked nicely, right from the start. We went up Whiskey Jack and Tyrwitt, which had 2cm on top of lovely grooming and no other tracks. The grooming south of the Lookout junction was older and covered with 4-5 cm of light, cold snow. The tour to Elk Pass was excellent. We went down Hydroline, then up and over Lookout. Climbing up the steep south side was better than expected and the descent on the north side was smooth and easy.
    Temperatures stayed below 0C all day, so conditions will rain great for tomorrow.

  58. Emerald Lake

    What do you get when you leave your slurpy in the freezer over night? Slick concrete and this describes the snow conditions for the Emerald Lake trails. After several nights of below freezing temps one could not even dent the snow with a boot. The slightest incline resulted in acceleration and no easy way to slow down, even metal edged skiers would have been challenged!

  59. Moraine Lake Road. Chuck was absolutely correct. The Moraine Lake Road is good. A light layer of newer snow on a hard crust. Would not recommend the Fairview as much of the snow is skied off leaving crusty ice. Tramline is good as well.

  60. We xc skied at Pipestone yesterday (Sunday Feb 15), and found the tracks to be frozen solid with a liberal sprinkling of pine needles and cones. Having downhill skied at Louise a few times lately, I know that warm weather and rain has subjected the lower valley areas to a very reduced and re-frozen snowpack. Nobody in the group really came up with a workable wax, so we strong-armed our way around, for the most part. Very fast. And then clenched whatever tightly for the snowplow down the luge tracks.

    Nice sunny day though 🙂

    Cold weather and snow required for me to go back there. Get the bike out.

  61. Mt Shark/commercial dog sled operations – here’s the reply I received from Alberta Parks:

    “Thank you for your email in regards to commercial dog sled use at Mt. Shark this winter. We understand your frustration during this extremely warm winter and low snow season and would ask that you show patience during this time.

    We currently have three dog sled companies that have permits to run operations in Kananaskis Country; however only one of those companies has a permit to run dog sled operations at the Mt. Shark trailhead from November to the end of April in combination with his Spray Lakes location. This location was approved prior to Mt. Shark becoming a provincial park and is grandfathered into the company’s permit. This is not a new dog sled location but a long-existing one that does not necessarily get used each year. On most normal snow years that operator uses the Mt. Shark location only rarely to conduct business on the Watridge or Long Loop trail. This year however with the snow conditions the company has been forced to conduct some of its business at the Mt. Shark location. Again this is not a new location for dog sledding but one that is only occasionally used.

    The dog sled company is required to clean up the trail after each use. This requires the use of a snowmobile at low speeds to pick up and remove dog feces. It is not always possible to have everything cleaned up before a skier finds the mess.

    Again thank you for your email and I hope the weather/snow conditions improve.”

  62. “Another Follow Up on the Birkie”

    I would like to add two more comments coming out of Saturday’s 27th Canadian Birkebeiner. One comment is very positive and the other is very negative.

    On the positive side, the attitude of almost all the skiers I encountered was extremely positive! In places it was difficult or impossible for faster skiers to pass slower skiers. This was particularly the case on the Morningside trail, where there was just one, skied-in track. But what I saw were skiers stepping aside or just waiting for a second at the top of a hill to let the faster skier have a chance to move along at their pace. No fuss. No bother. Just a good friendly attitude on everyone’s part, and a thank you from the passing skier.

    Contrast that with the attitude of three skiers whom I encountered with about 3-4 km remaining to the finish where skiers from 5 events (13km, 31km, 22+22 km, Birkie Lite, & Birkie with Pack) were sharing the same trail. In other words, this was a place and time where things were a little congested. It was also at a time when there was nothing at stake – no overall placings or age class placings of any importance were still in play. And yet from well behind me I hear these three shouting to other skiers in rather rude voices words to the effect of “Get out of the track”, “Get to the right”, “Faster skiers have the right of way”, & “Move over”. What was saddest to me is that these remarks were being directed primarily at the folks who were out on the 13km course, challenging themselves to do something that was obviously very difficult. Is this the kind of experience that will encourage kids and new skiers to stay in the sport that we love so much? I think not!

    So, my “Two Sharp Ski Poles Award” goes to those three skiers, who, by insisting on their “rights”, may have managed to place 2327th instead of 2340th! C’mon man, get a life!

    • John; I don’t condone what or how it was said! However, it is a race. Even though one is in the middle of the race and in no danger of winning anything they did put on a bib for a race not a tour. It is unfortunate the setup of the Birkie which puts different events onto the same trail so back markers run into other racers. All participants should be aware of this and should ski to the right and be aware of being overtaken because it is a race. When I go into an event like the Birkie or the Cookie race, I race myself and my age group peers. so even though I’m not going to win, I’m looking for a personal best, or trying to beat “joe skier” in front of me. So to me and I dare say others it does matter if I’m 2327 or 2328th because it’s a race….

  63. Monday, Feb 16 AM – CNCPP was excellent this morning – as long as you stay on man-made snow. It was a spectacular morning with sunshine and maybe 3cm of fresh snow. -5ºC. I was skating but classic skiers seemed to be managing just fine. Expect things may deterioriate somewhat by time afternoon crowds arrive.

  64. Skied Redearth Creek yesterday. The trail is extremely icy. Full disclosure: I was on AT skis and just out for the afternoon trying to break in new ski boots. On XC skis I think the ski back to the car would have been terrifying.

    • Came back from Shadow lake lodge today. VERY icy and treacherous from the lodge down to the bike rack at the base of the steep downhill. Walking from the lodge was the only safe option. (Crampons would have helped!).From there to the campground was skiable but still icy. The only thing that kept me upright was having metal edges. Once on the shady side of the valley the trail was a bit better then once again very icy on the steep downhills just before the trailhead. Hopefully fresh snow arrives soon! Shadow lake lodge is already such a wonderful place to stay, some new snow could only make it better! (And safer!)

  65. Cypress Hills report

    Another slightly sad (no snow) but great experience report. Our ski into the Medicine Lodge back-county cabin in Cypress Hills Provincial Park turned into a hike. We could have driven (all the “winter closure” roads are still open), but that wouldn’t have been right. Instead we hiked in from Elkwater on Thursday afternoon, and I hiked back down Friday morning to get the truck (with the pails of water – no snow to melt, wine, and other important stuff).
    The back country experience was a bit of a bust, but these cabins are out of this world. Either $80 or $100/night for 8 or 10 people, which is an absolute steal. Warm, comfortable, amazing location. With snow, the XC skiing would be great. We tried Hidden Valley for downhill – really fun little hill, great snow-making, good prices.Saturday the high plateau was immersed in cloud, so everything was covered with 2-3cm of hoarfrost. When the sun came out, it was beyond belief.
    We saw cougar prints (highest density of cougars pretty much anywhere – sightings are actually routine, coyotes, lots of deer, elk). The Frozen Fescue loppet at the end of the month is in pretty serious doubt, however.

    Keep Cypress Hills in mind when we get some normal snow.

  66. Well, we headed out from PLPP today – meadow, Woolley, Amos loop. We had the most amazing time! The trails were probably some of the hardest and iciest conditions I have seen in a long time, but we still managed a super happy day. Strong skiers (4 adults and 4 kids ranging from 3.5-9rs old). The kids had a blast as did we. We decided to skip bringing a new group of ‘never before country skiied’ people tomorrow though…..we will wait for a wee bit of nicer snow to happen upon us….I hope! Loved every minute today though!!

  67. Canmore Nordic Centre

    Decided to give the man-made snow at Canmore a try today. Waited until after 12:00 for the snow to soften up, put on the waxless skis and had a great time with temps climbing to about +4/5. Any of the natural snow trails were not recommended so I did the 6.5 km illuminated loop. It heads out on Banff Trail to part way along the mine scar then turns right onto the Banff loop. By skiing to the end of the mine scar and manmade snow on the Banff trail and turning around at Jct 9 you can add some more distance. Part way along the Banff Loop at Jct 19, turn left and do the tear drop where Bow Trail takes off. Then back to the Banff loop and turn left at the sawdust pile onto Lynx down and around the Biathlon Stadium. This brings you back to the Banff Trail again by the biathlon parking. My GPS showed 7.5 km.

    For the more adventurous skiers, the competition trails (Centennial and Olympic) above the day lodge can add 3-7 km to the loop, however they are not for the faint of heart. I did the Centennial trail and ground up the climbs and then down cautiously to the day lodge making the loop about 10.5 km total. I only saw a couple of local club coaches and a Dad and his kids on an adventure on this trail so the grooming and track setting was next to perfect mid-afternoon. On my second loop I was not so cautious and let it rip for the most part on the down hills on Centennial and achieved some great speeds (and stayed upright) with nobody to get in the way! It was also exciting staying in the tracks on the downhill sections on the tear drop and Lynx.

    By the end of the day Banff Trail was pretty chewed up in places, however nothing an overnight groom and track set won’t fix. Hopefully it will be colder tonight so the tracks will set up a bit better by morning for Family Day.

  68. I agree with Don, the Berkie this year was great. It started 1 hr later but it was a great day out and all the volunteers did a great job regardless of the crazy weather. About 2/3 of the 55 km course (shortened to 44 km) was mostly trackset, the other 1/3 was skier trackset. With the warm temps and rain I had wax concerns but with all the fresh snow my wax worked great. Very well run event, hope to do it again next year.

  69. PLPP Feb 15:
    Yet another day with the waxless skis. I can’t remember the last time I used my wax skis! -4C at Elk Pass parking at 1130. Fox Creek and Moraine were icy with a couple of bare spots on Moraine. Packers was freshly trackset with Margarita snow in the tracks. Ditto for Pocattera to the Lookout Junction. Lookout was a thin layer of fresh powder over old trackset. More powder near the top. Tyrwhitt was skier-packed powder over old trackset. Ditto for Elk Pass to the Blueberry Hill junction. Blueberry Hill was identical to Lookout. The rest of the Elk Pass trail deteriorated to glazed and icy the closer you got to the parking lot. Walked up the big hill. +1C when I arrived at 1530.

    Put away your waxless skis… hard wax rules again!
    Very good conditions today with temperatures around minus 5 this morning. Nice dusting of fresh snow higher up and now fresh grooming.
    Happy smiles from everyone, whether on classic skis, skate skis or fat bikes:

    • Oh shoot!!! we should have done Moraine lake road because PIPESTONE was a nightmare! Unless you wanted a cross-country luge then you were getting what you wished for. The trails were nothing but icy. A few areas there was a skiff of snow which had blown from somewhere else otherwise, TERRIBLE icy conditions

      • I was also trying to decide between classic skiing at Pipestone, Great Divide or MLR on Sat and chose Pipestone. The trails we slick. It was a beautiful day so I focused on the scenery and blue sky instead of how little kick I had. Sounds like Great divide or MLR might have been better.

        Everyone…do a snow dance please…

    • It is great to see everyone having fun and sharing the trail.

  71. Yes unfortunately they were close to end when we saw them. One biker did a lot of walking on hills. The tracks will freeze and be a real issue after overnight freeze.
    Time for a letter to Parks?

  72. Bob
    Just returned from the Edmonton Birkebeiner Ski Festival. Friday evening brought freezing rain followed by a huge dump of snow overnight which created logistical problems physically getting volunteers to the stations and frantic last minute track setting by Parks staff. However, by 10 am things were ready to start with sunny skies and temperatures around -8C. Perfect ! Unfortunately the lack of tracks shortened the 55 km event to 44 km over fear that people wouldn’t finish before sunset. Hats off to all of the Parks staff , organizers and volunteers who managed to pull off such an amazing event. A good time was had by everyone in attendance and we enjoyed some of the best XC skiing this winter !

    • Hi Don,
      It’s great to hear some positive comments about the Birkie, in all my years of grooming up there I have never seen such a wide variety of conditions in 48hrs. We set the course on Thursday the tracks were looking like some of the best in recent years. Friday morning brought +5 degrees and lots and lots of rain this froze solid into an icy thrill ride by about 6pm Friday night. We made the decision the course was too icy to safely run a ski race and at the time snow forecast models were prediciting 2-5cm of snow mixed with freezing rain. At 11pm Friday night it was -9 and pouring freezing rain. By the time we finished at 2am the sky had partially cleared and it was looking like the predicted snow was going to miss us completely. By 7am Saturday there was a good 15cm of new very dry snow covering everything. Tracksetter Frank was sleeping on site and headed out just after 730am to Blackfoot at a hundred miles an hour track setting like crazy. I joined him later with my cat and we were acting like a pace car in race laying down track as skiers raced along behind us getting about as fresh a track you could possibly get. The track lasted for the first 100 skiers or so before being skied out, I’m glad to hear people enjoyed the experience as this was definitely one for “Do you remember the 2015 Birkie?” story books.

      • Jeff,
        Thanks for all of your hard work to give us the chance to ski the Birkie. Yes, the tracks did get skied out, which was sad, but inevitable, given the circumstances. But when we hit the straight downhill sections with fresh tracks, ah what a delight! The snow was so silky smooth that there was not a sound, other than the breeze in my face. For me, that made the day!

        • Simple pleasures like that John are why we cross country ski, the feeling of flying with both feet firmly on the ground.

          • Definitely second John’s comments. Thank you Jeff and Frank and all the other organizers, parks staff and volunteers who worked so hard to bring off a great event. It was another year to remember, After watching the rain come down Friday night and scraping the ice off my windshield it was looking pretty dismal. However, with the fresh snowfall and your team’s efforts, and then blue sunny skies it turned out to be a great day.

            Thanks again

  73. MLR continued:
    Classic Fairview and Moraine. Around 11am. VR 45 covered with 40 worked well. 4C at start and 0 end. Track slow downhill but middle better. Coming down there were some no grip, snow-flied icy parts.
    Fairview surprising good on older track, bit of ice on sunny sections. A few cm overnight helped a lot.

  74. Pocaterra Feb 15 – started at pocaterra at 10 am on groomed and trackset. Thin snow and little bit icy for the first 3-4 km but then was very good on perfect tracks all the way to Tyrwith. Section tyrwith to Elk pass was not groomed nor trackset so a little slower. Snow was great and temparature was surprisingly below zero the whole time. Should be really nice tomorrow as well.

    • Parked at Boulton 12pm thinking climbing Whiskey Jack would be ok. the first little hill up to Moraine was hideous with waxless at -1C; so little grip herring bone required stabbing in the edges which was too much for the good knees in the group, let alone the reconstructed. Had a look at Moraine, expected ice near the benches… well, expect to walk or take detours in the trees, as the thin ice patches are now sporting kinnikinick and gravel. After a few hundred meters more of Moraine, those small hills winding in the trees were too icy to be safe, let alone enjoy, so we shut it down and went for a hike around the north side of upper lake for the views (still do-able without boot-cleats, for now… take poles). Perhaps should have started at Pocaterra like Philippe (or Elk Pass), despite live-grooming comments painting everything north of Lynx as very poor.
      never summer
      pray for snow

  75. Hi skiers,
    Today Feb. 15th was a fantastic day on Moraine Lake Road. And for a bonus Andrew was grooming the skate section. I started around 9:15 and at about halfway Andrew came by with the machine and I was the only soul behind him right to the top. Norbert and Silvia missed that as they were too fast going up.. usual!!! Going down was faster in the middle than the track.
    Good job Andrew.

    • But then along came 5 people on Fat Bikes and un-did the groomer’s nice work by putting divots in the softer snow of the skating section, particularly on some of steeper sections further up the road. Not sure what kind of mess they made on their descent as I met them on my way down.

      • You know who else was leaving divots in the soft areas? the skiers, hikers, and snowshoers also on the trail. That is what happens when the sun warms the freshly turned upper layer of snow. Nowhere does it say that fat bikes are not allowed. In fact, Moraine lake road was even recommended here: We even passed the groomer on our way up and he did not tell us to leave.
        I think some of us have forgotten a fundamental lesson taught at a very young age called sharing. Looking up the forum here I see people skied the trail the next day and I saw no complaints about the conditions. The national park is plenty big for everyone.

        • Hi Chris,

          The first time I ever saw a fat bike on a ski trail was Dec 30, 2013 on Elk Pass in K-Country. At the time I wrote this: “The couple riding the Fat Tire bikes were very courteous as they dismounted and moved to the side of the trail as I met them. As you will see in the photos, the bikes do no damage to the trail as long as they stay out of the tracks.”

          Alberta Parks then sent me the following note: “snow biking is not permitted on groomed and trackset, cross-country ski trails, unless they were machine-made snow trails, such as at the CNC. In addition, we are highlighting the All-Season Trails in the West Bragg Creek area for this sport.”

          I’m aware that MLR is not under the jurisdiction of Alberta Parks.

          What I’m curious about is the Avenue Magazine article. What sanctioning body has bestowed Avenue Magazine with the authority to determine where fat bikes are allowed?

          My readers seem to enjoy looking at photos of fat bikers. This was the most popular photo on my blog last winter:

          • Hi Bob,

            Thanks for sharing the info. I am not sure where Avenue Magazine got their information from but it was what steered us towards MLR on Sunday. We did do some research before leaving and we did find some areas that did definitely say NO bikes allowed, MLR was not one of them. Perhaps the folks at Avenue Magazine followed the same steps and came to the same conclusion.

            I am aware that many areas do not have fat bike regulations yet, simply because the idea is too new. But that does not mean that skiers and bikers cannot co-exist without issue, many ski resorts and parks in Canada and the US have already proven this. It just requires both parties to be cognizant of the other trail users and their concerns.

            We did have a novice biker with us yesterday who unfortunately did walk up some of the hills, which will have left tracks in the snow. But his impact would be no more than the hikers and snowshoers we also saw on the trail. Novice skiers are also just as liable to have to walk up or down hills. Regardless, we were all very careful to stay out of the trackset, and yielded to skiers from both directions. Reactions were generally positive, but the few who did take issue also posted about it here, which led me to respond here, as no one seemed willing to stop and talk about their issues there.

            I do believe that the trails are plenty big enough for everyone to enjoy, as you mentioned the bikes leave a minimal impact so long as they stay out of the tracks. For this to be successful it requires open and constructive dialogue from all parties. Some people’s reactions to things they are not familiar with are negative, but this is also often due to a lack of information. Fat bikers are the new kids on the block, and we are aware of that fact. Many of us are also xc skiers, so we would not go out of our way to limit other people’s ability to enjoy the mountains. When people act like they own the park/trail, all it does is create animosity between the two sports, which will ultimately end up costing everyone involved.



  76. “Good, better, best” is how I would describe our afternoon ski up Tramline, down Fairview and up MLR respectively. Same temps as yesterday +1 to +3, lots of cars but we saw very few people during this ski. About 2-3 cms fresh light snow on top of yesterday’s grooming of MLR made it especially enjoyable for us, and would expect skate skiers to find it heavenly. We were euphoric finding even better conditions than we’d anticipated. Did take off skis to walk last 500 m. of F/V hill down to MLR. Has anyone found AccuWeather to be a more reliable source for weather than theweathernetwork? (eg. Lake Louise)

    • Another weather forecast! I didn’t even know about this one. I typed in Kananaskis and it has pinpointed to the exact minute when it will start to snow there. I’ve added it to the menu. You can type in whatever location you want.

    • Nope. Never found Weather network to be accurate at all.
      I compare Environment Canada for Yoho -as Wx station @ Wapta Lodge. And for LL ski hill-set to lowest elevation.
      And check highway cam.
      Txs for update -might try MLR tomorrow.

  77. Took a chance at PLPP today skied a clockwise loop from Bolton Trading Post Wheeler, Lynx, Pocaterra , Tyrwhitt, Elk, Fox, a couple of cms of fresh probably made for a nicer ski although it was the heavy sticky variety, had to break trail for most of Pocaterra and Tyrwhitt, that was a workout. Not the worst ski ever but where has all the snow gone!!! the dirt isn’t to far a away in many places. -1 @ 11am, +3.5 @ 2:20 at the parking lot, plenty of vehicles on the road, not many carrying skiers!

  78. Hallo! Love the website. Wanting to know about the conditions in PLPP. Specifically around the visitor’s centre – meadow, wooly, Amos. Looking to head out with the family.

    • You’re in luck. Meadow, Wheeler, and Woolley were groomed last night. The tracks will probably be somewhat icy and fast until mid day, at which time they’ll soften up and be wet. It would be best to use waxless skis. Braille, Lodgepole and Spruce road on the west side of the road were also groomed. Take note of the comments on the Live Grooming Report, especially… “Wheeler and Spruce Rd in particular have large sections of sheer ice and were not fully track set.”

  79. Thanks to Bruce’s hard work to groom Lake O’Hara Fire Rd, my former neighbour and I had a pleasant ski up to the 5 kms. picnic table. Lots of people on AT skis, and pulling heavy toboggans and 3 Easterners walking to Lodge for what appears to be a very busy w/e up there. We skied the Hector/Pipestone loop as an add-on. Temps +1 to +3 and getting grip still a challenge when trying to avoid the K-word. A family were busy building a snowman at Pipestone and on that note, will wish everyone a Happy Family Day Long W/E. Remember that famous Roy Roger’s tune, “Happy Trails to you”. Never saw so many police out giving tickets so drive the speed limit.

  80. Moraine Lake road in great shape this morning. Andrew working hard to please both the classic skiers and skaters. At 10am zero skiis and fischer crown worked well as did hard wax and or klister. We returned via Fairview which was good after the first meters after exiting from Moraine rd. The snow improved above 1800 meters. We checked out the Ohara road at 9am it had been freshly groomed but was a bit glazed for the first several hundred meters so klister would have been the wax of choice/however later in the day it would have softened up. Plus 2C at 9am (Ohara) and plus 6C Moraine parking at noon.

  81. Springtime at Wedge Pond

    It felt and smelled like spring Thursday afternoon at Wedge Pond. We arrived shortly after noon, when the picnic tables south of the parking lot looked warm and inviting. No picnics for us, though. We found well packed snow leading to the trail, so put on skis and headed out. The snow is very old and rather depleted, but still skiable. Does needle-infused margarita make sense?? Wax seemed irrelevant. Conditions were surprisingly firm, with just a few large puddles on the way. The best snow was on the Evan-Thomas new flood plain, where I would describe it as wet sugar, delightful easy travelling of the late spring variety!

    • Okay I’m a dinosaur……

      Having spent hours wrestling with the photo album, I forgot to mention we were surprised to see the new bridge and new trail at Evan-Thomas Creek. That trail is not for skiing, even if it did have any snow on it! Have to investigate further another time…..

  82. I too have sent a note to Alberta parks questioning the commercial activity on the excellently groomed trails at Mt Shark. This must frustrate the staff that groom the trails not to mention the skiers. There must be alternate spots for this business to set their own tracks away from dedicated cross country ski trails. As yet I have not had a response from Alberta parks.

  83. Re. Ribbon Ck and Skogan. Skied at Nakiska on Thursday. +8C. Sloppy wet snow at the lower elevation. No new snow in a week and almost no snow in the bush.

  84. Emerald Lake alluvial fan
    The snow is still wet, and waxless skis are necessary, but if you can accept those inconveniences, the skiing was very enjoyable. The only challenge was accessing it. You have your choice of skiing through the slush on the lake for about 400 metres, or walking 600 metres on a snowshow trail which passes through the avalanche zone. I chose the latter. Tracks were in excellent condition and even quite firm but not icy, and no debris. My small baskets were sinking in the wet snow, so it required a gentle touch. Lots of skiers out here yesterday.

    Parks Canada has signs all over the place warning about the avalanche zone which is about 75 metres wide. I saw plenty of evidence of boarders up on the avalanche slope. Proceed at your own risk.

    Kicking Horse River
    Again, excellent tracks but extremely soft and slow. Thankfully by now I had borrowed poles with large baskets. It would have been frustrating with my small baskets. There’s lots of snow here but we need cold weather and another snowfall to top it up. The temperature has hovered around +2 the entire time.

  85. Confederation Park: I’ve seen worse…..

    While it is still “nice” and cold in Calgary, there isn’t much snow left in the city after all the recent crazy weather, so I was somewhat pleasantly surprised to find just enough left at Confederation to ski around. I even saw a few remnants of old grooming!
    The weather was ugly – dark, gloomy and the bitter SE wind was quite cruel, so I wasn’t tempted to stay out long. The temperature has stayed around – 11 C for a few days now, but felt much colder skiing into the wind. The snow conditions were variable, but mostly thin, crusty and windblown. There are many bare patches, especially around trees, but some groomed “trails” are holding the thin crust pretty well.
    Skating looks possible if you don’t mind roughing it.
    Also it looks like they are pruning some of the damaged trees, though this afternoon I did not see another soul anywhere on the course.
    All this looks set to change tomorrow, of course!

    • I stopped at Confed yesterday to answer my own question about conditions from a couple of days ago. I went to COP and paid instead, which considering how cheap I am says it all.

  86. Bob suggested I post this under Trip Reports. Below is a note that I sent today to Alberta Parks at :-

    Regarding commercial sled dog operations at Mt Shark. I understand that snow conditions are tough on Spray Lake for sled dog operations this year. It seems that you are now permitting commercial operations to operate at the Mt Shark NORDIC SKI TRAILS. Confilct is now arising with skiers on these trails. I have attached copies of comments taken from – a local cross country skiing blog”-

    From Feb 8 – “My biggest challenge today was the dog teams really had no set area on the trail to stick to so they added to messing up the tracks by going left, right and centre. And keep in mind, what a dog eats for breakfast soon comes out the other end. Granted the operators were doing a great job following with a honey-wagon pulled by a ski-doo. This worked great if you skied after the honey wagon but creates a messy problem if one skis after the dogs and before the honey-wagon. For the most part the brown wax was in the middle of the trail which created a problem for skate skiers, but it also accumulated in the tracks occasionally which created a problem for classic skiers as well. The fumes from the ski-doo also lingered and took away from the semi-backcountry experience of the Mt Shark area. I am not saying that dog teams don’t belong here; I just wish the area could be better managed with the increase in multiple users of the trail so conflicts can be minimized. Perhaps a set right-of-way for the dog teams could be set up like is done on the Great Divide Trail near Lake Louise”.

    From Feb 10 – “Shark was a horrible mess today as we passed through there on our way out of Assiniboine. Dog crap in the tracks and all the grooming/track setting mashed up. Somebody should make them go back there and shovel up the mess.I think the folks with dogsleds need to find another venue”

    So the dogs are wrecking the tracks that you have set specifically for the use of the skiers and are fouling the trails despite the fact that the groomer has set a wide lane specifically for the dogs. The skidoo has the potential to be a hazard to skiers. You need to assess the situation and seriously consider banning the dog teams from Mt Shark.

    Peter Thomas

  87. While Skierbob sounds like he and Cheryl are out at Emerald Lake Lodge sipping my favorite Mt Begbie Tall Timer ale, I changed plans to ski Mt Shark instead of the Connector. Temps 0 to +2. My friend used VR 65 (?) while I used the waxless with two coats of well dried Glide from tip to tail. We started by doing the Yellow 10 kms loop counterclockwise at #26. Snow was recently groomed and about 1″ fresh on top. There were a few skating tracks and it was fun to do these loops backwards. At intersection #19/20, we headed out to the Park Boundary, where we stopped and sat down for lunch. The snow mites that Mary Perrott alluded to were all too eager to join us for lunch and even hopped into our hot drinks. They must have really liked my light blue fabric lunch sack as it became dotted with black mites as it sat on the snow. Decided to skip the remainder of the loops since grip wax was not working and ret’d to parking lot, meeting an adventurous threesome heading into Bryant Creek shelter tonight and then Naiset huts tomorrow.
    Re. dog sledders: they are taking up at least 2/3rd’s of Watridge Trail which is totally unnecessary. There were doggie do’s right close to and in the track-setting at one point but the honey wagon skidoo was cleaning up the road pretty well. They cut off Watridge Road entering into the large 5 km. unmaintained recreational loop around junction #11 (?) and they do NOT go out to Watridge Lake. I agree with previous posters that there should be a better defined portion of the road that they stick to, which could be similar in width to the sledder lane used on Great Divide.

    • Helen, by the large 5km unmaintained loop, do you mean the outer section of the old 15km (green?) loop? That is such a pleasant little “backcountry” ski, I hope they are not ruining that too?!!
      Do the tiny bugs add much flavour to your hot drinks?? Sounds yummy…….

      • Yes, the great green loop that has never been groomed which starts right at #9 junction and incorporates 10,11,12, and 13. It will be interesting to see the response that Peter Thomas gets to his letter to Parks. I made a big mistake last night looking up those little high-jumping snow fleas on the internet. I will stand for lunch for duration of season.

  88. Tough skiing in PLPP on Tuesday. The temp was -3 at Nakiska, -1 at Fortress Junction and +3 at the Elk Pass parking lot. 3 cm of heavy, wet snow had fallen and tracks were skier set. The choice was violet special wax and no grip or red wax and clumping. Skiers had been herringboning in the tracks and a large group of snow shoers had tried to stay off the tracks but hadn’t succeeded on th Elk Pass trail to the Blueberry Hill junction. Best to go somewhere else until the trails are groomed!

  89. Emerald Connector
    Arrived in time to ski the Connector one-way. Excellent tracks, clean snow, nice weather. Too nice, the temperature was +2 and the snow was wet. My Skintecs performed perfectly with great grip and good glide. The only thing I forgot to bring was poles with big baskets. My small baskets were sinking a foot deep at times. It will be very icy in the morning if it freezes tonight. A late start means we can drink more wine at Emerald Lake Lodge tonight.

    With temperatures hovering around zero, this relatively flat trail was a good choice today, with V60 wax:

  91. The return of the dreaded collembolae (snow fleas)! These blackpepper-like bugs come out of the forest duff and like to congregate in the ski tracks when the temperatures warm up and they are a harbinger of spring. This is not good news for those of us who love to xc ski! (Besides, they make your skis stink!) Today we skied from Elk Parking up Fox Creek to the BlueElk Table, then up about 500 m. of untracked Blueberry to check it out (slowest downhill ski ever on Blueberry), then up to Elk Pass picnic table and returned via Elk Pass Trail. Temperature was 0-+1C. all day with light snow flurries. It was calm and there was about 3-4 cms. of new snow on the trails. Fox Creek was pretty decent with new snow over ice. Most places had very sticky snow, especially the last piece up to Elk Pass. Everyone we met was having trouble waxing, and we, on waxless skies, were not immune to the clumping and sticking. Coming back on the downhill was much better as the tracks had been packed by then. Lots of big groups out today (school and family groups) so tracks were getting a bit muddled up.

  92. Confederation Park: Does anyone know if there is anything left of the grooming there, specifically the skating loop? Thanks?

  93. I was at Mt Shark yesterday from 10:00am-12:00pm. I believe I was the first to ski the Watridge Lake trail as it was just groomed and trackset earlier that morning, and there were no pole digs at all! There were a few icy patches (mostly near the trailhead), but it snowed the entire time I was there, so those patches should be filled in by now! I used waxless skiis. Happy skiing! 🙂

  94. Today was my Lake Louise cookie delivery T-Y for the groomers and found them at day’s end at bottom of MLR. Five of us skied Lower/Upper Tramline/Peyto/Divide/Lower Telemark and back up Peyto and down Tramline. Mixed waxless and waxable skis all clumped at various times. VR 45 worked fairly well and wish I’d applied more glide to my new Fischers as I clumped miserably, especially where there was untracked snow on Peyto and Telemark. The jury is not out for me on waxless skis.

  95. Skied moraine yesterday -Sunday. Amazingly skiable -on wax less Crowns. 11-2 pm roughly. Lots of scrapers and skaters had a lot of work. Not fast. Only + 2 at 2:00 pm. Some glazing lower 1/2.
    Snow = corn starch -squeaky

  96. Mount Shark Trails

    Had a decent classic ski at Mt Shark today with waxless skis. The +7 temperature in Canmore cooled down to the +2 to +3 range for the ski. The grooming from Feb 5 has held up well on the loop trails considering the warm temps over the last few days, although there are slush pockets and icy sections. The track-setting on the Watridge Lake trail from Jan 31 has not fared as well due to weather and multiple users. For the most part the tracks along this trail are a dog’s breakfast, appearing, disappearing, in the centre, on the right then left. Also, interesting drive back to Calgary as I am sure others noticed, the car thermometer maxed out at +15 degrees along Morley Flats and settled down to +1 by Canada Olympic Park.

    Multiple Users at Mount Shark

    Mt Shark is becoming a multiple use winter recreation area much like Bragg Creek but with much smaller numbers. I saw classic, skate and backcountry skiers, snowshoers, winter walkers, dogs on leashes and dog teams pulling sleds. I did not see any snow bikes but I am sure they use the area as well. I believe Alberta Parks should start taking a more active role in managing the multiple users as I can see conflicts on the near horizon. As an example the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association do a fantastic job in managing and separating the many types of users and in an area that sees hundreds of people on weekend days. The dog’s breakfast of tracks on the Watridge Lake trail is an illustration that without some management practices in place the various users are starting to conflict.

    My biggest challenge today was the dog teams really had no set area on the trail to stick to so they added to messing up the tracks by going left, right and centre. And keep in mind, what a dog eats for breakfast soon comes out the other end. Granted the operators were doing a great job following with a honey-wagon pulled by a ski-doo. This worked great if you skied after the honey wagon but creates a messy problem if one skis after the dogs and before the honey-wagon. For the most part the brown wax was in the middle of the trail which created a problem for skate skiers, but it also accumulated in the tracks occasionally which created a problem for classic skiers as well. The fumes from the ski-doo also lingered and took away from the semi-backcountry experience of the Mt Shark area. I am not saying that dog teams don’t belong here; I just wish the area could be better managed with the increase in multiple users of the trail so conflicts can be minimized. Perhaps a set right-of-way for the dog teams could be set up like is done on the Great Divide Trail near Lake Louise.

    • Shark was a horrible mess today as we passed through there on our way out of Assiniboine. Dog crap in the tracks and all the grooming/track setting mashed up. Somebody should make them go back there and shovel up the mess.I think the folks with dogsleds need to find another venue…

  97. Anyone been to Pipestone in the last 2 days?

    • Skied Pipestone on Sunday. Lots of snow coverage but has seen warm days. Crusty st first, then softened into the day. At 10 a .m. was about zero degrees, at noon was +4 in the shade, +8 in the sun. One was on waxless skiis, one used red / silver, two switched to universal klister. It wasn’t perfect conditions but doable. Nice day!

  98. Canmore Nordic centre – Had an excellent classic ski outing. Headed up Olympic (Beckie’s hill) and out on Meadow/Rollercoaster to the top of Rundle. Zero skiis worked great as did Fischer crown. We then headed down Wolverine – fresh covering of snow not groomed and some debris – take care! Returned on Silvertip/Bruin also not groomed with fresh snow on top. Then encountered the icy section just before returning to the Meadow and machine grooming. Again the skiis worked well on the softer classic track on the rest of the machine grooming. Ski outing from 11am to 1pm. Tracks might have been glazed earlier ??

  99. Hi There
    Does anyone have any info on lake Louise today?

    • Mike,

      We are just back from skiing Moraine Lake Road today. As we were skiing, it was being groomed and track set, two tracks heading up, the one coming down and the skate ski track in the middle were all set by mid afternoon. I am a beginner so not sure of all the terminology. I was on waxless skis and on the way up before the track was set, the snow was sticking and accumulating on the bottom of my skis. The snow stuck again even when I was on the groomed trail after the groomer went by. It snowed all morning and by about 1:00 it stopped and the sun partly came out. On the way down for the first couple of kms, I was sticking at times then it improved. The downhill sections were slow.

    • Didn’t xc ski, but downhilled at Louise on Thursday and Friday. Thursday was awesome and snowing all day. Friday was raining on the way in, and raining on the way out. Rained up to about 6200′ (almost all the way up the first chair). Transport trucks in the ditch everywhere – they really don’t have much of a clue sometimes. As I passed a semi accident scene, a semi is tailgating me.
      Up high, Lake Louise is OK. But for xc skiing: not sure it would be stellar. Also: BC Family Day long weekend right now – very busy at the ski resort.

  100. Canmore Nordic center noon to 2pm Saturday on skate skiis surprisingly good despite somewhat slushy on manmade and icy on natural to west of Meadow Still managed 17km in 90mins which made us happy sunburned campers. Many many suffering on waxable classics regardless of wax. In fact very few “serious” classic skiers to be seen. West of meadow on classics looked to be a disaster and was barely manageable on skate until some big iceflows. CNC desperately needs low temps and snow.

  101. PLPP – Rainy wet snow conditions are not making for good conditions right now. I would stay away until things improve. It felt as though we were skiing on a sandy wet mud mixture and was fairly unpleasant.

  102. Confederation

    Just back from a quick ski at Confderation Golf Course. The grooming and track seting from last weekend has held up remarkably well; so, worth a try if, like me, you were put off heading into the mountains by all this talk of rain.


  103. Castle Lookout parking lot-pouring rain and wet crusty snow underfoot.
    Baker Creek parking lot-still raining and saw 3 skiers on the trail.
    Moraine Lake Road: +1 at 11am and still raining. We’d braved the Trans Canada and 1-A since Castle Lookout to Baker Creek was our original plan. I am copying (tongue in cheek) Keith’s report below to prove “what a difference a day makes: Rain, rain, and more rain: what a NOT beautiful day to be at Lake Louise. The w/e should be interesting! The grey goose skies certainly let loose with lots of rain! 10 of us skied MLR trying varying waxes and waxless skis. We all struggled with major clumping despite the two tracks freshly set just before we got there. One could tell even the grooming machine struggled a lot because it was the perfect conditions to make a snowman. We managed to enjoy the day despite all the challenges and sure did a lot of arm and leg work when coming down.

  104. Enticed by the fresh green on the grooming report, we headed to PLPP – Elk Pass today. -13 at home, +6 at Barrier Lake, then down to +2 at the parking lot. It rained most of the way down Hwy. 40, turning to wet snow once we arrived. Unfortunately, all that nice new track setting was covered up by several cm of snow (about 20 cm up higher) so we were following skier set tracks on the way up, using red-silver for our wax. This worked well until the first junction with Hydroline and then we started sticking. Made it just past the Blueberry junction then decided to turn around. Good glide on the way down once we had cleared our skis of the clumping snow! Maybe waxless skis would have worked well today.

  105. West Bragg Creek

    In a nutshell, forget it until a big storm hits. We were going to ski today, changed it to a hike based on the forecast Chinook. -14 when we left Calgary, -12 in Bragg Creek at 10:00, +8 5 minutes later at the McLean Creek turnoff. Had an awesome hike (Powderface Creek/Prairie Creek) in shirtsleeves, with a howling wind. Heading back to Calgary, +10 with huge wind as we passed Bragg Creek, then dropped to -8 in 4 minutes.

    Strongest Chinook I have ever seen (visible heat waves where the hot and cold air mixed), and exactly what we do not need.

  106. February 5th Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Road: -5 C at the Village. Snow, snow and more snow; what a beautiful day to be at Lake Louise! The weekend should be marvelous.
    We started from the Chateau Parking lot and skied Fairview in 6 cm of new snow to the MLR trail. From there we climbed skier setting our own down-track all the way to the turnaround where the snow may have been 8 to 10 cm deep. All were using VR 40 and none had any problems kicking and gliding up the grades. At the turnaround I noted the skies looked like a grey goose and with all that goose down in the air – not much view today. Coming down in our tracks we met the track setter on his way up. Saw the pine martin trying to sneak across the trail at the MLR trailhead – gone before I could make his acquaintance. Finished the day skiing down tramline in silent silky snow on skier set tracks.

  107. West Bragg, February 5.
    I skied lower W Crystal, Mountain View, Mountain Rd, upper W Crystal, Loggers, Sundog and East Crystal. On average, conditions are fair mostly, (on the West Bragg scale) with shallow washed out tracks and a sometimes uneven trail surface. Don’t bring your best skis! As usual at West Bragg, there is a wide variation- with East Sundog and most of Loggers being quite good, compared to Mountain View which features some short spots with virtually no coverage at all. My recommendation would be to ski both Loggers and Mountain View trails west to east so that the gnarly hills are tackled in the uphill direction.
    After all that though- having enough good daylight after work to do this fun little circuit was a treat and I had a most enjoyable ski. 🙂
    Air temp was -8, VR40 worked perfectly.

  108. Skied the Horse Trail, Alluvial Fan, Horse Trail and Natural Bridge to Ottertail Creek yesterday. Tracks set up by the KHSC are in great shape and keep getting better with additional snow. Used VR 40 and it worked great even with the fresh snow.

    Fresh snow and lovely conditions today for the 14 km route from Mt. Shark to the Bryant Creek Warden Cabin:
    Double Trackset to the Watridge Lake turnoff. Temperatures were just below zero, so extra blue wax worked perfectly. You can do this on track skis.

  110. PLPP Fantastic day! Boulton parking lot, up Whiskey Jack, Trywhitt, Elk Pass, Fox Creek, Moraine. User set tracks on beautiful silky, new snow. Even enough snow to cover the needles and ice on Fox Creek and Moraine. V40 worked great and it was a mostly sunny day. Wish I could go again tomorrow 🙂

  111. PLPP Central trails – today we skied from Elkwood parking, south on Amos and Wheeler, and then did the Packers-Pocaterra-WhiskeyJack traingle, before returning on Wheeler. The 3-day old tracksetting on the triangle is in very good shape, with 1-2cm of new snow on top. The 1-week old tracksetting of Wheeler is largely washed out, thanks in part to a couple of (insert your own adjective here) skate skiers who skated nearly the entire length of the trail. Only near Elkwood campground are the tracks reasonable. Amos (2 week old tracksetting) is actually holding up quite well, with only small washed-out sections. -6C at our 10am start, -1C at our 1pm finish. Mostly cloudy, getting breezy around noon. Snow condition is quite good.

    • Ah, skating on the PLPP trails rears its ugly head again. I was hoping that we would avoid that problem this year. However, even at CNC there can be similar problems. An uphill skater went across BOTH downhill tracks on the first hill on Banff Trail when the grooming was still soft, leaving big chunks of snow in the tracks. Come on, skaters, give us classic folks a break!

      Perhaps Bob might include a tab for “Skater Friendly Trails”, next to the tab for “Dog Friendly Trails”.

  112. February 3rd at PLPP: A splendid day of skiing in mostly silky smooth snow. Started from William Watson Lodge at -15 C in light snow flurries. Swix special green (-10 to -20C) provided great glide and stick for climbing along Wheeler, Packers and Pocaterra to the Lynx junction. These trails have very good snow and skier set tracks. Pocaterra from Lynx to the hut was recently groomed and dusted with new snow but is icy and still has needle debris on the surface. Following lunch we checked out returning on Lodgepole / Braille but thought the trails would be too icy for the hill climbing required. Also noted trail maintenance people have imported snow north of the training grid to cover exposed ground. Instead we returned via Pocaterra / Come Along / Lynx / Wooley and Meadow to WWL. These trails are good on skier set track except Wooley which is somewhat washed out.

  113. Destination: Elk Lakes ACC cabin on back side of Elk Pass. -14 and VR 40 worked well for route up choosing Hydroline all the way to the Pass. Saw only 5 snowshoers coming down Hydroline out from the cabin and not a single skier all day, until we ret’d to the car. Enjoyed the ski down Elk Pass after our 1 hr 15 min climb up the back side. Snowed much of the day but lots of blue skies also visible. -10 at 4pm and a second glorious day of fresh light snow.

  114. PLPP — Pocaterra

    It was much warmer at Pocaterra than in Calgary today! We left Calgary at a chilly -14C, where it pretty much stayed all day, and arrived at Pocaterra Hut to find the thermometer there reading a balmy -1C at about 2pm. Inversion? It felt a little cooler to me, but the recent yo-yo has probably messed me up.

    It was very quiet this afternoon. We only skied on Pocaterra today, to the Packers junction and back. Fresh grooming to Lynx, then a skiff of new snow over somewhat recent grooming. Conditions were quite good, though obviously that end of the park only got a little fresh snow on the weekend as crud was often visible just below the surface and sometimes my poles did not penetrate. No complaints – it was most enjoyable!

  115. Slept a whole lot better last night after reading Dylan’s timely post on the great conditions he found at Lake O’Hara. Today 9 of us from Canmore Meanderthals skied up to the lake, stopping for lunch at Le Relais. Minus 8 at trailhead at 10:30 and warmed up to -3 five hours later. Bring any old newspaper up as they had lots of wood but we could have used more paper to start the fire. We with waxless skis ended up “the sweeps” but those using wax had a wonderful ski down in brand new powder. Blue VR40 worked well although stuck a little going up. Did not see Bruce out grooming but it was snowing on and off all day. It’s all about the snow for me and it delivered today!!!

  116. Skied West Bragg on Sunday. As busy as ever. Conditions were a mixed bag despite the best efforts of the volunteers out there. We skied Sundog-Elbow-Iron Springs-East Crystal. Underneath the new grooming it was pretty much hard ice in most spots and had gone back to ground in exposed areas. The trackset was minimal on Elbow but quite good on most of Iron Springs and Crystal. Overall, conditions were fair with some good stretches and other mercifully short bits where it was new snow over nuthin’. An enjoyable ski all the same, just don’t expect PLPP conditions. Hopefully, tonight’s snowfall helps before the next round of warmer temperatures.

  117. Yesterday, Feb 1:
    Elk Pass – Tywhitt – WhiskeyJack – Boulton Creek (~19km)

    Started around 1pm, conditions were amazing! We had not skiied in this area before but will definitely come back – such a beautiful day. Boulton Creek was a little gnarly and had to take off skis a few times to get around fallen trees and such, but such a small inconvenience considering the rest of the trails were awesome and in such well-kept condition. I was on waxless, Guy had waxed; other than myself being a little slower on the uphill it didn’t matter much, we both had a great time. Gentle snowfall started halfway through our run, so hopefully conditions remain as lovely.

    Also, ran into (Skier)Bob just before getting to the Whiskey Jack turnoff – what a GEM – so genuine and kind and lovely to talk to!! Hope to see him out on the trails again!

  118. I did great divide at Lake Louise this morning. It was in good condition and track setting was in progress. Should improve once it hardens off a bit.

  119. Redearth Creek
    Skied the Redearth, first time in three years I think. The trail is one side skier set track, the other side is flattened by a snowmobile, all the way to the Shadow Lake turnoff. The first two kilometers are hard, icy, with some pine needles; after that it improves with more new snow as one climbs up. Air temp at the parking lot was -12C at 11:30 a.m., and VR30 worked OK; as it was warming up on the way back, we did not bother with re-waxing as it is of course mostly downhill.

  120. Lake O’Hara Lodge Road – Skied up the road today to the lodge and back. Great conditions and we couldn’t have been happier. In discussions with the gentleman attending the lodge they apparently try to minimize the number of times they take the cat up and down the track, although they had just set it on Thursday or Friday and it received 5-10cm of snow Friday night and Saturday. Great ski nonetheless. Noting how quiet things were the same fellow indicated that he had heard from other guests that “some blog guy” had been plugging conditions in nearby Kananaskis this weekend instead. Well looks like you missed out on a great ski up to Lake O’Hara today. Either Bob is famous or there is some other blog we are not reading.


    • I’d be happy to promote the Lake O’Hara trail. My readers would have been there in droves if we had known that it was trackset on Thursday. I hope they’ll start giving us grooming reports.

  121. Castle – Baker Creek and Beyond

    Started at Castle Lookout at -16 and skied to Baker Creek and beyond to the hill leading up to Morants Curve Viewpoint. V30 wax worked great until it warmed up; had to re-wax with V40 for the return journey. The tracks are okay as skiers have been keeping them skied in since the last track setting. They are a bit rough in the trees west of Baker Creek and best from Castle Lookout to Baker. It is time for a fresh set of grooming and track setting if I can place an order!

    The temp rose to -7 and it was snowing lightly at the parking lot at the end of the ski. Overall a great ski at about 33 km including a loop at the Protection Mountain Campground.

  122. Hey:
    We took up x-country skiing this year and love it. Today we were in PLP and started by going up Whiskeyjack. Wow. Connecting to Pocaterra going north, it was a fabulous run on a beautifully tracked trail. Pausing to grab a bite before we ventured down Packers and to our car at Boulton Creek, we had an incredible experience. We met SkierBob. We have been reading his website all winter trying to learn as much as we can about our new sport. What a thrill. SkierBob! A crowd gathered while we were talking. and then the questions from the masses started. Bob, is Amos tracked set?; Bob, Is Lookout very steep: Bob, Will Boyhood win for Best Picture? It was like witnessing the red carpet for x-country skiers. We left with Bob holding court on this sunny afternoon. Later SkierBob , moving as if he was carried by the wind, overcame our 10 minute headstart down Packers to warn us of some steep sections. Thanks. The descent was fine but more snow is always appreciated.
    Take care. L & P.

    • Did Bob share the wax of the day?

      My VR40 (-4 to -12) was less than satisfactory, I’ve a theory that our snow, being a lot different to the European variety which is probably what’s referred to on the container, means we need to add a few degrees to the temperature range, I suspect VR45 although labelled to warm for the day probably was the best choice.

      Anyone, any thoughts on this?

      • VR45(-2/-8) worked well for me today. Snow temp at Pocaterra hut was -5. I had to rewax after descending Packers, as I was starting up Whiskey Jack. I’ve discovered that wax performance seems to be very different from skier to skier.

        • Very true about waxing varying between skiers- my wife and I have often noticed differences in our assessment of the same wax on a particular day. FWIW we used VR40 on the Tyrwhitt loop yesterday with very good results. Conditions were great overall as has been noted. Fox was fun despite no recent grooming, Moraine generally a little thinner over the ice base.

      • My wax coach has a saying: “glide hard and grip soft”. In other words, use a glide wax harder or colder than the temperature and the opposite for grip wax; softer or warmer than the temperature.

        • I don’t have a wax coach, but when I first got into XC skiing a few years ago, I would obsessively clean my skis. That meant cleaning everything off with that oh-so-nice-smelling lemon cleaner. I had issues getting any grip in those days. Then one person once told me to not clean my skis so much, so I’ve been avoiding the lemon cleaner as much as possible and have been experiencing great grip ever since.

          Also, for what it’s worth, Swix has an app where you can punch in the temperature or location and it’ll recommend a wax to use. I haven’t used the app, but it seemed like a cool thing to download :-).

  123. Great skiing in Lake Louise today. Although trail report wasn’t out yet at 10am, we went on spec and all of Pipestone and Fairview had been track-set last night! Great conditions. Fast for -13. Hard tracks that even the off lease dogs didn’t destroy. Yahoo!

    • Yes I agree – the skiing was great at Louise today! Did some loops on Tramway, Moraine, Fairview mid-afternoon and conditions were excellent with crisp tracks. Blue wax (-5 to -9) was perfecto! Light snow was falling with the temperature around -6. If the snow continues tonight, conditions will be even better if one can imagine that!

  124. Skied west bragg creek today. Many thin areas and debris, but overall a good day of skiing. I wouldn’t take your best skis out as they will get scratched with all the rocks and sticks.

    • I’ll second that Jay. Quite a few thin areas. Found a few rocks too. Some areas mix of snow and ice followed by a few 100m of really nice stuff. Glad I had the old rock skiis out despite being one of the early birds (started about 845am at ~-17C). At 1230pm it was -5C, parking was ~400m down the road, and a steady stream of vehicles carrying skiiers and fat-bikers coming in.
      Despite this being a “dog friendly” area I need to kindly and respectfully request that owners take note of their dogs behavior and training (ie “stop”, “stay”, “sit”). I had a dog jump out right in front of me (after my friend passed) on a steep downhill and nearly took me out. Owner(s) gave me the dirtiest look ever. I ski at wbc very frequently and very rarely have issues or conflicts so this caught me by surprise. At some point the shear number of skiiers may demand a re-examination of the “dog friendly” concept… unless dog owners self-manage. At least I only saw one “land-mine” today…

      • I’m a “xcountry ski dog” owner myself and more than enjoy skiing with my dogs. Having said that, I must agree that the behaviour of some dog owners at the WBC has been embarrassing and inconsiderate when it comes to picking up the waste after their dogs in the proximity of the parking lot and trying to manage it on the ski trails (I mean, it can at least be moved out of the tracks! The groomers take such care to make those nice tracks for us with so little snow cover…). Unfortunately, it might be this minority that will potentially spoil it for all of us when this little off-leash dog heaven is taken away from us due to non compliance.
        As for the “out of control” dogs…well, I believe that’s a two-way street (dirty looks are not be part of xcountry skiing culture). The dog owners should try and keep control (which I’m sure works most of the time, but accidents do happen) and those skiing should be vigilant that in this place, dogs off leash (as well as small children and new skiers) sometimes do not understand the ski code and can be in the wrong place at the wrong time. One should never XC ski without a smile on their face!

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