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I’m curious… what’s everyone’s average time to complete a return trip of Redearth creek trailhead to Shadow lake? It took me over 5hrs (I spent a lot of time taking my skis on and off being that it was my first time on the trail and not knowing what was round the corner on some of those crazy steep and narrow turns!) which seemed a lot more than what i’d planned for as previous reports only estimated 4hrs or so max.
HAIDUK LAKE via RED EARTH CREEK AND SHADOW LAKE – March 31
Well, today I had 2 great news. First, I learned this morning before I hit the trail, that my wife will be getting her first shot of vaccine tomorrow. Then, I managed to find the strength to ski to Haiduk Lake and back from TCH1, only 6 weeks after pulling a hamstring and a groin abductor and no skiing for a month while recovering. Everyone this winter season seems to have a milestone they reached; well today I got mine.
After a couple coats of VR45 in the parking lot, I just decided to check the latest trip reports and saw MAAD’s on the great ski he had last night to Shadow Lake Lodge, with brand new track setting! I could not believe it the trail would be track set one more time this winter, in spite the lodge closed last weekend; unless they are expecting some Easter weekend guests. And yes, for me too, Red Earth Creek was in the best shape I have seen it in decades. Even the snowmobile packed last 3 km to the lodge was great to ski on. It was overcast until about 1 pm, which was excellent to keep the snow on cool side. Once I reached the turnaround point of MADD, halfway from the lodge to Shadow Lake, I had to dig in and break trail into 15-20 cm of fresh snow. No hint at all any previous ski or snowshoe trails. Skied along the SE shore of Shadow Lake, then up Haiduk Creek with all the way to the base of the ramp leading to the Whistling Valley and Haiduk Lake. The snow in the last 2 km before the lake was much dryer than lower down. I was happy to reach the lake, as I was getting tired to break trail. The return to the lodge was much faster and only then, did I realize that you climb quite a bit along Haiduk Creek to enjoy a smooth gentle downhill on my own trail. After a good break and snack by the lodge, it was smooth sailing back to TCH1. The REC trail by 5:30 pm was getting glazed in the sun. The lowermost 2 km before the parking lot were showing quite a bit of melt water already on the track. Very fast in places and I was glad to be on my metal edge touring skis for a good control, although the long day was starting to hit me. A great marathon+1 km spring-ski outing today. An awesome day. Will have to go back up there to clear some unfinished business, now the leg sure got a good test today.
Fabulous grooming and mid-winter conditions this AM on Hydroline, Lookout and Tyrwhitt. Fox Creek had skier tracks, and like always was very pretty. The temperature was a nice -10 at 8:00 AM which allowed for wax skis (V45). However, by noon it had warmed up to +6, so if you are heading out tomorrow these trails may be icy.
There were a couple wolves ahead of me but they were considerate and stayed out of the tracks.
Redearth Creek to Shadow Lake
We have wanted to ski this all winter, and MAAD’s report gave us the kick to get to it. What a sensational ski in such a magnificent landscape. A skier ahead of us continued MAAD’s track to the lake and beyond. We skied a short way up the lake on their track, and then ditched to have tea and lunch. MaSid will laugh at our half-baked effort at creating a lizard lounge, but it works so well, that we will be doing this from now on. The snow was really great, but got a bit sticky on our waxless, coming back from the lake, due to intermittent sun. However, once we got back to the snowmobile track, everything was fine, until much lower down when sun exposed snow was quite sticky for us, but the majority of the trail was excellent.
The insta-couch technique looks perfectly fine. If it’s comfortable and it only took a few minutes, success. Now you can lounge in leisure anywhere (-:
Sounds like the snow is turning to “Sprinwinter” like conditions. A little spring like and a little winter like.
I wonder if fish scale skis are better for “sprinwinter” conditions. I have never used such skis before.
I am glad my ski report made way for such a “sensational ski”.
XC skiing is only going to get better- if you know where to ski and if the weather cooperates. Lets hope for a great April and May “crust” ski season. Snow crust allows one to ski anywhere without trails and that allows for much more scenic touring in any direction you point your skis.
I had some great crust skiing at Lake Louise yesterday in heavily wind drifted areas that were sun exposed. The crust was smoother than machine groomed trails. In the trees was nice dry powder. A nice mix of “sprinwinter” skiing.
Keep on skiing. It will help you live longer.
REDEARTH CREEK today all the way to Shadow lake lodge and then further to the lake (30k total.) What a beautiful day and absolutely perfect ski conditions! Single track set all the way up to the ‘hill’ section. The snow was was perfect, no icy sections and no slush. The weather was warm. My favourite ski this year so far! Spring Skiing is awesome!
SPRAY RIVER WEST to PARK BOUNDARY on GOAT CREEK – March 31
People know where to get the info they need… SkierBob.
The four Moms don’t waste their precious time out, by looking elsewhere!
Tom suggests that I am not living up to my history of ‘first-out long trips”… and does not accept my excuse that I’m happy to follow our new trendsetters!
Details of today’s trip in the photo descriptions here:
My VR 50 worked well, until it didn’t… glad the return is mainly downhill!
Hi Chuck; It was a pleasure meeting and chatting with you. Tom
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park = PLPP
Skied from Elk Pass parking – Elk Pass- Tyrrwhitt -north Lookout- South Lookout – Hydroline -Elk Pass – Fox Creek. 20 km.
Superb conditions thanks to the groomers. -7C at 9:15AM. Above zero C at 1PM but super blue wax worked well most of the way. We persevered the final 2 km.
Thanks to Nordic Pulse for Live Grooming (see tab on SkierBob).
Thanks to the groomer for a superb job!
PLPP – Meadow – Sinclair – Braille – Lodgepole – Wheeler – WhiskeyJack – Pocaterra
Started at the Pocaterra parking lot at 0800 and finished the loop about 4 hrs later. Temperature at the trailhead was -12 when I started, and +5 when I finished. Meadow through to Wheeler at the Lower Lake junction were all trackset. Tracks were all hard (it was -12, after all), with the sun exposed areas being icy, but little to no debris on the trails.
From the Wheeler Lower Lake junction up Whisky and back on Pocaterra, all were skier trackset (quite a bit single) through 15-20 cm of snow, but well packed down. Had a couple of wicked wipeouts on the hills coming back on Pocaterra (one of these days I really should learn how to control my downhill runs…).
It was a quiet day on the trails – didn’t see anyone ’til after 1100, and even then, I think I saw maybe 12 people total. There were 7 cars in the parking lot when I left. I was starting to stick over the last few km, especially in the sunny areas, so I was quite happy with my timing. Skin skis did really well.
p.s. Forgot to mention – I had my annual Chuck encounter yesterday when I met up with him and Jeannette on Fairview. Always a treat – what a great couple!
Jeannette will go down in Skier Bob history as being THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BACK VIEW. She is incredible for all the XC skiing she does as we all know how much Chuck gets “out there”!!! His pictures are never taken for granted, and this year I like his including avalanche awareness more. Thank you both for giving us “Chuck and Jeannette” adventures to enjoy.
Funny you should make the back-view comment. I initially blew by them as I was speeding down the last hill before Fairview meets MLR and they were heading up, and I thought that was Chuck, but I wasn’t sure. I turned around to head back up Fairview, and eventually caught up to first Jeannette then Chuck. I recognized her first because I’d seen her back in so many pictures!
We skied in PLPP late afternoon on Tuesday, starting at 2:30 pm. Waxless and skin skis. Fast enough in the newly trackset trails from Monday night of Meadow, Sinclair, Lodgepole, over to Wheeler. Returned to the visitor centre on skier-set trails of Amos, Wooley, Meadow. Conditions were great and very little ice. Should be good again today.
REDEARTH/ SHADOW LAKE LODGE +
Late Tuesday ski
Excellent fresh trackset skiing to the Shadow Lake Lodge turnoff. Winter snow for the most part- except the first 1/2 km. The ACC groomer trackset Redearth Creek trail at about 6 pm. Moderately fast skiing on Swix purple wax. The trackset improves greatly after about 1/2 km.
I broke the trail to the warden cabin. Boot top ski penetration. -5C shortly before dark thirty.
The trail to the Shadow Lake Lodge is snowmobile packed and in great winter shape.
I broke trail several hundred meters beyond the Lodge but it was too dark with my weak headlamp to find the trail to the Lake.
At the Lodge at about 9pm the temperature was -6C.
Skied Lake Louise ski hill until the lifts closed during the day. Some excellent skiing particularly in the trees and back shoots. Then I hit Pipestone. I was told it was good trackset skiing but it had some late day sun on it. So I went to Redearth instead where the sun does not shine so much. I was fortunate to have an exquisite straight trackset trail laid out for me in front of my eyes! This was the best skiing of the year up to Shadow. Get it while you can!
No wind on the Redearth trail and no tree debris. Just beautiful white snow.
Kananaskis Lookout was a beautiful, if a tad slow, excursion today. Very few people going up that way, and no one went down the south side. I didn’t either, because it would have been terribly slow, especially all by my lonesome!
I parked at Boulton Bridge, skied up Whiskey Jack and Lookout North, returning the same way. The descent was lovely, alternating between the (minimal) tracks, and the thick soft pillows of snow.
I hope this is a link to some photos from today!
Chickadee Valley. Maybe for some, this is a backcountry trip. But today it was the easiest ever, lots of powder, wide ski tracks from yesterday, the mountains, trees, and even the creek covered with lots of snow, and we only met one person in the whole day. Friend with just half skins was slipping on the way up, but full skins on light touring skis always work well.
PLPP centre an north end. I skied a route from the visitor centre to Bolton, then up Whiskey Jack, back down Pocaterra to the hut, over to the west side to finish on most of the loop options there. Several people have already reported on conditions for these trails. Whiskey Jack was skier tracked. I went up but there was enough snow on it that going down would not have been particularly bad. The fresh grooming on Meadow / West side trails was quite nice although the rest of the network was fine too. Overall, conditions were on the slow side. I finished at 1640 and even by then there was very little sun damage occurring so tomorrow morning should still be pretty good. My thermometer never went above -2 (shade temperatures).
PLPP north trails. Skier set only on Boulton Creek, Elk Pass to Blueberry Junction, Fox Creek, Moraine on the return. Thanks to the trail breakers (apparently Simon, Helen, Janice and a couple others). The dry powder was from 10 to 30 cm deep. No ice, rocks, debris, fleas, slush or dirt. Beautiful but slow skiing. Not a day for collecting km, but great for collecting scenery and peacefulness. This was truly winter snow, at temps from -8 to +2. V40, 45, and 50 each took their turn and worked fine. No one at Blueberry picnic table and no tracks going up Blueberry Hill or Patterson; some things I had not seen before.
MORAINE LAKE ROAD via FAIRVIEW – March 30
Cold powdery snow… all the way, and Swix Extra Blue (-1 to -10) was perfect.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Only mistake was getting there before tracksetting was done!
Arrived at Spray River trailhead this morning to find fresh tracksetting. Double trackset to the first bridge, then single. Turned around at 8km so didn’t see if the trackset went all the way. Very little traffic after the first bridge.
Thanks Teresa, This is good news, and shows our local tracksetter’s commitment to our Banff ski community. So strange that the Parks Canada tracksetters in Lake Louise did nothing with the big snowfall.
PLPP South Trails.
Starting at Bolton Creek (~10:30, -11C) I was excited to see fresh grooming starting at the parking lot! My enthusiasm quelled after I discovered they petered out after 50 m towards the east connector to Moraine/Whiskey Jack. Skier-set track along Moraine, had to break trail on Fox Creek. Soft and slow! About 10-15 cm of powder. Skier tracks picked up again at Elk Pass. I caught up with Helen R. and Janice about 500 m past the Hydroline junction, who turned out to be the ones busy making fresh tracks. I skied ahead to return the favour, and they caught up with me as I was having a snack at Blueberry Junction. We had a little chat about skiing, conditions, equipment, and compared plans – they were heading to the MaSid Meadow, and I continued up Elk Pass to the picnic table (Helen – I attempted to draw an arrow to where I thought the entrance was. Did you see it? Was I right?!)
At the Elk Pass summit, I could see skier-set tracks down Hydroline and south to the Elk Lakes Cabin, but I followed them down Tyrwhitt
and Whiskey Jack, and eventually back to Bolton Ck. Very few skiers out, although the parking lot had swelled to a whopping 10 cars at 1:30 pm (-4C air/+ C in the sun).
It was great to do the Skier Bob Special today in such soft, untouched conditions. I felt like a very slow marble rolling along a satin-covered, goose-down duvet. Quite a welcome change than some of the icy conditions that begin to appear in the spring.
Elk Pass parking lot empty at 10 am. Grateful for skier tracks to Hydroline Hill, then Janice and I broke trail until young fit Simon took over. Thank you Simon, and also for setting the stage for a perfect exit onto Fox/Boulton. After sharing our visit at Blueberry with Simon, we re-established the track through West Elk Meadows (maybe a few months ago it was the busier MaSid Highway). We started our track just by trees at start of Blueberry, so did not venture up Elk Pass at all to check your arrows, but thank you Simon. You were the only person we saw all day. We enjoyed the sun where last’s year’s couch was located, adjacent to Hydroline after exiting the meadows. Shocked by the amount of logging done to that whole area-almost unrecognizable from even earlier this ski season. The various descriptors above of the serenity of the day was unique and a treasured memory.
Great to see that your hip is working well for you…that is fantastic.
I am waiting on a list to get mine done…I hope it works as well as your appears to. Hope it’s done and ready for a much more pain free next season.
You must be over 75 runs so far thus year now…congrats !
Skied most of the major trails at Canmore today and the overall conditions were excellent. Grooming was great overall including the trails beyond the man made snow areas. In fact, the tracksetting was better on the trails further out. Used hard wax and had great grip.
More praise for PLPP middle trails.
I can add that Lynx and middle Pocaterra also had excellent skier set tracks.
It was no nice to ski on clean cold snow today but it was ominous to hear the constant tap-tap-tap of pole tips striking nasties just below the fresh.
PLPP North/Center Trails
Starting at Elkwood parking (10am, -15C), we skied Wheeler to Boulton parking, then returned by Wheeler, Amos, Woolley and Meadow to Elkwood, where we had lunch at the amphitheater. Wheeler was quite good, with several section having an icy feel where more sun exposed. Amos and Woolley and Meadow were marvelous – skier trackset in 3-5cm snow over the recent grooming , giving a soft, quiet feel. After lunch, we skied Lodgepole, Sinclair, Braille and Spruce Road, the recent tracksetting being generally excellent with a few short icy sections, mostly on Sinclair. -3C at our 2:30pm finish. These trails should still be great tomorrow.
Tuesday March 30. Fabulous conditions at PLPP. -14C at 10 AM and -4C at 1:30 PM. From Visitor Centre on Meadow, Sinclair, Lodgepole, Braille, Spruce Road, Wheeler to Boulton, back to Visitor Centre via Wheeler and Meadow. Approx. 18 kms and 250 metres cumul elevation
Tue mar 30: tom snow south/mountain Rd.
-18 early this morning to start from station flats, following a pack of (3?) wolves who crossed over the road from the south in the night. Had to carry the skis in a few thin spots (namely downhills) until past bobcat jcn. Then good cruising all the way from there to the pump station at moose packers and top of ridgeback R4. Good snow on this upper section, and worth the initial semi-marginal bits. About a foot of snow on old mountain Rd with a good dense base. Some sticky sections on return after lunch, mostly below bobcat. Occasional short bare patches melted out by the time we came back. More sections walked on return. Several wipeouts were experienced by 2/3 of the crew in the lower section. No damage…..mostly. But still a decent day for the short drive. +2 back at the car at 2pm.
PIPESTONE: Fresh snow over the hard wax was perfect for skiing between 10 am and 2 pm, we used purple blue wax. Sun drenched areas will likely be icy tomorrow morning…..go early as the forecast is for warmer temps.
CNC 10:00 – 12:30 -9C – 0C We skied waxable VR 45 (purple) but ironed in a green hard wax first. The tracks were amazing going from powder to margarita mix to some ice. The Skaters flew by us on smooth soft tracks.
The talk of the day was the weird grooming (track setting) on the trails. I can only assume the Nordic Centre is down a machine after seeing some of the results.
If you go to the Trail Reports, the top of the page explains some of the challenges of grooming this time of year. The Pisten Bully blew through the base on one of the Bow Trail hills. Subsequently the tracks look like the groomer had a bit of a challenge keeping straight. This hill, two days ago, had H2O at the bottom and the tracks were saturated.
However there were spots where the tracks were less than straight and there didn’t appear to be an underlying reason for the squiggle. The grooming sometimes left a windrow right on top of the tracks.
We skied out Bow onto Cold Shoulder back on Silvertip which is no longer being groomed this winter so it was skier tracked. Returned up Bow and Bow Loop.
We also observed the trackset on Bow that Hugh reported. My comment was “probably due to early celebration for end of CNC winter season grooming”. We skied from Bow to Banff up Grey Wolf on perfect tracks and grooming, then Banff back to circle around to the stadium on Lynx – again perfect tracks and grooming. Out to BNP on Banff and Meadowview beyond the warming hut after lunch. The day old West Meadowview tracks and grooming were still very good. Back to the stadium on Banff for a perfect day.
From Nakiska, who were reporting an honest 17 cm’s overnight, I skied Skogan up to the lower Skogan Loop junction for lunch, then over to the old lookout via High Level and Sunburst. Moderate trailbreaking and relatively slow travel was the order of the day, and I was quite happy to be following the footsteps of an earlier skier to his, and my highpoint, especially when he turned out to be a now grown-up skier from my Jackrabbit coaching days! The deep snow and icy base made for easy descending, with a few tele turns thrown in just for fun on steeper pitches. By the time I finished up with a visit to Troll Falls, the snow at lower elevations had settled and was getting moist. Upper areas should still offer enjoyable touring tomorrow morning.
Looks good up there and great to see all that fresh snow. Also must compliment you on the photos, very inspiring. I do hope the old Hummingbird Plume Lookout stays standing for many years to come. When I was there many years ago I was able to see some old German POW names carved on the interior walls, but the last time I went, (3 or 4 years back) I couldn’t make them out.
Based on all this good snow data, I’m off to Tryst Lake Chutes tomorrow.
We braved today’s icy, windy road conditions to enjoy skiing on VR 40. There was varying amounts of snow over the new grooming on Meadow, Wooley, Amos, and Wheeler. My husband reported 25 cm new snow at the top of Whiskey Jack. Meadow was so good, I skied it 3 times! The air temperature remained around minus 5 or 6 all afternoon.
SPRAY RIVER LOOP – March 29
15 cms of snow last night seemed to make this a locals only destination today!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Starting at minus 5 allowed me to use VR 50 with excellent results… but don’t stay out too long!
Thanks for the company and the stories, Chuck! It was indeed a nice “local’s day” on the Spray River Loop!!
and Thanks Josee for putting up with my intervention, and the quiet correction of my English with an apostrophe, while I struggled to find the accent aigu on my keyboard!
Great photos as always, Chuck.
WBC today from 11 until 4. Sundog, Elbow, Iron Springs. Quite slushy, and if/when it freezes tonight it will be very choppy. I would be reluctant to go back there until lots of snow falls. Still, a fun day and waxless skis worked quite well.
It is 0 degrees in Peter Lougheed PP. It has been snowing lightly on and off since 10am.
MAR 27 WEST BRAGG CREEK
Telephone Loop, East Crystal, Iron Springs, Iron Springs South, Elbow South, Elbow, Sundog West
After Alf’s Telephone Loop report yesterday, Carl VM and I did the counter-clockwise tour today on light touring gear. I was on waxless and Carl was on waxable with Swix VR45. It was -6C when we set out at 0900. We had to walk up the ramp from the parking lot due to lack of snow. From there we were skiing on top of boot-packed snow to the upper Hostel Loop junction. Further north, we were on a combination of boot packed trail and Alf’s ski tracks. Snow conditions varied from 20cm of cold dry powder in the shade to hard suncrust, wet sticky snow, or no snow at all on sections that got a lot of sun yesterday. We walked down one hill that had poor coverage, but were able to ski everything else. We followed Alf’s tracks where he detoured over a lovely pond (or marsh or clearing) and a slightly less than lovely bushwhack in the wilderness about 500m south of the Disconnect junction. Once past Long Distance, there were only Alf’s ski tracks for 6km, which gave us great glide and grip; thanks Alf! We had no icing, but some clumping that just needed a good kick to release the snow. The footprints made their appearance again at the Reconnect junction. We didn’t see a single other skier until Mountain Road about 1km from the parking lot. Snow was getting pretty thin in places on Mountain Road. It was about 3C on return to the car.
After a snack, I headed out on my own with my rock waxless track skis for a loop on the south trails (see list at top). Temperature was pretty steady around 5C. I didn’t see a single skier, but lots of walkers who apparently thought it was already after March 31. Even so, the skiing was pretty good. The snow was getting thin on the usual sunny spots on Iron Springs. I broke trail on Iron Springs South, and walked down the steep hill that had poor snow coverage and some rocks sticking out. Other than that, I was either in a ski track or a well-flattened boot track. Another great day at West Bragg Creek!
Moraine lake road to Fairview to lake Louise, then skied to the second waterfall past the lake for a lunch break and same route back. Trails were in good shape with only a few icy spots. Beautiful day to be out there. Purple wax worked well.
Just wanted to say a huge thanks Bob for all you’ve done for all of us skiers. I’ve met you a few times out there – on skis and biking in the summer. Best wishes for all your future adventures!
I wanted to ski 60 times since I turned 60 in December. I am thrilled that I achieved that goal today. I got to 1314 km for the season.
Jamie got to 50 ski outings today for a total of 1087 km.
Jamie and I skied to Shadow Lake and we did not see another person all day. We started early with a temperature of -2C. The conditions were iced up at the start but soon improved. We were happy to glide on the thin layer of fresh snow. We used our skis with metal edges with a mixture of old blue and purple wax. At the 11 km junction, we walked up some of the steep hill as some rocks were exposed. That is the only section that was not snow covered. The serenity was wonderful. We broke trail on the lake, as none was visible. We had lunch at the red chairs and witnessed an avalanche coming down Mount Ball. The snowmobile trail back was great to the 11 km junction (except for the steep hill, which we walked down). We encountered four spruce grouse; the male was strutting its stuff on the trail, trying to impress the females. As the temperature warmed up, the descent was on the slow side. We had no stickiness issues. We walked down the last hill to parking lot as it had become slick. What an awesome ski season!
Thank you for the blog, Bob! We skied the most ever this season, but never met you on the trails. We did encounter Jean Francois (on my birthday), Chuck & Jeannette (along the 1A near Morant’s Curve), and MaSid (enjoyed lunches on Fairview & Elk Pass couches).
By the way, Jamie found an axe on the trail just past the Lost Horse Creek Campground. It must have fallen off a load when the snowmobiles left Shadow Lake Lodge. I placed it against a tree at campsite #1.
Congratulations Carole and Jamie! I’ve skied the most days this season than any other in my life thanks to the covid situation. Makes me not want to work winters any more, it’s been so good. (-:
Congratulations Carole and Jamie! With only 6km more you would have reached 1320km a nice multiple of 60!
Awesome!! Well done!! And perhaps my new goal, though I may struggle so late in the season. I’d need 10 more ski days still to reach my coming age.
PLPP – (+1C at 9:15am, Boulton Creek)
Skied Moraine, Fox Creek, Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, Elk Pass, Power line towards Elk Cabin, Tyrwhitt, Whiskey Jack.
All the trails skied were in good conditions and the snow was a bit sticky (I had only Swix V45 Violet) and the glide in the tracks was fine but as soon as you would ski outside the tracks, the glide was fair at best.
I attempted to go to Elk Cabin but had not realized you had to ski under the power line due to the construction. I managed to ski approximately 3km on top of former tracks but with my skinny skis it was becoming too difficult and I decided to go back on groomed trails.
I only saw a handful of people, what a contrast from earlier in the year!
I did the same the other direction (without the Elk Cabin attempt adventure).
Started from Boulton Bridge at 11:15 a.m. (+2) – the overcast kept the snow cooler throughout my ski.
Snow a bit sticky on Tyrwhitt (around the meadow) but otherwise very decent in tracks for spring skiing. I have observed some people struggling with clumping under the skis but my skins did the trick. Down Elk Pass from Blueberry junction was very fast and fun in the tracks. Fox Creek could be a bit treacherous tomorrow if the snow freeze overnight.
About +3 at the end at 2 p.m.
Very few people on the trails.
Skied a loop from Pocaterra Hut.
Meadow, Woolley, Amos, Wheeler, Lynx, Pocaterra, Rolly Road
All trails were very skiable and enjoyable with waxless skis.
New groom was lightning fast and fun, old grooming was slower and stickier. Slushy as you got closer to the hut.
But very doable and all hills were in great condition.
It was cloudy all day so that really helped conditions. Never got above 5 degrees.
Did you make it to 500 today?
WATRIDGE LAKE- LEMAN LAKE
Friday afternoon/ moonlight night ski
Sweet groomed and trackset skiing to Watridge Lake and the Spray River. I had the best groomed ski turns of the year on the hills- even better than Lake Louise ski area. Moderate to somewhat fast skiing Friday night. Variable speed snow, faster in sun exposed areas on -2c to 0c Swix purple wax. The wax generally performed well and has been on my skis for since I skied the Panther Valley.
The trail up the upper Spray River is in excellent condition to the Palliser Warden Cabin. About 3km before the cabin the trail follows the river for some very nice scenery. Moderate to somewhat fast skiing coming out at night. Beyond the Palliser Warden cabin the skiing is excellent in the meadows with several cm’s of newer snow on a firm crust. The trail up to Leman Lake is also excellent. Looks like 5 or 6 feet of snow base in the area. Ski penetration averaged about ankle deep with the deepest being near boot top deep. Griz and wolf tracks in the lower end of the valley.
Some very nice near full moonlight was shinning in the heavens making for a nice ski back.
Fun skiing on the fifteen at Shark today! Perfect fresh grooming, with a dusting of cold new snow overtop in spots. VR 45 worked great until the sun popped out in full force in the early afternoon, forcing a switch to VR 60 which worked really well, although the speed was slower in wet snow, until clouds moved in again for the final loops winding around the Watridge road, firming things up and giving back the fast glide. There will be icy spots to be aware of tomorrow morning, for sure!
PLPP: waxless skis, started out at Boulton Bridge, Boulton Creek and Fox were great, from Elk Pass trail, we headed up Blueberry Hill. The Ramblers broke a fine trail through West Elk Pass meadow, so we had a very easy ski through the meadow. We stopped for lunch and lounging at fork ‘n meadow, which is always excellent, with great views and shelter from the wind. Had some clumping coming down Blueberry and going up the powerline from West Elk Pass meadow to Elk Pass, thanks to the Rambler who broke trail half way up the powerline. Everything sorted out on Tyrwhitt, Pocaterra and Whiskey Jack as more cloud moved in.
West Bragg Creek: Telephone Loop
Our initial plan at WBC, was to do a short ski on some of the sun shaded loops and then head home early. However, yesterdays new snow and the sight of only a few tracks was enough to entice us onto Snowshoe Hare trail. That took us to Telephone Loop, which had lots of snow and no tracks… so we just decided to continue all the way around the loop. I measured between 13cm and 22cm of recent snow, certainly enough to cover any ice, crust or bare patches. The first half of the loop had very nice cold powder conditions. But by the time we turned the corner to head south from Homestead Road junction we had above zero temperatures and the full impact of the late March sun. The sticky snow in the sun would ice up as soon as it hit the colder shaded snow… so there were regular stops for scraping. We took the neat little Moose single-track trail to Old Shell Road for the sunny descent to Mountain Road. Where the snow was fully in the sun, it was consistently wet, so grip and glide was good again. We finished the loop by following Snowy Owl, which was the original alignment of Telephone, when it really was a loop. A very pleasant surprise for late March!
Fairview – Moraine Lake Road
Back at Fairview again – it really is one of the prettiest trails. -2 deg at about noon, and maybe 2-3 cm of fresh now – enough to keep the trails revitalized. Tracks are still in excellent condition on both Fairview and MLR. A few icy spots on Fairview, but nothing to worry about. Lots of control still possible on the hills
Elk Lakes cabin: our group of Rambler skiers started just after 9 am from Elk Pass trailhead in -5C and beautiful fresh snow. Almost all of us were on light touring skis, some on waxables, some fishscales. Had good grip climbing up the steep hill, then following a skier track to the Blueberry Hill junction. From there we broke trail through West Elk Pass in powdery snow on a solid base. First time for me to check out the famous couch HQ, but not much left of it. What a beautiful meadow and view! We regained the powerline and cruised down in the powder. Hurrah, no snowmobile or snowshoers to be seen! After lunch in the sun in front of Elk Lakes cabin we followed the hiking trail through the trees to Lower Elk Lake and enjoyed the serenity and views. We had to deal with clumping on our skis on our climb back up the powerline, but everyone managed without using skins. Part of our group headed back through West Elk Pass while a few followed two skiers breaking trail up to Elk Pass. The run down from the pass was enjoyable, yet fairly slow in the sun affected snow. Happy that winter is not over yet.
Two of us skied at PLPP today with mixed results. We started in the morning, temperature was -6C, using our fish scale skies, at Elkwood Parking.the plan was to ski Wheeler, Moraine, Fox Creek, Elk Pass, Tyrwhit Pocatera to Lynx and the over Lynx and then directly back to Elkwood on Amos and Wheeler. We skied Wheeler, Moraine and Fox Creek on skier set tracks on 3 or so cm of new snow. This part was great, it was easy snow to ski. However on Elk Pass my skies started icing up, perhaps we should have turned around but we stuck to the plan. I kept having to scape ice off my skies, in particular the ice was sticking to the glide zone of my skies.My ski partner Keith had a bit of trouble but wasn’t affected as much. The sticking seemed to be worse where the sun had been shining. There were several places on Tyrwhit in particular but also on Pocatera. Fortunately the downhills on Tyrwhit and Pocatera were still quite skiable, although slower than we were used to.
I would note that at least some other people on the trails were having similar problems with icing.
There was some ice showing between Pocatera and its junction with Lynx. The snow was thinner on Lynx with some icy sections but in compensation there wasn’t so much icing up. Icy tracks are quite good at removing any ice buildup. it will be interesting to see if the track setters can set track in the south end of the park. If they do that should improve the skiing.
PLPP OUTER LOOP
We had a very enjoyable ski today in Spring conditions. Started from Pocaterra at 11:am ( should have started earlier), temperature-3 and waxed with V 45. Skied the lower trails that were well covered in fresh snow with ice underneath. Pocaterra, Lynx, Amos, Wheeler all had good coverage and nice tracks but slow snow. When we hit Moraine and Fox we were in for a treat with fast tracks due to the more recent grooming and tracksetting. Up Elk Pass with some clumping but we managed just fine. Tyrwitt was beautiful but slow as was Pocaterra. The lower stretches of Pocaterra were actually faster due to less fresh snow. A lovely 32 k ski under partly sunny skies.
PLPP: up Lookout south to north and then back along Tyrwhitt and Elk Pass, then back to Boulton Creek on fox and boulton. Beautiful day but very sticky snow, especially on Hydroline and Lookout. Tyrwhitt and fox/Boulton were surprisingly good but still pretty sticky. Definitely a spring ski but also definitely worth the effort.
PLPP: Tyrwhitt Loop (up Whiskey Jack, down Elk Pass)
This was spring skiing in its glory! Jeff G., Sam the Record Man, and I started out at about 10:15; when I pulled into the Boulton lot it was about -3 degrees. There looked to be at least 5 cm of new snow, and some pretty good skier set tracks the whole way. WJ was lovely…no ice to be found but it was slow going for me due to a bit of clumping on my VR45 wax. The snow was true spring snow – definitely on the wet side and the guys had more success with their fish scales. After a bit of scraping and buffing at the top of WJ, I was moving faster up Tyrwhitt, which was beautiful as usual (our guess is that when the sun came out in earnest, the snow there would get s-t-i-c-k-y!). Elk Pass was great, and the few spots at which the snow very suddenly slowed down kept us on our toes. The highlight of the ski was definitely Fox Creek and Moraine…the tracks were awesome, there was a lot less new snow there, and it was overall much less wet and sticky than the rest of the ski. A lovely way to end my 50th ski this year, and likely my last at PLPP until the back door opens up next year…
WBC. Sundog, Iron/Elbow
So much fun!!! We got out while it was still cloudy and had great glide, grip, and conditions on cold winter snow. So good to have real snow again instead of ice. And fluffy soft snow!! The hills were tricky as Helen mentioned. Hard to climb with all the fresh ungroomed snow and spicy on descent. Took one spectacular wipeout on a steep hill. Skied much more conservatively after that!
Once the sun came out it was sticky city but we were prepared and had no problems on our waxless skis.
Most trails have been skier tracked now including Moose.
Trails tomorrow could be a mess if the soft tracks freeze overnight on the hills creating the cheese grater effect on the descents.
Go early before it gets warm if you want to avoid sticky snow.
CNC with new snow is always a treat and took advantage of it today. Started early out of stadium up service roads x 3 all covered in powder, to Meadowview. Went across to west side of the meadow and it was so nice I went back for a second dose, including an out and back on untracked Osprey (I love that trail). Hit Rundle and stayed on it until junction 64 (before that big scary for me U-shaped dip towards the end). After Meadowview descent, skied over to Cold Shoulder (second favorite trail) but fish scales were not so happy there. Headed back up Meadowview and took Banff by the hut back. 19.8 kms. Beautiful day! Thank you Hugh for your good advice: “Sometimes you’ve got t0 go and ski it”
Helen you’re most welcome. We skied CNC early today due to cold overnight temps, new snow and a promising trail report. We too had issue with fresh snow on un groomed trails. For a change of pace, we went off grid and skied the meadows at far end of the trails. The base out there is a bit iffy but will get better as spring progresses.
Started at -4C, about 10:30, lots of soft snow with skier set tracks. Loggers-Elbow-Iron Springs-East Crystal. One using purple wax, one on skin skis. Wax worked well until temp reached 0C and the sun came out then skin skis, which had been a struggle, started working well and the wax skis started clumping. Herring bone on the up hills was hard work and we took the down hills with more caution than normal due to unpredictable snow/glide.
CNC for yesterday Thurs March 25
-3C Fresh snow on grooming. Skin skis worked well. Skating lanes looked to be in great shape.
Skied up Banff Trail over Meadow on Coyote and out Meadowview. Returned via Silvertip which was in sore need of this new snow. We skied in and out of the tracks.
There was a photo shot going on yesterday. Swix Clothing was getting shots for next winter’s clothing line. They may even be out there today as well.
Contrary to speculations, the trails are in fine spring shape.
We benefited from a fresh overnight snowfall. My suggestion is to get the latest conditions from the CNC trails report before you commit. https://www.albertaparks.ca/parks/kananaskis/canmore-nordic-centre-pp/trail-report/trail-report-cnc/
Sometimes you’ve got to go and ski it!
March 25 – PLPP- Bolton Creek-Fox Creek-Elk Pass- Tyrwhitt-Whiskey Jack-Bolton Creek Parking.
Good snow coverage throughout, getting better as one travelled further south and at higher elevations. Whiskey Jack had lots of snow but stilled lived up to its intimidating reputation. The only downer today was the flurries of fresh snow that came with a high moisture content and caused persistent clogging at least on my skis. The area is basically on a hard base that is dependent on all the fresh snow that it can get.
West Bragg Winter Wonderland.
Fifteen cm’s of cold dry snow over a crunchy layer, left behind after the snowfall earlier in the week, all on top of the old grooming which remains intact most everywhere that I skied, made for a fine ski tour at mid-day. I had brought along 2 pairs of skis just in case, but the waxless boards stayed put, and I opted for my waxable old rock skis with a wider 49 mm waist combined with VR45 for grip, which turned out to be the perfect choice. Although- with the consistent solid coverage- no rocks were hit. Following the tracks of an earlier skier, then breaking my own trail- I skied East Crystal-Iron Springs-Elbow, and Loggers, with a fun finish down the middle section of Ranger Summit all season trail to connect with lower Sundog. Not many people out today, but in addition to the myriad of tracks left behind by smaller critters, someone else was cruising the trails earlier in the morning:
FAIRVIEW – the definition of “short and sweet”. Today I followed the grooming, which meant I headed out to ski Fairview and the Lake Louise Lakeshore trail. It was around minus 1 C at the Lake Louise parking lot at 11:00 am. There was a thin cloud layer most of the day and thus the newly groomed tracks stayed dry all day. I headed east on Fairview to find exceptional conditions for late March. Only the second hard downhill, just before being dumped onto Moraine Lake Road, was a bit challenging. I then zipped up to Paradise Creek to see if it had opened up yet – see the pics! Then I headed back down to pick up Upper Tramline, which was in great shape. The last piece was a tour through the fresh grooming on Lake Louise. These were the best conditions on the lake that I have ever seen. The sun came out and really warmed things up on my return leg, so I worry that this piece might get a bit wet before freezing tonight. However the rest of the trails should still be great tomorrow. My skin skis performed perfectly all day and it was about plus 3 C when I finished up around 2:00 pm. See photos at https://photos.app.goo.gl/bWXymfnumUQ476MD8
Beautiful pics daddio! I wish I could have joined you!
PLPP South Trails:
First car at Boulton, -4C at 10:00am. About 1cm of fresh snow there. We skied Packers, upper Pocaterra, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Fox, and Moraine.
Packers – very good. First tracks. About 2cm fresh at the top. No sign of ice flow
Pocaterra – a bit slow in 2-3cm fresh snow, but quite pleasant
Tyrwhitt – now 3-4cm fresh snow. Others had broken trail. Slow but sublime
Elk Pass – now the sun came out. 2-3cm fresh, tracked in. Good but sticky/slow in spots
Fox – very thin new snow coverage. Many icy spots. Still, quite manageable.
Moraine – somewhat better than Fox. Fairly fast. Still some icy spots.
Generally a good day with cloudy conditions, except after lunch when the sun appeared for awhile. +1C at our 2pm finish
I finally conquered my winter goal of skiing 30km in a day. Now to finish my second goal (500km for the season.) Almost there.
We did a big loop from Boulton Creek at PLPP
Boulton Creek – skiable (and getting freshly groomed as we speak)
Fox Creek – also getting a grooming tonight
Elk Pass – icy until we passed the Hydroline junction. Then it was soft and quite lovely.
Blueberry Hill – soft snow. Great condition with just a couple of icy patches to watch out for
Back up Elk Pass
Tyrwhitt – overall quite good
Pocaterra – overall quite good. Soft snow so a bit slow
Lynx – overall good with a few icy patches
Amos and Wheeler to return – icy crusty tracks. Skiable but not awesome.
No glide wax necessary. Very little sticking or clumping.
Next time I go for 30km I might choose a loop with less climbing! 700 metres was a lot today added with the distance.
Congratulations Tanya! Considering you went up Blueberry Hill, the less than ideal snow conditions, and no glide wax (always necessary in my opinion) you easily did the equivalent of 35-40 km under good conditions and less elevation gain!
Blueberry was in good condition. A bit too slow on descent actually for my taste. I have waxless skis and they were fine.
Wow- were you on skin skis or what? Congrats.
Just waxless skis. Blueberry wasn’t icy. Easy climbing.
Thanks for the Detailed information ! I’m going back again tomorrow but I wondered what wax you used?-
Waxless skis. Easy climbing though. It wasn’t icy on Blueberry Hill. And they’re doing fresh grooming on the single track trails tonight so you can bypass the big hills on Lower Elk Pass.
I did the route with Tanya on wax skis and used V50 which worked ok for the most part. V45 probably would have been better but I don’t have that one.
Barb and Karen,
I did a similar route and successfully used Swix V45 Violet special (I don’t have a warmer wax anyway)
Lake Louise today. -2C at lake parking lot (11 am), snowing very lightly. 1 cm of fresh snow made for a easy, non-icy conditions. No problems on waxless skis. Fairview, MLR, Tramline. 4C at 1 pm.
Plan A: was to visit West Elk Meadows but decided it might be too icy at Elk Pass start. Plan B: Bryant Creek shelter IF Mt Shark had gotten groomed last night. It didn’t.
Plan C: “C” for Chuck, we chose Lake O’Hara Fire Rd. -5 at 10:30 and at least 3″ powder on arrival. Skied to start of big hills just before km. 8 and decided to turn around there at creek/bridge in case we started icing up upon our return. Fairly uneventful descent for the Asnes but skins iced up a little on the Madshus. Zero back at car. Beautiful snow and thanks Chuck for giving us the great Trip Report to switch our destination to.
p.s. J-F that is quite the impressive number of ski outings you have had in K-Country. A toonie a ski!!!
The reason why I skied so much at PLPP / Kananaskis Village is just because WBC ski was more limited this year. When PLPP is done, I will need to move towards Lake Louise….
PLPP (-1C at 9:45am Boulton Creek parking lot)
Skied Whiskey Jack, Lookout, Hydroline, Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, Pocaterra and Packers.
V45 Violet did the work for most of the day and I was glad it was an overcast day with few sunny breaks.
Whiskey Jack is in great shape, just be careful of the icy patch before the steep S turns, the North lookout has no ice and is covered with shifty snow, the descent on the south side is fine until you reach the steepest parts, exposed to the sun, in these area the corduroy was super icy and on my track skis I was feeling going down a cheese grater especially with all the gouges created by herring boning. I removed my skis and walk around 50m before the first big S turn as I was very uncomfortable with no metal edges.
The hydroline was very nice, again the descent to Elk Pass trail was icy / boiler plate hard pack.
Blueberry was a delight and I had the pleasure to meet Tanya and her friends at the top.
Tyrwhitt has some sections with icy tracks but nothing to worry about except more arms work.
Pocaterra was also in great shape and Packers with the usual area where ice flow is slowly developing.
Overall a great day, but would love to see some new snow cover the icy parts…..many thanks to the groomers, today was my 30th time in PLPP / Kananaskis Village this winter.
Thanks for the great track setting on ElkPass-Hydroline-Lookout-Tyrwhitt-Hydroline-Elk Pass for Mar.23. VR45 & 60 worked well. Beautiful out there.
Peter Lougheed – Blueberry Hill
Sorry I missed almost everyone today! This was my first time on the Elk Pass trail this season :O
I was thinking of visiting West Elk Pass, but strangely found myself heading up Blueberry Hill, which was quite fun. I was too late in the day for the best powder, but conditions were still mostly good, a little moist in places and the steepest hills had been scraped down to something rather icy. It wasn’t scary, though, I was able to stay in control. Both herringbone and snowplow muscles got quite the workout today!
I had been worried about the sun-shade–herky-jerky, but there was almost none of that, so all in all it was a great day out 🙂
You may have passed by us Diana while we sat at the blueberry table.
Canmore Nordic Centre: -4C on arrival at 9:00 am +4C at 2:30 pm the Stadium corduroy and tracks leading out were pristine in the morning. Skied Banff Trail to Banff NP and back to the Stadium on Bow Trail. Banff was fast with excellent tracks to the Mine Meadow. Tracks Banff tracks beyond and on Bow were shallower and softer. Out again on Banff then up to Meadowview and west to connect with Banff Trail again. Skied the corduroy on the steeper hills of Meadowview because I couldn’t commit to the very fast tracks. Banff Trail tracks, west of Mine Meadow, by the afternoon were beaten up by all the traffic. The snow stayed cool all day with where sunny it softened and the tracks were slushy only to the depth of the new snow. CNC closes at the end of March.
Fairview – Moraine
Nothing much to add to Mary Perrott’s excellent writeup. We started around noon (-4 deg.), so conditions were softer, and on the way back (+4 deg.) areas exposed to the sun most of the day were starting to be slushy. Here’s a 360 deg. photo taken in front of MaSid’s couch:
I skied Pocaterra this morning. Left Calgary at 9:30am so hwy 40 was a bit sketchy on the way there.
I was pleasantly suprised that the new snow at Pocaterra didn’t stick to my kick wax.
Around my house on the West side of Calgary we received just over 5cm of fresh snow last night. Not as much fell at Pocaterra. Still nice to be out on a blue sky day. Sounds like all the socializing was to be had at Elk Pass.
Tue Mar 23: east elk to west elk pass traverse.
-10 at 10 to start with just a skiff of snow over the new elk pass track setting. +1 on return at 430. The new grooming was slick in the track and corduroy with good grip at the edge. we dodged off to Fox creek to avoid the low fish scale grip. The older track setting past north hydroline was nicer with some fresh over yesterday’s ice patches. Diverted up Patterson and into the meadows to elk pass. Nice cold powder travel on the track through the meadows. Cheeky, Simona and I made good time to the top of the intervening ridge between east and west elk passes, but not quick enough to avoid some moist snow in the first summit meadow. We stuck to the shady side and avoided clumping. Moist snow across the top of the cut blocks so we kept on moving. Went a bit lower than the bench that Alf took instead of heading to the boundary cut line, eventually dropping down at the north end direct to west elk meadows on the mellower terrain of the new cut block. Those slopes will probably have a crust tomorrow. The west elk pass track was deep and noisy and sticky out of it so cheeky broke trail through the lower blueberry meadows on the western shady side. Excellent dry snow travel on that side through the warm meadows, sporting a variety of the latest in sun hat fashion wear. Hung out at blueberry table enjoying the sun while tracks cooled down a bit on the route home. A handfull of icy/wet patches but mostly good. Fox was a bit more scraped on return, but only the one difficult spot initially descending to the creek. An excellent day out taking advantage of the fresh snow. Highway was dry on the way home.
Was that you?? I met a party of three at the table there around 3:30-ish, having come down from Blueberry. It was a good run down!
Question: are the blueberry meadows just a short distance up the blueberry trail or are they much further up?
Sorry, just saw your note after I responded above. But yes. The turn off to the lower blueberry meadows is just at the point before blueberry turns north. Maybe you saw our exit track to blueberry as we came down just before you. Some times we come in a bit lower down. It was really nice at the picnic table at the end of the day. Sun stays above mount fox now.
Lovely! Yes I did see your tracks, and I have meandered through those meadows once or twice in the past 🙂
After a season of humping it around, I’d finally unpocketed my iThingy (wait, what?) and gathered some viddy of that very fine day. Appo-polly-logies, it’s taken a few days to edit in the phone; my slate fondling fu is still weak. Notice the dust on crust conditions made it all doable with skinny skis and track poles. Good times!
SUPERB VIDEO Cheeky and Simona. Herculean Effort and tremendous route-finding and back country skiing. Only a drop of fluid left in the thermos. Really enjoyed seeing this route but very unlikely to follow your tracks. Those waxless Rossy’s 65 seem to be doing the job for you Cheeky.
PLPP: Elk Pass – Tyrwhitt – Hydroline
My car said -8 when I arrived at the Elk Pass lot at 10:45, but it felt a few degrees warmer when Jeff G and I set out just after 11:00. The groomed sections (Elk Pass to the first Hydroline junction, Tyrwhitt, Hydroline on the way back) were just lovely! We climbed Elk Pass despite it not being groomed last night, and it was still quite good with the skier set tracks (although my skins had a bit of grip trouble on the loose snow… dad’s fish scales were perfect). There were a few cms of snow atop the grooming on Tyrwhitt but a few speedy skiers passed us and set the tracks for us. The meadows of Tyrwhitt were just gorgeous in the sunshine and we felt so lucky to be up there this late in the season! Hydroline was fast on the way down (this is where my skins were at their best!), and the big Elk Pass hill was easy on the descent with the wonderful and grippy grooming for snow plows. It was 2 degrees at the car at 2:00. Another beautiful ski in Alberta’s best playground!
Pocaterra Parking: Started on Rolly Road in -10 at 10:15. A little icy for my taste but that 1-2 cms (as Mary noted) certainly helped with those climbs and downhills. Lovely views and very grateful for the grooming of a few days ago. Come Along then Pocaterra to Lynx, Amos, and Wheeler at a sunny picnic table. Took shortcut back up Lynx via Amos and completed our figure of eight (17 kms.) on Pocaterra back to the hut. Thermometer there showed zero at 2pm. Snow softened around noon making ascents easier. Very quiet seeing maybe 3-4 couples all day and stellar scenery. A great workout for 5 of us. Surprised no one has commented on Elk Pass and new snow and grooming.
Haha Helen, I just did! 🙂
LAKE O’HARA – March 23
5 to 15 cms (depending on elevation) of cold fresh snow on a solid packed base. Vr 45 wax was perfect with temperatures well below zero all day… great glide.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
The best conditions that we have encountered here all season, and lots of happy skiers!
March 23 – Mt Shark
Around -10 when we started at 9am. There were a few centimeters of fresh snow from last night, plus the snow that fell over the weekend since the trails were last groomed. The new snow slowed us down quite a bit, but in spots we could tell that the snow beneath was pretty darn solid! We skied the 15km loop with a detour to/around Watridge Lake. The last few km were challenging as the temps approached 0 and the new snow got STICKY.
Fairview – Moraine
After seeing the fresh snow fall last evening in Canmore, we decided to chance it that Lake Louise would have got some as well. The 1-3 cms. was just enough to provide a wonderfully memorable ski today. A bit chilly to start (-10C) but 0C. at the finish. We started on Fairview and found lovely, silky, quiet snow that nicely covered the icy stuff and the needles and other debris. All the hills were easy and laid-back. We only saw one other skier (who broke track for us on MLR) before lunch. There were a few people afterwards, and more near the start of MLR and on Tramline back to the parking lot. The tracks on MLR were good, if a bit shallow in places, on the lower section. We got in the whole trip without encountering sticky snow.
March 22 – Samson Mall-Tramline-Peyto-Great Divide-Far end of Lower Telemark-Great Divide- Tramline
I wanted to do the Tramline again because it has always been a feature of the Senior clubs as the bus would pick up the members at Samson Mall after they had completed the last leg of the day, the Tramline. Around Samson Mall the trail is very hazardous and does not get better until the river is crossed at the bridge. Conditions got better the higher I went. Peyto, Great Divide and Lower Telemark all had excellent snow and only the Lower Telemark did not have renewed tracksetting . I was hoping that on my return on the Tramline that conditions would have warmed up. It was not to be as the weather seemed to become colder after two thirty and the track iced up and became very fast. There were sections on my way down that I walked.
GREAT DIVIDE, PEYTO, LAKE LOUISE and TELEMARK – March 22
Some fresh snow on recent tracksetting made for excellent waxable conditions. With temperatures around minus 2, we used VR 45 wax which was perfect.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Extra points if you can identify that last one!
I hope I’m not the only one disappointed to see those national park trees adorned with someone’s cutesy knick-knacks. That stuff is a blight on the landscape, akin to flagging tape, ‘inukshuks’ and graffiti.
The ice climber one was especially irritating.
Hi aqua toque, thanks for the humour. That was the best laugh I’ve had in a while. 🙂 🙂 🙂 If you look closely, though, the ice climber has no head, so maybe it is an ornament.
Mon mar 22: east elk pass
-4 early this morning at the elk pass lot, +1 on return at 230. Went up the big hill to see what the south side was like. Fairly scraped and icy but OK with the metal edge skis and keeping the speed down. Appears it won’t matter for tomorrow. Stayed out of the tracks on the way up for better grip in the bit of soft snow. Went up to elk pass via Patterson meadows. 2″ of cold dry powder over a mostly supportive crust provided good fast meadow travel. Same to east elk pass. Couch H2.0 is almost done for the season, being half couch, half bench and the wind wall has all but fallen over. No maintennave performed. Wandered down the tobermory drainage for a few km. Coming back up was sticky in the sun at noon. All it takes is a few degrees of south facing terrain angle. Returned the way I came (more skiers had been through Patterson meadows on the fresh track) other than taking fox creek back at the end. Some icy patches but reasonable/manageable relative to the alternative. No snow fell while out during the day.
Great Divide Trail East-West-East
First ski outing in a month, after nursing pulled harmstring and groin abductor (while skiing). Just trying something flat and easy to get back into it slowly and avoid any slipping back. A skiff of snow at the Lake Louise end over icy and older tracksetting. More snow (5-8 cm) past the 4 km mark and up to the Lake O’Hara parking lot. Vr50 was too much with clumping; once I removed all wax, it was a lot smoother. A short day, but worth testing the recovery. Not that many people on the trail.
Also, PLPP was dead!! We saw 15 people in 15km. So that’s one person per kilometer on average. It was a bit eerie.
PLPP today. Was overcast all day with temperature never rising above 3 degrees. Great for preserving the trails!
We climbed Whisky Jack, skied Pocaterra to Lynx, and then returned to Boulton Creek on Lynx, Amos, and Wheeler.
The fresh grooming (Lower Pocaterra and Lynx) was lightning fast and super fun on the descents. I’ve never skied the section from Packers to Lynx so fast! We were flying!
The trails groomed within the last few days had a dusting of fresh snow on them and were much slower. We applied fresh glide wax on Amos because we weren’t moving much (quite the contrast from Lynx!)
So choose your speed! Fresh grooming for racing, old grooming for softer slower snow.
PLPP (-3C at 9:30am Boulton Creek parking lot, no cars)
We skied Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Fox, Moraine, back on Whiskey Jack, Pocaterra, Packers.
Excellent tracks (with the odd icy bit) covered with a couple of cm of fresh snow on Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Pocaterra and Packers.
Fox Creek and Moraine are in marginal conditions but going downhill was easy and fast .
The snow was sticky and a fine layer of Swix V45 Violet provided good grip, however with the skis icing up, the downhills were quite slow.
Surprisingly, we saw no one until we reached Blueberry junction and just two skaters going up Elk pass (below Paterson junction) working hard uphill and also damaging the downhill tracks (snow was soft, so it was not too bad skiing in these tracks), we met them again when going up Whiskey Jack, this time no damage was done as it was all downhill for them…
Pretty much the same story for me. A friend and I parked at Boulton Bridge at 10am, with one other car in the lot. Cloudy with sunny breaks, temperature went up to about +1C. Packers, Pocaterra, Tyrwhitt, Hydroline, Patterson, Blueberry Hill, Elk Pass Trail, Fox Creek, Boulton. I was on my skin skis and my friend was on Swix VR45. I encountered two 10m sections of minor clumping. My friend had more clumping but nothing major. It was possible to glide downhill, but at a very sedate pace, even on Blueberry. For me, it seemed to be more due to suction than clumping/icing. Best conditions were on Upper Pocaterra, Tyrwhitt, and Blueberry. Boulton was in better shape than expected and we got first tracks of the day from the Fox/Boulton junction back to Boulton Bridge. There’s a large tree down across Fox at the Boulton junction.
Hi Mike W
Thanks for enlightening me regarding the suction effect. Is there a way to minimize this effect?
Hi Jean-Francois, allow me. I had my fishscale skis ground for wet snow and it did help. Also, use the appropriate glide wax. If you grind your skis for wet snow, they still perform fine on cold snow.
Hi Jean-Francois. Thanks for all your great reports.
Fluoro waxes (hydrophobic) are being phased out but low fluoro Swix LF glider was still available at CNC Trail Sports a couple of weeks ago. Pricey compared to hydrocarbon but it’s not so bad if you buy it by the larger brick ($70, not on display, you have to ask). LF6 blue works for me at all temps; no longer bother with the warmer ones.
Structuring / rilling reportedly breaks the bond but is just too much work for this slowpoke.
Thanks Bob and Barry for your recommendations!
The suction is due to a layer of water created by the pressure of the ski against the snow. The water “sticks” to both the snow and the ski surface and requires energy to release. An analogy would be the difficulty in separating two pieces of wet plate glass. In the “good old days”, I remember applying hot glide wax onto my downhill skis with a paint brush, creating a series of wax wedges, thin on the leading edge and thick on the trailing edge. No subsequent scraping or brushing. The uneven wax surface created room for air to get between the ski and water and break up the suction/vacuum. I don’t know if this would work for XC skis. It might be interesting to try. You might not even need kick wax, since the steps would act as a “no-wax” base pattern made out of wax! This time of year I’m doing more backcountry and resort skiing than XC. So I don’t worry too much about the reduced glide I get when I do go XC. Instead, I just enjoy all the scenery I’ve missed zipping by earlier in the season!
Since the “good old days”, base structures and fluoro waxes have made “wax painting” obsolete. Fluoro waxes are now being discontinued for environmental reasons and are being replaced with non-fluoro versions, but it isn’t clear how they compare with the fluoros. My experience with Vauhti liquid glide waxes is that their “Pure One” non-fluoro waxes are indistinguishable from their earlier LF (low fluoro) waxes. I found an interesting article on the history of ski wax and ski bases at https://www.skiinghistory.org/history/grip-and-glide-short-history-ski-wax. It even predicts a future quantum antimatter glide wax!
When I looked at my ski base this morning, I discovered that at least one spot of clumping was due to a piece of kick wax that I picked up in the groove of my ski. Perhaps in the future it will be necessary to relegate kick wax and klister users to separate trails where they won’t contaminate the pristine surfaces of those with patterned and skin kick zone skis! 😉
Thanks Mike for the detailed explanations
Does anyone have any idea what the conditions on Cascade Fire Road might be?
Thanks to Tanya’s intel from yesterday, we went to Mt Shark today. We skied a variety of trails from 9 am to noon, in 2-4 cms new cold snow making for a nice silky texture in the tracks, temps. -2C the whole time. Only minor warm up of the snow in the stadium when the sun came out briefly around noon, otherwise it was snowing lightly all am. I used Fischer Twin Skins, which were great, hubby used VR45 with only occasional icing; skating looked good if a little deep for me, and a little rough underneath the new snow. If it stayed below 0C all pm, then it should still be good tomorrow. Great to ski some real winter snow again!
It’s currently -4, and overcast at the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre.
There is a dusting of snow on the ground.
Any updates from pipestone?
Haiduk Lake, via Shadow Lake – March 20
Staff challenged me to use the trail they had put in for guests, but to make it a day from the highway… Thanks to their delicious cookies, it worked!
Details in the photo descriptions here:
The lack of sun was a benefit… no clumping.
Nice work Chuck! Looks like the same weather I had when I skied to Haiduk lake the last time. I remember breaking trail from the end of Shadow lake to Haiduk which made for a long day from the Redearth trailhead!
It was nice to meet you out on the trail yesterday!
Thanks Lynn, for posing for a SkierBob photo on Snowshoes!
I would not have got to Haiduk Lake without your hard work, and, sorry to have passed you so quickly on the return.
Hope the staff rewarded you well upon your return to the Lodge
Hi Chuck: that’s alot of mileage after just skiing around Fossil Mountain a couple of days ago. Pretty impressive.
We were definitely well rewarded! The staff at the lodge is amazing, especially one in particular 🙂
We skied the full 15km green loop at Shark. Snow was fabulous!! Waxless skis worked best in our group. Husband struggled on wax skis.
It snowed overnight and the Mt Shark road was a bit treacherous. Very snow covered early on and icy around noon (couple of people said they couldn’t make it up the road.) We made it up for 10:30. Skied for 4 hours and it was snowing all afternoon.
No slush, no ice, great control on hills.
Thanks for the report. How much new snow was there and what temperatures did you experience?
I’d say there was 2-3cm at Shark. Closer to 15cm as we passed Burstal. Many people have told me they couldn’t get up the hill on the Mount Shark road. We got up but were concerned about getting stuck in the deep unplowed snow on the road. I guess by noon it was icy.
Temp was +3 when we left around 3:00. Close to zero when we arrived. It snowed all afternoon today. Snow started getting sticky as the afternoon went on. Was great in the morning.
Better than expected at PLPP
Jamie and I skied up Packers, up Upper Pocaterra, down & up again along this same stretch , down Whiskey Jack, and detoured to the Lower Group Campground.
Packers was in very good shape compared to our scary adventure down this one on March 7. Skiers should watch for the ice flow almost completely crossing the trail if coming down from Pocaterra. Stay to the left on the descent to avoid it. Upper Pocaterra was beautiful so we skied up to the Whiskey Jack junction, went back down to Packers junction and up again to Whiskey Jack. The downhill in the tracks was fast; but very controllable on the last descent to the Packers junction. The Whiskey Jack descent was fun and not icy at all on the steep downhill, followed by the S-turn. It could all change quickly but we lucked out. The trail was awesome to the Lower Campground. We used purple wax, which disappeared from our skis by the end of our ski. The temperature ranged from -2C this morning to +1C when we finished just after noon.
It is -5 and overcast in Peter Lougheed at the information centre.
Nordic Centre 9:00-12:00 +1 to ~+4, +1 at noon snow squall. Bit of everything today: beautiful full rainbow approaching Lac des Arcs, then heavy rain around Dead Man’s Flats, low cloud and drizzle changing to tiny granular snow at arrival. One guy was putting his skis away at 9 (!), said “skiing is not bad at all, as long as you don’t mind getting soaked”. He was. Took my time getting ready, was rewarded with diminishing precipitation, and some emerging blue sky. Was pleasantly surprised by smooth fast skating on perfect corduroy on Banff Trail. Think the rain softened what may have been a hard icy surface. Bow Trail back towards day lodge became soft in spots, so turned around to head up Meadowview, which was in very good condition. Olympic and Centennial also in good shape, except section of Centennial close to day lodge showing dirt and thin spots. From top of Meadowview saw dark clouds approaching from Banff, so called it a day mostly under blue skies just before the near horizontally blowing snow arrived.
Great Divide: Parked a car at O’Hara end and shocked by at least 8 cms in parking lot. Started at LL end with at least 4-6 cms. fresh snow around 11:45 and many skiers skied a ways then, struggling with “high heels” came back to re-wax or choose a Plan B. Conditions varied throughout our ski and skier tracks ended at west entrance to Lower Telemark. The untracked snow worked fairly well but remembering Chuck’s photo of skiing in the sled dog track, thought that would be worth a try. It worked well and got us safely down to the shelter. Snow temp was “big fat zero” at shelter. Applied more glide and the rest of our ski had the best conditions, breaking trail to O’Hara. Someone had started at O’Hara end but perhaps decided to go to a Plan B. If they groom GD and MLR, it should be great for the weekenders. No sign of bear activity at O’Hara end but it won’t be long. No sign of groomers upon return to our car at GD parking lot. Driving home it was +5. More snow on the way!!!
PLPP – Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, in and out on Tyrwhitt, down Hydroline, Patterson and back on Elk Pass.
Today was like winning the lottery.
The groomers worked their magic overnight in Peter Lougheed and Mother Nature put a cm of fresh snow on top of it.
We actually got to ski on clean snow! See pictures for proof; -)
We started at 11:30 at a temperature of +4 in the Elk Pass parking lot.
However by the time we came back, the tracks were already grey and so saturated with moisture. It will ice up again overnight.
When we left at the highway 40 turnoff at 4:00 pm it was zero degree and snowing. Hopefully it will cover the tracks again.
Mount Shark was perfection today as long as you stayed off Watridge Lake Road which was really slow and sticky. We did a loop on the advanced trails and enjoyed real snow with no ice! It was all buried under a cm of fresh snow. Snow was sticky climbing hills but I’ll take that over ice! We had reasonable success with waxless skis and glide wax. Just gave the skis a bit of a scrape against each other at the top of hills and carried on.
Every hill was incredibly easy to ski down in perfect control (and there are big hills on those loops!)
No slush, no ice, snow was perfectly white, and no grabbing on hills.
All in all a fabulous day!!!
CNC 12:00- 2:00 +5C dropping to +1C as a snow squall moved through.
More snow at North/west end of trails nearly filling the tracks.
Skiing with skin skis was really quite good. Slow skiing but we skied in and out of the tracks depending on the what was underneath. We skied out Banff/Bow trail up onto Meadowview and returned via Slivertip, Banff Trail. Groomed part of the trails were soft enough for decent snowplowing so we never reached Mach speed. On our return we found that previously skied tracks were icy, good for double poling but not much traction.
The trails were really empty today.
Check the CNC trails website and plan your ski accordingly.
We skied yesterday at 11:00 and waited today til 12:00.
Hugh- Do you think tomorrow will be similar or with an overnight low of -2 may be starting earlier.?.?
Barb hard to say the rain affected the trails yesterday. It’s -2C at 8:00 am I still would wait til noon.
Skied Elk Pass area on Thursday. I started at 1:30 in the afternoon, and I think this was a good plan for anyone who does not like skiing on boilerplate snow. As several others have mentioned, Elk Pass Trail itself was a mix of fleas, debris, soft and hard snow. Patterson was similar. All of Hydroline was excellent as was the top of Tyrwhitt. I went into East Elk Pass meadows to have lunch at the famous couch. Not much left, but I appreciate all the effort by the architect. It was kind of like wandering around ancient ruins. Sunny and warm. At 6:30 I saw an unusual sight: my vehicle was alone at the Elk Pass lot.
Presumably travel was good in the east elk meadows, despite the warmth?
Yes, travel in the meadow was really nice. Wet snow, but no ice. I had waxless skis. I had always wanted to go there for a look. Still lots of snow depth there. Poles can completely disappear when near small tree wells. Thanks again for tracking this meadow and your construction.
Lake Louise, PLPP
Lots of snow and cooler temperatures are predicted next week per the Weather Network.
After that, it is just the track setting.
March 18 morning/early PM. Headed for Pocaterra with an optimistic plan of skiing the cookie race route, but fully prepared – maybe even expecting – to have to do something else. Would have been very decent for road bike. Anyway, I was car number 3 under bright sunshine at around 10 or so. Klistered up and scraped and scratched my way along the ice of pocaterra, thinking that things would soften up soon. Lynx, still fast and icy. The klstr was holding up ok to that point but the climbs s u c k e d. Herringbone. Ice. Swearing. The middle trails ranged from almost winter conditions in places to soupy slush but the going was ok right to the bottom of WJ. Actually really nice along that bench over the valley, i think it’s called wheeler? One of my favorite spots in PLPP but I was getting worried that the decent going was luring me into going further and further south, where i might find myself with 20k of unskiable slush skiing btwn me and my car – with a work obligation lined up back in reality-ville. Starting up WJ, some clumping started and i considered abandoning at the junction and limping back on pocaterra. However, the glide improved and temp was staying cooler than expected, so i “confidently” proceeded up to tyrwhitt where i found brand spankin new tracks. Saw day old grizzly (i think) prints on that little connector to the lookout jct, nice distraction but i didn’t look too closely tbh. Klister started to fail but my strategy was to just tough it out with most of the serious climbing behind me. I’ve scene all the seenery here before anyway, so let’s just keep on keepin on. Elk pass was kind of ok to blueberry jct, from there it was ugly dirty soft icy semisothermic debris laden war zone to fox cr., which in turn offered some similarly affected snow for a hair-raising, jaw-clenching survival skiing session. Boulton parking was empty, slushy on the bridge, but better snow up toward Packers made for decent climbing. Up top it was soft and wet in the sun, slow but not as grabby as i expected. Variable travel but mostly firm and fast from P/P junction back to lynx junction, a bit more velcro-like in spots from there back to the hut. Full alert mode in the transitions from shade to sun. No crashes but a couple near misses, I’d be surprised if this full route is skiable again this season, at least not within the limits of enjoyment. Mine were tested today but I’m still glad i did it, knocked off a goal of mine in tough conditions. Did i mention what a delight the herringboning up the iced corduroy was?
Whoa sorry, that was long!
Mt. Shark under the blazing sun
+6c and parking lot at quarter capacity at 1pm, same temperature and one car at 4pm
Everything (!) was trackset last night, and as Bob mentioned Watridge trail had been refreshed to the lake only.
Snow was quite soft and saturated in sunny spots, but white-knuckle fast in the shade.
The road is indeed a neverending stretch of potholes.
PLPP : Middle and North Trails
After a quick reconnaissance of the trail at Elk Pass (too icy to be fun), we three seniors left Ray and the others and drove to Elkwood to find flatter terrain. We skied Wheeler south to take advantage of the downward trending trail. Wheeler tracks were showing signs of the Spring sun; super icy and screaming fast! Continued down the Lower Lakes trail all the while waiting for the sn’ice to warm for our climb back. We dallied by following a skier track into the lowest meadow for a short out and back tour. By now the sn’ice had softened and we climbed easily back to the Amos junction. Amos to Woolley junction was icy with slow sunny sections and had good tracks. Amos crossing to Wheeler had colder less sun affected snow. After lunch at the Amphitheater, we crossed to Lodgepole and Sinclair where we found barely used excellent tracks and grooming. Climbing on fish-scale waxless went quickly up Lodgepole in softer snow to the Discovery Centre. I had some misgivings about the steep hills going south on Meadow, but the grooming was unmarred and sunny spots weren’t too grabby. The short Meadow tail to Elkwood went quickly and we finished with 21 km to our credit.
The middle and north trails skied were remarkably good with smooth corduroy and for the most part sharp tracks.
Not the best day ever, but we all agreed it had been a success.
Note: Sn’ice is the matrix of snow and ice chunks. For the most part all tracks we skied are formed in this matrix. A big thanks to the groomer for keeping skiing alive in PLPP.
I did similar trails yesterday, with much the same conditions. I was surprised at how good the trails actually were!
Went to Lake Louise for the first time. Bow River loop very icy south from the Station until you got near the campground then the trails were soft but pretty good. Beautiful day and very few people. Looks like a good place to go next year.
SKOKI and FOSSIL MOUNTAIN CIRCUIT – March 18
A well worn trail on a supportive snowpack facilitated an extension to this popular spring ski tour.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
I was on 59 mm metal edge skis with climbing skins occasionally and classic poles (no backcountry baskets).
PLPP : Elk Pass / Tyrwhitt
A group of 11 seniors met at Elk Pass parking (9:15am, -6C). After a quick reconnaissance of the trail there (firm and somewhat icy), 3 people opted to drive to Elkwood where the trails are less hilly. The rest set out on the day and a half old grooming of the Elk Pass trail, some walking up and down the big hill. At the Hydroline junction, we opted to continue on the Elk Pass trail – a poor choice as it turned out. This trail section up to the Blueberry Jct was week old tracks, lots of debris, ice, and collembola. No fun. Then, finally reaching Elk Pass itself, we headed back north on the fairly recent tracksetting of Tyrwhitt – much better though still somewhat icy in places. Turning around at the highpoint of the meadows, we skied back on fast and fun tracks to the Tyrwhitt table for lunch, then back to Elk Pass, and north on the fairly recent tracks of Hydroline – now a bit soft in the early afternoon sun. Great skiing here. By the time we returned over the big Elk Pass hill to the cars, we were experiencing grabbing as we passed from shadow to sun. All in all, a decent day, except for the poor section of Elk Pass. +7C to finish.
Moraine Lk Rd: Wednesday ST. Patrick’s Day: started at noon trying a pair of skin skis from Wilson’s: SPORTEN 64 165 cms. steel edges with single skin under foot. Started somewhat icy, which returning skiers classified as “sporty” but it got better going up. Skis pleasantly responded to tracks and also tried following making tracks in the meadow around km 4, but soon developed high heels in the untouched sun beaten snow. Always wondered about that meadow and will give it a shot again in fresh powder next year. Ski down was relatively easy because due to my slower pace it was mid afternoon. In the steeper hills, I took even more time as they were still in shade. Tracks higher up were in better shape than lower tracks that Perrott’s encountered likely much earlier day prior. Tracks lower down also had evidence of “invasion of the walkers” post-holing right in tracks. More opportunistic education required.
We decided to take advantage of the most recent grooming at PLPP, which was all at the north end of the network. Even with a noon start, the snow was still very hard and icy, so we opted to cross the road and go up Suicide Hill to Meadow to start. Meadow was fast on impeccable grooming and we followed it past the Visitor Centre to Woolley. Woolley (which actually has meadows) was wonderful. We looped around Marl Lake via Amos-Wheeler-Amos, then across Lynx to Pocaterra. As the snow softened, the sun exposed patches became stickier and slower, which was pretty exciting after a bit of icy downhill. Still it was an amazing day of warm weather skiing under a sunny blue sky with the fabulous Kananaskis scenery.
There were only a few skiers on the trails and the grooming will remain in good shape as this melt-freeze cycle continues. https://photos.app.goo.gl/wojGFasFNrHpraH59
TOKUMM CREEK – March 17
Magnificent location for off track skiing with no ice.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Best to avoid the track up the creek from Marble Canyon!
Great Divide: skied from Lake Louise to the west and back. Started at 11am. Going west was super easy. Fast tracks, Snowplow on the hill, no issues. The tracks west of the Divide were somewhat better. Not quite as slick. Once we turned and headed back, track were beginning to soften up. Sunny tracks were a little sticky. After finishing Divide skied up a tram line to the lake. Way better going up than down! Great day !
GREAT DIVIDE. Our first choice was Pipestone, but the very icy tracks we found at the bottom at 11:00 am prompted us to switch to plan B, Great Divide. Shandra and I zipped over to the Lake O’Hara end and found quite good conditions. Other than the first half km or so, the tracks were pretty grippy for the most part. My skins were excellent but probably would have iced up if they hadn’t been treated with a good skin wax. Shandra had decent grip all day on a red wax, with only one reapplication required. It warmed nicely, but didn’t get too slushy at any point. The tracks were dirty in spots, but grip and glide weren’t impacted. Descending the big hill on the return was ok, as long as you are reasonably confident with snowplowing in fast conditions. The weather was nothing short of gorgeous and this was yet another fantastic ski in this amazing season. Should still be ok tomorrow..
Upper Lake Louise: our plan was to ski up the Tramline, left on MLR then along Fairview, Peyto etc. We quickly ruled out the Fairview and Peyto plan due to the super icy conditions on Tramline and MLR. Going up worked well enough on our skin skis but even snowploughing back was nerve racking on the icy conditions. Stay away until we get more snow…
MOSQUITO CREEK – March 16
Another great high elevation location. Hard packed snow through the trees and then silent powder through the sights.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Nobody else around!
Chuck, absolutely beautiful! Thank you for posting such inspiring photos of your ski trips
Thanks Wendy, for the appreciative comment!
Wow! How far did you get Chuck? We had planned to ski to the campground Sunday but turned around when we saw how bullet proof the ascent was. I was worried I’d have to skin both up and down!! Maybe we should go back this weekend. How long is the climb through the trees till you reach the good snow? It’s been so long since I’ve skied this trail.
We only went 7.5 km each way (as mentioned in the description!). The climb through the trees is about 2 km, but while it is “bullet proof” there is a track in the soft snow beside it in the awkward places. Take your metal edges, and enjoy the rewards.
Thanks. Wasn’t able to see the descriptions on my phone with the photos. Could on my computer this morning. That last photo with the meadow, wow!! Tempting to go back this weekend. I think I’d have spikes in my backpack just in case for walking down those 2kms at the end. A combined hike/ski.
PLPP today. Left Visitor Centre parking lot at 11:00 at -2C, heading south on Meadow. Fresh tracksetting was wonderful. Right from the start we had control snowplowing on the downhills, although noisy. About noon the sun was doing its job and we had to watch for sunny patches on the hills suddenly slowing us down – one minor crash as a result, but no harm done! A loop was done Meadow-Woolley-Amos-Wheeler-Lodgepole-Sinclair-Meadow return to the parking lot. It was our first time on Sinclair and it was a fun trail. Calm when we started and a little breeze when we finished – bluebird day. +5C when we finished. Only 7 other skiers seen in 3 hours.
MLR, Great Divide
Four of us tested out Moraine Lake Road for just over 3 kms. but then turned around when we decided it was too icy to even contemplate the scary downhill on the frozen tracks. So, we drove over to Great Divide and headed out on something a bit flatter. We found the tracks there to be very skiable for fish scale, skin and waxed (V45) skis. The tracks were quite dark with collembola and ice near the start, but got better as we skied west. By the time we reached the divide, the tracks were very nice, but we didn’t venture all the way to the Lake O’Hara end, returning instead from the picnic shelter. It was a very noisy ski, with all the iciness, but also very quiet, people-wise. -6C to start and +5 by 2 pm.
March 16 – Redearth Creek
My plan today was to start early and ski for long enough that the trail would be soft-ish by the time I headed back down. It kinda worked. The first 5km was quite icy in the morning and although I was on classic gear, I ended up skating most of the way to the first campsite. The track (when it even existed) was so solid that my ski occasionally crossing it didn’t damage it at all. At 5km, I hit a dusting of fresh snow from last night and my wax (VR50) worked perfectly. At the Pharaoh Creek junction, I headed to the warden cabin. Plan A for the day was to see if there was a track broken on the Pharaoh Creek trail. There wasn’t one that I could see. I followed the trail up to the first switchback, but the weak crust on the surface of the snow wasn’t very fun and I slowly stepped my way back down. Then I followed the creek for ~1.5km, with somewhat better crust but still a fair bit of wallowing. I headed back to the groomed trail and headed up to Shadow Lake. Plan B was to just ski on/around the lake, but it should have been Plan A! I got there at noon and the snow on the lake still had a strong enough crust to support me skate skiing. The snow over solid ground was a bit less supportive and I broke through enough that it wasn’t fun. I skied to the far end of the lake where Chuck got some turns in a few days ago and had lunch. After some more aimless happy skiing on the lake, I headed back down. I walked the hill above the Pharaoh Creek junction, and the final hill before the parking lot. The snow had softened up a lot since the morning, but it was still quite hard and fast. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’ve got metal edges and/or you are a very strong downhill skier! I was on track skis, but my snowplow muscles were quite sore by the end and I also did one semi-controlled bail into the soft snow on the side of the trail.
No other skiers on the trail today. A couple walkers, and one runner who was driving a little remote-controlled car in front of him.
Had we taken gh and Frank’s advice we would have started later at Elk Pass. Upon arrival at 10am, one couple was walking back down to the parking lot, then another couple of gals decided not to persevere, and we became the third party to choose a Plan B. On such a stunning day, we had hopes for West Elk Meadows, but instead took in Spruce Road, Braille and Lodgepole, then Wheeler and Amos. Tracks were grey in many places and debris as per recent winds. But things definitely softened up after our leisurely lunch at Elkwood parking lot, and we managed well with our waxless skis. Fun meeting Vicki again on Wheeler. A few snow-shoers about, taking advantage of the many trails available now in PLPP.
Lovely to see you on Monday. Enjoy the rest of the season if I don’t see you again
Great Divide 1a / Peyto / Fairview to MaSid’s couch for the view.
Conditions this morning were a bit icy but softened by noon. There was some sticking in the afternoon in places that get a lot of sun but using liquid glide wax on my fish scales kick zone made for reasonable skiing except in the really sunny areas. One might want to start out late these days, say around 1100…
March 15 – PLPP -Elkwood-Wheeler-Moraine-return-Amos-Wooly-Meadow-Elkwood
While there were a few of us out there between 10:00am and 2:00 pm, conditions were so icy that I recommend anyone going out there in the next couple of days and probably to the next significant snowfall, to make their start after 1:00 pm. After that time things soften up enough to make skiing fairly comfortable. The melting is exposing previous vegetable debris to the surface. Significant amount of fresh vegetable debris in places. Skiing around this time is the usual getting out for the sun and not so much for ski conditions. Setting lower goals for distance is a good idea as it can become quite strenuous managing the difficult conditions.
Spring skiing at Mt. Shark: the report of some fresh grooming at Mt. Shark enticed us to drive up there. On the road to Whiteman’s Gap a small wet slide had come down in the morning and folks were busy clearing the road with their shovels. It was a beautiful day at Mt. Shark trailhead and quite busy. We headed out on skate skis on freshly groomed corduroy in the stadium. Continued on the 15km loop on the older grooming. The downhills were screaming fast and just manageable for me. Then the snow softened in the sun with fast glide and slow snow alternating. Snow coverage was excellent and the views fantastic. We encountered quite a few skiers on the trails. On the rough drive home found out that the road was closed just past Goat Creek due to avalanches. A Parks person informed us that the road would not reopen until 6-8pm. Our gas tank did not have enough gas to drive the long way home. We had 2 options, ski the Goat Creek Trail to Banff on our light touring skis and take the bus to Canmore or walk the road down to Grassi Lakes and back home through downtown. We opted for the walk. This was our first hike of the season and legs got tired. All in all a good adventure. Next time we’ll make sure we have plenty of gas and a shovel in our car.
That was an adventure! Good to know not all Gary’s long days are with me. Definitely will have to keep the gas tank issue in mind.
Hi Rainer: We didn’t need headlamps thanks to the time change. Next time we’ll have headlamps along, haha,
Burstall Flats: managed to get up there from Canmore by 10:00am. It was in such awful condition, that I said to my two friends, “I am driving home via Hwy 40”. Really appreciated Dan W’s warning about the condition of the road. Got to Burstall around 10:30 and temp +1. Two of us used Asnes skis c narrower skins and one on metal edged fishscales. Took shortcut down to the lake, avoiding that last ugly part of the hiking trail after the bike rack. Headed towards Burstall Pass trailhead then veered over to the AT ski track towards Robertson Glacier. Despite the heat of the sun, the snow temp was -2 at our lunch spot right in the middle of the open flat area. Enjoyed watching at least 8 AT skiers coming down the glacier while we were eating. Took off our skins and enjoyed the gentle ski out taking the same track we went up on. Managed to ski back along the flats past the weather station (?) gadget, taking the easier route back up to the main trail, despite walkers with grippers post-holing every other step on skier set tracks. Friends were happy I chose the long way home especially after hearing about the closure of road to Goat Creek due to avalanches. Main trail did not soften all that much so we put our skins back on for semi controlled ski out.
Helen did the Asnes ski have that short removable skin that fits in the centre of the ski?
CHICKADEE VALLEY – March 14
Another beautiful day at higher elevations, with a magnificent destination.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
We used climbing skins for the ascent
Hi Chuck: beautiful photos as always. You inspire us that winter is indeed not over yet, despite the very warm temperatures. Your tour to Shadow Lake looks great too. Amazing, how far young skiers on AT gear travel to find hidden slopes for turns.
Gotta keep up with the family!
Is there a separate track for skiers and snowshoers?
East Elk Pass Meadow Tour
Conditions on the Elk Pass portion of the PLPP trails were very good today, even better than I had expected.
Thursdays grooming was still in excellent shape, although the tracks were a bit slick in the morning. Plenty of grip and lots of glide with our skin skis. Fox Creek was just beautiful. Kudos again to the trail crew who obviously worked very hard to transform this typically bumpy-lumpy-off camber trail into a smooth, even single-track dream. Outstanding work!
We took Patterson from the Elk Pass trail and then Hydroline up to Elk Pass. A fast descent on Tyrwhitt took us to MaSid’s East Elk Pass route. What a lovely meadow tour to the couch headquarters 2.o. From there, we toured along the Alberta-BC boundary and south to a set of about 10 year old logging cutblocks that provide an outstanding view of the Elk Lakes area.
From there, we descended slightly, along the top edge of the cut-blocks and followed a gentle bench through a short strip of forest to the new 2020 logging cut-block. The gentle bench of terrain continued across the cut-block and provided great views of the West Elk Pass meadows and Frozen Lake area. At the north end of the cut-block, we simply continued on the gentle bench until we intersected the Alberta-BC border again. This took us to the Elk Lakes Park side of the HydroLine trail and back over Elk Pass into Alberta.
By this time, it was late enough in the day that the shaded parts of the Elk Pass trail were starting to freeze up, making them lightening fast… until you hit a sunny patch which had about as much glide as a rubber mat. The alternating fast-slow/shade-sun continued to the Blueberry Hill junction picnic table. We waited a bit for the shadows to come across the Elk Pass Trail. Once the snow in the tracks started to freeze, the ride down Elk Pass trail was consistently fast. The return ski on Fox Creek was such a treat at the end. Fabulous day! https://photos.app.goo.gl/oKZyYmx45DhUMuwM6
Nice! We contemplated returning north along the cut blocks, but opted to return to couch H2.0 for what might have been our last sit there for a while. Hopefully there will be another opportunity to check that route out this season.
Alf, is there a difference between skin skis and twin skins, in terms of conditions they are suitable for (for an intermediate slow skier). I have both waxable and waxless (fishscale) skis but am wondering if my next birthday request should be some sort of skin ski as they seem to be common amongst reporters on this site.
Donna if I may, Twin skins are made by Fischer and have two strips of skin material on either side of the middle groove.
Other ski manufacturers use skins across the whole bottom of the ski in the kick zone.
There doesn’t appear to be much difference in performance between brands. The skis really should be matched to your weight, ability and where you ski. The skin skis now can have a movable binding. Forward for more grip and back for glide. Rationale is that you can change the base on a waxed ski with different waxes. A skin ski has the same surface on the snow so changing the position of the binding helps with performance.
I fully agree with Hugh.
100% agree with what Hugh said. I also suggest that you always keep the non-skin parts of the base glide waxed, as you would with a waxable ski. And always treat the skin strips with the waterproofing treatment to prevent them from icing up in alternating wet/dry conditions or in wet snow.
Thank you !
Hidden Lake-Boulder Pass
This report is from Friday, March 12… for Chris, who asked about skiing to Hidden Lake via the Skoki trail.
Although you can certainly ski to halfway hut and follow the regular trail to Hidden Lake, there are options.
We left the Skoki trail once the trail breaks out into larger meadows. A gentle glide took us across the creek and then we followed the meadows on a gentle terrace to the west of the main creek. This wraps around the end of a slope and connects back onto the Hidden Lake Trail. Way more scenic, and it gets you off of that irritatingly bumpy Skoki snowmobile trail. https://photos.app.goo.gl/TB9qjVRqkn1PkCf88
Mt. BALL via REDEARTH CREEK and SHADOW LAKE
The tracksetter did an amazing job with what he had to work with, but the real fun was higher up!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
I’ll be back
Another Milestone – Jamie got to 1000 km today!
Jamie reached 1000 km on the 15 km green loop at Mount Shark. The Para-Olympic skiers started to train just before 9 a.m. They are an inspiration! The trails were fast this morning and beautifully track set. We skied down to the Spray River and made a stop at Watridge Lake under a perfect blue sky.
Glorious day at Elk Pass. Started at 9:30 at Boulton Bridge at -2. The tracks all the way to the pass were recently groomed and in great shape. After the pass went down Tyrwhitt and Pocaterra. Snow over the last grooming but the tracks were well set by skiers, so almost as good as the climb up. Hills were firm but enough lose snow on top for good edging (no metal edges). After went down Packers. The steepest hill was hard ice but I was still able to have control on the way down. Getting lower down the tracks became more icy and eventually a bit slushy at the very end. Returned to the car and +10 C. Overall a fabulous day, I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the nay sayers in yesterday’s blog. Also glad to have the skin skies I bought just for days like today, they worked perfect through all conditions.
Paradise Valley: but a SNOWSHOE with hubby. It was SO glorious in there. At MLR parking lot at 9:15. Went to third bridge stopping at each to enjoy the views. Trail softened by time we were exiting around noon. Met the new administrator of Calgary YYC XC Skiing and her family, and only one other person. If I will remember anything about The Year of Covid, it will have been the invasion of walkers. They have NO place on a trail like Paradise Valley and had post-holed about halfway to second bridge. They apparently had no idea where they were going and had no idea of avalanche danger, etc. I blame this on Parks office being closed during Covid and a lack of local maps which should be available at many different kiosks. Upon our return to car, we met a family with two youngsters, all equipped with snowshoes. They asked us questions as they had NO idea where to go. I suggested Snowshoe Trail #27 off Great Divide but they could not access parking there. Perfect trail of 3.5 kms for them. Groomers were just starting their track-setting as we were walking down MLR.
Hello it was great to meet you and Chris on Fairview trail. And yes I second people being on the trails with no knowledge of conditions pr equipped for challenges
Great to meet you! It was a glorious day! We chatted with two of the hikers who admitted to not knowing where they were going. Blindly hiking around in backcountry Banff in shoes and large down coats (while we were stripping down to our base layers.)
Mt. Shark conditions excellent for our 11am ski. Did mostly the green 15km loop. Good grip except for the odd icier bit and great glide. Perfect weather-2 to start. +9 to finish. Not too busy. Worst part was the Smith Dorrien highway between Goat Creek parking area to first part of Spray Lk very rutted esp in the afternoon.
CNC 12:00 -2:00 +6C Parking lots full but strangely trails were quiet. Lots of folks making use of the picnic tables along the way with lots of tailgate parties in the parking lots.
Typical Nordic Centre, great grooming.
We skied up Centennial and onto Meadowview to the Meadow and returned via Banff Trail.
Skiing was usual spring conditions. If you stay in the tracks in the sun there were slow and sucky. In the shade they became rocket fast. the transitions from sun to shade to sun can be dangerous. The skating lane was uniformly slow for skin skis but the skaters were doing well.
Still lots of snow on the ground.
Jeff and I met in the bustling parking lot, somewhere between 9 and 10 AM. Temp was -5C at the Hut. We’ve skied together a bunch this year – often reflecting on how much we love the ski up Pocaterra. The ski up to Lookout was like a dream – “mid-winter” dream-like conditions with bright sunny skies.. Newly groomed up to Packers junction – thank you Groomer – new fluff on recently tracked, the rest of the way. Turned around at noon at the Lookout junction – fearing the dreaded sun. Swooshed down in about an hour – but we were right – the slush was developing in the sunny meadows on the way back.
Back to Pocaterra Hut, just after 1 PM. Temp was +8C in the shade. Parking Lot was a zoo – tailgate parties? (BTW – Foothills Nordic – please advise your young skiers about the social distancing thing – even on the trail!)
All in all – a great ski day. But..need some snow and cold!!! Here’s hoping.
Pipestone Loop (March 12): glorious bluebird day. Tracks were in decent condition, some of the hills were a little slick, but we had a time flying down them.
Friday: Skied Castle Lookout to RR tracks starting bit later in am, and softened up nicely. Saw four gals having a fun time wearing matching Hawaii type shirts!!! Hope they got some good photos. Then later in afternoon, tried out pr of Sporten skin skis from Wilson’s on Lower Telemark westbound, then some of GD and climbed up Peyto Blue to Peyto Green. Snow was still very nice on both routes and temps maybe got to +5.
Fairview, Moraine Lake Rd
Took it easy today, and just did Fairview and up the hardest part of MLR twice. We actually passed Chris and Karl as they were coming down. Well, they flew by us on the descent as I was gasping my way up. Temperature was -3 at Lake Louise when we started at around noon, and hit its height at 8 deg (!!!!) while we were on MLR. Sections of both trails that were in the afternoon sun were getting soggy, so expect those to be pretty icy in the morning, but otherwise, the other 95% of the trails were in great shape. Lovely fresh tracksetting on Fairview, with lots of control in the descents.
When we were there, MLR hadn’t been trackset for a few days, with 3 or 4 cm of fresh snow between the tracks. The tracks themselves are in great shape, but they were getting softer as the afternoon wore on.
Mount Shark was fantastic this morning! I skied the 15 km green loop on fresh grooming and it was great all the way around. I swear they add more hills to that trail every year…..
Late morning the wind came up and scattered a few needles around, and the sun became very intense, but the snow did not seem to get too warm, so it should still be pretty good tomorrow 🙂
Today we did Blueberry Hill and Fire Lookout in Peter Lougheed. 30 km of pure fun under a blue sky. +2 at 11:00 am at Elk Pass parking lot.
The tracks were still well defined on Elk pass, Blueberry Hill and Tyrwhitt. They were getting glazed in sun exposed areas at the end of the day but mostly great. Fox creek was great coming up in the morning but had wicked ice downhill as you turn off from Elk pass so I would avoid that tomorrow.
The worst was slush and ice patches coming down the south side of Fire Lookout. We both had skin skis no metal edges but we both are solid downhill skiers. I would not recommend this tomorrow without metal edges or really late when it softens up again.
+4 at 4:00 pm.
I think tomorrow can still be a great day out there.
UPPER TRAMLINE, MORRAINE LAKE RD, LOWER TRAMLINE: Great conditions before noon today, warm blue wax was perfect. We had lunch at the lookout and after that the sun drenched tracks got wet, will be icy tomorrow.
We completed our 1000km quest today, warmer weather coming will make skiing more tricky. Celebrated with our favorite take out pizza. A pedicure would be nice too!
Thank you Skier Bob for your years of devotion, we will sure miss you but hope to see you on the trails next year. This blog has helped us enjoy our ski days so much more.
Fri Mar 12: east elk pass.
A few ice patches on fox creek. Low grip for first half of elk pass trail. Nice cold powder in the morning over M&J’s track to east elk. Excellent meadow travel. Couch H2.0 is a bit melty, but upright and functional. Up onto the ridge for some summit meadow touring and over to the cut block. The instant couch overlooking elk valley was a big hit with cheeky and Simona. The lizards lounged. Returned the same way with moist snow after lunch. Delaminated a boot sole en route but managed to make it back ok with some red green duct tape (actually blue). Most trails travelled today will be icy or glazed tomorrow. Glad we went today. A fire cooked meal topped it off nicely.
Glad to read that lizards are abundant in the empire, and that you all had a fine day in the meadows. Duct tape saves the day, red green drove me bonkers!
Cheeky might post some pics of the lizard lounge. A bit cooler than skogan, but not by much. +4 back at the car at 4pm. We contemplated skogan briefly, but ultimately had to go with a prime time destination given the circumstances.
Blue ‘snow n ice’ duct tape is bomber.
I hope there’s more days like today left in the season!
Note the insta-couch technique M&J. No shovel or saw required. All you need is deep enough and dense enough snow. Stomp a bit with skis on until supportive. Jam in the skis as back supports, lean the pack against skis along with a sit pad and boot stomp a trench for the feet, with far side being a nice foot rest.
PLPP – Tyrwhitt Loop
Today was warm, sunny, and beautiful! The tracks were all around good (WJ, Tyrwhitt, Fox Creek, Moraine) or great (Elk Pass), although the S curve on Whiskey Jack was a sheet of ice and it took all my focus and edges to climb it…not a good option on the descent. The only other glitch was that the tracks disappeared on the last 0.5km of Moraine. Temp was 1 degree when I started out just before 11am, and 4 degrees when I returned at 1:15. The snow was a bit softer on the older tracks, but not too slow at all and quite fast going down Elk Pass. Tyrwhitt views were particularly majestic today!
Great conditions this morning at PLPP. Started from Boulton Bridge and skied of Boulton Creek and Fox Creek to head up Blueberry Hill. Great grooming on all these trails, and fast before it started to get hot. Then I went up Patterson’s and then across the Lookout south to north. By this time it had gotten pretty warm, and the south side of Lookout was translucent slush pretty much all the way to the summit. North side was much better. Whiskey Jack was also turning to slush with the S bend being particularly bad. Beautiful sunny day.
Waxless metal edges, we start at Ribbon Creek parking, temp +2, and take the connector, then cross the highway. Lower Skogan is icy, and has a large ice flow to walk past. Sunburst, High Level and Skogan Loop ccw, are in great condition, as there is a bit of snow over the corduroy, that made for really good descents. Heading down after the Sunburst junction, most of the skiing is in the shade, and fine with metal edges in icy sections, until one hits a patch of sun baked snow, that jarred us close to a stop. Temp at end of ski at 1:00 was +9, no clumping on the old beater skis. Had a fantastic day, not many skiers about.
Good morning from Kananaskis , Peter Lougheed Visitor Centre.
It is -5 and overcast. Bit of blue skies and sunshine poking through!
Wonderful day! (PLPP March 11, 2021)
Did a loop through Braille- Lodgepole-Sinclair from the visitor centre, then headed up to do the Morraine-FoxCreek-Bolton Creek loop back to Bolton Parking. Moraine was icy and the southern end not a lot of fun…. but the rest was better. The run up and down Fox Creek and the return down Bolton Creek was as beautiful as it ever has been and the tracks and snow were still good!
Probably our last day for the year…a gift!
Thank you Bob for all your bright spirited, inspirational work…. during a year of challenges you have been a stalwart beacon, keeping our heads up, spirits bright and minds clear!
All the best!
We skied Pipestone on Thursday, March 10. We started at 9:30 when the temperature was -15C, by 1:30 when we finished the temperature was about 0C and starting to soften a little bit in the snow. There had been about 2-3 cm of fresh snow over the tracks. I used VR30, Blue, with mostly good success. There was a bit of slipping by the afternoon but was fine. We skied Pipestone to Pipestone Pond, then went up Merlin and skied back down to the pond. Then Hector out. Conditions were good and it was easy to ski down the hills as there was enough new snow to cover any icy sections.
Nipika south trails.
A bluebird day, +1 to +3C in the afternoon. Trails are fast and in some places icy, with a few wet spots. Just a trace of fresh snow, skied into the hard base. If it doesn’t snow in the next day, you may want to think klister for the weekend. It was still quite enjoyable to ski there.
Nothing more to add to the previous reports on the excellent skiing at Elk Pass and Blueberry today, other than some pictures:
PLPP – Hello Jean Francois, the two cars at Boulton Creek parking lot were us and we skied out to Moraine behind you. We skied south on Moraine and quit after 100 metres because it appeared to not be trackset beyond. We drove onward to Upper Lake parking lot and started on the Connector to Elk Pass.
The new grooming on the Connector and Elk Pass were excellent as mentioned. We skied Fox when we saw it was groomed and trackset. At the Boulton and Moraine junctions we looked back and saw both were trackset as per the Alberta Parks report. Fox was in very good condition with only two spots being littered with bark. (too bad woodpeckers don’t migrate). We continued to Elk Pass and decided to follow skier tracks on Tyrwhitt to the high point at the north end of the north meadow. At this point Mary went alone to ski over Lookout and meet us at the bottom of Hydroline Hill. Mary reported the south descent of Lookout was sketchy because of the shallow snow over the hard packed icy base. Ray and I back tracked Tyrwhitt and Elk Pass for a sweet run on warming snow. Ray ventured down Hydroline and Patterson. Patterson was not groomed and trackset last night.
We met Skier Bob at the top of the Elk Pass “big hill” and stopped to visit a few minutes before our controlled descent to Elk Pass parking and the Connector to the cars. My one VR40 over two VR45 applications worked well all day, except the first hour when glide was a bit slow.
The trails groomed March 10th should be good for tomorrow but then the high temperatures will take their toll for the weekend.
I was surprised as well to see Moraine with only corduroy and no tracks at the beginning of the trail. The tracks “appeared” soon after when the trail goes from a wide road to a narrow trail. The corduroy was very “crunchy” in the morning and I guess more pleasant to ski in the afternoon.
Skogan Pass: THANK YOU DARWYN. We put first tracks onto your new grooming this morning starting from Nakiska around 9:30. We decided to put our “big lady panties on” and climb the Blue route up to the top junction. I got a photo of Fran standing on top of the picnic table halfway up at that scenic viewpoint. I walked partially down the second to last hill, and we were excited to learn we were still first to track up the last 2.5 kms. to the Skogan Pass viewpoint @ end of grooming. Maybe saw a dozen skiers as we enjoyed first tracks down. Fabulous job Darwyn, but being as I thrive on snowplowing down Skogan making a few turns on my Asnes, I likely would have left a few places out of the double-tracksetting.
Lake Ohara Road. -12C at start 0C at finish.
2cm on top of the base. Snow was soft. Waxable skis were working well.
No grooming but there had been a snow machine on the trail. The trail is wide enough to snow plough.
Great mix of skiers today. We were on AT, Light touring/metal edge folks, skinny skiers and a bunch of Families towing pulks
Great bluebird day.
Has anyone skied Pipestone today or yesterday? I might head there tomorrow. Wondering how the conditions are.
BOOM LAKE – March 11
Higher elevations gave us excellent conditions with fresh snow on a hard packed trail.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
More skiers than walkers today!
Oh, you have outdone yourself with those bird pics Chuck, wonderful!
At least I may still have a life after SkierBob!
PLPP – a brisk -12C at 9:30am (Boulton Creek parking lot, only two cars)
we skied Moraine, Fox, Elk Pass, Blueberry, Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, Lookout (in & out), Pocaterra, Lynx, Amos, Wheeler.
As mentioned by Chuckley and Carl, overall excellent conditions (specially the southern trails) and a delightful day. Swix V40 blue extra worked well until I reached Lynx junction and I had to add a layer of V45 Violet to get some grip.
The lower trails (from Packers junction) did not receive new snow and the tracks are hard packed but still in excellent shape.
Blueberry was the highlight of the day!
I’m surprised you weren’t at deception pass today J.F. Perfect day for it.
Ah ah, PLPP conditions were too perfect to be ignored! Thanks for the reminder MaSid.
Fresh grooming. Understood. We will take advantage tomorrow for sure. Deception is probably still a good option for another few days. Things were melty at the start of baker creek this aft, which is sun exposed in places. Ski out at Louise should still be fine.
PLPP= Peter Lougheed Provincial Park- a bluebird day!
Skied Whiskey Jack – Lookout North, Lookout South, Hydroline to Patterson, Elk Pass to Fox Creek, and finally Boulton Creek. 750m of cumulative ascent, 17.5 km.
Excellent ski with blue wax due to 1 to 4cm new snow for the climbs. Under the new snow is very hard to icy grooming from a few days ago.
New grooming last night must have been during the snowfall as some had no new snow on top and some had up to a centimetre.
With heavy traffic in the next couple of days the steep downhill (we went up) on Whiskey Jack with a corner in it will be very tricky without steel edges – caution advised.
Thank you to the groomers – great job!!
Anyone been skiing at Mt Shark in the last day or so? Looking for an update on trail conditions. I was hoping to go out this weekend but it’s looking like its gonna be pretty warm.
Hi Darcy, there’s a good chance the Mt Shark trails will be groomed tonight, so the trails will be trackset but I expect spring skiing conditions will prevail.
I went to Mt Shark today – beautiful. I did the 15k loop + Watridge Lake. No new trackset other than around the biathlon range but there was a bit of fresh snow on old tracks that made the trip very enjoyable albeit a bit slow (likely because of the skier standing on the skis… 😉 I was on skin skis, -4 at 12:15 p.m. when I started and about the same when I finished at 2:30.
No trace of ice at all and blue sky day.
Lake Louise – Fairview – Moraine Lake Road
Must have just missed Helen, as we started from the upper parking lot just before 1400 (-2 deg). Trails are in great condition. About 4 cm of fresh snow the night before, and then another 4-5 fell while we were on MLR. And boy did it snow! We turned around before reaching the end of MLR, and by the time we got back to the Fairview/MLR junction, all traces of activity between the up and down tracks had been completely covered over. And of course, after being pelted in the face by falling snow on the way down MLR, it stopped snowing as we climbed back up Fairview. Timing is everything…
Super temperatures for wax skis today at Lk Louise (-7 to -4). Starting parked at MLR and new grooming (track-setter got a big chocolate bar) on route up MLR. Skied to top of hill then back to Fairview which was in really good shape. Always scape off at top of initial climb, and rest was easy-peasy to Peyto, which was newly T/S yesterday. Explored some of trail behind Chateau and no one around. Ran into Chris and Carl and would gladly share their photo after we both skied Lower Telemark but this goal has never been reached by me before covid and before Skier Bob’s retirement. Chris soon to reach her MILESTONE SKI. Hope I am in same parking lot with your six-pack of beer to share with you when this comes to pass in next day or two. Congratulations Chris. It is a big milestone.
Did you get your hip surgery you spoke about last season ? How is it working out for you on your return to skiing ?
Direct Anterior Approach mid June 2020. No longer need Aleve daily for hip pain during activities, and no longer goes into spasm in my favorite XC stance of snowplowing, but ongoing residual lateral nerve irritation and hip bursitis. Congrats to Martin on his 60th ski into Baker Creek!!! Today is my 73rd ski which coincides with my age. So thoughtful of you, Ken to remember and ask. This is definitely a unique and cherished component of SkierBob’s website.
Thanks for the reply Helen…met you a few years ago at Louise.
Going through constant pain to the point where I feel every stride …ski skating is out and snowplowing really kills..on a list for fixing ?
How was recovery and physio ? Any suggestions going into it all ?
PLPP Lower Trails
We started at the Vistors Centre and were pleased to see the west side trails had been groomed and trackset over night. Thus we crossed the road and skied south on Lodgepole, did the spruce road loop then crossed back across the road at Elkwood. The fresh tracks were wonderful and fast on waxless skis.
We were concerned that any tracksetting more than a day or two old would be icy. But not the case was we headed south on Wheeler then left on Amos to the lynx junction. The tracks were great and fast but not too icy. Inspired by Rainer’s recent backcountry adventours, we decided to ski the old lynx trail and avoid the hills. The crust was just strong enough to keep two skiers on top , but skier number three, a little heavier, did break through several times. It was great to ski the old trail, remembering zipping down the creek to the climb back up to the open aera. The final hill up was accomodated by taking off skis for the last several metres.
Then along the remainder of lynx to Pocaterra and then rolly road to the hut. The tracks were in great shape and fast. We dicouvered the rolly road grid for a short side trip. Then across the road and the grunt climb up lodgepole and meadow back to the Visitors centre.
Overall a very nice day in mostly sun and no new snow. Also very few cars on the road and in the parking lots and only a hand full or skiers. Get out and enjoy it if you can before the next thaw.
Anyone ski Goat Creek Canmore to Banff recently? Looking for an update on trail conditions.
We skied that route yesterday (Wednesday). It was -4 all day. Met only 4 other skiers all day. Conditions were very good down to the ‘bus shelter’ at Spray River’. From there to Banff it was very icy. Double poling and difficult climbing. I expect that that third of the trail gets more sunshine and more traffic, which would explain the conditions.
CNC 10:30-1:00 What Hugh and barbBanff wrote below, except skated the Masters World Cup 10k course: Expresso-Bow-Grey Wolf-Meadowview-Coyote-Banff trail return to start. -8 at start, light wind, bluebird sky just like Bob’s report yesterday. Skating sometimes “crunchy” but fast, smoother high up on Meadowview. After the 10k course, skated Olympic/Centennial loops, which have finally been fully groomed. Best non-icy conditions on those little used trails.
March 9 – Lake O’Hara
A quick morning ski up to Lake O’Hara. After all the great trip reports from LL, I should have known that the snow would be great but I was still surprised to see soft, cold powder on the side of the trail! There was a bit of a skier-set track in some spots, but most of the trail was flat, packed surface. Once I got to the lake, I followed tracks counterclockwise halfway around the lake and then skied back across the middle of the lake to avoid the avalanche paths on the north side of the lake. After a quick snack break on the lake shore, I headed back down. The descent was fast and fun! The snow is still soft enough to snowplow if you are uncomfortable with high speeds, though. VR40 did the trick for me today. A good way to spend the morning!
A relaxed ski today under totally blue skies. We started at the O’Hara end at 10am; -13C. Skier set tracks in about 4cm of light powder snow to the AB/BC border, wobbly in places but very pleasant. Still mostly good tracks as we approached the Lk Louise end, though now a bit slicker with occasional sections that had an icy feel. After lunch (-3C) we returned the same way – tracks mostly still good but the sun doing its work in the more exposed places. 0C at our 1:30pm finish. Where have all the skiers gone? – pretty quiet out there, saw only a dozen others all day
PLPP: Pocaterra to the Lookout junction and back
Another beautiful day on the tracks! I started out at 10am at -9 and under sunny skies, and my skins did the trick with a bit of herring boning on the steeper hills along the way. The tracks were definitely on the icy side, particularly between the trailhead and Lynx, but they became noticeably less icy after that. The way back was fast and fun, and I was back to the parking lot at 12:45 at about 0 in the sun.
CNC 11:30 1:30. Temp around 0C tracks were crystalline and sometimes powder depending on the aspect to the sun.
We used Skintecs but talked to Barb B from Banff who was going to give VR50 a go. Probably would have worked maybe up to VR55
Tracks and groomed areas are still in great seasonal shape.
The skating lanes are flattening out and getting glazed.
We skied around noon and it was barely softening up.
Bow loop, Bow trail, to junction 14 returned via Banff Trail.
yes the VR 50 worked well enough! i’m a convert. thanks Hugh
I skied up from the Stadium and then Rundle to the end. Bow on the way back.
Tracks were fine on that and didn’t notice much detritus on The tracks. also went around links.
there was a bit of needles under both skis however It didn’t cause any problem when skiing
Skied towards Skogan Pass on Monday. Bright and sunny. Parking lot for ‘Troll Falls’ less than half full. No one else was skiing. Used waxless skis but still had to do a fair bit of antideclumpulating on the way up. Down was beautiful – just enough fresh snow (1-4cm) to grab safely. Skogan Pass trail, Skogan Loop clockwise, High Level, Hummingbird Lookout, Sunburst (very fun), Ruthie’s, Hay Meadow. Set tracks are still in good shape, but a bit of fresh snow overlies them. Lower down multiuse trails are a but rough, but that’s to be expected. The Eagle counters are expecting things to pick up in a week or so.
Scott lake hill is a skating rink this morning. Cars and trucks sliding everywhere.
Lake Louise – Fairview, Moraine Lake Rd, Lake trail
Spent the late afternoon at Lake Louise, leaving from the upper Lake Louise parking lot, taking Fairview to the Moraine Lake Rd, went up part of the road, then back up Fairview and onto the lake.
As Marijan pointed out, there was 4 -5 cm of fresh snow. It was sunny and temp was -1 when we started at 1415 and -10 when we finished around 1730. Conditions were excellent, albeit a little slick on my skin skies. Better than sticking, though! Fairview was pretty worked in, but in really good condition. Moraine was the same – fresh snow over recent track setting. The areas most exposed to the sun have an ice crust just below the fresh snow, so any warmer temperatures will definitely have a negative effect on the tracks.
The lake was pretty icy, but remarkably enough, the tracks were pretty boot-free. I shifted the skies into full glide and just double poled the whole way. There aren’t many places where you can go full out on a flat surface, so it was kinda fun.
All in all, a fun, quick outing. Spoke with a number of skiers, and we all agreed the conditions were superb, and that we should enjoy it while we can!
Moraine rd today..I was first one to go up..was a bit hard but survived..I would say about 4-5 cm fresh snow over yesterday’s track setting..used fish scale skis was scared to take waxable skis..snow was slow and on some sections sticky..saw maybe 10 people that went all the way up to viewpoint..
Weather was fantastic..almost no wind,lots of sun..
LAKE OHARA ROAD: on the trail at 10 am, put warm blue wax on my bc skiis, ended up scraping a few times, the fresh snow was a bit sticky. Lots of sunshine today, really felt like spring skiing. Abundant new snow, but intermittent skier tracks due to AT travellers and a big taboggan track. Skiing down was fast and fun. Doeable on classic skiis right now although metal edges were nice. Minus 10 degrees at the lake.
Great Divide 10 am -7 and 4 cms powder. Hardly anyone on trails. Climbed up to Upper Tramline (my biggest workout of the day!) then down to MLR, up to Fairview (where we finally saw some skiers), Peyto had great skier tracks and always my favorite, GD west to Lower Telemark then back on it to car. No track-setting noted on any of these trails, but I prefer the fresh powder any day. Laggan’s closed Mon thru Wed so no Hazelnut Macaroon indulgence today. Waxing worked well after adding a warmer VR 45 over Rode -2 to -6. Grab these conditions while they are so good.
Pipestone trails with Jeff G
Our forays around the Pipestone trails could only be described as magical. The snow was both grippy and glidey against our skins, the tracks were lovely, the sunshine was warm (-7 when I arrived, 0 when I drove away), and the people we met were all as charmed by today as we were. Couldn’t be better!
Agreed, we had a great afternoon out on the Pipestone trails! We skied the “inner” and “outer” loops, successfully using VR45 grip wax throughout, thanks to the few cm of cold dry overnight snow over a firm base. On the final leg our tour- a bit after 3 and heading down the west side of Pipestone (#20), we encountered isolated icy spots on some hills, and glazed tracks here and there. Joined at the hip so to speak- Piper the retriever and I found that perfectly manageable on regular classic skis, but Jo was happy to be on her partial metal edged skis for a few short downhill sections. The shores of Mud Lake provided a perfect lunch spot, and an amazing panorama of peaks:
KICKING HORSE RIVER TRAIL – March 8
Great conditions with a couple of cms of fresh snow on top of recent tracksetting.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Nobody else seen all day!
Thanks for the infor Chuck. It was nice to meet you @ Lake Louise 09 March. We will try Kicking Horse River Trail.
Glad you found the report, and we hope you and Brit enjoy the trip.
Of course, you could show off your SkierBob ability with a Trip Report for what you thought of conditions on Lake Louise yesterday! You were skiing, Jeannette and I were not… but we saw the tracksetter out on our return.
I did pretty much all the 1 and 2 day old tracks. Amos, Wheeler, Lynx, Comealong and Pocaterra from Lynx to hut. Started 9:30, first car at Elkwood parking. -7 to start, zero at 1:00. All tracks were in great shape, though hard, with 1 cm new snow on top to make the steeper downhills fine. I used skin skis, thinking by the time I was finished, I might not like the sticky waxes. I found I did need to herringbone up some slopes that I usually can walk up with wax skis. Overall a great day, and little sign of further sun damage when I left.
PLPP – A fair bit of snow on highway 40 between Nakiska and Fortress gas station this morning. At 9:15am, only two other cars in Pocaterra parking lot and a cool -9C .
We skied Pocaterra / Come Along, Lynx, Amos, Wheeler, Whiskey Jack, Pocaterra, back on Lynx, Woolley and Meadows back to the hut.
Overall very nice conditions with a skiff of snow over recent grooming and great tracks. V40 Blue extra and later on during the day V45 Violet special did the trick.
On Whiskey Jack the steep S turn is quite icy over 10m and caution is advised, similarly Meadows once we crossed the road from the Visitor center is very very icy (tracks and downhills) and I would recommend not to try to ski this area unless you are a dare devil!
We spent 40 minutes in a traffic jam, going up Scott Lake Hill due to the semi trailer fire. It was near noon when we arrived at Pocaterra hut. Last night’s grooming on Pocterra and Lynx was beautiful so it was a shock to see the dark collembola covered iced tracks on Amos. Wheeler was slightly less icy but was still collembola covered. Packers was a big improvement but the first steep downhill was icy and difficult to control. A few skiers we met were very tentative on the icy areas, and rightly so. We would have skied further had there been more new grooming.
Pray for cooler weather, snow, and grooming.
PLPP – Pocaterra
Left parking lot at 10 am. Skied Pocaterrra, Come Along, Lynx, Amos, Wheeler, Whiskeyjack, Pocaterra loop.
Fresh track setting on all trails except 1 km of icy track on Amos.
Excellent conditions for skin skis and wax skis using purple wax. Beautiful day and parking lot was only 1/3 full.
Shark Lake. Touring on AT gear.-2to –4C We skied into Shark Lake and above through the jumble of rocks. Start point is the widening of the road into Mt Shark on the right hand side (east). Ski up the old logging road just beyond the parking and follow the trail over to Shark Lake 4.4km one way. Soft snow with quite a bit of snow shoe traffic. This could be done on non metal edge or light touring gear. There are a few long hills so good wax and decent downhill technique would be helpful. This is back country skiing with no grooming and no Avi potential.
However, there are tree wells as my wife found out. She tried to say she was doing a snow profile. Took her 6-7 minutes to get out. We always ski back country with a partner and no straps on the poles.
GREAT DIVIDE/TELEMARK: Parked at 10 am on the Yoho side, minus 1 when we started. Applied warm swix purple for grip plus a few swipes of special red swix behind my heels, worked perfect all day. Tracks were reasonably fast with no sticking. Telemark was more icy than the main trail but still good skiing. Cooler temps at the LLouise end. All in all, a great day.
Bill Milne loop – Wedge Connector – Evan Thomas
Skied this route on March 7th starting around 11am at the Kananaskis Golf Course. As a novice/beginner skier I found that the conditions made this trail difficult, including lots of debris on the trails. Icy trails made the ascents challenging and the descents too fast. There were many hikers coming up the Evan Thomas trail, and the tracks were significantly degraded from footsteps.
I am either a buyer or seller of a right or left (respectively) Swix carbon 145 ski pole after a minor mishap this weekend. Para-athletes and fellow tele-crash amateurs please reply or call and we will arrange the transaction we have both been dreaming of.
Pipestone (Lake Louise)
Conditions are quite good with fresh track-setting being done today (Sunday). Managed to get away with Rode Multigrade (0 – -2) and it was quite good. There were a few icy bits and a few slower powdery bits, but overall pretty good considering how warm is has been elsewhere.
Thanks for the informative report… many have been asking.
PLPP – Pocaterra – 7 March
Tried wax skis but quickly returned to the truck for fishscales which worked very well. The fresh tracksetting on lower Pocaterra was great. The day-old tracks on upper Pocaterra are still very sharp. Top of Whisky Jack looked good. Spoke to a couple who said Tyrwhitt was wobbly. -4C at PHut at 9 a.m., +2C at 2 p.m. Quite overcast and noticeably cooler higher up – saw zero sun damage, experienced zero icing.
West Bragg Creek: Noted the inner trails had been groomed last night. Started at 11:00 am on waxless scale skis at +3C and found trails were still very icy. Skied West and East Crystal line twice then ventured up East Crystal Line to access Loggers Loop when conditions started to soften. Traversed to the decent to West Crystal Line and turned back for a fun run back to the East Crystal Line. The groomers always do a great job and the best they can with conditions. Starting or finishing last night the track setter was grabbing the snow and the uphill / south track on East Crystal and Loggers is very rough – staying in the tracks needs to be evaluated when descending.
Tried Castle Lookout to start at 10am with temps around -2, but after an icy dodgy descent down the hill towards the road, we went another 50m and turned around as too icy and lots of debris.
Rather than apply the klister, or risk injury slipping around on icy tracks, we went instead a little higher to Lake Louise where it was -2 but much better snow. We parked at MLR, which was full and skied Tramline, Fairview and down MLR for a quick 9km loop. Conditions much better, esp on Tramline, though a little icy in spots on Fairview and MLR descents, which had seen more sun.
Used classic scaled ski and had good grip and glide most the way. Trackset was excellent. Overall, can’t ever complain about a nice day out of town in the mountains.
March 7 has anyone a report on pipestone XC ski trail?
Hey John. I ran into someone mid-day today at MLR at LL and she said Pipestone was pretty icy.
Conditions were very good the morning of March 7 at Canmore Nordic Centre. The temperature at 9 am was around -3. Skate lanes and tracks were freshly groomed and set. There was no debris on the trails.
I second this…. sounds like we arrived about the same time. We headed straight up from the stadium to Meadowview where the snow was even better. I had my waxables and my ski-buddy had waxless. I definitely had better glide but my kick wax slowly disappered over the next hour due to highly abrasive snow. The warming conditions (maybe zero’ish?) didn’t help my kick wax. Outside of the main trails though they had not groomed and there was a huge difference …. harder packed, limited grip, etc… After that I did a skate ski and had to be careful with my kick on these trails.. so I turned around and returned to ‘ole faithful Banff Trail, Meadow area trails, and Meadowview.
Quite honestly, I was amazed really how good and clean and quick the snow was. Four thumbs up!! Am hoping we can keep skiing another month!! I’m not ready to quit yet and sad that Confed might be over, with WBC not far behind it seems if I am to believe Environment Canada this evening.
Skied emerald Lake and Alluvial fan on Saturday. Used VR70 and had zero grip. Double poled the whole thing, which normally is no problem, but on the skier set tracks on the lake the poles were going through the snow to the ice (about 6”) On the way back I stuck to the official trail on the lake shore, but that was maybe the most skied out trail I have ever seen. Basically no track on a side slope. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone. There is a third trail through the trees, which I didn’t torture myself with as I had no grip. Maybe it is a bit more skiable. Did the alluvial fan 2x. Once counter clockwise and once clockwise. A word to the wise: do not do it counter clockwise. The snow is soft on the gradual uphill and it’s near impossible to double pole. And then the steeper downhill is so skied out, people were falling left and right. Going clockwise was much better. The uphill was firmed up nicely for double poling and the gradual downhill was supper fast. Emerald lake trails are still the prettiest trails you can ski, so I’m glad I went. Had some klister in the car, but was saving it for today (Sunday) for the virtual Lake Louise Loppet. Looks like I might not need it, as lake Louise appears to have gotten fresh snow. I guess we’ll see.
Good Morning! It is overcast and -7 degrees in Peter Lougheed.
Started the day on Great Divide at only -3C – with 7 centimetres of fluffy, light powder! Spring AND winter! Very sparing use of RODE violet gave great kick and glide. Nearing the halfway point along the road the groomer and tracksetter came through, and the superb skiing only got better. 🙂
Starting up Moraine Lake Road at 4 o’clock, the Swix V60 was perfect on the well-skied tracks set earlier in the day. It was much cooler at the end of the trackset, the already-great glide improved, and the afternoon light fading into sunset was a highlight of the day.
Skogan pass with Skogan loop Saturday starting around 9 am – grooming and tracksetting from March 2 was still in great condition, albeit a little slushy. Lots of debris from prior windstorms coming back through the snowpack. Downhills weren’t very fast given how sticky the snow was. By noon a squall rolled in and the snow got a bit faster.
Mount Shark conditions ?
Would love to hear about conditions at Mt Shark today. It seems they groomed most everything this morning. Was thinking of heading there tomorrow but it would be nice to know what to expect. One with skis that need waxing and the other with fishscales.
We were there yesterday (5th) – it was all groomed overnight Thursday 4th into Friday 5th am and was immaculate for both skate and classic. However, temps yesterday started at +4C at 10 am and hit +7C by 1.30 pm so it did become “springy” and as it cooled off last night, it probably crunched up a bit.
PLPP- March 6
Today would have been a perfect day to have skin skis, but unfortunately we had to resort to wax which made things difficult. We started from the Elk pass parking lot and headed up the Elk Pass trail on a skiff of fresh snow. Temperature was around +2 at 9:30 am. We continued onto Moraine but because of the wax issues gave up on Whiskey Jack and headed down Boulton which had fresh grooming. I tried a warmer wax which worked on and off along Boulton and Fox creek, then onto Elk pass trail again. Then more clumping, scraping, and cursing. We turned around at the Blueberry hill junction. I added some purple wax then we headed back to the Elk pass parking lot. I ended up having to walk up the big hill. The steep hill descent below the power line had enough snow on it which made it fine for snowploughing. Light flurries on and off all day. Skin skis would have made it all a lot easier!
Doing the LL virtual loppet tomorrow and wondering if anyone who was out there today has waxing suggestions? Starting at 10a.m and not sure what the magic ingredients will be lol. I was out there on Friday and it was icy in some areas, slushy in others and glazed and fast in yet others. I’m wondering if I should do a Klister base wax tonight and then tomorrow apply the appropriate grip wax- maybe blue 40 Extra over Carrot GS? I really don’t want to be messing with wax during the race so your Intel is appreciated!!
update: I just saw that there was 7cm on fresh snow at Lake Louise! I take back my klister comment lol and replace that with the question: were the tracks groomed before or after the most recent snow?
Hi lili, the Weather Network is predicting a low of -8 tonight, with a high of zero on Sunday, along with some light snow flurries tomorrow morning. Wax should be fine if you’re out on the trail by 10:00. It sounds like the tracksetting was done today after the recent 7 cm snowfall, but if not, it will have been skied-in by skiers today. It would be a good idea to wax after you arrive and assess the situation.
Yeah, I’m going there tomorrow as well. Based on the many weather apps that I checked, I decided against the klister base. Will wait and see. Good luck lili!
Conditions were much better than expected and we had a great race! I hope you did too!
Lake Louise had 7 cm of snow in the morning and the friendly groomers were right on it. Tramline
MLR and Fairview were all really good before and after tracksetting. The snow was a bit variable, sometimes slick or sticky but a great ski overall. The Parking lot was a bit of an ordeal with crowds visiting the lake but we got a spot on the 2nd loop through at 12:30.
PS Bob thanks for the many years of running this fabulous website.
I agree with everything that Doug said about the conditions at Lake Louise today – and my thanks to Bob as well. We got there a little earlier – around 9:30 am so it was still very stormy and we were unsure what conditions would be like. Very pleasantly surprised with the snow and tracks – wax and skin skis used. The parking situation afterwards was unbelievable.
Lake O’Hara parking lot for SNOWSHOE to Ross Lake: 15-20 cms beautiful powder on our arrival and lots of AT skiers getting ready for Narao slopes. Snowshoe’d starting east on Great Divide around 9:20 and could not even see any semblance of previous grooming. Did not see anyone for next two hours. Snow stayed soft and saw lots of X-C skiers heading up O’Hara Fire Road as we were finishing at 12:30. Noted Great Divide groomed and track-set on our departure. Many happy skiers parked at O’Hara end. Should be FABULOUS tomorrow.
Hi Helen: thank you for the inspiring report. Nice to hear that winter is making a come-back. We hope to go to LL tomorrow and check out the new snow. Must have been a great trip to Ross Lake. Strangely the LL ski resort indicates 8cm new snow within the last 7 days!
It is spring skiing in Peter Lougheed PP.
Light flurries this early afternoon have since stopped. On trails leaving from the Discovery Centre (Information) – meadow – amos – wooley are slick with lots of debris.
Temperature was +1 at 1:30 pm.
Chester Lake Trails. 10:00- 3:30 +3C -+5 C
Snow went from glazed, granular to soft snow to icy depending on the aspect of the trails. High overcast prevented higher temps and melting.
Parking lot wasn’t really all that full but there were way more hikers today than I’ve every seen. A few snowshoers and maybe only one other skier.
Four of us on AT gear with skins. We skied up to Elephant Rocks and did beacon search on our way back down.
There has been talk about foot traffic on a ski trail doing a # on the trails.
We witnessed this today. There was significant foot traffic on the ski trail.
The foot prints and post holes left were dangerous.
There was confusion amongst the hikers we met on the ski trail today.
In spite of passing signs that says ski trail only they seem to use the ski trail instead of the much firmer snowshoe trails.
There does appear to be a new sign up at the lake that says ski trail only as well as two other signs down near the start where the the ski trail branches off from the High Rockies Trail. These hikers walked right by the signs. Our descent was bit of adventure. The sun was off the trails and the snow was setting up. The footmarks made it hard to snow plough effectively. K country does know of this issue. My recommendation is that where the snowshoe trail sign as you come up from the Parking lot is placed there should be a winter hiking trail marker with an arrow directing walkers to the right (snow shoe trail)
Bill Milne, Wedge Connector, Evan Thomas – March 5; 2021
We set off at 9am this morning from the golf course with little to no others in sight. Had a great time, the trails were in great shape with some debris on the trails but in such great condition considering the warm weather.
If your thinking of going this weekend, get an early start before the sticky snow arrives in the afternoon.
What a great day it was 🙂
HECTOR LAKE – March 5
In case anyone is looking for another skier set track option during this heat, consider rising higher!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Did you ski down from the hiker sign to the lake? There must be tons of skier tracks from the crowds heading to the Pulpit. Did you still find powdery snow or crust?
Nice that you had a sunny day.
Hi Ulrike (and any other interested skiers),
Yes, as described in the photo descriptions, we skied down from the viewpoint (the only safe place to park). We were on light touring skis with metal edges. Jeannette used skins to slow the descent, I just did a bit more sidestepping in the trees. There were lots of skier and snowshoe tracks everywhere. I have just added a map to the album to show our chosen route. The route to the Pulpit would be backcountry terrain with exposure to avalanche slopes. The snow yesterday was powdery, no crust.
We returned up the hiker trail to highway 93 (where there is no parking) and walked back to our car.
Yes, we picked a good day… essential for safety and enjoyment!
Hi Chuck: thanks for the details. I missed reading your captions on your photos before. Good idea to start at the viewpoint and come back the hikers trail route. Yes, the Pulpit is quite steep terrain and you need to have your avi gear. It is a very popular place. Enjoy the new snow.
Evan Thomas – Wedge Connector – Bill Milne loop
K-Country was quite busy today!
The grooming is holding up pretty well on this loop, but warm windy weather is taking its toll. In addition to dirty sections and tree debris, hikers have started walking in the ski tracks. EvanThomas is the worst section for all of the above, and it was rather slow going early this afternoon all around. The best snow was on Bill Milne between the campground and Evan Thomas Creek.
Still a nice escape from the city 🙂
Is classic and / or Skate skiing at Confed over for now? or is it possible to hit the skate lanes an hour or two after positive temps but before it turns to slushtown?
It was perfect late morning/lunchtime yesterday (Thurs).
One more week!
Classic skied Friday at Confed morning before work when temps were sub zero. Hard fast conditions. I didn’t bother with grip wax. Good conditions if you like double poling (which I do). It turned out to be my fastest average speed for a classic outing this year.
Skate skied Saturday morning – sub zero temps again so conditions were pretty icy. There were a couple of big (frozen) puddles and a few places where I needed to pick my line to avoid the ground but coverage was still pretty good. Balance was tricky with the hard conditions – there’s probably a sweet spot in the day when conditions are in between icy and mushy.
It’s not done but I don’t think there are many days left.
ELK PASS x THREE., MARCH 4
No, not 3 laps of the perfectly groomed Elk Pass trail! Rather, a partially off-trail tour taking in West Elk pass, a return up the powerline, then down Tyrwhitt and back south again into BC at East Elk pass. Despite the warm sunny weather- my trailhead VR45 waxing served me well all day, until returning on sun exposed sections of the upper Elk Pass groomed trail, where a bit of double poling was required between downhills.
I’ll reiterate that Friday morning, there will be plenty of icy sections on todays grooming. The south facing downhill over the powerline hump may well be terrifying without metal edges! More of a trail report, below:
nice tour steve on a great weather day!
Steve, your impromptu tour of this area in such beautiful conditions warms my heart.
I also continue to have fun with trying to place the couch locations from your report. These locations should of course remain hush hush.
Skied Bill Milne from Ribbon Creek to the Hwy 40 crossing and return. Started out extremely icy, not much skiing required, just double polling. Very few people on the trails. Weather was perfect, warm with only a little wind. Snow was getting sticky on the return trip but still lots of icy bits. More snow is needed to keep the tracks skiable but we sure enjoyed the day. The two people we saw skijoring with dogs were really flying along having a great time. So glad to hear Nordiq Alberta has surpassed it’s goal. I vote to keep the excess to invest in equipment.
PLPP, Arrived at Elk Pass parking at 9 AM to a temp of -9. Beautiful skiing with a windless blue bird day on fresh pristine tracks. Stayed on the fresh grooming on Elk Pass, Hydroline, Patterson and Blueberry Hill. By noon the snow was getting “moist” on the south facing aspects of the trails. Temps were around +5 in the early afternoon. BUT !!! for anybody skiing Friday I would caution you to stay on trails that are groomed tonight. Ungroomed trails will likely be glazed, icy and chunky at least in the morning. So check the grooming report before you go.
Pristine tracks near Blueberry junction
Yoho – Alluvial Fan and Kicking Horse. It was cold last night, so the Emerald Lake trails were rock hard when I arrived around 11:00 am. It was -4 C, but warmed nicely due to a piercing sun. Despite the crispy trails, it was just beautiful. I heard several small avalanches from the high country, especially early on. I took my time because I was in picture-taking mode, and surfaces were improving a bit by the time I finished, with a temp of +5 C. After lunch, I skied the first half of Kicking Horse, down to where the trail comes back to the river. The track was a mixture of ice, wet ice and some better sections that had softened up nicely. I was surprised that my skins performed quite well on the return climb to the parking lot. But again, simply gorgeous. It was +7 C when I finished up. The problem with skiing in Yoho is that I can’t resist stopping at Laggans or Trailhead to prepare for the ride home!
sorry but I mistyped Lower Tramline when I should have typed Lower Telemark. We did not get to ski the Tramline as we were parked at the Great Divide.
Skied Great Divide and Lower Telemark today.
The temperature was -8C at 9:30 in the Parking Lot and was 2 or 3C by the end of the day. We started out with VR40 – Blue was and skied the Lower Telemark on our way to the end of the trail at the train tracks in Yoho. Lower Tramline was fast but there was some debris on the trail (it hasn’t been trackset for several days) so we had to scrape off the needles once we were back on the Great Divide. The Great Divide tracks were great and fast, coming down the hill to the Great Divide was really fast. It only took us about 20 minutes to ski from the border to the end of the trail. Coming back we put on a VR45 wax at the border as it had warmed up. I had to scape a few needles off at that point. But the tracks held up well all the way back with just one place where you could notice a bit of moisture in the snow. A very enjoyable day.
March 4 – PLPP
I skied the Cookie 42km today. There was some tree debris on the trails that haven’t been groomed since Tuesday, but not quite the “incredible amount” described on the AB Parks website. There were a couple short sections of absolute snow flea carnage on Pocaterra, where there were so many that the snow looked dirty. Tyrwhitt probably had the most tree debris and snowbombs, but it was still very skiable and beautiful as always. When I started in the morning, there were some smooth icy sections where people had snowplowed in wet snow. There was a particularly nasty spot on Whiskey Jack where I struggled to get my edges in to herringbone… wouldn’t have wanted to hit that spot on the way down before the sun started cooking it! The fresh grooming on Elk Pass was glorious. In the last ~15km, pretty much any snow that was receiving sun was getting sloppy. It’s going to be an icy morning tomorrow.
CNC 10:30 -100. +1- +5 C Spring skiing Skin skis.
Luckily the Nordic Centre has kept ahead of the weather and the skating and TS lanes are in good shape.
Some of the skating lanes are losing their corduroy. Tracks are holding up.
We used skin skis again today. However I saw some folks using wax and not appearing to be frustrated. The tracks are getting glazed and I’d have been tempted to use Rex Power grip or Special Red wax/ VR 55. Or maybe even into the dreaded k word Klister.
There is lots of skiing to be had at the Nordic Centre well into April so dont despair if Calgary’s snow is suffering.
PLPP – Fabulous sunny day for Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, Hydroline, Patterson. -6C to start at 10 AM and +6C at finish at 1:30 PM. 19.2 km and 475 metres elevation gain. Perfect conditions for skin skis on newly groomed and track set trails.
Oops – forgot to submit this yesterday. Skied Emerald Lake on 03Mar. It was a beautiful day, with temperature about +1 when we started at 1045 and +5 at its peak in the afternoon. Trail was groomed recently, and is holding up well. The lakeside track is firm but starting to show some wear. We skied across the lake as well – it’s pretty uneven, and soft, but I’ve always loved being in the middle of that lake – it’s hard to beat the views.
The Alluvial Fan was in great condition – even with the warm weather the tracksetting is still good. I was skiing with skin skis and they performed flawlessly. You do need to have glide wax on the non-kick part of your skis, though. Some people were clumping really badly, but I carry liquid glide wax with me, so applying some seemed to solve the problems.
Bill Milne-Wedge-Evan Thomas
I couldn’t resist the temptation of new grooming on yesterdays fresh snow at the Bill Milne end of the Ribbon Creek network. We started from the small parking lot at the Kananaskis Golf course. The car thermometer read +4C, so we just took the skin skis… no point in dealing with wax once it gets above zero. We did an out-and-back to the Kananaskis Village. There was a short section from just south of the ice flow detour to the start of the climb to the village, where the snow seemed soft and slow. Otherwise, both grip and glide were good. After lunch back at the car, we did the Wedge/Evan-Thomas loop. It was cloudier and windier, so the snow stayed cooler. This provided faster glide and still plenty of grip. The Evan-Thomas trail is very popular with hikers and ice-climbers, who continue farther up the Evan-Thomas valley. While there were lots of footprints, they avoided the track-setting.
With an overnight freeze, these trails should still be in good shape tomorrow. Probably very fast in the morning and softening as the day heats up. Thanks Jeff and Alex for the excellent grooming on these trails!
We did come across one odd sight. A wing and the lower legs & claws were all that was left of some raptor. Something had obviously successfully captured the hunter.
Very late afternoon ski.
For the first 1/4 km the trail is somewhat sun glazed. My VR50 wax did not do much until I got up about 50 feet in elevation then the wax started working the way it should. The higher I got the colder the snow got. Very good trackset skiing with low to low-moderate tree debris on the Pipestone trail. It did not slow me down much though. Drummond trail was generally free of tree debris. Moderately fast skiing on winter like snow for the most part.
XC skied the trails after a rank day skiing a lot of double black diamonds at Lake Louise until closing. The double blacks are very winter like currently. West Bowl was killer. The XC ski trail to Skoki was snowmobile packed with a skiff of fresh snow or wind sieve on top.
Lake Louise Trails
Skied several trails in the valley bottom and up towards the lake today. Our party had a combination of skin and fishscale waxless skis, all with good success. Started at the train station at about 10:30 and did the campground and Bow River loop. There was light debris through the campground and on the south side of the river. Then quite a bit of pine needle debris on the north side back to the train station.
Then up Tramline to Moraine Lake Road with light debris. Moraine Lake Road was in great shape with clean tracks. We turned onto Fairview and climbed up through debris again until the top when the tracks were clear again. Once we hit Tramline, skied back down to the car. Overall a very nice ski and day.
SKOGAN PASS, plus Skogan Loop, Hummingbird Plume, Sundance, etc. – March 3
Good in the am with V45/V50, sticky on the way down in the afternoon. Tracks and grooming in good shape. Met a group of walkers who post holed on the new grooming from Nakiska, past the “ski trail only” signs and up Sundance to Hummingbird Lookout. Not much damage lower down on the hard-packed trail, but much carnage higher up in the softer snow. Had a polite conversation about their trail selection but don’t think they cared much. New signage in PLPP this year seems to be doing a good job at keeping species separate and preserving the work of the track setters; maybe time for some more aggressive signage around Nakiska/Ribbon Creek as well?
PARADISE VALLEY via the Moraine Lake Road – March 3
This is a magnificent destination at this time of year, with minimal use of the glazed MLR.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
No avi danger to where we went today… We’ll be back for more!
Absolutely beautiful Chuck. Love the bird photos.
Thanks… we lucked out with the Chickadee using the Woodpecker home.
Curious about whether the creek route is in now. Normally when we get to the first bridge we cross it and then try to follow the creek to the second bridge rather than taking the hiking trail which gains more height and is harder to ski on XC skis. We usually wait until March to make sure we can ski beside the creek. Thanks.
I think you are asking about the the hiking trail between the second and third bridges??
When one first reaches the river, that is what I call the first bridge. After that you stay on the left side until just before the second bridge which is also accessed by a hiking/snowshoe trail. After crossing that second bridge the skier set trail does climb a few metres following the hiking trail and drops back down to the third bridge. Some years people do put in a lower track closer to the river, but I was not about to put it in as it would be hardly worthwhile.
After crossing the third bridge, the trail continues on the right side of the creek.
Happy ski trails,
ps Nice new profile photo!
Thanks. Thought it was time to update that profile photo.
Yes, it’s hard to explain. Mostly we just want to ski beside the creek and not in the trees. Which I think you can only do later in the season. There must be a hiking trail there in summer since there’s a bridge we cross. And yes, we like to ski along the left side of the creek. Not through the trees on the right side.
We usually only get to the second bridge. Always nervous about avalanche terrain.
I looked at the all trails map. Looks like we usually cross the creek at the junction of the Highline Trail. Then we follow the left side of the creek where there’s no trail in summer.
We ski beside the creek across beautiful meadows until we reach the second bridge (that is usually reached on a trail through the trees on the other side of the creek.) I see now where the third bridge is, and we should continue to reach it as it’s not much further. And I see you’d follow the official trail to reach it.
We’re heading out next weekend so we’ll see if it’s been skier tracked there on the far side of that first bridge.
Wed mar 3: lake Ohara
Nice day out with cheeky and Simona (first time there, always fun). Mild temps of course, mostly staying just below zero. Crossing the lake was wet in a few spots. Only did so to build a “quick couch” (skis for back rest). Then toured by the cabins towards and past the Mary lake turn off on an old track along the lake shore. Very nice. Mostly cloudy for majority of day, occasional sunny breaks. Descent was a bit grabby on the fishscales but not too bad. Some south facing hills on return were getting wet and “krunckley” when the sun popped out, so maybe some slick bits in the morning. Everything else stayed mostly cool and a bit slow until justs above the parking lot. No stickage on the fishscales all day other than the wet bits on the lake.
Castle Junction – Protection Mountain Campground return. 1A highway
9:45 first vehicle in parking lot. +2C
Started with wax VR 45, had VR 50 and 55 ready to go. Got 100M onto the trail and realized the tracks were crusty and dirty in the trees and we were needing a softer wax. Recipe for stuck needles and general slow jerky skiing. We went back and switched to Skintecs No demo skin skis today just our tried n true Skintecs.
Great grip and glide. In the trees tracks were crusty and dirty. Once out under hydro lines clean tracks and good soft snow. Some of the hills on the stretch from Castle junction to Castle Mtn lookout are a bit narrow and sketchy. We walked one hill cause it has a right hand turn at the bottom.
We had lunch sitting in the sun on the old roadbed overlooking the train tracks. After we turned around ran into two couples we know from Banff and had a good 2m chat.
We ran into three dogs on leash. They were well behaved as were their masters. parking lot at Castle Junction had 4 cars when we left.
Mar 2. Skied Moraine Lake Rd and it was surprisingly good. A dusting of fresh in the tracks and not many skiers were out, parking was readily available. Used blue wax with a bit of purple and had good grip and glide. Mostly cloudy with the odd sunny break and some flakes of snow. The trail got a bit glazed coming down but that was fine, a great day.
Skied the 42km Cookie race circuit. 7hrs travel time.
Snow cover from 2-8cm over the recent grooming. Deepest at Elk pass.
Snow was tending to ice up under the kick zones by the end. Another skier experienced the same on their fish scales.
Workable travel on violet and blue swix. The overcast skies were a bonus. Sun would have soaked last nights flakes.
0c at 3pm at Pocaterra. Light winds.
Wax season isn’t over yet!
Red Earth Creek to Shadow Lake ACC cabins.
I skied up on fresh grooming with a dusting of snow from last night. It was warm… +3 in the parking lot so conditions were a bit sticky on my glide wax equipped waxless skis but it worked better than the last hour yesterday at PLPP. I am pretty sure that I was only person into the cabins today. One other skier and a couple of walkers got as far as RE7 campground. There is lots of snow but the warm weather is not going to be good for skiing in the next few days. I have got my road bike out and ready to go…
PLPP – Tyrwhitt Loop. Six of us met at the upper Boulton Parking lot for a wonderful ski around the loop. The temperature was +1-2 C all day. We climbed Whiskey Jack in 6-10 cm of relatively dry snow, and the skier-set tracks were quite good. Tyrwhitt was as beautiful as ever. Again, the tracks were decent and the snow was a bit deeper. As often happens, the snow depth increased to about 15-20 cm on the Elk Pass side, and the tracks were less reliable. The snow had much more moisture as well, and some of us struggled a bit with clumping and icing up. My Crown fish scales with de-icer were fine all day. The descent on Elk Pass was extremely slow. Fox Creek and Moraine were reasonably clean with reliable tracks the whole way. Conditions will probably remain good through tomorrow, unless the trails receive a lot of direct sunlight. Overall, a fantastic ski with great company.
Pipestone today. It looks like ski mania has calmed down. The parking lot was maybe 2/3 full with no mania in sight. Temperatures stayed around 3 with the snow just starting to get damp. Tracksetting was mostly in good shape with some drifting in open areas. Overall nice to ski on velvet snow for a day I expect other places may not be quite as good.
March 2 – Bryant Creek warden cabin
Fresh snow on the Shark trails, but not too much.
Watridge trail was pretty wind affected, the tracks were filled in most of the way. Once I got into the trees, there was only ~3cm of new snow on the trail. A bit of tree debris mixed in with the fresh snow. The skier-set track from the bridge to the cabin was well-skied under the fresh snow, and pretty fast. Or it would have been, if I had brought the right skis… I was on Rode Viola Multigrade at first and that worked until 11am, then started clumping like crazy. I covered that up with Rode Violet, and that was better but slowly got clumpy and icy as the day went on. Zeros would have been the skis for the day, but I was lazy and didn’t want to scrape the storage wax off them… Whoops.
This was Plan B for the day – Plan A was the Palliser Cabin. Wider skis are definitely needed for the Palliser trail right now. Not even I could convince myself that track skis were going to work!
A number of weeks back (#?) I broke trail to within about 3km of the Palliser Warden Cabin. I have worked the trail quite well several times this season to at least the Spray River bridge crossing. I concentrated on packing the steeper hills beyond the Whiteman and Spray River bridges for speed reasons. I am pretty sure I ski tracked all the major hills to the cabin. I cleared all snow off the bridges each time out. If you maintain a straight ski line (like you pretty much did up to Sundance Warden Cabin) you should be able to feel my old skier tracks under the overlaying fresh snow layers. Potentially you may use track skis and your legs of steel to power your way to the cabin, but expect a 9 hour day though.
Beyond my snow covered skier track you should expect trail breaking and ski penetration as difficult as what you found after my ski trail up towards Sundance Warden Cabin. With any luck, last weeks snow would be wet and allow for some extra ski floatation. The current chinook should also add extra ski floatation but potential snow stickiness as well- unless you are an early bird. I would expect significantly less ski penetration in the trees and more in the meadows.
If I was to go up there this week, I would consider not waxing my old scratched skis if temperatures are significantly above zero. It will make for more difficulty going in but likely good speed coming out in warmer temperatures. I’ll take my speed when I can get it. In late or warm spring conditions I rarely use wax in this region
Take note that the very first part of the trail I do not ski in the hiker trench. I ski to the left going up and have packed that well for speed reasons coming down. I think you will find overall trail snow cover should be excellent.
I was going to break trail again up towards Palliser Cabin on Sunday but then at the last minute decided to head to the Panther River. My quasi mistake but I do love the Panther.
Ah, my mistake was skiing in the hiker trench! I skied a full 10 feet before giving up. I tested the snow off-trail in other spots throughout the day, and it wasn’t quite supportive enough. Last week’s snow is quite dense, but the layer it’s sitting on isn’t quite strong enough to support my weight with my little twig skis. I break through that layer and sink 30cm down, halfway through each stride.
When I skied to the Sundance cabin, the short section along the edge of the rockslide had similar snow and it was the most frustrating 200m of the trip… I’m a pretty stubborn person but a few kilometers of that is more than I’m willing to do! I’ll give it a week or two, hopefully the snow will be more solid by then. I’m glad you found the time to ski the Panther, even if conditions were a little thin!
PLPP – Slow and sticky day….
Figure 8 loop from Pocaterra Hut (0C at 9:30am and only a couple of cars), approximately 5cm of new wet snow on existing grooming. Skied Pocaterra / Come Along, Lynx, Amos, Wheeler, Whiskey Jack, Lookout, Hydroline, Fox, Moraine, Packers and back on Pocaterra to the hut.
Very limited traffic until reaching Whiskey Jack, broke trail on Lookout and Hydroline. The descent from the lookout was fun and slow until ice starting to build under my waxable skis and it was a bit like skiing on sand, I guess time to invest on skin skis! Fox and Moraine are in excellent conditions.
At the top of the lookout as I reached 1100km today I was feeling pretty good until I had a thought of Mike W’s 100km in a day and realizing my season mileage was just 11 days for Mike, pffff…
MLR – Given the warmer temperatures, we opted to drive to Lake Louise today. We lucked out again, being first up on brand new track setting on MLR, meeting the groomer coming down while we skied up. Fish scale and skin skis along with soft tracks made for a slower day than we like, especially on the downhill, but still an enjoyable outing. There was some sun, some cloud and a few snow flakes today (temp -1 to start and +2 by 1:30 pm.
CNC 9:00 AM-11:00 +1C Skin skis on 2cm of fresh snow on top of some previously groomed trails
Trails were is great shape. The CNC website was up to date.
We skied out Banff/Meadow Skied across meadow on Coyote returned via Banff.
All were groomed and TS Coyote had dust on crust skiing and the flat light when we crossed the meadow made for interesting skiing.
We skied on Demo ESkins from Salomon. Thanks to Trail Sports and Phil Villeneuve for supplying the skis. Skin skis were the ticket today. Already up to +5 at noon.
If you skied classic today you might have noticed some of the classic tracks were set wider than normal. We thought it was different but couldn’t tell until we got onto other trails where the tracks were normal. We also talked to some of the regular racers and coaches who had noticed as well.
“wider than normal” – Do you mean the bottom of each of the two tracks was wider, or that the two tracks were separated further apart? I didn’t think either was adjustable.
Mike sorry for the confusion. the individual tracks were separated further apart than the norm. Apparently one of the grooming machines has this capability. Who knew? It felt like one had to ski with your feet apart to get onto a flat ski, if that makes sense….
It is part of the competition tiller set up. One track pan has the ability to widen the distance between the tracks for a better stance going downhill. A good example would be the runway for a ski jump. Sounds like it might have been stuck open.
Thanks for bringing it up Hugh and the explanation Jeff. I noticed the wider track on Meadowview and thought it was just me. It was a bit irritating being a smaller person and it wasn’t just on the downhill sections. Otherwise CNC was great conditions. Classic skied on skin skis in the morning then got my skating skis out for the afternoon. I wanted a good ski before conditions warmed up over the next few days
Thanks for the explanation Jeff. That’s a great adjustment to have. I often have to take one ski out the track on a fast downhill, because I don’t feel I have enough stability in the tracks.
Hi all, apologies for the one trackset that was set a little wider yesterday. As Jeff explained there is a slight adjustment that can be made by accidentally pressing a button which happened on Monday night. This was fixed last night and all tracks were normal width again today! Glad you still Enjoyed your ski
FEB 28 GOAT CREEK – BANFF DAWN TO DUSK PATROL
Goat Creek Trailhead – Spray East – Goat Creek Trailhead – Spray West – Goat Creek Trailhead – Spray East/West junction – Goat Creek Trailhead
-7C cloudy and windy when I pulled into the Goat Creek trailhead at 0630 with 8 vehicles already in the lot, but no people!? Had breakfast and started skiing (on skin skis) at 0700 as soon as there was enough light. The wind died down quite a bit once I was in the trees. Fresh wolf tracks on the Goat Creek section. I was hoping to take advantage of the recent grooming, but the machine-set track between the Goat Creek trailhead and the Upper Spray bridge was pretty much non-existent. Still, the snow surface was pretty hard and provided good glide. Good shallow machine trackset from the Upper Spray Bridge to Banff. Didn’t see anyone until I was about 2km from the end of Spray East. By the time I got back to the Goat Creek trailhead the sun was out and the parking lot was filling up. Virtually everyone heading onto Goat Creek were skiers.
After a glide rewax and food and drink, I headed out for lap #2. I took Spray West this time. Despite it being about the same length as Spray East and finishing at the same elevation, Spray West has more hills and is a mind-numbing struggle to get to the end of it. By now, the weather had warmed up to about +3C. More people on the trails, but not crowded. Everyone looked like they were having a good time.
After another rewax and refuel at Goat Creek trailhead, I headed out for my last lap, as far as the Spray East/West junction. By now, the trail was deserted. I had to pull out my headlamp for the final Goat Creek section. This turned out to be a great psychological boost, as skiing by headlamp gives you the sensation of moving at a tremendous speed. Now I know how MAAD does his epic night trips! About 3km from the end, I saw headlights from the other direction that looked like the groomer was coming my way, but it was two fat bikers. Back at the trailhead, I was the only car left in the lot, the wind had died down, and stars were out with a nearly-full moon. I can now last a week without skiing until the cold weather and snow hopefully returns!
Mike, if I’m reading this correctly, you skied 103K. 38 + 38 + 27. That’s an entire season for some of us!
According to my trail routing software (which should be more accurate than GPS), it was only 37 + 37 + 26 = 100km! 😉
That’s just crazy mileage, well done Mike. It’s a good thing you didn’t have to do that extra 3k!
Thanks MaSid. As far as I can tell, I skied 100.2km. For sure, a lot easier than an extra 3km!
That’s quite an achievement,Mike! Enjoy your rest from skiing. Maybe see out on another powder ski day.
We crossed paths near the end of your day. (The 2 Asians who were heading back towards the Banff trailhead.)
Well done Mike. Great accomplishment.
PLPP: Bolton parking to Bolton / Elk Pass to Blue Berry Hill / on to Elk Pass / Tyrwhitt / Pocaterra / Lynx / Amos back to parking
I started out at 1100 with the temperature at 3. Conditions were good on a fair bit of new grooming. I was using waxless skis. After driving against the wind nearly all the way out it was pretty amazing that there was essentially no wind up at the park including up on Blue Berry Hill. The last hour was tough skiing as the snow changed from a few flurries to steady wet and very sticky snow. The temperature was -1 when I finished at 1630. Hopefully it gets cold tonight.
Cascade to Stoney Creek
This is a great ski on a blustery day, drifting only early on, minimal debris, and really good tracks. A Spruce Grouse flew across the trail, between us, as we were getting close to Stoney Creek. We skied slightly beyond the grooming onto a short, broken track to the small bridge, and then skied over to the picnic table for tea and lunch. The cloud moved in during lunch, along with a trace of flurries, this improved the snow on the return, as it was getting a bit sticky in the morning with partial sun.
PLPP – Pocaterra-ComeAlong-Pocaterra-Lynx-Amos-Wheeler-WhiskeyJack-Pocaterra
Started at the Pocaterra trailhead at 0800. Temperature was -1 when I started and +5 when I finished at about 1130. Conditions were really good but a little slick in the beginning – a touch icy. As the temperature warmed up, I started getting better grip. I was using my skin skies, and started with them in full grip mode, and as the temperatures climbed, I slowly moved them back to neutral position, giving me less grip and more glide.
There’s some debris on the trails, more so on Lynx, Amos, and Wheeler, but compared to what we’ve seen earlier in the year, it really wasn’t bad, and Pocaterra was essentially clear. The winds were coming up as I was leaving, so I expect more debris.
Trails are all still well-defined. There was a skiff of snow on Whiskey and the upper part of Pocaterra, but it was barely noticeable
It was kinda fun to see a moose had wandered along the first 100-150m of Lynx. It kept, for the most part, to the side of the trail, but still managed step into the track setting here and there. Overall though, it managed to avoid the tracks better than a lot of people…
Tunnel Mountain – Monday, March 1
Read about the trails last being trackset on Feb 27/28. Unfortunately, skied the trails at 400, 500, 600 and 700, and they were not in the best conditions – broken, windswept and stepped on. Arrived for a late ski at noonish and there were only two other cars in the campground parking lot and did not see anyone else on the trails.
Confederation Golf Course
Icy for us classic skiers. And maybe I should have biked today instead… I finished up by around 10:45 and it might be a bit better in the afternoon, once the snow softens. I mostly skied outside the tracks in order to take advantage of the few corduroy tracks and less treacherous snow. Still glad I got out and grateful for groomers and the snow machine in the sky.