Trip Reports – Nov 2016

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

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  1. This is not a trip report but rather a query about CNC weather station reliability. Since it may be of general interest to the xc skiing community, I place it here.

    Our training group had to make a cancellation decision for the CNC this morning. At about 0730h, the Weather Network reported -22C and 15 kph gusting to 27 kph (i.e. -33 wind chill), while the CNC weather stations were reporting about -20C with light winds. As of about 10 am (when our training was to start), the Weather Network was reporting -21C with average wind speed increased to 17 kph. By comparison the CNC weather station reported about -18C with winds still below 5 kph. It would be great if we could rely on the local reporting! Thanks if anyone can shed light on this issue.

  2. Elk Pass & Lookout – Wed, Nov. 30

    Nice tour around the southern end of Peter Lougheed Park today, taking advantage of the last day to drive the road towards Highwood Pass before the winter closure. Light snow drifting down with hopefully more on the way.
    2cm of new snow on the spur trail from Hwy 40 to Tyrwhitt, smooth skier set tracks south to the Lookout junction. Continuing on to Elk Pass the trail is in rougher shape; many dips, shrubberies and small creek crossings, but okay considering the shallow snowpack. Still doesn’t seem to be enough snow for machine grooming and tracksetting, especially in the thicker trees where the snowpack is quite thin.
    From Elk Pass we headed down Hydroline; little sign of skiers on a very choppy track. Evidence of numerous hikers, snowshoers and ungulates made for a wobbly downhill run.
    The trail from Hydroline up to the summit of Lookout had a few old descent tracks under 4cm of new snow but was a bit of a plod going up; much herringboning and sidestepping. Boulton Creek is still open and requires a skis-off crossing on a narrow plank of wood. We followed cougar (lynx?) tracks all the way from Boulton Creek to the summit; the cat was moving with purpose; no deviations to chase snowshoe hare, sticking to old ski tracks as much as possible.
    The run down Lookout to Tyrwhitt was fun in a dusting of new snow; still a few hidden rocks lurking below the surface. Skidoo had been out packing Tyrwhitt and Whisky Jack; still looks thin for tracksetting but at least a good base is being packed down. We didn’t venture to the lower trails around Pocaterra, Boulton or Elk Pass parking lots, but based on the lack of tracks coming up from below and the drop in snowpack as elevation decreased, likely more snow is needed before tracksetting can/will begin?
    While it’s nice to ski on machine groomed trails, I must admit that it’s been fun skiing in the area the last few weeks, breaking trail, following tracks of others, dealing with less than perfectly groomed trails and enjoying some solitude in what is often a busy place.

  3. Flying! That’s what it felt like on Moraine Lake Road today. We started at the upper parking lot and skied down the wobbly tracks of Tramline to MLR. The tracks on Moraine Lake Road were great and although we started out on blue wax (-8C. air temp) we soon put on VR45 to give us enough grip. This worked perfectly and this was where the flying began! Looked for the pine marten I had seen on Saturday, about the 8 km. mark, but although his hidey-hole was still there, there was no sign of the little fur-face that peered out at me last time! Down-skiing was a blast, and we stopped to talk to Skier Bob part way down. Tramline had been freshly groomed, but with no trackset, it was a tiring plod up at the end of a good ski day.

  4. Had Lk. O’Hara Fire Road almost to ourselves today, temps -9 and maybe warmed to -6. Nice bench behind Warden’s Cabin to enjoy the bluebird sky view. They are working hard on the twinning construction just around the O’Hara turnoff. The Sheriffs must be working overtime handing out tickets, as have seen them every single day.

  5. Canmore Nordic Centre.

    Skiing remains limited to Frozen Thunder. Hard wax worked well on the cold snow.
    There is still bare pavement on Banff Tr. Looks like it might be quite a while before additional trails are opened.

  6. PLPP south from Hwy 40, brief report!

    Temp at Pocaterra was -9C at 11 am. There was about 2 cm fresh snow covering all the tracks from the weekend, and hundreds of fresh bunny tracks in the fresh snow.
    Road from hwy to Lookout Jct – lots of snow, lots of (not very) old tracks, no hazards, pleasant skiing on cold snow.
    Tyrwhitt from jct to picnic table — less snow, fewer tracks, lots of early season challenges: moguls, sharp mini-ravines, slightly tricky stream crossings, etc. Still pleasant but bumpy and some caution required.
    We had the place all to ourselves, which was lovely, though on the way back we saw that people on much wider skis had been up to the lookout. Given the blue skies this morning that might have been a spectacular option.
    We had hoped to eat lunch at the Tyrwhitt picnic table, but it had other ideas, as it was leaned saucily up against a tree……..

  7. We took the kids to ski MLR yesterday. It was a lot of coercing and whining from my 9 year old (the 11 and 14 yr olds were better) but we made it to the end of the trackset, where Lyle from Nipika came up behind us. He said he had to come out the LL just to ski – he had been at Silverstar on Saturday, but Dianne hadn’t been skiing and needed to get out! It was great to be back out on the snow – wish we’d get more of it as my fat bike is getting lonely.

  8. Yes, we followed Chuck’s lead on the Pipestone today. Thin coverage on the trail to the rive picnic spot (snowmobile turned around soon after that). There are a couple of rocky hill sections that we walked down, but pleasant to be out.

  9. Great grooming on Upper Tramline and an empty parking lot to boot at 10 am for 7 keen Meanderthals. Two extra-energetic ones skied all the way into the Lake. Snow cooperated with any wax at -9 to start and -3 to finish. Saw fat bike tire marks both on Tramline and MLR. Quieter day up there today-racers might have a day off, although Thunder Bay Team were hard at it. Maybe people skied the Divide or are following Chuck into Pipestone? Thanks for recent reports on O’Hara.

  10. Nov 27 PLPP south trails from Hwy 40 parking lot 9km south of Hwy gate:
    We did a short trip in the early afternoon on Pocaterra and Tyrwhitt and back, turning around about 1km before Elk Pass. Temperature was -3C to -6C, skiing on skier-tracked trails with about 3-5cm of fresh snow. The base was thin, but no hazards showing through until about the last km on Tyrwhitt where there was noticeably less snow, a bit of ice, and a bit of open water that was easily stepped over.

  11. We arrived at the Great Divide trail at 12:30pm and it was quite busy. It was warm and we started with blue wax. Grip was decent and improved after the first 2km. As we approached the Great Divide sign/shelter, we came across the groomers (both sides) and were lucky to ski the last km with fresh tracks. We switched to the purple wax on the way back which proved to be the better choice. It continuously snowed and on the way back and gliding became difficult because of the fresh snow. No bear sighting despite the bear warning. Overall, a beautiful day with many smiling faces.

  12. MLR and Great Divide, Sunday, Nov. 27

    I was a bit reluctant to drive out to Lake Louise AGAIN this weekend, but when my friend Elisabeth said that she would drive, I couldn’t resist. Thank goodness, too! As we are both early risers, we left Calgary at 6:45 and made good time to the MLR. We were not, however, the first on the trail. As the air temperature was -5, we waxed with VR40 and were happy puppies the whole way. We were down by 1100 in a solid but not really fast track. The skating lane was so perfectly groomed and giving that we skated on our classic skis whenever the spirit moved.

    Not wanting to leave such great conditions, we ate a quick lunch and headed over to the Great Divide Road where I donned on my skate skis for the first time this year. Elisabeth, who shall henceforth be called “Bottle Rocket”, started 5 minutes ahead of me on her never-cared-for-twenty-year-old Fischer classics, and stayed ahead until the big hill. We made it to the Lake O’Hara Road and back by 2 p.m. with grooming going on both out and back. Again, the snow was a bit slow but beautiful.

  13. PIPESTONE
    The first 7.5 Km to the top of the main loop on the east side has been packed.
    There are some hidden rocks under the new snow while climbing the first few kilometres, but very pleasant thereafter.
    Excellent option if you want to avoid the crowds across the highway!
    These photos might help tell the story:
    https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7gUYHgqQgWV_cwf8y

  14. Elbow Lake Trail. Sunday afternoon 27 November this trail was thinly packed snow. Lots of people were playing at the lake and hiking in this part of the high country that will be closed to car traffic soon. Always a nice short hike but leave the skis behind – dozens of exposed rocks on the trail!

  15. This report is late but serves to inform that there was light snow all Saturday as we skied the Moraine Lake road minus 6C in am and minus 2C at mid day . Lots of problems with icing on both waxable and non-wax skis. Spoke with some very fast skiers who were using VR 35. A Parks Canada groomer (Andrew?) said they were grooming MLR and GD all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He indicated they had a hard work day starting the grooming of the Pipestone loops.

  16. A group of Norseman Ski Club skied down Tramline from Lake Louise parking and up Moraine Lake Road. We used VR45 and it worked well. Conditions were very nice with light snow falling. On the way back, Andrew was track setting Tramline from Moraine Lake road so skiing back to the car was really nice.

  17. Our first trip report of the season on the Pipestone trails from Christine Pham who sent this email and photos:

    Hey Bob,
    Always enjoying your website.
    Pipestone today had lots of snow but the sticky kind.Temperature was 0 and beautiful flakes falling continuously. If temperature falls below 0 in the next couple of days , Nirvana it would be!!
    By the way, your website is respectfully quoted in the latest edition of “Ski Trails in the Canadian Rockies” by Chic Scott!
    Cheers,
    Christine

    Photos
    Pipestone

    Ski Trails in the Canadian Rockies by Chic Scott

  18. A small group of us skied from the Great Divide trail from the Lake Louise side to the Ross Lake turnoff and back. The snow was a bit sticky but waxable and the groomer passed us about 1 km out. Unfortunately his snowmobile broke down and we caught up to him about 2 km from the big hill and again walking home when we returned. There was very adequate snow with only one hazard showing that I saw except for the numerous small branches sticking up. It was busy on the trail today and everyone seemed to be really enjoying the beautiful snow as it fell.

  19. Had a lovely ski into Lake O’Hara today. Warm conditions hovering around zero I suspect; relied on last year’s wax to get me up and down. Got a little sticky near the campground – very moist snow and lots of open water in creek and alongside the road – glad to report no “glaciers” forming across the trail yet! Many people out enjoying the trail, whether on skis or snowshoes, they’re all helping to pack it down. Relatively fast ski out.

  20. First ski of the season to Boom Lake today, before the walkers got there. Started out in 5 cm of lovely fresh powder increasing to 10 cm closer to the lake. Car temp showed -3C at 1 pm, so went with the SkinTecs for an easy up and a rather slow down. Trail is an obstacle course with over a dozen open rivulets and a couple of trees across the trail to negotiate and hidden rocks lying in wait. All worth it for the silence and solitude at the lake. No wildlife sightings on the trail but just missed a doe on the drive back after dark on the lA through the Reserve, a reminder that wildlife is also active on the roads.

  21. Moraine also reset this am. good track. starting at noon, tried VR 45 , had to go to 50 which iced a bit at top. track started to glase on return, so worked well. Tram line – upper and lower repacked (no track)and covered the rocks.

  22. Peter Lougheed — starting to look promising?

    PLPP was looking somewhat promising this morning with the pretty snowflakes gently falling. It didn’t last, but I’m sure it is the beginning of something better!
    Paved bike paths and campground roads (unplowed!) are pretty good for skiing now. We parked at Elkwood and skied along Wheeler all the way to Packers jct. It was pretty nice to start with reasonably cold snow, although our poles hit pavement most of the time, one can ski with just a few cm of snow on paved trails. Sadly it did warm up and clumping became a problem. Also the last few hundred metres are not paved, so a bit iffy, but really not bad for so little snow!
    Campground roads around Elkwood also provided some pretty decent skiing, and I was informed by staff on our way out that the Elk Pass trail had just been packed by snowmobiles, so excitement is mounting………

  23. Glorious outing on Pocaterra from highway 40 today with my 7 year old and his friend. Lots of snow, beautiful skier-tracked tracks to follow (thanks Sheila) , and perfect weather for warm fingers but snow that did not stick to the skis. Couldn’t have asked for more. Only made it as far as the lookout junction with the kids. No sign of Bullwinkle, the Moose. And sadly, missed meeting Bob, the dog.

    • Sadly, I was working on the Christmas list and was not with my beloved or Bob, the dog. Tracks you followed were theirs. Glad you did not run into Bullwinkle or the bear that have been enjoying their own habitat. Winter of snow (hopefully) ahead of us so if you see a man with a neck warmer around his head and steam coming off the top and a Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier with a major attitude you will know you have run into my beloved and Bob, the dog.

  24. Nearly lost my beloved husband today. While I am the beneficiary, after 37 years of marriage, I would miss him a lot. Since this is a trip report I will now make my story applicable. My beloved and his beloved, Bob, the dog, were skiing off Highway 40 and had reached Tyrwitt. Bob, the dog, started acting strangely which is not, in itself, unusual. However, his behavior made my beloved pull out the cookies in order to get Bob, the dog, back to his happy place. Suddenly, my beloved sensed something behind him. That, the snorting, and the pawing of the ground, made my beloved turn around and see what was shattering the serene silence. There, Bullwinkle the Moose stood about 10 ft. away. His head was lowered and he was pawing the ground. My beloved could not run…he had his skies on. Bob rushed to his defense. He slipped his collar and, being a quarter of the size of Bullwinkle, stood his ground and barked ferociously. Bullwinkle ran in terror (or laughing hysterically) and all survived. Bob has redeemed himself as he has not been in the good books (mine) this last week. Matter of fact, euthanasia was on my mind. He is now a hero (to my beloved) and received steak for dinner. Purpose of this story? Lots of wildlife out and about right now so please, as we are in their home, act as a guest, behave appropriately, and, above all else, be careful out there.

    • Sheila!
      Love reading your stories, even second or third hand 🙂
      Not sure I approve of dogs chasing moose on their own turf, but there you go…………
      Leading up to a shameless plug for my new band, the Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra, which recently played in your neighbourhood. Did you catch us? Coming again to Okotoks in January……. 😉

    • I find your story very funny on so many levels. Let me explain… you bring your dog to PLPP which is not allowed. You harass wildlife and then turn around and wag your finger at us? How about taking your beloved one and a baseball bat for a walk behind a shed. Oh, irony.

  25. Continental Divide 1A :
    Great Ski Day!
    Fresh 10cm at 10:00 AM -1C VR 45 worked well but later on in the day the VR 50 we had under it, from on another day,poked through making for grabby skis.
    Groomer was just finishing up rolling 2 passes and went out with the track setter. With the fresh snow and warm temp. we stayed out of the tracks for a good 45 minutes. Regardless the tracks going out were getting trashed by the time we returned. Even the skating lane hadn’t really setup by the time we returned. I know we should be thankful for the grooming but after seeing how quickly the groomer was driving the machine today it would be nice for them to slow down. The roller left dips across all the lanes. The sidewall of the tracks were incomplete and the tracks shallow in spots. All indications of the machine traveling too quickly. Slowing down a bit would make for better trails.

  26. Castle junction: just started snowing out here an hour or two ago. An inch on the ground right now and coming down at a moderate rate.

  27. MORAINE LAKE
    With today’s excellent ski conditions, and all the reports of people going down to the lake, we thought we would check it out and get a few pictures:
    https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7gT0LcFutbErGf-mG
    Remember that this trip requires travel through AVALANCE terrain… Know the risk before you go!
    Check:
    http://www.avalanche.ca/map
    What a fun day… everyone was having a hoot.

  28. Wed nov 23: mlr (to Lake and back)
    Missed it by a day. And other trip reporters (hi Helen!). Although I did run into Peter n, who informed me of low Bob sighting probabilities. Cloudy all day with “light” flurries after lunch. Another team/club day in the morning, 50+ in the afternoon (-;
    Nothing new to report conditions wise, but there is now a a skier set double track past the end of mechanical track setting and down to the lake. Went for a stroll at lake Louise after and ran into several parties coming out from the surprise pass circuit reporting very decent conditions for this time of year.

  29. Skied Great Divide from the Lake Louise end today. We went past the BC border and turned around at the Ross Lake sign (17km return). The tracks are well used for the first 4 km or so, being washed out and wobbly in many places as Bob mentioned in his blog of yesterday. The outbound track has quite a few little branches sticking up. Further out, though, the track gets progressively more stable, and was quite pleasant to ski. Yes, we saw bear prints near the Ross Lake sign – possibly a day or two old. VR45 worked well after we added a couple of extra layers. A still, grey day with plenty of very light flurries. -8C at our 10am start; -4C at our 1pm finish.

  30. MLR today 12:00 -6C at start – 2C by 2;00pm .
    Parking lot was full with parking out to the main road.
    Lots of team skiers were finishing up and by the time we returned the lot was 1/2 full or empty depending on perspective………
    Love the dble track on the way up! Tracks are getting rattley or wobbly as S.B. says. Really noticeable on the return at higher speeds. There are getting glazed as well down near the bottom. VR 45 should have worked perfectly but we stopped to add VR 50 and then covered for a bit more grip. Hopefully the tracks are redone before the W/E.

  31. PLPP-Pocaterra/Lookout, Nov 20
    It looks as if today was the day to check out the PLPP ski trails. I also started from Highway #40, about 10km south of the winter gate, and took the short spur trail to Pocaterra Trail. I measured between 21cm and 24cm at various points along upper Pocaterra. We went up the north Lookout trail. The snowpack at the top was 31cm. Most of Lookout had pretty good coverage, except for one 300m segment about 1/3 of the way up from Pocaterra. Loose rock had been kicked up by snowshoers/walkers and areas if erosion damage left an uneven surface. Knowing it was better, just a bit lower, I straight-lined this bit, since snowplowing would have tagged a few rocks.
    As I was double poling back to the car, all I could think of was that if there was 21-31cm of snow coverage at West Bragg Creek, it would be groomed already!
    https://goo.gl/photos/pQgaG7U9yFFTgazE8

    • I was reading the trip reports from bottom up, and see that everyone who is anyone did this trail. Alf, I asked Darrell how one can recognize the turnoff from Hwy 40 (when it isn’t tracked). It’s cool to see your photos of the connector.

  32. Moraine Lake Road, started out late at about 2pm today from the trailhead to try and miss the crowds. Worked a treat with a spot in the parking lot, passed plenty of people coming the other way until the big hill and from then just the occasional skier. Tracks in good-fair condition, a few thin/wonky spots so watch your speed on the return! Light snow at the lookout at about 3pm, didnt make it to the lake but saw several coming and going so I assume the skier set tracks after the lookout are passable.

  33. I also went into Pocaterra from Hwy. 40 and then up to the Lookout. The Lookout trail still doesn’t have enough snow on it to even out the ground enough to snowplough so I walked back down. I think it would have been better on snowshoes although some super skier ahead of me left a nice set parallel turns all the way down. Temperature at the top was -4. I checked out the other side of the park on my way home but there’s still hardly any snow. There was a very thin skier-set track at Boulton Bridge and nothing but footprints at the bottom of Elk Pass.

    • Just curious. Is it obvious where to head off from Hwy40 when there are no tracks to follow?

      • Henry, there is a turnoff on the west side of the highway, a tiny parking area and a gate. From there a road leads down to where a bridge crosses the creek. This is where people manning the fire lookout drive up to it in the summer. You just follow the road up the hill to where it joins Pocaterra 😉

  34. PLPP – Visitor Center, Amos, Wheeler, Boulton Parking, W. Watson Lodge

    Went for a recon in PLPP. 3-5 cm snow on all trails, and I wonder it that could be skied on (with rock skis). A lot of dead-fall that still needs to be cleared.
    Very peaceful and desolate without any hikers or skiers around.
    https://goo.gl/photos/YTQMm6Yo23SWriYY9

  35. On Saturday Pocaterra (accessed from Hwy 40) to Tyrwhitt meadows (4 or 5-ish km one-way) had skier set tracks with good coverage on Pocaterra. Tyrwhitt, being narrower and under more trees, had thinner coverage and some tricky bits but still we didn’t hit any rocks. Hazards may be lurking close to the surface under trees but if you have rock-skis don’t hesitate to get out there.

  36. Awesome condition on moraine lake road today! Lots of people out enjoying it. Temperature hovered around -1 so I had good grip with purple wax. Get out and enjoy the good conditions!

  37. Did two nice classic skis on great divide today while my kids trained. Nice to be on some nice new snow! A bit lumpy but didn’t hit any pavement for the 6km out I skied. Lots of people skate skiing today.

  38. Lake Louise, Highway 1A – great skating on the 1A today with 2-3 cms of new on a relatively smooth base, apparently rolled yesterday. Shallow skier set track for classic but OK. Couple of thin spots, notably by the Ross Lake junction – definitely not enough to machine track-set just yet. Looked like winter with lots of snow in the trees!

  39. Did a short ski on Moraine Lake Road today (19 Nov). Got there at 08:45 and there were 3 parking spots left on the north side of the lot. Lots of people sporting their club colours.

    There had been about 2cm new snow overnight, still no track setting though. In a few spots my poles hit the pavement, so maybe there’s still not enough of a base to trackset?

    Stopped in at CNC on the way back to pick up my season pass. They are madly making snow, but still only the frozen thunder is open.

    Lots of police activity on the #1 on the way back. They had a team working the bridge at the east end of Three Sisters (the east most entrance to Canmore). They have one car up on the bridge as a spotter and they were running at least three pursuit cars along the highway on the west side of the bridge. One was writing and two more were chasing down miscreants as I went by.

    West of the Casino someone had put up a 70km construction zone and another officer was working that patch. I didn’t see any actual construction equipment or people in the area… makes you wonder.

    • Thanks for the comment! We have a photo now which shows that it was trackset, must have been later in the day. The photo was posted on Twitter around 11 a.m. Hey, it doesn’t pay to go early!

      • That’ll teach me for not sleeping in!

        Hopefully my next trip will be to something new at CNC. I’d forgotten how long the drive is to Lake Louise.

  40. Moraine Lake Road. Excellent winter conditions on the Road. Snow is perfect.There has been no track setting as yet probably because the groomers are awaiting more snow. I accessed the Road from the Chateau parking lot via the Upper Tramline. Because there is no pavement underneath the track is a little roly-poly and is saved only by the good snow. On my return up the Tramline I ran into Bob coming down and we exchanged pleasantries briefly.

  41. Thank you Anna for the bear sighting post; really glad the bear did not join me Tuesday when I skied there all by myself for five hours from O’Hara to LL end. Today I added a bear banger to my x-c backpack as I headed to Moraine Lake; the trail was delightful past the end of the grooming, with skier tracks only thin for about 200 m. I had to park on the road as even at 9:40, the lot was full. If people are keen to ski MLR on w/e, you sure might want to be there EARLY or very late like Skier Bob. I would like to suggest when people are parking in that tiny lot, to please snuggle closer to the adjacent car as today several cars each took up one and a half car spaces. MLR has been roller packed a second time so skate skiing was greatly enhanced, but the skier tracks are now more shallow than on Wednesday. Temps were great finishing off with a comfortable -4.

  42. Great Divide – 1A bear sighting

    I set out around 10am today to ski the divide. About 3 kms down the trail (after coming around a turn) I spotted a rather large grizzly bear walking in my direction. Maybe the same bear from the photos yesterday. I called Res Con and met them back at the trailhead where they were putting up signs. Saw a few people on the trail on the way back and let them all know about the bear. Hopefully they go to sleep soon!

    • Apparently was the king of the bow valley. Biggest male griz in the hood. Didn’t see him myself despite going to divide and back. He was weaving back and forth on both sides of the road using some of the side trails and only walked about a km or so of the road. As to snow conditions, lots of poles hitting pavement at east and west end, ok in the middle. Frost heaves of road not filled in yet, but no pavement showing.

      • Yikes! Big boy. That’s one way to get the heart pumping in the early season 😉

        • Looked like he even laid down for a nap right across the ski tracks, leaving a substantially large bear shaped divot (a bear angel?). The impressions of his forearms was quite something.

  43. GREAT DIVIDE / 1A – November 16
    First day on waxable nordic skis this season was a joy:
    https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7gRs19kRfmtiAAmZo
    Finally, cold crisp snow made for FAST conditions.
    Upon our return, we were astounded to find that a bear had used our outgoing tracks in a number of places near the Parks Canada Great Divide Shelter!
    No sight of Parks Canada Trail Grooming staff today.
    Drive carefully, as we saw a truck & trailer spin around 180 degrees near Castle Viewpoint.

  44. Our team was skiing on Moraine Lk road today, nice conditions at -5 for skate and classic, but only skier packed and trackset with 4 cm new since yesterday.
    No grooming seen by the time we left at noon. Matthias

  45. Great Divide: started at O’Hara end and saw a couple from Ontario (perhaps our previous poster) and it snowed ALL day. Groomer came along and did four passes of total length of Divide to pack it down using snowmobile and roller. She described it as being quite lumpy! So I kept having to break trail all the way in 4 cms (packed down snow) to 7-10 cms. of areas she had not completed. It was -3 when I started and it took me almost 5 hours to get from end to end, so quite a workout! The car had ALOT of snow on it when I got back. Ride home was a touch dicey, but hope these temps stay well below zero and more snow coming.

  46. Grooming in Progress on Highway 1A

    Encouraged by Lisa’s report yesterday from MLR, we headed up to Lake Louise this am and were pleased to see grooming in progress on the 1A. Only groomed for skating, no track set yet and still early season conditions, lumpy grooming since it hasn’t been packed down much yet, and very thin around the meadows, but good to get on real snow! It was snowing the whole time we were there (about 3 cms in 1 1/2 hours). Temp around -2C and very moist snow making for slow skating but should help set up a good base now.

  47. “Skied” Great Divide on Sunday, November 6.
    Went from 1A parking lot till ~300m past Great Divide gates.
    It was so-so. Snow was very wet, quite thin with patches of pavement in the first 1.5 km and then on the downhill to Great Divide gates.
    Seems like it was rolled in at some point though.
    Feel for those that are going to LL Early snow camp this coming weekend…
    Unless there is significant snowfall – not recommended.

    Oh, and saw a moose, wolf and bear tracks.. 🙂

  48. Hi, I skied off of Highway 40 on Sunday 30 October, on the ‘little’ trail that connects up to the PLPP trails. Got all the way up to the meadows on Tyrwhitt. There were some older foot prints that went up to the lookout, which I had also done two weeks earlier. Snow was for the most part good. Did it on wider, wax skis. Used VR45, no problems with it. However, more snow is needed.

  49. Moraine Lake Road
    Nov. 2

    After Skier Bob suggested that Parks Canada might be setting track today, we headed out for the first ski of the season. No luck with the track-setting, but there was enough snow for a decent skier-set track all the way. Now, just because there is a track doesn’t mean the work is easy. The snow was particularly finicky. Katrin tried Swix Violet and, given the air temperature at the parking lot of 2 C, this should not have been a problem but the wet, warm snow was caking under foot so badly that she scraped most of it off after the first 500 m. I used my Peltonen waxless skis and was having the same problem. But we persisted, scraping every 15 min for the next 4 km until the snow got a bit colder and the glide improved considerably.

    The trip down was slow but pleasant and we had a chance to chat with Skier Bob, who got a later start. The closing temperature was 6 C. Snow tomorrow MIGHT be OK early but, if the warm weather predictions come true, there won’t be any XC there this weekend.

  50. My beloved husband and his beloved, Bob, the dog, headed out for the 3rd time since Saturday to Highwood Pass. Weekend skiing was awesome there as we, (I), broke trail on Saturday and on Sunday passed a large group of hikers who, respectfully, kept off the skier (our) tracks from Saturday. Kudos to a bunch of young, friendly kids. Today, just because I could not go, my beloved told me he and Bob, the dog, skied in an additional 6 inches of snow on top of the weekend snow. The trails he and Bob, the dog, connected onto were Pocaterra, Whisky Jack and along Hydro Line. Gawd, I am no good at keeping secrets.

    • Good to hear there’s snow there. I’m curious as to where hubby and the dog accessed the trails you mentioned. With Hwy #40 still open, I have an inkling that he got onto Pocaterra about 10K south of the barrier where a short trail will take you right to Upper Pocaterra. I’m guessing there’s snow at the higher elevations in PLPP but not at the usual lower elevation trailheads.

      • You are absolutely right!! Too bad this was not a contest. My beloved did try to ski Little Highwood, but a bunch of yellow and black tape along with a “Bear is area, do not ski here you idiot” sign convinced him to return to our weekend stomping (oops, let’s make that skiing) grounds. Sadly, we are off to Kimberley where webcam shows not a single snowflake at the base of the hill. Guess this means Nordic trails will be a bit iffy. Taking skies anyways. Does not hurt to be optimistic!

        • Sheila!!! Lovely to hear from you!
          I, too, am curious about the Highwood Pass skiing — where were you having such a good time on the weekend??
          Sadly I’m too sick to get out now, but hopefully soon!

          • Hi Diana: I described the area as Highwood Pass. That was a little cryptic. Bob (the big guy) was much more descriptive when he said 10K south of the barrier on Hwy#40. We approach Hwy#40 from Longview as we live out in that area. Can’t believe how much time it saves us as opposed to after they close the Highway (Dec. 1st, I believe) and we have to go by Bragg Creek. Best get out there as soon though as the nasty weatherman is predicting temperatures as high as 20 by the weekend. Hope you are feeling better.

            • Thank you, Sheila. Yes, my timing is lousy 🙁

              When I think of Highwood Pass, I think of hardcore backcountry powder hounds, though I do sometimes ski around in the meadows, but that is rather limited.

  51. MORAINE LAKE ROAD – Nov 1, 2016

    Seeing the Web Cam for Lake Louise this morning, meant we had to check out the MLR again.
    Nobody had even driven into the parking area since last night’s snow… so we had first tracks!
    To see current conditions, check out this link:
    https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7gQ6yiQvLuHH7HMhk
    It appears that skidoos packed the snow yesterday, in advance of tomorrow’s planned track setting.

  52. Brandon Karchewski

    Skiied Great Divide today. Some patchy asphalt around the 1.5 km mark from the trailhead. Conditions greatly improve after this with good snow most of the way. Not trackset, but there are skiier tracks.

  53. Healy Pass – Pharaoh Creek – Redearth Creek hike today.
    Healy Pass: Two feet of fresh cold dry snow. Saw tracks left by a back country skier there.
    Redearth Creek: no snow.

  54. Skied the Great Divide this morning, taking advantage of no trail grooming yet, and taking my great little GSP skijoring! She was brilliant and we went about 8 km down the trail before taking a break and turning around. The snow is barely…but with good dog power we had a wonderful morning. A couple of moose wandered onto the trail around the first meadow, but were docile and wandered off again. Great base. Looking forward to track setting soon.

  55. West Bragg Creek
    Overnight and this morning, the West Bragg Creek trails got about 14cm at the parking lot and more at some higher elevation trails. I skied on West Crystal line and some of the links connecting to Middle Crystal Line. Head XC groomer Jeff skied on some of the south and middle trails, like Iron Springs and Elbow. All of these trails have been upgraded in the past year or two, so the tread is quite smooth and it doesn’t take much snow to make them skiable. Of course, the snow warmed and melted later in the afternoon and the ground is not frozen yet, so this snowfall won’t last.
    One bit of news to add… a new “Trails Centre”/Warming Hut has been installed at the West Bragg Creek parking lot. It’s a donated 50′ long oilfield structure that was extensively renovated and re-painted by volunteers. It is expected to be open on a regular basis, once regular ski grooming starts. It should be a great addition to the West Bragg Creek skiing (and snowshoeing / fat-biking) experience.
    The Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association is looking for volunteers who are interested in staffing the Trails Centre on a flexible, part-time basis.

  56. Moraine Lake Road

    So yes, there is new snow, but maybe not a whole foot?? And lots of melting……. 🙁
    We started just before noon, and it didn’t look too bad, but yesterday’s tracks had melted right down to the asphalt, and the remaining snow was rather crusty, making for some challenging travel conditions. Snow depth ranged from less than 1 cm to at least 20 cm, and was strangely lumpy.
    On our return, snow near the trailhead had softened considerably. We met one other couple skiing, who said it was their 5th time out already!! We also met one hiker cheerfully walking in our tracks, but the damage is probably insignificant, and I don’t really blame him.
    Back at the car, while enjoying some hot chocolate, we were honoured with a visit from the Big Guy himself 😀

    Photos:

    https://goo.gl/photos/1rnsrpDZhZUTtzNU6

    • Thanks Diana for the informative report and pictures. We’ve been too busy to get out there. Glad to hear the Big Guy checked it out for himself!

  57. Lake Louise – Great Divide

    Or, maybe we should have gone to Bow Summit??
    Trying to follow in the footsteps, I mean ski tracks, of the venerable Chuck, we never seem to quite manage it. We drove up to Lake Louise today buoyed up by all the positive reports. Well I have to say I am not nearly as optimistic about the base…… There are many large patches of completely open pavement in the first few km, and they are getting bigger by the minute. On the way out, it was possible to “ski” through the bushes along the side to avoid road rash on the skis, but on the return even I took skis off and walked some of it. Beyond the Lower Telemark loop, snow improved considerably, but we did not go much further. We met someone who had gone all the way to the Divide, and he said there were no more bare patches, but that it was getting very slushy at the Divide end, so not really worth going there. He opined that today would be the last day to ski there for a while 🙁
    I took pictures, but have not yet downloaded them, probably too depressing anyway……

    • I , for one, thank all you early ski pioneers for getting out to see what can be done at this time of year. Usually there are more naysayers than naught and there will be some who will never get out. Thanks again. This appears to be an early start to the season and we are fast approaching the date where snow in the Lake Louise area arrives for a more permanent basis.

  58. Rae Glacier – October 19
    Does This Count?

    I’m not at all certain where to put this, so I’ll leave it to the Big Guy (not THAT Big Guy as I doubt s/he is all that concerned about skiing, with so many bigger problems out there).

    After reading of Chuck, Alf and others early season successes, I decided to do a scouting trip to Rae Glacier, hoping that I might find some ski-worthy conditions for the weekend. I took my snow shoes with every expectation that they would be needed. Alas, they turned out to be nothing more than added weight. There was a dusting of snow along most of the route, hard-packed trail almost to the Glacier but, if I had wanted to do so, I could have stayed on dry rock almost the entire way. If you’re thinking about this trip, here’s my evaluation:

    I’d rather crawl it on all fours, pulling a sled of lead, than ski this right now. It is more rock than powder. But, if you want a nice hike with 400 m gain, then go for it.

    Photo1
    Photo2
    Photo3
    Photo4 It’s cold

    Cheers,
    Chip

    • Thank you for checking it out, Chip! I think if it was actual skiing, it would belong under “backcountry”, but as they say the empty set has any properties you want…..
      Sorry, I really do appreciate the info!

  59. great work getting out! Anyone had a look at the the Lake Ohara road?

  60. GREAT DIVIDE – OCTOBER 15

    First ski trip of the season was Great!
    As the Great Divide was not ploughed last week, this trail had a base that is now frozen. And yesterday it got a few centimeters of fresh snow on top of it. The first kilometre to the meadow is sun affected, but conditions improve rapidly, and were really good at the 5 or 6 kilometre mark. Pole tips did not even strike pavement then because of the ice layer underneath the snow.
    Check out the photos at:
    https://1drv.ms/a/s!AhVZXBE7vMV7gQCsPN1LDyrWK5F9
    You may even see a moose who has been active in the area.

    There was quite a bit of activity at the Moraine Lake Road, but it included Fat Tire Bikers and Hikers on a road that had been driven on since the snow (as well as ploughed for the weekend), so we were happy with our choice. Saw nobody all day!

    • Holy frijoles, Chuck! You are a maniac! I just pulled down my skis today, after 3 weeks out West. Time to get in shape!
      Chip

  61. Stephen Vermeulen

    Not a trip report, but season passes for Canmore Nordic Centre went on sale today, 10% off until 31-Oct. They don’t have a link from the CNC site, but they are available here:

    https://eservices.alberta.ca/parks-and-recreation

  62. Goat Glacier Skiing
    If there is one benefit to the chilly, wet weather that we have seen for much of September, it is that snow has started to accumulate in the higher reaches of Kananaskis Country.
    A few of us went up to the Goat Glacier from the Spray Lakes West Campground on Sept 27 and enjoyed some fine September skiing. There was about 5cm of recent snow at the toe of the glacier and 25cm near the top. The summer sun-cups and rock debris on the glacier was covered with a smooth, white blanket of snow. Granted, it was wet snow… but it IS September, after all.
    This marked our 180th consecutive month of skiing. That’s 15 years of skiing every month. Hopefully, it heralds the start of an excellent ski season!
    https://goo.gl/photos/xtXgzyDU7FruLrPF8

    • Congratulations, Alf, you are truly an inspiration!
      How did you manage such a record in this low snow year??
      Sweet photos 🙂

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