After spending the last three days in Calgary, I returned to Canmore in a snowstorm late this afternoon. My driveway already has about 8 cm of heavy, wet snow, the kind that’ll break tree branches off. The temperature is -1, but at least there’s very little wind. I’m not sure if the Nordic Centre groomers will be able to work with this snow…probably if it cools down tonight. Check early tomorrow morning to see if the Pisten-Bullys are out on the trails.
Amazing day at PLPP today. Left Calgary in full sunshine and chinook winds, turned onto highway 40 seeing a couple of flakes, and by the time we passed the Nakiska turn-off the snow was pounding down. It didn’t stop all day, and the whole area got it. The snow today was really sticky – the kids with waxless skis (freshly base-waxed) had a great time, while we struggled with snow balls under ours. One things cool off a little it will be amazing, although the track setting is buried.
West Bragg Creek
Cindy H sent in this comment on the previous thread…
Skied at West Bragg Creek today and it was a true lesson in not giving up! We had ambitions to ski Telephone Loop and after being hopeful with purple wax, the start was pretty grim. There was a lot of debris on the trail including chunks of bark (not the dog kind LOL!) I thought we’d encounter less debris on the Mountain Road but knowing that it would be even warmer we slathered on some red (I don’t own klister and never will) and attempted to ski West against the hurricane force gusts. I came to a stop, having been disappointed in not getting up earlier, not heading out to Lake Louise or PLPP and turned around – planning to console myself with a latte in Bragg Creek.
I then thought, “no way”. Yes, I knew the temps were better in Lake Louise for the day, but I had also wanted to sleep in and having commitments in the evening, West Bragg was the best option.
Realizing that I hadn’t exhausted all options, I suggested we head onto the south side trails that were E-W where I was hoping they would be less sun affected.
There sure was a lot of debris on the trail (the tracks were filled in looking like rail lines with needles in some places) but the red wax was sticking and we were off skiing!
Wanting to avoid the ice flows/water of the lower parts of Crystal Line, we went out and back along the south leg and then started heading south along the Sundog Loop. At the top we found some skier set tracks heading off on Loggers Loop and it looked great. After skiing 30 m into sun affected snow and not getting any traction, I once again turned around, opting to continue south on the Sundog Loop to the Elbow Springs junction where I decided we would turn around and have a fast ski back to the parking lot.
When arriving back at the Loggers Loop junction, I thought I had given up too soon before, so I turned off onto it much to the delight of my friend who prefers skiing off track.
What a wonderful trail! We followed it around, down through the drainage and then up along the cutblocks to the point were you could overlook the area North towards the mountain road. Not being familiar with the trail and realizing that people along the Mountain Road had reported it in poor shape, we decided to turn back and ski back to Sun Dog where we had a fun ride down the west side of the loop back to the parking lot.
We came across a more “senior” couple in front of us and watched with our mouths open as we saw a series of short radius tele turns down the hard packed trail just before the bridge. Inspiring!
Of course, lots of people were out…skiers, quite a few walkers who had obviously given up (most had stayed out of the tracks – thank you!), friendly puppies, people with wobbly legs screaming down the hills (and bailing much to our entertainment ALL having big smiles on their faces and no signs of giving up).
And so, more than one valuable lesson was learned today…there are always options (the last one being to go for a walk along the Mountain Road), and maybe pack a pair of snowshoes as a back-up (although today proved we didn’t need them)…why walk when you can glide?… 🙂
If anyone skied the Birkie today, I’d be interested in a report. I was reading on their website that it was very warm and a lot of skiers were using klister.
From CTV news:
Officials issued an avalanche warning for Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks after two skiers were partially buried by an avalanche Saturday.
The pair were skiing in Yoho National Park when they were caught in a size 3.5 avalanche on the Emerald Lake slide path, but managed to escape unharmed.
Read more High avalanche risk in mountain parks
2011/02/13: Redearth Creek: Awesome!
Ended up at Redearth creek after our first choice fell through. Turns out to have been our lucky day. Shadow lake lodge had just trackset and the snow, sun and temperature were perfect. If the temperature stays below zero, it should be nice there for a while.
Had a great day skiing Cascade from Minnewanka to the first bridge on Feb 12th. Definitely slower going due to the fresh wet snow and waxless skis, but thankfully I could avoid the waxing frustration. I had good grip but coming back down at the end was at a “leisurely” pace instead of the usual fun speed! A friend tried multiple waxes and ended up using blue special which theoretically probably shouldn’t have worked but worked like a charm!
Very helpful comments-thanks everybody. Don’t know anything about the VR waxes. Can they be used overtop of regular Swix series waxes or do you have to have “freshly cleaned” bases? Sounds much better for my budget too! The only time I am stepping out of the tracks is if clearing the way for someone coming down a hill on a single track trail, letting a faster skier pass me, or if taking a photo, getting a drink, etc. Nothing makes me crazier than people stopping in the tracks to “change clothes, have a snack, etc. and expecting skiers who are “on the move” to go around them. FYI – I am always smiling in PLPP, no matter what the conditions. Everytime I turn off the Transcanada onto the Kananaskis Road, I sing out “I’m Baaackkk!” Nothing beats being in the mountains at anytime of year!
Kurtis and Mark;
Thanks for the Birkie updates. 2005 was a klister year at the Birkie, and it was probably the only time I’ve had a pace of under 4 min/km. Everything worked for me that year. I should have learned a lesson from that one. I was stuck way back in the pack at the start of the race, and didn’t burn myself out at the beginning, as I was forced to pace myself. Ended up 2nd in the 31K.
Hitting the wax correctly is one of the variables of cross-country skiing which can be so gratifying and rewarding, but when you’re wrong, it’s frustrating and discouraging. Good thing there’s still some guessing involved in this activity. A lucky guess on wax can give us slow skiers a chance.
Did the 55km Birkie yesterday and can echo Kurtis’ comments. Great klister conditions, with lots of variability. The official recommendation at the start said that no cover would be required, but we used VR50 or VR55 as a cover and there were a few places in the race that were almost hard wax conditions so uncovered klister might have bound up a bit. Between noon and 2pm the snow conditions were changing quite rapidly – people just 15 minutes behind me with the exact wax on their skis and still lots of it left had no grip in places where I had roller-ski grip.
Re:waxing in PLPP
If going waxless, it’s nice to have a stiffer ski or the drag (and the buzzing sound) will be really annoying. Keep ’em clean though and as Peter says, stay in the tracks as much as possible. I’ve still managed to ice up with my waxless skis if I’m not careful (dirty skis and spending too much time in the fresh stuff). Again, as Peter says, the VR waxes will do a much better job in those conditions and you will actually have more control over the situation with wax than with fish scales. Just make sure that you don’t keep glopping on more wax at the beginning if you slip (give it at least 15 minutes to ski in) and I always carry some VR30 to cover my soft wax with if it starts to ice up. A big smile, because you’re in PLPP, will solve everything…
Winter wonderland yesterday in PLPP. Heavy snowfall at times, as reported previously by Will.
Re waxing: Tricky,yes,but fluorinated waxes resist moisture and icing. Swix VR45 worked fairly well. Not much grip, but iced or clumped up only if you stepped out of the track.
ditto: Never give up. We tried to ski in PLPP yesterday. It absolutely dumped snow all day long. Beautiful, but frustrating if you were on “wax” skis. We have previously learned to also bring our snowshoes with us and ended up “shoeing” the Lower Lake trail in a winter wonderland. So beautiful and quiet, it was like a walk in a cathedral. However, being a skier at heart but on a limited budget, I plan to try finding some waxless skis at a second hand shop. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what features to look for in a waxless?
I skied the 31km birkie yesterday and it was amazing. I had been praying for a race on ice klister all year and I’m glad it was finally answered. The tracks just got cold enough to freeze overnight, resulting in a very fast surface. There were at least 4 different conditions on the trail depending on when and how often the different sections had been groomed. Some sugary tracks, some straight ice and some tracks that were a bit more wet or a combination of ice and sugar. Our group was able to nail the wax using an ice klister with a hard wax cover. However, not everyone had a stiff enough ski to prevent their kick zone from dragging. Luckily I did. I had perfect kick and fast skis. I also got the perfect ammount of feeds just by taking Gatorade at every feed station. I still had enough in me at 26kms to make a big break for second place. The fastest time of the 31km race was just over 1:30, almost half an hour faster then then last year which had cold temperatures and fresh snow.