Goat Creek – marginal

Our goal at this blog is to inform readers of destinations where you’ll have fun, but we also want to hear about the places where conditions are poor so we can make an informed decision. This season, it’s more important than ever to get input from readers. Thanks to everyone who has sent in a trip report.

Thorsten, Tom and Jan all had good conditions for their ski trips today, but mine was more like Nancy’s. To make a long story short, I can’t recommend skiing the full 19K of Goat Creek. It needs a lot more snow. If you want to hear about my trials and tribulations, read on.

I was anxious to see the new bridge over the Spray River, and with the trail report saying Goat Creek was trackset, at 2 pm we headed up the Smith Dorrien to the trailhead. The first 7K of Goat Creek from the Canmore end is pretty good, except it’s going to be icy in the morning. The snow was already wet from the warm weather, and we had to use sticky wax(VR50) to get any grip. Early in the day, it’ll be fast tracks and you can’t snowplow because of the ridge in the middle. There’s already a crust on the snow.

Cheryl skied out with me for 5K then turned around and drove to Banff to pick me up. Little did I know at the time that I probably should have joined her!

Jacob and Judy were climbing the hill from the Goat Creek bridge

There’s pretty good snow cover and no rocks on the first 7k down to the Goat Creek bridge. Okay, one exposed rock on the steep hill down to the bridge, and easily avoidable.

As soon as I started up the hill on the other side, the snow conditions changed considerably. I had no grip. I applied some very sticky Swix violet which was rated for zero, and it was hardly any better, so my shoulders are very sore tonight.

After 2K of struggle, I arrived at the new bridge over the Spray River. A sturdy-looking structure it is. You can’t ski within 50 metres of it, however, because of deep ruts and lots of dirt. You’ll have to remove your skis in any event, to walk across the bridge and up the hill on the other side.

10K  to go. The snow cover was ultra-thin on this stretch of the Spray River. The tracks were un-skiable because of the dirt and ice. My wax was working better, however, and I stayed in the skating lane. A good portion of this section is downhill, which I still had to ski with caution due to the ruts and uneven snow.

I was looking forward to getting back on some better snow as I reached the Spray River East side trail. In retrospect, I’m not sure which side would have been better. The west side is not trackset and the snow cover is very thin. The East side had good snow and tracks for about 1K, then it became progressively worse with many rocks and lots of tree debris. If I dared ski in the tracks, they were icy and I had no grip.

About 300 metres from the golf course, you start descending a steep hill. It’s scraped clean, with many exposed rocks. I removed my skis and walked ’til I reached the golf course which had a reasonably good trackset trail up to the Bow Falls bridge.

I was exhausted. Soaking in the Banff hot springs partially redeemed what was a very difficult day. Take my advice and don’t go here until we get more snow.

I’m really grateful for the trip reports page. It’s nice to see that some skiers had good conditions and enjoyable trips.

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  1. Good to know Bob, I was just looking at that trail. BTW it is lightly snowing as I look out over Banff from Juniper Inn.

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