The snow temperature at Elk Pass trailhead at noon today was -9, so waxable skis performed well. Air temp was -3, but had warmed up to +4 by 3 pm.
New tracksetting could be found on Elk Pass, Hydroline, Patterson, and Blueberry Hill. Lookout had about 20 cm of new snow over Wednesday night’s tracksetting, as did Tyrwhitt. Debbie and Brent, who I met at the Elk Pass/Tyrwhitt/Hydroline junction, had just skied Tyrwhitt and said it was quite a slog and there was an avalanche south of the meadows. It was passable, but apparently there are some fallen trees across the trail.
Today I started at the Elk Pass trailhead where the parking lot was chock-a-block with vehicles and they were also lined up down the approach road. Starting out on the cold snow, it was like mid-winter conditions as I barely needed to herringbone going up the initial steep hill. Coming down the other side was easy, but on the return I noticed it had been scraped pretty bare and was hard-packed. It will be icy in the morning, so be careful. It was nice running into Ray Perrott on Elk Pass, who has already left a detailed trip report. Ray started much earlier and was already returning.
I turned left onto Hydroline, up the steep hill, with Kananaskis Fire Lookout on my agenda. Reaching the junction, I saw all the new snow with deep tracks and thought better of it, and continued on to the Hydroline/Elk Pass/Tyrwhitt junction.
I lingered for a while and chatted with a few skiers as I decided on my next move. With the beautiful weather(I was in shirtsleeves all day), I turned right around and headed back down Hydroline. The trail is in full sun, and exposed, so quite often the tracks have windblown snow in them and it can be a cold trip, but not today. Again, the final steep descent was a piece of cake.
I had a full head of steam as I reached the Elk Pass junction, so continued up Elk Pass. A lot of skiers were going up Blueberry Hill as well as coming down, with all reporting excellent conditions. I continued on to the top of Elk Pass, had a snack, turned around and retraced my steps once again.
The sunny patches were getting soft as I coasted down Elk Pass, but not to the extent where they slowed you down so much that you would faceplant. The big hill was still in excellent shape and I have a video of the quick trip down. I’ll post it sometime in the future.
Tracksetting will occur tonight and the temperature is cooling to -8, so conditions should be wonderful tomorrow(Saturday) morning. The forecast high is only +2, so it just may stay “waxable” all day.
Good news from tracksetter John at Lake Louise who left a comment. Apparently tracksetting is still happening there, and it’s staying cool.
In the photo gallery, I’ve included a couple photos of Blueberry Hill which were taken by Steve Riggs.
Bob, in the seventh photo (the kneecap view of the Hydroline trail), I just want to confirm with anyone who would know that the peak you are facing is Mt. Kerr.
I believe that the diagonal snow ramp we can see in the photo is the summer trail that takes one up and to the left into a meadow that is just chock-a-block covered in flowers at the right time of year.
I’m off by long shot. Just found a map.
It’s the trail up the ramp on the east side of Indefatigable that I was thinking of. It presents great views (and flowers!).
And here’s a short youtube video where the hydro line which Bob was skiing is quite prominent.
(and when typing ‘Kerr’ I had meant ‘Kent’.)
Friday’s skiing and weather gave us a perfect day for what was likely the final XC skiing of the season for Jo and I, as we will focus on backcountry turns and touring for the next month. It should be good as we have a deep snowpack at treeline and below, as evidenced by the towering walls of snow along Elk Pass trail. Of note is the closure of Tyrwhitt trail, in the aftermath of an avalanche off Mount Tyrwhitt on Friday. Don’t know if it reached the trail, but it was an impressive size. I’ve got a picture of the fracture line in my Picasa album of our day at Blueberry-
Thanks again Bob for all your efforts in providing us with the latest in XC ski conditions. I’ll likely post some reports of our April backcountry adventures, but no more “secret spots” ; )