The winning streak continues

 – Blog readers Noreen and Mike were skiing the Tyrwhitt loop in PLPP – 

I don’t remember a winter where I’ve been able to ski 23 consecutive times in such good conditions. Since Dec 1, we’ve had a stretch of perfect skiing
weather with excellent snow and trail conditions. The last time I had to contend with challenging conditions was on a warm day at Elk Pass on Nov 30, and it seems like a distant memory.

Tyrwhitt meadows in all their glory

Since then, we’ve had Goldilocks weather, not too warm, not too cold with enough snow to keep the tracksetters going. The biggest issue has been deciding on which of 20 trails to ski on any given day.

I skied at two places today, but we’ll start with the Tyrwhitt loop in PLPP. The air temperature at Boulton Creek trailhead was -5°C, with about 3 cm of fresh snow in the recent tracksetting.

Skiers on Whiskey Jack

Being late in the day, the tracks were well skied-in, but were still soft and a bit slow, and it was still snowing lightly. If I had skied in the north end of the park the tracks would probably have been faster, as they had less snow, according to Alf’s trip report. According to Pat Davis’ trip report, if I’d been out earlier, there would have been less snow on Elk Pass.

Skiers at the top of Elk pass. You can see the light falling snow against their dark clothing.

For this late in the day, it was pretty busy, with at least 20 cars in the Boulton parking lot. When I passed Pocaterra hut earlier, I could see the parking lot was still chock-a-block with vehicles, but I only met or passed 20 skiers during the two hours that I was skiing between 2 – 4 pm.

The fastest tracks of the day were on Fox creek and Boulton creek, so it was smooth sailing on those trails. The criteria I use to judge the conditions on these single-track, narrow, twisting, ultra-fun trails is how easy or difficult it is to go around the tight corners without hitting a tree or going over the creek bank. Today was about as good as it can be. The fresh snow allowed me to snowplow if necessary. There’s a lot of tree debris on a 200-metre stretch of Fox creek, but of minimal concern. None of the debris was stuck in my wax at the end.

Wedge Connector

Gloria, Coco(in backpack), Peter, and Shannon were skiing on the Wedge connector and are regular readers of this blog

I also stopped at Wedge pond on the way home to meet someone who was skiing  on the Wedge connector and Evan-Thomas. The trail has seen some use over the weekend but was still in excellent condition. In fact, with no new snow, the tracks were much faster than in PLPP. As predicted, Evan-Thomas has been beaten up by hikers and snowshoers, but it was still skiable.

More on Ivan Babikov’s incredible ski(see previous post)

Profile of the Alpe Cermis race course

While skiing today, I was thinking about Ivan Babikov’s amazing feat of endurance and strength and was wondering if we had any trails that would compare. It says they skied for 3K on a 28% grade. From the diagram, it looks to me like they skied a short portion with a 28% grade, but if my high school math is correct, the steepest stretch of any distance had a 16% grade(243 metres of elevation over 1.55K).

For comparison, a trail which we would consider quite steep, Blueberry Hill in PLPP has an average 5% grade(158 metres over 3.2K)

Final climb to Alpe Cermis

A few weeks ago, I watched my GPS as I climbed the south side of the Kananaskis Fire Lookout. After descending to the creek, it gets pretty steep. I noted in my trip report, “The steepness is relentless and punishing. Almost unimaginable if you’ve never seen it. On the first 500 metres after the creek you’ll be herringboning 95% of the time and gaining 100 metres of elevation.” That’s a 20% grade, and half a kilometre of distance.

The total distance from the creek to the top is 2.2K, with an elevation gain of 260 metres, for an average 12% grade. Try it sometime.

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