Giving new meaning to the term “single trackset”

-The second track has been obliterated by snowmobile traffic. It’s easy to see the “washboard” in the multi-use lane.-

Brewster Creek ski trail should be maintained for the safety and enjoyment of the taxpaying public who pay for Banff National park. It appears from all the evidence that it is being “maintained” for the convenience of the lodge at the end of the trail.

The problem with Brewster Creek. Notice how the snowmobile's ski is exactly where the ski track once was.

The problem with Brewster Creek. Notice how the snowmobile’s ski is exactly where the ski track once was.

Brewster Creek may have been in good shape for skiing for a day or two immediately after tracksetting, but the snowmobiles going back and forth to Sundance Lodge are destroying it.

There’s plenty of snow to work with, but it’s amazing how unsafe and unpleasant the trail can become when it is neglected. It’s now known as Brewster Freak.

Babette's first words after descending Brewster Creek

Babette’s first words after descending Brewster Creek. She then pried her legs out of the snowplow position.

The corners on some of the fast downhills have huge ridges. When snowplowing in the multi-use lane, you have the “washboard effect” from the ridges left by the snowmobile tracks. Today they were soft because they were just created, but after they get hard, it’s a death-defying act to snowplow over them.

What the???

What the??? A big hole right where the ski tracks should be.

The snowmobiles have wiped out the second track on a significant portion of the trail. A snowmobile left a huge hole in the middle of the trail at one point. It would have taken one minute of shoveling to fill it in.

The infamous ridge

The infamous ridge. It was already hard underneath the new snow.

Ascending the trail is quite pleasant, even with only one track(and no track at all) for some of the distance.

The first 2.6k on Brewster creek has a net elevation gain of 170 metres, so let the climbing begin.

Ascending this trail is okay, but descending is a death-defying feat.

Ascending this trail is okay, but descending is a death-defying feat.

I went as far as the viewpoint at 8.8K and turned around. Descending the 2.6K of steep downhill is white-knuckle most of the way.

Nice conditions on Healy Creek

Nice conditions on Healy Creek

Air and snow temperature were both -7°C. The snow was a bit on the sugary side so I used VR45(-2/-8). To get to Brewster Creek you first have to ski on Healy Creek for 2.6K.  Alternatively, you can start at the Cave and Basin but it’s 5.2K from that end.

Healy Creek was in reasonably nice shape, just a few wayward pine needles. I did not see any rocks. Of course, it’s best to walk the first 150 metres because of all the crud thrown onto the trail by snowplows where the trail is adjacent to the Sunshine road.

The Ribbon Creek Live Grooming Report indicates that Bill Milne, Evan-Thomas, and Wedge Connector were groomed today.

The temperatures are staying cool for the near future and there’s even some snow in the forecast. Things are working out reasonably well this winter. Every time we’ve had a meltdown, it snows and turns colder and the trails are rejuvenated.


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  1. As a skier and frequent tourist, I support raising the attention of appropriate parks staff in hopes to bring about some action, by way of education and enforcement of relevant rules/guidelines to know perpetrators. Not only is the destruction of parks set trails irksome and potentially hazardous to skiers, but also seems to be easily preventable.

  2. Bob
    As you seemed to raise awareness AND action in regard to Goat Creek, I think you need another mission.! This is a long standing issue with commercial operations. Also effects Redearth tracksetting, although there seems to be a greater awareness there. I think Brewster operators don’t realize that providing an excellent ski experience could actually improve there marginal winter occupancy, nor are aware of the power of the Internet.
    I would try to to start with Parks, as the “visitor experience” seems to be the priority. However you would have to deal with someone who skis.

    Good luck- we’re behind you!

  3. At the beginning of Feb 2014, Julie Canning and Jonathan Welsh (Discover Banff Tours) bought that facility from Ron Warner. At the time, when she departed as director of Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau, she is quoted as saying, “We do some of the best marketing in the country, in the world, and it’s something that has resulted in visitation numbers going up, and we have out-performed competitive destinations across Alberta and Canada.”

    It would be interesting to bring this problem to the attention of Holiday on Horseback and see if there might be a will to better accommodate the multi use needs of a fraction that is represented within that visitation demographic, in the interest of maintaining that “out-performance” status quo of course.

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