I refer to it as the Tyrwhitt loop, and today reminded me why I consider it my favourite ski trip. Lots of variety including great scenery, vigorous climbs, pleasant downhills, fast downhills, super-fast screaming downhills, and the lovely single-track on Fox Creek at the end.
The weather was decent, the snow was cold but fast, and my grip wax was good for the entire trip. I had some colder glide wax on my skis which added to the enjoyment.
I started at the Boulton Creek campground washrooms/showers so I didn’t have to contend with any of the construction detours. The air temperature was -11°C with no wind. The snow temp was -9 and VR40(-4/-12) did the trick.
The trails on this loop consist of Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Fox Creek and Moraine. When you consider this has been a low snow year, I can’t really complain about anything, but if you must know, there were a few pine needles on lower Whiskey Jack and some spruce cones in the usual places on Tyrwhitt. Otherwise, clear sailing.
I guess the weakest link on this loop would be Moraine but it still wasn’t bad. It hasn’t been trackset, but there was a decent skier-set track, and I had full control on the steep hill near the end.
The PLPP trail report indicates thin snow conditions on the lower part of Whiskey Jack, but I didn’t experience any difficulty. I spotted a couple rocks on the steep hill which would only be of concern if you were descending.
Climbing Whiskey Jack for the first time each season tells me all I need to know about my level of fitness. 🙂 Luckily, I had some social facilitation on the climb by trying to keep up with Matt and Denise.
At the tri-junction of Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, and Hydroline, some snowshoers who were heading into Elk Lakes were gathered around the picnic table. They came up the Hydroline ski trail. I could see from the untracked snow that a snowshoer has yet to use the snowshoe trail! Someone predicted this scenario.
Many skiers inquire about my new metal and plastic body parts(shoulder joint). When I started skiing in November, my shoulder would be fatigued and sore after an hour. After eight weeks of skiing, it now lasts for almost two hours, which means I did this entire loop with no problems.
The Great Divide at Lake Louise was groomed and trackset today. Moraine Lake road was done yesterday. The Castle Junction to Castle Lookout trail has been trackset but is rated as poor/fair.
I thought you couldn’t access Whiskey Jack from Boulton because of the construction? I’m heading out on Sunday and would like to start at Boulton.
I can understand why you would be confused. There are three “Boulton” parking lots. The one which is closed is the large one which we normally would have used. That leaves Boulton Bridge and the Boulton Campground by the washrooms/showers. If you start at Boulton Bridge, my understanding from the reports from skiers is that you are required to take a detour around the construction, but that it will eventually take you to Whiskey Jack. The Campground parking lot avoids any detours and gets you to the trailhead in about 100 metres, but it’s a very small parking lot and I expect it will fill up fast on the weekend.
You’d think some keen snowshoer would make it a mission to break in the snowshoe trail up to Elk Pass. It’s much a more aesthetic climb winding through the tight trees than slogging up the fire road like the rest of us, and more aerobic too. Once it’s broken, fat bikers, hikers and snowshoers could keep it pounded down and everyone would be happy, including us xc skiers.