Lake Louise to Banff loppet preview

Morant’s curve is one of the remarkable sights along the race course

The Lake Louise to Banff loppet is always an exciting adventure into the unknown. There is no other ski race like it, and I have been privileged to be a participant in 13 of these wondrous events starting in 2002.

Leg 3: leaving Castle Lookout and skiing towards Castle Junction

Early on, I realized the secret to enjoying this incredble experience was to go in with low expectations for trail and snow conditions, and not worry about my skis getting scratched.

Leg 3: The trail looks good at Silver City at 37K.

I’ve seen the lean years with thin snow, years with lavish abundance and beautiful tracks, brass-monkey cold to delightful, sunny blue-wax days. The time I was skiing into the teeth of an ice-cold wind with blowing snow, I still didn’t regret the entry fee. 

I’ve skied every section of the 6-leg legacy race, and doing the 71K remains one of my all-time treasured experiences. There is no other event in the skiing world which would motivate me to be on the trail at 8 a.m. 🙂

Leg 3 at 39K: Choices…Left onto the gravelly berm, or right onto twigs and bumps?

Starting this year, the loppet has been changed from 71K to 50K and no longer goes into the townsite. If you never had a chance to ski the Backswamp, you’ll have to be content to see it on video

I drove along the Bow Valley Parkway on my way to Lake Louise yesterday, stopping frequently to look at the trails for the loppet which is on Sunday. 

Leg 3 at 40K: Now you’ll start wondering what you got yourself into. 

I don’t have to tell anyone that it’s a low-snow winter and the last 14K of the 50K course reflects that reality. Some parts of the trails could be more accurately decribed as “entrails.” 

Some of my photos show trails with snowmobile packing, but I’m assuming these will be trackset, where possible, before race day. 

Leg 4 at 47K: A little dirt will make it memorable. 

The first two legs from Lake Louise to Castle Lookout should be in nice shape as they always are. Perhaps some pine needles in the forest as you ski the final kilometre to Castle Lookout. It depends on how much snow we get in the next few days. 

There is a small amount of snow(2-4 cm) in the forecast for the Castle Junction area so let’s hope it materializes.  

Leg 4 at 50K: The finish at Sawback. Thin snow conditions this year.

We’ve had a few trip reports from skiers on the Castle Lookout to Castle Junction section who mention some twigs, and pine needles in the treed part. The steep hill shouldn’t be an issue as skiers will be climbing and not descending. Helen Read wrote two days ago…

Leg 2 was always my favourite

“lots of animal tracks to be seen, but doubt the Loppet racers will take their eyes off the ski tracks, which are excellent in sections and somewhat bare or twiggy in others. Groomers made the track as wide and as great as they can given the shallow base they have to work with.”

Starting from Castle junction and heading to Johnston Canyon, you’ll be dealing with a lot of brush and gnarly conditions. On sections where the trail is next to the road, there will be dirt mixed in with the snow. 

The temperature forecasts are predicting a lovely blue wax day for Sunday. 


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  1. Hi, MaSid;

    Yes, we make the PC snowplow drivers aware of the loppet, and we pray they’ll turn their blades AWAY from the track, if close by!

  2. I’m bringing the rock skis! I hope some new snow covers things up..

  3. The shoulder of the highway, srsly!?! Thanks for the heads up!

    The forecast is calling for snow on Sunday! -Bob

    • Might be in luck with a bit of snow in the forecast every day leading up to the event. Hopefully they coordinate with the snowplows.

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