Beautiful day on Elk Pass

Elk Pass

Glad to see trip reports coming in from everywhere, thanks everyone. After skiing late yesterday on Pocaterra, I was surprised to find myself being the first skier on the newly-rolled Elk Pass this morning at 10 a.m.

This skier was enjoying the fast downhill on Elk Pass

Well, actually I stayed at Stoney-Nakoda Resort last night so I had a good head start on everyone. Now with a Timmy’s on site at Stoney-Nakoda, I can enjoy a latte as I drive to the ski trails in PLPP. 

Carole arrives at the Elk Pass – Tyrwhitt – Hydroline junction

I was getting concerned about the temperature as I was driving out. It was +6 as I passed the village and still +3 at Pocaterra hut. 10K south and it had dropped to -2 at the Elk Pass parking lot. The snow did not deteriorate at all during the time I was on the trail, but from reading Tanya’s report it may have softened a bit later in the day. 

The snow temperature at the trailhead was -3 and I had good results using VR50(0/-4). It was also -3 when I took the temperature at the top of Elk Pass. 

The only negative thing I can say about the trail conditions is that the surface is uneven in a few places. Unless you’re a kid, you might find some of the fast downhills somewhat challenging(very bumpy). 

It was a pleasure to meet lots of readers on the trail today. Special thanks to Carole for the nice poem(see the trip reports). Carole and Jamie, who parked on Hwy #40 and came through the Back Door via Pocaterra and Tyrwhitt, arrived at the top of Elk Pass about the same time as I. 

Skiers at the Patterson – Elk Pass junction

I noticed there are two signs at The Elk Pass trailhead which say “Cross country skiing only. No biking, snowshoeing, winter walking, or dogs.” You know where this is going. Of course, first day of grooming I see two people in hiking boots leaving large divots in the trail. Further along, two snowshoers were coming up the trail. 

There’s a snowfall warning out for northern sections of Banff National Park. Predictions for Lake Louise are about 5 cm. is predicting 15 cm for Elk Pass over the next five days. 


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  1. It’s difficult to expect snow shoers and walkers to go on the correct trail when all the maps in the system don’t clearly show where they are separate, nor is it super obvious when looking at the physical trails (if not well versed in the trail system). When a user is not armed in advance with research and topo maps so they know where to go, what it looks like and how to navigate, it’s hard to expect them to “detour” into a narrow bush trail, especially when it has fresh snow. Easier to just follow everyone else, whether for safety or ease of use reasons. Kananaskis has tried many ways to deal with this at Chester without much success. Perhaps the latest widening of the snow shoe trail has helped. If so, perhaps similar is needed in the elk pass area. But I’m not so hopeful given the basic nature of people and expect things will get worse. In the mean time I will try to remain calm and helpful unless my risk of injury increases.

    • I stopped and had a pleasant conversation with the snowshoers. They were just starting up Elk Pass and didn’t realize the snowshoe trailhead was at the south end of the parking lot. I think it was their first time there. I pointed out where they could access the snowshoe trail. It was just up ahead and we could actually see the sign for the snowshoe trail where it intersects the ski trail, about 700 metres up Elk Pass. They were genuinely grateful for my help.

      Earlier I encountered two snowshoers at the Elk Pass/Hydroline junction who were the first snowshoers of the day and broke trail on the snowshoe trail.

      Perhaps a sign with an arrow pointing to the snowshoe trailhead would be helpful.

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