Redearth Creek: Unusual tracksetting

Crash scene on Redearth Creek

Caution: If you are a novice skier, don’t go here. It’s also not suitable for skinny skis with the present conditions. 

Dec 31, 2020: Thanks for all the trip reports. I’m glad that everyone else was having a good time. 

When I heard that Redearth Creek was trackset, I was pretty excited and looking forward to skiing to the warden’s cabin. Well, today the winning streak came to an end. I was shocked to see just how much tracksetting had been done. Never thought I’d say this, but there was too much tracksetting. I was surprised to see the double track on the entire trail, including steep hills and tight turns. 

Double tracks on a turn near the bottom of a steep downhill

It was very difficult to control my speed on the downhills with two tracks and the hard ridge in the middle. In fact, I would consider it unsafe.

I would suggest that one track on the entire trail would be sufficient, leaving a wider space for snowplowing. On the very steep hills, no track would be better. 

One track is obliterated by herringbones

That ridge! The snow in the middle, between the two tracks, was quite firm and choppy, making it difficult to snowplow. Reminiscent of the bad old days on Goat Creek before the grooming was changed. 

When I realized how difficult it would be to return, I turned around at 4.1K, right where a previous skier had crashed and left a huge divot in the trail.

The ridge in the middle

It was obvious that a few skiers were on the trail yesterday, soon after tracksetting, because I could see the footprints of skiers who walked down for fear of crashing.

The trip back down was a death-defying challenge. The term Ray Perrott coined to describe this phenomenon is “defensive skiing.” 

Footprints from skiers walking down the hills

I can’t recommend this trail as it sits, unless you are into high-risk behavior. 

The first time I skied Redearth Creek many years ago, about 3K from the trailhead a group of skiers were gathered around a woman on the side of the trail who had broken her leg. 

There is avalanche risk in two places along Redearth Creek.

Redearth Creek has many steep hills with tight turns at the bottom. I only went 4.1K, but had gained a net elevation of 200 metres. I enjoyed the climb but was getting more nervous by the minute, dreading the trip down. On the flats, the two tracks are of no issue, but Redearth Creek is mostly hills. 

The snow cover is excellent. I didn’t see one rock, not even on the first kilometre. On the way up, at 400 metres, there’s a small bridge that is elevated from the trail. On the way back, if you hit it at full speed, you will be launched into the stratosphere. Some snow shovelling on each end of the bridge would make it a lot safer. 

As I was almost back, I encountered two skiers who were just starting out. I warned them of the situation and the woman seemed genuinely concerned but the man was dismissive.  When I reached the trailhead, the wildlife gate was open. 

There is a new gate which is much easier to open and close than the previous one. 

I saw Chuck’s car in the parking lot, so I was expecting his Trip Report and photos. He was grateful for the tracksetting, but added “The ACC tracksetter needs to learn what hazards to avoid.” Keep in mind, I’m your average skier on skinny skis. Chuck is a phenom with great skill and ability. 

Happy new year!


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  1. Jim and I skied Pipestone yesterday; conditions were good with lots of snow coverage and only a few needles. The parking lot was 3/4 full but we only saw a few groups on the trail. Happy New Year everyone.

  2. Bob,
    It’s not just me… none of our group walked or fell on the trackset trail.
    Caution is advised on the descent, but with another Kohut working on anything excessively hazardous tomorrow, 2021 will be a fine!
    Happy New Year to All,


    I can also remember a much wider double trackset Redearth Creek trail in the good ole 1990’s. Back then it was double trackset with a skating lane in the middle. Today, Redearth should never be skied without metal edges unless you are a highly advanced or expert skier. Even so, you will likely have more fun on METAL edges rippen down the hills on your way back to the car to listen to some METAL.

    (Warning- a political note below. Blind yourself if you don’t like politics)

    Due to government xc ski trail cutbacks that I have been discussing for many years, pretty much all cross country ski trails in Banff and in Kananaskis are much narrower due to a lack of summer maintenance with only a few exceptions, like trails on the old 1A Highway. This has made for much more difficult skiing as narrow trails are much more challenging and require higher skiing skills to ski. Good for skiers like me but not the majority of the population. The narrow trails have resulted in me slowing down as that is what narrow trails do, similar to narrow roads. It is a little too much to do a 100 kph on these narrow trails as compared to the good ole “fat” trail days that were a part of the Olympic Legacy. The Olympic Legacy has gone down the political toilet.

    What the Banff Superintendent spends his budget on is a mystery. My requests for information in the past have been ignored for the most part. Certainly, there is far less of his budget spent on XC skiing today as compared to the last century when one considers summer trail maintenance as well. The decrease in xc spending correlates with increased controlled burns and clear cutting in Banff Park.

    (End of political stuff)

    I do know of a couple of xc skiers that skied Redearth today and they had no problems on their METAL edge skis. These were downhill skiers who have an advantage in the knowledge on how to use METAL edge xc skis properly.

    If possible, I will hit Redearth tomorrow and work on anything that may be excessively hazardous to anyone on METAL edge xc skis. But what I think is OK may be hell to someone else. I look forward to skiing the double tracks to get a rippin’ trip back to the 90’s!

    Ski ya at the Lodge or Lake at night. The moon is still shining.

  4. Hey Bob,
    Jeannette and I were NOT on metal edged skis!
    No worries, by the end of the day that harsh snow will have been beaten into submission by some Kohut Metal Edges!
    But yes, hopefully the next time they will just trackset once on any hill and leave the multi-use lane for snowplowing or herring boning.

    Well, you’re an even better skier than I thought! -Bob

  5. It was very common in the early 1990’s to have double trackset all the way to the Shadow Lake turnoff, with a much wider trail free of vegetation, especially above the Lost Horse Creek campground. A group of us skied out from the Egypt Lake shelter 30 years ago; one guy in front of me (an excellent skier) took a big wipeout at full speed over that elevated bridge, carrying a large backpack and skiing with metal edges. I tried to avoid him (I was flying too) but fell too, hurting my shoulder quite badly and shaken up. That bridge is poorly designed being too elevated of a sudden for a downhill section, especially when you pick up speed around the last sharp corner, 100 m before. That irrelevant how fast you are going down.

    • Parks Canada specializes in very poorly designed bridges. I think they may even take pride in the fact that trail use isn’t even a consideration when designing those bridges.

      • Probably designed/budgeted/decided on from afar, at some centralized office, by none skiers/trail users where bottom line is the main criteria. Unlike WBC, designed and built locally by experts in the field who actually ski/bike/hike/snowshoe and know how to make it work for the best user experience.

        • There are in fact 2 such elevated bridges, about 75 meters apart, not one. Unless you know about it, while skiing down, you need to control your speed for each of them. Almost as hazardous as the steep curvy sections on East Telephone loop, when it is scrapped off and icy.

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