Saturday update

What a sight to behold! Today’s new track setting and grooming to Elk Pass and Blueberry Hill was superb. Too bad we can’t see more frequent grooming. It’s expensive, but, WOW, is it worth it! -Anna

Thanks for all the trip reports! I was surprised that Elk Pass parking lot wasn’t even full at 11 a.m. I guess when there’s no snow in Calgary, combined with warm weather, people don’t think about skiing. 

With the lack of new snow, I was happy to hear that some new trails were trackset at Lake Louise today. The Chateau grooming team was able to trackset Upper Telemark and Peyto, and it appears that Ulrike was one of the first skiers to try it out. A word of caution, these are not easy trails and early season conditions exist “normal early season hazards like A LOT of twigs, a few rocks, with some stumps thrown in for good measure.”


The weather forecasts couldn’t be more contradictory. is predicting 15 cm for PLPP next week, while Snow-forecast is predicting zero. The Weather Network is somewhere in the middle with around 7 cm. Not much is in store for Calgary or West Bragg Creek. 

Secret backcountry trail. Photo by Steve Riggs

Backcountry reports

This blog’s focus is on trackset trails, but the backcountry reports have become a nice “sideline” and all the reporters are exceptional writers. I really enjoy reading about the amazing adventures and seeing the photos which are included. I hope we continue to hear from Chuck, Alf, Steve, MaSid, Normand, Charles, Gord F, Aqua Toque, Make Alberta a Democracy….

Ahhhh, Mr Democracy. I know there are some people who gloss over MAD’s reports because they disagree with making political statements on here. I’ve had emails asking me to address the issue.

While I would prefer that people use their real names, or at least non-political names, I will make allowances in order to read Democracy’s trip reports, and keep them coming. His trips are incredible enough, but he does many of them in the dark. I can picture the sparks flying from his metal edges while doing turns on steep downhills with thin snow cover. Today’s report was something special when he related how he was helping the lady on Healy Pass. I laughed out loud when I read this…

“I am glad she survived the Healy Creek/Pass trail to ski another day in these Great Canadian Rocky Mountains. At least I did not find her body on the trail. But at night I do miss things.”

I’m not encouraging it, but if you’re going to use a political name, mix some humour into your reports and I will probably allow them. 


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    Skier Bob, I will try to put some humor into the reports but when you have had as many concussions as I have had which have destroyed the humor cells, that could be a pretty tall order especially after an 8 to 10 hour ski or so. The old worn out brain just has enough cells in it to make me stand up on skis.

    Anyone skiing up Healy Creek, keep an eye out for a potential crashed skier off the trail that I may have missed skiing at night! Not likely you will find one but just in case.

  2. We skied Elk Pass on Friday to avoid crowds so I’m surprised that it wasn’t busy on Saturday. I guess they were all out on Hwy 68. We were near Sibbald on our annual family xmas tree hunt and picnic, which we do in the area every December. Crazily busy- far more so than usual. I heard that Hwy 66 was the same with hordes of people taking advantage of the weather.
    As for MAD’s reports- I enjoy them, they offer useful information, and if someone can’t handle the political spin- just don’t read them. As was brought home to us last spring- politics does affect xc skiing.
    I don’t know about those nocturnal adventures though- I’ve skied WBC under headlight or moonlight and it is a wonderful experience, but those are very familiar, relatively easy groomed trails. Descending Healy after dark- no thanks!


      I made sure I had newly charged batteries in my headlamp before skiing Healy Pass. I have an old Black Diamond headlamp that needs to be held together with electric tape, but boy is it bright with fresh batteries. When you light up the trail like daytime, I don’t see the big deal about skiing at night, other than it is a little chillier. Also, my eye sight is not as good as it use to be so there is not so much difference between skiing in the day and skiing at night with a well lit headlamp.

      Night skiing or night backpacking really brings out the senses unlike the daytime. I have seen professional bus tours bring people out at night to feel the dark experience at Lake Minniwanka, just as I get back late at night from a ski.

      Skiing up Healy was more dangerous than going down because I had to keep an eye on skiers coming down. It was kind of busy up there.

      I must say my XC skiing technique is not as classy as my downhill skiing technique for the most part. I widened the trail going up Healy in key places and broke the crust on the side of the skier track in many areas so I could safely hit the softer snow on the side of the trail to slow myself down where needed when coming down. This helped prevent me from hitting the side of the skier track with both ski tips burying in and flipping forward headfirst and crashing. One must always think how to proactively prevent crashes. This starts with the ski up a very narrow trail.

      In a number of steep spots with high speed I would put one ski into the soft snow on the side of the skier track parallel with the trail and have the other ski on the skier track. When I needed to slow down significantly, I would snowplow with the one ski on the skier track while keeping the ski in the soft snow parallel so it would not get caught on any willows. It worked like a charm and made the skiing really safe and sweet, just not highly stylized in the real narrow trail sections.

      Once in a while I would have to lift the ski in the soft snow on the side of the ski track to clear willows or branches that could potentially hook my ski. Generally I would just raise the tip and let the back of the ski ski over the willows or branches.

      This skiing technique has worked for me since the last century on narrow trails. This is why I do a lot of ski packing on hills- for safety and speed.

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