Real winter

Feb 5, 2021

It’s time to re-visit this post from a few years ago Cold Weather Gear. It has 27 comments with helpful suggestions. Also this Cold Weather Glide. 

That was quite a blizzard which blew through in late morning. Thankfully it only lasted about an hour. I was going to call it a good old-fashioned prairie blizzard, but those lasted for two days. 

Cold weather wax

A few things have been missing from this winter’s ski season. That’s about to change with the coming of this cold snap. According to the Weather Network, the high temperature in Calgary will not go above -20 for three straight days. The low on Sunday night in Calgary is predicted to be -33. 

The mountains will be a little milder with daytime highs in the teens. We’re also expecting 5-10 cm of new snow tomorrow(Saturday). 

If you want to move faster than molasses on this cold snow you’ll need some approriate glide wax on the glide zones of your skis. That applies to every type of ski: waxable, fish-scale, and skins. Waxing for grip will be very easy with polar or green wax. 

Ice floe on Bill Milne trail on Feb 5, 2019

What else has been missing? Ice floes. There are three notorious ones which usually appear every winter, well before this point in the season: the Bill Milne trail in the past has seen the mother of all ice floes; Cascade Valley around the 11K mark; and Packers in PLPP. We heard yesterday the Packers floe is starting to develop. There can be two ice floes on Packers, but so far only one has shown itself. 

There are other possible ice floe locations such as Lower Skogan Pass, and the Link/Ribbon Creek junction. It doesn’t look like we’re going to have any tracksetting on Lake O’Hara fire road, but there’s often an ice floe at the 5.2K mark. 

As Alf says, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. For me, the most important item in cold weather, besides extra layers, is toe warmers. I have an old pair of boots which are falling apart, but they were perfect for fitting toe warmers inside. I wear them sparingly, so now is their time to shine. 

I also liked what Alf said yesterday: “Growing old is inevitable. Growing up is optional.”

The Skogan Pass trails are being groomed as I write this. At 7:08 pm, the snowcat is 500 metres from the summit. 

Healy Creek was trackset today.  Great news, it’s been over a month. 


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  1. If you’re looking for somewhere to ski without the extreme cold, I suggest Mars. The latest weather (Feb 4) from the Curiosity Rover is sunny with a high of -6C! You don’t have to worry about wind chill because of Mars’ minimal atmosphere. Because Mars has only a third of Earth’s gravity, getting up hills will be a breeze (without the breeze). Great views everywhere! (Unfortunately Mars is a bit too far from Earth to spot MaSid’s East Elk Pass wind wall.)

    I recommend skin skis with a Teflon base. As an extra bonus, a Parking Pass is not required. Safety Tip – Get back before dark; the overnight low is -74C. – Hey Bob, how about adding this link to your Weather menu?

  2. This morning I observed a couple of ice flows starting along Mountain View West in WBC. I suspect there may be a few others lurking and slowly growing.

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