I especially liked the photo of the mouse on skis.
There seems to be MANY This That episodes, look for…(load more, again, then ctrl – f search)
The Dark Side of Cross Country Skiing
You really should write a book Bob —a treasure trove of stories here and a wealth of nordic knowledge of your empire in your head. A curated & artistic bound volume in this day of fleeting digital captures would be appreciated by many.
What a beautiful little Springer Tessa was, I have a
Springer as well. Her name is Mollie Mayhem never
Taken her skiing but she has been on lots of hikes.
The anti-demcoratic UCP Kananaskis entrance fee tax was pushed by special interest groups that obtain funding from the government. For these groups to support the UCP Kananaskis entrance fee tax looks like a major conflict of interest to me. The tax is being used for lining Conservative Party supporters pockets while keeping the less wealthy out of the region. This is exactly what the Kananskis entrance tax supporters want as the population increases along with trail use. This is a typical economic barrier put up to keep the less wealthy out. It sure is not a part of the Alberta Advantage. The Kananaskis is no longer a region to be used universally by all people which is disgusting and a form of dicrimination.
Lots of the money for the Kananaskis tax is being wasted on unnecessary new expensive signs, advertising on big bill boards, hiring more people to check for passes, wasting money on broad band internet service, wasting money on new snow cats and so much more. This is not what economic conservationism looks like. This is what elite government waste looks like.
Extraction of resource revenues in the Kananaskis region should have been utilized to direct funds to keep the Kananaskis universally free for all to enjoy, not just the more wealthy. Revenues from Nakiska Ski Area, the golf course and other businesses should also have been directed to keep the Kananaskis universally free for all rather than have those revenues go into the Provincial government’s general revenues.
The UCP Kananaskis entrance fee tax was poorly thought out and shoved down our throats in a highly undemocratic way. This is not what democracy looks like. It is what authoritarianism looks like- China dictatorship style.
To those involved in the decisions on where to use last winter’s parking funds – well done!!! We will all benefit from these improvements.
Question: will the UPC government seek input from Nordiq and other x-c ski clubs for their input as to where the 2021-22 K-country improvement funds will be spent. I certainly hope so…
Again, thank you for your input, expertise and accountability.
Thanks for the excellent update on this important topic. I was excited to see that you recently registered on the SkierRoger website where we’re all eager to read your trip reports.
By the way, if you would like me to add a special category for any blog comments you may have, just let me know. We all really value your insight.
Hopefully some of that is going back to pay for grooming in Bragg Creek. The blurb about the fee says that it is covering ski trail grooming, but Bragg Creek Trails sounded a bit doubtful last time I read anything.
Happy ‘retirement’ Bob. Hope you regain some sense of solitude and serenity on the trails again and may your next chapter be refreshing and bring you contentment.
—Yours in skiing, grooming and storytelling, JeremyN
It’s unfortunate that trip reporting on the new blog requires registration, login, password, email. These are barriers to participation in a system of user based information sharing.
Bob – not sure if this is the right forum but I’m sure I’m not the only one to wonder what set Roger apart from the other offers to continue your legacy?
Btw – I’m looking forward to Rogers site and am happy to see it’s been a relatively smooth transition and so many shared resources. Clearly you had a solid combined effort over a few months to make this happen, for which we are all grateful.
Why buy a pair of ice skates when you can use your XC boots on ice skate blades fitted with NNN or NNN-BC bindings!? It looks like this has been a “thing” for a while. Can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before!
Many thanks for supplying skiers & snowshoers with great information on grooming in our park areas. I’ve used your site for many years as my ‘go to’ before heading out.. Very grateful for all the hours you’ve put into this site – will miss seeing it but glad to see SkierRoger will continue. You’ve set up a great legacy…again thank you.
A correction: I think Helen’s “creative writing” comment was directed to MAAD, not myself. Wouldn’t want to steal anyone’s thunder.
The best part of your site was your personality and the enthusiasm you injected(, plus the spirited debates on track setting, fat bikers, dogs and skate skiers). We are forever indebted to you for adding a whole new dimension to the best winter sport ever. Nothing beats a Skier Bob meeting on the trails. Thank you .!!
Thank you for helping to promote the ski trails in Cypress Hills. Hope to see you out here next winter.
Roger, thank you for continuing the great work that Bob has carried out.
Bob, thank you so much for your years of dedication to your blog! You have made such a huge difference for all of us who love to ski! I hope you continue to enjoy the trails, and will post on Roger’s blog.
Welcome, Roger! Your new blog is looking wonderful! Thank you for taking up the reins. I’m sure it will be a great success!
Bob, your comments and posts have been very welcome. We hate to see you go but welcome Rodger. Thanks for stepping up to the plate and taking over a huge job Roger.
SEEMS TO WORK WELL!
Thanks Roger for giving us an option.
I like the fact that one has to register to either Post or Comment.
THANK YOU BOB for all your work through the years, and managing my social media exposure!
This is encouraging me to go out for one more ski trip this season, just so that I can post about it.
And who is Roger, any introduction?
CTV Are Statistically Unscientific Junk Polls
The CTV CFCN poll that was conducted is statistically unscientific and should not even be considered anywhere near scientifically accurate. As a person who spent too much time studying statistics, I understand that every poll on CTV is not scientific as the polls can be pushed by people with an agenda and it is not a random poll which is required for good statistical science.
The polls may somewhat represent the views of the CFCN TV viewers only at best, but still not likely. The poll could have been pushed by UCP party members or supporters as far as we know.
The best poll on such a political question would be to allow the legalization of the right of people to vote on government bills. If the people had the choice, they likely would reject park tax fees which are a regressive tax. Regressive taxes are taxes that harm the less wealthy more than the wealthy and are based on a proportion of income. If a poor person earns $7000 dollars per year and has to pay the same $90 park entrance fee as a millionaire, it is a higher proportion of the poor persons income going to the tax as compared to the millionaire.
Here is the math:
$7000 poor income divided by $90 park fee tax equals 1.3% of total income.
$1,000,000 wealthy income divided by $90 park fee tax equals .009% of total income.
As one can see the millionaire is not affected much by the park fee whereas the poor person pays a large proportion of income to access the park.
The scientifically poor CTV CFCN poll results are also affected by income levels. Poor people can not afford a cable connection to watch CFCN CTV TV or even an internet connection so they would be unable to participate in the poll which skews the poll results even further in favor of wealthier people.
Most polling these days is junk as pollers can not access people in a random manner as easily or economically as in the past by land line telephone. The only other method to get random statistical surveys is to directly randomly poll people which is time consuming and expensive. All other polling methods do not give a scientifically accurate picture, as we have seen during recent elections.
Taking this opportunity to say thanks Bob for creating the blog and supporting this amazing community. My husband and I have visited the Rockies to ski every year or two for many years now, travelling from Ottawa. First few years, our visits were tacked on to an annual work trip to Calgary, and gradually extended over the years. I was one of the (probably now thousands of) smiling skiers that you have snapped a photo of, for me coming down Lake O’Hara Road on classic skis. Now we are retired and hoping to visit for longer. It is a fall tradition for us to start checking out your blog, especially in years we have planned a trip. You have brought joy and the chance to see the mountains to many who are not fortunate enough to live as close to them as most of your readers and contributors do. We would love to share our little corner of nordic ski heaven, the Gatineau Park, with you if you ever head out Ottawa way. Best of luck in your future plans!
UNIVERSAL PARK ACCESS- LIKE HEALTH CARE
There is nothing worse than an undemocratic dictatorial oligarchy government for the people or park users. If we lived in a real democracy where people make the decisions, it is highly likely that the people would reject Conservative oligarchy government user fees for parks.
The wealthy have gotten 30% richer during the COVID-19 crisis while most other people have lost wealth. It is only logical to make the wealthy pay more rather than the poor or the lower middle class. There are numerous ways to do this including raising license plate fees for luxury or gas guzzling vehicles. It would not bother some rich skier to pay $1000 dollars per year for a license plate for their BMW. The government should put in a luxury provincial sales tax if it needs money- with the consult of the people democratically. Or the government should raise oil royalties to Lougheed era rates. That would bring in billions of dollars of revenue for the oil you are a shareholder owner of. Our parks need to remain universal like our health care system so all people can have the opportunity to access them without being financially penalized.
Putting user fees on one park will spread to all others in the future if the oligarchy dictatorial political system remains. We the people own the park lands and we should have a democratic say in reguards to fees.
The intention of the UCP (United Charging Party) Government in charging park fees is to keep poor people out of the park so the trails are not so crowded for their wealthy supporters and to derive more funds to subsidize the unethical foreign controlled oil industry that I once shamefully worked for. The oil industry needs to pay its own way and the hundreds of billions of dollars in oil industry subsidies need to stop. The oil industry needs to clean up its own immoral unethical mess.
The $90 restricted Kananaskis park fee is much higher than the National Park fee which enables one to access many parks across the country. How Conservatively stupid is that?
We must get rid of the old school undemocratic Jason Kenney as Premier who has never stepped onto a cross country or hiking trail. This Ontarian is not a true Albertan and he does not understand Alberta’s lands or the people. He is a corporatist tax grabber that does not have the intelligence to raise non tax funds for the benefit of Albertans. He is making life hellish for the poor and for medial workers. Soon the poor will not be able to travel out of the cities or towns as they will have no place left to go to afford other than the prairies.
Corrupt people support corrupt anti democratic oligarchy political parties that reign over the people in a dictatorial undemocratic way. It is time to break the chains of political oligarchy oppression and make Alberta a real democracy to build a better province the way the people want it. Give people the legalized right to vote on Government bills along with citizen initiated legislation. This is what real democracy looks like and it will likely keep park fees at zero.
Hi Bob et al. Regarding …” I’m surprised nobody asked Ken Hewitt about the slush fund of about $80,000 which was collected over-and-above what was required to pay the government. ”
Well… I don’t expect that there will be any problem finding worthwhile projects to spend the money on. With the Conservation Pass now announced, and grooming confirmed for the future, the 4 person committee has now scheduled its first meeting for next week to review a draft set of selection criteria. I’ll report back here afterwards.
As a frequent user of WBC in all seasons, I will continue to donate in addition to the new park fees.
Your groundbreaking blog will never be forgotten Bob.
Discount for Seniors?
For those of you who didn’t listen to the press conference there are a few points that stood out. Calling it a conservation pass with an intent to minimize the amount of cars heading into Kananaskis. Nixon was very clear that starting June 1 people should car pool more ( Covid won’t be an issue by then.
I am very skeptical at the direct impact this will have on trails especially grooming. The 200k raised this winter really only went to offset an already reduced grooming budget. There are future costs coming up that are significantly more than that amount.
Did anyone see the story on Global News where a guy with three vehicles was complaining that he’d have to buy passes for each one? Some people have no sense of shame. (In reality, he’ll only have to buy two passes, but I think there should be a special rule for people with three vehicles; pay triple).
You have been a beacon of joy, hope and humour to millions of diverse people from around the world who share the common obsession for xc skiing. I thank you from the bottom of my sticky wax box for your constancy and unflappable enthusiasm you gave to us all, your readers. You will be missed. Every day.
Clear favoritism and privilege afforded to the OHV crowd!
There should be a discount for Seniors
(What Would Bill Milne Think?)
People should read the press release or watch the video before commenting, or better yet go to https://www.alberta.ca/kananaskis-conservation-pass.aspx. The pass covers ski trail grooming, and that two vehicles can be registered on one pass. There is also provision for “low income” Albertans. The pass will operate much like the ParkPlus system in Calgary. The pass does NOT cover the Canmore Nordic Centre.
From CBC news, quote:
“Included in the new investments will be $1 million to begin planning work on upgrades to the Canmore Nordic Centre, the province said.”
Looking at the map of the area affected by the new fee’s, west Bragg Creek is included.
The cost to ski in PLPP has gone from $0 in 2019/20 to $90 in 2021/22. But corporations in Alberta during the same period are paying much less tax… Thanks UCP!
Big thumbs up!
If “winter trail grooming in Kananaskis will be supported by the new pass” means that the grooming at the CNC is going to be covered by this fee, this will actually be a significant cost saving verses the fee charged in previous years
I find it extremely ironic for this government to be touting “environmental concerns” when they would gladly sell off most of the mountains in this province to investors who would just leave their pollution behind.
Of course, we knew this was coming and I wouldn’t mind so much if the revenues weren’t being handled by an incompetent government. What I would like to know is if they are re-instating the visitor centers as well as re-instating the cross country ski grooming (I’d like proof of this please). I’m sure these fees will help to pay off the money they gave away to industry that ended up fleeing Alberta and leaving taxpayers with the bag.
I don’t trust this government one bit. I’m still trying to see how they are improving the lives of Albertans. They have no clue what they are doing.
Contributions by Skier Bob to the local xc ski community- innumerable!
See you on the trails.
Great to hear this! Jeez you nay sayers! Where does it say you’ll be paying for parking to ski?
You didnt have to pay this year. It was voluntary.
Coming from Quebec where fees are the norm we have been so blessed up to date
With the state of garbage lately in K country and the disgusting mess people leave I’m all for it. I feel so bad for parks staff and what they have to deal with
I wish it would be feasible to have people pass a how to dispose of garbage test (lol) before they come to our beautiful asset that we Albertans have.
Can’t see the forest through the fees.
I wonder how much the success of the grooming fee this winter set the stage for this?
I suppose that if it does lead to hiring of more conservation officers and parks staff than we will see some benefit. Time will tell.
Good point Jon – I don’t like the idea that I can’t transfer the pass to another vehicle. To me, this supports the idea that this is more of a cash grab, rather than about improving services and enforcement. To be a bit cheeky, if I ride my bicycle, does that mean I can go for free? 🙂
Not much to add, but huge appreciation for all that you have given us 🙂
We don’t know how we will manage without you, you will be sorely missed!
Thank you for everything, and congratulations on a remarkable record!
Wishing you many more years of great skiing 🙂
So, does this mean I will have to pay $15 a day pass, plus $10 for cross country skiing, or $90 annual fee, plus $50 annual fee for skiing? For a government that brags about lowering taxes they sure do love user fees.
Wow! 2854 posts is a remarkable number. I know how much work it is to put just one post together. Thank you!
Wow! That is an amazing record, Bob. You must be the fittest guy on the trails.
Thanks again for all your great tips and advice.
Congratulations on all your numbers, summarized today, Bob. While I have only come across you on the trails, once to my recollection, I have visited your site often and daily in the last quite long while. Your input to many skiers as they try to figure out where to go has been immeasurable. I for one will miss reading your blogs, seeing your trip and snow reports, and looking at the many photos you and others have posted.
Hopefully we will cross paths in the future and maybe share a couple of words along the way. Many of our seniors club skiers have benefitted from your website.
Thank you for all you have done over the years and all the best to you.
Bob and I spent what may be the last day of our ski seasons on the tour to Little Crowfoot in the Wapta Icefield area. Travel was easy with not much new snow over solid spring crusts, in winter conditions (and cold NW winds!) at the top, and full on spring weather low down as we returned in the mid-afternoon. Often really good powder skiing can be found off the peak, but it was not our day for that. Skiable but variable wind affected dry snow up high led to a mixed bag of grabby crusts with pockets of powder in the middle of the long descent, morphing to easy skiing granular corn snow below treeline. The supportive frozen crust remained intact all day despite the warm sun at lower elevations, with great coverage in the canyon, and no water, only snow, on Bow Lake. Despite the less than ideal powder skiing, it was a great spring tour!
I just saw that Kananaskis is going to charge admission:
I didn’t see that one coming….
Will this fee be on top of the grooming fee?
Many thanks to Aqua Toque for sharing the beautiful fox video!
It is very noble of you to try and take this on, maintaining a xcountry ski trail is very rewarding but can also be a lot of work. Calgary is not known for consistent or a lot of snow plus it is prone to chinooks . Shag and Confed are two areas that can give you lots of info on the trials and tribulations of keeping a ski trail going in the city.
As far as what you need the basics would be a decent skidoo with a minimum 503 cc low geared , forward and reverse. Some kind of roller at least 60” , a manual style track setter like an old Bachler or a newer YTS Ginzu or Todd Tech. In a park you will need volunteer snow shovelers and snow fence to catch the blown snow. A few well placed signs and you are more or less good to go.
Feel free to contact me directly email@example.com if you want some specifics and costs for equipment. I just retired after 40 years of ski grooming and like you I am setting up some local trails in my soon to be new home.
Sun Apr 25: gypsum mine/ridge
Less new snow than expected. 1″ at the road, but 6″ of dust on crust up high on a nice steep north aspect. Last report of the ski season for me (tweaked the old back injury). Thanks everyone for all the informative reports over the winter! Happy trails and see you next year (-:
Hey Dylan, have you tried tried contacting the folks at Foothills Nordic Ski Club? They take care of Confederation Golf Course and Fort Calgary. I’m sure they would have lots of advice for you.
Great video of a pair of “red” foxes. One looks like he came from a strange background. Can you make a guess at what the scrap was?
I didn’t get an answer to my question the other day about furniture polish so if anybody can help that would be great. Is it used on the top sheet or as a glide wax (or both)? Since I’m not doing much furniture polishing these days, what type or brand is recommended? Thanks.
Yes, still some scraps in the Bragg Creek area.
With all due respect to the Shirelles, the slower version of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” recorded by co-writer Carole King in 1971 (and featuring James Taylor and Joni Mitchell on backup) is the superior one which definitively captures the spirit of the lyrics.
That would be great to have that trail groomed. A great place for families and people who just want to put some km’s on and beginners as well. Great wide open trail with amazing views.
Citadel Pass from Sunshine Village. Made good use of my Sunshine Spring Pass Wednesday April
21. Up the gondola at 8, leisurely latte at the base (how often can you backcountry ski with a fancy coffee shop at the trailhead, and have a beer garden waiting on your return?) Up Strawberry Chair, then headed south on NNN BC gear. Firm crust made for excellent skating across the meadows. Easily up and over the hump east of Quartz Ridge. Took the low route down to Howard Douglas Lake, on to Citadel Pass in under 1.5 hrs, such fast snow. Continued another 2 km south to top of the head wall. Return via high route, taking in numerous micro laps on low angle north east aspects with blown in powder for fast telemark turns. Back to the beer garden, then download the gondola.
I expect that a large percentage of new XC skiers (or those that returned after many years) will continue to develop their skills and interest… However for a fair percentage (~WAG ~20-40%) they’ll be of the “been there done that” mind set, or feel it’s too much work, or give up without giving it a fair attempt sadly. So… this next winter and the following I’m hoping for some great deals on lightly used decent equipment!!
– Same could be said for any of the Covid-mania goods such as cycling gear, camping goods, and sadly enough pets.
That all said, the increased awareness of our amazing outdoor facilities will hopefully generate increased development, maintenance, and funding for these terrific assets. That might include government funding, funding drives, and even sponsorships. I suspect government funding will be increasingly curtailed due to the excess and continued unrestrained federal spending problems.
South Burstall Pass. The weather was absolutely perfect today: -11C to start, +6C to finish, not a breath of wind, and not a cloud in the sky. However the snow was icy and crusty, and Sunday’s storms seems to to have dumped a lot more snow in my NW Calgary back yard than it did in the mountains. It was not enough to freshen up the skiing. Descending could best be described as “survival skiing”. I observed lots of pinwheels and loose snow avalanches on steep sun-affected slopes. All these were running in surface layers only and did not step down to deeper layers. SD Road is in abysmal shape between Blackprince and Burstall. Some sections with mud and deep ruts may be impassable for low-clearance cars.
For clarity, there’s still an avalanche hazard on that and other slopes. It is NOT now safe for the rest of the winter to go to Moraine Lake for anyone who doesn’t have the appropriate avalanche safety and assessment equipment and training.
MORAINE LAKE – April 19
Great use of yesterday’s snowfall and cold temperatures.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
But iso-thermic conditions could come any day now!
Great reports! We’ve really depended on the emails to decide whether to make the drive out to PLPP, our favourite ski place.
Fri apr 16: twins cairns
Still some dry powder over prior crusts on the north aspect. Warmed up quick though today, even that powder had a bit of moisture after lunch. Ski out was soggy and slow, but no ice currently. And back to bugs on the windshield.
Wow! Just Wow! The 3rd picture of the goats looked like there were some pretty significant cornices just above the goats. Was that not a worry…or maybe it was an optical illusion as to distance from you?
WOW! You made my day with those Mountain Goat pictures and a peak into the area that is on my list to hike this summer!
A truly amazing day in the backcountry yesterday, on the circuit connecting the Burstall and Commonwealth valleys via Birdwood and Smuts passes. The weather was stellar, travel conditions were generally very good, avalanche hazard was minimized by a solid overnight freeze, and despite some wind affect in the alpine, we found some pockets of decent powder turns. But that’s not all- we had a wildlife encounter that was the highlight of my day!
Does anyone know what happens to the Lost and Found while the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre is closed?
Grand day into Skoki Lodge!
Morning snow temp at 9:30 am was -9 C making for an easy ascent up the Louise ski out. Views were stellar and with barely a breeze at Boulder and Deception passes there was ample time to enjoy them.
Noticed a well camouflaged ptarmigan at Boulder Pass summit. About 15 cm of fresh snow on a firm snowpack made for easy descents on narrow metal edged touring skis.
The lodge closed April 12th for the winter season. Had a nice chat with one of the workers, Georgia, who was part of the crew cleaning up.
It was a pleasant cool day but a stronger spring sun is starting to form a crust, especially at lower elevations and forthcoming higher temperatures later this week will certainly change conditions.
Looking for recommendations on metal edged skis. I recall a bit of chatter earlier this year about the benefits and would be interested in hearing what people are skiing on. Stability and control will be important for me. I’d like to say light and fast as well, but you can’t have everything. Perhaps a little of both is possible?
I’ve been forced to take this year off, but I hope to be back skiing next year.
West Burstall Pass. I figured today would offer one of the last chances of winter conditions, and winter conditions I got. It was -18C in the parking lot at 7:45. I saw only one other person today and he headed towards South Burstall Pass. I skied up to the north pass, then down into the big sinkhole, and then up the rolls on the west side of Burstall where I skied a few runs. Nice powdery now on N and E aspects, while S and W have some crusting issues. It was a bluebird day with not a cloud to be seen. Burstall Pass saw very little traffic over the past weekend and there are plenty of nice lines left for skiing. This season just keeps getting better and better! Smith-Dorrien road is in brutal shape. Don’t bust a wheel bearing or strut.
Thanks for everything Bob. Happy Trails!
STANLEY GLACIER – April 13
Best powder turns of the year!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Perfect timing, as avi conditions turn to “Considerable” at all levels tomorrow.
Lionel was one of the engineers who surveyed the lakes for Calgary Power. 1930’s. Remnants of their camp remain on the little peninsula opposite Upper lake boat launch. My Valley – the Kananaskis, Ruth Oltman, p. 53.
It would be wonderful to have another beginner trail but …
There’s no way to know if this year’s sudden covid-related boom in outdoor activity will persist. Parking pass revenues could take a big hit post-pandemic, as early as next winter. Keeping some surplus funds as a reserve would be wise.
Some will argue that surplus revenues should be used to reduce the cost of parking passes.
Hwy 40 is plenty wide but any loop off of the highway would presumably need to exploit existing trails which it seems are just too narrow for multi-use.
If Lionel is resurrected, I would be one of the first to ski it, though.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Bob for all you have done for the X-country community over the years. Enjoy retirement and look forward to continue seeing on the trails.
Hard to believe this is the end. It will be very strange not seeing your updates. Thank you for facilitating such a vibrant community of people sharing their ski experiences so others can follow. Wishing you the best in whatever comes next.
Great to meet you on the trail today Bob! Such a beautiful day and amazing conditions. Thanks for the photos! Hope the end of your ski day was as great as the start!
To Alf’s comment: “seems like reactivating Lionel as a ski trail should be a no brainer” — I’m not an expert in this stuff, but I don’t think it is quite as straightforward as we might all like it to be.
1) Grooming 8km of trail even once a week is a significant addition in terms of labour. It isn’t just one pass with the PB 100 – it would likely be four (or five to return). What other grooming would we be prepared to give up for this?
2) My understanding is that some years ago one of the grooming machines broke through the ice on Sounding Lake with a major rescue operation necessary to save it – and this is the reason it is no longer groomed for skiing.
3) Providing for parking at the gate (washrooms too) would be a pretty significant incremental cost – and moving the gate could also be expensive.
Not arguing against the idea — just trying to add a sort of reality check here.
I think Alf has a great idea for the beginners. That trail allows for a great introduction to x country skiing along with the space for skate skiers. If it were to be track set and packed it would add to the already great trails. I would suggest that along with the aforementioned it would also add to a round trip if the lower Pocaterra to the hut were to be remade. That would allow for two return routes from the Lynx intersection – one for beginners and one for intermediate to advanced skiers.
I expected to see many people up Healy today after the recent snow and perfect conditions. I arrived to an almost full Sunshine parking lot but to my surprise after a late 10am start I was breaking trail all the way to the pass. The snow was about 25 cm deep and quite dense. From the top I had to double pole down and follow my skin track as the snow was so slow turns were impossible. On the way down I passed a few people coming up on the trail so the glide improved with more tracks. Apart from the slow snow the conditions are the best I’ve seen all year with very few people out enjoying them.
Winter is not over!
Like Arie- we found very good skiing today in the Smith-Dorrien, but also more skiers at our locale than expected for a weekday. This was at a well known spot with relatively easy access, but is indicative of how popular backcountry skiing has become. Nonetheless we had some great runs in the 25 cm of new snow, and found untracked lines as well. By mid-afternoon, winds out of the NW had increased and treeline snow on the NE aspect that we were skiing was slabbing up. Heading back, we noted that the underlying crust below about 1850m, while still being supportive- was grabby and not all that well frozen. Close to the road at around 1800m- the 20 cm of dry surface snow found in the morning had settled and was now moist and sticky. At 3 pm, the road was in OK shape from around Sawmill south, with occasional outbreaks of mud and scattered potholes.
The Nordic pulse Does not show any trackset in last night and Peter LPP.?
Does this mean they are done track setting for the year?
Smith-Dorrien. -6C at 8:30 am, +2C at 2:30 pm. Down by the road there was about 7 cm of new snow on top of a suncrust. As I ascended things improved quickly. At treeline I skied a north-facing slope that had knee-deep dry powder on top of a solid midpack. The skiing was fantastic – best turns of the season. Did five laps.
Pipestone Blue up and Green Merlin/Drummond/Hector down. Yesterday’s hikers did not help the first stretch of blue but they turned off onto Drummond and then encountered deep post-holing by the pond and went back the way they came. Quite windy by Pipestone Pond so sheltered in the trees for lunch. Snow temp -4 at 12:30 with varying 5-8 cms in tracks of new snow. No worms as seen at CNC Wednesday or snow fleas-just clean cold snow. Saw one other couple and their dog. Merlin was a delight as always. No freezing up on blue 0 to -6 or clumping either. Supposed to be more snow tonight so check skilouise in am. Ma Sid tempted us to explore the meadows on MLR further but very happy with today’s choice.
Fairview at LL was a wonderful gift today ( April 9).
Skier track set in approximately 10 cms of fresh dry snow
By 2:00 it was starting to soften but I don’t expect it get to warm so tomorrow should also be great.
Do you have all the trail maps in a zip that you could upload too Google drive or something like that?
Those are priceless
Has there been any announcement about when they will stop grooming and or track setting?
my pass says it’s good until April 5
A younger Alf in the day may well have awarded Sara with the “light gear touring award of the year” for this trip. I too followed along the great description, map in hand. Bravo Sara.
What a feat of perseverance Sarah. Nicely done and reported.
Good advice but nicely done Sara! An adventure survived always makes for a story that gets better with each telling. A great way to cap off the season and lead into scheming the next.
Sara M: so glad to meet you via this blog and how deserving you are to be featured after that ultra marathon of an obstacle course. I had to get out my old Banff Gem Trek map to check out your ski. So many of us have truly enjoyed your Trip (with a capital T) reports this season. Thank you for bringing such enthusiastic adventures forth and for taking such a terrific selfie!! No wonder you were smiling to make it that far. I’d happily have risked my car’s suspension to pick you up at Goat Creek had I known of this Spring Skiing Adventure. As Chuck said, an awesome description complete with poignant photos. The one of your feet on the snow is a winner as is your beautiful selfie.
BURSTALL PASS – APRIL 5
An amazing day for a solo tour taking in both the north and south Burstall passes. With 7-10 cm of cold dry snow over a firm base, and a trailhead temperature of minus 11 at 9:15- travel conditions were fast, with blue wax working great on any flatter terrain where skins weren’t required. In the alpine- a underlying smooth concrete hard crust made for easy trailbreaking, and enjoyable turns in dust on crust. At treeline heading out- new snow that was not shaded was getting moist in the warm sun, and the underlying crust was a bit grabby at times. Back on level ground after an uneventful exit via the well filled in gully route- the mornings wax job still gave enjoyable quick kick and glide homeward across the flats. Until the final couple of km on the logging road that is- where wet snow conditions had taken over in the sunniest spots, and double poling pulled me through. As always at Burstall on such a day, the views were spectacular!
PARADISE VALLEY – April 5
Perfect conditions for this classic spring tour.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
We’ll be back!
Oh man, Steve Riggs/aka-bigsteve has been out there since the dawn of the internets –dispensing enthralling trip reports, words of wisdom and encouragement plus veiled hints of secret stashes on various platforms.
Long ago upon discovering that internet ski forums and blogs were a thing I took the plunge and began posting my first tentative TRs on a now long lost backcountry skiers’ forum. Steve’s positive response to those posts inspired me to continue taking photos and composing descriptions of various ski-related triumphs and failures.
So yeah, I blame him for everything!
Thanks Bob for all the photos, I just met a handful of reporters over the years but recognize some faces from brief encounters. I was hoping to see a photo of MAAD, but he’s or she’s like the « Arlésienne » as we say ion French.
Good to put faces to the names of regular posters from over the years. Looks like it was Steve Riggs I was chatting with at Patterson/Elk junction Saturday evening.
Started on Whiskey Jack on Saturday morn on pure ice but on Tyrwhitt the lurching began from shade to sun. Saw Moose & Wolverine tracks. We were warned about the huge spruce across Elk Pass Trail on the descent so no speed record this time.
10mins from arriving at the top of Blueberry as I was herringboning, the toe bar on my ski boots completely detached from my boot. My brother & I tried using tape & paracord to rig up the toe bar to the boot but no success. My brother had to leave but I continued to the top, stayed for an hour in the sun & light wind. A helicopter flew by below me & looks like a brief touch down at Rawson then it went to the Rawson parking lot…perhaps a rescue? I hiked back (on the side of the tracks) with my skis on my pack to Elk Pass parking lot. I’m lucky my gear failure didn’t happen off tracksetting on a longer trip. Saw a Boreal Chickadee & Steller’s Jay along the way. I was very appreciative to hitch a ride (with masks on) back to my vehicle at Boulton campground with a friendly couple I met up on Blueberry.
The top of Blueberry was great compared to the previous Sunday when I skied from 4:30pm-8:45pm to Blueberry Hill breaking trail in up to 25cms of snow over tracksetting during the big storm. On the drive, the visibility was the worst I’ve ever had in all these years doing adventures & couldn’t see a thing on Hwy40 north of Nakiska turn off so I made it to Lorette Ponds lot & hung out for an hour until the snow eased up & I continued on. I was kind of looking forward to spending the night out there. 3.5 hour total (including stop @ Lorette) to get back to Calgary.
This larger than you blog (not an easy feat) was an expertly curated and entertaining read over the past 10+ years. I’ll miss contributing, reading and scheming by it …but will still hear the mountains calling regardless. See ya out there Bob!
APR 3 VISTA LAKE TO REDEARTH CREEK VIA ARNICA AND GIBBON PASSES
Yesterday, Carl VM and I toured from the Vista Lake trailhead on Hwy 93S to the Redearth Creek trailhead, via Arnica Lake, Arnica Pass, Twin Lakes, Gibbon Pass, and Shadow Lake Lodge. We were both on wide (89mm shovel width for me) light touring skis with metal edges. We used full-length skins. The starting temperature at 0915 was -6C, rising to about +6C during the day.
The 27km route follows the summer hiking trails, with 950m cumulative elevation gain and 1200m cumulative descent. The crux of the trip was at the start – the descent to Vista Lake. The trail was boot packed but was icy and has an exposed cliff section just above Vista Lake. We walked down carrying our skis, but had the trail been any icier we would have needed ice cleats. Once at the lake we put on our skis and skins and followed the boot-packed trench up toward Arnica Pass on the east shoulder of Storm Mt. The walkers had turned back about halfway up, but a faint ski track continued. For a few hundred metres there was a sugary snowpack that would collapse if you skied near a tree or over a bush. Higher up, the trailbreaking improved. We continued past Arnica Lake and up to Arnica Pass. Not sure what we would encounter on the Twin Lakes side, we kept our skins on for the start of the descent. We ended up keeping the skins on which slowed us down just enough to keep us on the hiking trail and around the curves.
On arrival at Upper Twin Lake we came across fresh ski tracks and a quinzhee shelter (see Wikipedia) consolidating itself before being excavated. The builders were nowhere to be seen, presumably off skiing for the day. It reminded me of Goldilocks with the 3 bears going for a walk waiting for their porridge to cool. Should we dig out the quinzhee and have lunch inside!? We decided to have lunch outside and skied off before the builders returned.
We continued down to Lower Twin Lake, and then the steady ascent up to Gibbon Pass. Despite applying skin wax to our skins at lunch time, we both had problems with major snow clumping on our skins, tripling the weight of our skis! As soon as the steepness of the trail tapered off, I took my skins off and continued on my fishscale base which immediately eliminated the clumping problem. Carl had a waxable base and decided to continue with his skins, but the clumping subsided as we got a bit higher. We both descended from Gibbon Pass without skins, and the steeper middle section was challenging negotiating the trail switchbacks in variable snow conditions. We sidestepped and kick-turned a few corners.
We took an extended break at Shadow Lake Lodge, having our third lunch and relaxing in the wooden chairs looking out toward Mount Ball. The place looked deserted, other than for fairly fresh snowmobile tracks. We set off on our final leg down Redearth Creek. Based on ski tracks, it looked like one or two people had skied up to the Lodge earlier in the day. Due sticky snow on the track, the descent to the trailhead was significantly slower than usual. It was a long but enjoyable day! Photos at https://photos.app.goo.gl/nmVTU3ZqNXXCz22E6.
it’s about time the Govmint widens & pave this P.O.S. road (the new parking pass program could cover the cost) so us heavy hittin x country back country snow beaters can rip out there in our big chevy escalades (1 person per vehicle please) and ski the be-jeepers outa those mountains and still get back home for happy hour and start posting ad nauseam of our exploits oh yeah !!
Don’t look at the potholes, look at the spaces between the potholes.
Cross-country skiing books? I am looking for good Nordic skiing narratives other than guidebooks or instructional manuals. I cannot find many, so I might have to write one when I retire. Meanwhile, I sure would like to read more. I am writing from Oregon so maybe I am missing out on titles available in Canada?
Unlike the subjects of climbing and mountaineering, or hiking for that matter, there do not seem to be many good novels, memoirs or histories about xc skiing. _My Year of Living Strenuously_ by Bill McKibben (of Vermont) is excellent. _Brave Enough_ by Jesse Diggins (of US National Team and Minnesota) is good enough to read, and I just started _ Beyond Birkie Fever_ by Walter Rhein (Wisconsin) and I am enjoying the history of American XC and the Wisconsin Birkenbeiner.
Can anyone share any other book titles old or new? Thanks!
Congratulations and many thanks again for the wonderful work you have done for so many years
Congratulations Bob for the well deserved honour.
I feel the track setting and trail grooming was very much “my monies worth”. Thank you to all the folks who organized the “pass” system and to all the volunteers that manned the parking lots etc.
Our seniors group/club did not get out as we normally would if our bus trips were still running. However, many of us have been driving out in our own cars and have enjoyed a wonderful season that is still going on as I write this on April 2.
Also thank you to Bob Truman “Skier Bob” for all his time over the years! Your website has been invaluable and I am sure that all the skiers thank you very much.
It has been a good year and hopefully we will have many more as x-country skiing has expanded at an exponential rate.
Congratulations on being awarded such a beautiful painting Bob! Thanks again for your wonderful blog and happy ski trails!
A beautiful painting and a well earned recognition. Thank you Bob for your amazing website. I will sure miss it.
That is beautiful!! Congratulations, and thank you for everything! <3
A huge thank you to Bob, Ken, and all the volunteers. Signage for the parking pass grooming program was prominently posted at the cash registers at Norseman ski shop. Quite a few customers asked about it, and we did our best to explain and promote the concept. Personally, I encouraged folks to contact their MLA and other politicians about the grooming and parks in general.
What a fitting gift. You deserve it, Bob!
We all thrive in some manner to make a difference in other peoples lives and ours.
You certainly did.
Thank you Bob.
That is just perfect and so fitting. Put it somewhere you can look at it from anywhere in your favourite room!
Although, like many of us who have followed this blog, I think it’s quite possible your favourite room has distant rock walls and an unlimited ceiling of February Rocky Mountain Blue.
A great recognition of all your hard work… Thank You Bob
Congratulations Bob, and Thank you so much for all your efforts and ski reports. You will be sorely missed… see you on the trails.
Thank you for your kind words! I am so pleased you love your painting.
As a frequent visitor of the ‘Skier Bob’ page, it was an honour to be able to help celebrate your well earned retirement!
More of my work can be found on Instagram @erinkerr.clubb
A beautiful painting and a well deserved special gift, of one of your favourite trails. Couldn’t quite tell if the skier was wearing a skihere toque.
So awesome. You deserve it Bob. Thank you for everything. Enjoy your next chapter and hope to see you on trails!
Well deserved recognition. Thanks for all your hard work.
OK, so this might be sacrilegious, but as one of the volunteers for Nordique, I find myself wondering just how useful it was, really, to have volunteers out in the parking lots. It seemed that in PLPP anyway, about 70% of skiers had their passes when they arrived. That is, they had been convinced already that buying the pass was a good idea. Since more money was raised than needed, perhaps the money from this 70%, who bought without volunteer encouragement, was sufficient. Sure, being a volunteer was pleasant enough, but I wonder how much it really contributed. Maybe next year it would be interesting to try advertising only, and see what the result is. Signs could be put at the entrances to the parking lots stating something to the effect of: Trail grooming is done due to voluntary contributions of users. Please buy a pass at:……….
That’s great news all around
Did this get recorded?
HasBrewster Healy XC trail been track set in the last few days
April 1 2021???
MAR 31 SUNSHINE – SIMPSON PASS – MONARCH RAMPARTS – HEALY CREEK
Six Ramblers set out from the top of Wawa Chair on alpine touring, telemark, light touring fishscale, and light touring waxable skis. One of us had skinned up from the parking lot while the rest had passes or tickets to ride the gondola and chair. At 0930 it was about -8C with a 20-30 kph wind and light snow with sunny breaks. We broke trail in 20-30cm of powder snow down to Simpson Pass and headed south toward Eohippus Lake, where we climbed up the ramp onto the Monarch Ramparts. By this time the snow had stopped, it had warmed up to about -2C, but the wind was now 20-40 kph. Snowpack on the Ramparts varied from 20cm powder to wind-packed hard and icy crust. We followed the Ramparts north toward Healy Pass and descended from the Ramparts into the bowl and lake about 300m SE from Healy Pass. From there it was a quick descent down the packed Healy Creek trail back to the Sunshine parking lot. Another great day in the backcountry!
Pretty amazing result from Nordiq AB, Ken Hewitt and all the behind the scenes folks who helped to put it together.
Thanks to all of you!
My wife’s and I were part of the 162 volunteers who worked shifts at PLPP. We enjoyed talking to the skiers. We asked them where they were going, what wax they were using.
One can only hope going forward, that keeping Albertans mentally and physically healthy is a priority recognized by our Politicians. Reinstating the grooming program should be one of their top priorities.
Thanks Ken, Jeff, James, and volunteers!
Big shout out to the Nordiq Alberta volunteers!
One thing for sure, Bob really knows how to grab a frame. That top vista really jumps out in the video.
Well done to all involved.
Spotted fresh wolf tracks today on tom snow south. Also found a picked clean deer carcass off trail along one of the nearby ridges/cut blocks.
Tom snow (south section) from station flats was still skiable early this morning before the crowds, especially north of the R3/bobcat junction. Unfortunately I wasn’t on skis. But the Bragg creek touring should be back in fine form if snow shows up there sun/mon.
March 26 – Smith Dorrien. -6C to start at 8 am, +2C at 4:30 pm. At valley bottom there was an inch or so of new snow on top of suncrusted old snow. The snowpack was still mostly supportive except around treewells and bushes. Things improved rapidly as I gained elevation, and midway up to treeline it was only south-exposed aspects where the suncrust could still be felt beneath the new snow. At treeline there is excellent powder skiing, with a very solid midpack sporting 10-15 cm of dry powder on top. It was overcast all day with light now, and spindrift was coming off of the east-facing cliffs.
Trick is to stay scared enough so your always sqeezing out those rabbit pellets and making a Hansel and Gretel trail back to the car.
I’m tickled it was a front page item! We had intended to just document the hilltop navigation for our own reference, but were surprised the handheld footage was stable enough to watch. Turns out there’s much better stabilization in an entry level phone (iThingSE2 in this case) than a decade old mirror-stabilized outdoorsy camera.
Uncle Ave’s recent advisment rings true for nordic skiers too: You’ll want to feed your skis a little corn this time of year (just a little), else they’ll haunt your dreams.
Here’s the oo-la-la high-def version:
Absolutely awesome video! Exceptional views up there.
Stupid company laptop won’t let me open the video…
Your “avatar” (photo beside your name) is fantastic, that’s what’s fantastic! Look at the teeth on that kitty!
I plan on doing the SkierBob classic loop Sunday, in homage to his dedication over the years. I wonder how Fox Creek and Moraine are going to be by then. Only one way to find out!
With kind regards,
Does anyone have any idea about trail conditions on the Cascade Fire Road near Minnewanka?
A 7 ft trail runner?
Does anyone know if Parks Canada are still grooming and track setting ski trails at Lake Louise?
I called the LL Visitor’s Centre and listened their message service twice before leaving a message with my question. No response! What does this tell us? Everyone has gone backcountry skiing?
Lake O’Hara – Sherbrooke Lake March 22-23
We spent a couple of days touring on the Continental Divide, first to Lake O’Hara on Monday and up to Sherbrooke Lake on Tuesday. Lots of snow, mostly hardpack with a few cms of fresh. The ski into O’Hara was good, skier tracked, 2 cm fresh at the trailhead and about 10 at the lake. The luge-run up to Sherbrooke Lake was in typical shape for this time of year, super hard and fast. There was one steep section where we could barely gain traction with our skins, but otherwise no problem. Travelling was easy on the lake with ski pen about 15cm. Beautiful up there right now, no one else around, no tracks coming off the Wapta. Sunny, cloudy, clear, windy, calm, snowing, etc. at least no rain.
The Bob Trail?
Bob, quoted from above:
I’m a big believer in the motto “When one door closes, another one opens” so we’ll see what’s behind that door when the time comes.
Oh no, please don’t let it be fatbiking! Not that there’s anything wrong with that 🙂
Chickadee Valley, March 23.
A beautiful spring day for a very scenic tour, and some good turns in 15 cm’s of soft snow on top of a firm noisy ice crust on our east facing ski lines. Of interest for anyone contemplating a tour to the valley head on light metal edge gear- the final twisting descent beside the creek might be best described as a bobsled run.
It’s unfortunate we missed you today Bob! We spotted some of the crew you were chatting with going through west elk pass while we lounged at the fork ‘n meadow log. Good times.
West Bragg Creek
5-8 cm of new snow at WBC, with a morning low of -13C. It’s warming up quickly under a sunny sky.
Many of the sun exposed ski trails were down to bare ground and puddles yesterday. So, Mountain Road, Moose Loop, Moose Connector, Mountain View, Iron Springs, etc are not a good idea.
The main core Crystal Line trails still had a pretty good base of hard, icy snow, with only small bare patches. Set tracks were still present on the shady side of those trails. I’d recommend rock skis. It is forecast to get above 0C by late morning, so the snow will soften and compact by afternoon.
The parking lot has been cleared.
Hello Bob and everyone,
Does anyone know why Park Canada has never been connected with the live grooming sites like Nordic Pulse (previously SkiTrails info)?
Or maybe they are considering it and I don’t know? Is there a fee for a groomer to connect on this?
In the conditions we’ve had lately, we all know that finding out the next day about grooming isn’t very helpful…
Have a wonderful birthday tomorrow, Bob!
We had a late start at CNC today. Conditions were slushy at the start but by 1:00 pm or so, it started snowing heavily! The storm lasted for about half an hour and left about 2 cm of much needed snow. The snow was very grabby.
Hi, has anyone been up to Mount Shake for skate or classic skiing lately?
From this we can conclude that a bear’s cue to wake up from hibernation is the sound of cussing skiers in the woods.
I hope there’s a way to preserve all the old maps that are so useful and just neat to look at.
The resources on here are just outstanding.
“The Spray Lakes road is indeed a neverending stretch of potholes.”
Jeff, now that you’ve done your last shift, please accept many thanks from someone who has really appreciated your tracks since the 80’s.
You should take great satisfaction from having made so many people so happy so many times.
Good luck in PQ.
HOW OLD IS BOB TURNING TOMORROW? BD’s post reminded me of something I wanted to do today. I decided to pose it as a QUESTION because in my world, BD stands for BIRTHDAY and March 20th is Skier Bob’s birth date, only he is “a handful of years” younger than me. That serves as a clue. How lucky we all have been to be able to commence our last 13 winters by opening this page, which used to be http://www.skihere.ca to what has become the most unique and treasured one-stop shopping for anything and everything readers all over the world have every wanted to know about X-C skiing, back country skiing, trails, weather links, waxing, fabulous photos by treasured posters (you know who you are), even special posts for dogs such as Kazzy. The thing I will miss most is getting up in the winter mornings and not being able to check in on what everyone has written, including Bob’s thousands of Home page posts and pictures. I believe he deserves a place of honor in the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. What I will take away are the many relationships I have formed over the years via this website, friendships which I treasure, even people who I have yet to meet face to face. So to Birthday Boy, Skier Bob, I wish to donate (tab is located right under the Weather tab) on this day to vocalize my thanks to you and Cheryl and beloved Tessa on the eve of this _ _ birthday!
p.s. BD you are a man of perseverance!! I enjoyed your funny, descriptive post and glad you did not injure yourself on this marathon ski.
Thanks, Helen. I’ve enjoyed the encouragement you’ve given over the years, and not just the public blog things, but all the personal support and kindness which you’ve shown.-Bob
Dolomite Peak circuit. Conditions today presented challenging skiing. There was a suncrust on just about all aspects, and the trail was quite icy. I found myself slipping on steep sidehills and steep uphills, even with the skins on. The headwall below Katherine Lake was heinous, brutal, miserable. I took my skis off for sections of it and booted up, and I noticed other skiers doing the same. But beyond Katherine Lake the going was easier, and I managed a few turns on the descent into Mosquito Creek. Snow-snakes were plentiful, though. The snowpack was very stable. Yesterday the steep cliffs produced lot of point releases, and this didn’t trigger anything on lower slopes. I skied from Mosquito Ck back to Helen Ck parking lot using the old road.
Here all we have here is sky
All the sky is is blue
All that blue is
Thanks to the wonderful Tracksetters for all the joy you spread through your service!
Two of us skied the Fossil Mtn circuit today (near Skoki) Beautiful day with fast travel conditions. We used metal edged light touring skis which were appropriate for the conditions. Did the circuit counterclockwise. A skier set trail was present around the north side of the mountain but we could ski anywhere with minimal ski penetration. The descent on the return from Boulder Pass was hard fast and icy in places.
I’ve been cross country skiing for a few years, but never skied in the mountains. I was told Moraine Lake is great. Any other suggestions in the Canmore, Kananaskis, Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper area. I live in Edmonton so often ski at Waskehegan. I would be looking for a 15-25km ski. I’m not sure what the conditions are like this weekend. Also I may be skiing on my own so is it safe to do so. Open to your suggestions.
One more thing do you know of any instructors I could have come out with me for a few hours and what the costs might be.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
Just awesome work and so greatly appreciated all the time but during a pandemic just so much more. Thank you for some great tracks this year.
I vote for keeping PLPP a skate-free and dog-free zone.
Huge appreciation to all the tracksetters and groomers. Great job. In addition, we would like thank the many unknown faces who ploughed the roads and parking lots, so that we could get to all that wonderful tracksetting!
Oh sure, these tracksetters are really great and everything. Toiling away at all hours of the day and night for little or no pay.
But who here among us wouldn’t kill to toodle around in these uber-cool machines and be loved by all?
It looks like a pretty good gig.
A sad day in the Skier Bob universe when grooming is over for the season at Bragg Creek and Ribbon Creek. Here’s hoping for a few more weeks at Lake Louise, PLPP and Mt. Shark, we’re not ready for winter to be over yet! Many thanks to all the groomers, it’s been a great year!
Thanks to everyone who has worked on the trails for our enjoyment and safety. Your skill and dedication is very much appreciated.
Thank you! A few times I was out shortly after a big dump of snow, and I was amazed at how quickly the whole trail system was groomed. Thanks!
Thanks to everyone this year! More than any other year, this has made such a difference to our health and well being!
I really appreciate your dedication and excellent grooming and track setting skills! Thanks for making the season great.
Sounds like a great idea!
Thanks to everyone at BCT! While it wasn’t a season for the record books like 19-20, we still enjoyed plenty of fine skiing at Bragg. And like Mike W- I’m not giving up yet. My closing day there last year was April 6, with good skiing in dry new snow over firm old grooming. In terms of preserving the base, this week’s forecast isn’t looking too promising, though.
Thank you WBC grooming team! You did awesome!
Thank you to the team for a great season of grooming!
Thanks to the WBC grooming team for all the work this winter! My last ski there last winter was April 8. I’m figuring there’s going to be at least one more big dump and I’m hoping be back for at least one more ski this spring, with or without grooming!
MAR 13 PIPESTONE RIVER
A friend and I did a tour up the Pipestone River as far as Point Camp Meadows, about 7km past the end of the groomed Pipestone trails. We were both on metal-edged light touring skis. I was on fish scales and my friend was on waxables with Swix V60. By the time we reached the end of grooming, the temperature was about 0C in bright sun with a light breeze from down river. We followed what looked like old alpine touring tracks along the river the entire way. The tracks had a couple of cm of fresh snow on top. The fresh snow was moist and both of us had marginal snow clumping from time to time. The track was supportive, but the snowpack was weak next to the track, requiring careful pole plants to prevent the poles from plunging into the snowpack right to the handle! Snow coverage on the river is generally at least a metre, although open water can be seen in places. The temperature was about 6C when we reached Point Camp Meadows. On our return trip in the afternoon, it started clouding over and the wind picked up, both helping to keep the snowpack cool. No clumping on the return, which made for a fast track.
A beautiful day with great scenery and no one else around, other than 4 people on the groomed trails!
That’s a terrific idea. I would use it.
I would assume that they would need more grooming equipment to take on more trails. They haven’t been able to keep up the trails they currently have after snow falls. When I last skied out there the trails we picked were is very rough shape, despite the groomers working long hours.
Gotta hand it to Alf. He’s always got his thinking cap on.
These are the views we would get from Lionel trail opened to skiing.
Any recent trail conditions at West Bragg Creek?
I love the idea of resurrection of “Lionel” but I can’t see it possibly going South of the “Back Door” due to Avalanche risks. Parking lot at the winter gate would be a nice addition and definitely need to bring back the trail connecting Pocaterra to “Lionel” which would allow for a loop.
Does anyone know why Lionel was decommissioned in the first place? What about the other decommissioned trails such as Sounding Lake, Rockwall, Canyon and Lakeside? I’m only 30 and never skied on any of those before decommissioning but my parents did and they have an old map from 1983.
Better check with Lionel.
I agree that the Hwy 40 groomed trail with an enlarged parking area on the existing pavement would make an excellent addition to the PLPP ski trail system. Another idea worth looking into would be to reintroduce the old alignment of the Pocaterra Trail from Pocaterra Hut to the Lynx junction. The trails were already there so a rebuild of the old bridges would allow for yet another beginner route (that we used to have) rather than the at best intermediate route when the trails were raised out of the valley. Yes the area flooded but how often? It would be interesting to find out an estimated cost for a project such as this.
The bottom line is that the monies left over from grooming should ONLY go back into the various areas where Kenney and Nixon made us pay for parking.
I like the idea of resurrecting Lionel. Earlier this year I skied from Boulton up Packers, out the Back Door, and on towards Highwood Pass. The section south of Back Door is very scenic and would make for an excellent xc trail as well. Being less protected by trees, the road does get more wind and drifting snow, though.
Great idea Alf!
Carl- looking at the satellite image, there appears to be nothing of concern regarding avalanche hazard up to at least the “back door”.
Cindy- I think the wildlife aspect of the closure applies more to the Highwood valley south of the pass, where open slopes and much less of a snowpack provide important overwintering terrain.
I think before a decision is made there should be an assessment on how it may impact the wildlife which is the primary reason for the road closure I believe.
I found this 1986 map from an old post you posted a few years ago and I guess the same map Carl is referring to.
I love this idea, but when I posted an enthusiastic note about doing this on Dec 19 2020 someone replied that they thought that Lionel had been decommissioned because it crosses an avalanche path.
That rang a bell for me, but I can’t think where that might be between the gate and the back door.
According to my 1980’s map, Lionel did not go all the way to the gate, but branched off from the old Pocaterra near the Rolly Road and Come Along junctions. It was marked as .8 km intermediate and 7.2 km easy.
An excellent idea. A loop connection would be good, allowing return from pocaterra to Hwy 40 parking. Not sure how feasible that would be given height gain/terrain. Same with extended grooming further south, allowing easier access to other terrain, but not essential (kinda like extending beyond MLR grooming to moraine lake). But also quite open and exposed to the elements. Worth a “pilot project” test regardless. Lots of cars were parked there the other day using the road.
The Nordiq Alberta ski pass program has been a huge success. It has provided us with exceptional ski grooming plus the bonus of extra funds that could enhance skiing opportunities for next year.
The value of those surplus funds are not enough to purchase much equipment or to build much new trail.
So, my suggestion is to make better use of what we already have. Decades ago, Highway #40 was groomed for skiing from the winter gate to the Pocaterra “Back Door”… it was known as the Lionel trail.
Given the popularity of the Moraine Lake Road, grooming Highway #40 should be a no-brainer.
Ideally, the winter gate would be moved south by a few hundred metres to provide a paved parking lot. Add some portable toilets and a portable trailhead kiosk, and you’ve got a functional trailhead.
I would suggest that the highway could be groomed for multiple uses. Classic track setting would create an ideal “easy” trail. And it would create an obvious loop with Pocaterra trail.
A wide skate lane would provide an opportunity for skate skiers. A separate groomed lane could be created for fat-bikes, hikers, snowshoers, skijoerers, winter hikers, etc.
That is a small infrastructure cost, no additional grooming equipment… but more grooming staff time… and it would produce a tremendous addition to the PLPP trail network
I am wondering if any one skied at Lake Louise today —Cross country that is.
and if so – did wax work or skin skis?
And has anyone been up to O’Hara recently?
Pig’s Back loop, March 12.
Three of us skied this popular little loop yesterday, finding a maze of meandering postholed uptracks low down in the forest, shallow wind pressed snow in the alpine that skied OK, and old tracks 😮 in our usual “members only” exit run. No new avalanche activity was observed despite the warm sun and looming cornices that threaten the route in a couple of spots. Things stayed cool above treeline due to wind that was throwing snow plumes off of the higher peaks at times, with only limited melting below treeline in the most sun exposed spots. Vestiges of VR45 from a previous tour worked fine in getting us across the flat areas on the way out. The winding forest trail was not icy, albeit undulating and sidesloped as always- skilled xc skiers on metal edge light touring gear may find the scenic out and back excursion to the open Commonwealth Creek valley flats rewarding, keeping in mind the huge avy slopes near the end. Trailhead air temp was plus 2 at 3pm, with a number of stretches of wet potholes growing along the SD road.
Which one is the Hay Meadow temp site?
Hello, was wondering if anyone can tell me if cross country skiing to hidden lake is possible along the skoki route? Not sure if it would be to steep coming out?
Thu Mar 11: baker ck out and back.
-18 in the early morning to start. 1 degree back at the car at 330. Only about 2 ft of snow through the meadows (twiggy). To quote a skier on the trail today : “Rainer likes bush”. A bit annoying with wax on the AT gear combined with bottomless pole plants through the meadows. No double poling efficiency (at least with short AT poles anyway). Fine back in the forest on the way home. The off trail wallowing in the meadows was difficult, so kudos to the long distance touring team who set all that track. Made it to about a km from wonder valley. A good way to celebrate the 60th ski day of the season (thank you Covid!).
March 11 – Helena Ridge East
Variable conditions today! Some hard, wind-hammered snow with a dusting of powder, some deep powder, some weak sun-crust that tried to kill me. The bottom 2km of the Rockbound Lake trail is icyyyyyyy, but the dusting of fresh snow from last night made a huge difference and I was able to stay in control the whole way down. Done on AT gear.
This is how Shadow Lake Lodge looked when we passed by in 1990:
We cannot come close to the happiness so evident our dogs experience skiing with us
Life is so much better when you love dogs!! We have a Wheaten and a Golden (both high energy breeds) and nothing makes me happier than to see them flat out exhausted after a long distance ski. I have had dogs all my life and the only drawback to having a dog is, of course, losing them. Wonderful to read a “pawsitive” story on dogs and skiing.
That is such a great story! Thanks for sharing! My husband and I rediscovered skiing this season. And it was my 9 year olds first time on skis. We started out for a couple of times at WBC and the pups on the trail kept us happy, even on the days we struggled. Last weekend my daughter decided she wanted to try to ski 20k, so we headed to the great divide. And the dog sled teams zipped back and forth all day. We didn’t notice any chance of tiring out on my daughter’s end. But those pups sure gave us great joy to see how happy they were! Thanks for sharing! And can’t wait to see more pups on the trail!
Burstall Pass. -22C at 8 am at the trailhead. Brrr. The snow was cold with about 15 cm of powder snow. No signs of spring yet! Near the foot of the headwall I literally ran into a wall of warmer air, and the temp must have risen by at least 10 degrees over a very short distance. Up higher it was a nice and sunny day, and I skied six laps at Burstall Pass South. Someone had postholed all the way to Burstall Pass, damaging the trail in many places. -4C at 5:30 pm back at the parking lot. Didn’t see another soul all day.
Baker Creek to L Louise, March 8
A long valley tour into an area that sees few skiers. On Monday four of us (Anders, Dave V., and Scott G.) ventured up the headwaters of Baker Creek. The first 6 km to the meadow were well travelled. From the 6km to 10km mark we followed filled in old tracks because venturing off these barely visible tracks sent us wallowing in deep depth hoar. From there to the 16km mark at Wildflower Creek campsite it was difficult to follow any kind of summer trail. Summer trails are surprisingly hard to follow in winter! Came across fresh Wolverine tracks, probably from earlier that morning in the Wildflower Creek drainage. These tracks were impressive because you could see the claw marks as he dragged his foot forward. The steepest climbing was at the 19km mark where we climbed through thick trees that finally opened up to a spectacular meadow below Baker Lake. The snow base was firmer at this elevation and travel was easier. On Baker Lake we again came across fresh Wolverine tracks that were heading south, we knew they were fresh because it had snowed overnight. Had trouble seeing the same long claw marks in these tracks so maybe a different Wolverine. It was a thrill to be in a beautiful sunny open area where few skiers venture. Got back to skier set tracks on Ptarmigan Lake and a fast run down from Boulder Pass. The light was poor flying down the ski out, back to the car at 7:15. All told it was about 34 km and took us just under 11 hours.
Tue Mar 9: Taylor lake.
Trail hard packed and very fast, almost ice lower down. Probably lost some steel today. Wouldn’t want to do it at night to see if that was true. Could do with some of that new stuff. But great sun and heat at the lake. Worthy of a quick throne. Several parties heading to panorama ridge. Encountered 6 walkers coming up on descent, who all responded rapidly and correctly. Must have been the loud scraping sounds. Not a significant dent to the main trail despite the number of boots! Did I say it was hard packed?
Rio has been found! – https://www.facebook.com/groups/562727260820378/permalink/1153519731741125/
Rio was found tonight on sugar momma and has made it home.
A huge thank you to the community for all the support, it was great to see so many out looking.
talked to Lisa and dog is found?
did you find the dog yet? if not i will come and look tomorrow
Mount Guppy Secret Stash (not)
(a couple days ago)
With the current proliferation of noob backcountry skier traffic I thought I might impress the kid and her bf by taking them into one of the old man’s favourite secret stashes.
I hadn’t been there in years and my plan was to point out the way and let them do the trail breaking (so I could keep up).
Well, I’m hear to tell you that it is no longer a secret stash!
Despite the fact that the route is cleverly concealed by a popular skinny-ski-weenie trail network when we got to where you deak off the grooming there was a stinking highway of a skintrack! (so much for my “keeping up” strategy) .
Upon arrival at the zone we could hear voices (I HATE hearing voices).
Turns out, above us was what appeared to be an instructor and a gaggle of 7 or 8 wide-eyed students on an avalanche safety course….what the %#&*, dude?!!
Nevertheless, we managed to eek out good lines amongst the chaos of new and old tracks.
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a changin’.
Mon Mar 8: Boulder pass/ptarmigan lake.
No ice on the ski out above fish creek parking, just fresh grooming and snowmobile ruts. Cold dry powder up there along the trail beyond resort, with at least 4″ of fresh in vicinity of pass depending where you were exactly. Clouded up at pass and north before lunch with light snow falling. Kite skiers in attendance at the lake, but missed out on the launch as it was cold in the wind without sun. -1 back at the car at 130.
Pipestone grooming was sketchy as the hard pack prevented the tracks to be formed to depth. The downhill areas were almost solid ice with some rocks coming through. The trails overall were still 70 % avg
30% below. More snow needed 6-12” to rehabilitate the trail. Safety will become an issue bc soon.
Burstall Pass — March 4
I was out with friends skiing to Burstall Pass on the same day as Gord F. Lots of very good snow with little traffic in the upper Burstall valley beyond the ‘Robertson Flats’. Spring conditions in the upper valley but it’s still winter up at the pass! No sign of recent avalanches in the upper valley.
I would like the money to go towards obtaining the Fortress lease. That way the area could be managed more in line with the spirit of the surrounding area rather than what is planned.
Small update, she was seen late afternoon heading up Snowy Owl from Boundary towards West Bragg. She is very scared and bolted as soon as she saw the people. Search was called off for the night, will resume tomorrow morning.
Hate to think she is out there still tonight.
I do hope they find Rio-so scary when a pup goes missing. Please post Bob if you hear anything.
65,000 x-c skiers if you count those who only ski once or twice a year in town or at West Bragg.
100,000 viewers .
Hello Bob and everyone,
Assuming there is snow, do you know when grooming in k-Country stops for the season? When is the cut off date?
Can I skate at Pocaterra trails?
How many did not purchase a pass? How many skiers are there for each season pass? My guess would be 1.5 skiers per season pass, and 20% of skiers did not purchase a pass so that would mean there are about 12,087 skiers.
Hey Bob….I might be able to help out a bit. Here is a breakdown from the combined season and day passes:
Red Deer 64
Some error margin here — because these numbers include as separate counts those people who purchased more than one pass.
I now live in Bonnyville and I purchased a Kananaskis season pass, which I have used 2 times so far and intend to use 2 more times by the end of the season.
Either your question is too broadly stated, or else Bonnyville is part of the greater Calgary area and SkierBob empire!
In any case, you should come here and try the excellent trails of the Lakeland region and enjoy some night skiing lit by polar auroras!
In this post I asked the question, “In the comments, tell us what you would do with the excess funds.” Please stick to the topic.
While I like Skier Dougs’ idea of using “excess” funds to revitalize the Sawmill trails, I think that ship has sailed. The money should be held to cover any deficits in future seasons, or used to expand expand the frequency of grooming. Or- the grooming period at either end of the season, should weather and snow conditions be favourable.
I think the success of the pass program- despite some naysayers who don’t accept that xc skiers should pay a small fee for the special services that we desire- bodes well for the future of groomed xc skiing in Kananaskis.
Kudos to those who made it happen!
First, thank you to Nordiq Alberta and all the volunteers! My main concern is to keep this funding and tracksetting permanently. There is a good possibility that volunteers will tire, and numbers of skiers (pass purchasers) will slowly decrease as Covid 19 becomes an unpleasant memory. Surplus should definitely allow equipment upgrades, I would hope even a used machine would last more than 3 years, so a purchase seems reasonable. Allowing for expected drop in numbers, I would favor a somewhat higher Season Pass, leave Day Pass the ame, as we want to encourage occasional skiers, and regular skiers are probably getting a very good deal already.
The Nordiq Alberta program was certainly a success. Despite this, the government has yet to make any commitment for grooming next winter and beyond. Nordiq Alberta will hold in trust the sizeable surplus they are collecting, “pending further spending decisions regarding the use of the excess funds to support future investments in cross country ski trail grooming. … only to be spent, dispersed or utilized on the prior mutual agreement of both the Society and the Province.” See page 14 of the Alberta Parks – Nordiq Alberta Cooperating Agreement – https://drive.google.com/file/d/152HMMbAR6HUrctwcppQ5Q3O67OB0UbFg/view.
Since the government hasn’t committed to grooming next winter, I wonder why the program wasn’t set up to terminate as soon as its funding goal was reached, rather than accumulating a surplus with no predefined plan on how to use it?
I’m all for any surplus going to whatever is needed to keep the grooming going. However, I wonder if we need to adjust our expectations. Assuming the operations cost of grooming is $200,000, and that the expensive equipment needs to be replaced from time to time (5 years?) at $200,000 a pop (need to save $40,000/yr). Funds raised this year around $280,000 would appear to cover both operations and a fund for equipment replacement. But it doesn’t look like there would be much leftover for any expansion of the program. I don’t know how reliable the funding will be and I think we should keep our minds open to the possibilities of less trail grooming, less frequent grooming, using less sophisticated equipment, etc. to have a sustainable budget.
I hope that there is going to be some kind survey done after the season is over to get everyone’s view on this. Personally I would support a higher fee if that could be put towards more equipment so that the trails could get groomed on a more timely basis after each snowfall. After a fall last week the PLPP crew were able to groom 18km of trails, while at the same time (I think) the Bragg Creek crew were able to do over 70km. For the skate ski trails especially, it is important to get to them as fast as possible after each fall. Balanced against this is a wish to keep the fee as low as possible so that we don’t price people out of our great sport.
I support the money going forward to ensure the sustainability of the XC ski grooming in Kananaskis next year and beyond. The voluntary pay system this year has allowed those with less financial means to still access the superb trails in this area and this is important that access for all is maintained. Although it would be lovely if the government took over paying for this again, I’m OK with contributing a small amount each year for superb skiing, and am so heartened that the fundraising goal was met!
Invest in recommisioning the Sawmill trails for future trail grooming.
Use surplus funds for future XC grooming services or equipment needed. Funds must be used towards XC trails. That is specifically why I bought a pass and made a donation. Kananaskis trails are key to early and late season skiing. Thank you for the great work on the trails so far, and to all the volunteers!
I’m sorry to be the only dissenter here and honestly I love you Bob and all of the work that you’ve done for the cross country skiing community, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why we are volunteering to pay for a piece of equipment that the government of Alberta should be buying. They buy equipment (or hire contractors) for other facility maintenance, why should cross country ski trails be any different? I was livid that we handed them their operational funds on a silver platter without so much as a discussion amongst Albertans as to whether this is a public good or a user good and now we are proposing to buy equipment for them as well? Some options for the extra money from me:
1) put it towards programs that encourage newcomers to try cross country skiing – maybe hire some coaches, schedule some dates, rent some equipment
2) put it towards people who want to enrol their kids into cross country ski programs but who might struggle based on their income to do this
3) put it towards training, coaching and equipment for young people to develop their cross country ski skills and athletic development
4) put it towards volunteers who are willing to obtain various coaching levels who would volunteer a set amount of time to encourage cross country skiing within families of all income levels
5) pay for those who would struggle to afford parking fees (but lets hope we don’t have to repeat this again)
6) put it towards public engagement and lobbying the government so that ONE user group DOES NOT have to pay for trail maintenance in Kananaskis
If we absolutely had to have a user pay system, then I would propose that we have a Park entrance fee to Kananaskis (by car not by person) that is set at a lower rate (because there’s a broader base of payers) making it more affordable for each individual. This would still encourage car pooling (charge by car not by person).
Honestly, I hope we don’t assume that the “pay for cross country grooming via parking fees” program is going to happen again, now that there’s time to facilitate discussion amongst Albertans and even within the cross country ski community as to whether this should be a public or user pay system.
I feel like I’m the lone wolf in this perspective. If our current government wasn’t so incompetent in managing the province’s affairs, I might feel a bit differently but on this one I really feel we completely threw ourselves into their trap setting a dangerous precedent and I’m surprised no one else is as upset by this as I am. CPAWS Alberta managed a great “Defend Parks” campaign and groups have also gained traction on the coal issues. I think Nordiq Alberta, while having their heart in the right place fell right into the UCP trap.
Robertson Glacier Valley March 4
We were thinking snow conditions in PLPP might be a bit challenging with the warm sunny weather so we decided to tour up the Burstall Trail to the toe of Robertson Glacier. The Burstall trail is well-hammered by numerous forms of travel but when we turned up the Robertson Valley we found pristine conditions and broke trail in beautiful supportive snow up to the last stand of trees where we had a long lunch in the warm sun. Wow, what a place. Good to have wider metal-edged xc skis of AT skis and skins, but generally this tour is very flat. Not much avalanche danger other than one seldom-running path off the north side of Burstall Peak. Most of the skier traffic is heading up toward Burstall Pass so the large area below Robertson Glacier is usually pretty peaceful.
Bravo, and hearty thanks to the volunteers and to Nordiq Alberta. What a welcome success story. For the excess, ensure good equipment and consider off-loading some of the volunteer duties to a paid position.
I would not mind seeing some funds used to better signage at the Ruthie / Skogan junction to clearly state that Skogan pass trails (and offshoots) are skiers only. An alternative would be to encourage snowshoers / walkers to buy a season pass (i.e. not limited to xcountry skiers) to raise funds to build a specific trail to go to Hummingbird Plume Lookout …and to avoid ruining Sunburst and High Level trails
I need new pants.
(Pay it forward to a backcountry skier who also bought a tracksetting season pass).
With the extra money, the future of grooming in Kananaskis can be even better than it was before the government’s announcement. People are obviously willing to pay a reasonable amount to have groomed trails, and I bet they are willing to pay a little more than the paltry $50 to have more grooming(the snowcat could easily be operating a daily double shift in PLPP), and possibly open up some new trails. In retrospect, the government has done us a huge favour by “ending grooming” in Kananaskis. We’ve removed the threat of the government taking this away from us.
A further benefit to skiers paying for groomed trails is that it will give us some clout when it comes to keeping the hikers off the groomed trails.
Does anybody have sense of what happens next year and beyond? Continuation of the approach used this year?
Put the surplus towards future ops and perhaps expanded service and equipment upgrades.
Way to go Nordiq and volunteers! Thanks.
Invest towards future gear so that grooming can be continued and even trackset fresh more frequently if not needing to share equipment between different regions
Pssst…. new update from Nordiq Alberta re: the Kananaskis Parking pass program. Looks like $270,000 was raised via passes, plus $22k in donations.
I tried skiing Cascade valley yesterday and found it icy in the morning and soft an hour or so later. I think my wax was too hard ( it was a really tough day of sliding all day) , so have ordered some purple and red wax. Is my ski season done for the year? Are there any other waxes that I need for these conditions? I’d love to keep skiing as long as possible!
Congrats Mike, that’s incredible!
Heard about your trip from your family and it blew my mind away 🙂 Way to go!
Way to persevere Mike. That’s 20km more than I’ve done continuously so can attest that the last lap must’ve been a grind. There is a decade old 100km ski tradition that happens every New Years(ish) in PLPP -double round the works including blueberry that you’d be well fitted for! Hope to cross paths one day 😉
Wow that’s incredible! Well done!
I would guess the other cars might have been hikers hoping to catch sunrise on Ha Ling
Mike W must be training for the longest race, 220 km above the Arctic Circle, in Sweden, https://www.nordenskioldsloppet.se/en/
last year the best times were just below 12hrs
Browsing Google Earth I see what looks a trail branching off from old Marmot trail and then back again, maybe circumnavigate the flood area. I don’t know how to link the Earth view.
(I did have an old Garmin track link that overlaid the route we took pre-flood, complete with map, all of a sudden, on the weekend, the map overlay disappeared.)
Anyone know if this is the case?
It is nice to know I still inspire people. I just wish it was with Making Alberta A (Real) Democracy rather than night skiing!
My secret is out on how to make mileage on skis! Ski at night fast with the headlamp so the Panthers and Griz don’t get you and get that rush effect of the trees going by real fast in the periphery vision.
Skiing at night allows you to go full throttle on the hills cause you know no one else is on the trail- unless they are skiing without a headlamp turned on. It does happen once in a Blue Moon. Be careful skiing on the Blue Moons.
It is always strange coming back to an empty parking lot. I never get over that feeling- where did everyone go?
What do you use for 100k ski fuel?
Thanks Bob, my second time on the front page in just over a week! – http://skierbob.ca/2021/02/sunday-morning-update-20/. Not in costume this time though!
I probably did, to be honest the $50 felt more like a donation, so it is quite difficult to answer the specific question. I’m very appreciative of all the efforts that Ken and all the volunteers put in to make this work.
I hope that we might be able to build on the success of the program next year and perhaps increase the amount of grooming. The PLPP crew seem to be challenged to keep up with new snowfalls (I have no doubt that they are doing their best with the staff and equipment available) and wonder if more money (higher fee or more sales) might be able to help. Perhaps a survey will be done at the end of the season to get everyone’s view.
The fact that we have to pay for K-Country grooming while Cypress Hills PP is done for free does slightly irk me.
If there had been no grooming, better to get some LT gear and break your own trail (not that you would have always had to), vs. going snowshoeing. At least the down would still be fun, fast and efficient.
For me, it’s been “waxless ski” weather all winter! I purchased a pair of Rossignol RSkin skis on clearance from Wilson Mountain Sports in Lake Louise in April last year. They’re a relatively high-end pair, just below the X-Ium race line of skis, similar to the Rossignol Delta Course waxable skis I already had. I’ve been using the RSkins exclusively if the forecast high is above -3C or so, especially if a sunny day is forecast. But I’ve also used them in temperatures as low as -20C. I’ve skied a couple of times with one RSkin and one waxable for a head-to-head comparison in -20C and -8C, and was unable to detect any difference in either grip or glide. If anything, the RSkins were marginally better. The big difference is that with the RSkins, I don’t have to spend time scraping off old grip wax and carefully applying and corking in 4 or so thin layers of new wax in a pyramid pattern to get optimal performance. And I never have to reapply grip wax during the day, or get caught out by a wrong prediction on what wax to use. Nor do I have to worry about snow fleas and tree needles and other debris getting embedded in the grip wax. This winter seems to be particularly bad for wind and tree debris.
The RSkins are not maintenance-free however. They need to be occasionally cleaned and waterproofed. And of course both the RSkins and waxables have to be glide wax. The skin strips slowly wear out, and need to be replaced eventually at a cost of about $50, which I figure is about the same as the amount I would have spent on Swix VR grip waxes during that time period. So far, after 400km on the RSkins, there’s no noticeable skin wear.
Here’s another stat from xcountry gear sellers in Canada. Skier Bob is almost National now
Over 5,3 million people is a lot of skiers for Skier Bob to count!
I blame much of the increase numbers of skiers skiing the eastern slopes on Skier Bob and his great website that people from around the world look at. Without this website, there is less talk about XC skiing in Alberta. The more talk the more people that get interested. There is no doubt COVID helped increase numbers this year, but those new skiers got a lot of information from Skier Bob as to where to ski and crash head first into their ski tips. New skiers with ski tips imbedded in fore heads have Skier Bob to thank if they viewed his website.
I felt like I got my moneys worth. I am a COVID cross country skier. I have spent the last many years spending weekends at the ski hill and chose nordic skiing this year to avoid the crowds at the hill. I am undecided whether or not I will purchase a pass next year. I wonder how many more there are like me and if passes will cover the cost of grooming next winter.
I am extremely appreciative of the grooming. I was extremely disappointed in the government’s decision to cut funding to ski grooming. When I moved to Alberta in the 90’s it was something I was really impressed about Alberta, and as a student at the time, I appreciated the free skiing. While $50 for a year of skiing is no big deal to me now, I regret that it needs to be paid. I felt it was something that made Alberta special.
My final consideration when I reflect on the program to groom is how many volunteer hours is needed to collect funds, administer the website and patrol parking lots. I would argue that we were better off before. Having said all of this, I would take this over no grooming at all.
Kudos to all the volunteers that made this possible this year. I have thoroughly enjoyed my winter!
I would pay more for groomed trails – love the variety. Done a ton of skiing at PLPP this season – some at Kananaskis and WBC too as well at CNC and local YYC trails, however PLPP is my fav hands down. $50 per car is a BARGAIN!!!!
Haven’t got my money’s worth, but I don’t care. BC residents pay pretty much everywhere to ski AND have a PST. So those that complain (Martin & Jip), you need to realize what you have. Kinda like the GST, before it came, there was a hidden tax on a lot of things, especially imports. Out of sight out of mind….
$50 is good value. I have used my Pass over 30 times. Hoping to hit 40. In the fall, I thought I’d have to take up snowshoeing. Instead I’ve skied more than ever. Thank you to all who saved the season.
Fair skiing conditions with a generally very thin snowpack. I had to take the skis off a couple of times and walk. The second river crossing a few kilometers up from the trail head was wide open. I forgot the waders. I tried to hike over the cliffs to avoid 2 quick river crossings but turned back after seeing fresh panther tracks- on a panther track highway. Hiking icy cliffs with cross country ski boots would have made it too easy for a panther to dump me into the river, particularly at night on the way back.
There has been too much warm weather and a lack of snow in the valley to make it worth skiing in the area this year. There is very little ice on the river and south facing slopes are mainly devoid of snow now.
Great day on ElkPass-Blueberry Hill. Snow awesome. 2hrs up-1hr down.
A resounding YES!!! PLPP is one of our favourite places to ski and the grooming and track-setting were stellar, as always. We even got in a few more skis than usual on Bill Milne. A big thanks to the groomers, and to Ken Hewitt for all his time and effort. Even volunteering was fun!
Definitely worth the $50/season/car. We are so far at 12 visits (mostly PLPP) this season – not bad for weekend warriors. We ski elsewhere (CNC, WBC, LL) but Kananaskis is a bit special – scenery is beautiful and it always feels so quiet once on the trails.
Thanks to the awesome groomers and parking volunteers for making this possible.
Black Prince Fan and Waterfall Drainage
Feb. 28, 2021
Tempting fate, 5 of us decided to try the Black Prince Fan today, fully aware that the lines might be trashed. Arriving at 8:30 (-6C), we were not suprised to find the parking lot filling up. Yet, many of the people were on AST courses and the young bucks were heading for “The Tree Triangle”, so we had mellower slopes to ourselves. We skied 5-8 cm of fresh powder on a supportive surface, with no wind crust and no evidence of slides of any consequence and no surface signs. After two runs skier’s left of the pinch point, we tracked up valley toward Black Prince Lake. The drainage was in great shape. Two more runs.
Of course, it was a luge run out the last 2 km. The parking lot was full and there were cars lining the road. It’s good to see people out enjoying our Provincial Parks, surely a reason to be happy living in southern Alberta.
Yes absolutely worth it. Thanks to the hard work of Nordiq Alberta and the many volunteers we were able to keep these pristine, beautiful areas groomed and trackset for fantastic skiing. Worth every penny.
Although I didn’t get out to PLPP as much as I would have liked to (does one ever?), I consider it money well spent, having skied there for the last ~25 years.
With kind regards,
P.S. I had a fantastic trip yesterday, Fairview/Lac Annette/Moraine Lake Road/Tramline. I took the trail back to the road from the first bridge along the creek. Who woulda knew!
I’ll be the voice of dissent, no I haven’t purchased a pass and have not skied PLPP, Kananaskis or Mt Shark this season, I do commend Nordic for their efforts but I’m in total disagreement with the arrangement which is grossly unfair and ridiculous turning citizens into tax collectors. Thank goodness for WBC who will continue to receive my support
The pass is very inexpensive and I am very grateful that Nordiq Alberta stepped up to make the grooming happen, especially this year of fewer options for travel and indoor recreation! I would pay even more for more consistent and frequent grooming but yes the pass was definitely worth it.
I’ll say. The pass is peanuts for skiing on some of the best trails in North America. I have a hard time imagining more interesting and scenic trails than those at PLPP and Ribbon Creek.
Absolutely ! Thank you !
With probably 6 weeks still left in the Kananaskis grooming season- we are already at under $6 per skier day- and that’s with buying a pass for each of our 2 vehicles. That’s quite the bargain!
Definitely worth my money. In December and January when conditions in WBC were marginal at best, I did most of my skiing in Kananaskis Village / Skogan pass (10+ times) and PLPP (15+ times) and without grooming I would have been miserable and « forced » to go farther. This month I skied mostly in WBC and next week will return to Kananaskis / PLPP.
Yes, partner & I out there 3 wknds in Jan and 3 in Feb.
And yes PLPP busier than yrs past, more youngsters.
Your “farewell tour” — it’s still hard to imagine. The Empire without the Emperor front and centre. Glad to see you’re out there meeting lots of friends and fans. I’ve barely gotten out in the last two or three years, but doing a little better this year, so hoping to meet you. Having been a follower since the earliest days of SkiHere, I’m definitely going to miss your blog. But cant thank you enough for how much you’ve done for xc skiers and xc skiing.
I’ll be able to tell people I met the Emperor when he had no clothes! Long ago and not far away … in the showers after the Lake Louise to Banff loppet 🙂
Very best wishes, Bob. Thank you! See you out there.
Anyone know what the TECH refers to in the Nordic Pulse grooming report?
My biggest disappointment about not having a real Lake Louise Banff Loppet is not getting to cheer on Janice (and everybody else) at the Baker Creek crossing. Next year I will be there with my shovel.
I’ll miss your updates tremendously Bob. They start and end my day. 🙁
Thank you Bob for creating this huge family of like minded skiers and outdoors enthusiasts. Your big tent included many like me who are out of province, yet you made me feel most welcome.
I wish you all the best in your future endeavors, which I am glad to hear will still include skiing.
Thank you Bob for your blog! Your blog and information has helped me and my friends immensely when it comes to deciding where to go skiing. Many places we’ve never even thought or heard of. Your information has been well informative and, on some occasions, humourous :-). Best of luck to you. You will be missed.
We use the trip and grooming reports every time we head out for a ski. When we first started seven years ago, this site was recommended by many people, and we have since passed it on to many new skiers.
Thank you so much for keeping the blog going, it has been fantastic. Happy retirement!
Wendy and Rob
Above all else maintain the down home dawn-of-the-internet vibe.
In addition to other comments, attributes of a “ski community” information sharing web site (if that’s the goal, hopefully):
– A public, open and inclusive platform, no membership login or exclusivity
– Not a for profit business or overly explicit advertising or product based platform
If you use the search bar on this site and look for ‘track width’ you will find:
A frequent question: What is the maximum width of ski that can be used in the tracks made by tracksetting equipment:
This is a reply to the question by Tracksetter Jeff(Ribbon Creek):
“The bottom of most track pans is 70 mm The sidewalls flare out to 140 mm at the top of the track. If you were skiing on 65mm skis there will be times when you will get a bit of drag from the sidewalls Also understand that unless you get the first tracks in a fresh trackset the sidewalls are subject to scraping from all the other skiers who went before you.
If you are looking for performance in the track I’d go with the 59. If you are out for a nice easy ski and want good support for the hills the 65 should be fine.”
Will it be possible to use Fischer backcountry 104-74-95 skis on this trail?
Thanks a lot,
Having a daily featured post is one of the things that brings me to your site every single day. Then, I go to trip reports. Like many others, I also use SkierBob as the primary link to weather stations and forecasts, webcams and grooming reports. I could save them all as “favourites” in my browser, but it is way easier to just go directly to this site.
Hi Bob. You will be missed a lot 🙂
Trip reports for sure. And pics.
The link to all trail maps in one place!
Thanks for all. Cheers
Hope this is appropriate… I would like to thank you, Bob, from the bottom of my skis for all you’ve done to keep us inspired and informed over the years.
You probably don’t remember me but a few years back, I took your photo celebrating your 1000th kilometer (that season). It was at the top of the big hill at the beginning of Elk Pass with the splendid view of Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes down below.
Wishing you many, many more kilometers, Bob!
Alberta Budget 2021 – I think a lot of us have been nervously anticipating the provincial budget for the coming year which was announced today. Now, it always takes a few days for the generalities of the budget to be broken out into specifics – such as whether they will/will not be winter ski trail grooming next year, or park closures, etc. Still… I perused the available documents for a while today, and all I could find was this: “Improve recreational access management through effective engagement and a modern and integrated approach to Crown lands management (including public lands and parks), implementation of the Alberta Trails Act and establishment of a sustainable recreation funding framework.”
Did anyone else find anything more specific?
My priorities for a new blog:
Trip reports are #1 90% of my time is spent on Skier Bob is on trip reports. Details like snow conditions (track conditions, skate -ability, dirt on the tracks , wax used, temperature. Parking etc.
Ability to add pics VS a link to a photo storage page.
After a while, I get to recognize the writer and trust their reports for accurate beta.
Grooming updates are great as well.
Keeping it current is probably the most important.
Having a FAQ page for those questions that seem to get asked everyday on any Facebook page.
Hi Bob, the trip reports for sure, the grooming updates and links to grooming reports, and the info on the loppetts were most useful to me.
The daily posting is where it all starts, and is a vital contribution.
Kananaskis Grooming Cooperating Agreement
Following a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) request to Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) a few months ago, I just received the Kananaskis Grooming Cooperating Agreement between AEP and Nordiq Alberta. There is no restriction on the distribution or use of this document. There’s nothing “scandalous” about it, and I don’t know why the government and/or Nordiq Alberta were so reluctant to release it in the first place. I’ve posted the Agreement at https://drive.google.com/file/d/152HMMbAR6HUrctwcppQ5Q3O67OB0UbFg/view where you can view and/or download it.
Feb. 24, 2021
A chilly start at -14 C, but the sun was quite warm. Nice glade skiing interspersed with “AST” review. Size 1 slides on east aspects dictated tree skiing and, to be honest, we needed steeper slopes in places, but it was still great with plenty of room for turns without bumping over old down-tracks. It will be used up Friday, unless the predicted storm keeps folks away. Oh! I should have written that the skiing was hellish and that no one should bother going!
Noseeum North Chutes
Feb. 23, 2021
First time in and what a treat. Yes, we broke trail on a pile of fresh, but were able to find the old up-track most of the way to the headwall. Most of the north-facing chutes showed slides that were not brand-new. After going to the headwall, we skinned up two south-facing slopes, found decent skiing interspersed with pow over slide debris. Open water down low gave great beauty to the setting, Andromache to the south and Noseeum to the north. Protected on 3 sides from prevailing winds (sort of), it’s a fantastic place for newbies as the scenery is jaw-dropping for minimal effort (2 km access to the chutes). NOTE: If there is no roadside parking, pull in to Mosquito Creek and ski south along the road for 1 km to the bridge at Noseeum Creek. The up-track is on the south side.
Feb 22, 2021
Poor vis and sobering avalanche risk levels motivated us to stay in the trees today, which turned out to be a wonderful choice. There was no wind and hardly anyone out. Of course, with the 20+ cm of fresh and no earlier track, it was slow going. We could “sense” an old track, occasionally, but meandered off that often enough that we didn’t make the Pass. I’m sure that those coming in the next day were thankful. A few signs of slides along the 93 and lots of wind affect.
I wonder if the earthquake had anything to do with triggering an Avalanche.
I’m not sure what the fuss is all about. It looks like this lynx walked with its legs splayed apart to avoid stepping in the ski track?
Re: Helping people out at Bragg Creek: I am not by any means a regular there so you can stop reading right now, but from all the posts I see about Bragg Creek and all those who are passionate about the place, would it be worth while to initiate a “SNOW HOST” kind of concept as works very well at Canmore Nordic Centre? The program basically runs only on weekends, or perhaps also during Race Events, but those involved and trained “can” snow host, wearing their identifying vest, any day of the week.
Part of the deterrent of my wanting to explore the trails at Bragg Creek more, is the entire area has such an overwhelming abundance of trails and perhaps the hikers/snow-shoers could be more efficiently managed by designating more trails JUST for them. Recently while in PLPP, I was impressed how many trails are now totally designated to walkers/snow-shoers/fat bikers. There is a big map available at the Discovery Centre “PLPP Winter Trails”, showing Elkwood Loop, Marsh Loop, Lower Lake, Canyon, Penstock, Tall Water, Frozen Toad and Torpor Loop (and likely some shorter distance ones). Yes, there have always been issues with people heading to Elk Lakes Cabin but for the most part, PLPP has done a great job of providing this many snowshoe trails. All of these are marked on this map, and alot of excellent general information also included on the back.
Thought Mike W’s and Herbert’s comments were very well said.
While “taking a photo and shaming them on the internet” might solve the immediate problem, society takes a small step backward.
Bob, with respect to shaming the walkers, I’d start with shaming the skate skier who sliced up the trackset. He/she did way more damage than the walkers (one couple was still figuring out where to go, and the other couple had just started). And the skier couldn’t claim ignorance as to what the purpose of the trackset was.
Alberta Parks XC trail reports – that annoying drop down menu above the status column to increase the number of trails shown IS GONE!
The default is now for All trails, no longer a default of 10.
This was a quick response by Parks – it was only a couple of days ago that I suggested this change via their ‘Contact Us’ feature.
After this small success, I am tempted to whine again to Parks Canada about getting Banff NP on Nordic Pulse.
That pristine scene in my photo didn’t last long! In minutes, just around the corner, I encountered two walkers heading south, leaving pits of roughly 7 cm in depth. When I mentioned that the trail was “skiers only”, as per the prominent sandwich board sign at the south junction with Elbow, which seemed to be effective for most, given the trampling south of the junction- they claimed to be lost. I explained that they should walk off to the side rather than mangle the centre of the trail on the upcoming south facing hill, which was already a bit sun-softened and would be icy and possibly hazardous to skiers in the morning. Last I saw of them- they were still stomping down the centre of the downhill….
WBC: logging road heading west and north of Telephone Loop (west side about 4 km north of the Moose Loop junction).
I had noticed this logging road a number of times and today I figured I would explore it. Trail breaking made progress very slow. I turned back about 2.5 km away from Telephone. My GPS app indicates that I made it about 1/2 way to the end of Homestead road (at the rifle range) coming south from highway 68 so I guess that the entire trip would be about 5 km up and then back.
Don’t you just HATE water when it’s not crystallized?!
I remember the time dad read us kids “The Avalanche on Redearth Creek”.
Worst. Bedtime. Story. Ever.
Is the October 23, 2013 photo of the bridge over the Spray River free for use?
Probably another road closure coming for spray lakes road and avalanche control affecting access to goat creek/shark etc. next few days.
To be more precise for the Red Earth Creek fireroad past km 7, with respect to the highest avalanche hazard potential and based on ancestral slide path off Copper Mountain, the section of the ski trail from km 8.2 and 8.7 is the most obvious. When the ski trail gets very close to the creek, past the Lost Horse Creek campground, you are entering that 500 meters section.
Lucky, especially when getting pushed into lake water!!!! Another report from guides yesterday accessing saddleback and surprise pass at lake Louise. Conditions rapidly changed while they were travelling so they pulled the pin and headed back, only to see their up track had been hit by avalanches. It’s quite possible that some of the avalanche paths near cross country trails will run also (or hiking trails or other areas without fences or signage), increasing risk to potentially unaware cross country skiers, snowshoers and hikers. It’s that kind of time right now, and maybe another week or more of heightened risk. Avalanche terrain exposure maps are available to the public. It’s the users responsibility to inform themselves, always.
To be clear, the avalanche path in question is not off the headwall at the end of the lake, but rather about half way along the lake at the base of a huge avalanche path, as seen in pictures number 5 & 6 in this photo link from March 2019:
This avalanche regularly breaks the lake ice on impact and should never be approached. Any pictures taken should be with a long zoom lens like mine!
I posted the original incident report to Avalanche Canada. Thanks for reposting here and increasing the visibility of this incident.
I believe that Parks Canada needs better signage on this trail to indicate where the avalanche terrane begins and what that means. Currently there is a small sign, posted on a tree, that says something along the lines of “ski touring beyond this point”. This language is not clear to non-skiers (heck it’s not that clear to skiers) which are the majority of trail users these days. There are clear warnings at the trailhead but they are lost in the clutter of maps etc.
Thanks the update Bob, regarding the Boom lake avalanche incident, I have seen over the last months a few posts on Hike Alberta of folks wanted the « perfect Instagram shot » of themselves near the frozen waterfall below the avalanche path. Even from their photos you could see right away they were putting themselves in danger and many comments were like « stunning photo » lets go there!
Shaganappi: Was there yesterday, about 15h00. Classic, loop starting w/ “expert” of to right from parking lot. Mixed conditions, first hill was fine w/ decent snow as was field on other side, then hit slush on back side of that field, crossing the creek the snow was soft but still a lot of it, coming up toward the condos conditions deteriorated quickly, snow turned to slush w/ icy patches, that was pretty much the “top” part of the loop. Lot of bare patches, but easily avoidable. Tracks were largely non existent.
On the flip side, the place was quatro gatos empty as they say way down south.
Snow preservation is the right call.
I finally made it to the SkierBob front page photo! Small correction on the photo credit: The photo was provided by me, but not taken by me. I don’t know who took the photo.
Now you tell us!
And to top it off you post up drone footage!
Got any with “lignum vitae” edges?
Sorry, I meant this to be in reply to Sara’s comments to one of my earlier posts
Just curious Skier Bob of the location the middle header photo is taken? It is stunning and perhaps one day I would love to ski that trail.
Thanks for all you do and your website is a Godsend!!
Did a quasi-epic trip at Sandy McNabb today. Starting from the visitors center, I went up Pine Ridge, then broke trail north along the very nice ungroomed Pine Ridge North trail. Descending the west slope of Pine Ridge into Death Valley on this trail didn’t really work as there wasn’t enough snow, but it’s very scenic. Then I headed west up the Windy Point trail to the pass between Foran Grade Ridge and Windy Point ridge and traversed across Foran Grade Ridge (which also had many unskiable sections) down to the road, and then took Sheep trail and outer Meadow Loop back to the visitors centre. Beautiful day. The conditions on the groomed trails are still excellent, with nice fast tracks.
Yesterday Gary M and I decided to tackle the Skoki-Pipestone 43 km loop. We figured with no new snow for awhile we might get lucky and find broken trails for most of it. The upshot was that it took us 13 hours, the last 4 hours in the dark! We both meant to bring headlamps but both forgot them, luckily a half moon provided some illumination. We did the trip counter-clockwise and had hard packed trails to Merlin meadows then we were on our own. Trail breaking was slow with 8″-10″ ski penetration. The meadows when we connected with the Little Pipestone were particularly beautiful, they are named Governors Meadows?? At that point we connected with the summer trail from the Pipestone Valley following Wolverine tracks that also favoured the summer trail. At 8 PM we finally connected with a skier set trail at the 29 km mark (14 km from Pipestone parking, thanks to Sarah and/or Chuck who skied up the Pipestone that far), the going was much faster then. The most dangerous part was careening down the steep hills on the grooming near the end in the dark with tired and wobbly legs! Definitely underestimated the time of this trip. I had done the same trip 8 years ago, clockwise, in April but was able to crust ski up the Pipestone so much faster.
There is a broken trail until the next snowfall.
Another thing I’ve been trying to sort out this week is my wax. How should the ideal wax feel? Especially for trails with lots of ups and downs. I was doing pretty well sorting out wax for the flats. And now that I’m adding in elevation, sometimes it feels too sticky or not sticky enough for the uphilks. Thanks again!!!
Hi! Thanks again for this wonderful portion of the site! I’ve been out enjoying great skiing this week. But I’ve also developed quite this blisters on my heels, and On the bottom of my second toe. Any suggestions?
Taylor / Panorama Ridge. This are has seen quite a bit of traffic in the past while, but the skiing is still good. One postholer hiked all the way up to Panorama ridge in the skin track. There were two trees down on the trail, both near the bottom. It was nice and sunny and warm in the meadows below the ridge. Ski pen about 20 cm with moderate trailbreaking. The midpack is still very supportive, and the cold snap didn’t rot it all out. I skied a few laps, managing to find some freshies each time. Ski-out was hardpacked and very fast.
Wed feb 17: Simpson pass/heally pass P-loop.
Started up heally pass trail and took the first junction left up to Simpson pass. Skier tracked to the junction. Downhill tracks from the pass but no up track direct to pass. Ankle to boot top ski pen (AT) away from the tracks and up towards the south end of the monarch rampart and across to heally, linking meadows and lakes. Eventually hit a prior ski track towards heally. Pretty good descending conditions on heally pass trail with moderately packed cold powder, easy to scrub speed. Two trees to dodge around below Simpson junction with slightly awkward detours but not in a fast descent spot, so easy enough. Evidence of a party of two? on the heally trail but never saw anybody all day.
Q: What did one moose say to the other moose?
A: Waoh…. that is one BIG rabbit!
Looks like a nice treat for a happy hungry skier. (-:
Sundance Lodge is in Banff National Park, about 10 km up Brewster Creek.
Trailhead is at the base of the Sunshine Ski Resort access road off Highway #1, along Healy Creek.
When you say Sundance Lodge I think of Sundace Lodges off hwy 40. I’m starting to gather there are two places with similar names.
Never been to Emerald lake trails. Which ones do you recommend? I am an avid skier from Canmore
Check out the Feb 2021 Trip Reports. There’s a Sandy McNabb report that was posted yesterday evening.
Does anyone know the current condition of Sandy McNabb? I looked at the interactive map and it says some trails were track set about 5 days ago. I went out there 4 weeks back and there was nothing… no tracks no trails, everything was pulverized by people walking on them. I used to ski there as a kid and would love to take my kids out there but don’t want to get out there and be disappointed again 🙁
Hello,how are you. My wife and daughter and I live in the Okotoks area and are beginners to novice skiers. We are looking for a nice user friendly course relatively close to Calgary. As well we will need to find equipment to rent. We are planning just a day trip,so we’d need to rent for just the day. Can you direct me to the best way to go about this? Thank you
I found the same thing at the nordic centre. The air was warm, but the snow was still very cold and slow
Skiing on the connector trail from natural Bridge to emerald lake. Which way has more downhill ? How much ?
*i would assume emerald Lake to natural bridge
We also lost Marmot to mid-mountain in the flood too.
MAAD wouldn’t have turned around.
Looks great! Stoney Trail NE of Troll Falls perhaps? Maybe route was originally packed for powerline access?
Anyone know anything about potential XC skiing fees in National Parks? Just saw the following at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/tarifs-fees:
In 2019, Parks Canada conducted public and stakeholder consultations on fees. Canadians from across the country took part in these conversations, and their feedback helped inform upcoming fee changes that will take effect beginning in January 2023.
These updates will not affect admission or front-country camping, but will result in changes to fees that offer a high level of individual benefits to visitors, such as enhanced experiences, facility rentals and special event permits.
These updates will help Parks Canada recover a greater portion of the costs of service delivery by reflecting changes to the cost of living since fees were last reviewed in 2008. These changes will also bring some Parks Canada fees closer to those charged by nearby tourism providers, helping to avoid unfair competition with local businesses providing similar services and experiences. Examples include special guided tours, CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING, golfing, and access to hot pools.
Do you know if the Little Red Trail paths for XC skiing and open and groomed this year?
We were at Confed late afternoon Thursday (11th) and saw the Valentine’s sentiment on the hill. Glad it lasted and hope whoever it was intended for saw it!
Thanks so much to the Ribbon Creek groomers for grooming a detour around the ice floe so quickly! We didn’t ski it today but saw it as we drove past and several folks were out on it. BTW the temp. at Evan Thomas/Wedge Connector/Bill Milne was around -10C early afternoon and more people out than yesterday.
Historically, Telephone loop (along with many of the trails in WB) was designed specifically as a ski trail by Don Gardener in the late 1970’s. It was not groomed consistently until a few years ago when the GBCTA took over responsibility for it from Parks.
The east half of it has been deemed multi use which has led to heavy amounts of foot and bike traffic.
Maintaining this as a groomed ski trail is proving to be impractical, and we see it as being possibly delegated to a primitive ski trail. Our efforts to provide a quality experience for tracked skiing are better suited to areas that are restricted to skiing only.
In an effort to be all things to all users, the original intent of this trail has been lost.
Hi Bob. I’m trying to find a trail where I will have cell phone coverage because I need to be reachable. I am wondering about the Cascade Valley trail starting at Minnewanka. I know there is cell coverage at the parking lot but not sure beyond there. West Bragg is too spotty.
The thought occurs: If it is a multi-use trail then why set ski tracks? Or think for even one second that non-skiers should stay off our precious ski tracks? I think the non-skiers should be free to enjoy a trail without having to tiptoe around ski tracks. Guess I won’t make any new ski friends with this remark.
A couple possibilities would include:
1. Nordic Alberta’s website (would require modifications to have SkierBob functionality)
2. Creating a subreddit on Reddit for Alberta xc skiing
Well done Skier Bob. Thank you for all of the wonderful ski updates and the service you provided for us all. You’ve served the community well and I wish you all the best!
Sat feb 13: skogan pass powerline
-27 at nakiska 830. -15 back just after lunch. Bomber grip going up skogan and hummingbird with the old green wax on the AT skis. Skins for the powerline track laid down today by a local park resident doing some laps before work (thanks!). Much nicer temps in the sun of the powerline than the XC trail. Descent down powerline a bit punchy off old tracks with a week of faceting and a breakable thin crust down about 20 cm. Elected not to ski the lower section (balam) given shallower pack and faceting. Skogan and high level grooming both still in good shape for easy travel up and down and it’s wasn’t seeing much traffic today.
Dear Skier Bob,
Although our paths probably have crossed when the Regina ski club made it’s annual 4 day trip to Canmore area I don’t think we’ve actually met. We would often pick your brain/blog for the best skiing options for us flatlanders and your prompt replies always sent us in the right direction. I believe one year you told us not to do Goat Creek unless we we’re planning on doing it with a luge. It’s another “end of an era” but it’s totally understandable. On behalf of the Regina Ski Club thank you so much for countless hours you’ve spent to make this a better world. ?
I know I’m late to the game, but better late than never! Skier Bob, you’re a regular part of my winter routine. Every week I check out your posts to find out where to ski and have explored so much more of the Rockies because of you. Thank you so much for all you’ve done to advance XC skiing for all Albertans!
Lake Windermere WHITEWAY (Advertised as The World’s Longest Skating Rink): Friday Feb 12th Started at Kinsmen Beach in temps around -20 and warmed to -15 (blasting bright sun: where were the Eskimo Slit Goggles?) After skiing all loops and to far end of lake, we reached our desired goal of 31 kms. Supper at FUZE was wonderful, especially to sit down warm and cosy inside. Almost needed “extracting” out of the car at 9pm, but Mission Accomplished for our Virtual Birkie on two opposing teams.
Thanks Steve! Sounds great!
I have a friend in Norway, in Sandvika near Oslo, who ski often, here is their map of ski trails and info on grooming/tracking near Oslo.
On their web site of the ski association https://www.skiforeningen.no/magasinetmarka/aret-som-gikk/
I am reading:
“A total of 16,265 kilometers of ski trails were prepared in 2020. Compared to 43,585 kilometers the year before(2019), it is understood that it was a demanding winter. In some terrain trails, there was not enough snow to prepare at all.”
Info might be of interest to our groomers and others,
anyway, thanks for your contribution over the last 13 years,
P.s. We live in Cochrane, so if there are any other trails close to us for the busier work/school days, that would be great to know too!
Hello! My family is new to Calgary and my 9 year old daughter is new to skiing. We’ve been loving WBC and working up through the trails. Moose loop was beautiful on Sunday, if a little slow. Technically the trail was perfect for my daughter, and she is excited to go again, but the length was at her upper limit. Any suggestions for the next set of trails for us that would have nice mountain or trees or any nature scenery views? We are willing to drive a couple of hours. Thank you! Happy skiing! And happy Chinese New Year!
I have loved your blog and will miss it immensely! Thank you for all the time and effort you’ve put into it over the past years. I met you once on Goat Creek and it was a real highlight!
Could a trail in the Empire be renamed the SkierBob Classic or the Bob Truman Trail!?
I emailed Banff NP info centre about whether Parks Canada could join Nordic Pulse. This has been ‘passed along to management.’
Thanks SO SO much for bringing together the Nordic community through your website.
I still hope to meet you on the trail someday.
Best wishes to you,
I concur with your comments regarding the utmost importance of trip reports, on a personal note, the groomers reports are equally important as they provide first hand information and usually before the « official » website.
Regarding the grooming as Skitrails.info seems to only work for Kananaskis Village greater area trails, I have noticed that WBC uses Nordic Pulse to provide a similar colour coded map. What do you think to « push » this option to other ski areas?
I’m still having a hard time accepting the new reality that this blog will not be available next season.
If someone is going to design a new blog, a few suggestions come to mind:
1) Anyone wanting to post should be required to create an account including a unique UserName linked to their email. This would eliminate the confusion when two people use the same name, knowingly or unknowingly!
2) The ‘Search’ function should be allowed to work on contributed Trip Reports. At the moment the ‘Search’ function only works on the Home Page. The Administrator(s) can’t be expected to ski everywhere! Year’s ago our reports did go directly to the Home Page, but that became unmanageable. Users often want to check out the recent reports for a particular trail (or by a particular reporter), so this would facilitate their search.
I’m so sad!! Checking in on your website has been a part of almost every winter day for many years – that being said I realize this is a tremendous amount of work and those are hours you could be out on the trails. Thank you so very very much Bob! Your dedication to sharing good information has been so valuable to a huge community. Thanks for so many years of great service!!
Thank you Bob for creating this wonderful resource for the x-country skiing community! Your site has been the go to place for current trail conditions and everything else x-country skiing for myself and many others for the last 13 years. I’m sure I’ll bump into you on the trails in the future. Until then wishing you all the best!
Thanks, Jeff. I always enjoyed skiing your tracksetting. Skogan Pass, my favorite, has the most elevation of any trails I ski. And Bill Milne – well, its the flattest. So you covered both ends of the spectrum. Enjoy your retirement , and thank you..
Thank you Bob! The positive, welcoming style of your updates has done much more than just inform us about conditions and entertain us with stories. It has created a community of cross country skiers. It has embraced and celebrated all the different ways that we enjoy skiing. Many of us check SkierBob every day, often several times. There was always something new on the site- a new post, fresh trip reports, grooming reports and it was the hub that linked us to more details about weather, grooming reports, etc. But, to accomplish that, you had to be working on the website every single day. What a huge commitment!
I’m hopeful that your remarkable example will inspire some others to pick up the torch to ensure that something similar will continue on. I expect it may require a team effort.
Thanks for all that you have done to bring us together! See you on the trails!
Thanks so much Bob for all you have done. I read your blog and the trip reports nearly every day during the x-c ski season. What you created has had value beyond belief. Congratulations
Mr. Bob, a few years ago we stumbled onto some expertly groomed cross country trails but cannot remember if they were off the 40, 3 Sisters Parkway or beyond. They looked like they could be used for competitions. Might you have any idea where they might be? With thanks, Ann.
We really can’t add many more accolades Bob. You have a huge loyal fan club, and they have stated it quite eloquently and we echo their sentiments.
There is nothing but respect and admiration for all your hard work. You give up a lot of your own ski time to help others out, always with a big smile on your face. (And a happy greeting for the canine)
When I read it on CBC today my reaction was Oh No! Will REALLY miss your blog!! Thanks so much for all your work over the years
On behalf of myself, and my humans Chris & Peter, thanks so much for all you’ve done for the XC community, especially where pupsters on trails are concerned – it’s been great to have access for doggies clarified. I know my humans check your page regularly before deciding where we will ski – this input will be sorely missed! Hope to see you on the trails soon!
So long Jeff, and thanks for all the tracks!
thanks thanks thanks
Thx BOB, amazing to have used this for so many years
PLEASE not a FB page. Not all of us rejoice with FB or have accounts.
the “end “
So many great comments from all your followers , friends and admirers!
You deserve them all and more- You covered the basics 10 times over, Always relevant ,interesting ,helpful and sometimes funny!
I don’t know how you had time to ski!
And all work on getting PeterLPP Back And successful
It won’t be the same.
Sad to hear, but you must need a rest
hope we will Cross paths in the future
Jeff – Thanks for the many years of great tracksetting! When the weather is very cold, Skogan Pass is my favourite trail. The extreme cold greatly improves grip on the ascent and reduces the need to snowplow on the descent. Very little of the trail is flat or low angle descent where you’d notice the impaired glide. Having enough layers to survive the wind chill on the descent is challenging though!
Enjoy your retirement in Quebec. I’m sure Alex has been well-trained to carry on the great work the two of you (and others?) have been doing.
Merci Jeff pour ton travail assidu à tracer les pistes pendant toutes ces années. Grâce à toi et ton expertise, on a pu pratiquer un sport de glisse dans des conditions excellentes. Bon retour au Québec et fais-nous savoir qu’elles seront les pistes que tu y traceras!
Hello Jeff, I had the pleasure to meet you a few years ago and I remember you telling me all about pre-Nakiska trails that you had groomed. Just for my sake, on YouTube there is 2015 video of the Skogan pass grooming, was it you?
Skogan pass and shootouts are my favourite place for a good workout and many thanks for the prefect grooming.
Bonne retraite au Quebec et un grand merci pour toutes ces années!
Wow, everyone is retiring this winter. What a shame, we’ll miss Jeff’s tracks. Hopefully someone will take over and this isn’t an excuse for the government to end grooming at Ribbon Creek?
It’s good to hear that your knowledge and skills will continue to benefit skiers. And bikers too, I’m guessing. Sounds like Alberta’s loss is Quebec’s gain! Thanks for going above and beyond, Jeff.
Owning a place in Lac Des Arcs (purchased in ’93) made this whole area at Ribbon Creek “my” Nordic Centre. Those many deep snowfalls made Ribbon Creek such a joy to ski. It was and still is a Winter Wonderland. Just last Friday we skied up Coal Mine in perfect conditions; I guess in hindsight, it was in your honour although Alex, your well trained successor, might have groomed it. After Kovach’s loop we skied down from the Hotel (is that trail really called Bill Milne Paved Trail as my Gaia would suggest?) back down to the car, a wonderful pot pourri. It would be awesome if you would list the Top Ten Beefs from an EXPERT Groomer’s perspective before you leave us. Thank you Jeff for your years of service to our deeply loved Kananaskis Country.
What was the second announcement? 🙂
The second announcement was Ribbon Creek Tracksetter Jeff’s retirement. -Bob
Thank you, Jeff, for your years of dedication! Your retirement is well-deserved! You will surely be missed. All the best to you in your future adventures!
Thanks for all your hard work on the trails, Jeff. I skied on your tracksetting in the 1980’s . How lucky we all were — and are — to have teams like yours. Best wishes for your move to Quebec!
Many thanks to tracksetter Jeff for the his superb tracks in Kananaskis country. You’ll be missed.
What a week of announcements for the x-country community. Another loss it feels but a very deserved retirement for Jeff. Hopefully he is able to pass on his skills before he leaves!
Thank you Jeff for hours of blissful trails we enjoyed because of you. We have been skiing here since the mid 90’s so we owe a lot of memorable skiing days to you!
What a fantastic story of the early days of Jeff the Groomer. His early grooming career occurred at a time when the Alberta economy was hurting from very high interest rates, the American oil pull out in protest of the National Energy Program and oil as low as $12 per barrel, about 4 times lower than todays rate of $58.27/ WTI per barrel. This was an age that people in Calgary were selling homes for $1 because the economy was so brutal. Yet the Alberta Government had some intelligence to expand cross country skiing at the time to benefit the health of Albertans and to expand our tourism industry which would help the government books in the longer run. The Progressive Conservative government of the day had so much more tourism vision back in the 1980’s as compared to recent years with the elimination of new open pit coal mines in the mountains, expansion of parks and xc ski trails.
It would be great to expand the story on Jeff and get more details. I wonder how much input he had on expanding the xc ski trails to make way for the first Piston Bully. It must have been a glorious day to step into such modern technology. He could have been stuck in a Tucker Cat instead!
To hear that the first Piston Bulley used in the Eastern Slopes of Alberta, which was bought way back in the last century, is still in use today in the glorious Eastern Alberta Cypress Hills is fabulous That is another clear example of why it is better for the government to buy good equipment rather than leasing it. The savings are superior this way and it reduces the cost for xc tracksetting and grooming which is something we all want to see.
Too bad Jeff is heading to Quebec to retire. Lucky Quebec that will benefit from Alberta’s brain drain. Jeff’s experience would be valuable for the next new Alberta Government after the 2023 election in order to upgrade the Alberta XC ski tourism industry here for the next 7 generations.
Thank you Jeff – wish you all the best in the move!! The trails are always such a dream to glide on. Ribbon creek is where we discovered our love for XC skiing !
All the best to Jeff, wishing him a long and happy retirement. Many thanks for a great job on the trails, I am fortunate enough to have been able to enjoy them these last few years.
Like everyone else who has commented, thank you for your tireless efforts promoting and advocating for cross-country skiing in southern Alberta and eastern BC! May you enjoy whatever you have planned next.
A coupe of years ago we relocated to B.C.’s Lower Mainland for work. I knew one thing I would truly miss was cross-country skiing in K-Country and WBC. I was right: I’ve been on my skis three times since moving here (and the skiing isn’t the same). I ski vicariously through this blog. =)
Skiing on your tracks in Kananaskis has been pure pleasure! I’m so glad my toddlers got to enjoy your trails on your last season with us too! Your retirement plans sound perfect. Best wishes to you, your wife, and those lucky Quebecois skiers! 🙂
Thank you Skierbob! For all your work putting together timely info and also your generosity in sharing it. Your blog is positive and upbeat, filled with great photos, current conditions, etc. Everyone who submits trip reports has been so willing to give info and tips to help us all have a better experience… Your website has so much helpful info/tips – webcams, weather, maps, competitions, gear, etc. We may not have known about the grooming kerfuffle with the gov but your website rallied us all and hopefully the user pay passes will have made a difference to keeping the tracksetting going. Enjoy your skiing next winter but know that you will be missed a lot.
Thank you Bob for all you and your blog has done for the X-C ski community over the years. Also thank you for bringing together a group of great, thoughtful, kind and generous individuals through the blog. Everyone needs to retire at sometime and you have decided it is your time, so go for it. See you on the trails!
Hi does anyone know if Mt Shark has any picnic tables and fire pits there or near by … gonna miss this Bob!!
Heartbreaking news. Wonderful to have had this blog for as long as we did – always something to look forward to. All the best!
Feb 9 – Packers Pass Peak
Skied up towards the Skoki area today on AT gear. I left the trail on Ptarmigan Lake and skied up towards “Packers Pass Peak”, between Packers Pass and Deception Pass. The last ~150m of elevation gain was windblown and I hiked up. Not a breath of wind until I got to the top! It was -35 when I started and -20 when I got back to the car. The track in to Skoki is well-packed by snowshoers, skiers, and snowmobiles, and with this cold, slow snow, would probably be fine with waxed track skis.
Thank you, Bob, for all you have done for cross country skiing. I will miss your posts.
Love, love, love the updates and seek them out before heading out. I will certainly miss seeing what Skier Bob says.
Bob you truly paved the way and kept us up to speed on where to go for incredible skiing. Thank you for taking the time to do this! I fondly remember the Lake Louise to Banff relay we did together with the others. Will hopefully see you on the trails!
Thank you for providing such an amazing platform for the xc ski community!! When we moved back to Canada last year our friends told us that we had to follow SkierBob to get the best info about xc skiing…it completely exceeded our expectations. We follow all of your posts & website to help us plan all of our xc ski days. You are going to be sorrily missed and have left a legacy that will live on forever!! Good luck to you and Happy Trails!!!
Bob, your support of the southern Alberta / eastern BC XC community has been outstanding. A hearty congratulations and many thanks.
RIP (retire in peace) SkierBob! It’s been a fantastic journey, for you and many many others. What you have created will endure in more ways than just the technical cogs of a web site. It really is a wonderful inclusive community. Thank you so much for that. Retire with pride. We all look forward to a post covid retirement party when it’s ok to hug again. Maybe one last raffle/contest is in order though: It’s time to pass on the SkiHere toque (literally and figuratively) and don a trip reporter hat. Happy care free skiing Bob and see you on the trail, or better yet, at a relaxing comfortable couch. (-:
Bob, thanks for all that you have done for the Calgary and area cross country ski community. You will be missed! Best of luck for your future endeavours.
My family and I will miss all the comments, trip reports and insight. As with many it was an honour to meet you on the trail a few years ago.
Yes, me too. Will miss you Bob. I check your site every day before I go to sleep and as soon as I wake up. Plus some days even more often. I probably would not have to do it, since I ski with Helen often and I think she is on your web every hour. But I do not blame you, I also am trying to limit my time on the computer and the contrary is happening right now. Maybe you will still change your mind when the next winter comes. Enjoy this one.
The first question I always ask a fellow cross country skier, “Do you follow Skierbob”. The answer is always “Yes”! This site provides so much information and inspiration. It is the first (and pretty much only) site I check on before we head to the trails. Your blog posts,Bob; trip reports; answers to questions, trails conditions; your site is such a huge part of our winter. You will be greatly missed!! Thank you for all you have done for this ski community.
I secretly hoped that somehow, miraculously, this site will go on forever; can’t imagine heading off to the mountains without looking for info here first. Thank you, Mr. Truman, for your great service to the community.
Well, they say that “all good things must come to an end” 🙁
It’s just that “WE” – the XC Skiers of the EMPIRE aren’t ready to say farewell to what has felt like home base for so many of us for so long. “SkierBob.ca” has become every skier’s BFF 😉
BOB: Thanks for your dedication & the many hours you devoted to your exceptional website – a true labour of love! So grateful to you for sharing it with us for these many years!
Best wishes to you as you “retire” to the freedom of the many happy trails ahead!
Cheers to you!
Bob, you deserve our thanks! I recall when we first started to xc ski, how frustrating it was to glean a little information from the websites, and then just how relieved we were to find your humble “home page”. Kudos for what you’ve accomplished here! Grateful that your webpage doesn’t demand to turn us into a product.
Thank you Bob for all the work you did over the years.
For years you have been our #1 resource to decide where we would ski.
I also love how positive you were and always stayed away from criticizing anyone or anything.
Whoever is thinking to take over will have BIG shoes to fill.
Thank you, thank you and looking forward to meeting on the trails for many more years.
Sophie & Andrew
Bob… you’ve built a wonderful following thanks to your ongoing passion, engagement, and willingness to tackle/facilitate many challenging issues. You’ve given voice to the average person (comments, reports, etc), enabled and solicited engagement and participation from many, and even though this is a very simplistic blog/forum it is true to it’s cause and maximizes utility. You’ve managed to help keep much of the cr@p off this site (ie: poor comments, trolls, bad advertising, “selling out”, etc…).
Between you, and the many contributors, you’ve helped so so many of us find anticipation, joy, and share our crazy/gleeful moments on ye ‘ole misery sticks.
Hopefully you will entertain many out on the trails as we encounter you. Hopefully you have some swag you can find a way to offload (hint: fundraiser for ski-related services).
Hopefully you will consider some form of “hand-off” and/or continuation in whatever form this site and you would support?
Thank you for the few times you referenced any of my posts. Thank you for some of the personal notes over the years too. Thank you.
As you ski off to the end of the tracks… be proud man. Be proud.
(dangit… dunno how this became a long drawn-out note)…
Tears are running down my face. What will we do without you Bob??? You leave a lasting legacy and the XC community was very fortunate to have you for as long as we did. Thanks for everything!!! Happy Trails 🙂
Bob thanks for all you have done for the cross country ski community with much appreciation from Janice and Charlie Perry .
One last poem for the Blog for you Bob by Janice
When looking for a good cross country ski source
Everybody tunes in to Skier Bob’s Blog of course
Information on trails, conditions, maps, and stories
Anecdotes and photos of skiers in all their glory
Bob’s camera ensures a picture says a thousand words
As we see scenic trails, happy skiers, mammals and birds
Let’s not forget all the contests and prizes
There’s always something wonderful to surprise us
Informative trip reports bring our ski community together
Details of trails, waxes, conditions and weather
Everything you need is in one place
Hopefully the info won’t disappear without a trace
If you lost something on the trail don’t sob
Look for it in the Lost and Found section of Skier Bob
Looking for information on Loppets to try
Find this on Skier Bob in a blink of an eye
Not sure where to ski with your dog
There’s even a section to help on Bob’s blog
Need to write a letter to the government to lobby
Get all the information on the Blog of skier Bobby
Want to ensure you have great conditions for your favorite sport
Just click on the section titled Grooming Reports
Bob you have made so many friends on the trail
Now its time to just ski and enjoy your fan mail.
Thank you for your beautiful blogs and excellent reporting. You’ll be missed Bob! Happy Ski Trails.
All of my friends and I say (when deciding anything relating to xc skiing) “but what does it say on SkierBob?”. You will be missed greatly. THANK YOU so much for everything that you have done, and the way you have done it – such grace and positivity – what a great spokesperson for xc skiing.
Hope to see you on the trails!
Bob, what will we do without you! You’ve become a legend in the xc ski community. Thank you so much for your years of dedication to providing us with so much information about our favourite sport! I certainly hope you never lose your passion for skiing – maybe you can get out even more now! We’ll be looking forward to seeing your trip reports in whatever new blog rises from the ashes! Happy ski trails, Bob!
Thanks a lot Bob for the commitment on your website over the years, in being the common thread of the skiing community in the Calgary and Rocky Mountain areas. Whether it was for track-set, flat-pack, knee-deep trail breaking or powder turns, there was always a good snow all-you-can-climb’nglide buffet on the website. It will be a tough task to replicate the same standards and wealth of info we could find before and after any ski adventures. Hopefully, there will be a unique place for all the regular contributors to share their stories and all of us to gain valuable information.
I enjoyed reading all accounts daily, especially those from Helen, Alf, Chuck, MaSid, MAAD, Mike W. et al. Knowing where all those contributors will post their reports starting this fall, to get accurate info on trail and snow conditions as well as photo galleries, would be great to fuel up on each other outings. Ski safe.
Bob, Empires come and go, but not many, if any, depart at the height of their powers. Skierbob has been an invaluable resource to me over the past many years. Many thanks for your significant contribution to our winter pleasure.
Devasting news – just devasting! We are mourning the loss of this exceptional website.
We actually get “all the news we need” on the Skierbob report!
What will we do every evening and early morning without checking out who went where, and what they found?
We luckily discovered this site about 8 years ago and what a blessing it was. We learned so much and were incredibly inspired by so many of your Trip Reporter’s exploits. What an incredible crew of reporters.
Great job Bob – you are star and we can’t thank you enough for all your hard work and dedication to the sport. Your website is REALLY going to be missed in our household.
Enjoy your new schedule and we look forward to seeing you the Skierbob Special in PLPP.
3 Cheers to you – JR & Karen
You are a LEGEND. Thank you for the years of information, insight and communication. I hope someone can fill the BIG shoes you leave behind so we can continue this awesome community of active peeps sharing knowledge and trail tips.
Thanks again ROCKSTAR BOB!!
Wow! You’ve been my go-to website to figure out where to go skiing for the last decade!
I will miss this structure (as opposed to the FB structure), but understand the need to step-back at times.
Thanks for everything you’ve done for the community.
I can’t imagine a ski season without you and your BLog Bob. 🙁 . But I completely understand your decision. I was just saying to a friend on the weekend it must be so much work for you to maintain this blog as well as you do. I can’t remember how many years ago I started tuning in but it was many.
Thank you so much for all you’ve done for the x country ski community and for announcing this now instead of end of the season. Other bloggers may take on this challenge but it’ll never be the same or as great as yours.
Thank you SkierBob!
Identifying primarily as a backcountry skier I have nevertheless found your blog to be extremely valuable and entertaining.
Hopefully someone with a lot of time on their hands will *just get off the couch* and pick up the reins.
Thanks Bob for your great contribution over the years.
YOU WILL BE MISSED.!!!!!
I, and some friends were some of the first groups (from Edmonton and Vancouver) greeting you on Pocatera 15 or so years ago, and followed you on this blog ever since.
Your notes, friendly banter and pix lightened up the day:-). Now that the Long Loop (cca 30km) from WWL is too much of a challenge for me , I do my skiing in Edmonton and view this blog to reminisce!! Alas, with warmer winters the XC tracks are rather unreliable here. So I went to the dark side, to down-hill skiing at Snow Valley, Edmonton. They groom every night, so ice is not a problem.
Thanks again, good health and all the best, Emry
Thanks Bob, I refer to your blog often. I appreciate all the effort you have contributed to our community.
Thanks Bob for all the years of providing a great platform for trail information. This has been a big part of our trip planning. While Skierbob blog may ski into the sunset, hope to see you on the trails. Warm hearted thank you.
Thanks for everything that you do for cross country skiing Bob, we are very grateful for the vast amount of information you provided, and for the community you have fostered with your website. It will always be the SkierBob Empire, best wishes!
Thanks for all your hard work over the years, I don’t know how to manage without this site. I hope someone else can take it over, or start a similar one.
Thanks Bob, for all the effort you’ve put into this website over the years. I find that just posting a trip report with photos is a lot of work, let alone what you have to do on a daily basis. Hopefully you’ll have more time now to go skiing! Just post your phone number at the top of your home page so we can all phone you to find out where to ski! <>
Similar to MAAD’s idea, perhaps a XC ski shop or a ski club would be interested in setting up a similar website. That way, the work could be split between several people.
Thanks for all your hard work! I have treasured this site and the community it has forged. Wishing all the best in your new adventures!
I just wanted to say thanks, Bob! We appreciate everything you’ve done for our local ski community. Enjoy the next chapter, you deserve it.
Thank you for all the years I’ve turned to Skierbob to check trail conditions & reports & enjoy folks’ shares!
Enjoy retirement from managing the blog & hopefully see you on a trail!
Our small group has found your blog so helpful over the years. So so appreciated! Thank you for your tireless efforts. Wishing you the best.
Absolutely new to cross country. Have never tried and really want to try. I am a single mother and have a very athletic and coordinated 9 yr old and was hoping there was a place I could get a quick lesson or an intro lesson for half of a day ( a couple of hours ) in the Canmore area
Does such a thing exist ?
It won’t be the same, but you’ve certainly done more than your share for the rest of us over the years. Thanks, Bob!
You are Skierbob, professional, star quality, ski royalty extraordinaire. You started your own blog, Skierbob Banana Republic in 2008 because you found your passion for skiing. It was a great idea as you wanted to provide all the information that you became interested in, in one location.This information took a tremendous amount of time to accumulate as well as providing a one-stop blog to obtain all the answers for others who enjoyed this sport as well, and wanted this same knowledge and could find it all in one place. I am sure it took you a lot of time to contact all of your support people, experts, government contacts, groomers, and of course introduce yourself to each of them to explain your idea and concept of your blog.
By reading your blog today, I can see why many people read it as they all can see the amount of time and effort you put into it. I can also see it has been a time consuming passion of yours. Not only did you get the support from others, you compiled excessive amounts of material from individual sites to provide complete and necessary information to aficionados like yourself who are looking for similar information also for enthusiastic beginners. You answer so many questions daily on your blog and while some of the questions don’t appear to pertain directly to this sport, you still faithfully supply what information you can. I am amazed at how you find some of the information sometimes to help others. So may enthusiasts want to know: the weather today, tomorrow and the amounts of snowfall, the condition of the snow, and even potential storms, when the trails were last groomed, the condition of the trails, any trail hazards, or hidden curves and training or speed hills. Besides all that people want to know wax treatments for the skis in any weather, parking availability or restrictions. On top of all of this you took the lead in compiling more information and contacting everyone to help push the voluntary purchase of parking passes, to support the continued upkeep of the ski trails. So once everyone reads these facts, you further entice them to go skiing right now by showing all those gorgeous pictures taken by your friends and of course your own. As one person stated on your blog, this is a gold mine!
This blog isn’t all hard work for you though there is a lot to do. You must get off the ski couch and ski around yourself, talk to numerous people, say hello to all the beautiful dogs (you talk to them all). You talk to as many people as you can, you are friendly and concerned, asking everyone how they are and if they have any issues. It is all about your ambassadorship for skiing and treating everyone as part of your skiing family, Skierbob Banana Republic X-Country Skiing.
No wonder you are known as a celebrity on the slopes Skierbob! You blog is a one-stop dynamite place where you have provided your own attachments and insight into the contribution from others. This sight is a part of you, the humour, the honesty, it is your heart. It’s a joy for all of us to read and take advantage of your knowledge and facts. Thank you for all of your dedication.
This and Kamloops trails are my two favorite, resourceful and most helpful blogs I’ve ever subscribed to.
Well done and your work was most appreciated!
Hopefully someone will carry on all the resources you’ve built up.
I have been reading your blog for many years. Thanks for all you have done! Catch you on the trails 🙂
Rats. Thanks a lot for all the work you’ve put into this site over the years. Thanks to you and the people you’ve brought into your world, I’ve discovered new places to ski, learned a lot about the sport, and have found a community I’m happy to be part of. I’m convinced that a big reason there are so many people on the trails this year is due to the access to information you’ve been providing.
Thanks again, and hopefully I’ll finally run into you on the trails one day!
As the novice XC Skier 7 years ago, Bob, your blog was the first source I found which inspirited and informatized my wife and myself searching for joys of freezing winters. Thank you very much for over-years efforts running the blog. Wish you all the best.
Bob you have made a measurable and considerable impact on our xc skiing community. Thank you so much for your dedication and enthusiasm for this wonderful sport. Wishing you a happy “retirement” and now more time for getting out on those trails you love. All the very best!
Thanks for everything you’ve done. I promise to do my part to keep things going in the Facebook group (apparently we have 6000 members!)
Starting a new blog isn’t in my future but I hope somebody is inspired to do so.
You’ll be missed. I’ve visited your site nearly daily over the past several years.
It’s clear this website has been a labour of love for you over the years, Bob. We cross country skiers have benefited significantly from your commitment and dedication to providing this forum to share information and encouraging a sense of community for all us. Thank you! and Happy Trails!
Bob, it’s just the start of a new trail for you! Thanks so much, your blog has done so much for cross-country skiing.
I’m sorry to hear this as your site has been a real source of inspiration for me! When I moved to Calgary from my home country of Sweden I found your site pretty fast and it has helped me feel more at home here, it has inspired many trips with my family. Thanks for all the work with keeping it such a current and relevant site. I will miss it!
But I just signed up yesterday!! Sounds like you have been a great asset to this community and will be missed. All the best:)
Hi Bob, all of my university students have their reading break coming up, and I want to get them out to all of the different trail networks that we never get a chance to ski because we are usually so busy with racing. I was hoping you know in general what days of the week some of these places typically do their grooming? My experience often gets me out their with shin deep powder;) Pocaterra, Skogan Pass/Ribbon Creek, Yoho? Thanks, and keep up the great job on the blog.
I’m sad to hear that you’re intending to end your website this season. It’s an amazing site. I wish I had known it in 2008. I’ve recommended it to many skiers.
I understand that it’s a lot of work to keep it up.
I’m sure you will be out on your skis on the trails you love.
Take care and keep skiing!
Will miss you Bob! Thanks for an amazing blog – we read it all the time and will continue to look back on all the wealth of information you have provided to the cross-country skiing community! Thanks for keeping the site on.
Hope you can enjoy your skiing even more now!
Thanks so much for your dedication and hard work, Bob. The terrific information in your blogg has been a great help to our small cross-country ski group. We will miss you!
Your blog will be sorely missed! There’s such a community feel to it- skiers sharing photos, trail updates, photos of wildlife or dogs encountered, etc.
I hope there is someone out there willing to continue with a blog as many folks prefer an emailed blog to using Facebook, although it’s great to have both.
Thank you and happy trails.
Shutting down SkierBob will harsh the XC Ski Nation’s buzz.
I hope you are going to shift to Making Alberta A Democracy now!
Thanks for the great service Bob.
Ski long and prosper.
(PS Sell your website to a ski shop)
Bob, you have done a fabulous job in conveying a worth of info to hundreds of enthusiastic Skiers. I am blind and your blogs really helped me to choose where I could to and safely ski. Truly, we will miss you. Thanks indeed. I hope someone else takes over to administer your site or starts another one. May God bless you.
We’ve really appreciated this site for a wealth of reasons. You have created a community and injected us all with tremendous spirit for the winter season. We will all miss you. Does one have to have a FB account to access the FB site? We do not have a FB account. Please someone think about picking up the mantle. I nominate Helen. But I know there are several others that get out daily.
There is not a day in winter when I don’t read all the updates / trip reports to plan my next outing……the blog will be sorely missed and for sure you would deserve a proper send off at the end of the ski season from all the readers / trip reporters! Would you consider letting a group of aficionados take over the blog and continue your “oeuvre” or are you more inclined to just close the blog?
In any case many many thanks for the time and energy you dedicated to the ski community and being such a great ambassador to this sport.
I just got back into XC skiing before Christmas and your site as recommended by a long time follower of yours (thanks Rhonda) was instrumental in getting me the information needed to facilitate a fast and informative launch! Thank you so much, Bob!
Thank you for a great website So nice to have access to all the information! A job well done!
Thanks Bob, for doing so much for the xc ski community!
Don’t put that camera away, though.
Wow, this blog will sure be missed! I’ve only started cross country skiing this year but I appreciate all the work you (and others) have put in over the years. Also, meeting you on the trail and having my photo make it onto the blog was a special memory from this year – yes, I sent it to my parents because I think it’s a big deal! I’ve really enjoyed visiting skierbob.ca and I’ll be sad to not check this site every morning next winter. Thank you again!!!
Is there a more useful, comprehensive and appreciated xc ski blog in the Universe than the skierbob universe? I think not. Entertaining and helpful, principled and ethical. Thank you, Bob.
I feel as though a dear friend is about to pass away. The memories will linger on, long after a “new” initiative emerges.
Happy trails Bob!
Thank you so much for your enormous volunteer contribution to the XC skiing community. Your site contains so much valuable information. You will be missed, I hope to thank you in person soon.
Thanks so much Bob! My husband and I have Loved your blog and have viewed it for years as we love x-country skiing and find your blog to be so informative!
you will be sorely missed!
A heartfelt thank you. Your work on behalf of the skiing community is so greatly appreciated.
Its a very sad day to hear this news Bob, thank you for all you’ve done for our skiing community, I’m personally very appreciative of the tremendous energy you’ve put into Skier Bob, awesome, awesome job
Wow you will be sorely missed! This blog has been such a benefit to all of us who love cross country skiing… hope to meet you on the trail someday and thank you in person.
Thanks for all you have done Bob. I have enjoyed reading your blog for years and I appreciate the huge volunteer commitment you have provided.
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. – https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/weather/. Hey Bob, how about adding this link to your Weather menu?
The population of the Calgary/Southern Alberta region has tripled since the 1980’s.
Except for the creation of the Canmore Nordic Centre and the addition of new trails by West Bragg Creek volunteers, the actual amount of XC ski trails in Kananaskis Country has decreased. There has been no comprehensive plan in the past 30 years to address the increased demand for outdoor recreation that results from this regional population increase. Successive governments since Don Getty and Ralph Klein have cut funding for trails. The NDP did create the Castle Parks and invested in trail and infrastructure upgrades in Kananaskis.
The UCP governments helpful plan is to have Australian companies remove mountain tops and sell the coal for nothing to China… and to turn the rest of the public lands over to OHV users.
Peter Lougheed would be ashamed of the lack of leadership and vision.
Have noticed the term ‘sporty’ being used more frequently in trip reports. What do folks mean when using this description?
In PLPP we also lost part of Boulton Creek due to the flood. This were subsequently replaced, though I preferred the original. Sunshine used to groom and trackset trails up in the village on a regular basis and even had a nordic lift pass that allowed a ride up the gondola and one ride up either Strawberry or WaWa. There was one loop above WaWa, a loop in the meadows beyond Strawberry and a loop below the village. I don’t know what the total km was. Last time I was at Sunshine it looked like the loop below the village was groomed for skating, though without a season pass you’d have to pay the full lift price to get up there.
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.
Before your time Bob pre 1988 Ribbon Creek had almost 68 km of groomed trails. The trails around the Nakiska ski area like Stump Meadow, Timber Trail an extended Coal Mine and Ruthie’s were some of the best ski trails in Kananaskis.
First off, great page! Been a wealth of information!
My group is feeling adventurous and wants to try the Lookout Trail in PLPP. We usually do 10-15km when we go. I’ll admit we are newer, but have done most of the black hills at PLPP. What’s the best way? Make it into a loop with whiskey? Or just out and back from the elk pass lot? Any advice would be great!
Thanks in advance!
Fri feb 5: tower lake BNP
No trail breaking required. Well skied with just enough fresh at the sides. Didn’t encounter the wind until back around the shoulder and into the bow valley corridor again. Colder down there. Drive home was bad vis, ranging from a couple hundred feet to near zero on occasion. Hopefully the winds are calm during the cold of the next few days.
According to the latest news and weather the empire’s assets will be frozen this weekend.
I had a fantastic ski today up Whiskey Jack, to the picnic table on Trywhitt and then back down via Pocaterra and Packers!
I’m wondering if anyone happens to know if Pocaterra Hut will be reopening soon and same of the lounge at the discovery Center? Restaurants are reopening for dine in on Feb 8th and both were closed at about the same time that dine in service was banned in December 2020.
Also couldn’t help but notice new signage on Highway 40 for the Kananaskis Visitor Information Center (Barrier Lake). Does this mean that they will be reopening it?
Very little tracksetting at CNC. Some trails were groomed. Quite disappointing really.
Hello – I have had a number of hip surgeries and walk with a cane, however I have been able to do some limited skiing on nordic trails. As part as my rehabilitation I would like to get back on x-country skis. I need flat trails as even the slightest incline can throw off my balance. I did ok at the East Village Loop in Calgary and I have read that the Wedge Connector may be good for me in Kananaskis. If anyone has any other thoughts on where to find very flat tracks for me to practice and get my confidence up — please share!!
Thanks again for all these links and resources. When the Pandemic ends I will have to quit my job so I can explore all these gorgeous places on skis!
It’s good to know that there’s more detailed information on the grooming in PLPP. What puzzles me is that Amos, Wheeler, and Woolley were last groomed on Jan. 17, while Braille, Lodgepole, and Sinclair have been groomed 3 times since then (Jan. 19, Jan. 26, and Feb. 2). Blueberry, Elk Pass, and Patterson were last groomed on Jan. 20. I thought that there might be more of a regular rotation in the trail grooming, as in past years.
Your page is a wealth of great information. I’m wondering if you could provide some insight for me. I’m taking a solo vacation later this month (FEB2021) to Canmore. Any advice for solo skiing in Canmore? I’m thinking of a few daily visits to the Nordic Centre trails. And see also that one of the routes is lit. Is it fair to say that there is enough regular traffic on these trails that being out there alone isn’t a concern?
Great way-back referencing! I’ve got the revised ed. in my library aside David Rees’ xc compendium and Savage’s Ski Alberta. Question: what of these old gems? Whitehorn Loops; Sundance & Sunshine nordic trails; Johnson Lake Loops; Chester/Sawmill & Kananaskis Golf Course networks —some easy light touring trails that a new generation of skiers can explore.
Thank you Helen, Doug and Roy- I appreciate the information and look forward to checking out those sites– and those trails eventually. Enjoy the bounty of snow you are getting!
Kevin: I am partial to Yoho area and they have a smaller hotel in Field, BC called Truffled Pigs which I believe has 12 rooms and is complete with a very funky restaurant. Prices were very reasonable and a month ago hubby and I stayed there and were offered a discount for being members of Kicking Horse Ski Club ($50/yr). Trails available at that end and within 12 kms are: Lake O’Hara Fire Road (11 kms up one way), O’Hara end of Great Divide which one can ski to Lk Louise (11 kms.), Yoho Valley Road (5 kms or more if avalanche danger LOW), Tally Ho (right from Field Info Centre) takes you to The Connector (7 kms) which then takes you all way to Emerald Lk., and at Natural Bridge can ski Kicking Horse Fire Rd (7 kms). and scenic winner of all: Alluvial Fan at end of Emerald Lk. (8 kms starting at parking lot of Emerald Lk). Only problem is after a BIG storm, sometimes Trans Canada can be temporarily closed for avalanche control. They also have a CANSI level xc ski instructor who lives in Field, who is active in http://www.KHSC.ca above.
Kimberley has the best Nordic Center between Rossland and Canmore. It is also halfway between the two towns.
This website appears to have lots of info about xc skiing areas in the Kootenays.
I trust every one in The Domain is hoping for some early sunbeams tomorrow morning so Balzac Billie’s prognostication will be for 6 more weeks of “Let Snow Let it Snow Let it Snow.
It is so fun to read these precious articles. Really appreciated. Thanks for sharing.
Those are Pine Marten tracks!
Thanks For Keeping It Real.
we like to try new trials wherever they are in alberta. we prefer trails that have elevation with lots of hills and prefer them to be at least 10 kms. Do you have any recommendations? we have been to pipestone and lake ohara. also goat creek and skoki.
My wife and I and 9 month old are going to be cross country skiing in the Canmore area in March. We have skied PLPP & Kananaskis area lots before in January and Feburary and loved it. I was wondering what the snow conditions typically are like near the middle and end of March?
Peter Lougheed was the only quasi decent Premier in my life time who expanded Alberta owned oil and gas infrastructure to generate non tax revenues. Back in his day as Premier oil royalties were at least 43% higher which enabled Albertans to have so many more government services with less oil production. Today, with oil prices higher than the Lougheed days, most of the royalty reduced public oil wealth is being funneled to supporters of the Conservatives rather than the owners of the resource- you. This is one of the reasons why there is a reduction in the quantity and quality of ski trails in Alberta today as compared to the last century.
If we lived in a real democracy where you are given the legalized right to vote on government bills as well as having citizen-initiated legislation, you can bet Albertans would utilize their resource assets in a superior way to the neo conservatives and we would have an expansion of our parks not a decrease. That is why we need to Make Alberta A Democracy- for the betterment of Alberta and our future. Ski trails not pipelines to no where.
And now, thanks to our latest version of politicians, we have parking fees at trailheads, a closed Barrier Lake Information Centre, etc. Time does not always improve matters.
Wow, so different from the current crop of Alberta politicians, who do not give a hoot about the environment unless they can make money from it. Can you imagine the Jason Kenney Provincial Park? I can’t!
I met Bill Milne in a professional capacity in his later years when he sat as a member on the Calgary Planning Commission. I didn’t know at the time his involvement in the protection and creation of kananaskis. It would have been fantastic to thank him personally and directly for the immense value it has provided.
Excellent bit of trivia Bob. Including Sandy McNabb, WBC, Mt. Shark, and PLPP, there are approximately 200kms of groomed trails in Kananaskis today.
I thought everyone had a copy of this!
Great photos, thanks, Skier Bob!
Insoles and ankle pain advice: Hi skiers! Wondering what special insoles people use in their ski boots??? I’m putting more and more miles on my skies and the paper thin boot insoles aren’t cutting it. After big days my feet are achy with some sharp pains under the toe bed. Any insole advice? Also – occasionally experience pain inside the ankle, seems to be when carrying heavier packs on long skis – any tips to alleviate this? Thanks all, very grateful for this great ski community!
Agree with all you wrote Skierbob-trails were in fantastic condition ( even enough snow at the underpass near Lake Louise to ski through) and sunny blue skies made for the perfect temperature. And after all these years of following your blog I finally saw you on the trail. You passed me about 2km from my finish at Castle Junction and asked if I was doing the loppet and wished me luck. Wished I had stopped to chat but I was stunned by the celebrity siting and bonking from low sugar. Highlight of the ski!
Congratulations to all who did this one. Great stamina.
The trail from the Cascade River up to Elk Pass is broken with AT ski gear most of the way and in sporty condition in places. Bring waders for the Cascade River crossing or your in for a chilly surprise.
Hero’s Knob / Smith Dorrien. Jan 30
Not really in Skier Bob’s empire, but only 15 or 20 kms north. I was astounded to find over 50cm of new snow on Sweet 16, below Hero’s Knob today. BTW Hero’s Knob is just north of Black Prince, west of Sawmill parking lot. It seems that the snow fell Thursday and Thursday night and likely had some wind to help it along, but I was xc skiing at PLPP on that day and didn’t see more than a few isolated flakes. Interesting to think how localized some of these snow events are.
Here’s the video to prove it.
Hello. I’m looking for trails that are the next step up from “Beginner Trails 101 – The easy trails for raw beginners”. I’m comfortable on the intermediate trails at West Bragg Creek and I’m looking for somewhere else to ski for a change of scenery, ideally not too far from Calgary. Any recommendations would be appreciated. Thank you! Rachel
Sat Jan 30: fox-tyr ridge/west elk.
Elk pass cloud was in place in the morning, so went up north boundary cut line direct, bypassing the east elk option. Kananaskis avalanche forecast had indicated 30-50 cm of snow from last round of convective storms thu/fri. Weather stations didn’t show it, and it wasn’t at mount shark ski trails yesterday. Not sure where it occurred but must be localized, somewhere? Only a couple inches of fresh in my old tracks. Once the cloud moved off at 1240 in west elk pass, the oven turned on, but snow stayed cool in the flats. No hat or gloves required. Glad I hopped on some open sun exposed slopes in the morning before the sun started packing its punch. Possibly a sun crust on steep solar aspects now. The meadow touring back to blueberry in the sun was fantastic.
I’m a fairly new skier, who has mostly done yyc golf course trails. Would like to meet a friend somewhere in k-country for a fairly flat set-track trail. My skis are waxless and I have the winter k-country parking pass. Any advice, friends, for where to go?
Bryant Creek warden cabin – January 29, 2021
The drive along the Spray Lakes Road from Canmore was pretty rough, with the new snow. The road had not even been plowed when I drove back late pm. Started to ski past 10 am, too late to ski beyond the cabin and given the soft and sticky snow conditions. It snowed quite a bit until about 12:30 pm, with 5 to 15 cm of fresh snow over an old ski track, as well as on the recent track setting done at Mount Shark. I could see that one skier was ahead of me, refreshing the ski track. I met a couple skiing out with a sled, after having camped at BR9. Caught up with Aire on his lunch break around km 11, with my turn to pack on 10+ cm of snow on the old track. Quite sticky conditions for waxing. I just ended scrapping most of my wax for the last 4 km to reach the warden cabin. The blue sky was finally part of the day, with the solar panels at the cabin getting a good load of rays. With all wax removed, it was a smooth glide all the way back to the Bryant Creek bridge.
What a beautiful day! Thanks for helping us with waxing Tennessee’s skis 🙂 As beginners we are really loving the sport, the warm community, and this site. Thanks for all you do, Bob.
Skied Ribbon Creek 10:30-12:30. Still good track-set with some fresh snow lightly falling as I started & bit heavier towards the end. It must be wet snow as I really had to scrape off snow packed on bottom of boots when I finished. I skied Kovach-Aspen-Kovach-Terrace.
Took a break at the picnic table Kovach/Aspen & had to scrape snow build up off my waxless skis, otherwise it was fine.
Please buy a pass to support tracksetting so it’s continued next year!
Mt Shark: there was more snow overnight and all morning/early aft. Some icing around the lunch/early aft period, then better when it cooled off again. Enough travel to pack it all down for good tracks tomorrow. Didn’t notice any overhanging branches along green loop at all.
Here’s one I have of a bighorn bidding us adieu on the last day of skiing up at Highwood Pass one year.
Are any trails being groomed in Bragg Creek Kananaskis. eg Fullerton?
Thanks for the early report Bob. Now I know what to do today.
Can you connect West and East Elk Pass or is EEP just an out and back?
I’ve skied WEP to both couches there and climbed back up the power line.
I’ve also connected WEP to Blueberry.
Trying to picture this new area I haven’t explored yet.
Anybody got a map of the whole area, couches and routes all labeled?
They say the East Elk Pass Wind Wall is visible from outer space.
Couch H2.0 is where it’s at in good weather. A bit cooler than west elk pass normally, unless a pure west wind. East elk better protected from west wind than west elk. East elk exposed more to south wind, hence the large wind wall. Best done when completely clear for the long view to the south. Unfortunately there was cloud down that way today, obscuring the far off peaks.
It is always exciting to see a moose on a trail, even if they ruin it.
Tue Jan 26: east elk pass to west elk pass traverse.
An excellent moderate tour through three passes and half a dozen of the best subalpine meadows in the area, and passing by three couches en route. The traverse requires going over the “bump” that sits between east elk pass and the hydro line. Not sure if the bump has an unofficial name for reference, but it’s a reasonably prominent ridge and the only real high point between mount fox and mount tyrwhitt. Call it Fox-Tyr Ridge maybe, as it’s tear drop shaped and somebody saw a fox in the area recently (a bit of a stretch?). AT gear used given the descent to the west down the old cut block. Reasonably low risk terrain angle, at least the line I chose, but multiple fall line options exist, including amount of elevation you wish to lose. YMMV. Navigation over the bump to the cut block with minimal bush wack may be challenging without a track (or too many tracks), but it is possible by utilizing the summit meadows. The newer cut block has less snow cover and some slash hazards, but minor if not gunning it with turns. It can also be avoided. A fine day out with temps ranging between -15 and -5 and mostly sunny, plus a nice visit with Erin and dad Jeff at east elk pass.
Does anyone know if the trails at Cypress Hill (in SE AB) are 1) groomed this year and 2) have snow? The only available info I can find is from last March!
Hello, I am an advanced skier, however due to a head injury I am very limited as to what o can ski for now. My limit is about 8km on a good day, but usually only 4 or 5 km. Elevation is difficult, can handle only about 100m. I am from Jasper and will be visiting the Banff area for 3 weeks. Can anyone recommend some dog-friendly trails that fall within my limitations. Thank you so much for your help.
Sun Jan 24: east elk pass
A late report. A dusting of fresh snow, if you can call it that, over Saturday night and during the day Sunday in the vicinity of the divide. Mostly just ice crystals falling out of the cold air. Enough to obscure the overnight predator tracks a bit. Wasn’t obvious whether it was a coyote, bobcat or wolverine. Had a sniff around at the couch and continued south on our track into the tobermory drainage.
Question for any wax gurus who might be out there:
My most recent wax job (Swix CH5 ironed in, scraped lightly with plastic scraper while warm, brushed) needs a redo after about 55 km.
Any thoughts on improving glide wax longevity in the current hard tracks and reworked granular snow conditions on many trails lately? Other than only skiing soft snow? 🙂
Skier bob! You’ve made my parents Doug and Sandy famous! They have been published on the renowned skier bob website. Thank you for the great content and giving them their internet fame.
Anyone been on Pipestone loop today (Jan 24) to report condition? Report looks like no grooming since the big wind….
Hey there! Just wondering if you think Cascade Valley is a viable option for someone who has only ever cross-country skied Mt Shark/Watridge Lake and Castle Lookout to Baker Creek. Endurance is not an issue, but general technique/confidence with going uphill and downhill still needs some work 🙂
We have only just been following your updates this season…. well done Bob, to you and all your contributors.
Your updates and trip reports have helped us select our day trips since late November.
Having just skied the Kananaskis Village trails yesterday, (Jan. 22)I thought you might appreciate our update…. tracks and grooming are all good, (thanks to our world class/best groomers!), however the tracks are VERY fast with only a light very thin dusting of fine snow that is feeling marginal. We did two circuits but saw a few tumbles from skiers who couldn’t manage the speed on corners…. caution to intermediate skiers and probably not recommended for beginners, until we get a few cm. of snow.
Not sure if this is the format or portal for trip report additions?
Thanks again for all the work you do on this.
I’m going to head out for my first time tomorrow and try the “Great Divide/old 1a” trail. I was planning to stop at the Lake Louise visitor centre to pickup some winter trail brochures so that I have my own copies to keep in my pack. It looks like the visitor centre is closed tho.
Would anyone know where else I can pickup copies of the brochure maps?
Any advice is much appreciated. Thank you.
Fri Jan 22: mt tyrwhitt west slopes.
Some more back country recon with cheeky and Simona, scoping out a different drainage/bowl for future opportunities. -23 at elk pass lot in the morning at 9, -11 on return at 5. Felt colder in and out on elk pass trail while in the shady drainage bottom. Debris issues much improved with the new grooming. Slightly worse on the start of tyrwhitt, but not so bad. Took the Bolton ck/meadow route into East elk pass to maximize sun. The trail in still travels fine (although one of our party may have made a divot on the way out at one of the drainage crossings). After mucking about over on tyrwhitt slopes and some couch work, we zipped up the cut line to the west up onto the ridge for a quick lap back down the cut. Might have given GH a surprise descending as he was coming up! On the way out on the grooming, also ran into Normand who was in the process of a big track day. Nice sunny day in the meadows, but cold in the shade in and out. Gotta love heated seats.
Out of SkierBob range, but I know that at least a few people are curious. We arrived at Kootenay Pass 3 days after rain and hellish winds. The crust went to ridge top at 2100 m. The first day skiing was “survival” at it’s worst, even on treed mellow slopes because of all the tree bombs. Fortunately, we got about 5 cm overnight and the “dust over crust” lasted for the trip, as long as we were on open slopes. We skied the south aspect of Baldy Rocks over toward The Crags, Lightning Strike and then went on the north side for Cornice Ridge. Beautiful weather, with lots of sun, mild temps and little wind. It was our worst annual ski trip ever and still great!
Thanks for this great description of the loppet trail! I plan to do the 36k this year (the virtual challenge is perfect for a skier like me who loves a challenge but does not like the big crowds of loppets!!). Wondering if you can answer a couple questions as I will be skiing this on my own:
-I have only skied around Castle Junction once-will the trail from Lake Louise to Castle Junction be easy to follow and self explanatory. I know the website says there will be flags but those can go missing….
-For phone reception-is there generally good reception along the trail-I hoping to give my husband updates on my pick up time
-The website says finish where the ski trail meets the Bow Valley Parkway at Castle Junction-is this where the gas station and Castle Mountain chalets are (just want to make sure I get picked up in the right spot!)?
Thanks Bob! Love your website!!
Can you tell me if this means that we will not be able to ski westbound on this trail for the next 10 days?
The Cuthead cabin saga looks very tempting but also a bit daunting for an old timer, I just need to convince a friend of mine to accompany me! Thanks for sharing this adventure SaraM , Chuck , Mike W and MAAD
I remember a post from Chuck (correct me if I am wrong) from a couple of years ago of an extraordinary trip of 80k to where bisons have been released, this would set the bar higher….
Paradise Valley. It was -23C when I started out on MLR. Brrr… Some pine needles here and in the lower part of Paradise Valley. I skied a loop going up the south fork and skiing down the Giant Steps. The meadows near the campsite were wind-hammered, but I did find some windsifted powder in the larch glades below Wastach Pass. Overall the snowpack was supportive and trailbreaking was relatively easy. Incidentally this tour has cell reception the whole way.
Just wanted to note that the final part of the track I set to the cabin differs from Chuck’s description. Instead of heading north at the 23.6km junction and then cutting through the forest to reach the cabin, I turned left towards Flint’s Park and then took the trail the branches off to the right at Cuthead Creek to the cabin. So if someone wants to do a little more trail-breaking, Chuck’s route from the junction is still available!
What are track conditions like at XC ski Strathmore Golf Course? Any recent grooming?
Skied Kicking Horse River Trail and the Connector Trail near Field/Emerald Lake the last couple of days. Snow/trails in good shape. A few snow bombs along the Connector trail.
Rummel Lake & beyond — Jan. 20
I just wanted to report that the skiing conditions are very good on the Rummel Lake trail and on up to the meadows beyond. We didn’t ski to the pass because of the strong winds (and wimpy friends), but it looked quite possible, altho very wind-blown (as usual).
It’s good to see a map that has both ski trails and other trails (snowshoe/fat bike). Presumably one day they would replace the map signs at all the trail intersections with the updated version to assist none-skiers to find their way. What the new map doesn’t do well is clearly show parking with standard map parking symbols (using a picnic table day use symbol instead) or the name of the parking lot as seen on the road signs for people who haven’t been there before.
I am new to XC and was gifted a new 120 g block of TOKO HOT WAX which notes the following on the label:
Snow -4C/-12C Air -2C / -11C
Is this a base wax – a glide wax – a grip wax
Can it be applied by rubbing and corking or only iron on scrape off?
Thanks in advance for some help/guidance.
Think Snow !!!!!!!
January 20, skied Cascade Valley trail. Old tracks with some needles to the 6km bridge. Icy in some sun exposed areas. Lots of needles and debris after the bridge. Needs some fresh snow.
Elk pass wasn’t as bad looking as the above today. But I didn’t use the tracks or skinny skis. Some hills on return had gotten a bit of a cleaning from snow plowing.
Wed Jan 20: east elk pass
Went in via Alf’s alternate exit route, in reverse this time (sort of). In through the meadow closest to elk pass and up the cut line, but all the way to the summit of the bump and the apex point of the boundary. Then cruising a series of parallel meadows further south along the top for another K or so. Back to the apex and down the steeper NE boundary leg direct to east elk pass. I popped out into the pass just as John and Marsha were arriving via the meadow route. Thanks to them for cutting the blown in meadow track for the out! A good little tour. Boundary cut line provided excellent travel throughout (with a bit of pruning). Elk pass trail was quite a mess of needles, branches, snow bombs and old mans beard. Lots of grabby debri to ski around on the down hill. No trees down though all the way to thyrwitt @ Bolton ck. Dylan was just starting out when I got back to the lot, doing all the single track trails. -5 to start at 8 and on return at 4, so snow stayed cool enough in the south end.
Needlemania big deal how bout Beatlemania in the 60’s John Paul George Ringo i wonder if skier bob has ever heard of the Beatles!!
Holee! That’s scarier than a dead elk!
Snowshoer here. I have an etiquette question. There have been multiple occasions this winter where I have broken trail only to find on my return that my tracks have been skied over. If I am descending through fairly open (can avoid tree wells easily) and downhill terrain I don’t mind breaking trail twice. However, most times in most terrain I have zero desire to break trail again on my way down just because people skied over my tracks. Personally I don’t think I’m in the wrong if I am going down a trail I made on the way up, but I have gotten some flak from skiers even after I’ve explained the situation. Am I out of line here?
To be clear, I am breaking trail where no past tracks are visible. Usually after a big dump of snow.
I was walking through the park and noticed some skate ski tracks.
I dawned on me that their length was quite impressive. I paced out each track to be 5 full paces in length (I am 6 ft tall). Snow conditions were probably ideal, with a styrofoam base, a skiff of new snow, and just under the freezing mark in temperature. Terrain was perfectly flat.
I wonder how their length compares to average?
Without doubt Tyrwhitt is the most beautiful and skiable trail in the skier Bob domain. I was there as well today and was awestruck.
CHICKADEE VALLEY – Jan 19
Numerous open holes in the creek drainage, but the direct track up the valley is well defined.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Surprised by the shallow snowpack.
I checked the alberta parks online library, no sign of these brochures yet. Good grief, you’d think if they were in money saving mode that’d be the first place they put them.
Looking for info on trails at Spruce View, West Country Nordic Ski club…anyone?
The elk skeleton was Chuck’s photos of the year for sure. This is what wilderness looks like.
Is this for classic only, or is it open to skate skiing as well? I did not see this info on their website.
Dang! Double Super Secret Couch didn’t stay secret for long.
Just want to check on skate skiing in PLPP. I understand it is either not permitted or not recommended. Does anyone have the latest info?
Skied from Elkwood today…beautiful track & conditions! Did Amos/Wheeler/ Meadow.
By the time I got back 1ish…big Jackrabbit group heading out & folks parked on side of road which only allows 1 lane to exit. As I was leaving there were some open parking spots.
So grateful for tracksetting…I have my park pass to support this,
Re Chuck’s “single track right of way”: I thought that if there was space for two tracks that the “right hand rule” still applied. Skiers often get out of the track anyway on the downhill sections to better perform a snowplow or to obtain a wider stance for stability.
Good to see you yesterday Bob, if only just to say hi as we went down the hill! And thanks for stepping out of the track, much appreciated!
JAN 15 ELK LAKE SUMMIT AND TOWARD ELK LAKE
With a friend, headed up to Elk Lake Summit starting from the Mount Norquay ski resort. I was on my fishscale 89mm wide light touring skis. Temperature varied between -5C and 0C during the day. Chuck’s and previous tracks were covered in a few cm of snow near the ski resort, increasing to about 15-20cm of fresh snow at the Summit. I put on full-length skins for the relatively steep ascent from the Forty Mile Creek bridge to the Cascade Amphitheatre Trail junction, but full-width kicker skins would have been enough. Beyond the junction, the trail is much less steep and I went for a while without skins, but eventually put on my kicker skins. Winds were calm in the trees for most of the ascent, but picked up in the open areas of the Summit.
After lunch, we continued on the summer trail toward Elk Lake, following old buried ski tracks. We had to turn around about a km short of the lake because we were running out of time to get back to the car in daylight, and had concerns about the steep descent from the Cascade Amphitheatre Trail junction to Forty Mile Creek. The snowpack on that section was only a few cm deep, so we decided it would be safer to descend with skins to slow us down instead of snowplowing. My kicker skins and my friend’s full skins both worked well. As usual, the final stretch back up to the resort was longer and more elevation gain than expected!
Anyone have any ideas on what made the trench in linked photo, taken above Elk Summit on the way to Elk Lake? The trench is about 25cm wide and 40cm deep. It came out of (or went into) a tree well. My guess is a mountain pig. https://photos.app.goo.gl/pL797KHtpH7AVdjw7
UPPERMOST HAIDUK CREEK VALLEY
After reaching Shadow Lake lodge, I decided to take advantage of trail breaking done in the last week (Sara, Mike), along Haiduk Creek. Well, I ended up breaking trail pretty much from the bridge over the outlet of Shadow Lake, all the way to the upper reach of Haiduk Creek, just at the base of the steep ramp heading up to the Haiduk Lake basin. Apart for about 300 meters of a previous ski trail on Shadow Lake south shore, almost totally blown in with snow, and 2-3 short stretches of trail along Haiduk Creek, everything had to be broken again. Wind slab in the open meadow areas along the creek made for some awkward progress in places. At 2 pm, I finally reached my ultimate destination, well at least what my body could handle for such a long day and early in the season. Wind and more blowing snow picked up upon return to the lodge. A return trip from TCH1 clocking just over 37 km. A good day in the (outdoor) office. The fresh track setting from the lodge to the road, done late in the morning, was much welcome to cruise away from the high country. With clouds and blowing snow at times, Mount Ball was rather grumpy today.
I love reading your posts and often get excited about trying many of these trails, which are new to me. What I would really enjoy is if you would let us “out of towners” know where these locations are. Just a thought.
Bob- your wish is my command! A couch picture:
After clearing the fresh snow and stomping the area a bit, we enjoyed the panoramic view and lunch in the sun. Thanks, MaSid!
We passed by again later on the blue loop (pipestone#20) at around 3- the couch was still catching the rays. I will add that the sometimes challenging hills on the blue loop were in possibly the best shape that I can remember for skiing downhill, while leashed to an eager retriever.
Thanks, Steve. I’ve added the photo to my update. -Bob
Thu Jan 14: east elk pass +
Nice bluebird day, light winds, and no pesky cloud at the pass. Good meadow dancing weather. Elk pass lot plowed. Skier set track on elk pass trail. Excellent fresh grooming on fox creek. Combination of single and double track after that. New snow was dense which made steeper descents a bit more challenging, in the wobbly slow track or out of it. Ankle ski pens on the prior off trail route to east elk pass; track was just noticeable. Busted trail about 1.5 to 2.0 k past the border until the drainage narrowed up. 3 of us out and back on the track, so good travel again until the next storm. Returned the way we came, other than descending the hydroline snow shoe trail to the Patterson meadows. Nice to get back on the fast clean track of fox after descending the skier set on elk pass. Always an excellent outing when clear and sunny.
It is more than frustrating. It is dangerous. On December 30, I was going downhill on Trappers heading to Sundog and the tip of my ski got caught on a “pothole” like the one on the first picture. I hit the ground so hard, I developed a hematoma on my right lower leg (not just a bruise). Still swollen and sore.
“Wayback Wednesday: Marmot Basin/Gate is the trail which branches off Skogan near the top of the Screamer”
Used to head up there breaking trail, get a burger and beer at mid mountain and ski powder all the way back down,really miss that too! Have a few videos somewhere.
One time we went up, sans lunch, only to find they closed the Lodge midweek. So we shared granola bars, chocolate bar and an orange! Good times
Looks like Lower Telemark was copied from “Highline” trail to Paradise Creek. I’ve emailed parks (assuming I found the right email addy).
Don’t get me started with dogs on set tracks, seriously what difference does it actually make and why should I pay for track setting places I cannot ski with my dog, rant, rant, rant
It is an unwelcome surprise to see the potholes and deposits left by horse riders on the set tracks at West Bragg. In my innocence I thought that the horse crowd was somehow more aware and considerate of other users than the usual targets of XC skiers’ frustration, rutting bikers and trampling hikers. I will never look at a horse train at WBC the same way again. Most disappointing.
I am an intermediate skier new to kananaskis area thinking of do a loop starting from Ribbon creek parking lot along ribbon creek, link, and kovach back to parking lot. Just wondering whether there is any really big hill/tight area along the route. Thx
Speaking of Emerald Lake, every year them I ask about the Woodies, every year I hear crickets
Hi everyone, can anyone describe for me the beginner-friendliness of the trails that are marked as Green from the Pipestone area (Hector, Drummond, Merlin?) This is my first season but I’ve been out a lot and had some instruction, I can manage long gradual hills or steeper short ones but I would prefer to avoid longer, steeper hills or hills with turns.
Wait, did I read that right?
“An expert is a beginner who has done anything once.”
Hi West Bragg Creek Skiers,
Had a number of close calls when yesterday when coming down steep hills and almost running into dogs. I know they are allowed to be off leash. But if they are really playful and friendly this can be super scary for those who are not confident skiers. I know it is great to let them run and they look so happy. Please just be mindful to call them back, especially before slopes.
Hi, brand new skier here. I’m wondering what the proper etiquette is when the trail is only a single set track? Who is “supposed” to get off the track to allow a faster skier to pass, or another example would be when one is coming down a hill in the tracks while someone is coming up.
Any feedback regarder proper ski etiquette in general is also welcome 🙂
Thanks so much for this! It’s also a great list for pregnant ladies like myself 🙂 Up to now I’ve been using Confed golf course, which is another great start for beginners!
Outstanding! Very good selection, in my opinion.
Thank you thank you thank you for the info to beginners. I really want to experience skiing in the . mountains, but have been Uber reluctant to head out and end up on a track beyond my limited ability. This blog was sooooo timely. Thanks!
JAN 10 READEARTH CREEK, GIBBON PASS, TOWARD BALL PASS
Not wanting Normand’s Jan 8 tracksetting to Gibbon Pass go to waste, I headed out from the Redearth Creek trailhead on 89mm light touring fishscale skis at 9am, temperature -15C. There were already 3 other vehicles in the parking lot and 2 more arrived as I got ready. The amount of traffic since the last tracksetting had widened the trackset to the point where my skis fit into it; normally I’d have to ski outside the trackset. Conditions were really fast, and I and another skier who caught up with me averaged 6km/hr from the trailhead to the Pharaoh Creek junction.
After first lunch at Shadow Lake Lodge, I started following Normand’s up (and down) track. I had both kicker and full skins with me, and decided that full skins would be best for the terrain ahead. In hindsight, kicker skins might have sufficed, but would have involved some sidestepping, more energy consumption, and slower progress. After about 750m Normand’s track continued straight ahead whereas the summer trail turned right. I decided to follow the summer trail. Ski penetration was about 15cm. I lost the trail a couple of times, but thanks to my GPS was able to find it again. When you see 2 or 3 open corridors in front of you, it’s difficult to decide which is the trail!
I expected to see Normand’s track again once I reached the meadow in the pass. But it was fairly windy and any sign of his track had disappeared, or his track was well to the left (SW) of mine. After a short rest I headed back down, staying in my track on the gentle slopes and getting a few turns in on the steeper slopes. Skiing became more challenging as the trail steepened and the trees became closer together. I wasn’t keen on leaving the summer trail because the snowpack was relatively shallow and I was concerned about hitting buried hazards such as deadfall. In a few places I had to sidestep down sharp turns in the trail, but I was mostly able to avoid trashing my uptrack. At about 250m from the Lodge, I left the trail and had a great ski down a clearing that took me back to the Lodge.
After second lunch, I headed toward Ball Pass, hoping to make the 5km or so to the RE21 Ball Pass Junction campground. There was an excellent skier-set track to the bridge just before Shadow Lake. After crossing the bridge, I followed a skier-set track along the SE shore of the lake, looking for a track heading off on the Ball Pass trail. No sign of a skier track where I expected the trail to be, but there was a moose (or elk?) track along what could be the trail. I followed it for a while but turned around once the track headed into denser woods. After backtracking almost all the way back to the lake I found another opening that indeed turned out to be the trail. After a few hundred metres the moose track joined it. Evidently the moose knew about a shortcut! The trail steepened a bit and I put on my kicker skins which worked well. Ski penetration was 10-15cm. Unfortunately it was now getting late and I had to turn back about 1.5km short of the campground. The return ski back to the car was uneventful except for the exciting survival skiing down the steep hill to the Pharaoh Creek junction. Good thing I had a warm-up on the Gibbon Pass descent!
One thing I would like added to the recommendations is where to park (for example north side of lot) and where to start the trail (example -once you park on the north side, the trail starts on the far east side of the parking lot). I was a beginner fairly recently and would stand looking stupid in the parking lot until someone helped me out.
Thanks for this website as it is very helpful to all skiers.
I hope this guide includes “things not to do”, like that first bit from the Goat Creek parking lot on the Canmore side down the hill to the start of the trail! I went down it Saturday, and the same couple of rocks were there from when I did it ~3 years ago, the path was just as narrow right beside the [running] creek. and it is still all around sketchy! I’ve skied all my life, and was again amazed I didn’t mangle and/or soak myself before even getting started!