Places to SkiBaker Creek Banff Bill Milne Blueberry Hill Brewster Creek Canmore Nordic Centre Cascade Valley Castle Lookout Confederation Park Golf Course Dog-friendly Elk Pass Emerald Lake Evan-Thomas Frozen thunder Goat Creek Golden Great Divide Hawkridge Healy Creek Hydroline Kananaskis Kananaskis Fire Lookout Kananaskis Village Lake Louise Lake O'Hara fire road Moraine Lake road Mt Shark Nipika Pipestone PLPP Pocaterra Races Redearth Creek Ribbon Creek Sandy McNabb Shaganappi Golf Course Skogan Pass Spray River Tyrwhitt Watridge Lake Road Wedge connector West Bragg Creek Wheeler Whiskey Jack Yoho
- Ken on Animals along the ski trail
- GordN on “Absolutely terrific”
- JeremyN on “Absolutely terrific”
- Darren on Contact Bob
- Bob Truman on Contact Bob
- Darren Anderson on Contact Bob
- MAKE ALBERTA A DEMOCRACY on Unfinished business
- MAKE ALBERTA A DEMOCRACY on Trip Reports – April 2021 to forever
- Laurie on Unfinished business
- Alf Skrastins on Kananaskis user pass update
- MaSid on Kananaskis user pass update
- Alf Skrastins on Kananaskis user pass update
- MaSid on Kananaskis user pass update
- Roger Sakatch on Kananaskis user pass update
- Jon on Kananaskis user pass update
- SkierRoger on Trip Reports – April 2021 to forever
Live Traffic Feed
BREWSTER CREEK- BEYOND FATIGUE PASS JUNCTION- Sunday
The Healy Creek trail is trackset and in excellent condition. Moderate snow speed and Swix polar wax worked well. The trail head parking lot was full of downhill skier cars and Sunshine Ski Area vehicles.
The Brewster Creek trail was in Excellent skier tracked condition up to the twin bridges. Moderate snow speed. From the bridges I re-broke trail to well beyond Sundance Lodge. My Swix polar wax was not very grippy on this trail. There are about 5 trees on the trail that require a hop over or around. It would take about 1 hour for a chain sawer to hack the trees down to make way for a tracksetting snowmobile. I am stunned that Parks Canada has not trackset Brewster Creek Trail when there is so much snow.
I took the horse/ backpacking trail short cut on the ski up. It is in good to excellent condition for climbing up only. I hit 2 rocks while side stepping the trail on the hills to better the trail. With 5 cm of good wet new snow, the trail will be in very good to excellent shape for climbing up.
At Sundance Lodge it was -12C in the late afternoon. At night it was about -11.5 C with light snow.
The trail beyond Sundance Lodge is generally in excellent condition. I was surprised how much new snow was in my old ski tracks from a couple of weeks back or so. Ski penetration was a little over the ankles. Snow speed
re-breaking trail was somewhat slow to moderate speed. I skied roughly about 2 km beyond the Fatigue Pass Junction.
No technical issues with the login to SkierRoger.ca folks!
The website is performing fine. In fact, a recent server upgrade has made it more efficient!
Just a gentle reminder that your Cookies must be turned on to post a report in SkierRoger website.
This allows the website to track if your are logged in.
SOUTH BURSTALL/ BURSTALL PASSES/ ROBERTSON OUT WASH
Friday May 21 later afternoon/ night moonlit ski
I knew this would be a special day of skiing when I was driving Highway 40 and there was fresh snow with the Aspen trees popping out light green glistening leaves. This was a rare beautiful spring driving sight seeing event and there was no long week-end traffic.
There is excellent firm base snow conditions right from the Burstall Pass parking lot to the top of the South Burstall Pass. No bare patches exist anywhere on the ski trail, including in the tight trees near the Robertson out wash plain. Several centimeters of new snow overnight made for sweet May long week-end skiing.
There is roughly 2 feet or so of snow base at the parking lot. As soon as you get into the trees 300 meters away there is much more snow. Up the passes there is probably still 6 to 8 feet of snow. I could not push my poles in the snow more than about 3 cm. The base is very firm all along the trail and off the trail. I could ski wherever I pointed my skis without sinking into the snow. The skies were mainly cloudy, with some sun- until night when the skies cleared right up.
This was, by far, the best day of ski touring this season. Being that I could ski anywhere without sinking more than about 3 to 5 cm in the fresh snow made for incredible easy skiing. I did a lot of touring around, including to the weather station below the pass. This was my easiest and fastest day of ski traveling pleasure for the year. It did not take much more than 2 hours to get to the top of South Burstall Pass and I was not even putting in anywhere near maximum skiing effort. The grip skiing up on my unwaxed waxable Rossignol metal edge cross country skis was excellent. The fast glide was great too, for the most part, until I hit the meadows below the pass where the snow slowed to moderate speed.
South Burstall Pass was incredible eye candy. I took off my skis at the top and walked down some rock on the other side to eat while sitting on nice warm rock in the sunshine. In the olden days I would camp up there. Spray River below was open and it looked black in the white snow covered meadows. I had to hold myself back from skiing down the avalanche chute to my right to the valley bottom where I really wanted to ski. It looked like there was still 6 feet of snow along the banks of the Spray River in the stunning meadows below the Royal Group and below Palliser Pass. I could see no willows in the valley below.
I decided to go ski below Burstall Pass in Banff National Park to gain views of Leman Lake, where I was only weeks earlier. What a blast skiing that way. The snow had begun to crust up though and I had to pick and chose my snow. The fresh snow was crusty at this time and the wind blown areas were very firm and warp nine speed to ski. The skis seemed to accelerate from 0 to 100 kph faster than the new electric Mustangs which do that speed in 3.5 seconds. When I did hit the fresh stuff, it often ended in a flying crash, particularly in areas where the snow was drifted deeply.
The view of Leman Lake and the Spray River Valley from below Burstall Pass was stunning as was the lighting. Some mountains were in sun while others looked cold in the shadows. The Spray valley below was full of snow and the river looked covered in most places. Leman Lake was still looking white and frozen with a little open water near the BC side. If I would have brought more food and a sleeping bag, I would have dropped down to the Palliser Warden Cabin. The deep firm snow pack would have been ideal for digging a cosy snow den to camp in overnight.
The snow skiing down the pass to the parking lot was incredibly fast and crusty. It was basically survival skiing with my bad ankle which does not like crust. Once I hit the trail in the trees past the meadow, the crust disappeared and more winter like snow made for sweet skiing in the trees- thankfully. When I hit the out wash plain I decided to head to Robertson Glacier skiing on the right side of the valley (skiing up) which is usually the best way to get to the glacier. It is more wide open and offers better views. When I got to the section of the valley where the trees disappear, it was starting to get dark but the moon was shinning. I decided to stop below where fresh avalanches tore from the right to the left of the valley. I don’t like to ski in avalanche terrain traps- at any time of the day.
I skied down the valley on the right (skiers right going down opposite of skiing up). The creek had opened in a few spots on this side of the valley but it was still easily passable with the odd collapsed snow bridge. Instead of taking the main trail I continued down the out wash plain until I found an old road which brought me back to the main trail. Hikers had walked on parts of my ski track coming out but that was no problem. I got back to the car at 11:05 pm when I noticed a sign that said the parking lot was a day use area and was closed at 11 pm. There is nothing worse than a UCP government telling me when I can use a mountain area, other than now charging $90 dollars to use it.
One thing I noticed on the road home was that the UCP wasted huge sums of money putting Alberta Parks signs above every picnic site sign along the highway. This government says it has to charge a $90 dollar fee to enter the Kananaskis because it cost too much to maintain the park region, yet they waste huge money on unnecessary signs. I guess the UCP thought it would be a good idea to let people know they were still in Alberta Parks rather than accidentally traveling over to the BC side of the mountains. What terrible waste that probably cost tax payers millions. If we lived in a real democracy where you have the legalized right to vote on government bills along with having citizen-initiated legislation, you can bet Albertans would not waste tax dollars on unnecessary Alberta Parks signs like the UCP did.
Keep on skiing the high elevation north faces. It is all good. The Banff Jasper highway should offer some splendid skiing yet as well.
I tried to report on Skier Roger again, but the system fails to recognize me. The registration worked but the login would not. I must say the Skier Bob site is more user friendly to get on than Skier Roger.
I forgot to mention the dirty snow on my ski trip up Burstall. In areas of wind blown snow, the older snow pack was rather dirty. There was a lot of fine particulate in the snow which greatly reduced light reflectance. I don’t wear sun glasses and normally the sun is pretty hard on my eyes reflecting off of the snow at this time of year. Not this year however, because of all the dirty snow which greatly reduces light reflectance.
The skies over BC were somewhat smoggy, due to some pollution source(s). The air in British Columbia is getting worse every year. The dirty air in BC is greatly affecting our Alberta snow packs as it drifts over our mountains and deposits dirty particulate. The dirty air is depositing particulate on our snow packs and glaciers which is leading to faster melting as the particulate acts like a thermal conductor, melting the snow. I have never seen such dirty snow at this time of year in this region. Even in summer the snow is not normally so dirty.
The higher up one skis the dirtier the snow. The air currents drop more pollution at the top of the mountains than the bottom.
If anyone has access to a total dissolved solids meter or lab analysis equipment, it would be interesting to go up to Burstall Pass to take snow samples to determine what is in the snow. If anyone is a science geek, put on the skis and get snow samples or ask someone to do it for you.
That sounds amazing, Mr. Democracy!
I am puzzled by the day use sign, as that is surely a backpacker’s trailhead? At least it always has been……..??
Thank you for the lovely and inspiring report 🙂
I have used this parking lot numerous times for skiing and backpacking since way back in the last century. Before there was a Burstall parking lot, we could drive up the old logging road very close to the Robertson out wash plain and backpack or summer ski out from there. I can understand why that logging road was closed to traffic but I can’t understand why the Burstall area is now only a day use area. Only an idiot in an office would make that a day use parking lot area.
This government is getting really controlling and restricting peoples activities undemocratically. Signs signs every where! Don’t do this and don’t do that! (Think of the tune “Signs” by the 5 Man Electrical Band 1971). This is a sign to get rid of the Kananaskis tax grabbing UCP (United Crummy Party) government.
Democratize Us please! We need power stripped from politicians and given to the people with the legalized right to vote on government bills using an electronic device. I want to sit on MaSid’s couch with my skis off and vote on government bills on my ski breaks- if I feel like it.
It’s mu understanding that people have been using trailhead parking lots as camp sites, given the shortage of spaces at proper campgrounds. I would guess that parking lot campers are the target of the signage, and not the few backpakers who use Burstall Pass as a shortcut to the upper Spray Valley.
Was that you guys in the Buick LeSabre who would tear up and down the road at all hours of the night?!
I have to post a final report on this great site Bob. I swapped my skis for paddles and did a tour around our new lake here in Quebec. The ski trails are mostly dry now but there is 150km of them outside our door. Looking forward to skiing next winter and skiing in the footsteps of Jackrabbit Johansen and the trails of Jack Wahlberg .
It was around this time, the mid forties, when cross country skiing began to absorb the interest of the Viking skiers and they soon had a North American Champion among their ranks. He was a Swedish native who came to Canada when he was twenty one years old. His name was Jack Wahlberg, a powerful competitor who at 80 years of age today continues one of the longest winning streaks in the world of sports. For the past 65 years he has won an award every year in either running or cross country skiing.
Some of the highlights of Jack’s remarkable career as an athlete include winning the 18km North American Championships race in New Hampshire in 1948 and representing Canada in the World Championships in 1950.
I have a love of outdoor activity he told writer Maureen Stern in a recent interview for the Gazette. “I like racing because you have light equipment, a mechanically prepared track, and you can use your poles properly…but I also like touring because you see tracks of animals. Jack Wahlberg’s advice to the reporter was straight forward and sincere. He told her, “The older you get, the more important it is to keep active and out in the fresh air, and to watch your weight.” They are not idle words. In 1982 Jack won the 15km race at the Canadian Masters Championships in the over 70 class.
He skis with such efficiency even seasoned skiers less than half his age have trouble keeping up with him. “I don’t move like an old man and that’s partly thanks to the exercise I do”, says Jack, who skis about 1,500 km every winter and paddles around in his racing kayak in the summer.
Something and someone you and I can aspire to Bob as we both sail, ski or paddle off into retirement.
Herewith, my final trip report (probably?!) for Skier Bob:
It was a spectacular morning in K-country, and I did my usual late spring tour up the Robertson Glacier valley, just as far as the last real trees. My car was the only one in the Burstall parking lot, which was surprising and a bit eerie. Yesterday’s tracks had no new snow on them, but fortunately it was mostly (backcountry) skier tracks, with a few snowshoers and the odd boot print.
There was perhaps 10cm of lovely powder early in the morning, but by 10 am it was good snowman material, and quite warm and wet by the time I was descending. By 11 am, storm clouds were gathering, but didn’t amount to much.
Although I struggled with ten ton high heels going up the “upper” Robertson valley, it was a surprisingly good descent, as the grade was sufficient to keep my momentum up.
Apparently I was the only one chicken enough to take the “flat” route, avoiding that crazy narrow trail through the trees. Descending the main trail was very slow.
A few photos:
MaSid: Nakiska looked great at 7 am, but by 2 pm it looked very sad with lots of dirt patches 🙁
*And cymbals*. I dare not, but glad you did (and put me in a sunny meadow mind set). (-:
West Bragg Creek
A total of 10-14cm of new snow fell at WBC overnight and Sunday morning, which provided a perfect opportunity for one more SkierBob report. I did a couple of loops among the Crystal Lines, Loggers and Sundog, sticking to the most shaded trails where the packed snow base from the winter still lingers. The new snow was sufficient to provide pretty enjoyable May conditions.
Thank you Bob, for creating an exceptional blog. Your hard work, enthusiasm and welcoming nature has produced a real sense of community among XC skiers in the region. That’s a fantastic legacy.
I look forward to seeing you on the trails!
Nakiska looks pretty good right now too.
PLPP- Skied up to Elk Pass on this gorgeous 9C Tuesday afternoon with a side trip thru Fox Creek on the way back. Overnite the Elk Pass P/L rec’d a skiff of snow increasing to 1 to 2 inches at the Pass. This covered all the Collembola, tree debris and dirty snow and made for a pretty good, enjoyable ski. Used Red Extra which provided good grip and glide though it was a little slow coning down. The snow base is still intact which should provide for a few more days of skiing as long as it survives tomorrows heat wave. Not very busy -no cars in P/L ad only one skier ” ODA ” who I run across at Elk Pass. He was doing a Packers/Pocaterra/Tyrwhitt/Elk Pass/ Patterson/Hydroline/Tyrwhitt/Whiskey Jack Loop and was equally enthused with the good ski conditions for this time of year. To the contrary Fox Creek is in poor shape largely covered with tree debris and not recommended.
Anyways my main reason for writing this is to thank you, Bob, for all the hard work and dedication you’ve put into this entertaining and very informative blog. You will be missed! I’ve followed you from the start and even won a treasured “Skihere.Ca” toque in one of your contests, I think in 2009. Wishing you the best in the future. Tom
Hi, skied up Packers/Pocaterra/Tyrwhitt/Elk Pass/ Patterson/Hydroline/Tyrwhitt/down Packers on Wed. Conditions were great for no wax skis. Bare patches on Packers and about a 12 foot melt out. The rest of the route was terrific on a beautiful sunny day.
It was a pleasure meeting Tom on the trail. I hope i.m still skiing at 79 Tom ! You’re an inspiration.
I too would like to thank you Bob for all those years of keeping people informed and connected. All the best to you in the future.
REDEARTH CREEK- HAIDUK LAKE
Monday May 3 afternoon/ night ski.
Very good to excellent skiing conditions for the most part up Redearth Creek except for the first 1 km. The first 300m only has scattered snow patches with plenty of bare patches. Then it is icy up to about the 1 km mark. Then the snow pack becomes late spring like and firm with a couple of cms of soft snow on top. There are 3 small bare patches between the 1 km mark and the 2nd avalanche slope. Snow speed was variable from moderate to fast.
I skied up Pharoah Creek to the switch backs but decided to turn around and head up to Shadow Lake Lodge instead. At the warden cabin, I had to drop down 4 feet to sit by the door as there is still lots of snow.
The trail up to Shadow Lake Lodge was good with one small bare patch on a wicked steep corner. The trail has firm spring like snow with up to 5 cm of fresher snow on top. Just before I hit the Lodge, a big snow squall blew in and the valley was a white out. After having a snack and water the snow storm disappeared and left partly cloudy skies. That was sweet and the sun motivated me to keep skiing.
The trail to Shadow Lake was well defined as a number of people had been skiing up there in the last week.
When I hit Shadow Lake I was pleasantly surprised the ice had turned to a light blue color with white firm snow around the shore.
I followed a very faint snow covered track up the creek and then it disappeared in the meadows above. The meadows to Ball Pass Junction were very nice to ski with a fair bit of open water in the creek. There were still some useful snow bridges to use. Once I got near Ball Pass Junction it started to snow lightly again. As I made my way up to Haiduk Lake the snow hit real hard and it turned to a white out again.
As soon as I hit Haiduk Lake the snow stopped allowing for the usual spectacular scenery of the area. The wind was perfectly calm. The yodeling echos up at the lake were fantastic. What a treat. There was about 7 cm of fairly fresh fast snow in the valley.
Coming out of Haiduk was a fast blast through the meadows and avalanche slopes. This area offers amazing views which include glacier views. I had never been there in May before and it was a real treat and much more interesting than the dead of winter when everything is white.
One thing that shocked me was how dirty older snow was in some areas. With all the burning that the BC government does and permits in BC, the valleys can be pretty smoggy. I was sucking on a lot of smoke on my land in BC in recent weeks. The smoke particulate ends up falling on the snow pack and glaciers causing very significant reductions in light reflectance which in turn acts as a thermal conductor melting the ice and snow much faster. BC really needs to clean up its dirty unethical immoral burning acts and clean up the air which is having a significant impact on the melting of glaciers and snow packs. And they wonder way the salmon are disappearing. They are creating warmer river waters which salmon don’t like.
This was my best day of skiing this year. A big contrast from my worst day earlier in the week. May offers such more interesting skiing than any other month. There is much more eye candy at this time of year. Creeks are opening and allow for views of interesting rocks and birds, the smells are great and there are all sorts of wildlife moving about. Seeing the red and golden sunset colors on top of the creek waters below Shadow Lake was incredible. The creek looked red in many areas. You won’t get that effect in winter. The sound of numerous birds, including Robins, at Shadow Lake Lodge was something you don’t get to hear in winter.
As it got dark, the temperature at Shadow Lake Lodge was +4C. The snow was getting slightly crusty but was excellent and fast to ski on the way out. Only walking down the bare patches in the last 1/2 km of the Redearth trail slowed me down on my rock skis. I never took the skis off on any part of the trail. If it was not for the bare patches, I probably would have blown out from Shadow Lake Lodge in about 1/2 hour instead of 45 minutes.
Keep on skiing as there is plenty of good skiing to be had. May I suggest Healy Pass/ Egypt? I think it could be good judging by my Redearth trip.
I did not leave a report on SkiRoger as I could not log on for some reason or do a relogin. SkierBob is more user friendly as I can see.
Sounds like you had a great day/night with good snow conditions for this time of the year. If I had not gone to Haiduk Lake 3 weeks ago, your report would have certainly encouraged me to get there soon, given the snow in the forecast for this coming weekend. I always find it cool to go over those thick snow bridges along Haiduk Creek, carving unique shapes above the boulders.
Those snow bridges won’t last much longer, then one will be stuck taking the real confounded bridges- that are “bridges too far”.
I wonder if it was your faint tracks that I saw at the bottom of the trail? Right before going up the hill in the valley bottom I saw old tracks that fully pumped me up to ski up to Haiduk Lake. Monkey see monkey do- even with a bad ankle.
I mixed up the date I went up to Haiduk Lk; it was on March 31 (not 3 weeks ago, which was Gibbon Pass then; my brain is starting to wear off), the day after you skied at night to the lodge and REC had been nicely last trackset. So I would be surprised that my uphill track before the lake would still show, although in the trees, after 1 month. Good job on you making it there in May. My latest time I ever made it was April 14, years ago and the snow was fairly wet then. Interesting you saw grizzly tracks in the area; never saw those, but that was 3 weeks ago.
Bryant Creek. May 3. After reading MAAD’s latest trip report I had to give this route a try. I don’t have his experience and I’m scared of the dark but I like oranges and I always wanted to check out the trail to Watridge and in towards Assiniboine. I should have gone in the winter instead of waiting until spring.
The skiing from Shark until the first bridge was actually OK. Soft snow, difficult to get a grip, but no clumping. There was a young strong skate skier doing the trails at Shark and he was really enjoying himself. The only footprinted part was the main trail to Watridge.
Past the first bridge the skiing became, for me, very marginal. Skier tracks from a few days previous had become raised casts. Lots of debris and ice. I stopped at the first warden cabin and, sadly, never made it to the meadow section of Bryant Creek that MADD described so well. Next year.
A few info points: the closed section of Hwy 40 is dry and bare as far as the eye can see (which is not so far). Aqua is right – the cyclepath riff raff will be there soon.
There was a large sow grizzly with three very large cubs on the highway at Eau Claire campground. They did not realize that it is not open yet.
Some sections of the Smith Dorrion are fixed a bit, but from Sparrowhawk down to Canmore is brutal.
This seems to be a unique spring. Those raised “casts” that appeared on the Bryant trail occurred in some places above Shadow Lake Lodge yesterday. They were really cool, particularly when they were grizzly tracks. The griz casts were probably about 10 cm higher than the snow pack. In some areas I skied on top of these raised “casts” which made for easier skiing in some areas and harder skiing in other areas. I could at least avoid them in open areas.
Sorry to hear your adventure was cut short due to the raised casts. Too bad you did not go up the Upper Spray River, at the trail junction just past the Spray River Bridge, as an alternative as it would have likely been really good smooth skiing since nobody has been up there for a while.
CONSIDER BRYANT CREEK SKI PHOTOGRAPHY
I forgot to write about the snow layer reflections along the banks of the Bryant Creek beyond the Bryant Creek warden cabin after my Assiniboine assualt trip and after the last time I was in the area skiing some weeks ago.
It was absolutely stunning to see the reflections of the layers of snow in the calm water sections of Bryant Creek in the meadows. In some areas dozens of snow layers could be seen reflecting off the calm waters with anticline and syncline shapes which made it look like some of the snow layers were forming circles with the reflections in the water. None of the snow layers reflecting in the waters that I saw were perfectly flat- or I did not notice any because of the “eye candy” twisting and circular shapes that my eyes were attracted to. My description comes nowhere near to justifying how beautiful the snow layer reflections were as no words could describe what I saw- at least in my head.
If you have the opportunity, take the time to ski up there and go see what I am talking about and bring a camera. These could be some of the best potential pictures ever posted on SkierBob. The skiing along the creek in the meadows was absolutely spectacular with these reflections and it is a fairly rare event to see such unique rare beauty with the towering mountains in the background of the reflections.
At this time of writing, the weather forecast looks good to ski Sunday or Monday up Bryant Creek with the camera as overnight lows are expected to be -2C in Banff which should translate to maybe -4c in the Mount Shark area. Such temperatures overnight should allow for a relatively firm base to ski or ski skate on in the groomed trail sections.
Even on a cloudy day, the reflections along the creek in the meadow will look spectacular where the water is calm. It is a fantastic time to ski along Bryant Creek to explore it’s unique beauty. If you go up there, shoot some waterfowl or waterbirds along the creek as well- with your camera of course! If birds are in the areas of the stunning reflections, that could make for the SkierBob bird photos of the century.
Ski on, with tight screws in your bindings.
The end of the grooming at CNC for this season: a fun skate ski under sunny skies and warm wind out on Banff Trail to end of meadow, then picking my way on Meadowview over a snow and ice surface that was softening in the sun to the start of the downhill. That was the turnaround. The soft snow on the night loop was still good and not too slow, it was still possible to cautiously cruise down the teardrop and back up the other end.
Its been a good ski season. If the weather cools off with a good overnight freeze and some sunny days ahead crust skiing on lakes and meadows can still be enjoyed. So I won’t put away my skis yet and see what happens.
Hi All, who says the ski season is over. Met this wonderful skier on Elk -BBH junction and she says we have lots of skiing left. Snow Woman Trails through to Tyrwitt were in great shape.
Fantastic ski results Bob. Congrats ! U are an inspiration.
Keep skiing! How late do u think PLPP will last?
I was fortunate enough to meet the two kids , and parents, who built that beauty last Saturday. They named her ‘Snowzilla’, and were loving their private playground.
Not sure who will win the “metal ski tip” award for the last Trip Report this season, likely the BLOG-CREATOR SKIER BOB, but thank you MAAD (did I run into you on Bankhead one blizzardy day mid January? when we traded ski tracks) for all your reporting. You have a gift for creative writing and your personality shines through your unique reports. I am passionate about capturing Full Moon experiences, so thank you for this most recent, humbling one. I also enjoyed Mike W’s descriptive reports and have a question: how many kms have you skied at CNC this season? Sara M you are the “new kid on the block” and we welcome you with open arms/Covid hugs. It is ALL these unique reporters who share who they are and what they do that makes this blog such a gift to the rest of some of us, senior” armchair enthusiasts”. I have loved everyone’s reports AND pictures: (Chuck/Alf/Steve/Normand/Diana/Jeff/Erin …..ALL who post) and vicariously inhale every single word that is written and photo that is shared. My brain is still in transition between XC and hiking/biking, but I look forward to seeing you all next season which is only 1 jab more and 6 months away.
Hi Helen – I don’t know if your CNC question was directed at me or MAAD, or why you’re asking, but for the record I’ve skied a grand total of 0.0km at CNC this season!
Perhaps the CNC question would be better suited for Hugh?
Totally right, Mike W and Sara: I guess it is best suited to Hugh? How many kms he has skied at CNC this season? A senior moment, but appreciate ALL your posts.
I always thought my writing after skiing sucked bad. I am pretty bagged after skiing, particularly after skiing long spring days and nights, and I can barely think as my head just wants to hit the pillow rather than conjure up something to write about at 11 pm or 2:30 in the morning.
I am happy that people like you like my reports. The reports are generally just meant to inform others about skiing conditions, but I am glad and suprized people find them entertaining. I guess anything is entertaining after a COVID-19 lock down.
Oddly enough when I ran in politics in the early part of the century, people loved my political speeches that I wrote or just shot out without writing. I was even offered a writing job with the Sun after one of my political speeches and was also offered a job (not sure what) with Jason Kenney’s 2000 campaign. I did not see anything special about what I was writing back then but these days I am glad Skier Bob gave me the opportunity to help inform people on his blog about skiing at my convenience. We owe a lot to Skier Bob for creating a medium for skiers to report on XC ski trails in order to get the best of the best ski days in.
If my old injured ankle (broken the ball and socket in 3 places in ’87) can ski again this year, I will attempt to make another report or 2.
For anyone who wants to know what Make Alberta A Democracy is about, it is about legalizing your right to vote on government bills (using a electronic device) as well as having citizen initiated legislation. Could you imagine if you could be sitting on MaSid’s couch and voting for or against a bill in the Legislative Assembly- if you felt like doing so? How sweet of a ski day that will be when it occurs in the future. I am looking forward to that day in the Great Canadian Rockies. I hope I can ski long enough to see it happen.
Thank you Helen and all.
Ski long and prosper gently on the planet. There is no planet B to ski.
After all these epic trip reports, I’m a little embarrassed to share my tame ski tour of the Hogarth Lakes, using a combination of snowshoe and hiking trails, and who knows what?
At 8 am, the “snow” at the trailhead seemed pretty bulletproof, but by 10 am it was softening up and more pleasant. It was very quiet up there today.
The south end of the Smith-Dorrien road has been recently graded, and is in good early summer condition, even dusty!
No shame in it, just getting out, sharing what you found and inspiring others. All info is good. Bring us more!
WATRIDGE LAKE- MOUNT ASSINIBOINE PARK
Tuesday afternoon/ night ski
Excellent snow cover on the groomed trail to Watridge Lake. The trackset has been wiped out in the areas outside of the trees by wind and hikers. Some trackset remnants exist in the trees and more so after the Watridge Lake junction. The groomed trail has an excellent solid base with new snow on top from the weekend storm. The trail should be good for skiing for a couple of weeks if the temperatures can remain near normal or below. Coming out after midnight the trail had crusted up for the most part. There looks to be plenty of good skate skiing on the Shark trails still.
The trail from the Spray River Bridge to the Bryant Creek Warden cabin has generally excellent snow cover. A snowshoer destroyed the old ski track. I rebroke much of the trail to the cabin.
Thankfully the snowshoer did not go beyond the BR 14 cabin. Once I hit the smooth snow the skiing became a real pleasure. The meadow up to near BR17 was fantastic silky like spring skiing and fast. I was not going to go further but the snow was to sweet not to ski it up.
The trail breaking up Assiniboine Pass was generally easy but rather difficult to find the trail. I had to look way down into tree wells to find trail evidence and it was not always visible. I probably put an extra 1/2 km on the route as I was unable to find the trail in some areas. The ski penetration in the recent new snow generally was around 8cm. Once I got on top of the pass, I went left up through the trees for about 800 meters to gain views of Mount Assiniboine and some of the lower Wonder Pass area. Once the skies started to darken the snow turned to crust which was “Warp nine” speed fast. For every one second of the skis pointing down hill I must have accelerated 10 km/h. This was the fastest snow of the season on XC and downhill skis.
This was my 2nd worst day xc skiing in my life due to the following factors. My Vector breakfast cereal to start the day tasted burnt. That was a bad start. Then I forgot to drink water in the Shark parking lot before skiing and did not realize this until I hit BR9 campground. At this point I was dehydrated. The snowwshoer made the trail hell with 10 cm deep crusted holes which made for hard skiing. Last but not least I had more wipe outs coming back down on the trail than I have had in the last 25 years put together. I did not realize it until I got back to the warden cabin, but my screws in my bindings were lose. This made for wimbly wambly skis. I had nearly a cm of movement in the bindings from side to side which translated to many times more at the ski tip. Knowing this I slowed my skiing down to a crawl so I would not tear my bindings out of my skis (like I did at Mount Shark in about 1980- the worst skiing day of my life) and I did not make it back to the parking lot until 2:30 am. This ended up being about a 14.5 hour day of skiing.
I am wondering if the old church ski shop in Kennsington did a lousy job mounting the bindings into my Rossignol BC59 skis some years ago or if the skis can’t tolerate my skiing. I only have a few thousand kilometers of skiing on the skis. I ordered Rossignol bindings when I bought the skis but the shop put on Rottefella bindings instead- which I really dislike. They are not durable as the rubber is breaking and some days I can’t get my boot out of the binding in under 5 minutes. I have literally thought some days that I would have to drive home with my skis on! The bindings may have also had ice build up under the binding which may have caused lose screws as well. Who knows.
I am lucky to survive to ski another day in the Great Canadian Rockies. I might just leave that next ski day for next year though as it will take the crash aches a while to cure.
I am sure anyone else would have a more enjoyable day of skiing up there now. The Bryant trail is much improved now.
Ski long and prosper. Push for the legalization of real democracy if you want a corruption reduced political system that is superior. Watch for my Democracy Legalization Video on Youtube later this year. Ski ya later.
I forgot to mention the temperature at the Bryant Creek warden cabin was +2 c around midnight with a few rare snowflakes falling. Winds were light from the east.
I forgot to mention the grizzly tracks in the BR 14 area. There are a set of lone big griz tracks as well as a smaller griz with a cub. The big griz tracks looked spectacular at night with my headlamp shining on them. It was like each track had a spectacular white light shinning in each track. This was the highlight of my ski trip. The tracks did not look so spectacular in the day light other than their extraordinary large size.
With the BC and AB government halting griz hunting, I would expect griz sightings to pick up substantially in the coming years along the Continental Divide which will make skiing more interesting.
I also saw smaller griz tracks at the top of Assiniboine Pass which headed downward. The griz are really on the move in this area.
The griz tracks with the cub appeared to be searching for ants under trees or in tree wells where there is no snow. Ants are a significant food source at this time of year for bears as there is not a whole lot else to eat.
I was wondering if we would be treated to another MAAD trip report this season! Sounds like quite an epic!
I too have experienced wimbly wambly bindings, but on mine the issue is somewhere within the binding, not at the binding/ski interface. The result is that the ridges of the binding often don’t line up with the grooves in my boots whenever my skis are at an angle (corners, herringbone). I still haven’t tried to fix them, perhaps a project for this evening… I doubt the Rossignol bindings would have lasted any longer than the Rottefella ones. At least for race bindings, all NNN bindings (up until Prolink was created) were Rottefella with a Rossi/Fischer/Madshus sticker on them. Perhaps BC-NNN were different, though.
I find NNN-BC bindings and light touring gear get alot of abuse in the varying conditions we experience through the season (a lot of torque on the binding, screws and boots). The primary issue is really the soft wood core of the ski in attempts to be light weight. It’s holding power is not strong enough (hardness, depth or number of screws). If it was hardwood, likely toe pin and boot issues. Never had a pin fail yet, but everything else. Sure would be nice to have a product that was more durable that you could rely on for such MAD adventures.
I’ve used NNN-BC extensively, but have found the lack of strength and torsional control that seems to be inherent in the proprietary sole to be limiting. I’ve seen a fair number of separated soles and broken toe bars (including my own). Of course, this is because some of us are asking too much from what is really just a beefed up xc binding. However, there is a promising new boot/ski interface on the horizon. Pricey and unproven, I won’t be an early adopter.
Interesting, a kind of reverse “dynafit” pin system, but not fully mechanical. Binding posts on either side of boot appear to flex/spread to seat/grasp pins. That’s a wear/fatigue point, especially in -30. On that basis, I also won’t be an early adopter until some real world testing in cold and marginal conditions. And I wish boot makers would get away from goretex liners. They never last. Rather go with a gator and let the boots breath when necessary.
In reply to MaSid’s April 29, 2021 at 12:11 pm post:
At the 38-second point of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FR4nypePMnI, it refers to a “spring-pin”. It sounds like the boot pins are internally spring-loaded and retract to enter and exit the binding. Sounds like a prime point for system failure. After viewing the video, it looks no more robust that NNN-BC; just way more expensive!
Sorry, I meant the 28-second point.
Buyer beware… here were my 2 issues within 2 months!
See photo descriptions for details:
Survival issues are not covered under any warranty!
I have that problem on the old NNN bindings on my rock classic and skate skis. The metal jaws that clamp onto the boot toe bar seem to have gradually opened up a tiny bit through many years of use. This resulted in some free play between the jaw and the toe bar and therefore some “wiggle room” of the boot in the binding. The best solution would be to replace the bindings, but out of principle I refuse to do that. Instead, I cut a strip of sidewall off an old bike tire that I shove into the binding jaw before I put my boot in. The rubber strip fills up the extra space in the jaw opening and holds the boot securely. Unfortunately, the strips get chewed up and have to be replaced each trip!
(This was a reply to Sara M’s April 28, 2021 at 3:47 pm post.)
yep, that sounds like the issue I’m having. Thanks for the tip!
Wow! That is innovative thinking to keep the bindings going. Good money saver too.
It just seemed to be a waste to throw a couple of pairs of bindings in the garbage and replace them with new ones, especially for rock skis. Plus I enjoy the challenge of repairing or at least jury-rigging something that looks unrepairable!
Damn, I just noticed that my NNN-BC bindings on my metal-edged light touring skis have developed the same problem! So now I’ll be jamming an old bike tire sidewall strip into those bindings as well. Good thing I’ve got a big supply of old bike tires!
Congrats MAAD, on an adventurous full-moon trip! I had a similar “wimbly wambly” ski experience on my last day of skiing at PLPP this season, while snowplowing down a frozen Lookout N. Turned out the lacing system in my left boot had torn away from the body of the boot, resulting in my foot being held firmly in the lacing system, but the lacing system not being connected to the rest of the boot! The boots are destined for a warranty return to MEC once they have new boots in stock.
FYI, I also had the experience of loose binding screws on my light touring skis with BC-NNN bindings. It looked like moisture had infiltrated the screw holes and softened the wood. The only feasible way to repair the holes was to use a Dremel Tool with a drill bit to expand the hole diameters at the bottom of the holes, i.e. each hole became a cone shape wider at the bottom of the hole than at the surface. I then filled the holes with 24-hour epoxy, being careful to remove any trapped air, and screwed the bindings back into the skis with the minimum amount of torque required to get the bindings flush with the skis. This glued the screws to the epoxy cones, and it’s the epoxy cones that are mechanically holding the bindings in place. The repair has held up for about 5 years so far. Good luck on repairing your skis!
I am not so sure I want to ski on these automatic Rotofella bindings again or the skis if they have a soft wood core. Your (Mike’s) repair job sounds real good but I would always have the repair in the back of my mind which would not be to comforting on some mountainside at night.
My 1994 Rossignol manual NNN BC bindings on my old Rossiginol TMS Mountain Series 2 skis with well over 15,000 km on them and with about 1 foot of edge ripped out make me feel more confident to ski on than my Rossignol BC59 skis with the automatic Rotfella bindings at this time. Your information on soft wood cores makes me nervous now.
I think the manual bindings last much longer. I never had a problem getting my boot out of them like my automatic Rotefella bindings. I heard a story where a person had to take their boot off to drive home because they could not get the boot out of the binding. Sticky bindings suck at the end of a 40 km ski when your bagged, particularly when it is -20 and it is midnight.
Chucks boot blow out in the photos blew me away. I have found boots in the last couple of decades to have really plummeted in quality as compared to the earlier 1990’s. I had one pair of Alpina’s only last for about 9 days of skiing before the zipper blew out and a thin rain crust cut right through the boots. I am currently on a lace up pair (only) of Alpina’s and they are blowing out stitching all over the place after about 18 days of skiing.
On my trip to Assiniboine, the boots gained so much water they felt like they weighed 5 pounds a piece at least. They still are not dry after days of rest. 1 pound of weight on the feet is equivalent to 6 lbs on the back apparently.
I contacted Baffin Boots today and sent them an idea for a plastic boot with a removable liner. I use to backpack on a pair of Koflach Polo 3/4 shank boots with a removable liner. I got roughly 10,000 km of backpacking out of each pair I had. This old Koflach design (only sold for one year in 1985 in Calgary) was the best boot I ever had. Plastic does not gain water weight which is a bonus. The liner could be tossed into the washing machine to wash. U of C use to rent these boots and loved them for that. No one ever got a stinky pair of rental boots. The boots had flex ridges on top of the toe area like old Raichle downhill ski boots to assist in flex. This design could potentially make a superior NNN BC ski boot.
If there plastics experts out there, contact me at 250-458-2266 as I would like to talk to you about making plastic boots.
Another entertaining report from the MAADman! Hopefully we get to read more of these next season in the successor to SkierBob. My 2 cents-it seems to me that your day may have gone better with an earlier start, more water in your pack, and a better repair kit including a screwdriver and some steel wool to pack the holes with.
Hmm. Steel wool. That sounds like a real good idea along with a repair kit.
Either that or new skis and bindings.
To be honest I have never carried a repair kit in tens of thousands of kilometers of xc skiing. But with today’s junk equipment, I had better start carrying something other than tape to fix broken baskets.
That was another issue I forgot to mention on my Assiniboine Park trip. I broke a basket again. Luckily I had a wad of tape to replace the lost basket. It was not bad poling going up trail but coming down was tricky with a broken basket and loose screws- actually one had pulled out of the binding. And surprisingly I skied with small baskets. I blew out all of my poles with big baskets a few trips back and just never got around to repairing them.
I did pack 4 liters of water for the trip and 6 oranges for fluids. I just forgot to drink my usual 1.5 liters of water in the car before starting to ski. That was the first time I forgot in my life. It must be some old timers thing coming on that made me forget. Actually I was really too excited to get skiing when I saw how much snow there was at the Mount Shark parking lot. I did not expect to see such glorious conditions.
I was really surprised I made it up to Assiniboine Park and back on 4 liters of water and 6 oranges without sticking my lips into Big Springs to suck water out. The shrimp in the springs can be tasty! I normally do get water out of the spring when I go to Assiniboine.
PARADISE VALLEY – April 27
Another night of freezing temperatures called for a trip into our favourite valley.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
The ski season is far from done in BNP
Hi Chuck. Great spring skiing photos, especially the birds. How was the ski descent back to MLR?
Great… an easy smooth descent on corn snow. Absolutely no grabbing.
I like the look of your wife’s skis! What are they?
Rossignol BC59, metal edge and waxable.
April 27 – Shadow Lake and Ball Pass Junction
Mostly bare ice and lots of debris for the first 1.5km, then slightly better to 3km at which point the snow was actually something that could be called snow! I chose to skate ski since there isn’t a track left to ruin. Above the steep narrow hill, there was a ~5cm of snow from a few days ago that was still soft and hadn’t been transformed yet. At the top, the open areas had a nice supportive crust to skate on. The lake itself had some wind-transported snow on top of the crust and the skiing was a bit slower. The treed sections along up towards Ball Pass Junction weren’t too wallow-y, and the open sections were fantastic! On the way down from the lake, the warm temperatures had done their job and softened up most of the snow/ice that I was worried about on the lower sections of the trail. However there was more bare ice than in the morning. If, for some reason, I try to head up there again this season, I’ll be bringing shoes and microspikes for the first bit!
MOUNT NORQUAY – April 26
With yesterday’s grooming and last night’s snowfall, this was a great HIGH choice.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
No other skiers, but staff cheered us on while working on the roof!
PLPP: Excellent snow in the morning, made for good progress on Fox, Hydroline, and Lookout south. The curves on both S and N Lookout are a bit of a mangled mess, with heavy snow and lots of filled-in tracks going every which way, had to take it slow on the curves going down N. The views from Lookout made the slog up totally worthwhile, and luckily, we had zero wind at the top. Skied through Tyrwhitt, very sticky in the meadow, okay in the trees. We then dipped a smidgen into East Elk Pass for lunch on a quickly made insta-couch. After too long a lunch, we skied through Patterson meadow and then took a slow-as-molasses trip down Elk Pass. Skiers nicely plowed the descent down the big hill to Elk Pass parking, but the shade-sun transitions were tricky. This is a wrap for our second season in the SkierBob Empire, and we are grateful for the tremendous landscape that we get to ski in, for SkierBob, and for all the wild and wonderful skiers. Can’t help but be dazzled by it all. : )
CNC machine snow 26 Apr
Tons of fast skaters screaming around the trails earlier in the morning, including many wearing national team colours.
No joy for a mere mortal on wax skis in the hard / icy tracksetting – repeated application of the softest wax in my kit Swix yellow VR75 supplemented with gobs of ArmStrong did not provide enough gription.
Fishscales saved the day once things softened up. The magic hour between too icy and too slushy was from maybe 1030 to about 1130 when the stiction started.
Natural snow trails looked ugly.
Wildlife warning: aggressive spruce grouse attacked my poles near Jct 7 just before Banff Loop joins Banff 🙂
Hey Bob if you read this, thanks again for your sterling work over the last 13 years – your site has been an amazing resource, so much appreciated by so many skiers. And congratulations on reaching your 25,000 km milestone. Enjoy your sabbatical; look forward to seeing you on the trails next winter.
Thanks, Barry. It was always a pleasure to meet you on the trail. I should probably mention that I read every comment and it makes me feel good to know the blog has been helpful to so many people.
West Bragg Creek encore……
Lovely morning ski up lower WestCrystal – upper West Crystal – Loggers – Sundog – East Crystal. Lots of foot traffic, but still good skier tracks to follow.
Snow nice in the shade, very sticky in the sun, few little slushy spots appearing on Loggers.
The worst was East Crystal, with bare patches and exposed rocks, not recommended for descending as I did! In addition to the bare patches, there were sizable bear prints :O
Also I lost a black mitt, so if anyone found it………. 🙁
It’s on a small tree at the west end of the parking lot (next to the warming hut)
Thank you, John, I found them in the “lost and found” box this afternoon.
Lots of nice stuff in there, but getting a bit smelly in the warm sun 😛
As Diana reported, snow conditions were pretty good at WBC in the morning. But, when the temperature got to +10C in the afternoon, it rapidly progressed to sticky and slushy and just plain wet. I did a weird combination of the Crystal Lines, Snowy Owl, West Meadow Horse trail, Tom Snow and a bunch of off-trail wandering.
With no overnight freezing and highs in the 13C to 18C range for the rest of the week, I would guess that the snow season is ending at WBC.
Bragg Creek – West Crystal line, moose connector, mountain road back to the trailhead (don’t do it!), West Crystal line, Crystal Link 4, Upper West Crystal line, Crystal Link 3 Middle Crystal line.
I thought I was done skiing for the season, but we couldn’t turn down the opportunity for another kick at the can. Snow was thin at the trailhead but fine in the trees. It was wet and slightly sticky, but no problems with clumping or sticking. I was using my skin skis and the grip was fine. Made the mistake of trying mountain road – it’s really, really thin and rocky closer to the trailhead, so best to avoid that move! The snow isn’t melting in the covered trails, which is great, so it’s best to stick to the inner trails.
Lots of people walking all over the trails, so be prepared for that.
CNC this AM 8:30 – 10:00 0C 5cm fresh on top of crust. Skins skis
Wow! Great skiing. Crust under new snow was soft allowing for fun downhills.
Snow was fresh enough that there wasnt any stop start skiing.
Manmade snow excellent. Natural snow was quite skiable. Lots of skier made tracks. Meadowview was groomed out to junction 31.
We skied up Banff Trail across meadow and onto Bruin,Wolverine and Silvertip then out Meadowview to junction 31 Returned via Rundle Meadowview and Olympic.
Only one spot on Rundle that has dirt showing. If you’re going North south ( heading back to Lodge) the hill is marked with logs. Safe way down is side step or walking down.
Especially on Natural snow there are spots with thin or no coverage. Just be careful.
pet peeve: is skaters skiing on the skier made tracks. Sometimes this time of year it’s unavoidable but other times skiing on the tracks is rude.
+1 on pet peeve !! Would love to see signs, “Skating across classic tracks is VERBOTEN”. Sadly, we’re too polite for that in Canada. And I skate as much as classic, especially late in the season.
Started skiing this morning at -6C in 10cm of fresh snow at the Fairview trailhead. Quiet and mostly overcast, the temperature warmed upon reaching the Moraine Lake Road and the ski up the road was especially picturesque during the sun’s intermittent appearances. I used Rode Rossa and found it gripped well on the steepest sections returning up Fairview. Gliding down MLR was not fast but it was steady. A great, late-season day on the skis!
Probably the last XC ski of the season for me and my first Skier Bob post. It always seem everyone posts before I get to it and there is nothing to add.
Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, Lookout North, Lookout South, Hydroline, Fox Creek. Left the parking lot at 12 (late start after some powder skiing at Nakiska), many cars in the parking lot and curious pair of skis leaning up against a car. Nice skier set track up to Elk Pass, a family building a lovely snowman at Blueberry Junction with perfect packing snow. After Elk Pass only one person had skied Tyrwhitt. (Thanks for track.) By the time I was heading up Lookout it was quite sticky, with stilts forming. At the picnic table at top it was very stormy with graupel falling. No one had headed down the south side. My skis were not moving so I had to stop and scrape off the ice. Snowing very hard – glad I had goggles. For the most part, the descent was manageable with the new snow slowing things down. Sadly it may not be so nice tomorrow as I ran into two walkers and a dog, the first people I had seen since Elk Pass. Fox Creek was still in pretty good shape. There were still about 8 cars in the parking lot and the skis still leaning against the car.
Thank you to Skier Bob for all his work over the years, to all the people who have posted, and to the groomers!! It has been a great season! Stay well!
24 April – Whisky Jack, North Lookout.
1030 am – overcast, -3 at Boulton parking lot.
Was dismayed to see the trail head demolished to plow the camping pads when we parked. But once we got to the proper start of Whisky Jack we found the remains of the last grooming looking reasonable.
7 cm of fresh sticky snow on top of the old grooming. Good climbing on any colour of wax. My kid did well on red/silver, I did fine on blue violet mix.
No high heels until we turned the last corner at the top of lookout. The overcast was still present but just ever so slightly thinner. The increased solar effect was very quick to turn our kick zones into 4” heels. Fortunately the picnic table was in sight.
We scraped off our kick and rubbed some yellow Ku glide over our kick zones and enjoyed good glide down over the choppy base.
Whisky jack was colder and the snow that much drier for an even better decent back to the parking lot.
Had we arrived an hour earlier the snow would have been even better.
Well worth the drive if you ask me.
Let it snow.
Made tracks up to Blueberry Hill April 23rd and had a blast coming back down, had blue wax base with violet which held up very well. Couple others gave up with too much clumping on their waxless skis. There is a wet layer below the new 5cm layer.
We had some car trouble on our way out – got some help from some fellow skiers but didn’t get their names – big THANK YOU for saving us from a long cold walk!!
Sat Apr 24: elk pass
-6 and about an inch in the lot early this morning. ACC seems to be running a small human smuggling operation. 2-3″ at top of big hill. Dust on crust skiing under the power line for a few laps. Moist crust down low. About a dozen cars in the lot on return at 11, so tracks getting kept open prior to next snowfall.
About the only way to put an end to human smuggling along this route would be with a wall of couches.
Thanks for the belly roll of laughter AT! Equally intriguing was one of the three cars left overnight with XC skis and poles still leaning against it. No waller prints. Smuggling, abductions….or just switching “hats” to AT.
“Walker” prints !
PLPP yesterday: decent conditions with about 5cm of snow on top of somewhat icy old grooming. Went up Whisky Jack and Lookout and down Pocaterra and Packers. Not much grip with purple on blue wax but decent glide. The snow became slushy towards the top of the lookout but that’s probably just because the sun came out. Still remarkable good conditions for late April.
West Bragg Creek
I couldn’t let a SkierBob day go by without someone adding a report, so here it is.
The forecast snow event didn’t really meet expectations, but 5-7cm of new snow did fall at WBC. The base has melted out a bit more over this past week, but enough remains to allow for a nice ski on the core trails. Here are some photos from Sundog, Elbow, Loggers and some of the Crystal Line loops.
April 22 – PLPP
I was hoping to repeat BDski’s trip up to Highwood Pass, but the nasty cold wind at the gate was so demoralizing that I changed my plans and drove down to the Pocaterra parking lot. I skied out on Come Along and Pocaterra, up and over Lookout north to south, then took Hydroline, Elk Pass, Boulton, Wheeler, Amos, Lynx, Pocaterra, Come Along, and Rolly Road to get back to the car. Conditions generally improved to the south and with elevation, as expected. In most places, I could scrape away the fresh snow and find ice beneath it, but the depth of fresh snow varied. ~2cm at the parking lot when I started, 10-15cm on Lookout depending on aspect, wind exposure, etc. It snowed the entire time I was out, but absolutely puked snow for half an hour around noon. I hit one rock on Come Along, a small patch of gravel on Boulton, and lots of rocks on Rolly Road (which was also the iciest trail). The ploughed section of campground between Boulton and Wheeler was still ski-able, since the plow wasn’t able to remove the bottom layer of ice. With another week of snow in the forecast, conditions will probably improve! Only saw two other skiers out today, near the Fox Creek – Elk Pass junction.
I echo what Carol said on April 7: you are a ‘machine’. Thanks for the report, which encourages us recreational skiers to continue our season!
Highway 40 straight up to Highwood Pass, going for the natural high to celebrate 4/20 LOL. Excellent crust/corn on the way out. Plan was to turn around at Elbow Pass, but I thought I would go up a lil further to inspect the first avi path. Upon seeing it had previously released, leaving very little snow to slide, I felt it within my risk tolerance to proceed. Same story at the next one. It got r e a l l y sticky near the top and I was banking on gravity to win out over friction on the way out. Luckily, that largely came to pass. Otherwise I would have been out there a looooong time in the pain cave. Tons of sun, zero clouds and a few spots of semi isothermic sinky snow on the homeward leg. Started to break thru a couple times, but avoided all ass over teakettle moments. This might be doable again in the AM if it drops below freezing overnight and given an early enough start. 36k w/ a lil over 600m of up. A top 3 day on the season plus parking 10 steps from km zero. Hello to the only two others I saw all day, glad for your trax down from Elbow.
We did the same tour along Highway 40, continuing beyond the “Lionel”-Back Door turnoff, but only going as far as the Little Highwood Pass parking lot. (Despite the Highway sign, there are no picnic tables).
It was great to ski “Lionel” again this season, but this time with perfect weather for photography!
Must been you or your partner I waved to. Wish I had considered the ball cap up top… my face is pretty fried!
Well done. Way to beat the cyclo riff raff to the top!
“riff raff” that’s awesome!
Hi, I may have dropped my (green) Apple Mini I-Pod/Shuffle at PLPP on April 9. Moraine/Fox/Elk/BB/Tyrwhitt/WJ. Did anyone find it?
Monday 19th: Whiskey Jack 9:45 and -5. Snow still cold enough to head up Normand’s enticing turns to North Lookout. This was my last day of skiing (90 outings) and took a panorama on the Iphone on top. I could have stayed there all day by myself but feared the snow would get sticky, which it did by the time I made it to Tyrwhitt Meadows.
A final salute to a spectacular season thanks to ALL my ski friends, ALL the groomers for whom I could not bake cookies this year, for the excellent adoption of Nordic Pulse timely grooming reports, to Nordique Alberta and Ken Hewitt and volunteers for making our season even possible, and for skierbob whose website I am going to miss more than you will ever know. I am humbled with gratitude.
P.S. Wondered if magic Lemon Pledge was the secret polish? Chuck: trust you to capture yet another huge avalanche and post a visual warning to all who ski this road. And to all who capture their ski trips and share them on outstanding photos: I am still drooling!!!
Thx for the report Helen as I am planning to go there today. I hope u left me some good tracks, haha. Didn’t know about the secret polish tip either. Better look for some to bring : ) U must be quite the iron woman – doing 90 trips – congrats ! I better pick up my game, haha.
Congrats Helen for your great ski season. Glad you enjoyed the view once at the Lookout; sure was not the case on Sunday, with prime blizzard conditions. Your passion to be on the trails is contagious.
West Bragg Creek
I did a short ski around the Crystal Line trails at WBC. The 12-14cm of new snow on the remaining base was enough for an enjoyable tour. This year saw lots of warm breaks, with marginal conditions… but 7 months after the big October dump, skiing is still possible. Might be even better at the end of this week.
Thx for the report Alf. I didn’t think there would be any more skiing in Bragg this season.
Pocaterra mellow morning
I skied up Pocaterra from the hut to just beyond Lynx junction, returning via Come Along and Rolly Road, starting about 8 am with snow temp about -6C.
There seemed to be from 2 cm to maybe 5 or so cm of fresh snow, not much but enough for a good refresh and decent skiing all along this route. Pussy willows out!
Underneath the fresh snow is serious crud! Fortunately it is fairly smooth……..
April 19 – Palliser warden cabin
Finally, an off-trail day where my classic track skis actually felt wide enough! Starting from the parking lot, I broke trail in 5-10cm of new snow on top of old grooming and then old tracks. The snow was moderately supportive off the track within the trees, and rock-hard (under the fresh stuff) in open areas. The fresh snow was light and cold when I started in the morning, but turned heavy and wet at 11:30. Very good views up in the meadows! A fair bit of hiker traffic on the Watridge trail, but the snow is still solid enough that they aren’t doing tooooo much damage.
Beautiful! Much better views than we had on the 11th, and much more serious distance too. 🙂
Thank you to the lovely skier on Elk Pass near Blueberry hill who let us use her furniture polish so our skis would not ball up with snow. That was a great trick that I had never heard before. It made our ski much more enjoyable. Thanks again
Elizabeth and Jeanette
Ps thanks groomers and volunteers for a great season. See you next year
I hate to reveal my ignorance in public, but are you talking about snow balling up on your ski bases or tops?
I am also rather ignorant: is this just for fishscale skis?
Mon Apr 19: east elk-west elk traverse.
An excellent day to sneak another traverse in with M&J. Mostly sunny and the north wind of the afternoon wasn’t too fierce, but kept the snow mostly cool enough. -6 in the parking lot at 8, +2 back at the car at 230. Normand’s tracks almost filled in again, but still appreciated. Went in via Patterson meadows. The east elk track was a little rough with icy ruts underfoot so set a new track for more pleasant cruising. Moist across the summit meadows by 11 so stuck to the shady side. Moist down the cut block but powdery enough for safe switchbacking turns. No clumping anyway until back in west elk meadows, again sticking to the shady side after some reapplication of glide material at the fork n meadow. What was previously sunny in the morning through the meadows and shady in the afternoon had formed a thin crust pretty quick (only hot in the sun). Elk pass track holding up well but will be glazed in places tomorrow, but wasn’t too slushy until closer to the car. The north descent down the big hill was challenging with the fresh snow now wet. South side provided good grip on return but will perhaps be frozen and a bit rough in the morning. But not a big ice patch yet. We all took a turn at tumbling on LT gear down the north side transitioning into sunny bits. A great day out nonetheless. More snow on the way (-:
You know when you have those moments in life, that practically defy description, this day had one of those moments. MaSid had us break trail through the last meadow, so that it would be heads-up, as he knew what was coming, and we did not. He started a countdown, and as we skied out of the trees and up a small rise, there it was, the brain-imploding view. The majestic mountains in all of their finery, the snow-covered Elk Lakes, all backed by a vividly blue sky. No photos and no words, can capture this moment in time, although we were yelling. We are so grateful to MaSid for this day of profound joy.
Ack wrong link above
I always appreciate your reports and couches as well. Just hope you crossed the border secretively.
Oh oh. Danger, Will Robinson! Never even crossed my mind. Might have to move the couch locations a few meters next year. (-;
PETER LOUGHEED PARK FIRE LOOKOUT – April 18
Started from Elk Pass parking lot at 10:45 am with snow falling heavily throughout the outing. Skied Elk Pass trail, Paterson, Lookout, Tyrwhitt and back via Elk Pass trail. Blizzard and whiteout conditions were far more prevalent in the open terrain, such as along Hydroline, the fire Lookout and Elk Pass. Anywhere from 5 cm of fresh snow at the start on the recent track setting, to 15 cm at the Lookout summit. Great soft snow to go down Lookout North and any other steep hills. Provided it does not warm up too much over the next couple days and the snow in the forecast for later in the week, conditions should still be good next weekend. I was on skin skis, with nice traction going up on the soft snow in the recent track setting. Met about 10 people, only the Elk Pass and Tyrwhitt trails. Slow in the downhills, but surprisingly good this time of the year, for a ski season that started exactly 6 months ago for me. Took some photos, but will spare the viewing of billions snow flakes.
Elk Pass Area. – Saturday. As Mike said, the conditions were surprisingly good. No clumping at all, and not too much grabbing. Everything that had been groomed that morning was excellent and fast. Older grooming (Tyrwhitt) was more challenging. Whiskey Jack descent was really good. Moraine Trail is finished. Icy, dirty, bare. Don’t go there.
Thanks to the groomers for a great season.
APR 17 PETER LOUGHEED PROVINCIAL PARK (PLPP)
Elk Pass Trail to lower Hydroline junction, Hydroline, Lookout south to north, Pocaterra, Whiskey Jack, Packers, Pocaterra, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass Trail, Blueberry Hill, Elk Pass Trail, Fox Creek, Boulton Creek to Elk Pass Trail and parking lot
Brilliant sunny day at PLPP today! -3C when I started skiing from Elk Pass parking at 0900, +13C on return at 1500. I was on my rock “waxless” skis with a crown-patterned kick zone. Vauhti Pure One LD liquid glide wax (+5C/-10C) over the entire ski, brushed in until it was really shiny. Zero clumping all day! This was my Farewell-To-PLPP-Grooming tour, mainly on trails that had been trackset in the past 2 days. But even the older trails (except for Fox Creek) still had reasonable trackset. Despite the temperature rising rapidly during the day (+7C on the top of Lookout at 1030, and +10C at Elk Pass at 1300), the snow didn’t start turning to slush until my return on Elk Pass from Blueberry Hill at about 1430. Even then, the trackset in the shade was in good shape. Still lots of snow. I measured about 150cm covering a Blueberry Hill bridge, and 120cm further down on Elk Pass. Fox Creek still has complete snow coverage, but it’s pretty dirty. I’ll probably be back to PLPP this season, but on my light touring skis.
I saw 15 other people during the day, mainly on my return from Blueberry Hill. Thanks to all the PLPP groomers for keeping the trails in great shape all winter!
Red klister worked perfectly on Fairview and Moraine Lake Road today. No surprise tracksetting today like there was last Saturday, but the dark blue, cloudless ski and +20C in the sun at the top of the road were generous compensation. Lots of snow on the ground still, hopefully more warm, easy days to come. 🙂
High Rockies Trail Goat creek south. Lt touring VR 70 and skins
Started out -3C at 9:30 finished +12C 1:00.
It was a nice day for a walk with skis on shoulders. Road down from parking to the creek was icy. After that we donned skis. We skied the meadows along the creek on wax and then switched to skins. We bordered the creek, had lunch and nearly waited too long to return. Broke through the crust until we intersected with the trail. Sweet spot was 10:30 -11:30. If you wanted to know were folks from Calgary were, they parked at Goat creek parking lot,both sides of the road from parking lot all the way back to the top of the hill. The road around Grassi Lake was jammed both sides.
Oh and the Smith Dorian is still in horrible shape.
Seeing the Nordic Pulse report on PLPP when I woke up this morning, I quickly got ready and headed out for a morning ski on the fresh grooming. I was very surprised to see only two other cars at Boulton, and one was a fellow who had just finished up. Never saw a single person on the trails! WJ was fantastic, as was all of Pocaterra above the Packers junction. Below the junction, the tracks became icy and dirty, despite the fresh grooming. So I turned around after a km or two and headed back up to the great conditions. WJ was softening up on the descent, but it was still fine as long as I was careful. The skin skis worked well. It was such a lovely ski, and will probably be my last PLPP visit this season. A huge thanks for all the great grooming this year.
CNC 10:30- 2:30 +3C- +10C Skin skis
Not a lot of folks on the trails. Blue Bird day!
Mid morning start hoping to catch the sweet spot for the snow.
Started off with good tracks, mostly margarita and some ice. Ended up with a mix of conditions with some H2O running freely down the tracks and pooling at the bottom of dips. We even had bow waves coming from our ski tips
Still pretty good skiing. As has been mentioned before watch for shady spots where the tracks are quick and transitions to the sun where a quick telemark position may be required. A few dirt patches are showing through.
We skied off the end of Cold Shoulder onto the meadows and wandered over towards the BNP boundary. Snow crust is still quite supportive.
Last week, we gathered some time-lapse with a phone propped up in a tree branch. It was blustery, the camera shifted, and resulting footage was too jittery. I’d always wanted to learn that stabilization software, so down the rabbit hole I went. Compositers! Renderers! Nodes! Oh My! It’s now watchable, and so earned my Jr.Blenderer badge.
Congrats on a great first time-lapse video.
Your video really portrays well my memories of how quickly the clouds can move and change over the great divide.
Elk Pass Extravaganza!
From the Elk Pass parking lot, fresh grooming was cold and hard this morning, and my green wax was perfect. Inspired by MaSid, I went back to West Elk Pass, and was quasi-trailbreaking following drifted-in tracks, looked like a single skier (MaSid, perhaps?).
Eventually the tracks and flagging did lead me to the powerline, where I had planned to turn left and head up to Elk Pass proper. Foolishly I was drawn to follow the old tracks up the cutblock on the other side, which was hard work but led to some stupendous views!
I thought the hard work was over, silly me! But no, the tracks led me a merry chase further uphill through the trees, a long and crazy route over to eventually find East Elk Pass and more recent tracks. Even those took a tortuous route past some startlingly deep tree wells, and finally out to a familiar bit of Tyrwhitt. By now the snow in the meadows was getting very warm and sticky, and back on the trail my green wax was pretty useless!
I completed the triple threat with a visit to Elk Pass proper, returning to the car via Hydroline, Patterson, Elk Pass trail – Fox Creek – Boulton – Elk Pass, all still in great shape.
It was truly an epic adventure on skis today, and I only wish my son could have been there, and brought a good camera along! Many thanks to MaSid for tracks and inspiration 🙂
(Photos to follow…..)
CONGRATULATIONS Diana on not only figuring out your way through West Elk Meadows thru to Hydroline but busting your butt through to East Elk Meadows where Masid and friends, M & J and myself were likely two hours earlier. I started early in -8 from Boulton up Whiskey Jack and almost walked the whole way up on Rode Blue -2 to -6. Tyrwhitt tracks had wolf prints throughout and outstanding views. Got to East Elk around 11:30am. Takes about 30 min to maneuver the many turns around tree wells to couch end of East Elk, but as I confessed to others, kick skins were equivalent to wearing my “big lady panties” as skiing alone, one needs a little extra security! Met Ma Sid as he was coming out with friends, and he lured me to check out the Patterson Meadows which were so much gentler. A social day it was and if this is it for Spring 2021 XC skiing, it could not have been a more perfect day! To Martin, Cheeky and Simona, I share the quote by James M. Barrie, “Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” Thank you for providing us the gift of playing around in these stunning meadows again this season.
Thanks Helen and MaSid for confirming to us all what friendship, the outdoors, and this blog bring together.
Well said Henry!
Well, fantastic! A three pass day for you and plenty of meadows. Another couple went through the opposite direction, perhaps you crossed paths. Sometimes you just get pulled along and keep going. Such a good day for unplanned adventure. Well done. We went into east elk first, then came around to west elk in the afternoon. I was too tired for the uphill of the traverse. Try it in the clockwise direction next year. Easier descending the open cut block than the tight trees of the boundary cutline, and better reveals.
I could see why you did it in the opposite direction! Maybe next year, but without tracks to follow I would probably get quite lost.
I did not see anyone else off the groomed trails, it was a bit eerie to be alone for so long!
My guess is I’ll be doing it a lot next season. Such a good tour with high value for energy expended and two couches to lounge at en route. Looking forward to seeing your pics.
Thank you Helen and MaSid!
Here are pictures, many will be familiar from other recent posts. I saw some interesting fresh tracks out there, made me a little nervous, but nothing really big…..
My first stop was just before Hwy 68, where I saw lots of swans and just couldn’t resist, especially having a good camera in the car. It was too heavy to haul up the ski trail though 🙁
What happened to the picnic table?!
EPIC day!!! Such amazing conditions that everyone was out!
PLPP – elk pass-blueberry hill- elk pass-Tyrwhitt-Whiskey Jack- Moraine-Elk pass
Had a later start than usual around 11:15 am, -3 at the elk pass parking lot… which worked in our favour. As we were ascending Blueberry hill, around 12:10 pm, everyone was coming down, so we had a chance to enjoy the summit with only 3 other awesome people who graciously took our picture (thanks Shauna, Doreen and Ian), with an absolutely stunning backdrop. The descent was fast and truly stunning views.
Up elk pass was great and tyrwhitt was just starting to soften up by the sun… around 3 pm at this time!
Finished at 4 pm, 25 km later and if it’s the last day, then it was the perfect way to end the season, but I’m hoping for just one more day… maybe 2 ?
Tue Apr 13: east elk pass
-14 this morning at 730 in the the elk pass lot. Went in via Patterson meadows. Looked like a lone wolf had used the east elk track and visited Couch H2.0 early this morning (no surface hoar in the prints but on the ski track). Must read skier bob! As I was leaving, M&J came in, so back for more sun and talking turkey. One of the many subjects was wether we would see helen. On our return, there she was! We continued our happy tour back through Patterson meadows and into west elk pass and the Couch headquarters. No avalanches seen on fox, but heard. The elk pass grooming was in fine shape on the way back and should provide a few more days of mostly good travel. Some slushy spots on fox, but manageable. An excellent social day out, if it is one of the last good days, and perfect for day #70. Most I’ve ever skied in a single season, but nothing compared to helen. (-:
So great to meet MaSid and Helen in East Elk Pass today:
CNC 1:00-3:30 2C-5C Skin skis
What a great day at the Nordic Centre! It seemed all the natural snow trails past the meadow have been groomed and TS in the last two nights. Great skiing Tracks leaving the Stadium were either powder or margarita but on the way back 2.5h later slushy. Such is the nature of skiing this time of year. Skiing on the sunny side of a trail could be slow and in the shade rocket fast. Watch for shady spots and the quick transition to a sunny spot.
Not a whole lot of skiers in the PM but the tracks left by earlier skiers showed a lot of traffic.
We returned via Banff Trail later in the PM and the tracks and groomed trail was icing up.
Thanks to the CNC grooming crew for such great trails to ski on!
Tried the Cascade Fire Road Monday (because it was there). Wax did not work on the asphalt road so we walked to the Bankhead junction. Climbing the road was very clumpy even though air temp was-2. After lunch at the bridge the return was quite nice as our glide had reappeared. Snow depth was 5-20 cm, so still enough to ski. My advice would be to stick with the grooming in PLPP.
PLPP Skier Bob Special in reverse. Four of us started at the Elk Pass Parking lot (-10C) at 9:30 am and headed up new track setting on Elk Pass Trail. We took Fox Creek Trail which was skier tracked (pretty good conditions) and then up to Elk Pass on wonderful tracks. Tyrwhitt was skier set on one day-old grooming with a few cms. of snow on top, so the downhills to the picnic table were soft and controllable. Skiing north on Tyrwhitt, we started to encounter a few sticky spots on sun-exposed places, and the descent to the Whiskeyjack table was good but quite slow. After lunch, our descent of Whiskeyjack was pleasant, not too fast, and ice-free, except for one spot on the S bend. Moraine was icy at the Boulton end on the exposed section at and past the two benches. The rest of Moraine was quite good. By the end of the ski, the snow was getting quite sticky and the temp was +2C. I’m glad we started early! Magnificent day for a final ski of the season. Nice to see Helen Read on Tyrwhitt. Many thanks to the track setters for such excellent grooming this winter, to the guys who plow Hwy. 40 and to Skier Bob for the invaluable info on his blog! Happy trails to all of you!
PLPP still offers best skiing for mid April. 2nd car in Elk Pass parking lot and -6 C. Two using skin skis and me on Asnes with VR 45. Followed the new grooming up Hydroline then decided the perfect grooming with fresh powder were perfect conditions to climb up South Lookout. A little chilly/windy for a picnic and could barely see the mailbox buried by the flag pole. Met a passionate relatively new XC skier who is friend’s with the woman I met on Lionel yesterday. She graciously took our pic. Descending the north side was so enjoyable making nice slow S turns all the way down. Tyrwhitt did not disappoint although weather was all over the place today. Going down Elk Pass had alot of deep skier tracks to somewhat slow us down. Did not take in the East Elk Meadows today although tempting in the powder-trail was still visible. Fox was the perfect way to end the day; new snow buried any woodpecker bark chips. Speaking of chips, we deserved a few after our 20 kms circuit and over 500 M elevation (if I can believe Gaia)?
Helen, my Gaia recorded that route as 535 m total ascent, although when I did it a few weeks ago, Fox Creek didn’t look great, so I climbed up and finished with the Elk Pass wall!
So it was Helen who made those nice turns on Lookout north! Starting out at the crack of noon, we ran into waxing issues with our initial choice of VR45. Long story short- after a lot of cursing, scraping and rewaxing, kicker skins saved the day. The north side descent was still dry, soft and easygoing at 2:30 after a lazy break in the sun at the top, as was Whisky Jack other than the upper of the S turns, which was wet and grabby due to sun exposure.
What an incredible snow day… it’s all about fresh powder!! Was lovely meeting you inspiring ladies today! And thank you for the tip re the knife 🙂
Oh … I forgot to mention how calm it was to drive west of Castle Junction with virtually no traffic, as Hwy 1 closed this morning east of Golden for construction, and all through traffic is routed south on Highway 93.
After Chuck’s intel from yesterday, we headed to Pipestone for “one last time” on the season. Saw only one other skier. Track surprisingly good, although a little thin and icy under some trees. Best on the farthest end of the loop. A few of the downhills were very fast. Merlin was a dream glide. Skin skis worked very well. Probably fastest I’ve ever skiied Pipestone-Merlin-Drummond.
thanks for all the positive reports on PLPP. I wanted one more time there and we were able to start at Pocaterra and up to Whiskey Jack and back down along the valley trails.The downhills were especially dreamy. Our R-Skin skis excelled today, fast and non-grippy. Some skiers’ skis were starting to stick around noon. We had fresh cougar tracks first thing on the new grooming along the first section up Pocaterra. Mix of sunshine light snow and just a few gusts of wind right when we stopped for lunch and got clobbered by tree bombs! Overall a lovely day!
Mon Apr 12: skogan pass.
4″ of fresh at nakiska base. 8-10″ up top. Nice soft descent all the way down. The snowshoers on hummingbird thankfully stayed out of track. Clearly exceptional people. Some moist krunkle in sunny patches below hummingbird, but dry in the shade mid aft. Thin right at nakiska on return (that 4″ settled out quickly), but otherwise a nice gift this late. Might be a window for a dawn start tomorrow, maybe.
Canmore Nordic Centre -5C at 8:15am with 5 cm new snow – Blue wax – Who Could Ask For Anything More!
Thanks Ken Hewitt for your report yesterday that Rundle was groomed to the end.
GIBBON PASS from RED EARTH CREEK – April 11
Excellent snow conditions from the Red Earth Creek parking lot, with VR40 working great all day to and from Shadow Lake Lodge. With about 5 cm of fresh and dry snow on a solid crust, I started on a nice skier-made track, until I passed a young couple before RE6 campground (which by the way should be RE7) and a lady by km 8. Then after I followed a couple days old ski track with 10 cm of soft snow to the lodge. The climb up to Gibbon Pass entailed an elevation gain of 450+ m over about 3 km. I was able to follow what appeared as the downhill ski track made by Mike W and Carl a week ago, for about 1 km. Then either I lost their trail or it got covered by more fresh snow. I ended up going an open drainage area a bit too far east, getting about 50 meters above the broad open pass meadows. It was quite cloudy and overcast, that Storm Mountain was barely visible. Did a bit of a tour over the meadows, looking for the Gibbon Pass stone cairn; no luck! All I found was a hiking trail sign barely sticking out of the snow. There were 25 cm of soft snow on a supportive crust in the meadow area. The return to the lodge was a lot faster, until I got into the steep switchbacks, awkward to handle with narrow light touring 205 cm long skis. After a snack by the lodge, the ski out was really nice and moderately fast at times, on the trail that had been skied by a few people earlier in the day. Still dry snow by late pm, easy for controlling on a few short steeper sections. Even the last downhill to the parking lot was easy to ski down; no crust exposed. Note sure if this was last day of skiing for the season, but certainly my last time of seven this winter to the Shadow Lake area until November. Total distance for the day was just over 33 km with 1130 total elevation gain.
Mount Shark – Upper Spray (a little)
My son managed to get a day off for the first time in months, so I enlisted his help to ski where I wouldn’t go alone!
It was a beautiful morning at Mt. Shark trailhead, and the access road had just been plowed! The snow temp. was about -9 C, and there was tons of fresh snow over Friday’s grooming. To our surprise, the snow was quite sticky, and we did experience a lot of clumping and slow travel all day.
After the bridge over the Spray, we found quite heavy trail-breaking up the Spray River trail. Fortunately my son is a strong young man who did most of the work, but it was slow and tiring. We enjoyed lunch in the big meadow, and ventured a bit further. An apparent detour (flood?) led us through the trees, which was not terribly pleasant. We came down to one of those crazy too-skinny-to-ski-over bridges, and turned around.
It was a mostly cloudy day in the Spray valley, so not quite magical, but a lovely place to be nonetheless. The return trip was quite pleasant, but after slogging back up the big hill we did encounter hiker footprints all over the place. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Smith-Dorrien highway was still mostly frozen and snow-covered for the afternoon drive home.
Photos might follow………..
There’s a nice fresh track through west elk pass and east elk pass now.
Correction: probably all covered up again given snow that fell in north end of Kananaskis, and snowing lightly.
Hopefully not completely obliterated?!
Apologies for the large number!
Baker Creek to Protection Campground and beyond,
I persuaded my owners to stop at Baker Creek on their way to ski at Lake Louise. For this old dog, it was just the ticket.
-5 at the start, -1 at the finish, and the snow stayed soft and untransformed. The crust was supportive and paw penetration was 5-7 cm on the track we set. The exposed area near the railway tracks was still ok, but caution required. Stream crossings were no problem.
Mushers secret gave Pawsitively excellent grip, as did the waxless skis.No clumping on skis or paws. Animal tracks and smells abounded, so bear spray was a good idea.
Such a treat to ski this trail this late in the year. I skied my age in Human years,(not dog years)
Skied PLPP today on the new grooming. Conditions were great starting at Elkwood. Skied Wheeler, Whiskey Jack, Pocaterra, Packers…. Then had so much fun that I went back up Packers, Pocaterra and Whiskey to unwind. Return via Wheeler.
Skied down the big S bend on Whiskey twice…once while waiting for ski partner on the way up and also while unwinding. The S bend was in great shape today (wheeeee!!).
In response to Skier Bob……Not my final ski of the year. I commonly ski Whiskey between 10 and 20 times per year. My counting is not as precise as Skier Bob, but I certainly enjoy the trail.
Sun Apr 11: elk pass area.
Another beautiful spring day out harvesting the seasonal goodies while they’re ripe. And they were delicious! -15 this morning on arrival at 7. Nice cold snow. South side of big hill still in good shape. Patterson meadows provided good sun and warmth in the morning along with ankle ski pens (AT). Clouded over before lunch while hanging out at east elk pass so took advantage and did some runs on the west slopes of thyrwitt. Cold dry mid-boot powder over a dense base in sheltered trees. Just BTL in more open areas, recent storm snow sat atop an ice hard sun crust layer. Back over the ridge to the cut blocks and west elk pass via the summit meadows. Excellent travel across the top and down to the meadows while things were still shaded. Sun eventually reappeared in west elk pass and blueberry junction at 330, but snow remained mostly dry and no sticking, despite feeling hot. A slow descent for sure back to the car on the grooming but no real melt down. No snow fleas. Even the powerline descent paralleling the north side of the big hill was cold powder on the shady side. Elk pass trail and environs should provide good travel Monday and Tuesday too. Only saw 4 people all day. +1 back at the car at 5. This time last year, parks were closed, so felt like an extra bonus. No need to stop skiing yet with these conditions (and hopefully some more storms).
Thanks Alf, after reading your trip report on skiing the Lionel/ Pocaterra circuit we decided to follow in your tracks today. We certainly appreciated the efforts of Alf’s trail blazing yesterday and Helen ( who had an earlier start than us) refreshing the trail today.We did meet two ladies hiking up the road and thanked them for NOT walking in the tracks. We were also greeted by the two skiers coming down the hill who did the trip in reverse.Once we reached Pocaterra conditions were so delightful we headed up to Whiskey Jack before skiing back down.
Such a great adventure I wrote a poem.
Lionel oh Lionel wow so few new
A new trail to try with amazing views
On our waxable skis up the hill we did climb
For a ski in April it was truly sublime
We did encounter some snow that was clumpy
But not bad enough to make us grumpy
We have traveled this road by bike and car
But skiing on Lionel just raised the bar
When we arrived at Pocaterra the tracks were amazing
We strided and glided and went down the hill blazing
Enroute Charlie met his goal of 1500 k
What a great day Hip Hip Hooray!
I took David Percy’s advice and hit the Skogan trail. Wasn’t pretty but once you get past the skihill, there’s powder in them thar hills.
My alien blood 5G laced with chemtrails vacseen hit sapped my energy so I didn’t go past the sunburst junction, which was disappointing for me because the powder was even more plentiful and zero foot traffic from there!
Not sure the temp but I bundled up heading down for the chill.
Wide skis might help, I had no issues with foot traffic as there was a few cm of snow covering them but I did get bounced around a bit.
Oh and try to go early, it was catch and release on some of the exposed areas on the way back down. Little bit of clumping but nothing extreme.
MORAINE LAKE ROAD and the GREAT DIVIDE – April 11
Not only was the MLR trackset, but so was the Great Divide!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
and so was the Pipestone!
ALF’s perfect description of Lionel/Pocaterra circuit combined with all those wonderful photos he shared of his trip yesterday, beckoned me to follow suit. Took my Asnes and VR 45 as temps -8 to -2 at end. I have never skied that route to Sounding Lake, off Rolly Road and such a pay off back in there!!! Saw alot of bear prints on Rolly Road corduroy so made my presence known since I was alone. Did struggle over the first wood debris across trail and post-holed my way to second log, but was determined to persevere. Once on Hwy 40, I was in my old stomping grounds and had AT tracks to ski in until I met a couple of skiers who were doing the ALF Lionel trip in reverse. So we happily exchanged skier set tracks as Alf’s were barely visible in places. The new grooming on Upper Pocaterra was divine and met a delightful family at Packers picnic table. I commend those young people who start their young families XC skiing. My distance was 18.3 kms. and was ready to see the hut, although it is closed for the season. Thank you again Alf, this ski was a stupendous way to enjoy cold snow so late in the season. Was rather surprised more did not get lured by your excellent Trip Report yesterday to explore this circuit for themselves.
Yes Helen, it was amazing. My son and I were the ones doing the reverse and so glad we did the trail and will definitely do it again. So lovely to be in the quiet of highway 40 with all the beautiful snow.
Great conditions at Elk Pass today. Started at Bolton Bridge at -5, then Bolton Creek to Elk Pass Trail and Blueberry Hill. All good trails on skier track set on new soft snow. Using skin skis the grip was good and glide as well, no sticking at all. Very few people on the trail despite good mid winter conditions. Still great skiing to be had!
Canmore Nordic Centre was in superb condition today. Kudos to the grooming staff for tracking setting not only the man made show, but also packing several of the natural snow. In fact, Meadowview was trackset to the very end, and even Rundle (natural snow) had a fairly recent track in very good condition.
To add to Ken’s report:
CNC -7C skin skis. The best skiing of the weekend! The cold overnight setup the snow perfectly. No catch and release snow. Groomed and TS trails were fast and skier set we’re slower, but the tracks are getting glazed.
We skied out Bow trail and returned via an unusual route of the old Recreational 15, hooked onto Rundle and onto Meadowview back across the meadow and back down Banff Trail.
The snow in the meadows at the far end of the trail system has setup making for true cross country skiing. We noodled about through the meadows and ended up on the no longer used Rec 15 which was decommissioned close to 30 years ago. Lots of climbing to hook up on Rundle which has been groomed and TS.
The far end of the trails were quite busy. There were more skiers at the far end than we’ve seen in a while. More skaters than Classic.
Fairview and Moraine Lake Road were both exceptional today. Sunny skies, high temperature below zero, windless – and tracksetting on the MLR! Rode Super Weiss wax worked brilliantly throughout the day. Today was a beautiful day to be on skis in a spectacular setting.
I neglected to mention the 18 cm of snow that fell Friday night!!
PLPP: Lionel-Pocaterra Loop
-Good overnight freeze… -5C at Boulton Creek. Check
-Weather forecast is cloudy, so no sun effect… and the temps should stay below 0C. Check
-Melt-Freeze cycles have created a strong, supportive base. Check
-A few cm of new, dry snow has fallen. Check
-The PLPP crew has groomed Pocaterra Trail. Check (Thanks, Jodi).
With all of the boxes checked off, it seemed like an ideal day to see if it is still possible to do the Lionel loop.
Lionel? For a few years in the 1990’s, the closed portion of Highway #40 was groomed as an XC ski trail, which was called Lionel, for some unknown reason.
Turns out, it’s still quite easy to do that trail. I started from Pocaterra Hut and took Rolly Road for about 500m. At a right-hand corner, the old “Sounding Lake” trail can be seen going straight ahead. An a few metres you get to Sounding Lake and the surrounding meadows, with exceptional views of Mt. Wintour and other Opal Range peaks. At the south east end of the lake, another set of meadows leads to a short bit of trail, which meets another trail at a T-intersection. This trail is the north end of Lionel. With the exception of a few skinny bits of deadfall and a few little christmas trees, Lionel is good to go right up onto Highway #40.
The closed portion of Highway #40 is Kananaskis Version of the Moraine Lake Road. It’s a wide, easy ski with plenty of snow and no hazards. It would be the best “green” ski trail in all of Kananaskis Country.
The new snow on top of the melt-freeze crust got deeper with every southward kilometre. After about 6 km, you could see the “back door” entrance to Pocaterra… which also used to be part of the Lionel trail.
The “back door” segment had the deepest snow. It joins Pocaterra Trail at a T-intersection.
The upper portion of Pocaterra has not been groomed for about a week, so there was 10cm or so of recent snow on the trail… but it had been nicely packed in by skiers. From Packers junction back to Pocaterra Hut, the trail was in wonderful condition. The few centimetres of new snow was nicely skied into the perfectly set tracks, so the skiing was fast and smooth. Amazing conditions for April!
Perhaps Lionel will be groomed again in the future… but as long as the current conditions last, it makes a great 18km tour!
Late March 2018, I skied up from winter gate to back door of Pocaterra but thoroughly enjoyed your photos today, how to retrace the “old Lionel” from Rolly Road and through Sounding Lake. Thanks so much Alf for the excellent Photo Story how to get to hwy 40 from Rolly Road AND for breaking trail in case I can get there in next day or two.
Thanks for the shots of conditions on the 40.
Looks like the skinny-tire crowd will be cycling on it in no time
Redearth Creek trail to the first campsite and back. Very sunny with around 10cm fresh snow. Nice fairly dry powder. Followed in tracks made by two other skiers. Thanks. Surprisingly sparse traffic for a Saturday with such nice snow conditions. A bit sticky but not bad once I scraped off most of my grip wax. V40 was about correct.
PLPP – from Elkwood parking, we skied the fresh tracksetting: short section of Wheeler, Amos thru the campground, Lynx, and then Pocaterra south to Packers Jct. We returned by the same route, though it was so nice we repeated a few sections. -3C to start at 9:30am, with light snow for the first hour. Generally, about 2cm of fresh over the tracksetting, which gave a nice feel after being skied in by others. VR45 on my waxable skis, and my wife’s fishscale skis both worked well, with only minor clumping during the early snow period. Very nice to meet tracksetter James (on skis) and friend at the Packer’s picnic table, and chat with them. Quite a few people out enjoying the good conditions. 0C and cloudy at our 1:30pm finish. Should be good out there tomorrow.
Ray forgot to mention, we mostly skied on ‘corn starch snow’ today. Lovely, smooth, compresses easily, but not sticky. Enjoy it before it goes!
CNC 9:00- 12:00. 0C- +3.5C Skin skis with 3-5Cm refresh snow.
We skied out Bow up onto Cold Shoulder and back via Silvertip/Banff Tr.
Bow was skier set Silvertip was groomed again (surprised) Skier set was slow and grippy (catch and release) TS trails were icy to powder.
We felt one could have gotten away with hard wax. Fish scale skis would have worked well. By the time we left tracks were glazing up. Parking lots were nearly full.
Hugh was correct – fishscales worked well in those conditions. I skied Bow, Cold Shoulder, Banff and Meadowview between 10:30 and 12;45, and the tracks were excellent for me. The only grabbing was at the very end returning to the stadium. The skaters were really working hard in the new snow. Exceptional skiing for Apr 10.
PLPP- starting from Boulton, whiskey jack, lookout, Hydroline, Patterson’s, West Elk Pass, back down Fox and Boulton. Winter wonderland with huge snow pillows and warm spring air. Flat calm at the summit of the lookout which was a surprise after the gusts on Hwy 40. Veeeeeerrrry slow: extremely sticky trail breaking through at least 5 cms of fresh wet powder all the way to Elk Pass (couldn’t see my tips on Lookout) with avocado snow after that. Hot sun once I hit Hydroline made things slippery. But such a beautiful day there could be no complaining.
Fri Apr 9: fox/elk/blueberry +
-5 @ 830. First tracks on fox in the morning were dreamy cold snow. Some use of Anna’s tracks the rest of the way and up blueberry, continuing on cold dry snow. Ventured into the upper blueberry meadows for a sit in the sun, then continued the off trail tour up the east ridge of the turret (2 on LT, 1 XC, all fishscales, no skins). Good travel along the crest of the ridge. Started to get sticky at our high point on a south aspect at noon. Back to the blueberry grooming (sticky and tricky descending in spots) and into the lower blueberry meadows, taking the higher/longer shady route direct to fork n meadow lunch log. Clumping most of the way through the meadows at the peak heat of the day while the sun was out. Lounged at the log until clouds moved in, track cooled down and wind picked up with some light snow. Snow fleas present in the meadows of west elk pass. A party came through west elk from hydroline, so track is in now. Better glide in the existing track after 330 back through west elk pass to the blueberry junction. Some catch and release on the downhill back to the car. Fox was still reasonable travel to finish the day. -1 at the car at 5. A good day out with cheeky and Simona in fresh snow covered meadows and open forest.
Haha, timing! I was never any good at that…….
Sorry I missed you, maybe someday you might show me the way?
I did not notice any snow fleas this morning, maybe they came out later?
Hi Diana, the route through to the hydroline got flagged by someone last year. But best to get in there when there is a fresh track to lead the way. The first navigational challenge is making the leftish turn where the large initial meadow forks (looked like you were just shy of that when you turned around). The right fork of the large meadows is the start of the Elkan drainage, which starts going downhill. The left fork continues south through smaller broken meadows, with the lunch log near the start of it. Don’t lose or gain elevation as you travel south, following the path of least resistance linking meadows and you will pop out at the hydroline. Hard to go wrong, but can always return the way you came if you are unsure.
PLPP – West Elk Pass
I decided to visit West Elk Pass today, and it was quite lovely! Great skiing up the Elk Pass trail with lots of fresh snow over recent grooming, and only one person ahead of me today (until I got passed!).
Any hopes I might have had of finding a trail over to the hydroline were dashed when I found myself breaking trail through fresh powder after leaving the Elk Pass trail! It was well over my ankles, but relatively light so not too onerous.
I visited Couch HQ, where there is not much left now, and continued down the meadow a short distance before turning around. I have never made the loop with the hydroline over there, and don’t know the way, so don’t get excited when you see my tracks now, they don’t go very far!
Started at Troll Falls and had to walk for about 2km until there was enough snow to ski. The snow improved steadily as I ascended. Once I was above the ski hill the snow became quite deep and I had to break trail all the way to the summit. Conditions varied from 2cm to 20cm of fresh snow. I didn’t see any other skiers and it looks like nobody has been there for a long time. There is still lots of snow and I recommend making the trip.
Thank you! I was thinking about having a look there! One last kick at the can.
So just walking in regular boots until the snow?
I walked in x-c boots it wasn’t too far or slippery.
PLPP – Elk Pass parking to Blueberry Hill
Kananaskis is a winter wonderland! It snowed for a good portion of the day with the temperature around minus 3 or 4. The 5 cm or more of new snow over last night’s grooming caused icing issues for some skiers. Skin skis had minimal icing. Very enjoyable skiing, but slow.
CNC this AM 9:30 -3C 2-3CM fresh wet snow. Skins skis.
Clear sky then a snow squall.
On the way out, Man made was margarita snow. Tracks were fast, Skating was decent.
At the end of the meadow on natural snow depending on where one skied either it’s been groomed and TS or just groomed or just skier set.
Skied out Meadowview from meadow and found it skier set. 3/4 ways to the end trail was groomed up to Silvertip junction. Silvertip was groomed and TS (its been on its last legs for three weeks). Skied well from powder to margarita snow.
On the return the snow started to accumulate. Add maybe 3cm. Saw some folks using Klister. It appeared to be a struggle.
Website was maybe 50% accurate for grooming. There just didnt seem to be any logical pattern to the grooming. Just go ski!
Anyone skied in Lake Louise over the last day or so, how are the conditions?
Thu apr 8: Louise (Fairview/MLR+)
Started from the upper lake parking lot, arriving at 830 to 3″ of fresh , -4 and moderate snowfall. Broke trail in a relatively decent track all the way along Fairview and MLR, dodging off on what I think was Helen’s meadow track of the other day. Went another km further than Helens turn around until the grade got a little steeper. A nice unplanned diversion, thanks Helen! Rapid accumulation of snow over the lunch hour (another 4 or more inches) made for trail breaking all over again back the way I came, but deeper! Might as well be off trail, so explored some more meadows in vicinity of the old couch, both north and south of Fairview. South one is a longer track and ascends gradually through open forest to a small meadow on the shoulder of sadddleback. Snow eased off in the afternoon and sun was threatening to come out by 2pm. Stayed just below zero. Just cool enough for no stickage on the fish scale bases, but some occasional build up between boot and binding. A good reset in that area with potential for more trail breaking tomorrow as I only saw 3 other skiers. Redearth looked like it had fresh snow too, much less in Banff and east.
Middle Spray trail – April 6
I’ve been super interested in this trail for a couple years, but never found a day to ski it until today. Long story short: I would not recommend skiing from Mt Shark to Goat Creek.
Short story long: I started skiing from Shark at 6am. I skied down to the lake and then straight across the the road below Mt Fortune. The snow on the road was crusty and I was able to skate most of the time. After visiting the decomissioned Fortune warden cabin, the road doubles back on itself and descends to the Spray River. At this point, the river has many smaller branches and I had to wade one of them. The next branch was bridged, but then the road was washed out and I had to bushwhack in the trees above the river for a bit. The next few kilometers were pretty smooth sailing. Then I got to a burned section, which is the section that makes this trip not worth repeating in my opinion.
There was a lot of deadfall that completely crossed the road, requiring either a careful step over, skiing off the road and around, or removing skis and climbing over. Individually none of the trees were too bad, but they added up and slowed me down considerably. Also, and perhaps more importantly, most of the streams coming down the slope have washed out the road, creating gullies with steep sides. Some were relatively straight-forward to cross. Others were much more involved and took closer to five minutes to reach the other side. At one, I had to use my skis as axes to anchor myself as I kicked steps to cross a particularly steep wall of snow. The burned section was ~3km long and it took me a little over an hour to cross, and I’m amazed that I didn’t break any equipment. From there, it was mostly smooth sailing down to the second bridge over the Spray and soon after that I reached the Spray warden cabin.
This is the part of the trip that I absolutely recommend. Between the cabin and Goat Creek, there is minimal deadfall and the travel is easy.
I only had to take my skis off once! The road passes through another burned section where Parks obviously maintains the path and clears deadfall, and the views are lovely.
I managed to make it to Goat Creek before the crust softened, which was great because I was able to skate and move quite quickly. I took Goat Creek up to Canmore and the snow was SLUSHY and the sun was hot. There isn’t any trackset left in this area and the walkers have taken over.
Very impressive… and a great description!
Thanks Chuck! I found your post about the Spray warden cabin from a couple years ago when I was planning and it was very helpful. From your photos, I could tell that it should be pretty smooth sailing once I reached the cabin, which was quite reassuring when I was slowly thrashing through trees!
I make that out to be 50km. Don’t know whether I should congratulate you or commiserate with you! One thing for sure, I’m glad I wasn’t on that trip! 😉
My GPS got 43km of skiing. Skiing across the lake instead of around it cut off a good amount of distance. But after my ski, I walked home from the Goat Creek parking lot which added 10km to my day, for a total of 53km! I was feeling pretty miserable on that walk, though. Almost had to phone a friend to come pick me up.
Never seen the interior of that one before (yet). Good encouragement, and stamina of course. Good sh#t as they say.
It’s a committing day! The lack of bail-out points is the reason it took me so long to finally try it.
Quite an amazing day, Sara, I loved reading your report and seeing the pictures. well done!!
I was wondering about that route. Thanks for checking it out. Amazing endurance and perseverance!
Sara, you are a MACHINE!!
I don’t have much to add to Marijan’s report, except I can’t remember nicer conditions on Hydroline and Tyrwhitt! Jeff G and I both opted for skins, and they worked perfectly the whole way (or 99% of the way; any type of ski would have had trouble with the wonky shadowy-then-sunny snow going down the big Elk Pass hill to the parking lot…. luckily we both narrowly avoided face plants). I’ll add another big thank you to the groomers who are giving us beautiful April skiing!
What a day..skied Elk pass ,Hydroline ,Tyrwhitt ,Lookout ,Hydroline and back to Elk pass..grooming last night was amazing..perfect conditions..8:30am temp was -5 when I left around 12:30 was +5..Snow was really good until about noon then started to be sticky and rally slow on sunny sections for my fish scale skis..some icy spots under fresh grooming but nothing that bothered me on this sunny day ..
Agreed, Marijan …. It was a beautiful blue bird day in PLPP. Wonderful tracks and thanks to Nordic-Pulse we can see where the grooming took place over night.
Unfortunately I have one negative comment: We skied up to the lookout from the north and descended on the south side. All was fine with the exception of very deep footprints on the steep sections of the trail (south side). Removing your skis and walking a section is fine …. but …. three skiers decided to walk up the CENTRE of the trail leaving deep footprints which are a hazard for those of us skiing down. Chris and I were able to spend some time and smoothed out some of the holes by snowploughing. Please, if you need to walk on a ski trail, do so at the side of the trail where the damage you cause will be minimal and not a hazard to other skiers. Thanks!
I wonder if the groomers have any idea of all the joy they bring into our lives?
Today we skied freshly groomed trail in Peter Lougheed: A few loops of Meadow, Wheeler, Amos, Woolley.
-2 when we started and +4 at 3;00 pm. Usual Spring conditions with hard tracks in the morning and some catch and release happening by the end of the day. A beautiful day nevertheless.
We have been looking at Nordic Pulse & Bob’s blog (thank you Bob) every morning and keep going daily even though we’re tired because the countdown is on.
My husband and I skied over 1200 km this season and still counting!
Pictures of Wheeler on this link.
Mon Apr 5: west elk pass +
-10 in the elk pass parking at 7. +5 on return at 2. Nice dry powder in the morning on elk pass trail after losing any moisture over night. Snowmobile track all the way up elk pass over the uphill tracksetting, but no grooming. Made for fast travel on AT with wax, and a shallow skier set track on return. Looked like groomers had pushed snow from the powerline at the top of the big hill onto the south side of the hill. Easy descent in the morning. Excellent travel on a supportive crust through the meadows, on or off the old track. Skied a handfull of runs in the cut blocks before the heat got in there. Dust on crust skiing, on the thin side, but an excellent day regardless. Returning through west elk after noon made for some heavy clumping on the big sticks. Had to dodge over to the super shady side of lower blueberry meadows to make a good go of it. Scraped my wax off at blueberry and applied some parafin wax for glide (candle: two good tools in one!). The big hill back to the car was a slow descent in the sunny bits, and fairly chopped up for skinny skis at the top.
Good avalanche viewing off mount fox just after noon from the comfort of the fork n meadow lunch log, although it’s now shaded at that time, which wasn’t such a bad thing.
Packers – Pocaterra – Whiskey Jack morning powder run, up to a point! It was cold enough to start, but by 10:30 the sun was getting very warm, and I was only on the Pocaterra section.
The first section of Whiskey Jack was lovely, to the bottom of the steep hill. Then suddenly I hit sun-soaked snow which was instant superglue to my (waxable) skis! I don’t think I have ever experienced that before, and from there back to Boulton it alternated between somewhat slow and dead stop.
I am still optimistic, especially if grooming continues, and I will try to be finished morning powder runs before 10 am!
I was just looking at Bob’s wonderful rogues’ gallery! Pretty sure I met Janice Perry on Pocaterra, with those amazing braids (could that be a song??) 🙂
Upper Tramline/MLR to explore a meadow about 1.5 kms past Fairview turnoff, then back to F/V. Relaxing social ski chatting with a few people we met while sprawled out in the sun enjoying lunch. At 10 am snow was cold powder and no problems sticking. After our jaunt thru the meadow, at noon, things warmed up so another coat of glide went onto the fishscales to complete the Fairview circuit without incident. Because it was Easter Monday, patrols were directing traffic to maximize efficiently filling the LL parking lots. We saw maybe 6 people in 4 hours while skiing.
p.s. Michelle, I would love to know the name of the furniture polish you have been told works on fishscales.
Mt Shark. Sunday morning at 11 am. 2 to 3 cm of fresh snow on top of recent grooming and lovely weather. I was fine breaking trail with skins skis and relatively fresh glide wax. My friend on fish scales struggled and we stopped after an hour as she was constantly stopping to scrape snow off her skis every few meters. I need to pick up some of that furniture polish people keep talking about to help her.
As everyone else says, the smith dorrien is brutal. It’s not too bad from Peter Lougheed to Mt Shark and maybe a few more kms north towards Canmore, but then it is constant potholes very similar to the Waiprous road. I should have gone back to Canmore via Hwy 40 as it would have been quicker.
Elk Pass area. Lots (10 cm+) of new snow came down today from 10am to 2:00. Temp was just above zero. Quite sticky going up towards Elk Pass so I changed plan and skied Fox, Moraine and Boulton Creek. Much less sticky there; not sure why. Windless and beautiful- still lots of snow in this area. Season is definitely not over.
Excellent spring conditions made the day yesterday at Pipestone. New snow varying in depth from 1 to 5 centimeters had refreshed the landscape, and all skier-set tracks were superb. Rode violet wax covering violet klister worked very well on the skis. Lunch in the warm sun was matched only by the glide in the warm sun back to the trailhead. HIGHLY recommended! 🙂
Flurries, obscure skies, and 0 degrees C in Peter Lougheed PP, Info Centre.
Hope everyone has had a good season!
It’s not over yet (-:
I like that attitude! Any flakes are welcome this time of the year.
WARNING: There is a very large tree is across the Elk Pass trail- located at the base of the steepest downhill section coming down from Elk Pass before the Blueberry Hill junction. It is fairly visible so people should be able to stop well before, but still wouldn’t want someone to get hurt plowing into it. (Copied from email sent by Rhonda J late Saturday)
Snowshoe: while I am well aware that the snowshoe link is no longer on site, I wanted to share with you the DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS of Smith Dorrien yesterday all the way from Canmore end through Goat Creek and all way to Hwy 40. Shark Lake was a fabulous relatively easy destination, although a few short sections of serious groin deep post-holing by hikers. Located at the base of Mount Shark, I have yet to research it’s alternate name of MARUSHKA LK. While I was always opposed to having that road paved, I would seriously sign a petition today. The increased use of it during Covid has made for even worsening conditions. I can only imagine what it is like today in the rain/wet snow mix. A Drive-through MUD bath for sure!! Our friends, however, got a great shot of a moose licking a car parked at the road side.
Goat Creek and West Spray
Parking lot to parking lot. Described as descent. A bit messy at the top. No trackset until after the first bridge. Conditions optimal through middle section to lunch shelter. Then quickly deteriorating to slush approaching the Springs parking.
I don’t think they’ll groom again this season. Definitely the last weekend unless there’s a big dump of snow.
Good morning it is -2 degrees at the Peter lougheed information centre. Skies partially cloud but the sun is peaking through!
I skied Mt. Shark late this afternoon/early evening. I skied the 10 K yellow loop. It was track set overnight so the tracks were in good shape. Most of the trail in the trees was just soft. The last few K that are more exposed were quite icy. I was on waxless skis and had good grip. But the going was pretty slow on the soft snow. Plenty of coverage but just either soft or icy. Good news is that the hills were all on the soft side rather than icy.
Skied out and back on LL’s Fairview today, tracks in good shape – more glazed closer to the Chateau but with our midday timing, things were soft enough to snowplow on the faster downhills. Thanks to beta from a happenchance meeting with the groomer, we skied the freshly-groomed-today Upper Telemark (small section trackset) – a real treat!
Skied PLPP this morning in beautiful weather. Calm at ground level and near freezing at 9:30am. Skied up Whiskey Jack, which was decent except one icy black section that had gotten sun exposed (definitely wouldn’t want to descent it). Pocaterra was fine, Lynx, Amos & Wheeler to finish back at Boulton where it was definitely softer and thinner lower down as the sun reached its apex. I was on fishscale waxless and had decent glide and grip throughout. Friends on waxed lost a bit of their kick halfway through, but not too bad. Single track skier set (or on top of older trackset) most the way varied in quality and you had to take care on the descents where the smoothed out area to snowplow got narrow (as you definitely couldn’t snowplow in the crusty old powder to the side). Minimal or debris most the way (worse lower down on north end). Overall a great morning ski on a gorgeous day in April where we saw almost no one!
PLPP south trails. Starting from Boulton I did the SkierBob Special, plus North Lookout and finishing on Boulton Creek. Extremely slushy conditions with very little to no grip (red wax) and lots and lots and lots of collembolas (Elk Pass looked like train tracks and my skis smell like earthworms now), but a beautiful day regardless.
April 2 – Powderface Trail
I started from the Dawson PRA around noon today. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there was surprisingly good skiing on the closed Powderface Trail! It’s a snowmobile road in the winter, so it was well-packed even though the crust had softened up. There were a few thin/bare spots that I had to walk around, but mostly it was ski-able on skate skis. I reached a big bare section at 6.6km, had a late lunch, and then headed back. Fun little spring ski!
Inventive. Nice. Cox hill wasn’t looking enticing? I opted for an early hike down the road and got out of there by noon. All manner of madness on the roads and in the parking lots. Perhaps a foreshadowing of our summer to come. Province could have made a lot of coin today with road infractions, just from parking alone. Best to get the ski swerve on when the gettings good (early, right after cold snow falls) and avoid the small number of hikable trailheads, especially this long weekend. Did a route with an alternate descent where I typically never see people, but ran into another half dozen parties for the first time ever. Unusual.
Actually, I went up Cox Hill first! My plan was to continue on to Jumpingpound Ridge, but the snow was too deep and unpacked in the low section between the two. Snowshoes would have been helpful… I could see the road from the top of the hill and it looked snowy enough, and all my various sport gear lives in the car so I switched sports when I got back down.
There was only one group on the Cox trail before me when I started, but I passed a TON of people on the way down. Busy place!
Sounds like a good lengthy day. Not sure what your mode of transpo was on cox. Probably a good option with a fresh dump maybe, early start, AT gear? How was sibbald Rd?
I was on foot for Cox. Icy for the first few km at the bottom, then drier snow the rest of the way. There’s a ~50cm wide packed footpath up the middle of the trail. Probably skiable on AT gear after fresh snow, but definitely above my skill level (mediocre at best when it comes to AT).
I assume you mean highway 68? Really good condition, dry and not too bumpy. Powderface trail before the gate was also fine. Lots of little sedans in the parking lot.
Sounds great for getting on it early if there is some significant fresh. Thanks for the intel Sara.
Conditions were less-than-ideal today at Pipestone, but if you could get past the first 150 m or so of icy trail, the snow got better. I had a good time. No grooming, but skier track was adequate. The sky was overcast so the snow didn’t get soft and sticky and it looked like snow from last month.
PLPP North and South ends
Six of us parked at Elkwood (+4C) and skied Lodgepole out and Braille back, in order to avoid the debris we saw on the trails in the forest to the east of the parking lot. Braille was almost pristine, though a bit icy, while the first section of Lodgepole was somewhat littered with needles. Back at Elkwood, we then decided to try the new tracksetting so drove to the Upper lake lot and, after a tail-gate lunch, skied the connector to Elk Pass trail, then up Fox (nicely tracked) and up to the Blue-Elk table. All tracks going up were great, but by the time we came back down Elk Pass trail, the snow was softening and the tracks were playing ‘catch and release’ with us. The big hill down to Elk Pass Parking was glorious, with no icy spots. (+7C) I managed to squeak in my winter cumulative 1000 kms. today, with a little extra, in case it snows a ton in the next month and then I can reset my goal!
The snow cover on the Minnewanka Road is quite thin and icy, but once you get into the trees and start heading up the hill, it’s not bad. Up on top, there’s still a few cm of fresh snow from the other night and a fairly good skier-set track. I only went as far as the campground but the tracks continue beyond. It’s a shame they’ve stopped track-setting this trail for the season because there’s still plenty of good snow up there and definitely worth the trip. An overcast day made for consistent snow conditions and my skin-skis worked great.
April 1- PLPP- Elkwood Parking-CCW- Wheeler-Amos-Wooly-Meadow-Elkwood Parking
A nice day to get out. Good track setting with alternating snow with good texture and icy conditions. A fair amount of debris with the odd pine cone being the most dangerous, The centre median would soften up and become considerably slower then the groomed track.
Attention to the conditions of the trail was on the mind of the skier at all times due to the hazards present. We had one skier take a face plant. We cut the day short in order not to become too tired and savor what we had done up to that point
Nordic Centre 9:30 – 11:30 still in surprisingly good shape. Bow Trail’s hard surface good for fast skating, Banff Trail similar. Classic tracks OK, mild to moderate pine needle infestation. Some thin areas easily avoided. Better, (very good) conditions on Meadowview. Was passed by a team athlete who said he had good grip with Swix VR60 on classic skis. Best conditions on Olympic and Centennial, although downhill sections just above day lodge hard and icy.