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
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Live Traffic Feed
It may be late for me to ask, but has anyone done the North end PLPP? Pocaterra, Comealong and Lynx? I wonder if they are getting too worn, and we should head further south.
Lynx was in excellent shape yesterday and I skied Pocaterra only from Lookout junction down to Lynx, and faster than usual but still good coverage. Report below.
Cascade Fire Road was an amazing way to end the year on. Fast and firm tracks from yesterday’s grooming made for a super fun way down to the road on the last hill. We saw lots of happy faces but it was never super busy.
Pictures from today:
Make sure you get out there before it all melts
CNC – The Nordic Centre is a busy place, until you turn onto the black diamond trails. Are you a stronger skier looking for the thrill of fast descents without the hair-rasing experience that has been reported on some trails (and I had first-hand on Telephone yesterday)? If so a combination of Bruin, Silvertip, Flying Squirrel, Coyote, etc. might be just the ticket – these were all in good to great condition today, and may improve further if this weekend’s snow materializes! Needless to say, if you’re into green’s and blue’s then Banff, Meadowview, Lynx and Grey Wolf were all in amazing shape too, just a little more crowded. Get out and enjoy!
SPRAY RIVER EAST & WEST: -3 deg at noon, Rode Viola Multigrade worked well. Both East and West Spray River Trails in good shape for classic skiing after grooming and tracksetting yesteryday (Dec 30). The first half kilometer of East Spray goes uphill from the golf course and has numerous exposed rocks due to downhill skiers snowplowing the snow off. Strongly recommend you take your skis off and walk down. Other than this, good snow coverage and good track for classic. Skating lane on West Spray is getting a bit rough from walkers, I would suggest there are better places to skate at present. All things considered, a day of skiing.
I had a very eventful day skiing from Elkwood on Amos when I fell and ended up fracturing my ankle. So many kind skiers all stopped to make sure we had help coming, offered blankets, space blankets, food and one family even transported me in their sled to the parking lot where we were met by Kananaskis rescue team on a snowmobile then EMT who transported me to Canmore for X-rays.
I felt humbled by all the kindness showed today by everyone and wanted to thank them here. I didn’t get names but really your support will never be forgotten.
Cascade Fire Road is presently in great shape in both directions. Well-defined tracks are very fast at the moment, and the downhill stretches are even faster. 🙂 The thermometer at Stoney Creek showed -7C at 2 pm under mostly sunny skies. Cascade is very good right now, let’s hope the forecast rain doesn’t happen.
Telephone Loop at WBC not skier -friendly. Deep foot gouges from walkers/runners on both groomed and trackset sections as well as swales made from bikes made skiing difficult today, especially on the downhill sections.
Jacquie, thanks for the report. Just like my mis-adventure at Redearth Creek, I hope it saves someone from going there and having a bad time.
Yes- plenty of trashing from walkers and snowshoers when I skied Telephone yesterday, mostly in the first few km of the east side. I didn’t notice much in the way of bike ruts then, and it looked to me like many of the swales, which are mainly on the steeper hills unfortunately, may have been caused by grooming equipment struggling in soft snow.
In my opinion- trying to accommodate multiple user groups on Telephone has been a bit of a failure. This especially applies to the section between Disconnect and Reconnect- essentially the upper east, north and west sides- which should revert to skiers only. After all- Telephone was originally conceived as a ski trail.
Lake Minnewanka parking lot to Upper Bankhead
In need of an easy/short day today, I opted to ski this trail, turning off the main Cascade Fire Road trail after about 1.5 kms (well signed). Good tracks, -7C, used Swix Blue, however, it had not recently been groomed for skating with lots of loose snow and footprints in the skate lane which would make it hard work. Otherwise a very scenic open trail and would make a good beginner trail at about 5.5 kms return (I did an extra lap since it was sunny and so pretty with lots of hoar frost crystals forming!).
PLPP pot pourri of 24 kms. Started up Packers in -7, VR 40 worked all day, then went up to L/O junction before heading down Pocaterra. After reading Sam’s report wish I had skied to high point of Tyrwhitt. Took in the Back Door for a bit of nostalgia. then Lynx, Wooley, Meadow, (where an accident had occurred close to Elkwood parking lot, then Wheeler and Amos back to Boulton. -3 at finish and a good workout.
Someone sent me a card several months ago: front of card said “Alexa, Skip to 2021: and here it is. Happy New Year everyone. I would like to propose a toast to SKIER BOB which will be in the form of a financial gift to him via this site. He spends hours improving the site and keeping us all informed on grooming updates. I propose, since none of us are travelling anywhere, a financial gift to say thank you to him. There are many ways to say we appreciate all his work, but as a former minister used to suggest, “Give Until it Feels Good!”
Sandy Mcnabb! First visit in 20+ years of skiing from Calgary.
Our loop: we started at the ranger station, went up the Pine Ridge Trail, over to Long Prairie via a connector trail to skip the top loop on Pine Ridge, skied around the Long Prairie Loop (counter clockwise,) down to the Death Valley parking lot by the gate, went across the road and skied back on Meadow Loop.
Conditions: the south trails were fabulous. Tracks were fast and provided great glide! People had walked on the ski trails but the tracks were clean and skiing easy. Highly recommend the loops on the south. They’d be especially amazing for families and for beginner skiers.
The north trails had been destroyed from hikers who can’t read a map! The snowshoe trails around Death Valley were very obvious and hard packed. There was no excuse to be hiking the ski trails.
As long as you could stay in the tracks, the skiing was good but the hills were treacherous from all the boot holes and foot traffic.
If you’re going to ski Long Prairie, go clockwise! The big bill down from the top is not in good condition to descend. Best to walk it right now if you don’t go clockwise.
We wanted to ski the full Pine Ridge loop but we’ll have to return when it’s been freshly groomed or there’s been fresh snow. I wouldn’t attempt it now with all the foot traffic having chewed up the trail.
Sandy McNabb north
Although the “groomed” XC ski trails on the north half of the Sandy McNabb network are currently a bit rough, the off-trail touring conditions are very good. It’s unusual to have snow that is deep enough and supportive enough to allow for extensive touring in this area, but that’s exactly how it is right now. I started off on the Long Prairie Loop, but soon wandered off trail, connecting meadows, gliding through aspen stands and linking up with the Death Valley trail. https://photos.app.goo.gl/Z2z9rMdFy7Y2N3ks9
Happy New Year!
Great conditions at Confederation today, and not crowded. I couldn’t face the crowds at WBC, but had a warm afternoon in the sun at Confederation instead. If I were a skate skier, that’s where I’d be! It’s amazing how much trail length they’ve folded in to the available area.
Sandy McNabb- good snow, but choppy conditions. Had a good time skiing the trails north of the parking lot. The snow is a good temperature and texture, but the trails are pretty chopped up with walker traffic, some tree debris, and the occasional partly buried log. Be especially careful of buried logs on Balsam Link and the east leg of Pine Ridge. I also went north a bit to the first few viewpoints on the very nice but ungroomed north Pine Ridge trail, which strangely had an old snowmobile track. Definitely worth skiing at Sandy (full parking lot, lots of other skiers) but not a place for skinny skis at the moment. Beautiful bluebird day.
Cascade Fire Road- December 31
We started from the very busy parking lot at 1 pm but most of the people we met along the trail were heading back as we were skiing in. Conditions were good but it felt a lot chillier then -5c out there! Went about a kilometre past the Cascade bridge then back to a sunny dry spot with a beautiful view of Cascade mountain for a short lunch. The return trip was quick but chilly.
PLPP – Whiskey Jack – Tyrwhitt, Elk, Fox, Moraine loop
All trackset other than Fox and Moraine that are skier set. A few icy spots or scrapped off snow on Fox otherwise nicely covered. VR40 worked well for the entire loop. Beautiful ski day, didn’t seem that busy, Boulton parking wasn’t full.
Update on Maple Ridge GC. Still just skier tracked, but in even better shape than when we did it at Christmas. It’s odd, given that the entrance gate is wide open and they have plowed the entire parking lot!
Easy to be distanced, as there are so many different tracks that have been set by skiers. Even though the parking lot was pretty full, we didn’t run into many people. Kind of perplexed as to where they all were…..
I wonder what happened that finally, after many, many years, got the City to open the gates, clear the parking lot and put in two portapotties. This alleviates all the parking congestion along the road.
West Bragg Creek- New Years Eve.
Moose-All the Mountain Roads and Views-West Crystal-Loggers-Sundog-East Crystal.
Superb skiing throughout, with recent refreshing of the grooming on most trails, and glorious weather to top it off. Such a great way to finish off 2020! Kudos to the trail crew for being so dedicated, and for the MV West reroute:
Thanks for your comments Steve! I want to take my adult kids there tomorrow who have never x-country skied but I read some other comments not to go to West Bragg Creek b/c the conditions were really bad?! Someone was carted out by ambulance! What trails do you recommend and is it really that bad?
Heaven on Cascade Fire Road
Jamie and I went early and had lunch in the sunshine at the Stoney Creek Campground. The trail is is great shape. We met 30 to 40 people today, on the way back from the Stoney Creek Ranger’s Cabin. I would recommend this route at this time. It was fast but controllable skiing.
REDEARTH CREEK – Dec 31, 2020
With news of first tracksetting of the season, where to ski was an easy decision!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
The ACC tracksetter needs to learn what hazards to avoid… but Thanks.
We did something similar to Sam, but we passed Dennis and Paule a little higher up the Elk Pass trail! We also did a side trip to Blueberry Hill which was good going up and exceptional coming down. Picked up an item that I will enter in the Lost and Found section. Surprised that VR45 worked very well on the lower trails but a bit slow on the high ones.
PLPP was much quieter than recent trips to Confederation golf course and WBC, no problem with parking and the snow is in great shape.
Thanks to the groomers.
Castle – Baker
We had a good, relaxing ski here today. -15C in the Castle Lookout parking lot at 9:45am. Early section of the trail through the forest was nearly needle free. From there to Protection Campground was in pretty good shape for a week old trackset. We made the mistake of crossing the road and skiing in the campground – no tracksetting there. In fact, we broke trail in deep snow for about 300m. We re-crossed the road at the west end of the campground, and continued on the good trackset by the rail line. Soon, that track crossed the road again, and from there to Baker Ck was decent, often double tracked. On the return trip, we stayed with the trackset all the way. Quiet on the way out, but we passed several skiers on the return. -3C back at the parking lot; lots of cars there now. A refresh of the trackset would be great, but it probably won’t happen until next year. Happy New Year, everyone, especially tracksetters.
Jeff and I met at Boulton at 9:30. We skied up Whiskey – without seeing a soul – the conditions were superb. But, honestly, it was Tyrwhitt – in all its glory – that was the trail of the day/year! Gorgeous and spectacular…A few folks were at Elk Pass – and the ski down, on the freshly groomed/tracked trail to Fox Creek was a dream. Despite a lack of recent grooming – both Fox Creek and Moraine were excellent (ran into my friends Paule and Dennis on Moraine, which was a New Year’s Eve treat!!!). Back at Boulton – I concluded – best ski of the year! Thanks, Bob – for the excellent advice – thanks to the volunteers – and, of course, thanks to the groomers everywhere we ski. Happy New Year!
I did the same route a bit later in the day – started a few minutes before noon. Only about 10-12 cars in the Boulton Bridge lot. Conditions were so fabulous that I added Blueberry to the loop on the way down Elk Pass, the best conditions this year by far. Soft snow and freshly groomed/tracks.
Not very busy overall – super happy people along the way. Probably my best ski day this season so far. Ended around 3 p.m. to a close to empty parking lot.
Happy New Year!
Did Iron Springs/Elbow via East Crystalline and except for a couple of thin spots under trees on Springs it was fantastic. The parking lot was half full at 9:30 but was quickly filling up. The skiing wasn’t too busy and once we were further out it was very quiet. Everyone was smiling and the sun was shining, Happy New Year everyone.
Had a good ski yesterday on Bill Mine trail from Ribbon Creek to Wedge pond and back. Mt Kidd is so beautiful. With a side trip on Wedge pond trail it made a total of 23km. Tracks were in good, early season conditions with some branches poking through on Bill Mine. Wedge was a little thinner and stops at the creek crossing. Nice to be out again with the Calgary Ski Club (safely)
I skied out to Sundance Lodge today, starting from Healy Creek. I made the bad decision to follow a skin track on the ungroomed hiking trail (first junction, where there is a sign telling you to turn at the next junction for the lodge instead). Lots of rocks, very steep, do not recommend. I gave up after a kilometer and bushwhacked uphill to the groomed trail. The trail hasn’t been groomed since the last snow, but the base is solid and there is a pretty good skier-set track. I stayed on the groomed trail on the way back and the downhill corners at the end were fast but the snow wasn’t too icy and I felt in control. I was on track skis, so metal edges probably would have made it feel even more secure.
Thanks for the trip report. How was the snow cover on Healy creek from the parking lot to the Brewster creek junction?
The first short section beside the Sunshine access road has a bit of gravel mixed in because the plows have pushed road snow onto the trail. Other than that, it was in pretty good condition. There was some tree debris on the trail, but there weren’t any rocks sticking through!
You must have been following my old tracks on your ski trip. If you would have surfed back a couple of weeks on Skier Bob trail reports, you would have come across my report skiing up to Sundance Lodge and beyond. I side stepped much of the hiker/horse/short cut trail to create a snow base and warned people not to take it until it snowed at least 15 cm of wet snow. The horse trail or short cut was fair at best then for climbing up. There has been very little snow since so conditions would not have improved beyond what they were when I skier packed the trail.
It pays to surf Skier Bob trail reports for information on trails that you are unsure of when it comes to snow conditions. Surf before you ski!
Funny, I did indeed “surf before I skied” and saw your report, but appearantly I only absorbed the first two paragraphs of your post! I could tell that the horse trail wasn’t going to be great, but I enjoy a bit of Type 2 fun now and then. Even the bushwhack up to the groomed trail was enjoyable in its own special way.
RED DEER is in fine shape! The groomer was making multiple passes through the competition trails yesterday PM which will set up very nicely for today. The driving range loop is excellent, and the golf course loop has a solid classic track.
Banff – Goat Creek trailhead & return – December 30
Trying to escape the crowds at WBC and RBC, I opted for that annual pilgrimage return trip. Trail is still in great condition throughout, with a thin layer of scrapped snow on the descent to the Goat Creek bridge. Not too crowded most of the way, except for about 20 skiers gathered by that bridge, upon my return. Caution on the last hill down on Spray River East to the Banff Springs Golf Course, with several exposed rocks. A great day of gliding.
Lots of fun on Bill Milne south from Ribbon Creek. Two beginners with us really enjoyed the pretty good tracks. Parking lot was full but not packed like Monday. Many people vanished into the park so the trails weren’t as busy as expected but most skiers we encountered were polite and ready to share the trail.
Double tracks would make it safer on the downhills especially for beginners. Parking lot volunteers were kept busy. Thanks for volunteering.
PLPP Started at the Elk Pass lot around 9:30, parking lot was empty at this time. Had a great ski up to Blueberry Hill, track set till Hydro junction then very good skier track all the way up. The views of the Lakes were amazing and Blueberry Hill trees are laden with snow making for beautiful scenery! Trail is snowy enough to make for a comfortable and exciting descent. Took Fox Creek on the way back which is not groomed but great to ski on anyways. So grateful we can ski these Kananaskis trails this year – thank you groomers and xc ski community!
West Bragg Creek (WBC). Late afternoon ski. Some people say that the early bird catches the worm – or in this case, a parking spot – but in my case, arriving late worked out better. I arrived around 2:15 pm, and the early birds were just leaving. Clearly though, parking at WBC had been a zoo earlier, judging by the long row of cars still parked along the access road.
Temperature was -2°C to start. Skied counter-clockwise loop around Moose Loop via Mountain Road. Tracks were well-used but holding up nicely. Some hills were a bit on the thin and scraped side of things, but overall good. Temperature was 0°C when I finished. I was hoping to spot a moose along the meadow but had no such luck – the Chinook arch sunset was lovely though.
I really like the website and my wife and I are new to cross country skiing. The only thing I would like to request from the reports is a little more of a descriptor of where a trail is. When I read about a report on a trail it usually names the trail but not where it is (PLPP, WBC, Lake Louise, Banff, etc.) Not a big deal as we hope to learn all these areas but in the meantime we are doing a lot of research on this. Thanks
Hi Kevin, thanks for the feedback. There are a number of ways that you can get more informaton on the trails. On the main menu, under “Maps” is a tab entitled “Trailhead locations.” On the sidebar, check the “Categories” heading, and the “Places to Ski” heading for more information on specific trails.
I agree with you Kevin. I always start my trip reports with the date and the name of the area I skied, and then a description of the trip. Most of the trip reports follow this format, but a few seem to omit the name of the area, either by accident or assuming that the trail names are familiar to everyone. With all the new skiers on the website, I think it would be a good idea for trip reporters to make their reports as understandable as possible to new skiers. Once you have the name of the area, you can go to Bob’s “Maps” menu, get a map of the area, and look up the trails that are mentioned in the trip report.
We skied about 10 km of the Bearberry trails on Monday – they just purchased a new tracksetter this year so they are still getting up and going – but we had an absolutely great afternoon.
The terrain is great for those just starting into the sport – a little of everything and not too technically challenging. Also a great place for classic folks to get away from the crowds and enjoy some nice long stretches that allow you to fall into the kind of hypnotic kick and glide rhythm that keeps you skiing in the first place . They still need some build up on the base (a couple soft spots under the track), and a few bald spots in the trees but not enough to break stride. No problems with ice or tracked out stretches – light purple swix did us just fine the whole way. Not ideal trail width for skaters – definitely designed and built for classic nordic stylers.
Thrilled to receive a report from Bearberry, thanks! -Bob
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Skied the “middle” trails today – Meadow, Woolley, Amos and Wheeler – all firm, fast and fun! Temps -10C to -6C, Swix blue wax. Just a quick heads up, some of the downhills are getting very slick, not yet icy, but in a couple more days, they could be entertaining!
Confederation Golf Course – I arrived at 10:15 or so and the parking lot was completely full. I have never seen so many people there, either for golf or ski! I’m a classic skier and the tracks are fairly good but have also been tramped down in areas. Snowshoe folk were respectfully avoiding the track-set but novice skiers were pulling the usual novice skier challenges – blocking the trails for chit-chats, adjustments, etc, winging poles haphazardly in the air, and the usual assortment. Mental note to come at less popular hours. Thank you to groomers, the real snow angels.
Not a trail report huge thank you to trail sports for setting me up with new boots after a malfunction and changing my bindings to be compatible while I waited Thank you!
Thank you all for your comments. They were very helpful to me. Clint
Clint, one last bit of advice from Alberta Parks on the preferred direction Telephone west side sign
Interesting. Never noticed the sign before (because I’ve always gone the other way!). Most people seemed to note only doing CW “once”. Tom Snow may be the way to go for a beginner off-grooming experience, when skier set and good conditions.
PLPP- I did the skier Bob special clockwise from Bolton Bridge, with a side trip up and down the north side of Lookout. Despite the cold temps and wind there were tons of people there with all the parking lots that I saw full; hard to imagine calling this “underused.” Conditions were fantastic. Very frosty trees on Lookout and near Elk Pass. Elk Pass above the lower hydroline junction has not been groomed since the last snow and neither have Fox Creek and Moraine, but the tracks are still good.
PLPP – Family outing to PLPP today, -8 in the Elkwood Parking lot at noon. Lot full but fortunate to get a spot due to turnover. Light traffic on Wheeler out and back. Excellent conditions, all on wax less so can’t comment on wax choice. A few new skiers with us today and all had fun; only two tricky spots. Thanks to Skierbob for the one stop site to see all the local conditions and all the volunteers keeping the trails in shape. Parking pass fee was a small price to pay for a great day outside.
Night skiers please be aware of wildlife risk if you’re @ CNC Nordic Canmore .
Local skiers have reported seeing cougars this week while
Night skiing ; one or two cats including a small one . Bear spray would be advisable for enjoyable moon skiing.
HIDDEN LAKES – Dec 30
Lovely cold snow and excellent tracks to follow!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Could be done on track skis, but skinny skins and metal edges help.
Back in the olden days in the 70’s, when I was a fishing junky, I used to spend a couple of weeks a year at least camped in Halfway Hut fly fishing the local lakes. Hidden Lake was always fun fly fishing for pan sized trout. In those days drifted snow use to stay into August and we use to do a lot of boot skiing on numerous mountains in the area.
The story goes on from there…..till the next trip photos.
You are our link to the legends of Halfway Hut!
We need your stories… if only we could have August in the 70’s back again.
Pipestone Loop. Good day at Pipestone today. Arrived at noon and parking lot was 3/4 full. It was -11C at the start and -7c at finish. Fresh snow (3cm) over set tracks. All the hills were in good condition we saw very few people on the trail. We went counter clockwise on the Pipestone loop (#20) Vr 40 worked well on the new snow.
Dec 30 West Bragg Creek (WBC)
Telephone Loop- Moose Loop – Mountain View West – Mountain View – West Crystal
Yet another Telephone Loop report! Skied counter-clockwise on waxable track skis. Met Steve Riggs along the way. Not much to add to his report, except we disagreed about the cause of the gouges. I felt they were due to fat bikes that were braking too hard and were locking their wheels on the downhill, or spinning their wheels on the uphill. I had waxed the night before with Swix VR40 for expected -10C to -5C. Temperature on arrival at 0915 was about -6C, but quickly warmed up to about -1C with the Chinook. Not much grip, but glide was fantastic and I double-poled up the gentler hills. Did the loop in about record time for me.
I’ve done Telephone Loop many times counter-clockwise, but only once clockwise. I found the hills much more challenging in that direction, and you encounter more people going in the more popular counter-clockwise direction. Another advantage of counter-clockwise is that you have lots of options to extend your trip when you reach the Telephone – Moose junction, based on how much time you have and how tired you are after finishing Telephone.
Could the gouges be caused by the machines used to groom the bike trails. The groomer uses part of the Telephone Loop to get from one end of Long Distance to Disconnect.
Actually, no. The majority of the ruts were caused by fat bikes that were travelling on the snow when it was inappropriately soft. Telephone has seen little grooming this year (with the exception of the big dumps) and because of this the snow surface has not sintered well. Add an abundance of traffic right after grooming and it doesn’t take long for the corduroy to be decimated.
We have not done a good enough job of educating the public about user damage on soft snow. Even a fat bike with a ground pressure of only 4 psi can do considerable damage over freshly groomed snow, as can a skate skier, or a classic skier snow plowing down a hill.
As long as the east section of Telephone is multi use, users should expect less than perfect conditions. Our team will endeavour to groom more often on the east side in order to provide a firmer tread, but keep in mind that we are limited by the difficulty of the terrain and snow/ice conditions.
Of note is that the West side of telephone remains in excellent skiing condition for much of the year, and an out and back on the west side is a viable alternative to dealing with poor conditions on the east side.
As an aside, i would like to give a big nod to our AST groomers that donate a huge amount of time and effort to making the recreation experience for fat biking in West Bragg an enjoyable one. Please be courteous to this integral part or our team and give them a wave if you see them riding on the trails.
Canmore Nordic Centre – very good.
Banff, Bow, Meadowview – even the older tracksetting is in great shape. Everything has firmed up, including skate lanes. By early afternoon, Banff Tr to mine meadow was congested but sparse traffic on Bow and MV; overflow parking lot was maybe half full.
Goat Creek trailhead to 2nd Spray River bridge (the bus stop) and back
Pleasant ski on skier’s tracks, the trail is well packed and fat bikes did not leave ruts, same for snowshoers / walkers.
It was nice to meet Janice the poet waiting (impatiently?) for her hubby at the bus stop. On the way down we met a few skiers coming from Banff and on the way back there was definitely more traffic coming down.
The descent to Goat creek bridge was rather safe even though on the way back I saw a few people falling on the way down.
Swix Blue V40 worked well.
Forgot to mention, parking lot at WBC was a zoo again and full by 10:00am. And the trails were crazy!! Telephone was delightfully quiet until we hit Moose Loop! The big hill down to the bridge before Mountain Road was absolute carnage. Fallen people on the ground, folks resting halfway up, others standing in the middle of the trail… we had to slalom around people to try and descend.
I love the Telephone Loop at West Bragg Creek so we had to give it a go now that it’s trackset. This was my third time on this loop and it was the most challenging I’ve ever found it. I love steep crazy hills but they were especially terrifying today in the first half of the loop going counter clockwise.
There were deep ruts on all the hills (possibly from fat bikes,) and the grooming wasn’t even. (No fault of the groomers, it’s a hard trail to groom and the snow was soft.)
We only had one wipe out in our group and my 11 year old loved the hills. I was scared a few times though!
Definitely bring the light touring skis with metal edges and only ski this trail if you’re looking for some excitement. It was a wild ride!
Cascade fire road today, to Stoney Creek. There was fresh grooming being done as we skied, and the snow was flawless!
Was the trail being groomed or trackset or both?
New Years Ski Cheers
Probably old news by now, but it was trackset as well
Hostel-Telephone-Moose-West Crystal, December 30. Fast conditions overall!
East Hostel has seen a lot of non-ski traffic, but miraculously the tracks were intact. Quick and fun- A great way to warmup.
Telephone from Hostel to Snowshoe Hare is trampled wall to wall, with only vestiges of track setting remaining.
Continuing north to Reconnect- trampled, but tracks usually in OK shape.
Reconnect to Disconnect-still trampled a bit, tracks are generally reasonable, however the steeper downhills especially, feature some gouges in the snow that I think may have been caused by snow machines struggling to pack the deep snow. Use caution and check your speed early into the downhills!
Beyond Disconnect right through to Moose- very good- the best part of my ski. Mostly smooth with good track setting and soft snow. Only one walker who kept (mostly) to the side.
Overall I’d say Telephone is in good shape for experienced skiers, who can handle the occasional more rugged hill. For those new to Telephone- don’t expect grooming to the same standard as the rest of WBC, and be aware that there are some steep downhills especially going CCW as I did.
To finish off my morning I did Moose Loop and a mix and match of West Crystal main and side trails. Moose a bit worn, but skiing well, West Crystal and variants in good shape.
Oh yeah- thanks groomers!
Correction to my Telephone report- it should read- “beyond Long Distanceright through to Moose- very good….”
Ribbon Creek parking lot 8:45 am felt colder than -6 but no wind. Not much change from Tanya’s report yesterday. Headed up Terrace North’s big hill (only trail showing its wear). Stayed on Kovach to the top, but took in Link down to bridge over Ribbon Creek and sadly big boot prints on Kovach all the way. Aspen trails offer some nice views and variety; only saw 2 people in first 8 kms. Hoped to find the fire pit burning to sit beside for lunch outside, across from the skating pond, but no such luck. Can only imagine how delicious a Hot Buttered Rum would taste like tonight out there, soaking up the moonlight, in those big chairs. Very few people in and around the village, but WOW! was the Ribbon parking lot and hwy 40 ever busy as we drove back to Canmore. Likely guests arriving to hotel for New Year’s reservations.
Has anyone skied WBC Telephone loop lately? How difficult is it? Is it safer to ski it clockwise or counter clockwise? I’m nervous of steep downhills.
Update: Steve Riggs was there today. Read his trip report above.
Clint, it’s not an easy trail. It has some pretty brutal hills and they are made more difficult because the trail is so narrow. Good snow conditions will make any trail easier, but I don’t know what it’s like right now. I am hoping we’ll get some reports. It’s quite an adventure, and I’ve skied it three times in recent years which you can read about:
I’ve only done it counter-clockwise, but am wondering if the long and tricky downhills of the eastside would be better ascended. Whatever goes up, must come down so I imagine there are tricky downhills clockwise, too.
Just did it ccw. My personal opinion, the trail is easier if everybody goes the same way! Counter clockwise is the traditional way. It’s easier when there are only herringbone tracks on the hills you climb, and snow plowing on the descents.
And the hills were slightly treacherous today. I’ll leave a separate report but you have to love scary steep narrow hills if you’re going to do this trail.
I did Telephone loop CW and CCW many times always on skinny skis. Even though I have a strong preference for CCW, I feel that CW might be less scary for first timers, but it’s all subjective …
One option is going up the west side to the high point/lunch logs (CW), and likely without much herring bone when conditions are good, returning back the same way. Sometimes an ice floe on that side, but no reports of that yet. Usually better snow one the west side too. 2nd option is Tom Snow north for a similar rustic experience but skier set only and mellower grades. Out and back as far as you wish. See the reports on the backcountry page from Alf and GH.
And if you enjoy ski touring where you break your own trail, I suggest skiing clockwise up West Telephone as a warm-up on groomed trails and then continuing north on Homestead Road in the direction of the Alberta Rifle Association shooting range. Best to turn around before you get that far. Then, return on your skier packed trail and enjoy the ride back down West Telephone.
No scary hills on that tour.
If you’re “nervous of steep downhills” I would not recommend Telephone Loop in either direction. The trail is narrow and you need solid snowplow technique to confidently descend the downhills. Many of them have sharp turns partway down or at the bottom. And there are enough of them that it isn’t really practical to walk down them all. Most of the steep downhills are on the east side, so you could take MaSid’s suggestion of doing an out-and-back on the west side. If you have the choice, I’d recommend using wider metal-edged skis on your first outing on Telephone.
I’ve done Telephone Loop many times counter-clockwise, but only once clockwise. I found the hills much more challenging in that direction, and you encounter more people going in the more popular counter-clockwise direction. Another advantage of counter-clockwise is that you have lots of options to extend your trip when you reach the Telephone – Moose junction, based on how much time you have and how tired you are after finishing Telephone.
Kicking Horse Trail
Adding to Canmore Chris’ report on the trail – the trail was trackset to the bridges (so it’s now a little soft, but still fantastic). From there it’s skier trackset on the existing track all the way to the end. Temp. about -6 today, high humidity, overcast, but conditions where great for both grip and glide. https://photos.app.goo.gl/1ksPGvjmJFnRUiiF6
All the trees that were down on the slope leading from the start to the bridges were removed, and there are a couple of limbo trees between the picnic table at the 3.5 km mark and the end of the trail at 7 km. Gorgeous conditions, no wind, and lots of snow in the trees
Great ski at Lake Louise today. The tracks were good, temperature at a crisp -14C as we climbed Tramline to Fairview which was magical in the sun and frosted trees. The trails were surprisingly quiet. We crossed the lake and it got cold in the shade. Lots of skaters on the ice by the ice castle. Then we skied up to the lakeshore trail and followed it to Peyto and the Divide and down Tramline where we emerged in the sun again to finish our ski.
The Pipestone trails at Lake Louise were all superb today, not withstanding the -20C start. Brilliant sun, excellent tracks, and glidey skis made for gentle strides and easy progress. Kick using Swix V20 was just right, and it lasted all day in the smooth snow. There were many friendly people out, overall it was a wonderful winter day outdoors. 🙂
Skied the Moose Loop at West Bragg Creek this morning. Cold (-20 C) at 9 am but conditions were excellent. Grip and glide were good using V20 wax. Apparently Moose Loop is well named – I saw three moose in the meadow.
PLPP – Pocaterra – up and back. After parking lot duty this morning, I skied up Pocaterra to the Packers junction and then back down to the warming hut. If Amos-Lynx-Wheeler forms the middle of the park, then I say that Pocaterrra must be the backbone. I agree with all that Bob has reported about conditions today. I couldn’t have said it better. Conditions were absolutely terrific, although a bit nippy! However, I’d like to thank all the supportive smiling faces that greeted us this morning, proudly showing off their season parking passes – and in particular the lovely folks that supplied the volunteers with chocolate. You guys are the best!!
Skied Skogan Pass today with the two extra loops on the way up (Hummingbird and Skogan loop) – total about 25.5km
Beautiful blue sky and the snow/tracks were still decent (once you pass Troll falls!) although a bit skied out for my liking…
High Level was still perfect (thanks Bob for your recommendation) but Sunburst had some holes from hikers, I was going up and tracks were still in great shape so not a big deal.
I was lucky to find parking spot at 11:45 as someone was leaving. Still lots of cars in the parking lot at 3:30 p.m. but not full – likely hikers as I believe there was only one person behind me down Skogan Pass.
Overall great trip!
Yes- conditions above Sunburst on Skogan were excellent, and fast! I descended Sunburst after visiting the lookout on my way back from the pass- the divots were not really much of an issue, fortunately. A caution if taking the cheaters starting point from Nakiska as I did- the transition to the groomed tracks when descending the first little run below the base area is more than a little abrupt :-0
While I skied Skogan- my wife Jo skied Ribbon Creek and the Village trails- very good conditions reported there as well.
Yoho Double: First a trip to Emerald Lake. Access initially is either across the corner of the lake, or along the lake shore, neither ideal with no tracksetting, before heading up to the trackset Horse Trail which runs above and parallel to the lake – great fun on soft snow (approx. 5 cms since last grooming) with lots of whoop-de-doos. Then onto the Alluvial Fan which we did in both directions, tracks holding up well. Then we drove down to the Kicking Horse trail and skied out to the picnic area by the river – same snow conditions (i.e. mostly good tracks which had been covered by new snow since grooming, which made for lovely silky texture). Just as we were leaving, the groomer headed down the trail having arrived from the Tally-Ho trail – he would soon encounter 2 trees across the trail not far from the trailhead and hopefully he was able to move them, though they were easy to ski past. Temps around -10C to -7C all day, used VR40 or Swix Extra Blue, and not very busy (got parking at the lake around 1030 am)
Skied Strathmore Golf course today. Good to very good track setting all around the course. There is an honour system at a cost of $5. Not many people there and fun to ski the prairies rather than the mountains. We combined our ski with a drive around the backroads near Strathmore and located three Snowy Owls. A great days outing.
Inspired by Charlie’s trip report of Dec. 27 we skied the PLPP Cookie Race 24 km loop. (Air temp. at PH was -18C at 9:30 am / -11C at 2:00 pm) VR40 worked well all day. Conditions are still fantastic! No new grooming or track setting but all tracks are in very good condition. Steeper hills are scraped to icy snow and more difficult to climb and snow plow. Packers was in better condition than expected but still caution is advised skiing down from Pocaterra. We dropped down to the old trail via Lower Come Along and found ice in the tracks at one spot. Due to the trail’s flatness here the ice is not an issue. Tracks nearer to PH are well loved but are still good. A very satisfying day.
CASTLE LOOKOUT to BAKER CREEK – Dec 29
The new bypass of Protection Mountain Campground is complete, and fully trackset!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Privileged to meet Bruce & Lindsay, cash donors to this website.
PLPP today. We started at the Pocaterra parking lot and skied out along Pocaterra, headed up to the Lookout on fresh grooming and screamed down the other side. We then took Hydroline north and returned to the cars on Fox Creek, Moraine, Wheeler, Braille, and Lodgepole. Other than a couple twigs on Fox Creek and Moraine, the snow was pristine. It was a chilly day and returning along Lodgepole in the sun was a lovely way to finish the ski.
Skied a loop around Ribbon Creek and the Village.
Ribbon Creek – excellent fresh grooming and no hiking traffic until we reached the creek where I believe it’s a mixed trail for skiing and snowshoeing. The steep hill was in good condition going down to the creek (a few rocks to watch out for but no ice.)
Link – great fresh grooming again. Met some snowshoers but they turned on to the snowshoe trail at the “skiers only” sign.
We then climbed up Aspen and Kovach and met only a few skiers. Brand new corduroy and tracksetting on this part. Bob, you would have approved.
We descended to the village and returned on Terrace back down to our car.
Terrace was a zoo by the village but crowds thinned out before the first junction.
Busiest section all day was the descent down to Ribbon Creek on Terrace. Everybody seemed to be climbing up this way around 1:30-2:00.
A few rocks and some dirt on this part but good skiing for the most part.
Parking lot was insane!!!! People parked everywhere they could find a spot.
Thankfully the trails were quiet. I guess people all spread out once moving.
Had the same issue as you coming back into the parking lot near noon.
A lot of people spread all across the trail making it very dangerous descent as you come around those hidden corners!
Tue dec 29: elk pass area (and lots of meadows).
-15 this morning at 8AM in the elk pass parking lot (warmer than down the road luckily). Fresh grooming from the lot to north hydroline, then back to the shallow worn track all the way to the pass. Fresh corduroy and first tracks down thyrwitt. The track was bomb proof solid, and noisy with metal edge LT gear until more traffic went through. Attempted getting up to east elk pass, but thwarted by the narrow hallway/drainage in the tight trees (the squeeze), at least with waxkess LT gear and no skins. If only I had brought the shovel, easy fix. The drainages are narrow and deep and some still open water. Needs another foot or more snow for easy access. Track goes in about a Km to the end of the first meadow. Back to the pass and down the Patterson meadow, returning to the blueberry table. Stamped out the snow bench again behind the table as auxiliary seating when busy. Cold damp cloud with a stiff breeze from the south in the west elk pass meadows. Fork ‘n meadow couch supplied better wind protection, always good having more options, thanks to cheeky and Simona. Track has set up nice from yesterday and continues to supply easy fast travel. Back at blueberry table, the snow bench was already getting used. While I didn’t get to meet helen on the trail today, I did meet her lovely neighbours at the bench, Kelly and partner. Good meeting and chatting with you both about all manner of things!
We skied a loop at the Strathmore Golf Course this morning. It was -15 when we started, but bright and sunny so it felt warmer. The tracks are well used and wobbly in areas, with a few bare spots.
The big draw for us is that its dog friendly so it’s a pawsitively perfect place to start our young pup. We were on waxless, light touring skis with metal edges, all the better for control when attached by a waist belt to an 10 month old Aussie.
Don’t forget your 5.00 fee if you head out that way, there’s a box on a pole close to the club house to make your payment.
Night time magic on TYRWHITT
The weather forecast for last night was phenomenal – clear skies, a nearly full moon, and good ski temperatures. That meant it was time for a nighttime ski and it was absolutely magical. We started from Elk Pass, did Moraine and Whiskey Jack first, obligatory snacks at the Whiskey Jack picnic table, and continued on to Tyrwhitt.
It was amazing to only have a single track along Tyrwhitt after that last big snowstorm, but it made it so much more magical. The snow in the meadows reflected from my headlamp like a field of diamonds. It was eerily quiet, and eerily beautiful. The stars came out and sparkled, we saw Mars, then had another snack at the Tyrwhitt picnic table where the night felt so surreal … it looked like spotlights at the hill below us. This was the full moon coming over the mountains and was so bright that the trees cast shadows and one could ski without a headlamp. Absolutely amazing.
We made it to Elk Pass, I had planned a fondue for the pass, but temperatures were dropping and the high humidity brought a beautiful mist. Then, off in the distance down Hydroline were two brights lights – none other than the groomer. We talked to him briefly (is it Jody?), he was happy to hear that there were no downed trees on Tyrwhitt, and we were happy to have amazing corduroy to ski on for the way back.
The night was so magical that it felt like being suspended in some time warp and sense of awe. I’m not a fast skier, but never before did it take me six hours to ski the Tyrwhitt loop. Worth every minute and longing for more. Fondue ended up being plan B – made it in the parking lot of Wedge Pond, before heading home feeling pleasantly depleted.
Your ski sounds magical!
A chilly -21C this morning at 9:30am – Skied Mountain – Mountain View – Loggers – Elbow – Iron Springs – East Crystal
The parking lot was 25% full when I arrived and full at 11:30am, people were already parking along the road.
The trails are in pretty good shape (some wobbly tracks and a bit of gouged out areas on Elbow). I had an excellent grip with Swix V20 Polar and the glide was excellent (better than expected). I did not encounter many people this morning, my only “complaint” would be for some dog owners (2 today) that believe it’s fine to let their dog run at you when you are full speed on a downhill.
In addition to the potential risk of injury to the downhill skier, accidentally running over a dog paw with metal edge skis, nasty injury to the dog may occur. Came close once at Chester lake. I don’t ski there anymore. For the most part, majority of dogs and owners are really good at Bragg. Nobody wants to be either party in that scenario…….
Sandy McNabb —single snowmobile classic track set on network north of ranger stn. Scenic tight tree skiing! Be careful of descents down eastbound PineRidge from picnic table at far northern tip (that loop best done ccw) and westbound Balsam (off camber “cut line”, uneven surface and not wide enough to plow). Macabee trail ski track was snowshoe-packed flat, so stick to other trails. Beginners are advised to stick to trails SOUTH of main road to avoid hills in north that -though not steep, aren’t wide like in other Nordic areas your used too. Did you buy your parking pass????
Photos of the short macabee-pine ridge loop https://photos.app.goo.gl/fmUHDUntkvQHYoL49
Do you know if the trails are groomed on a regular schedule. It is very hard to get someone at Sandy McNabb on the phone.
Skied at Pocatera yesterday (28th). Conditions were amazing. Got to the parking lot around 9:15 and it was fairly Empty. Did a 20km loop up Pocatera, down Amos, Meadow and Woolley. Everything was recently groomed and temp was about -15 first thing and then warmed to -8. Was much busier by the time we finished at 12:30. Highly recommend!
Skier trackset ALL the way to Shadow Lake Lodge Dec28 with conditions there as good as I’ve ever experienced them. My partner had a few equipment problems so that slowed the day down a bit. Upon our return what was perfect skiing conditions dramatically deteriorated once we reached the Lost Horse Creek Campground. The snowshoers saw to that. ON a positive note due to our extended day we were able to enjoy the full moon in all of its splendour. Pretty special.
Someone needs to develop some type of ray gun technology that zaps people that get on XC tracksets without skis on. Any hi techies on Skier Bob?
The Government should create legislation to protect XC tracksets. A $10,000 fine along with a month of XC ski community service would be a good start and that would create a lot of media attention to wake people up. The vandalism would be reduced quickly if there were fines, particularly if wildlife cameras were utilized for evidence gathering.
If we lived in a real democracy, where people have the legalized right to vote on government bills using an electronic device, along with having citizen-initiated legislation, it would be fascinating to see if such a law would be developed by the skiers to protect xc trails from who ever damages them.
CASCADE RIVER-BEYOND STONEY CREEK
Monday afternoon/ night
Excellent skiing overall. I skated the road going in and I did not hit the road with my metal edged xc skis.
Snow was fast going in until about 4 kilometers beyond Cascade River bridge. Then the snow slowed to moderate speed to the end of the trackset skiing.
The trackset trail was a little wimbly wambly wombly going in in some areas but overall not bad. Metal edges straightened out the trail in these areas. There were a few centimeters of snow in the trackset from the last storm which makes the trackset shallow but still good.
I probably passed 3 dozen people before Stoney Creek.
Some UK people where not giving much room for COVID-19 VUI-202012/01 UK variant social distancing which did not impress me, particularly when the new variant is said to be 70% more contagious. Social distancing should likely be expanded with the new variant.
I broke trail from Stoney Creek to about 5.5 kilometers or so beyond Stoney Creek, past the little creeks that cross the trail. No COVID concerns up that far which is nice. Ski penetration was averaging just below boot top with some areas above the boot. Overall light to moderate difficulty trail breaking with moderate speed. Much better trail breaking than normal for this time of year. I turned around when it got dark before Elk Trap.
At Stoney Creek the temperature was -16c at night. Winds were calm and skies were clear which made for some great moonshine skiing. Skiing coming out at night was moderate speed snow.
As I was coming out just before 9pm there were a number of people skiing in so they could get a good dose of the brilliant moonshine skiing. Get your moonshine while it is still high in the sky and brilliant.
West Bragg Creek
It was a busy day at West Bragg Creek, with apparently full parking lots and vehicles parked along the access road right to the Kananaskis/Rockyview boundary. There were skiers, hikers, snowshoers and fat-bikers coming and going from each of the 7 trailheads. There were a lot of poorly parked vehicles in the parking lot, so part of the overflow parking problem was due to people taking up 1.5 parking stalls. Anyhow, I lucked out and got a spot near the main trailhead when someone was leaving. The reality of WBC is that the parking lot refills with new visitors several times each day. But you can expect it to be busy when we have a combination of good snow and mild weather.
I did a ski touring adventure on a combination of snowshoe trails, all-season trails, horse trails and off-trail wandering. As I was coming back across the West Meadow there was a pink post-sunset glow in the eastern sky, with a nearly full moon. Magical! https://photos.app.goo.gl/7w4TraXkQirBVvkL7
Wanted to ski the Baker Creek trails on the way to LLouise today. We were puzzled when we couldn’t find them (just beyond the chalets). We were told by a snowshoer — who had originally planned to ski — that the Baker Creek track setting machine is broken … how disappointing!
At PLPP, Wheeler and Amos are in perfect condition! Moraine appears to be skier tracked only.
Shaganappi is in good shape thanks to the tracksetting yesterday and today. Shaganappi has been so busy that the volunteer organization (Shaganappi Nordic Operations) has arranged for ploughing a secondary parking lot behind the Clubhouse. I didn’t know that the City of Calgary does not plough the parking lots at Shaganappi! Thank you SNO ! (I will write my alderman.)
J and I cut our teeth on the hills of the north side of Sandy last year, our first season in the SkierBob Empire. We skied there a lot, rarely encountering another skier, which was a great thing, as the trails on the north side are very narrow. What a difference a year makes, never encountered worse conditions even though the snow is great. We had more difficulty than usual trying to herringbone up east Pine Ridge Loop with long skis, trail is super narrow this year. Trails are rough and beat up by walkers and snowshoers, even encountered a few way up the west Pine Ridge loop on our descent. Since one cannot properly snowplow due to narrow trail, you have to run a ski and drag a ski, while picking up speed and yelling expletives. Some major hazards: for those ascending west Pine Ridge Loop, on a small descent after the big hill, you will hit a big dip by a tree. Now for our nemesis, Long Prairie Loop, after the junction at the top with north Death Valley, there is a log taking up half the width of the trail, which you have to negotiate around to the left on the descent, but we both bailed into the rhubarb. And then just a bit further down, is a crater by a tree, J took a snow dive rather than taking the crater and I walked down. Met lots of snowshoers on Long Prairie Loop, back to the Ranger Station, the trail is roughed up. After getting back to the parking lot, we had planned to ski the snoozer south side, but the place was awash in people, so we shelved that plan and drove home.
Too bad your experience wasn’t better. Everyone I spoke to yesterday was pleasantly surprised and enjoying themselves. I find that one can appreciate the primitive ski conditions there (akin to ALL skiing 30+years ago) and hone your skills if one adjusts expectations that it’s not big machine groomed like WBC, Canmore… Wildlife abound, as does the beautiful mixed wood scenery. I hope that AB parks continues track setting to the best available resources and ability they have there. Happy skiing!
High Rockies Trail Goat Creek bridge to Goat Pond return. Parked at gate on road down to Goat Creek (west of Goat Creek Parking lot) -7C Vr 40 Metal edged light touring skis.
Actually was able to ski down steep road to the Bridge over Goat Creek. Skied loop CCW IE upper trail first and returned via lower trail. Dog sledders have made two passes on the whole route to give a decent base. Fresh snow on top of snow machine track. More snow at north end than the south end. Lots of foot traffic not a lot of snow shoe tracks. Base is soft so we left decent skier tracks as far off to the side as possible following other tracks where possible. Met a couple of fat bikers on the lower section who appeared to be doing more walking than riding. As we got closer to the north end lower section more hummocks and more traffic.Trail was well packed but narrower than the rest. We met walkers , skiers, snowshoers. Metal edged skis aren’t mandatory on this route as the snow was setup up well with good coverage..
Nice ski at Ribbon Creek this afternoon, up to the Hummingbird Plume lookout and a bit farther up Skogan before I ran out of time. Very good conditions minus the postholing on Sunburst trail and the few places where the snowcat grabbed dirt. Ran into Bob at the top of the lookout so this trip report is frivolous.
I don’t recommend Hidden, it’s a good place to catch covid due to the lack of social distancing at the base of the ski hill.
So that was you! I had just started down, otherwise I would have had a chat. Yeah, I talked to the four hikers about the consequences of their postholing. -Bob
Is this a multi-user trail? Thought it was a designated XC trail.
Will reaffirm Skogan as very good, it was busier than I have ever seen but nothing compared to Bill Milne, there were at least 20 skiers just on the bridge over the Kananaskis on the access road off highway 40.
Pretty funny that the trails are supposedly “underused” when there’s no room in the parking lot!
WBC Mountain Views CCW in the later afternoon. Conditions were still pretty decent on these scenic trails. There are a couple of thin spots on the west side of Mountain View East hill. It is nice to see that fat bikers are beginning to discover the scenic Mountain View West. I also skied Tom Snow north. I will report on that one in the back country section.
Mon dec 28: west elk pass
The west elk meadow track is back in, all the way to hydroline. Good supportive travel with only ankle to boot top ski pens (LT). Probably doable with skinnier skis after a couple more bodies pass through. All the couches got dusted off. Skier set track present going down hydroline, right down the plowed logging road. Only a foot of snow on the road and 3 ft through the meadows. No sign or sounds of the logging operation (perhaps just on holiday). While at the hydroline, two BC fellas came up the road on skidoos, presumably over the ski track. They stopped a couple hundred meters away when they saw me, then after some discussion, continued up the hydroline proper instead of the road, so some of the ski track may be preserved. Got entertained at the fork ‘n meadow couch by a family or two of woodpeckers hammering away on the adjacent trees. Quite the concert. Put a track in through the Patterson meadows too, this time on the sunnier side via hydroline snow shoe, not the wind protected side via elk pass trail (no need today). Elk pass trackset is getting a little worn and shallow, but slightly better on fox creek. Didn’t see anyone all morning until back on the elk pass grooming, but still not busy with all the other options currently. Lot wasn’t even half full when I got back at 3.
BANFF to GOAT CREEK TRAILHEAD (and back) – Dec 28
While the trail has been well used over Christmas, one can’t ask for anything more with today’s blue skies and happy skiers.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Rode Blue (-2 to -6) continued to work well for me with temperatures around -5.
Thank you to Skogan Tracksetter.
Hit trail today at 9am from ski hill. We were lucky enough to be first ones up, just an excellent ski to the pass. Clear skies and sun. A little brisk in the breeze, but manageable.
Descent was very quick, but easy to control on the buttery corduroy. Was good until the last steep descent from where you first hit Hydroline, as there were some hikers post holing 3 across. (A little annoying, but still manageable on descent)
Some big scat piles near the Upper Skogan Loop, connector. (They were not there on our ascent) Big paw prints to go with them. The amount of hair in the scat tells me it was a wolf. Maybe on the sent of the Mulie we saw earlier.
What an excellent day!
Bill Milne skate ski-Fantastic conditions!! Thanks to the excellent hardworking groomers. Started out at about 930 from the Ribbon creek parking lot. Fresh skate tracks on beautiful corduroy and a blue sky sunny day. Parking lot about 1/3 full. Only a handful of people enjoying the trail. Ended at about 1130. Parking lot full with cars parked along sides and waiting for spots! Wow what a difference a couple hours makes!
Dec 27 WBC (West Bragg Creek)
Classic skied most of the trails yesterday except Telephone, which looked too narrow to herringbone or snowplow on the steeper sections. I see it has since been roller packed. As noted on previous posts, South Elbow and South Iron Springs are skier-trackset with lots of shallow walker bootprints on South Elbow. That said, I skied both down to the Snagmore junction and back without a problem, and at almost the same speed as I would have on a trackset trail.. I skied the freshly trackset Mountain View West from Mountain Road to Moose Loop. The right-hand track (the more-or-less east track) was quite wavy, and if you rounded a downhill corner at speed, the track would periodically angle you toward the right snow bank and then abruptly turn back along the trail. It was more challenging than usual to keep the skis in the track. The left-hand track (west track) didn’t seem to have that problem. I assume the problem will be fixed with the next tracksetting.
Thanks for pointing this out Mike,
Consider what happens when you pull a heavy sled or toboggan downhill as opposed to uphill. It will over run you, right? The same process is at hand when pulling a grooming implement. If you are travelling down hill and making a turn at the same time, the implement will drift to the opposite side of the turn. Combine this with attempting to widen the tread in 60 cm of soft snow and an off camber trail, and presto, wavy tracks! This phenomenon is less likely when climbing because the weight of gravity is resisting the pull of the machine, making it track straighter. The easterly track was made on a descent, the westerly on a climb…
We’d love to provide perfect tracks for every occasion but no one trumps mother nature and physics.
Thanks for the explanation. I wasn’t complaining and was grateful that it was trackset at all. Just wanted to warn other skiers who are as reckless as I am!
Noticed similar on some flatter portions of moose the other day. Must have been the off-camber aspect and the fresh snow. Thanks for the technical grooming enlightenment.
Spray River West/East loop was in good condition on Sunday Dec 27. Spray West River parking lot was about 1/3 full at 10:00 AM and almost full at 12:30 PM. Both tracks on the west side were in good shape but getting a bit worn/wobbly as was the single track on the east side. We took the Spray River connector from east to west. The downhill trail through the trees was a bit of a luge run but had adequate if thin snow cover and we were able to snow plow to keep our speed down. The trail along the river, across the bridge and back to Spray River west was essentially a walking trail. Skiable, with adequate but thin snow cover with our ski pole tips hitting the paved path underneath. No rocks encountered. Overall an excellent loop ski.
Healy Creek Trail is in good condition overall. Snow is a bit thin in places, and rocks are showing themselves on a a couple slopes, so be sure to watch for them and check your speed.
Cascade Valley-Minnewanka to Stoney Creek. Great conditions for classic. Perfect temperatures for a blue wax day. Quite a few groups skiing to the 1st bridge but thinned out after that. Parking lots only about 1/3 full when we arrived around 930. Full with Parks staff directing traffic when we left at 3!
Was at Confed yesterday (Sat) for some easy classic-technique practice and was pleasantly surprised at how good the tracks were. Kudos again to the crews out there.
Today, hit up Confed again for first real outing this season on the skate skiis. Was even busier than yesterday however by 3’ish the masses started to thin out. Parking was definitely an issue even in all the usual overflow areas. For the most part skate areas were great although some sections had not been rolled yet and so yesterdays snow made it a little grabby. Overall however snow was smooth and fast and really very enjoyable to have a gem like this so close to home.
PLPP Cookie Race 24 km loop – Pocaterra, Lynx, Woolley, Meadow, Wheeler, Packers, Pocaterra
Fantastic conditions throughout. Woolley, Meadow, and Wheeler were pristine with fresh tracksetting. All others were excellent. Even Pocaterra near the hut was still in great shape.
Mt Shark. Arrived to an empty parking lot at 10. It was full and many people arriving when we left around 2:15. Lots of fresh snow has covered any trackset. Only a final few twigs sticking out, and a few dips. Skier-tracked (my companions for the loops 3-6). It’s more challenging than usual – fun for an intermediate skier – and I did take one tumble on a hill.
Moose-Mountainviews West and East-Loggers-Sundog- Crystal Line etc.
A blue ribbon day on blue wax! Superb skiing throughout our loop at WBC today.
Mountain road and Mountainview West were newly groomed, older grooming on the remainder in great shape. Trails a bit busy even on the outskirts, but everyone was happy. Fast conditions, but a leisurely trip as there were so many friends and acquaintances to stop and chat with. No problem with parking just after 9, but it was just like old times on the way out in the early afternoon- with cars parked on the shoulder out to the K-country boundary.
I skied there today too. Put my $20 in the box. On days like this I wonder if there is any interest in developing other Ski/ Bike/ Hike/Horse trail systems along the eastern slopes to take some of the pressure off West Bragg. It’s a rare day, no matter the season when W Bragg isn’t being well-used if not over-used.
CASCADE VALLEY and UPPER BANKHEAD – Dec 27
Excellent conditions with options for experienced and beginner skiers.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Rode Blue (-2 to -6) worked nicely with temperatures around minus 5.
Ski heaven along the Spray River
We skied from Banff to Goat Creek and back. Fantastic all around!
Healy Creek to Sundance Canyon in -5 and relatively new track-setting. Ample room in cleared parking lot. Did not see any walkers but evidence of them, occasionally right in the tracks. Don’t bring your brand new skis as rocks are numerous and visible particularly on one of the longer hills.
Maybe Goat Creek Bridge could also be called “Ghost” Creek Bridge. It was fairly easy to descend to yesterday, but we only met likely Chris in our first 13 kms., as we stopped for a snack at Spray Bridge. Good warning to second Skier Bob’s on that tricky turn.
BILL MILNE TRAIL- We arrived at 10 am and were the first ones there surprisingly. Fun fast skiing on good snow; with the heavy visitation tracks are getting a bit wobbly. There is a lodgepole pine tree down just north of the big bridge by the highway. We had the bench all to ourselves for lunch. Lotsa skiers by 1pm.
Skogan Pass (-11C at 9:00am)
Second time this week, indeed Skogan pass is addictive! Great conditions with soft snow and tracks in excellent conditions for the most part. Swix V40 blue extra provided excellent grip with almost no need for herring bone. Descent was fast but easy to keep under control even with skinny skis. We were alone on the way up and we met many people going up and it was nice to see people staying on the right hand side to give room for the downhill skiers.
I skied it quite a bit later in the day (left Nakiska at about 1130). The snow was nice but there are now a lot of gouged out sections (not to the ground) on the curvy descents, including the “screamer”. There were a lot of people out there today, way more than I have ever seen on that route. The good news is that you can check it out on the way up. The grooming is soft enough that walkers are sinking 10 to 15 cm into the trail. One pair made it as far as the Sunburst junction today. Below the Nakiska junction the trail has extensive walker damage. The entire area (at least on the north side of Ribbon Creek) is “share the trails” so that is just the way it is…
This was our experience as well – getting pretty skied out by late afternoon. I am a strong intermediate to advanced skier and, while I made it without incident, I would have been happier on metal-edge light touring, rather than my skinny track skis. Great day out though!
Also of note, Sunburst/High Level loop has good skier-set track but no machine track. Skogan loop has little evidence of previous grooming (roller pack?) with much new snow on top – no one had been around it when we were heading down ~2:30pm.
Good Morning the temperature at the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre is -10 degrees C with a skiff of snow overnight.
The Discovery Centre remains open for information, washrooms, and WIFI.
Holiday hours remain the same 10am-3pm with no holiday closures over new years.
Thank you for these posts! Very helpful, particularly on the temperatures!
WBC. Got to the parking lot by 1030 and still found room. My relatives arrived 20 minutes later and it was tight! Busy busy busy but once you get a few km from the parking lot it eases up. Moose Loop was lovely. Even though it is off leash perhaps consider leashing your dog when its that busy. Several dogs were left to run around in the tracks, bark at other dogs and get in people’s way, they were running up and down hills; we saw some skiers almost crash because of them!
Dogs are required to be “under control” in off leash areas. Agreed, consider a leash when it is this busy.
It’s basically the x country off leash park. You gotta know where you are. If it’s not your cup of tea, there are plenty of other spots to check out.
I so agree, Lisa. There are very, very, few off leash areas for people to take their dogs and so many beautiful areas to ski where you would not have to encounter them so why, on a weekend, after a big dump of snow, during Christmas would you head to an off leash area and then be upset by the number of dogs (well trained or just learning) running around. I usually find that the pups are particularly excited when they first get out of the car, as am I, but once getting a few kms into the trip, slow down and smell the roses or whatever scent these four legged companions find on the ground. I hope people always have Bragg Creek to take their canine friends to. Even the Grinch had Max!
I’m also a dog lover, and a dog owner! I’m teaching my 11month old pup to ski, well, not actually to ski, but ski trail etiquette and what is expected of him when I’m skiing 🙂 I LOVE the fact that WBC is so close to home and we can take our dogs with us. That being said, WBC is a provincial park for everyone to enjoy, with the added bonus of allowing off leash.
From one dog lover to another, I would really encourage dog owners to look at both sides of the issue and be kind and considerate to all skiers and trail users on a busy weekend, and keep your dogs under control, or leashed. If your dog doesn’t have a perfect recall, keep the leash on. If they can’t trot along by your side, keep the leash on, if they can’t follow simple verbal cues, keep the leash on. It’s a great way to practice your basic obedience skills and keep your dog from rehearsing unwanted behavior, such as ignoring you when you call, running to play with other dogs, chasing or sniffing at other skiers. They will still have a great outing, get some exercise, and you can enjoy the experience together, which is really what it’s all about, right?
We don’t want to lose this amazing privilege of skiing with our dogs, or heaven forbid, cause an injury or hardship for anyone else because our dogs are out of control. It’s going to be a busy year on the trails so let’s be kind and considerate of each other so everyone goes home happy and healthy. We can have our cake and eat it too!
Late start yesterday afternoon but enough time for Lower Pocaterra, Come Along and Rolly Road. All fabulously track set conditions
Anyone been to Sandy McNabb?? How are the trails?
Well, I have not wanted to say because images of the chaos at Bragg Creek parking lot has made me want to keep Sandy a well kept secret. But since you asked, I must share. I thought after the huge dump we had that trail breaking would be only for the young and restless but was pleasantly surprised that snow had been packed and on the trails we skied, track set. Yes, there have been walkers, but for the most part, there was an attempt to stay to one side. We arrived about 10:30 to only a couple of cars at the Ranger Station. It looked a little different by the time we returned but I am talking about maybe 20 cars. We headed out behind the station and did a bit of climbing but as it was my first time out post Covid, our trip was short, but oh so beautiful. Perhaps I enjoyed it even more due to my new perspective on health and life in general. Sandy’s trails are a little rustic compared to the velvet carpet conditions of PLPP. There can be a death defying log or two laying across the trail so eyes down a must. Not sure I would suggest Sandy’s trails to someone who does not have at least a little experience due to changing conditions, snow covered hazards, steep hills (behind station) and narrow trails that don’t always allow for a controlled snow plow. Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and hope for the best. That being said, it is our little piece of heaven only 20 minutes from home.
Wonderful conditions at the south Ribbon Creek trails today. We parked at the main Ribbon Creek parking lot and made a loop that included Hidden, Coal Mine-Ribbon Creek, Kovach Link/Kovach, Terrace and Terrace Link. Excellent track setting throughout, with a few soft spots on some of the downhill corners… and a couple of cm of new snow on top. https://photos.app.goo.gl/ywmH8wY5oNwS3dbh9
This amount of snow should provide us with good skiing for quite a while!
Parked at the PLPP Visitor Centre (4 cars in the parking lot!) and skied a short loop Meadow to Amos…beautifully trackset. Two of us turned left onto Amos, also trackset then a left turn back on Woolley which hadn’t been groomed. Was lots of fun on fresh snow. The other two continued around Marl Lake on Wheeler looping left on Amos (not trackset either but super enjoyable). Awesome day out!!
I enjoyed first (track-set) tracks on the Healy creek trail today. I decided to continue up The Brewsters Creek trail on my XC ski’s. I followed someone else’s ski-set tracks for approx 9k and then turned back due to the snow getting a bit deep! So much fun coming down.
WBC- Telephone and some all season trails. I started out on the west leg of Hostel which is excellent. East leg of Telephone and a tiny bit of the west leg are groomed for fat biking but not for skiing. West leg has a good skier set track. Light touring gear recommended. I also went up Reconnect (very choppy) and down Demi Tel (quite good). Perfect silky snow everywhere.
FYI – no recent grooming or track setting past the Iron Springs/Elbow crossover. Made for some interesting skiing, especially with all of the postholing from walkers. Got some good sideways back stretches in, with my poles disappearing in the soft snow on the uphills and quite narrow maneuvering.
South Elbow and South Iron Springs are groomed by Alberta Parks and not Bragg Creek Trails Crew. My understanding is that they will be grooming sometime this week.
Thanks so much for for the info!! I did not know that.
I did the south loop as well and skied down to the Skagmore Junction on the Elbow River escarpment for lunch. Yes, so far there is just the snowmobile packing from the Fullerton end with a skier set track but with lots of walker tracks to mess up the trail even though the entrance to the trail is clearly signed as a skier trail. Even some of the core ski trails around West Bragg saw some walker traffic and a fat biker or two to chew things up.
STONY CREEK – Agree with Mary, conditions were perfect for a longer ski day. Had lunch on the cabin deck.
Question -does anyone know whether Cascade Lookout parking lot has been plowed out yet (we have a small car) and has it been groomed to Baker Creek yet? THANKS!
Chris and Karl, do you mean Castle Lookout?
P.S. Thanks for all your trip reports!
Yes, oops. I meant Castle Lookout. Thanks for the following reports, this helps alot!!
I did Castle Lookout to Baker Creek the night of the 24th. The parking lot wasn’t plowed but was packed well enough by previous users (I have a small car and had no issues). The grooming around Protection Mountain is quite weird this year – there is a section of about 500m where you have to take off your skis and walk down the the road before the trackset resumes. Does anyone know why they weren’t able to continue grooming along the railway in this section??
I did this trail last week. The short section that was not track set was skier set and reasonably easy to ski. The big snow fall may have covered up the tracks. That short section crosses 2 small drainages that would cause problems for the snowmobile to get through.
yes the lot is plowed and conditions are good in both directions
Cascade Valley – Many thanks to the track setter for going out on Christmas Day to give us a wonderful ski today! Temp. -8C. to start and -3C at 3 p.m. There was 2-4 cm. of fresh snow on the tracks to make it a bit sticky on the way up. Light flurries gave a Christmas card effect up to the bridge/campground. Then the snow stopped and the clouds got thinner, but the sun never really came out. We skied to the warden cabin and most of us took the short cut down the steep pitch to the cabin. It was not well-packed and rather treacherous. Once refueled after lunch, we had plenty of energy to get back up the hill (which was kind of slow on the descent, but nicely polished on the ascent). What a pleasure to ski back on the tracks we had polished on the way up! We were surprised to see so few people on Cascade, especially early on. Fantastic day and no soreness that a good soak in a hot tub won’t cure! Happy Boxing Day to all!
WBC December 26, 11:30am- 1:30ish
West Crystal Line to Mountain View to Mountain Rd
Beautifully track set, a bit soft along the edges (my right pole kept going throw all that powder) and no ice! Lots of families, dogs and snowshoeing folks but there is plenty of room. It was so nice to see smiling, mask-free faces. Parking can be challenging – the lot was very full by the time we arrived just before lunch. If people could use better parking skills there would be more spots!
I’d encourage everyone who uses and enjoys WBC to make a donation if you haven’t already. It is completely volunteer run, and donation dependent. I’ll be making my annual end of year donation today.
Conditions were fabulous at West Bragg Creek! The main trails were very busy but you just had to go a bit further if you wanted to avoid the crowds. Moose Loop and Mountain View West were very quiet.
Everything had been freshly groomed/trackset (including, I think, Moose Loop.) The one exception was Mountain View West which had not been groomed yet today. It was still easy skiing though with well defined tracks.
Interesting to see the trail changes on Moose and Mountain View West. I approve of the new bridge on Moose! That used to be a scary hill. The new climb on MVW however going up to the high point from the Moose loop, wow!! What a steep pitch! Thank goodness it was short.
Sat dec 26: WBC (moose/tom snow N/mountainview).
Almost an inch of fresh this morning with -5 and snowing lightly most of the day, so a good reset with the recent warmer temps, although tracks a bit wobbly/soft. Things travelled very nice even with a bit of wobble, no complaints. Ventured north on tom snow (AKA the great trail), breaking trail boot top to mid shin (LT), maybe went in 1 k or so?, just before the new bridge that bypasses the descent into the wet gully, right at the first steep bit. No deep herringbone action on the menu today (drum sticks only!). Needs skins when it’s deep like this. Snow has settled out to about 40 cm back there. No fresh wolf prints today. Nice slide on my track returning to moose. No sign of moose meandering in the meadows, but did see a mouse on mountainview, motoring across the trail, jumping over the track canyons. Hilarious little guy. Somebody broke a trail towards the tom snow south junction at the end of mountain road (but only as far as the steep initial hill) so followed that and hung a left through the long narrow cut block to make my boots wetter (roughly paralleling tom snow S, but a bit further east). Just another quick out and back, turning around at a drainage. The remainder of the return was uneventful, with the exception of witnessing a perfect sympathetic double wipeout. My apologies for laughing, but it was entertaining. (-:
I was thinking of trying Tom Snow north in the next few days. Do you want some company? I guess I need to bring my skins.
Not sure when I’ll get there next (no skins for the LT gear), but feel free to push it out a bit further GH. Others might too (many hands/light work).
Tom Snow was extensively brushed out, cleared and upgraded over the summer by the Bragg Creek Trails volunteers.. It’s good to go, all the way north to Highway #68, if you are looking for a “Chuck” style tour. If you are going out on light touring gear, I’d suggest taking Old Shell Road and Moose Single-track for a more backcountry style experience.
Yes, indeed. Was there in October just after the team finished trail work. Great stuff! Perhaps it’ll become the new off trail version of telephone loop, but without the loop aspect. The little hills are short but steep and hard work to herringbone on skinny skis in deep heavy snow, unless you are feeling strong or have skins. Some of them also south facing and exposed to sun, so all about timing, hitting the sweet spot between deep and crusty. On return I exited to moose via the lower meadow route to avoid the final hill back up to the official trail. No new trees down on the short section I was on.
CAUTION tree to avoid on Ribbon Creek
Coming down high speed within the last 300 m section of the Ribbon Creek trail, before arriving at the parking lot: TREE partly down about 4.5 feet above the ground. Need to tuck down, to avoid potential serious hit. Skogan was quite crowded. Was going up to Coal Mine: too much snow for narrow skis. Really wanted to mention about that tree, before heading back for more skiing now.
SPRAY RIVER LOOP – Dec 26
A social occasion for Locals, with easy physical distancing.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Don’t tell anyone!
Lose an electronic item at Shaganappi golf course?
See post on Country Country Skiing YYC Facebook page
Gord, there is a “Lost and Found” on the main menu now. It might get more traction there.
It is -12 degrees at the discovery centre in Peter Lougheed, Kananaskis. There was a dusting of snow. Both lanes on highway 40 have been ploughed however Northbound lane is still partially covered. Discovery Centre is open for information & washrooms.
Maple Ridge Golf Course….does anyone know if it’s groomed and trackset? The City website isn’t clear.
They have done no grooming or tracksetting. We were out Christmas Day – have never seen so many cars! We had to park two blocks away. The inner trails were skier tracked and quite manageable, outer trails not so much, but the benefit was that we had that section to ourselves through the two loops we did. TONS of kids and families on the sledding hill.
Also, thanks to all the snowshoers (there were so many), who diligently stayed out of the skier set tracks!
skier set tracks… we were there today… great conditions considering this is in the city… parking was CRAZY!!! Be prepared as you will be contesting for a spot with the sledders. Lots of people but lots of distancing.
Beautiful day at Ribbon Creek for Christmas!
We parked at the Village and skied Kovach – Terrace loop clockwise as usual. Conditions were pretty good and we enjoyed the skiing, but it was far from pristine. Some hikers had chewed up some tracks, and the descent on north Kovach was marred by herringbone ridges and a few deep gouges – must have been soft yesterday? I tried to snowplow some of the ridges away, but still a bit hazardous.
Started from Ribbon Creek parking, J and I listen to Christmas music from our late parents’ era, so I had ‘Santa Claus Got Stuck in My Chimney’ – Ella Fitzgerald, stuck in my head, on the ascent. About half way up, had enough of that, replaced that tune with ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ – Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters, told J, so he and I sang a few lines, luckily no other skiers were within earshot, as it would have damaged their ears, we can sort of ski, but we cannot sing. ‘Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say, On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day,’ hardly fitting for Alberta in winter, but we would rather ski than be anywhere near a beach, crazy, I know. Skogan Pass was magnificent, the snow incredible, the descent left us euphonic. We are grateful for the groomers for having completed grooming on Skogan, made for a merry Alberta Christmas Day.
If you were skiing on METAL edged skis perhaps you would have tunes like Paul McCartney – “Wonderful METAL Christmas Time:” or the old classic Charlie Brown- “Heavy METAL Christmas” on your mind while skiing.
It is pretty hard to find tunes with Christmas and Metal in them for Christmas Day metal edge skiing experiences. Thank God Christmas only rolls around 1 day per year as the Christmas metal tunes need a lot of work but you don’t need metal to ski the awesome soft snow out there.
Santa ain’t stuck in no chimney, he is stuck in the deep powder that just dumped. His METAL edge skis on his sled did a tip dive when he hit some crusty tracks and he flipped over into a deep snow tree well head first.
Santa may be late this year. Rock on.
LOL! We are on 30 year old Bonna waxless (and gripless) metal edges, but super on the descent, as far as we know, 30 years of ski technology, we know nothing. I should have had ‘Gothic Christmas’ by Within Temptation in my head, now that is HEAVY METAL! And yes, we have that on our playlist along with the ancient stuff, never too aged for metal.
‘We’re gonna have a Gothic Christmas
That is what we’ll do
We’re gonna have a Gothic Christmas
Hope you’ll have one too’
~ Within Temptation
Holiday Skiing! Shaganappi Golf Course Dec.24/ Bill Milne Dec. 25-Skate Skied both. Shaganappi has lots of snow now (except for the usual small bare spots)-grooming and track setting have been done but the snow is soft! We skate skied the lower north loop and a full loop around the main course and it was a bit of a slog. Will probably wait for it to be colder and more packed down for the next skate. Classic would be wonderful there right now. Thanks to Linda and team for all your tremendous work!
Bill Milne Christmas day! Beautiful day! Groomed and trackset. The skating here was also a little soft but still great. Lots of sunken footprints on the trail near the parking lot at Ribbon Creek and also around the campground but didn’t have too much effect on the skiing. Started late at 11am-parking lot at Ribbon creek was maybe 1/2 full and only saw probably about 20 people in various groups along the trail. Excellent way to spend the holiday!
Fri dec 25: pipestone.
Some snow furniture got added to the pipestone system today, just in time for some post turkey lounging. Not the greatest blocks given the snow, but works just fine. -22 to start this morning. Finished at -13 or so. Only a handful of people out and about, but full of Christmas cheer. The parking lot hasn’t really been plowed but not a problem for my low clearance front wheel drive.
GREAT DIVIDE – Dec 25
Trackssetting was rather blown in, until it became skier tracked!
Details in the phot descriptions here:
Merry Christmas everyone.
Isolate, you say…
Troll Falls Parking
Climbing to Pass
Detour to Hummingbird Plume
Thanks to those who broke trail for us
A bit of an event
Soft snow, walkers and snowshoers
Created some divots
Two days ago
Along Hay Meadow
Perfect Tracks in the snow
Today, obliterated track
Moral of the story:
Enjoy the tracks early!
-12 on Cascade Fire Road at 11:30 and met groomer returning from setting track to Stony Cabin. I stopped 2-3 kms shy of cabin as we are gift opening during Happy Hour. Someone made a beautiful snow angel at top of first climb. Warmed to -8 and crowds appeared, lots wearing Santa hats. Hard to socially distance on first bridge: almost need to pick a number.
Canmore Nordic Centre – Thank you and Merry Christmas to the groomers- GREAT JOB!
Skied up Becky’s Hill to catch the end of Meadowview, then out to end of Rundle, and back via Silvertip.
Excellent blue wax snow at -10C.
Only a very few spots where groomer had broken through – always avoidable.
Overall a great Christmas gift to be thankful for.
WBC (-9C @ 8:30am)
Skied Moose, Mountain View West – Mountain View and West Crystal. You can tell the trails have been heavily used yesterday however they were still in good shape. Some downhill sections are a bit icy / scraped but nothing too serious. Swix Blue V40 provided excellent grip and the glide was perfect. Overall a pleasant Christmas morning ski.
PS: As a Christmas gift we saw 2 moose in the “moose loop meadows”, both were strolling in deep snow.
Fallen tree on Bill Milne trail
I just received this photo from a skier’s cell phone. Not sure where it it is exactly, but it looks like you could still “do the limbo” to get under it. Worst case, crawl under.
You can easily ski around it. No limbo needed although that might be a good challenge.
Looks like it’s just north of Evan Thomas Creek. Info on location would be a help.
Yes. It was “leaning” there yesterday, preparing itself.
HEALY/ BREWSTER/ BEYOND SUNDANCE LODGE
From Sunshine Road Parking Lot
The Healy Creek Trail is skier tracked and generally very good if one does not go off the skier track. Plenty of skiers have been out on this trail. No tracksets for Christmas.
The Brewster Creek trail was snowmobile packed before the big snow dump. It has about 15 cm of new snow on top of the snowmobile track. It was skier tracked to the junction of the short cut trail. Beyond the short cut which I took going up, I cut the ski trail to Sundance Lodge.
Beyond Sundance lodge the skiing is good with the odd thin section under big trees. At night the skies were clear, winds calm and the temperature -13c.
On the way in I took the short cut horse trail to the Brewster Creek trail. It is generally in fair shape. With 15 cm of new wet snow it will be generally good skiing. On the way out at night I stuck to the main trails.
There was a nice 1/2 moon shining at night so I could enjoy the nice silky snow that was moderately fast while prancing back down the trail.
It is worth skiing the trail to Sundance Lodge and getting away from crowds.
WBC-from Highway 66
Access to the West Bragg Creek trails from Highway 66 side was… interesting. The snowplow had cleared the driving lanes of the parking lot, but had left the snow untouched for the actual parking stalls. As a result, the lot was “full” once the first 8-10 vehicles blocked up the driving lanes. There was a bit of space available at the Allen Bill parking lot, across the highway.
The Elbow trail has been snowmobile packed… no roller packing or grooming, just several passes with a snowmobile. It must have been hard work, as it was very soft and rough. I also toured along Snagmore, which is a single track multi-user trail. With this amount of snow, it makes a lovely tour.
bob- The cascade is definitely tracks set to the first bridge according to a friend who was there- but not to Stony yet!
that Date Confusion is common
WBC perimeter tour of groomed trails (CCW): West Crystal / Moose / Mountain Views / Loggers / Elbow / Iron Springs to the south end / East Crystal / Hostel. There is certainly lots of snow. The grooming is pretty soft still so the steeper hills are fairly gouged out. The south Elbow / Iron Springs loop has only been packed at this point. Hostel loop is really rough due to lots of walkers, especially the eastern part.
SPRAY RIVER WEST: Excellent snow conditions to Spray Bridge despite thin areas at the beginning first km. Minus 12C most of the day but trail well sheltered from today’s wind. We stopped in a sunny area for lunch just short of the bridge. Met a couple coming from Goat Creek who said conditions were excellent from that end. Signs indicate that ski skating is permitted but a couple complained that the area not wide enough, but xcountry classic skiers dissappointed that about 5 skaters had chopped up the newly groomed trail.
– possible to groom wider?
-maybe only groom one track for classic vs two so as to provide adequate space for both?
I would say that at least 85% of skiers were classic, many first time skiers too.
Fantastic ski day!
Skogan Pass!! My fav trail! Wasn’t sure I’d see it groomed this year so I had to get out when I heard it had been track set for the first time this season.
Conditions were fabulous! No wind on the trail or at the pass (only on the highway driving out.) It stayed between -2 to -5 all day and the snow was very grippy for climbing, beautifully soft for descending without a trace of ice. The screamer was unbelievable.
It took us 3.5 hours up, skiing with my 11 year old son, and 1 hour down! We were flying on descent. So much fun!!
Best trail ever.
Sundog-Elbow-Iron Springs-Loggers-Crystal Line etc at mid-day. Overall-good to very good ski conditions.
Newer track setting came to an end about a km south on Elbow, where we encountered a broken down Snow Rabbit (apparently repaired now). The remainder of Elbow, and Iron Springs- had been packed, with a mix of what looked like older snowmobile tracksetting, and skier tracked soft conditions. A bit wobbly in spots, with caution a good idea on some of the faster downhills on those two trails due to uneven surfaces. Loggers was in very good trackset shape. It felt springlike out there, but only the most sun exposed spots were getting wet and sticky, with VR 50 working very well throughout. As we took a break along Iron Springs- one of Santa’s elves went skiing by:
Got me, Steve
…& YOU were supposed to be the ‘postcard’!
Canmore Nordic Centre: What a difference snow makes. I skied Meadowview to the end and then returned via Bow. Virtually every trail that I saw had been groomed and track set. There were a couple of notable exceptions. There was a groomed track up through the competition trails to the near end of Meadowview, but I didn’t see it and made my way over the snow hills. There were also snow guns working at the near end of Bow. Lots of guns going on the lit loop. It would have been nice to have a sign at the last intersection telling me to make my way uphill. But the snow was lovely and there were lots of smiles.
Our incidental group of 7 forged our way around Telephone loop today. It is now skier tracked all the way around. Snow was sticky with major icing problems in the morning on the east side where tree snow landed on the track due to wind. Lots of pine needles and debris on the trail on the East side. West side is quite glorious.
Thank you for breaking the trail! Must have been hard work in that deep heavy snow. We happily followed your tracks after a quick loop on Hostel. Didn’t really experience any icing issues with our Skintec skis…glorious day all around. Only saw 4 people on the Telephone portion of our ski but many more on Moose Connector, Loggers & Sundog.
Thu dec 24: bill Milne (ribbon to wedge return).
Another windy morning on the highway approaching 40. A few more cars in the ditch. Windy on bill Milne too (bob has impeccable timing). Open area between Kananaskis river bridge and golf course mostly blown in first thing in the AM. Much improved on return with more travel, but a shallow track in places. Wedge parking got plowed out while there. Valley bottom winds died down around lunch and no blowing snow on the drive home.
Bill Milne: We must have passed MaSid on the trail. The wind being the main feature for the day, Ribbon Creek to Wedge Pond was the best plan. Out of the parking lot, we found excellent tracks and grooming to the meadows. East of Kananaskis River and heading south the snow drifted tracks were skier tracked. It was cold skiing into the wind in the open meadows but relief came after passing the golf course road where we entered the trees. The wind in the trees caused a fantastic snow storm at the crossing of Hwy 40. CAUTION: Hwy 40 crossing is extremely icy. If a car came you would be like a deer in the head lights. The hills to/from Wedge Pond were well skied by those starting there. Wedge Connector was pristine and the corduroy soft for the most part. Returning with the wind at our backs was a BREEZE. -6C at 9:30 am and -1C at 2:30 pm. VR50 worked well but grabbed a bit in the drifted tracks.
Happy Holidays Everyone.
TUNNEL MOUNTAIN WINTER TRAILS – Dec 24
Another great option for trackset trails.
Details available in the photo descriptions here
Confederation Park is in good shape for both classic and skate. Nice work by the groomers. All of the trails are groomed and track set.
West Bragg Creek
I took advantage of the deep, new snow yesterday to do a ski tour on the new Boundary Horse trail at West Bragg Creek. Lovely untracked powder skiing! https://photos.app.goo.gl/EQnWXWezucAvnWCv5
The conditions are changing already. There is a strong Chinook blowing, with a wind warning for the Bragg Creek area. Temperatures this morning have been dancing around the +4 to +6C range.
Alf, the value of the WBC snow rabbit will be very evident when it comes to re-grooming the freeze-thaw-freeze snow.
Since WBC is now BCT perhaps a new name for the Snow Rabbit is in order – I like Peter but aqua toque is renowned for his moniker prowess – waddda you think Y/N or a Skier Bob Name Contest ??
So many people to thank for all their hard work!!
Thanks To All
Yeah, a contest would be in order….
THAT’S NO ORDINARY RABBIT!!!
WBC is still West Bragg Creek… that’s the Kananaskis Country trail network which is maintained by the the organization formerly known as GBCTA (now Bragg Creek Trails).
Ribbon: parking lot just got properly plowed, for those with lower clearance vehicles.
Moose loop and the Mountainviews, Road, Crystal Line etc.
Very fine skiing and weather throughout on a blue (VR 40) afternoon. We were pleasantly surprised to find everything trackset, with soft smooth conditions, other than a couple of somewhat rutted downhill corners due to the deep snow. Busy at the trailhead, but not so much once beyond the core trails, and anyway- everyone was happy and smiling to be out enjoying such a fine winter day. Same with Piper the retriever- she’s been missing out a lot while we have been skiing at PLPP.
Edworthy Park/ Bow River Calgary
If you are looking for nice flat beginner terrain, you will find it in the Edworthy Park area and along the Bow River. There were plenty of people setting tracks today. The hill in south Edworthy looked like it was pretty good and packed out significantly. With the next snow fall it should be in fine shape for advanced skiers looking for a “kick”. The trail along the railway was also tracked but hikers were taking advantage of the ski trail as well. Lots of fluffy snow to fall in. Good night skiing as the city lights light things up well. Snacks are available at the bridge at Edworthy. You can also make your way to Shag where there is groomed ski trails.
Generally lots of good skiing in Calgary now.
Looking for info on Confederation Park – any news?
I skied Confederation Park today and conditions were very good. The tracks were well formed. Tracks were a little on the soft side but that’s to be expected immediately after a big snowfall. The skate lane looked inviting, so after skiing classic for a while I went back for a loop of skate skiing. Skate conditions were also good – the trail was flat and fairly firm with nice corduroy.
The description above applies to the blue and green and purple trails. The yellow trail hadn’t had as much grooming and was pretty choppy.
I plan to go back tomorrow.
it was busy, at 1 PM, there was hardly any place to park
BOW RIVER LOOP- had intended to ski Castle Lookout to Baker Creek but both parking lots still under snow and ski trail too. Instead we drove to Lake Louise ( minus16 to 18 all day); Bow River loop is skier tracked with copious amounts of snow everywhere.
KICKING HORSE TRAIL – Dec 23
Freshly trackset and no one else around to enjoy it!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Swix Special Blue worked nicely from -12 to -6
WBC: West Crystal, Mountain et al, Moose Loop and Connector, cold at the parking area, but really warmed up quickly while on the west side with warm wind, blowing snow out of the trees, causing snowy blasts in the face. Absolutely beautiful morning, descents were fun in all the snow, some lovely dogs about, got quite busy on our return.
Maple Ridge golf course- no grooming or track setting as of 3:00pm but good skier-set tracks. Lots of skiers and snowshoers out.
Nordic Centre was great today. We started on Banff Trail, went up to Meadowview at the end of the meadow, up Cold Shoulder, back to Bow Trail, took a Grey wolf up and down, returned to the Bow Trail. All of this was amazingly groomed for the first time of the season (sometimes too soft). But the end of the Bow Trail was not finished, snow-making guns kept working, and even though it was sunny, we felt like in a backcountry in the middle of a snowstorm, with the occasional icy or watery spot. It was just about half a kilometer, but it made our trip even more interesting and fun. We returned to the Meadow on Bow Loop.
Ribbon Creek Beauty,
Jamie and I drove into the unplowed Ribbon Creek road, but luckily the groomers had sort of plowed part of the parking lot. Thank you for that! We went up immediately and did the Ribbon Loop counterclockwise (now is the time to do it, George). We met MaSid up at the bench with a view. The plentiful snow made it fun and manageable. We skied Terrace Link and crossed over to Hay Meadow. We made our way up to Troll Falls and returned via a counterclockwise loop. As someone else mentioned, there was a bit of sinking on some of the Ribbon Loop trail, but the rest was more firm. It was amazingly beautiful! The road was still not plowed when we left at 1 p.m. but we made it out okay (even though I had to back up a few hundred metres when I met oncoming traffic). What a day (again)!
Yes I suppose that it would be nice and soft now.
We were also at ribbon creek today. We opted to park at the village and take terrace to connect to the ribbon creek loop, based on the ribbon creek parking lot. We did clockwise so we could climb the black vs going down it which made for a great descent after. Agreed that the snow would sink especially in the middle groomed area but also in the tracks at times. It was absolutely beautiful! Would not recommend standing under a tree for a break with the recent snowfall!
Blueberry Hill at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park was superb! Fresh track set Tuesday night from Elk Pass Parking Lot up Elk Pass Trail and all the way to the end of Blueberry. Fox Creek also snowmobile packed and track set. Very minor snow bombs – less at higher elevations.
Thank you Groomers!!!!!!
-15C snow was a little grippy (green wax) but improved as temperature rose to -10C.
Skied Skogan Pass, Ribbon loop, and Terrace. The trail to the pass was in fantastic shape and the descent was nice and controllable. One side of one track on Ribbon loop collapsed when weighted, probably because there was so much fluffy snow underneath! Considering the amount of time the groomers put in yesterday and last night, I was more than ok with skiing on the courderoy beside the track occasionally. V40 worked well.
Similar experience on portions of ribbon loop. Some veg mixed in with the grooming down low and a few sticks, but of no consequence. Spied one body divot with a collapsing track as the culprit, almost contributed my own. Terrace/link more set up and better glide. Ventured past the grooming south on terrace loop and a portion of the snowshoe track/trail to Galatea. Gator top trail breaking on LT gear! Like rogers pass but without the turns. Bottomless pole plants without a base off track.
CNCPP 9:00 Am – 10C VR 45 a tad sticky with the sharp new snow. Sunny and a bit of west wind
Skied out Banff Trail and cut off onto Bow Tr in spite of all the 0ngoing snow making. Picked our way down and found that Bow Trail was perfectly trackset all the way to the end of the trails.
The snow making part was more like adventure skiing and not recommended.
Returned via Banff trail which has been loved to death. Tracks are well used and skating lane is a bit rough. Retuned straight through the centre of the meadow onto Coyote and Freddie’s Flip.
By the time we returned we met many skiers coming up Banff trail as it was really the only way to ski.
Caution! the return/RH track has been poorly set from the downhill start at the meadow to all the way into the stadium. It’s wobbly and has unfortunate wiggles at the most inopportune moments. It looks like the groomer was constantly shoulder checking leaving an unsafe track. I
went into the day lodge afterwards to report it.
WBC was glorious but very busy this morning with skiers, snowshoers and canines hither, dither and yon. Lot was pretty full when I arrived at 10:30 and even fuller when I got back at 12:30. I started on Mountain Road and connected with the West/East Crystal Line systems, just happy as hell to ski on all that beautiful, groomed snow.
First x country ski of the season in my local park, unbelievable amount of snow. Great warm up for the mountains!
Ribbon: parking lot unplowed at this moment! Parked at village instead (plowed). Wind blown snow and drifting at Hwy 1/40. -17C. Keep right except to pass.
Starlight ski in Fish Creek Park. There’s something to be said for being able to ski right from your doorstep (well, almost). Out my front door, I followed tire tread marks down the street and into the pathways at Fish Creek Park. Found a set of ski tracks from some gracious other skier who had kindly broken trail for me.
Skied into the sunset, and then through the long twilight. Found Jupiter low in the sky, then Saturn, and Mars. The rising half -moon was very bright, making long shadows on the snow. In the low areas, a mist formed on river and rolled onto my path. It was like skiing through a cloud. Finished the trip back through the neighbourhood streets, admiring the Christmas Lights.
By the time I exited the park, some of the paths had been cleared, but there was still plenty of deep snow in the forest and on the sides of the pathways. Of course, by tomorrow, it will all be different.
Sounds like a splendid Saturn/ Jupiter show ski. Possibly a once in a life time opportunity unless you live to ski another 20 years. There are many things to be scene at night while on skis. Glad you gave such a description for all to dig.
It is a shame that big bro ploughs the trails in Fish Creek Provincial Park as that could be some of the best night skiing in Calgary if it was left alone. To bad Mr. Kenney would not cut the ploughing there and spend the money elsewhere.
The creek on the west end of the Park looked good to ski about 5 days ago. I did not see any water on top of the ice like there often is.
The next number of nights look good for night skiers to enjoy the Saturn/ Jupiter star show. It looks like clear skies for observing. Keep and eye in the SWS sky just after dark to around 6:30 pm for Saturn and 8 pm for Jupiter at the latest as they set around that time.
West Bragg Creek
Exactly 24 hours after it started snowing at WBC, I measured 63cm at the parking lot and 71cm higher up on Telephone Ridge. That’s a lot of snow… and a lot of work to pack and groom into a firm XC ski track!
I chose to ski tour on some of the un-groomed multi-user trails and got first tracks on Whitetail, Snowshoe Hare and DemiTel. https://photos.app.goo.gl/9LSGRucxC1fSDnUR9
Well done Alf. That is prime trail breaking territory, only 40 minutes from Calgary.
Urban powder skiing!
That looks really great!
(if you don’t mind getting seeds stuck to your socks)
SPRAY RIVER WEST to the 10 km bridge – Dec 22
Excellent conditions by the time I was back!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Nice to leave the car in the driveway, and just ski to the trailhead!
That looks delicious. Do you think they will have trackset the Spray River East side overnight, so we can do the whole loop today?
Yes Tom, that was the stated plan.
Sorry for the delayed response!
After a two hour shovel of our driveway in Three Sisters, I managed to get to Nordic Centre for 10am. Parking lot was almost fully plowed out by then-awesome! Wanted to ski Banff Trail to the end and encountered snow to just below my knees once past the Meadow. I persevered for another sign or two, “when what to my wandering eyes did appear, but two awesome men, donned in snowmobile gear!” They went back and forth for about 4 trips, making my ski to the Park Boundary much easier. By the time I returned there was a pass with the Pisten Bully rolling out new corduroy! Yeah to all CNC groomers and snow makers; Santa might have to step aside when you arrive out of the blue in your sleds! -7 to -5 but got a bit of icing.
Taking some good advice, I kept the cars in the garage and headed to the local park for a ski. It turns out that a decent width car tire leaves a nice track to ski in. A little VR40 and the back alleys turned into a pretty decent ski without having to join the masses stuck in the deep snow all over Calgary. Here’s to a bright ski future with all the fresh snow! Thanks to all the groomers out there working hard.
Watridge Lake/Bryant Creek/Marvel Lake
Followed snow-covered skier-set tracks along Bryant Creek trail, then turned off at the first trail that leads towards Marvel Lake (passes BR13 campground). This section didn’t feel like it had been skied or travelled at all yet this winter. I was on skinny skis, so getting to the lake was pretty slow going. I skied on the lake around the island, then headed back. It was a lot easier now that I wasn’t breaking trail! The return to the Shark area was fast and cruisy. V40 worked the whole day, even after it started puking snow halfway through the day.
Well done Sara… now we have a new area to explore… and you broke the trail!
CASCADE VALLEY to STONEY CREEK WARDEN CABIN – Dec 21
I would say FAIR conditions for the first 7 km, and GOOD conditions for the last 7 kms.
There is a lot more snow in that last 7 km (with the higher elevation).
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Nice not to have to drive further west, and oh yes, VR 45 kick wax worked perfectly at -5.
FAIRVIEW- MORRAINE LAKE ROAD: buckets of snow everywhere! Mostly skier tracked because of snowfall on existing tracks. We skied Fairview onto Morraine Lake road to the lookout and return. Blue wax worked well all day. Starting to snow by the time we started back after 12. Departed the Lake Louise parking lot at 230 pm.
Pipestone Blue #20 starting in -7 at 10 am. (“recommended counter-clockwise” might be helpful to add on the big map in parking lot). Every trail except down to Mud Lake and Drummond had amazing fresh grooming as we skied by, which likely got done later. Very few people overall, likely due to storm warnings. Couch had at least one customer.
Groomers were out today roller packing. Meadowview, Rundle, banff trail and Bow Valley all were packed this afternoon. The snow is very soft but it should firm up overnight before the next round of snow.
Still a few rocks and twigs but significantly better than 2 days ago.
We stuck with an existing plan to go to Mt. Shark, based on early week grooming news. All evidence of previous grooming has been obliterated by the first round of new snow – woohoo! We headed straight to Watridge Lake on excellent skier set track. There is (of course) great coverage everywhere from the 6″+ new snow and we hacked our way up to Karst Springs. About 30 cars in the parking lot when we left at ~2pm – we appreciated the great job that snowshoers and skiers were doing staying out of each other’s tracks. Also, many happy puppies (including ours), all on leash. By the time we got back, there were a couple of tracks heading out onto the first couple of loops but Shark may remain a backcountry experience for a few days!
An amazing skier trackset is on whiskey jack! (started at boulton). Last nights snowfall brought about 12 cm to Peter Lougheed, but since it was reported as track set last night, there were a lot of skiers on the trail! Wooo. The snow has been skier packed on hills and it is in great shape (aka not terrifying going down). Went up to lookout as well (which had a decent skier trackset – but not packed which made the black decent interesting).
It’s -4 degrees C and 12 cm of snow has accumulated at the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre. Highway 40 is one lane and has not been plowed recently. Not currently snowing in PLPP.
Hwy 1 icy approaching Kananaskis turn off. 1 accident east of there. Ramp to 40 very icy too. 2 inches of fresh at barrier info, 3 inches at ribbon and puking snow at -0.5 degrees.
We skied Great Divide (Old 1A) yesterday (Saturday). Started out at noon and the trail had been groomed and dual track set. Great snow conditions (sorry – ski on waxless so no wax report). Not too busy with room in the parking lot at the Lake Louise end.
Our group skied the Tyrwhiit loop clockwise today, finding very enjoyable skiing and plenty of sunshine. To change things up we went over the “power line hump” instead of Fox Creek, and finished on Boulton Creek after an exhilarating descent on the big Elk Pass hill. Boulton Creek was decent and fun, but could use a refreshing to soften things up on the hills and cover the needles. Inexplicably-it seemed to be the trail of choice for a bunch of obvious novices this afternoon, despite it no longer being a green trail after the 2013 flood reworking. Boulton Bridge parking was full to overflowing on our return- a rough survey showed about 70% of the vehicles there had “seasons passes”.
The middle PLPP trails, starting from Elkwood provided pretty good early season ski conditions. The Elkwood parking lot was relatively quiet… about half full. The big treat was seeing that Wheeler was recently track-set and had good snow coverage, albeit with some pine needles blown by the overnight winds. I love Wheeler, for the views and sunlight, as it follows the escarpment edge. Packers was actually pretty good for going uphill, but still not recommended as a downhill run. It still has too many rough, bumpy bits and a number of surprise icy areas just where you would want to be slowing down. Pocaterra was smooth and fairly fast, but not track-set yet. Lynx was OK, although it could use a shave with a brush mower. Woolley and the meadow-less “Meadow” trail were in decent groomed-only condition. There was virtually no wind on these trails and temperatures were comfortable. The next snowfall will cover the needles and should provide enough snow to allow all of these trails to get track set. https://photos.app.goo.gl/PwrxktKtxyeqqtHZ9
PLPP. Elkwood Wheeler Morraine Bolton Creek retun, the latter two not trackset. Lots of needles and debris. Need fresh snow to cover. Temps comfortable despite gusty winds.
Bow River trail at Lake Louise was wonderful this afternoon! Great kick with Rode Violet, and even greater glide, on cold snow at only a few degrees below freezing. Such a treat to be out in December in such all-around excellent conditions!
Baker Creek to 2 km east of Castle Lookout parking.
The trail is decent. You will not wreck your skis but it is a bit twiggy especially the eastern end. There is a still a short section just east of the Protection Mountain campground entrance (closed) that has not been trackset due to a couple of small creeks that would likely be difficult for the grooming machinery to cross at this time. That section is skier tracked though and passable. There is a small ice flow developing between the two little hills. Today it was still possible to get through by staying close to the railroad edge of the trail.
Peter Lougheed PP:
Busy trails from Elk Pass Parking today. -3C at 9:45 am and 0C at 2:30 pm. Some used waxless (fish scales and skin) and some VR45 wax which worked well for the snow conditions and temperature. Skied up Fox Creek to check the recent grooming – improved but not a fun ride down yet. Elk Pass trail was very good with minor amounts of tree debris. Blueberry, groomed last night, was also very good but had more tree debris as the elevation increased – no doubt windier higher up. Lunch at Blueberry table required down armour to protect against a steady cold wind. The quick ski down was a just reward for the long climb up. Blueberry Junction to Elk Pass proper also had increasing tree debris at the higher we climbed. Hydroline to Patterson tracks were partially filled with wind-blown slow snow. Skiing new corduroy was the answer for a quicker ride. The cold wind in our faces persuaded us to descend Patterson which was fast with minor amounts of debris but many small bumps which may have been mini snow bombs. Returned to Elk Pass parking over the big hill. Skiers going south across the big hill tomorrow morning will find the south side well scraped and exciting.
We saw many families out today. Kudos to those parents who ski with their kids.
We skied Tramline, Moraine Lake Road, Fairview today. Great snow. Some debris on the track on Fairview, but not a concern. Not very busy.
Kananaskis Lookout via Hwy 40 and the “Back Door”
Tired of Whiskyjack, Tyrwhit, Elk Pass and Blueberry? Too cheap to support Nordiq Alberta parking/grooming? Why not try the above?
Three Rocky Mtn Ramblers elected to park at the north gate of the Highwood Pass road closure, follow the hwy 9 km to the “Back Door”, then connect with the Pocaterra and Lookout trails to the fire lookout.
At our moderate “Rambler Shuffle” pace we were 3 hours up, 1 3/4 down, covering 26.5 km with total ascent of about 550m.
The long ski on the highway (most of which was the maintained Lionel trail a few decades ago) was remarkably easy today. There is only about 10 cm of settled snow on the road, and a four-track truck had packed down what served us as a track.
One of us was on conventional track skis, one on skinny steel edged skis, one on light tele gear. The lighter gear was fine today, later in the season if trail-breaking is required, something heavier would work better.
It was pretty overcast in the morning, but we always had a sucker hole to target and it was beautiful by the time we got to the Pocaterra trail.
We hadn’t done this before or even heard of it as an option. I expect to repeat it annually (at least).
PS We all have Nordiq Alberta passes
Probably ok for early season access as there’s not too much snow built-up above, but later in the season you end up crossing a potential avalanche path about 5+km in along the road. In other years I have also snowshoed along there for the views but not too far just in case something weird happens. In today’s covid world may be prudent to be selective and conservative in route selection ie. Skiing Pocaterra if possible. I believe walkers, runners, snowshoers, chariot pulks may use the closed road portion as it’s viewed as a multiuser trail. Think it’s called Wintour aka winter tour?!
Didn’t notice the avi slope, but will look next time. Might be why Lionel was decommissioned .
The name Wintour comes from the mountain to the east of the hwy, between King Creek Ridge and Gap Mountain. It’s name is from a WWI navy commander John Wintour (thanks Wikipedia).
Peter Lougheed (-2C at Boulton Creek parking lot @ 9:30am)
I skied my favourite route: Boulton Creek, Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, Elk Pass, Hydroline, Lookout, Whiskey Jack.
Swix v45 violet special worked well and although I started skiing under cloudy skies, the weather improved quickly and it was overall a beautiful blue skies day.
The lower parts of the trails have a fair bit of needles and with the strong winds there is quite a lot of debris on the trails.
The descents from Blueberry, Lookout and Whiskey Jack were fast and one needs to be careful as I encountered a few people struggling / falling on the downhills.
Upon my return, the parking lot was full!
I guess Carole / family followed a similar route as we met on Blueberry, Elk Pass and was going to the Lookout…
Mt. Shark today: We arrived at the trailhead at -3C, wind gusts and fresh snow that covered any previous tracksetting. We came prepared with different types of skis, so decided to skate ski. We skied most of the 15km loop, omitting the first section with the big uphills. The snow depth varied from 3cm to 10cm of light powder on a good base. Only saw one other skier track on the 15km, but more skiers/walkers on the Watridge Lake Trail. The uphills were hard work, the downhills fun powder skiing, especially for my daughter who used to race with Canmore Nordic. I was reminded “not to snowplow!”.
When we returned to our car we saw parking pass pamphlets on other car windshields.
Can’t expect grooming on a daily basis, but appreciate all the work the groomers do, so we can enjoy fast tracks on another trip.
WATRIDGE / UPPER SPRAY RIVER
Afternoon ski/night Friday
Backcountry ski campers take note below- re: high camping costs
The trail to the Spray River Bridge is in generally excellent condition with shallow tracksets. All lot of the trackset has been wiped out by snowshoers, skate skiers and blowing snow for a couple of kilometers within the Watridge Lake junction.
I rebroke the upper Spray River trail a couple of kilometers or so past Whiteman Creek bridge. I made it over the big long hill and then dark 30 hit. Travel conditions are generally very good on my previous ski tracks from several weeks back. Variable ski penetration was averaging about boot top. A little more in some places and less in other places. The ski penetration was getting a little deeper the further up the valley I went. Very nice winter ski conditions. Generally moderate speed and difficulty trail breaking travel. Just a few stumps or roots in a couple of areas.
As I was skiing in today, I started to wonder if people going into the back country of Banff National Park or Assiniboine Park would be expected to pay to ski or walk the short 5 km section of the Watridge Trail, particularly if they are back country skiing or camping overnight. Think about this, if people are going camping back there, they may have to pay for a day pass to ski or walk on the Watridge Trail and another day pass skiing or walking out. That would add $20 dollars to the cost of camping in Banff which already charges $10 for camping overnight plus a $13.50 telephone registration fee, thanks to Trudeau. That means your overnight trip in this area could cost $43.50 which is potentially federal and provincial government stupid absurdity if people are expected to pay to use the Watridge Trail.
I personally would suggest people do not pay the “Shark UCP” fee to ski the short portion of the Watridge Trail if they are heading into Banff or Assiniboine from the Shark Parking lot as this backcountry trail system existed before the tracksetting began on the Watridge Trail. If the government thinks backcountry skiers should pay the government $10 dollars to ski 5 kilometers of the Watridge trail, the government should think twice about taxing outdoors people like a bunch of greedy pigs.
So this parking program is voluntary. You are not required to pay the $10/day $50/season access fee.
In fact the Nordiq AB FAQ page addresses alpine touring/backcountry skiers.
While I appreciate your trip reports I suggest the the last 1/2 of your report should be on the ask a question page.
I agree Hugh – while I enjoy MAD’s trip reports his political BS is really way off the mark and actually an insult to readers of this site who are here for the love of XC.
I shall never give skiing politics a rest as long as the wasteful undemocratic governments are sticking it to the people with their bad corrupt waxing jobs.
If you don’t like what is written, just democratically ski on by to the next post so you don’t blow out a basket or edge which could lead to a head problem crash.
If we do not look after our skiing politics our skiing politics will not look after us.
Canmore nordic center had packed meadowview, rundle, bruin, Banff trail and a few other high up trails. Meadowview was very good rock skiing the whole way. Even the down hill at the west end. Rundle was mostly okay except a few rocky downhills. 5 or 10 cm of new snow will make the natural trail in okay shape.
WBC: West Crystal-Loggers-East Crystal. Classic, on rock skis and VR50. I had to drive out that way in the late afternoon anyhow, so why not get in a short ski before sunset? Conditions ranged from marginal to poor to fair, with some track setting, and lots of hazards to practice quick footwork on by dancing around them. Lots of walker foot pits too, but given the conditions they were not really much of an issue. The snow was firm and enjoyably fast, but edgeable enough for good control. It was heartening to see how much of the base remains. Would I recommend driving out right now just to ski? Not really. Did I have a good time? Absolutely! Fingers crossed for an early xmas present- you know what I want, Santa.
Skied from Castle Mt lookout to Protection Mt. beautiful ski and certainly not an intermediate trail. Very beginner friendly. We skipped the first hill by just walking down to the road and accessing the trail when it crosses the highway.
The trail was freshly trackset today. Still early season conditions so watch for the rocks. They’re big so you can’t miss them. Still, excellent conditions given that there’s no snow around the town of Banff.
Fri dec 18: west elk/Patterson/blueberry meadows.
A grand meadow tour (everything but east east pass) and couch maintenance day with cheeky and Simona (proprietors of the fork ‘n meadow couch, which had a back rest added today). About 2 or 3 inches of the new stuff in the track at west elk. Nice silky fast glide througb the meadows to the hydroline and back. Took a walk up the hydroline for a Half km, only to discover the plowed road pushed right up against the Forrest further up, so back we went. The plowed road may look tempting with the fresh snow, but don’t do it (sharks). On return we ventured along Elkan creek to the end of the meadow and the start of the steeper descent, with no intention of going further. Up to elk pass after that and down the Patterson meadow (somebody had taken the route today or yesterday, so its in good shape now too). We were enjoying the day enough to go back through the blueberry meadows for a final loop past couch HQ. Less travel in the blueberry meadows than west elk, so a bit of sticky moist snow. West elk track was not. Pocaterra hut was still open when we went home with no sign of closing, so glad we stopped in for a final visit of the year (and that we didn’t leave anything behind!). Beware of the coyote cruising the lakes trail at dusk. Seen him a couple times now.
I liked the new back rest. Your couches were pretty crowded today. The fork ‘n meadow was a pleasant alternative.
Bolton / couch / Elk Pass / Lookout S to N / Whiskey Jack
Good snow conditions even on Bolton. I did check out the hydroline into BC to see how close to the border the logging is. I skied about 1/2 km towards Elk Lakes to where I could see down the hill. I could not see the messed up part of the trail that I encountered a couple of days ago skiing to the hydroline from the couch. It would seem that the logging extends about a kilometre or less uphill from that junction. The descent from the lookout heading north is in pretty good shape. Take care on the upper bend of the s turn on that route. It is a bit gouged out due to skier traffic. The lower turn is fine. The descent on the south side was in better shape as few people go down that way due to the steepness.
REDEARTH CREEK- A fresh dusting of snow when we started out from the parking lot using purple blue wax, which worked perfectly for us all day. The snow does get better beyond the first km, but the first km is definitely skiable. Lovely day with abundant snow on the trees and shrubs all the way to the Shadow Lake junction. Had lunch on the bench at 10.5 km junction. The downhills on the way back were fun, even with a few small intermittent bumps. Spied some lynx tracks on the km before the junction. Only saw one other skier and one walker. Nice intermittent views all the way.
Went to Lake Louise this morning. -6C at start and -3C by 2pm. Started at Tramline then up Moraine Lake Road to Fairview and then back down Tramline. Great conditions. Fresh set tracks. Blue wax worked perfectly.
Great Divide, Lake Louise to Lake Ohara and back
Was slower than usual on my waxless skis but still had a great run and there is so much snow… Track-setting was in progress while I was there, and there was a gentleman helping people park/pull out when I left, which is a great service as that parking lot is a bit … open to interpretation. Was reflecting on how skate skiers manage to occasionally slip over the line into the classic lanes when I stumbled across 4 people on snowshoes who were literally ripping up the gorgeous, fresh track-set path for the skate skiers. I then looked at the brand new signs that were installed just today, and snow-shoes are fair game between the classic lanes, so there it is. I did pass a person on a fat bike in the dog sled lane – first time for everything…
Castle Junction to Castle Lookout (and a bit beyond).
Dec 17 –Rarely do I ski the section from Castle Junction to Castle Lookout and now I remember why! The Parks Canada Winter trail lists list this trail Easy (Green) and the Castle Lookout to Projection Mountain as More Difficult (Blue). I think who ever rated these trails got them backwards. The “green trail” is very entertaining but far from green in my opinion. Although I got a kick out of the steep downhill with the hairpin at the bottom, the side slope tracks and the rock and roll mini descents, most people I spoke to on the trail were surprised to hear that the section west of Castle was far more enjoyable.
Unless you are looking for a bit of an adventure, do yourself a favour and start at Castle Lookout.
(On a positive note thank you to the staff at Castle Mountain that do a fine job grooming the trails along this section of the Bow Valley Parkway)
GREAT DIVIDE, UPPER TELEMARK, LAKE LOUISE LOOP, PEYTO, and LOWER TELEMARK – Dec 18
Excellent conditions with tracksetting in progress, and you’ll want to see this… Bob on a Fat Bike!
Details as always in the photo descriptions here:
It doesn’t get any better… cold snow and mild temperatures (-5)
Thanks for the amazing pictures! As both a XC skier and fatbiker, I’ve been curious about fatbiking the Great Divide, so really appreciate that, and nice to see the new signage. We were XC skiing out there earlier this month during a weekday, but did not see any fatbikers at that time.
My Shark. Great skiing this AM. -4C 9:30- -2C 12:000. Fresh grooming and track setting on most of the trails.
What a treat! First skiers on the trails. We cobbled together a route along part of the 10K out onto the green 15. The 15k green wasnt groomed but skied beautifully. Ski top penetration to almost boot bottom penetration. There was more snow on the west end of the loop. It was windy but we missed most of it by skiing the trails. What a blast being able to rip full speed down the hills and round corners on the corduroy. Watrdrige Lake trail was OK. Wind slammed with the tracks being filled with snow.
Parking lot had 10 cars on our return with 3 showing parking passes.
Good morning – fresh dusting of snow at the discovery centre in Peter Lougheed PP. It is -5 degrees and overcast.
PLPP. Ring around the middle. Arrived 9:30 (ish) am. -2°C . It was a misty-mountain sort of day, with light snow falling and mountains that looked like ghosts in the mist. Beautiful long corridors of snow-topped evergreens. The landscape almost had a black-and white look to it, like a faded old-fashioned postcard.
Counter-clockwise loop starting from Elkwood. Wheeler to Whiskey Jack (I swear it gets taller every season!). A lovely long gradual descent northbound along Pocaterra, then cut back along Lynx and Amos trails back to my starting point. Wheeler was track-set to the Boulton Creek parking lot.
Whiskey-Jack was groomed and track-set. Pocaterra from Whiskey-Jack junction to Packers was track-set, then transitioned to roller-packed with skier-set tracks. Lynx was likewise roller-packed with a few skier tracks. Some twigs were poking up through the snow along the trail in places. Snow base was thicker at the south end and thinner on the north trails, but with the grooming, it was more than adequate for an excellent day’s ski.
As a side-note, some deer and a fox crossed the highway on my outbound trip. Be careful of wildlife and drive safely.
Moraine Lake Road (-5C at 11:30am)
V. light snow all day, temps were warm, the snow was a bit slow and humid. The grooming from Wednesday has partially filled in – perhaps 3-4cm received by Thursday morning. The classic tracks have been cleared now by skiers but they’re not as well set as they must have been after the last tracksetting pass. The skate lane is “fresh” with the Wed/Thurs snowfall.
Wonderful ski today. About 1cm of fresh snow on yesterday’s tracksetting gave us quiet conditions with decent control on all except a couple of the steepest downhill sections. We skied Pipestone counterclockwise, stopping at the north end by the river for a snack, and then at Ma Sid’s great couch by Pipestone Pond for lunch. After lunch, we skied Merlin up and down, and then some of Drummond, before return to the parking lot via Hector. A few twigs poking up here and there, but generally great conditions. Nice to meet Fran and Carol several times, and share stories with them. -4C at our 10am start; and -1C at the 2pm finish. No wind! Marvelous snow laden trees.
PLPP – Boulton Creek parking lot (-2C at 9:30am)
We skied Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Hydroline, Lookout, Pocaterra, Lynx, Amos, Wheeler.
The trails are in great shape, the only area that is quite thin (although enough snow to have a pleasant ski, with a few twigs but no rocks) is Pocaterra after Packers’ junction, Lynx and Amos.
Swix Blue V40 worked well, the snow was a bit sticky and provided a great grip to go to the lookout. It was nice to meet Carole for her birthday!
Thank you, Jean-Francois and everyone else who helped me celebrate a big birthday today. Jamie and I skied Moraine, Fox Creek, visited the couch, then Elk Pass, down to the Packers junction. We went back up and skied down my favourite via Whiskey Jack. The stickiness in the morning turned to great glide in the afternoon. There were lots of smiles on the trails, and snow on the trees.
West Bragg Creek-Bring the Rock Skis!! Headed out today knowing the conditions at West Bragg wouldn’t be as good as further afield but love the proximity to the city. We started our skate ski up Mountain road. Pleasantly surprised at the coverage-although definitely thin. Skied up to the cattle gate no problem. Went beyond for about 50m but started to really scrape up the skis and lots of patchy rocky areas. Headed back along Moose connector which we would describe as sketchy but doable. From there skied right up the hill of West Crystal Line-good coverage. As we descended West Crystal Line towards Sundog coverage became very patchy with lots of protruding rocks and grasses. Skied up Sundog’s steep side and we were very happy we weren’t coming down that way. Snow coverage was okay and our slow climb made it easy to dodge obstacles. East Crystal Line we thought has better coverage than West. To summarize-marginal snow conditions right now, classic on wax would be really tough with all the grass and debris. Skating is okay but be prepared for the potential of lots of scrapes on the bottoms. We plan to wait for more snow before we go back again. The Groomers have done an incredible job keeping this small amount of snow going (thank you!) but it will be great when West Bragg gets another good dump.
Did Great Divide yesterday, excellent conditions not many cars to start, but the parking lot was full by the time we finished and we saw some Olympians.
RED EARTH CREEK- SHADOW LAKE LODGE
Generally excellent snowmobile packed ski conditions right to the lodge. Excellent firm base with a little new snow on top. There are at least 2 rain crust layers that make a great base. Better than normal for this time of year.
The trail to Shadow Lake has been widened. I only saw a couple of rocks on this section of the trail. This section of the trail has also been snowmobile packed.
Travel conditions are generally relatively easy off trial up by the lodge. Ski penetration is a little above the ankle. The rain crusts make for good travel conditions.
-4c up at the Lodge at dark 30, partly cloud with a few light snow flurries coming down.
Busted a pole above the basket about 2km from the parking lot on the way in. This slowed me down but was not nearly as bad as what I had initially expected.
With about 7 cm of new snow, the trail can be trackset and that will make for great skiing.
All logs have been removed off the trail so cruising on the skis is fairly fast.
PLPP from Boulton Bridge: snow temp about -1C at noon, fresh light dusting rather sticky at times, picked up some pretty high “heels” going uphill using Swix VR45.
Packers – Pocaterra – Whiskey Jack loop was good fun and pretty quiet.
Lower Packers very good, but I would not ski down the upper section with all the moguls, ice flows, etc! Pocaterra was fine, and the run down Whiskey Jack was super sweet!
PLPP: Boulton Bridge parking, Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, lunch at couch hq, meadow to hydroline and back, Elk Pass, Boulton Creek.
Terrific day of skiing and conversing with skiers, met gh and MaSid in the meadows. The meadows are so beautiful and have a great track. Boulton Creek is much improved from last week, fun to ski.
Wed dec 16: west elk pass and Patterson meadows.
Checked out fox creek on the way in. Groomed but not track set, yet. Groomer informed me that the device bob referenced the other day is call a “drag renovator”. Churns up the snow, redistributes it and leaves a combed finish. ‘Twas a jolly good meadow time today. Cloudy, but mild and very little wind in the west elk meadows. The meadow track to hydroline is in excellent shape with improved pole plants given all the recent travel. Out and back is best currently with the logging that has now reached the hydroline exit point. Couch was busy so went to the alternate “fork ‘n meadow” pub for lunch (AKA the lunch log, BYO, no vending). Travel along the hydroline either to the hut or back up to elk pass has been compromised by a deeply plowed logging access road, and possibly more. Perhaps GH went up the hydroline? It was nice chatting with all the happy meadow people. Went to elk pass via normal groomed trail, then broke trail northwards through the Patterson meadow (boot top with LT gear). It pops out about half way down Patterson trail. Snow was a bit moist near the parking lot with temps around zero back at the car.
I finally encountered MaSid on a ski tour today (in the Meadows about half way between the couch and the hydroline. My intent was to ski back up the hydroline. Since my last trip along that route (November 25) the logging has extended from MaSid’s route intersecting the hydroline upwards towards the Alberta border. There is a plowed (down to the ground) road quite close to where the back country route encounters the hydroline. There is not a lot of space to ski anymore as the road at that point is on the west side of the hydroline right of way. There was a track heading up (and down) and I tried for a few metres but it was pretty soft as not many people have tried that, and prospect of that kind of terrain all the way up the hill was not particularly appealing. I could hear the logging equipment. I elected to return back through the meadows, a much more pleasant alternative. I checked out (again) the alternate route from the couch to BlueBerry trail. There has been a fair bit of traffic on that route so it is well defined now.
FAIRVIEW and the MORAINE LAKE ROAD – Dec 16
Excellent conditions and not many people today, just locals.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Forgot my camera, so my Flip Phone had to step up!
Thanks to Bruce of course, and anyone else who did some packing! More Louise couch options coming soon.
Flip phone??? Did you get that from Alaric when he upgraded to a Blackberry?
Good to meet you there today, Chuck.
Needless to say… my Flip phone failed the Eyeopener Challenge, but I had the joy of meeting David and Kim.
Pipestone was very good again today – visited the couch- Thanks MaSid.
Castle lookout to campground! Gorgeous bit of snow in tracks but amazing trackset ! 9:15am no other cars in parking lot
Pipestone – entire network
Snow conditions were quite good today. The parking lot filled up around 1100. There are only a few twigs sticking up here and there but they do not really present any problems. The big hill on the western part of Pipestone is getting pretty rutted and bumpy due to a number of craters. Coming down that was a bit more thrilling than I had wished for. Other than that, the other sustained downhill sections in the network are fine. I found the couch… Thanks MaSid. I also did a fair bit of packing at last year’s location in case a couch needs to make an appearance there as well.
Thanks GH!! Much appreciated
You are welcome. One of these days I will run into you again.
Skied the Watridge Lake trail starting at about 0930 this morning. Temp was -10. I continued on to about 1 km beyond the BR9 Campground, about 22 km round trip. It snowed pretty well continuously the whole time I was there (about 6 hrs). Watridge trail is in good condition, but with the snow and 40-50 km/hr winds any open spots (i.e. most of it) is getting covered over pretty quickly. Whoever’s out first thing tomorrow will be breaking trail through driven snow. Trails in the trees are great, with only 2 to 4 cm of fresh snow on them.
The Bryant Creek trail is in good condition, though with a fair number of downed trees, as someone else pointed out.
Tue dec 15: lower tramline/Fairview/bow river loop.
Snowed lightly all day basically from castle junction west. 1cm of fresh in the tracks and -8 at the lower tramline lot. The fresh made for good uphill grip and a nice silky glide. Construction of the ice castle on the lake started this morning. The ice arrives wrapped in cardboard, manufactured elsewhere. Interesting to watch. Fairview couch underway with some preliminary packing. Maybe two inches fell on Fairview during my out and back. Tracks in good shape throughout, except the usual early season thin cover along the north side of bow loop where single track by the river (western end).
ELK PASS MEADOWS: Excellent snow conditions this morning as some snow was lightly falling all day. We skied through the meadows to the hydroline and then returned on same track. Noticed the 3 couches! Lovely and quiet.
Skied to Shadow Lake via Redearth. -7 at 9am, snowed lightly for half the day. Trail all the way to Shadow Lodge is snowmobile packed. I would describe the snow in the first 4ish kms as “adequate”, but the snow depth improves as you go. The hill after the junction at 10kms would be difficult to ascend without skins as the trail is pretty narrow for herringboning. Otherwise great morning out!
Skier Bob Special – in reverse- We parked at Boulton Campground at -5C today and began with Moraine and Fox (both in need of more snow, but decent skier tracked sections at times) and up to the Elk Pass Trail. Great to see Dale, Mike and Lois there. The Elk Pass Trail from Hydroline Jct. to Patterson Jct. is one of the prettiest stretches in PLPP and did not disappoint today. We lunched beside the Tyrwhitt picnic table, as it was a very busy spot, and I guess we did not get our reservation in on time! Then Tyrwhitt was a skier’s delight, with good tracks and ragged drifts of old man’s beard draping the evergreens. We finished by skiing down Whiskeyjack (why would you ever go UP when you can fly down?). The S-bend was nice, with just a bit of hard-pack on the lower section. And then who should we meet just starting up Whiskeyjack but Skier Bob! We finished back at the parking lot at -3C. – very pleasant temperatures and wonderful day.
Pipestone Outer Blue circuit: switched to green to visit the Couch (thank you Martin, Cheeky and Simona!!) and Merlin up and back, then down Hector. -9 at 9:30 am and -4 to finish. A few dogs out having a great time with their owners, and parking lot full on my return at 1pm with maybe 5 cars on the road. A couple of cars appear to want to park where the groomers must enter at the “Green” gate. It would be helpful if everyone parallel parked in the main lot, so to allow more cars to get in. Cars do not need to “socially distance”, especially when a lot is so small and popular. Thank you Parks for keeping it cleared of snow so well. Snowed lightly all day. Tracks perfect!
Parked at Boulton bridge parking lot (-5C @ 9:30am). We skied Boulton creek, Fox creek, Blueberry, Elk pass, Hydroline, Fox creek and Moraine.
There was a skiff of new snow on top of the tracks, providing a great grip with Swix V40 blue. Overall great conditions on the trails, Blueberry was the highlight of the day. It was a pleasure to meet the Evergreen gang (Greg, Peter, Ann and Chris) and 2 groups of ramblers at Elk pass.
14 Dec 2020, Great Divide
My favourite trail right now. The snow was fresh and the tracks were not fresh, but still very visible and in good shape. Dog sleds are running. Loads of cars in the parking lot when I left at 1pm. Thanks for the update on Confederation. Nice to know there is an option in YYC.
PLPP outside loop: up Pocaterra from hut via Tyrwhitt to blueberry summit then return down the west leg and eventually via Lodgepole/Sinclair etc back to hut —lower trails rolled but decent coverage and very skiable. Note construction closure on last dh and cut across to Pocaterra hut, however, skier set tracks on access rd berm is ok. Also note that skier set tracks on FoxCk and Moraine were excellent and very forgiving compared to only snowmobile packing that section —hope parks leaves until AFTER next big snowfall. Overall quiet typical winter wonderland day in the most scenic xcSki network this side of the Rockies.
Dec 14 West Bragg Creek (WBC)
Took my rock skate skis for an afternoon spin again. -6C, sunny, light wind. Shallow snowpack with periodic hazards above and lurking below the surface. Based on the West Bragg Creek Groomers Report, I thought I’d check out Moose Connector, Moose Loop, and Mountain View, all of which were just groomed. Moose Connector was in reasonable shape, but after about 750m on Moose Loop (clockwise), I turned around because there were too many rocks and bare spots. I tried removing several rocks and sticks from the trail but was largely unsuccessful due to being followed by a dog who insisted on fetching and returning them to me!
I continued up Mountain Road as far as the Mountain View West junction. It was all in reasonable shape, although the most recent grooming ended at the cattle grid about 1km before the junction. Beyond the cattle grid, I was treated to 2cm of dry fluffy powder and had some amazing face shots downhill on my return! I returned along Mountain Road and Moose Connector to the West Crystal / Mountain View junction. The start of Mountain View looked promising, but after 400m I again turned around due to deteriorating conditions. I headed up West Crystal and Loggers. The steep hills at the start were OK to climb, but descending on skis would not be recommended due to rocks, etc. Loggers was machine double-trackset, but you had to get to the higher elevations of the trail to find snow at the bottom of the track instead of grass, dirt, and rocks. It was best to ski in the middle of the trail. Because of the tracksetting, most of Loggers is now too narrow to skate, so I had to resort to double-poling and classic technique. Returned to the parking lot via East Crystal.
From the trail junctions, it looked like Iron Springs and Elbow were in reasonable condition for classic skiing on skier trackset, and West Crystal for skating or classic. But overall, I’d use rock skis if you have them. The snow is much better at Peter Lougheed, but you can’t skate there and it’s twice as far to drive!
This morning I tackled West Crystal (north side) out of the parking lot, Loggers to the far east end, down East Crystal, continued on West Crystal (south side), Moose connector, and mountain road. Overall conditions were better than I expected, and certainly the higher you go the better the snow and tracksetting. That said definitely a rock ski day combined with being quick on getting in/out of tracks plus nimble with strong observation skills required!! (think: twigs and “land sharks”) The upper part of Loggers had for-the-most-part ok enough tracks as did descending East Crystal. It was just nice to get out, hardly saw anyone, and good for a change from the home office/cave. Glad I haven’t sold my rock skiis… Honestly even a 5cm snow refresh would do wonders, but really they need a solid 15-20cm to totally cover and make it all top notch.
Tally Ho from Field Info Centre. An over-abundance of washroom facilities there: too bad they could not move a few toilets to Pipestone area. We delighted in 9 cms of super-light airy powder all the way (4.2 kms) to Natural Bridge. Walked down final hill at Natural Bridge and skied to last junction on Kicking Horse Trail. Saw 9 people all day enjoying these superb conditions. Descending back down Tally Ho, we each took a spill, me head first into the powder. We laughed about it rest of the way to the car. Started in -15 and likely warmed to -9. Looks like more snow on the way this week.
If you are unable to head out of town, Confederation GC is skiable – with rock skis.
The driving range is groomed for skating with four 200 M tracks. The rest of the course has man made tracks comprised of a few CM snow, bits of grass, some twigs and the odd rock.
There were 6-8 others skiers out while I was there the past few days.
Don’t forget your rock skis!
Packers ‘up’ only!
Did some ‘laps’ in the south end of PLPP today: testing equipment, etc. Most of the double trackset trail was quite good (Whiskey, Poca, Tyrwh, Elk pass). Fox/Moraine was spicy but fun. However, I would recommend NOT descending Packers until it gets at least 6cm of snow and a groom. The cool kids would refer to it as ‘SKETCH’! I went up it early aft and there are numerous(!) icy sections, lots of thin spots and 30-50% of it was quite rough. If you don’t heed this warning, I hope you possess: tremendous control, a rock solid ‘stop’ & a sense of humour to walk the ugly sections.
Play safe out there!
Dec 13: (Lake Louise) Skied Tramline, Moraine Lake Road, Fairview, Lake Louise Loop, Peyto, Upper and Lower Telemark, and some of Great Divide. Ate a lot of cookies. 🙂 All were in beautiful condition, and skiing across the lake was magical! Green Swix grip wax did the trick, the temp ranged from -18 to -11.
Dec 14: (CNC) The open section of the Banff trail was in good shape for classic, but as Mike said, the skate lane was pretty chewed up from machinery. Frozen thunder is still fine as well. And there’s a new little loop groomed and trackset below the penalty loop area.
CNC – Dec 14
For what it’s worth, Frozen Thunder is in good condition but it could use some fresh snow and a grooming after that. The old base is easily detected. For Banff Trail, the portion that’s now open to the base of the hill -before- the Mine Scar was a bit beaten up in the skate track but the classic tracks looked decent and had lots of traffic early this afternoon. The snow guns were running hard on the inner trail system above and below the grid and Banff Trail.
CASTLE LOOKOUT to PROTECTION CAMPGROUND – Dec 14
Trackset, but ends just before Protection Campground!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
This completes my day!
That snow looks really good! Has it snowed since we were there on Friday?
I don’t know when it snowed last, but the people I met were very happy with the ski conditions. Of course there are hazards this early in the season, but with the tracksetting, they are really easy to see and avoid!
BAKER CREEK to PROTECTION CAMPGROUND – Dec 14
Trackset, but ends just before the campground.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
See next report for further east
That is interesting! We did not cross the road, of course; did you find our tracks around the campground?
I was impressed by all the signs the groomer put up! Was the detour to the road at the open creek still signed? I wondered if it was lack of snow, or did he miss the bridge upstream?
Yes Diana, as seen from my map and the photo of the picnic table, I did the loop around the campground. I think the signs were put up FOR the new grooming staff, not for us!
Two of us were volunteering at Pocaterra Parking Lot on Sunday to inform people about park passes and were impressed by the support and kindness that people showed. We were even offered beer (which we did not accept) and chocolates (which we did accept) . Thanks to Ken Hewitt and others for spearheading the program to groom ski trails.
I took my kid out to West Bragg Creek to ski this afternoon so I could see for myself what the trails were like there.
The verdict: the trail crew is amazing and has done wonders with the little snow they have, but I really can not recommend skiing here until we get more snow.
It is certainly better for skate skiing but the tracks on Sun Dog and Loggers were full of rocks, twigs, grass, and roots. Not ideal and certainly not beginner friendly! The hills were very challenging too as you flew down the hard packed snow dodging rocks.
If you’re desperate for a short ski near Calgary bring your rock skis.
Pipestone for the first ski of the season. Trails had a few cm of new snow over the last groom but the track was still well defined. All the downhills were nice and soft for easy snowplowing. Parking lot was full but not spilling over.
Agreed- Pipestone trails were great today! Corners at the bottom of faster downhills are getting a little rutted, but speed control is easy with the “edgeable” snow. At our lunch stop by the Pipestone River- at least 4 other skiers stopped and asked if we had found the couch there. Which we hadn’t- after a bit of wandering around. So it was a pleasant surprise to locate it on Drummond (#22) trail, a bit NE of the junction with Pipestone (#20) at the edge of the pond, just as the sun popped out. Thanks MaSid and helpers, your snow furniture is becoming quite the attraction!
(-: Not enough snow at the river location when we were there, but the log can be used for a sit. Anyone wishing there was a couch on the river, feel free to compact new snow to help make it happen (we started it a bit while stopped for a snack, that’s all it takes). Good solid blocks make better and faster couch builds that also stand the test of time.
Mon dec 14: whiskey jack/thyrwitt/hydro line snow shoe/Patterson/elk/fox/moraine, from boulton campground (the semi-skierbob special).
Didn’t really get the forecasted sun with a cloud streaming over elk pass as far as blueberry and lookout. Machine trackset all in fine shape, and much better glide today! Took a quick jaunt up boulton creek towards east elk pass to see how the snow is back there and test out the new LT gear. Boot top or more trail breaking. An old track back there, but not sure how far it went. Turned around after a few hundred meters as the drainages could do with more snow to fill them in and improve skinny ski travel. Broke trail on the snowshoe track beside hydroline to Patterson just for fun. Nice smooth descent back to fox and moraine via Patterson and elk. Some thin spots starting to show on fox, and wobbly worn skier set track. Slightly better conditions on moraine than fox. Finally hit some sun at the bench on moraine to round out the day.
All these trip reports from PLPP and not a single recognition of the great volunteers out at Pocaterra parking lot on this chilly AM. Didn’t get the names of the two young gals at the gate today, but thank-you very much! We appreciate your volunteerism and being out there on cold and warm days alike! They even pointed my 3yr daughter and I to some trails better suited for a beginner!
Better than expected skate skiing at West Bragg. Some of the groomed trails include ECL, WCL, Loggers, moose connecter, sun dog and mountain rd (until texas gate). Loppers and ECL were trackset. Tracks were shallow. Loggers was double trackset.
Grooming was excellent considering limited snow.
GREAT DIVIDE- Trail in great shape. Minus 16 degree temps made for cold slow skiing. Felt like skiking but nice to be out all the same.
PLPP – am
Skied Whiskey Jack – Tyrwhitt – Elk Pass – Bolton and Moraine. -16 at the Bolton Creek parking lot as I arrived. Trails were in great shape other than a few random spots where it was thinner. Lots of smiling faces! The only small issue I encountered were a few groups stopping on blind corners and blocking the entire trail. Nearly smoked a guy skiing in the left track on a downhill, again a winding trail with little time to react. Some should know better,others might need a friendly safety lesson.
Due to UCP MLA/ Kenney XC ski trail cutbacks, the Syncline Castle ski trails will not be groomed this year. For more information search Syncline Castle Trails Association as I am unable to put web addresses here.
I guess there was not the same organized political pressure in the area like in the Calgary area to keep the trails groomed.
Waterton National Park trails are not yet trackset, likely due to a lack of snow. It seems the snowfall in Waterton is below average. This may present problems for Santa landing his sleigh in the area at Christmas. He will likely gouge his skis on his sleigh if a good dump does not come along soon. I hope he has rock skis for his sleigh.
It is -16 at the discovery centre in Peter Lougheed.
thanks for giving us the temp
Anything new on MLS out that way?
Looking for something modest and affordable…. preferably by a sunny meadow.
A couch included would be nice.
Lake O’Hara was spectacular this afternoon in bright sun! LOTS of fresh snow at the trailhead and at the lake, but only a handful of centimetres at the 5 km picnic table. The key to happiness today lay in wearing the right clothes to allow enjoyment at +/- -20C all day. Lunch on the veranda at the closed warming hut was kept brief!
Blueberry Hill was beautiful today. It was not track set recently but the skied in tracks were great. No need for rock skis. Lots of snow on downhills. Not icey at all.
LAKE O’HARA – Dec 12
More snow on a hardpacked snowmobile trail made for good conditions today.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
-17 in fog at trailhead, -20 at the lake… No Inversion today!
Great photos of Lake O’Hara. Since its not trackset, do you recommend light touring skis?
Absolutely, light touring skis are the way to go!
I used green kick wax, which worked in the cold temperatures.
Metal edges sure helped on the descent too.
As Dave also reported, there is less fresh snow in the middle area near the picnic table.
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
From Elkwood, skied on groomed but not trackset trails – Wheeler to bottom of Whiskeyjack, down the hill (twice) (short trackset) to Boulton Parking, circled back to Wheeler on Boulton trails, then skied Amos and Woolley back to Elkwood for an easy pleasant day of cool skiing. Lunch in the sunny meadow north of Lynx junction was a welcome respite from the shadowy trails. All trails have ski grooves in the softer snow mixed with sporadic skier tracks making for a jerky ride. North Wooley was somewhat twiggy with several fun rock-and-roll sections. Another good dump of snow and more grooming with trackset will make these easy middle trails a perfect day.
-15 C at 10:00 am to -9 C at 1:30 pm VR30 worked perfectly
Dec 12 West Bragg Creek (WBC)
East Crystal – Loggers – West Crystal – Mountain Road to Tom Snow and back
Took my rock skate skis for an afternoon spin. -6C, snowing lightly and no wind. Shallow snowpack with periodic hazards above and lurking below the surface. Conditions were way better than I expected. Didn’t hit anything, but it probably would have been a different story if I had brought my good skis! It looked like Mountain Road and the West Crystals were groomed last night or this morning. Unfortunately most walkers are completely ignoring the signs, walking on the XC-only trails, and all over Mountain Road instead keeping to the south edge. A few mm of snow had fallen by the time I returned to my car.
Co-incidentally- I came across this today, shared elsewhere by “groomer J…”
Good for a laugh 😀
Good one! Steve, I gave a shout-out to Helen today, but you deserve one for coining the term “edge-able.” I use it frequently and it describes the scenarios perfectly.
Confess to Baker Creek 1-A trail as referring to the camel with Two Humps. Yes, to the Back Door of Pocaterra, yes to Pipestone Blue (east) and Green (west) gates, and skier Bob Special which was a no brainer since you invented it, but I cannot take credit for “the tunnel”, unless my 73 yr old brain is losing it. If I still have not mastered posting photos, like “MAD” below, at least I can invent some nicknames.
Helen, at some point in the distant past you referred to it as the tunnel. On Jan 10, 2019 I posted on Thursday morning update Helen Read has aptly named the features which you see on the Castle Lookout to Baker Creek trail. “Double Hump” and the “Tunnel.”
If anyone is curious, here’s a photo of the tunnel.
Now that is not good humor, that is great skier humor with a quasi political twist. It brings me tripping back to the 1970’s when I did the same dumb thing. We must all live and learn.
Great creativity to make such a “magazine cover”.
I always like to ask hikers “in” the snow if they lost their skis. That basically is a subconscious message for them to think about while they struggle hiking in the snow as they watch me blow them away down the trail on my xc skis effortlessly.
Pipestone: Arrived at 9 am in -25 C and already 8 cars in parking lot. Started at what I call the “Blue gate” on Pipestone Blue so incredible that any waxing made it easy to walk up te hills. Shortly after Drummond Junction, was thrilled to meet up with MaSid, Cheeky and Simona packing down the future Couch site on east side of the pond. Continued up Merlin out and back and down Hector finishing at what I call the “Green gate”. Like Chuck’s idea of sliding the skis/poles under the fence…much easier getting through the gate that way. Absolutely Gob-Smacked at how many cars were parked everywhere up into Pipestone Community and almost down to the highway. Early Bird Gets the Worm!
The worms were cold today. A passable chesterfield got constructed in the pipestone system, thanks to help from the kids (all fueled by helen treats). Seats 3 (which doesn’t negate covid restrictions), or 1 fully prone, head on armrest). Sun there ends at 3. Probably needs a higher back and a wind wall at some point as it’s in the open. Not much wind today though. Watch out for slush/ice behind the couch (hardwood flooring there, carpet in front). No facilities for the dainty. Not the best day to use new skis (is it the snow that’s slow, is it the skis? Blast!).
The lot filled at 10 AM today.
Boulton Creek parking lot, a chilly -21C at 9:30am where I met Skier Bob and again along the way to Elk pass.
I went up Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Hydroline, Elk pass trail, Patterson, Lookout (S to N), Pocaterra and Packers.
Overall a great ski with beautiful tracks on Tyrwhitt and Hydroline. The Lookout was great fun and safe to descent.
Back at the parking lot, I had a quick chat with the volunteers checking the parking pass, I was told 80% of cars had a parking pass, the remaining 20% will buy their pass soon!
Boulton Ck parking, 10 am, snow temp -17 C, clear sky.
Moraine-Fox Ck-Elk Pass-Tyrwhitt (perfectly trackset)-Packers.
Thin snow pack directly below trees along Moraine and Fox Ck.
Exercise extreme caution coming down Packers, many ice hazards in the top half).
Some cloud rolled in around noon but sunny afterwards.
A cool day but great snow!
Thank you to the volunteers checking for parking passes.
Really nice trackset out to the Spray River bridge today. After the Spray bridge it is skier tracks until the bridge over Bryant Creek then the trail gets a bit less travelled and eventually the number of trees across the trail make it not worthwhile unless you are on a backcountry adventure.
The 15km, 10km and 5km loops are all roller groomed with trackset in and around the biathlon area. There is much better snow coverage than last weekend especially on the back 5km of the 15km loop, all I encountered was the usual twigs and willows but no rocks.
The temperature at 11:15 am at the information centre is -16 (shade) and -14 (in the sun)
Fairview trail and MLR with some sun in the afternoon and perfect tracks…yum yum. Green wax did the trick perfectly.
Should be fantastic for the weekend.
Yoho Valley Road
Perfect conditions on the Yoho Valley Road today. -10 deg. when we arrived at 1400. I saw the report on the Kicking Horse Ski Club page that the trail had been trackset yesterday, so I couldn’t resist. The tracksetting is superb, double trackset to just before the switchbacks, as usual. Trail was pretty fast and very well set. If I were searching hard for something to complain about, I’d say the tracks were a bit soft here and there, but really, it was no problem. We saw only 4 people the whole afternoon.
It’s a beautiful setting with lots of views, frozen waterfalls, tons of powder in the trees. If you have a chance to go, I highly recommend it. Bring a camera…
Pocaterra –?Come Along –?Rolly Road. 3k. Green + Blue. Views. Couple hills. -11 blue wax. Good conditions (minus 3 patches of pine cones & needles). Groomed but not trackset. Soft. Beautiful!
PLPP sunrise powder tour up Elk Pass trail to couch hq. A Polar wax -19 at 8am and no sun on said chesterfield, so kept moving down meadow and wondered back through the pow from earlier this week ….on some of the regular routes (Hydro, FoxCr…) but also down Lower Lake trail (groomed only) and followed untracked winter High Rockies (bike path/snowshoe) trail back to the Upper Lakes parking lot where it had warmed up to a balmy -11 ! Quiet, cold day out there. No grooming south of WiskeyJack/Moraine junction but suspect that’ll change this w/e.
A few photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/G1jv4u6DLSby7TebA
Fantastic early morning photos, makes the meadows look so good. Couch doesn’t get sun in the morning till 1130ish.
Looks like you found tracks of the elusive snow snake!
Baker Creek to Protection Mountain was trackset, probably this morning, but:
The sometimes wonky tracks did not always follow the usual path, occasionally through some serious vegetation, *and*……………
they turned off before the campground and crossed the road!
At that point, we followed old ski tracks through the trees to the campground, and then mostly broke trail around the big campground loop. It was very pretty there by then, and we had a pleasant outing.
We also noticed that the Castle Jct trails had been snowmobile packed, but the snow looks a bit thin yet.
P.S. It was a great Covid escape, as we had the whole place to ourselves!
I think I saw a lot of the skier Bob community today. I must apologize
because I think I scared a few people by skiing up behind them and saying passing on your left. I’m going to try bringing a bear bell next time. One fellow was so shocked he fell over.
Even though most of our route was not yet trackset it was a beautiful but brisk day . We started at Elkwood and skied the recently rolled Wheeler trail to Whiskey Jack. Up Whiskey Jack on great tracksetting and then onto well skier tracked trails on Tyrwitt. Onwards to Elk Pass and down to Fox Creek . A fun run down Fox on skier set track to Moraine and back to Elkwood. Great snow which I’m sure will be trackset shortly.
PIPESTONE LOOPS – Dec 11
More snow made it beautifully quiet, in contrast to the social occasion.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
If unsure which way to go, just do it both ways!
Beauty trails at Louise today! I skied Fairview, MLR, The section of upper Tramline between MLR and the Divide, the Divide trail, Peyto, Upper Telemark, and the Lake trail. A couple twigs, but nary a rock to be seen! Fantastic snow and excellent grooming!
Pipestone- was so good yesterday that we had to go again today – this time clockwise on the outer loop and down the big hills. Superb day again! Lots of smiling skiers out today, parking lot full when we got back.
We also did Pipestone CCW. Close into the parking area it almost looks like there was new track setting. Further North the new snow cover increased maybe 10cm fresh. The downhills were a blast . -9 with VR 40. Gave us great grip and some slow glide.The new snow was sharp and caused a bit of drag. Covered with VR 30 for return trip down the west side along the Lakes. We ran into Chuck and had a brief chat. Parking lot was full to overflowing with 10-15 cars parked on the road.
It is -18 at the peter Lougheed discovery centre.
Dec 10 Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (PLPP)
Elk Pass Parking – Elk Pass Trail – Boulton – Fox Creek – Elk Pass Trail – Blueberry Hill – Blueberry Meadows to Couch – Elk Pass – Tyrwhitt – Whiskey Jack – Moraine – Boulton – Elk Pass Trail – Elk Pass Parking
Arrived at about 0930 to a sunny winter wonderland! -9C at the start, dropping to -12C near the top of Blueberry, rising to -7C in Tyrwhitt Meadows, and back down to -9C on return to the car. Swix VR40 kick wax worked well all day. About 20cm of fresh snow throughout the route, except about 10cm on Boulton, Fox Creek, bottom of Whiskey Jack, and Moraine. Broke trail on Fox Creek and up Blueberry Hill. Good skier-trackset elsewhere until we met up with the grooming on Pocaterra and Whiskey Jack. Only one other skier had been on Moraine before we reached it. You could just feel an icy base under the 10cm of fresh snow on Boulton, Fox Creek, and Moraine. After Blueberry Hill we followed fresh tracks through Blueberry Meadows and on to the Couch. Can’t believe this was my first visit ever to the Couch! Rejoined the Elk Pass Trail up to Elk Pass and on to Tyrwhitt. With additional skiers in the meantime, the skier-trackset was getting pretty slick/polished which made grip more challenging. It was a fast descent on skier-trackset from Tyrwhitt Meadows to the Lookout junction, where the machine-trackset began. Surprisingly, the machine-trackset didn’t have the same slick/polished texture as the skier-trackset, and it was considerably slower.
Photos at https://photos.app.goo.gl/2WovmWaQmdqu36M3A. Click on the (i) for captions.
Glad you and others followed the new track through the blueberry meadows, as it needed a reset. The misguided soul who postholled to the pass didn’t go to Fox Lake, nay, they (eventually!) turned and followed the blueberry meadows track too. And staggering, confusedly in the last meadow – just a couple hundred meters from groomed Blueberry – they turned around and punched the same way back, thigh deep, 4km. Shrug. I recall “hiking” like that in my tweens. Eventually we figure it out.
The Couch HQ site was full as we passed by. Just a half-k further into the slackcountry, where the big meadow splits, there’s a fairly protected south-exposed lunching-log. The Fork ‘n Meadow. Seats three. It’s now well protected by a wind wall. Perhaps later a back-rest, also fashioned from ephemeral snow.
Six people passed back and forth, so expect a well established meadow trail to the hydroline (not capitalized, not the groomed trail). Considering the hut? Word is: logging and disturbance is moving up the road and will continue until the new year. Meadow travel is still a little punchy and weird, what with the wet ‘n warm under cold ‘n dry an all. Some cracks and uneven track settlement in places, easy enough to fill with side sweeping sashay steps.
Noticed some Couch HQ visitors weren’t aware of the bathroom location: just behind all that living room furniture and a big tree you’ll notice more wind walls. Behind those walls, the daintiest of ladies can comfortably drop trow.
PIPESTONE BLUE 20
Excellent winter like skiing conditions. Great base. Great xc track setting. Moderate to fast skiing. I went up the Pipestone River for several hundred meters to gauge trail breaking up there. Trail breaking was averaging boot top deep and was moderately difficult. Somewhat better than average base and travel.
I had to put the headlamp on for the last 2 km of the Pipestone Blue 20 ski. When I hit the light switch, the hoar frost on small trees and willows lit up like tinsel on a Christmas trees which was very holiday like.
I was downhill skiing Lake Louise earlier in the day and had a pretty good hard crash or body slam that destroyed my 3m COVID mask. So I had to quit skiing at 2:30 and decided to XC ski Pipestone where I could be on skis mask free. The xc skiing seemed to help out my aches and pains that I got from the downhill crash.
I must say I had a really bad start to my first day of downhill skiing for the season today. My 3m mask had been used a number of times and seemed to have broken down a bit. On my first run from the top of Top of the World Chair to the base, I was carving hard slalom turns that had me panting pretty hard in the mask. I ended up sucking fibers into my lungs which are still embedded there at time of writing. Wearing a mask made downhill skiing quite the different and semi uncomfortable pain in the ass experience. Obviously I will need a plan b mask strategy. It was much nicer on XC skis enjoying the fresh Pipestone tracksets without having to gag on a wet and frozen mask.
I sympathize. I was skiing Louise on Wednesday and found a Buff to be the answer for face covering . You can pull it down when skiing and pop it up over your nose when you come into the lift line. On cool windy days on the ski hill you need to have it on anyway, so it didn’t seem that different.
Do you get the wet and frozen mask effect from wearing a Buff mask?
Do you have one of the Buff masks with the COVID-19 filter?
I have never used masks before of any sort while skiing on fixed boards. I am guessing I may have to carry a few extras and replace them when they get wet or frozen. They can get pretty heavy I noticed.
The unusual mid week line ups at Lake Louise ski hill were a turn off as well. I should have listened to my subconscious and just stuck to XC skiing this year. A $375 mid week pass was just too hot of a deal to resist though.
I may look at putting ski safety straps on my XC skis to hit the Louise lifts and access Skoki Lodge with much greater ease and speed. That would improve my Louise pass value big time.
I’m not complaining, just explaining. I chose to skate ski Great Divide today. I could have turned back and done classic as my intelligent wife, Debbie, did. When there is as much new snow as Louise received this week, the skate lane needs to be packed, before grooming. I appreciate how busy the Park personnel must be in their endeavours to get all the trails in early season shape. It would be best to call it classic trackset, and leave out the skate unless they have time to do a full groom. We enjoyed a beautiful day and an excellent workout.
Arrived around noon at Boulton to -8 temp. Went up whiskey jack on excellent tracksetting then up tyrwit on no grooming but very nice skier set track. no grooming at elk pass so back all the way down to packer junction where there is grooming but no tracksetting on lower pocaterra. The tracks were so nice i went back up pocaterra and down whiskey jack. I assume that the south area will be groomed tonight.
ps I have heard that someone made it top to bottom on whiskey jack in 7:51 without metal edges. just sayin
Makes sense. Metal edges slow you down too much and keep you from skiing out of control! 😉
GREAT DIVIDE – today the GD was in good shape after yesterday’s grooming – the snow was squeaky at -12C when we started at 11:45am, VR40 was flawless out and back. The tracks are a little wobbly but if they get set again Friday morning, they’ll be perfect. The skate track has fresh snow on it from last night and is a bit soft – another night and a groom will probably set it right.
PIPESTONE- Great conditions on trails today, with all the new snow. Met the Parks groomers, they have been doing alot of shovelling to even out the trails, everything is looking really good. Minus 17 near the Creek at noon which was a bit of a cold surprise!
Lake Louise: Fairview/MLR/UpTram
Great ski today. Started 10am (-14C) at Chateau parking, and skied Fairview into the magical light of the early morning sun. The new tracksetting was great. Then up and back on MLR in good tracks, though a bit slow due to frost crystals and the cold temperature. Back to the car on Upper Tramline – decent tracks here. VR40 worked fine all day. -11C to finish.
Thanks for the intel Ray. Roughly how long does that loop take, say for an intermediate-ish skier? I’m thinking of doing it tomorrow but I only have around 3 hours ski time. Cheers
I don’t think you can do all that in three hours to be honest unless you are very fast. When you exit Fairview into MLR assume that the travel time will be at least that back to your car. Then just go as far up the road as time allows.
I’m not the person you asked, but three hours should be plenty. I’d recommend you do the circuit clockwise. Start down Tramline trail, max 20min to junction of Moraine Lake Road. Right onto MLR, steady climb to Fairview junction, 30min if really taking it easy. Spend the remaining 130min reveling in the beauty of Fairview Trail. Eat lunch. Make snow angels. Take pictures. Ski time should be under 2hrs.
Our trip, just over 22km, took us 3hrs 15min skiing time, with another hour for lunch, snacks, pictures, etc. Our group was 5 senior skiers of intermediate ability. We took our time, so 3hrs should be manageable if you don’t stop too much. Like Michael suggests, you don’t have to go to the top of MLR if your time gets short.
Yes. I assumed in my comment above that John L wasn’t including a full trip to Valley of Ten Peaks, just the circuit of Upper Tramline, lower MLR and Fairview. Adding the out and back to the end of MLR would add an hour.
A thank you to Rays and Not Rays alike!
We parked at Boulton Creek (-10C @ 9:30am) and skied Whiskey Jack perfectly groomed, we had to break trail on Tyrwhitt (20cm of fresh snow) and then from Elk pass back to Fox Creek and Boulton Creek the trails were skier tracked.
We had no wind, blue bird skies and it was indeed a winter wonderland.
Skied Shark this morning, but as they had just started grooming, most of it was still powder on top. Looks like Watridge gets groomed first, and the snow there was fantastic. There’s still a lot of twigs sticking up through the snow, but the groomed snow was super solid and the tracks were fast. I guess we should have gotten a later start! Conditions should be excellent again tomorrow.
Redearth Creek Thur Dec 10 – Fair – Good Conditions
Just a quick morning ski. Pretty good early season conditions. Base is well packed and 2-3 cm of fresh snow creates lots of grip.
Beautiful ski day at Lake Louise from the Chateau parking lot, skied down Tramline, then up Moraine to close the top then back to Fairview. Groomer was just coming through Fairview as we skied up around noon. Track setting was perfect everywhere. We used VR45 and grip was excellent.
Ventured out from Canmore in the rain this morning to snowy Lake Louise Lower Tramline. Even parking lot with at least 15 cms of powder, posed a challenge and should have been our first clue. +1 at 10 am and changed waxes twice before even crossing the road on Lower Tramline. Persevered first 2 kms on MLR to Fairview junction before turning around. Others seemed to have clumping/criss-cross scraping on MLR. While we were coming down Lower Tramline, double poling all the way, the groomers came down and single-tracked, heading for trail to Village. Even our ski baskets were causing big divots in the now heavier snowman-making snow. Short day but always glad to see new snow. This heavier snow will be perfect to pack down Fairview and Peyto with.
WATRIDGE/ BRYANT CREEK BR 16
The Watridge Trail is in generally good firm packed groomed skiing condition. No tracksets yet. A few rocks particularly in the first 500 meters or so under the trees. Low to low moderate levels of pine needles and old mans beard on the trail. Thin but solid base. The hills down to Spray River are generally good with the odd avoidable rock. The hills were nice to cut turns on with metal edge skis.
From the Spray River Bridge to about 2 kms beyond Bryant Creek Warden Cabin #25, the skiing is generally very good except the hill just north of Bryant Creek Bridge. That hill is in fair to fairly good shape. The snow was variable in speed. Generally moderate speed but there were slow sections and very fast sections. Roughly 1 cm of recent extremely wet snow that would build up on top of the skis and add a lot of weight. I skier packed the culvert below BR 14 so it can be skied over.
The trail has been well skier packed to likely beyond BR 17 campground.
There are quite a few small trees down on the trail between Bryant Creek Bridge and BR 9 campground. Generally it is relatively easy to get around them or go over them.
At the Warden Cabin at dark 30 the temperature was +2 with calm winds. Very warm. The only noise that could be heard at the cabin was the muffled rumbling of Bryant Creek in the distance and a huge avalanche rumbling down a mountain in the dark. A few very light flurries coming down on the way back at night.
Another spectacular day in Lake Louise, on the Tramline and the newly groomed Upper Telemark and Peyto trails. A little bit sketchy just out of Deer Lodge but then utterly gorgeous. The nice warm temperatures are a bonus!
Low traffic and good grooming on Sunday allowed us to enjoy a bluebird day. Skied Elk Pass from the Fox Creek junction thence to Patterson / Hydroline /Elk Pass / Tyrwhitt to Whiskey Jack junction was still in excellent shape yesterday. We did an out & back on this route. Expect firm and fast conditions with some ice sections climbing southbound up Tyrwhitt.
Great to see the polite volunteers in Elk Pass parking lot. Reportedly, many people have their passes already.
Happy trails !
Hey all, I’m wondering where I could find a good amount of deep fresh snow that’s relatively close to a trail head? Doesn’t need to be on a steep slope. Would be nice if it’s near Calgary, I don’t mind driving further though. I know we haven’t had a huge amount of snowfall and the weather has been warm, so I don’t mind waiting a few weeks or next year. Thanks!
Snow Fort? Not enough roadside nearby to do anything substantial in a day, unless you have the ability to move a lot of snow or time to compact it to make blocks. Wait longer and hit the higher snow zones (lake Louise, smith-Dorian spray lakes Rd or up the ice field parkway at bow lake/bow summit).
Fresh roller groom yesterday but still not enough snow to trackset. I skied the 15k loop today and found a real mixture of conditions. Some of the south facing slopes were melted and refrozen with rock and clay exposed. Fortunately all the poor conditions are on the uphills and the descents are well covered. Some places have the early season twigs and willows poking through but those are easily navigated.
Weather at PLDC this morning is -10 degrees and clear skies
Is the pocaterra warming hut going to be open or closed during this next round of restrictions? If it is closed, might be good to have it open for scenarios when a cold snap below -20 happens for a week or so, promote keeping people healthy and sane.
Great Divide – skated early this afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed the packed and fast conditions. Lots of people out using all types of gear ranging from pulks to AT. It hasn’t snowed in a while but the cold nights are keeping the snow in good shape.
Moraine Lake Road – the exceptional classic conditions were outdone only by the sublime sunset. Grip and glide were simply outstanding. In contrast to Great Divide, leaving the parking lot at 4:45 pm resulted in a silent ski beneath the peach sky. 🙂
Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill
What a sight to behold! Today’s new track setting and grooming to Elk Pass and Blueberry Hill was superb. Too bad we can’t see more frequent grooming. It’s expensive, but, WOW, is it worth it! The wind was whipping in Elk Pass parking lot, but it was calm and balmy at the top of Blueberry.
The animal tracks Diane J referred to, were made by a large domestic dog. After receiving much feedback from skiers, the owners stated they were unaware of the rules, and would not be bringing the dog back.
Thanks to the volunteer parking monitors who were out today.
Skied Lake O’Hara today. Sunny sky; firm trails. Everyone enjoyed with big smile you can see miles away. Groomed with snowmobile, even though no track set yet. Haven’t run into any ice and rocks. You can ski on the lake along the bank.
It is a smart alternative to Great Divide thinking of packed trail.
Great skiing on the Lake Louise trails today. We started out at the village on Tramline Trail in -12C, on firm and older but still good tracks. When we reached MLR the temperature was noticably warmer. We climbed up to Fairview, which was quite busy. The tracks were good, some twigs here and there, much better than what we expected. Beautiful hoar frost on the trees. We decided to continue on the upper trail to the lake. The snow coverage was just boot deep across the lake, with one area of slush. Lots of people were walking across the lake. At the end of the lake we climbed up on the walking trail below the waterfall and were surprised to see the lakeshore trail no. 4 trackset. Tracks were good, except for the pine needles, but the snow was cold, so no issue. Then we headed up the hill behind the chateau and skied down on the Peyto Trail, very nice tracks, downhills were very controllable, didn’t see any other skiers. The tracks on the Divide Trail were also very good. Finished our tour cruising back down tramline. Great that the snow in Lake Louise is holding up so well!
Now that’s an interesting loop… Thanks for sharing.
Started 10:00 from Elk Pass parking lot. About 10 cars there at the time. Temp -3, used V45 with good result, until noon, then added a little VR45 for kick (I usually save VR for new snow, but left some the waxes back in town). Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, back down to Hydroline and Patterson, then home. All trails in great condition with some very minor pine needles in few locations. There was some form of animal track pretty much from the parking lot to Blueberry turn off. Bigger than a coyote, I am sorry I don’t have more knowledge, but I was alone, so glad for the abundant fellow skiers. Back to car at 1:00, maybe 0 deg, I forgot to check. Was happy I could wave my Parking Pass to the volunteer doing the checks.?
Elk Pass (with notes on Mount Shark)
Fresh grooming and tracksetting from EP parking (still room to park at 11am!). Short ski to top of Pass, looping Patterson back down. Amazing grooming, but definitely transformed snow. VR45 moderately helpful.
Stopped by Mount Shark trailhead. Looking like a skate skier’s paradise. Fresh grooming everywhere, no tracks.
Healy Pass and Deception Pass
I decided to escape the crowds and do some of the trails less travelled this weekend.
I won’t say too much about Healy Pass as it was well covered by others this week although I will reiterate it is a difficult decent if you are on light ski equipment i.e. non locking heels.
I skied up to Deception Pass (The Skoki trail) today. Climbing the ski out from Lake Louise ski area was surprisingly good with just a few rocks and ice seepages, it improved steadily as I ascended. Once on the Skoki trail it was in good condition with tracks set by backcountry skiers which means basically just a packed trail. Near the halfway hut the trail meets with the trail the skidoos use to service Skoki lodge and the going gets much easier. Boulder Pass is wind scoured and I had to take the skis off for 100 metres or so and then when I got to the lake it is also wind blown right to the ice. This made for a very fast double pole across. Take note the poles that the Skoki staff put along the trail to guide you across the lake and across some of the meadows are not up yet so if the weather is poor you may have some difficulty navigating. Skiing up Deception pass is mostly windslab and hard drifts which made for an interesting ski down. I used the backcountry gear but it can be skied on light gear with metal edges as I have done that many times in the past.
Skied Meadow 1.6 km out and back on my lunch break (starting at the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre).
No track set but groomed, lots of early season hazards, but decent coverage. Lots of pine needles but did not stick to the bottom of my skis or slow me down. Less debris at the intersection of wooley and meadow.
Saturday morning – skied from boulton – fox creek, elk pass, blueberry hill, trywitt and whiskey jack. New track on elk pass, blueberry, trywitt and top of whiskey jack is fantastic. Fox creek and the bottom of whiskey jack not so much. As Bob notes, caution advised on the steep sections of whiskey jack.
Mid-day Saturday (Dec. 5) report from PLPP. Elk Pass parking lot is about 2/3 full as of 11:30 AM. Alll other lots have only a few vehicles, except for Pocaterra where a UofC ski group has about 30 vehicles.
All trails near parking lots are glazed a bit, with lots of pine needles. Skiers report much better conditions once you endure and reach higher ground the farther south your go (e.g. Elk Pass, Blueberry, Hydroline and Tyrwhitt)
Dec 5 It is -10 C at the Discovery Centre in Peter Lougheed.
Remember to buy your permit online https://www.kananaskisgrooming.ca/
HOURS 10-3pm (MON-SUN), lounge open *with restrictions in place.
Dec 4. Skied Bow River Loop in Lake Louise. Gorgeous ! Beautiful trackset. Pine needles and debris were not inhibitive.
KICKING HORSE TRAIL – Yoho – Dec. 4
Arrived at sunny Natural Bridge parking lot at 10:45 am – minus 9. Went with Blue VR30 wax and it did the trick all day. Grooming is holding up nicely, with just a few areas of minor tree debris. Went as far as the grooming would take us to the Ottertail River bridge view point. Minus 4 upon return to parking lot at 1:45. Spectacular day. Don’t forget to leave a donation in the groomer’s box!
Bow river loop and campground today. Trails in decent shape. But lots of pine needles and twigs in the tracks on the campground side. Lots of foot traffic beside and around the tracks. Used blue rode multigrade wax and didn’t pick up too much debris. Overall a great day. Tracks were definitely worn but held my skis in place. Was advised to bring bear spray, no sightings of the Boss, but he’s out and about.
HEALY PASS/ PLUS
From Sunshine Parking Lot. For advanced (metal edge) skiers. Skier tracked only.
Generally Very Good skiing with variable snow. Very nice early winter snow conditions for the most part The odd rock mainly around creek crossings and on the old Sunshine ski out. I side stepped the trail in many areas to widen it. I skied with -5 to -15c old snow waxed 59 mm metal edge cross country skis.
The snow just below Healy Pass had some areas of sun crust and has better silky cold snow in the trees. The Egypt side of Healy Pass has some real sweet cold silky snow and no crust where I skied. I dropped down maybe 600 feet vertical to get into the Sub Alpine Fir for shelter from the light to moderate wind as the sun went down. Temperatures were roughly about -7c with a colder wind chill. At night frost hit the trail on the Egypt side of Healy Pass and made climbing up very nice and grippy. I regretted not dropping to the Egypt area with such grippy conditions for climbing. The hoar frost was medium sized and twinkled like stars in the heavens when my light shined on it at night. Either that or it sparkled like a disco ball. Pretty awesome hoar frost light reflections.
I find skiing up Healy Pass in the late spring is much faster than this time of year on cross country skis. The firm spring snow allows for more of a ski camber rebound or bounce which helps spring up the hills than the winter snow does. This makes for easier climbing if you know how to use the spring snow under your skis.
Coming back down Healy Pass/ Creek towards Sunshine Parking lot was fast snow at night. Widening the trail in areas on the way up made skiing down easier, faster, safer and real intense hard core fun.
Thanks for Chuck’s photos yesterday to stoke me up and experience that blue sky for myself on Healy Pass. It is always a pleasure to be up there with clear blue daytime skies and twinkling starry nights.
Thanks for the great description. ALMOST inspires me to take up night skiing!
Wondering what stopped you from exiting out via Redearth… presumably, the need for a car shuttle.
Keep up the edgy ski reports!
COVID car shuttles are verboten.
In my old age I am forgetting the name of creeks and warden cabins.
My actual intention was to drop down to Pharaoh Creek and check out the warden cabin and other. I would have done it but I met a real keen lady who was trying to figure out how to ski in the backcountry. I decided to spend some time with her, thinking she may need survival tips. I gave her tips on how to ski and recognize avalanche terrain and how to cross such terrain with people- separately, before skiing off into the sunset up the pass solo.
This lady was inexperienced in backcountry (3 years on trackset only) but she was ambitious and she was tough as nails. She was also smart enough to walk down from the pass rather than trying to ski something she was uncomfortable with. And yes, she carried a headlamp which was impressive!
I am glad she survived the Healy Creek/Pass trail to ski another day in these Great Canadian Rocky Mountains. At least I did not find her body on the trail. But at night I do miss things.
If she reads this message, may I suggest skiing to Shadow Lake from Red Earth Creek parking lot on the Trans Canada Highway, next? Bring water and don’t eat the snow. This will save you energy.
West Elk Pass “couch loop”. Despite the tempting new grooming elsewhere, it seemed like the perfect day to visit West Elk Pass and the couch, as our friends Bob and Liz had never been. Conditions overall were very fine, with good fast older track setting on Elk Pass, a solid skier track in the meadows, and easy off-trail travel on 55 mm waisted light touring skis. A couple of demented hikers had postholed the existing skier track as far as the BC boundary, but thankfully turned off towards Fox Lake. Skiers ahead of us had already set a new route around much of that mess-with our passage added, it should firm up nicely. After Normand’s prior report mentioning the plowed logging road, we cut off east towards the power line a bit sooner through open forest and easily gained the cutline and skier set track, without hitting the logging road. With the supportive off-trail travel-we easily broke a trail up much of the east side of the cut, to take full advantage of the afternoon sun. The return from Elk Pass was fast and fun- the hills are slick and quick, as are the tracks. We all agreed that we were happy to be on metal edges, which also allowed for some nice alpine turns on the hardpack, especially on the final downhill. Temps stayed cool all day- VR40 worked perfectly, and as a bonus, didn’t pick up much of the tree litter that is found in the more forested sections of Elk Pass trail.
Aarg! (Fist shake). May their gators leak like seives. Need some snow to cover that up before more boots follow. More evasive (indirect) track setting may be needed (-:
Pipestone Green Trails up: Hector/Drummond to Mud Lk/Merlin then Blue #20 down. Saw 4 people in total starting in -15 and warmed up a lot. Some skier tracks across Pipestone Pond were tempting (maybe Chuck’s) but wasn’t willing to gamble with the ice today. Lots of twigs, some rocks but the scenery made up for the VERY early packed only snow conditions. Looked like groomers had done a lot of shovelling work-thank you!! One might prefer to avoid skiing up the initial 1.9 section of Blue as some other ladies even chose to walk parts of it to the junction with Mud Lk and Drummond.
FAIRVIEW – trail in surprisingly good condition despite the need for more snow. Blue wax worked well. Skied up to Paradise creek and then the connector back to Lake Louise. Tons of snow on this trail right now.
Great Divide from Lake Louise to Lake Ohara lots
Gorgeous day and snow, and I was able to double-pole for most of the way down the trail, and even some of the way back up. Tracks are in good shape. Lots of happy smiley skiers as I was coming off the trail. A surprising amount of yellow snow beside the trails, mostly on the way out, less on the dog-sled side, which makes it less of a winter wonderland for me… Just my opinion…
PLPP southern trails and West Elk Pass – December 3
Started from the EKP parking lot (about 12 cars) at 11 am on “plastic” skis and VR45. Nice sunny day. Went up BBH; fast going down, still with some snow to control although getting scrapped off. Then over the famous couch for my first time ever! Nice furniture; well done MaSid. The view south and west were just awesome with the sun. Did not want to sit in, as I would have been way too comfy to leave and carry on a long loop. Then south to HYL, where the road had been plowed (no more than a few days ago). Nice ski along those meadows. Walked 250 meters north before seeing the uphill ski track to EKP. The downhills on TYW are getting scrapped off, especially north of the meadows. In fact, I had a wipeout coming down fairly fast just north of the meadows. Could have been avoided, slowing down a bit or with metal edges, as the snow is getting scrapped off too. Shaken up a bit, but I was mad at myself for being a bit complaisant on that section given the local conditions. Be careful going down on WKJ; below the , sharp bent, the trail is hard pack and very fast. Above the sharp bent, I could see the ski-doo track from the rescue 2 days (just read about it) and it required good control on my skinny skis. Finishing off with Boulton Creek to EKP parking lot. Boulton Creek is not good at all; need more snow with some rocks showing off for the 1st km south of the Boulton Creek bridge parking lot. In fact, I hated that section so bad today, that is does not deserve an acronym! Pending a new dump of white flakes, caution and care will be much needed on those downhills over the next few days, irrelevant of your abilities.
A nice tour, which should sustain me for a few days.
A long 30 km ski today at Lake Louise. Minus 15 C at the Train Station parking lot at 9:30 am. Skied Tramline to the Great Divide cut-off and walked down to the GD trail. Skied to the Lake O’Hara access road and returned the same way. All tracks skied were hard providing great glide. Tramline tracks were very good to excellent. Two short sections below Louise Creek had lots of pine needles. GD tracks were fast providing an opportunity to practice double poling – lots of it. Beyond the border to the O’Hara road the tracks were excellent. No debris, hard, crisp and clean. The VR40 wax was mostly gone by the hill top above the border. Rewaxed with VR45 at the O’Hara road and this worked perfectly for the return climbing. The icing on the cake was a nice fast glide back down Tramline to the cars. Air temperature at 2:30 pm was minus 5 C.
Elk Pass – Tyrwhitt Loop Dec 3
From the Elk Pass parking lot we skied Moraine, Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, and back on the Elk Pass trail. Had a great day even if the trails had more debris than snow in many places. Moraine is pretty bad, the tracks on Whiskey Jack are quite glazed causing me to climb in the loose snow, things improve on Trywhitt with very good conditions except in tight trees are the tracks are needle covered. Elk Pass Trail was good, glazed, with debris in the treed areas. It was -8º at 10 am in the parking lot and it stayed quite cool all day. We used blue wax and had good results even if the wax was more or less black by the end of the day. As was noted elsewhere, all the descents are very fast right now. You might be able to set a speed record on the Elk Pass Hill.
Despite warm temps in the Bow Valley and strong temperature inversions at the ski hills, Lake Louise trails remain wintry. Skied Great Divide trail today. -7C at 11:00 am, -5C at 2:30 pm. Used Swix VR45. Classic tracks were very good throughout and had minimal needles despite the recent wind. The skate lane looked a bit used and could do with a refresh but still doable.
Plenty of snow for climbing and descending. Used skins then VR40 for rolling parts. Climbed the right hand (alternate) route, descended main route. Both great fun. Winter wonderland at the top. Lots of cars in the parking lot but they must have been snowshoers because we only saw two other skiers. It’ll only get better from here.
Mt. Shark -10C 10:30 no wind Trail reports show no grooming in past week. Still some evidence of rolling under wind blown snow.
Skied out Watridge road and hooked onto the 10 km return track and then skied out the 15 km loop. Skier set track in the trees with enough coverage to cover most land sharks.
came off the 15 km loop at Watridge Tr and skied out to top of trail down to the Lake.
Watridge Tr is hard packed and skier tracks are thin. Our Skin skis worked ok on the hard pack.
Five cars in parking lot no one showing a parking pass,
Go figure Grooming reports show grooming at Shark Dec 2 so they must have come after we finished. No tracks but should be reasonable skiing.
Great Divide starting from the BC side
My dad (the amazing Jeff) and I set out from the Lake O’Hara parking lot at around 10:30, and my car said -17(!). Beautiful tracks all the way to the Alberta arch, and good tracks all the way to the warm and sunny Great Divide parking lot. Our skins were perfect and made for a very fast 20k. Around -7 when I pulled out of the lot and still not a cloud in the blue sky.
Moraine Lake Road still excellent. Accessed from Chateau Lake Louise parking lot and returned via Fairview. Fairview has good snow coverage with some patches of pine needles and a few twigs sticking up. If the weather stays cold I would ski down it next time. Started -17C at 9:15AM – -7C when finished!
Sorry to miss seeing you Chuckley but happy to read your report. Marjory and I started at Lower Tramline around 9:45 (-16 warmer down below) and found tracks on MLR, Fairview and Tramline to be better than anticipated. That sun felt glorious and it was the earliest I’ve ever skied on Fairview. We ate where the future Couch might be located (?)
Probably not soon. Still waiting on new XC gear (plus pipestone needs more snow on the river, thanks to chuck).
BREWSTER CREEK/ BEYOND SUNDANCE LODGE
From Sunshine Road parking lot. Variable ski conditions and snow depth. Classic rock ski skiing.
The first 100 or so meters of the Healy Creek trail is in poor windswept shape as usual at this time of year. After 100 meters the trail improves and skiing is fair to good early season conditions with some thin spots and rocks, particularly under big trees. The snowpack peak is roughly 13 cm deep with a crust layer at about the 7 cm depth level. The trail has been reasonably well packed by hikers, snowshoers and skiers. With another 5 cm of new wet snow the trail will be ready for snowmobile packing or roller packing and will make for some good skiing for the most part.
From the Healy Creek Junction up the Brewster Creek trail to the top of the hills, the skiing is fair to fairly good with a thin base of up to 15 cm. Expect to hit rocks on some of the hills. I ski packed the hills and pushed and pulled trees off the trail. A couple of trees remain on the trail. With 7 cm of wet new snow, the skiing should be generally good. Currently extreme caution is needed to go down the hills due to rocks.
From the top of the hills to Sundance Lodge the snow depth increases and peaks around 23 cm but is variable in depth. Conditions in this section are fairly good to good. 7 cm of new snow will make for good to very good conditions. All bridges are snow covered. The odd rock is showing on the skier track. Moderate to fast speed skiing.
Beyond Sundance Lodge the skiing is fair to fairly good with some rocks. Another 15 cm of new wet snow on this section should create good to very good conditions. Ski penetration while breaking trail is about ankle deep and pretty good base for travel. Nice silky snow.
The temperature at night at the Lodge was -8c with clear skies. Skied out at night and seemed to hit fewer rocks than when skiing in. There was a nice bright moon out which made the headlamp useless in some areas.
Great Divide Trail. 10:00 am -12C sunny Skated for the first time in years .
Skate lane was uneven slow and hard . It was almost like skating at the Nordic Centre.
Could use a renovation not a roller.
Tracks were usable but could do with a reset.
parking lot has 5-6 cars but was almost full when we left at noon. -5C
Moraine Lake Road.
Accessed MLR, from Chateau parking lot, on Upper Tramline. First skiers out so tracks were frosty and a little slow. We were also first on MLR but the snow was cleaner and the skiing easier and faster. Soon though other skiers passing were passing and setting the snow in the tracks for us. It was sunny, warm and calm at the viewpoint, which made for a relaxed lunch break. The ski down was fast and controlled. The skating lane is not very flat and has many longitudinal grooves. A few passes with the grooming equipment would make it safer. Returned to Chateau parking lot on Fairview. Fairview is rock and roll now, but fun and in very good early season condition. Nice to talk with Skier Bob on Fairview.
Lower Tram Line / MLR / Fairview / Tram Line
Snow conditions were good. Fairview is groomed and trackset. Conditions for this time of year are good but there are a few bumps here and there. The only dicey spot is at the Lake Louise end where the trail joins Tram Line. If you are coming down from Fairview to Tram Line, take that turn wide (towards the parking lot) as there is a substantial dip there with a trickle of water that you could end up landing in. There is no problem if you are heading up.
Water courses may start opening up a bit over the next while too.
Tue dec 1: west elk pass
Couch maintenance day, reinforcing walls before the heat arrives next few days. Stayed below zero in the area and along the trail, but good and cozy at the couch during heat of the day. Lots of visitors today, and through the meadow and back. So track continues to be solid with the odd wonky pole plant busting through the wind layers. A good day for it with no cloud, only a light breeze and no moist snow. The only annoyance was the sound of logging machinery wafting down the meadow on the breeze. All of the meadows in the area travel well, on and off track (AT). Not sure about the next few days. Bring yer ski shorts, sunscreen and klister/blister salve.
Thanks for allowing us into your living room today!
It’s public land, public water/snow. All are welcome, any time, unless too busy. Pleasure meeting your group today, best form of socializing currently, so thanks for the engaging conversation and to your friend for the hands free chocolate donation. Hope you enjoyed the meadows. Sun disappears from the couches at 3pm currently. A very fast return after that but not so icy, yet.
Pleasure meeting you also, and thx for the nice tip to continue thru the meadows to the hydroline to Elk Pass—very pleasant indeed. Carl V is the chocolate man, and often contributes to this site 🙂 . Useful knowing the sun info also!
PIPESTONE LOOP – Dec 1
Good conditions overall, but not trackset yet.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Amazing what Parks Canada staff can do with a snowmobile and a shovel… maybe the Province could learn a few lessons!
How’s the river beyond the north end looking so far chuck?
Not enough snow on the river ice to pack some building block material for your couch just yet!
i can wait. Thanks chuck.
Moraine Lake Road.
Pretty good conditions today. Tracks are holding up well, and are firm and fast. The first 2km or so had a moderate case of needle-mania, but beyond that things were pretty clean.
We accessed MLR via upper tramline – decent tracks but with quite a few needles. -13C to start at 9:30am; -7C to finish. A few cm of fresh snow will clean things up nicely.
Bow River Loop/Campground Loop, Lake Louise
Great day for my first skijor of the season! Bluebird skies and well defined fresh tracks and very quiet. I had a blast galloping on leash on the downhills, and trotting along on leash on the flats and ups. There was some tree debris in the tracks under the trees and a couple of very thin spots (NW corner of loop near train station), neither a problem for me! We saw very few other skiers and no other doggies. We did run into Helen Read who said Skier Bob was just heading towards us but we never saw him. Temps -10C at 11 am to -5C at 1.30 pm. My humans used Swix Extra Blue or VR45/40, I just used my canine four paws as usual. Now off for a well-deserved nap!
Has anyone been out to Mt Shark yet? Wondering if there is as much snow there as in PLPP?
Snow amounts can be determined very easily for shark given the automated web stations provided on avalanche.ca. Zoom into the map and click on the little black weather station icon at mud lake, just up zee road. Raw data source with hourly snowfall, height of snow and temps, and available all the time, unless it isn’t? Good approximation of what you’ll encounter at the shark trail head. You could probably even whatch the snow pack shrink tomorrow.
Bob, maybe another good link for the resource tab? Shows many weather station across the west, and topographic lines and stuff.
MaSid, it is already there under “weather”! (Mud Lake)
I would have to add, though, that Mud Lake is at the peak of the road, and Mt. Shark usually has less snow.
Right you are, both counts. Thanks dianna.