Trip reports were viewed over 10,000 times last month by eager xc skiers – tell us about your February ski trip
Let’s help each other have a great ski trip by sharing information on trail conditions. If you have photos, upload them to a photo-sharing site such as Flickr or Picasa, and leave a link with your comment. Periodically, as time permits, I will feature a report and a photo on the home page.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed. Scroll to the bottom of the page to leave your report.
Skiing against the odds! We skied today in +4 with short sleeve shirts and umbrellas! Did Cascade Fire Road to the closed bridge – 28.8 km round trip. Trail conditions were poor to slushy but trail was doable due to our wax less skis. Only saw one skater on trail. Relaxing lunch on Warden’s Cabin deck being serenaded by the birds and the flowing river.
REDEARTH CREEK- SHADOW LAKE AND BEYOND
Hit the trail later Friday afternoon and found the skiing up Redearth to be very good to excellent. The first 1.5 km of the trail had some minor debris on the track but it was still great for grip and glide. The track up to the bridge across Redearth Creek has had some snow fill but is still very good. Beyond the bridge to Shadow Lake turnoff it was just groomed and the trail has been widened so it is excellent for classic and skate skiing. The snow is generally fast.
The trail to Shadow Lake Lodge has been double packed by snowmobile and is excellent for skating and skiing down the hill. This trail has not been this good or wide for several years. Kudoos to the person who did the trail work from the bridge to the lodge! You made the trail the way it should be made!
Beyond Shadow Lake Lodge the trail is skier tracked up 5 km towards Mount Ball Pass. Beyond that the trail is skier packed with some fresh snow on it. In wind exposed areas it may be somewhat difficult to define.
Now is the time to be up there!
thanks for the report james! how many total kms for the trip to Shadow lodge and return?
West Bragg, late afternoon February 27-
A few cm of new had refreshed conditions a bit, but the glorious springlike weather had taken its toll. I skied Sundog and Elbow out to the most southerly Iron Springs junction, back on south Iron Springs, Elbow, Loggers, Crystal Line west. Coverage remained good, but the south end of Iron Springs at the sunny “picnic spot” had two sections that were completely bare. The bulk of last week’s tracksetting was intact, but was glazed where the sun had got to it. Mostly the snow stayed cool and dry, but south facing hills could be icy tomorrow morning.
Start purple worked very well, especially considering the wide range in snow quality dependent on aspect and exposure.
On the Bragg Creek conditions meter-
Glass half empty scale- poor to fair.
Glass half full scale- fair to good.
All I know is that I had a most enjoyable ski! 🙂
Decided to take Jeff up on his recommendation to follow the grooming.So I headed off to Ribbon Creek on Wednesday Afternoon.Skied Ribbon Creek, Link,Kovack,Terrace,and back along Link and Ribbon Creek all of which he had groomed the night before.The grooming and tracks were in excellent condition – good job Jeff. Also tree debris was not a concern. Temp. hovered around +1C all afternoon. Started with VR50 which worked OK and then switched to Swix Red Special at the Lodge which worked even better. Skied the closed section of the Kovack/Terrace trail which is skier trackset through about 4 to 5 inches of ungroomed snow. Had to walk about 500meters along a construction road to get to the Lodge area. Watch out for trucks.
Starting from Elk Pass parking lot in minus 3 and a mix of blue waxes, 4of us headed for Elk Lakes ACC cabin as a day ski. Tracks were in terrific shape and after eating a bit at the Pass (noon -2), headed over the other side enjoying a cm.of new powder in the lovely skier tracks. The ski down was 40 minutes of DIVINELY SWEET, such a gentle fall line, and only got sticky in a few sun-blasted sections. Our wax worked well for the climb back up and took us just over an hour. Never have we enjoyed such a warm lunch sitting in lawn chairs in front of the sunny hut. We met a group of 11 women heading for the hut as we climbed back up, and two weary snowshoers who were diligently breaking trail beside the skier tracks. Thank you Cochrane snowshoers! Back at the car, still -3. 22kms. total.
Skied at PLPP today. Started at Pocaterra Hut, and skied Pocaterra and Tyrwhitt to Elk Pass. Returned by the Elk Pass trail, Fox, Moraine, Wheeler, Braille and Lodgepole. Pat Davis has adequately described conditions to Packers Jct. Beyond that, Pocterra trail was in near pristine condition to WJ. Tyrwhitt was pretty good, but 2-3cm of new snow slowed our glide a bit. At Elk Pass, it seemed that there was 4-5cm of new snow, but earlier skiers had packed the tracks nicely. Fox and Moraine were pretty clean, fast and fun. Wheeler was hard packed, perhaps a touch icy in places, but still very good. Braille and Lodgepole had brand-new tracksets – excellent condition. It was -5C at Elk Pass, and warmed up to 0C at the end.
Dumped all responsibilities today and headed to PLPP; specifically, Pocaterra from the hut to the Packers Junction. I had expected a lot of debris on the trial, but it was blessedly free of that. The tracks were worn with “sloping shoulders” but still very skiable. In fact, thinking back to when I started skiing 40+ years ago, had we had those tracks, we would have thought them heavenly.
temperature at 10:00 start at the hut was about -8. V-40 Blue extra worked perfectly.
On the way back I stopped by Mt. Shark, and since it seemed warm, I tried my new waxless skis. I have to wonder about them as I had mostly neither grip nor glide. had it been just a tad cooler I would have used the old waxable skis as the snow looked great. A bit of a dusting over the tracks but smoooooth.
BTW, if anyone has any hints about waxless skis, I am all ears.
Waxless skis are horrible. I’d almost rather go for a run. Almost 🙂
Maybe they don’t fit you (to stiff for your current weight)? I have a pair and I’m always surprised in what range of conditions they work well. Sure, they don’t have nearly the glide of waxable skis, but in warm conditions they make life easier.
Tanks for the reply, Thorsten. I took them back to the shp yesterday and they put the skis on a measuring device. They rate as perfect for my weight. I appreciate you taking the time to comment, however
From Elkwood Parking on Amos and Lynx, to Pocaterra, we found the tracks well worn from the Cookie racers, but in better condition than Pocaterra down to PH.
We did the complete Goat Creek trail from Banff (via Spray lakes trail) to Canmore and back to Banff on Sunday 25th. The weather conditions were perfect. The trail is quite hard packed with Icy sections in track as well as middle. The descent from Canmore down to the Goat creek bridge 5.1 km from Canmore was quite challenging. The trail is Icy and Bowl shaped. Some sections before this had high mounts of old snow in the centre section.
All in all a great sky and we finished the complete turn around in 6 hrs and 3 minutes.
Just a small Update. My girlfriend and I skies Skogan Pass on Saturday 25th and we had superb conditions. We skied the 10 km until the High point and had the blast of this season. The ascent was great in 2 hrs and 40 min and the descent took us 1 hr flat.
A great workout and ski with this great elevation.
Skied Bill Milne Trail Sunday around Noon to 3pm. Good for Skate Skiers, but unfortunately the awful wind gusts have ruined most of the track setting, and there is lots of debris on the trail especially the closer you get to the Golf Course.
Molar Meadows and Boulder Pass
Our group went out to Molar Meadows on Feb 22 and the trail to Boulder Pass on Feb 23. Temperatures were nice, between -5 and -10. Conditions were excellent on both trails. We ditched the wax and fish scales in favor of skins. There’s fresh snow out there. We made as far as Halfway Hut on the second day.
Here are a few links I stumbled across that you may enjoy:
Unfortunately the barbaric and cruel practice of trapping is alive and well in Alberta, and some want to make it even worse, and increase the suffering of our wild animals http://www.ffwdweekly.com/article/news-views/news/predators-on-predators-10447/
Was out in PLPP after the Cookie Race today around 2pm. Did Boulton Creek Connector to Fox Creek, Fox Creek, Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, Patterson, Hydroline and back down Elk Pass. Looks like a couple of cm of snow fell on the trails that got done on/before February 21st.
Boulton Creek Connector was skier tracked but had good number of people on it. Fox Creek was used for the Cookie Race and in decent shape overall still, with some of the corners that no longer have any tracksetting as a result of the racers. Elk Pass going up was fine and still had decent trackset, though definitely well used as well. Blueberry Hill is single lane skier tracked all the way to the top. Made for a very slow downhill. I skier tracked up Patterson because no one had been on the trail before us (there was a good amount of snow on top of the trackset). Hydroline was skier trackset most of the way as well but with the wind up there, it wasn’t easy to stay in any set of tracks. Elk Pass on the way down was fast, I would say even a bit icy by 5:30.
Blueberry Hill Junction
My wife and I just spent two glorious days skiing the trails around Lake Louise.
Friday we skied the Pipestone Loops and had a great time on the Steppenwolf snow. Even more fun was coming down the “nasty hills” on the Pipestone loop, I forgot how much fun single track skiing can be.
4cm of new snow for Saturday morning made the Fairview, Moraine, Tramline Loop still Steppenwolf snow but with a few skips on the old vinyl.If you haven’t skied Pipestone or around Lake Louise I highly recommend giving it a try, great snow not many people and excellent track setting make this a fun place to ski.
Could you please tell us what “Steppenwolf snow” is as well as
“the old vinyl”?
I’m thinking it’s a reference to the corduroys? If it is, love it!
Maybe he’s comparing the snow to a “Magic Carpet Ride”?
On Friday as we were skiing it was like skiing downhill both ways with the wind at your back all the time. I started humming Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf, then we ran into two more skiers who said “this is like a magic carpet ride”. Seemed fitting to give credit to the original artists who penned the song.
Saturdays snow was like that old vinyl album you like but there is a skip in the song that can be random, at times our skis stuck to the new snow.
I do like the corduroy reference, I think ill use that when its just a corduroy surface “groomed just like old vinyl”..
Would icy conditions on the Skogan Screamer be considered “Born To Be Wild”?
Now you got it, although I’d mellow it out a bit and go with “Slip, Sliding Away”..
Redearth Creek – a group of us skied to the warden’s cabin today. The snow the whole way is in very nice condition, though the trackset, at 11 days old, has been beat up quite a bit in some places, especially in the first Km from the parking lot. Still, we had an enjoyable ski, with temps starting at -2C and cooling to -4C at the high point. We got good grip with blue or purple wax on the way up, but scraped most of it off to get some great gliding on the way back. The next time this trail is trackset there should be really good skiing conditions.
Such a stunner skiing upper Skogan today and getting Jeff’s amazing tracks all the way to Skogan Pass (that has to be longer than 2 kms). Thank you Jeff for ALL that track-setting you did this week. The 0-4 Blue 35 year old wax worked perfectly and none of us needed to use our skins. We even found that gigantic hill at the top just past the junction easier on skis than when we hiked it last summer. A dusting of new snow made for a super fun descent. Hope to make it up Marmot Basin while the beautiful tracks are there, and this time I will persevere to the end. Thorsten: I love my new Asnes with the half skin option, available only at Norsemen. I use them alot more than I thought, like today, and the day I met you on Marmot, and am taking them in to Skoki end of March.
Thanks for the tip, Helen. Do these have x-country or alpine touring bindings?
NNN BC bindings on mine and I prefer the manual ones to the step-in ones. Both same price. Bought my boots Madshus Glittertind on http://www.skinnyskis.com for half the price as in Calgary. The skins come with a neat clip that slides smoothly right into the base, and are only 28″ long and 1.5″ wide. You saw me skiing down in them on Marmot.
What brand are the skins? They are only 1.5 in wide? We have Fischer BC skis and they are only 48.5 mm wide. And I haven’t seen any skins < 50mm …
The skins are part of the Asnes technology and they come in various widths. I bought the 35mm and 45mm ones but prefer the narrower ones. Pic below of man clipping his skins into their slots.
Live near Canmore – happy to show you my skis. Doing Moonlight Ski Monday night 6:30 starting at Goat Creek. Bob has my e-dress.
Me neither, this is interesting, thanks Helen, I have the 55 Rossignols and pretty much gave up on finding skins.
Those piano black Holmokens’ are just beautiful, but I bet they would really show the scratches. Saw them at Norseman a few years back, $400 or something like that? My wife would kill me.
My husband and I have been skiing Skogan Pass for years, it is one of our favourite ski especially since there never was hardly anyone else skiing it and a lot of days it wasn’t trackset. We enjoy skiing on fresh snow and especially appreciated that the top part of the pass going into the trees was never groomed, it is pretty disappointing that the whole thing is track set now. One time we broke trail the whole way up and there was so much snow we didn’t have to snowplow once on the way down. All of this tracksetting is getting to be a bit much, you may as well be on the downhill slopes.
Hi Jackie. We also have been skiing Skogan and all the trails in the Ribbon
Creek area for many years. It has always been hit and miss if Skogan Pass
has been track set when we have ventured out for a ski. Historically it seems Skogan Pass is one of the last trails to be groomed/trackset after a big snow fall. I
suggest if you prefer powder and to break trail that you watch the weather
reports and get out there soon after a dump of fresh snow. And, people
who prefer groomed/trackset trails can update on the trail reports. Or, plenty of powder snow can be found on back country trails! There is something
Trail to SKOKI was glorious on Mon-Wed, 18th-20th. Not cut track, of course, but nicely soft-packed by skidoo. Beautiful all the way from Lake Louise/Temple Lodge to Skoki Lodge, with about 20 cm of new snow pillowing the land all around. The trail was soft enough to fly down the 4-km toboggan run on the back of Deception Pass almost under control, my first time ever without falling or bailing. It was a near-perfect three-day trip.
Dennis: What type of skis did you use? Any recommendations for tours starting at Skoki?
Hi Thorsten. I used skinny skis (20 year old Fischer RCS, 40 mm). They’re all I have, so I’ve used them all eight times skiing into Skoki, and haven’t had a problem. I like that they are so light. I’ve never had skins for the trip either. I usually have to herring-bone the top half of deception pass, but that’s okay. One of these times, I’ll try
skins, just see how the experience compares. I’m guessing the time to get them on and off will be about the same as the time they save on the climb.
As I said in my similar report in the “Backcountry” section, I think I would take light touring skis next time if I had them. Not necessarily for the ski in and out, but to expand the options for touring once you get there, especially if there is a new snowfall.
Our group of eight on this latest trip had skis ranging from mine to 50 mm with and without metal edges, some waxless, and two folks on alpine touring gear. The six who weren’t on AT didn’t use skins. All did fine. Note though that conditions were very good for both wax and waxless this trip.
Our standard tour from Skoki is through Jones’ Pass to the Cyclone warden’s cabin for lunch, then back. Pretty relaxed. There is a good trail beyond the cabin, following down the Red Deer River for a longer out and back. There’s a trail off of that one to a natural bridge, but the only time I headed for the bridge there was no track and my skinny skis didn’t hold me up. After 50 metres of something more like tunnelling than skiing, I abandoned that goal.
Skiing around Fossil mountain is another popular one, less likely to have been tracked by others once you leave the trail to Cyclone. I did it a few years ago, in fresh snow. The short portion through the trees, up and over the forested ridge was a challenge on the skinny skis (understatement).
Hope that helps.
West Bragg- February 22.
Decisions, decisions- to ride or ski on Friday afternoon.
Why not do both?
Round one was the very popular mountain bike loop over Ranger Summit, which is in excellent winter riding condition.
After changing footwear and waxing skis back at the trailhead, on to round two of my foothills afternoon:
Sundog-Elbow-Loggers-Crystal Line west. A bit of recent snow and re-grooming has freshened things up considerably. A soft surface is underlain in most areas by a hard base, making for nice fast skiing. There were a few short bits of icy tracks and minor thin spots. I would rate conditions where I skied as fair-good.
The snow remained dry, Rode Viola multigrade wax did the job perfectly.
Steve, how much snow was there over Ranger Summit? Any signs of logging activity? If I wasn’t committed to another ride tomorrow, I would go find out for myself.
Sorry for the late reply, but you know- gone skiing : ) .
Snow depth on the Ranger Summit loop (Ranger Summit-Strange Brew-Boundary Ridge North) varies from 0-10 cm. Where there is much snow, the center tread is hardpacked which makes for very good riding. A few ruts here and there keep you on your toes, there are areas of ice under last week’s dusting which make studded tires very nice to be on, if not mandatory for most riders.
Signs of logging?- The loop crosses Iron Springs and Crystal Line east which are now being used as logging roads. They do not appear to have been widened too much. I also rode up Boundary Ridge going south from the junction with Strange Brew. As I approached the highpoint the trail comes within about 100m of a large new cutblock to the west, which explained the fresh pine scented air.
Sundance Lodge via Healy and Brewster Creeks: not the best of trail conditions. Lower half was hard packed with some faint tracks and a good amount of pine needles and other debris sprinkled across the trail. Conditions got better further up the trail with slighly more defined tracks and less dirt. Waxing was a real challenge. Tried special purple at first but had no kick. Added a layer of red which worked a bit better but not great either. Going down was fun since the trail was hard but not icy.
P.S. Adding to the wildlife stories shared by others: saw a nice pile of wolf scat on the trail, similar to what Bob had photographed last year ( http://skierbob.ca/2011/02/brewster-creek/).
Conservation officer (or as I like to call them “Ranger Rick” confirmed Elk & Cougar. Kinda obvious with all the cougar warning signs out but the elk part was confirmed….
I THOUGHT those were Cougar tracks I saw on Coal Mine on Wednesday. They criss-crossed the trail numerous times about 1/2 km up from the Hidden junction.
I knew he/she was watching me . . . but really bad singing (I had “Dancing Queen” in my head all day) scares them off.
Just got back from the Cascade Fire road, out to the bridge and back. Going up the hill was a bit of a slog with variable conditions which made it feel more like touring than classic skiing. Once up top the flats were nice. Sme us was shining over Cascade at the bridge around 3:00 pm. Looks like the trail to the cabin is in good shape.
Super windy here in Banff today, so lots of debris should be expected on other trails.
Not a scuffle
I too just got back from Ribbon Creek. The ‘animal scuffle’ was in fact where a cougar killed an elk. It occurred about 200 meters upstream of the bridge; that is, about 2.4 kms from the trailhead. Reading the signs, the original attack took place about 40 meters up the trail with the elk struggling along as told by the hair torn out and blood. It appears that there was then a major blood loss and the elk staggered off about 20 meters to the south where it died. The tracks were messed up as a couple if dogs had investigated the site before me, so at first I thought maybe a wold kill… but no, it was cougar.
As an aside, the snow was great and VR 45 worked perfectly for me.
That makes sense – we initially thought it had been cougar vs deer, but the trail was so torn up for such a distance it didn’t seem possible for a deer to put up that much of a fight. Very bold of you to continue on – we high-tailed it at the first sight of blood!
ps: My Rode P32 (-1 to -3) wasn’t very grippy at 8 AM but I didn’t have anything softer so had to work a bit harder on the trail today.
I thought deer at first but further up the trail I found the tan-coloured hair that comes from elk. (I know from fly-tieing)
I too had serious doubts, but I figured the cougar was probably resting on a full stomach… and besides I am awfully stringy and probably don’t taste nearly as good as elk.
Photos are available to view at
Just got back from Ribbon Creek. The skiing on the Ribbon Creek trail was great until we came across evidence of some sort of animal scuffle about 500m past the Kovach Link turnoff. There were frozen blood droplets and hair everywhere and the entire trail was churned up for about 40m – so much so that we couldn’t even see any evidence of the track setting! We called it a day, and once at the car reported it to the wildlife folks.
Just back from a “road trip” to ski Nipika for the first time with my two girlfriends. From Canmore the drive is not all that appreciably longer than driving right into Emerald Lake and nice to enjoy the scenery on hwy 93 for a change. Settlers Road (14 kms stretch) has one scary narrow hairpin type section before one crosses the bridge over the Kootenany River. I felt like I had driven onto a charming Western movie filming set. The Day Use building is charming, complete with waxing setup and a huge bucket of various waxes, some snowshoes hanging from the ceiling, a nice wood stove, hot drinks available for loonie purchase, and some neat antique artifacts. We met the track-setter who accepted our $10 day use fee. One needs a map for sure, although trail junctions are well numbered and some very interesting trail names (some of which a minister might not approve of). There is a super toboggan area complete with several types of sleds to use. The trails are normally at their best for snow in February but Wednesday, they were hard packed and generally a challenge to explore. We concentrated on the North trail system which took us to Natural Bridge, then skied over top it and crossed back over the Cross River on Canyon Bridge. The most common sign we saw, was “STEEP HILL” and we walked up and down the majority of them. Snow was reportedly better at the north end, and we never got to the south trail system. We likely skied/walked only 1/4 of the Cross River Canyon Trails but what we say was very beautiful. The scenery is spectacular and well worth a return visit when the snowfall is more plentiful. A perfect family-oriented place, including being very dog-friendly. The six cabins are more suited to groups of 6 or 8 and we did not check them out. We stayed at Park Inn in Radium, a mere 35 minute drive and owner, Nazir could not have been more hospitable.
Thank you Bob for your Feb 20th report on Ribbon Creek.
Ray Perrott and I starting at 9:30 am were the first out on the freshly track set Bill Milne trail and Wedge Connector. Skiing was great as we headed up the valley into the wind. Coming back we sailed! A blue wax (-5 to -9C) worked well for me all day, but not so well for Ray who topped up with a purple for kick. Also skied up Ribbon Creek and found the track well used but holding. It was -4C in the morning and 0C at 3:00 pm. The sky was overcast most of the day, so the snow will be good again tomorrow and hopefully for the weekend.
Excellent hill climb day today up Coal Mine and Marmot. Fresh trackset and courdoroy was absolutely wonderful. Only car in the Ribbon Creek parking lot at 8:45am, but quite a few when I got back. WOW . . . does Marmot take a lot of Herring Bone. I think it’s probably one of the steepest (and fastest) trials in Kananaskis. Seems to be tougher than Skogan Pass in my opinion?? Met some friends who were skiing Nakiska and hit the lounge for a few REWARD BEERS!!! Only saw three people all day . . . I’m going to have to start later in the day to meet Skier Bob, and I can hardly wait!!
GREAT website Bob . . . I check it every day. Thanks everyone!
My wife and I just got back from sking in the BC interior. The sking was great! Quick Synopsis :
West Kelowna : Telemark Nordic Club http://www.telemarkx-c.com/
Great sking within 20 minutes of Kelowna. The cost is 10.00 which goes towards grooming.
I recommend skate as the area is not high in elevation and waxing for classic is trickier during most of the winter. (It was 3 C when we were there.)
A good loop (10 km) is Fern Creek which has an additional summit loop.
Kelowna: Kelowna Nordic Centre -http://www.kelownanordic.com/
Located 35 km east of Kelowna on the way to Big White.
Kelowna Nordic is considerably higher in elevation than Telemark and it has great trails even though all the work is done by volunteers.
Cost is 10.00.
I recommend Riverside-Upper Meadow – Olympic-Kallis Creek-Lower Meadow – Look-out Loop. We skated it but would be great with classic skies too.
Pentiction : Nickel Plate Nordic Centre http://www.nickelplatenordic.org/
33 km from Penticton – just follow the signs to the Apex Mountain resort. Nickel Plate is just 5 km beyond Apex.
Cost is 15.00
This is a great nordic ski area ! Its high up the mountain which keeps the snow and makes classic waxing easier. We skied with classic skis – skate would be a blast and very, very challenging on some runs.
I recommend the Motherlode – Reimer’s Reach loop
This area has great terrain and great trails – maybe the best in the BC Interior!
Vernon: Silverstar – Sovereign Lakes http://winter.skisilverstar.com/ http://www.sovereignlake.com/
Both Silverstar and Sovereign Lakes Nordic Centre are located 22 km from Vernon.
Both Silverstar and Sovereign Lake Nordic centre have great facilities but I would recommend parking at Sovereign as opposed to going up to Silverstar unless you are planning on skiing the lower trails at Silverstar.
Both Silverstar and Sovereign sell dual nordic passes that allow you to ski both areas. The cost is 16.50 for one area and 22.00 for the dual pass for both resorts.
A popular option is to ski from Silverstar up to the summit, over to Sovereign onto either Aberdeen or Lars Taylor prehaps stopping at the Black Prince Cabin for lunch and return via Aberdeen or Lars Taylor.
We did this trip from Silverstar but I would recommend starting in Sovereign and sking to Silverstar and back. The dual nordic pass includes lifts on the skilifts so you have the option of taking the Alpine Chair from Silverstar to the summit for your return.
Note that the signing in Silverstar from the village to the upper nordic trails is very poor – you ski along the downhill mainstreet run for a few km before eventually getting to the Paridise nordic trail.
We also skated a loop in just lower Sovereign – Silver Queen returning on Carl Wylie – about 12 km ( with lots of climbing !)
The directions in Sovereign are confusing. We only found Silver Queen by taking the first unmarked trail from Wylies loop that turned out to be the Maid of Vernon that lead us to Prince of Wales and finally to the Silver Queen trailhead. luckily Silver Queen ends at the Black Prince Cabin and so trail finding from that moment on is straight forward.
Golden: Dawn mountain nordic club – http://goldennordicclub.ca/
Situated just past the base of the Kicking Horse Resort.
Cost is 10.00 or 25.00 for a family (very reasonable)
This nordic centre has only 35 km but the trails are lot of fun and there are some very challenging loops (especially on skate!)
Try Hawk Owl to Upper Raven and back Caribou – Moose meat – Chickadee – if you want great downhill and a challenging uphill return.
We didn’t get to Larch Hills outside of Salmon Arm this trip but we have skied it and I would add it to any trip based out of Vernon.
Happy Sking !
The SOCC traveled to Lake Louise Tuesday for perfect ski conditions. The lower Tram Line and some trails surrounding Deer Lodge were closed with ongoing power line work. All trails were groomed after Sunday night’s snow and it was cold enough for my green wax (-5C to -10C). Skiers on the Pipestone Loops reported very good conditions. I skied the Great Divide trail to the Lake O’Hara road and back seeing only eight other people all morning. Most of the time I was alone communing with Nature. After lunch I skied the Fairview Loop on new trackset. Trails close to the hotel and parking lots, that see a lot of traffic, were a bit rough, but after a km all were perfect. Kudos to the crews for their work in preparing the trails so quickly.
Beautiful Skiing in Crowsnest Pass!
Perhaps a bit far afield for this blog, but we tried something completely different today, and went skiing in Crowsnest Pass. Conditions were absolutely fantastic! There was some fresh snow over a good base, most trails had been very recently trackset, and the temperature was just below freezing. The map shows an incredible network of trails, but most of the junctions were only a few hundred metres apart, which we found a bit disconcerting. However, one could spend several hours skiing a variety of trails in this area and having great fun. Another slight disappointment was that the weather closed in – great for the snow, but we had no views at all.
To get to the trails, you take the turnoff to Chinook Lake, just a few km east of the Alberta – B.C. border on highway 3.
Before the season ends, I want to thank Chuck for all his incredible photography on his major ultra-long ski trips starting one place and ending up 35 kms later at another. Today your photos lured three of us up to Goat Creek and after the first few kms of boot-prints, we had a great ski to East Spray. Saw only one other skier going the opposite direction. Temp was minus 2 to minus 6. Thanks also to Gord for hearing the call of the Marmot and to those who commented on my efforts at track-setting Marmot Basin on Family Day. I will persevere to the Mid Mtn Lodge next time. How do people do it for countless kms. ????
Skid Ribbon creek, Kovach, Aspen and Terrace yesterday at the Kananaskis village.
The ski condition were superb and the Sunny ski was a added bonus. Thank you for the team at Kananaskis village to do such a great grooming Job.
I was just pursuing the official Peter Lougheed trail report, and they mentioned that ‘Skier Bob’ would be a good resource for up to date trail conditions! Looks like all the commenters have made an impact, nice work guys 🙂
Great, sunny day at CNC. Skied solid trackset on Banff Trail, Meadowview, Silvertip, and Bow(although the tracks were getting washed out a bit on Bow). Overall very good conditions and relatively quiet for a long weekend.
I was at CNC yesterday as well (Banff, MV, Bow) and it was just as Darcy said. On Bow I just needed to be a bit careful on a downhill followed by a turn – that’s mostly where the outer track got ‘blown out’, but nothing that the usual bit of footwork wouldn’t correct. I used Rode P32 (-3/-1) and that worked well for me. Maybe not quite as good of a glide but pretty good grip both on flat and climbing.
SPRAY AND GOAT CREEK TRACKSET
Starting at the Banff trailhead, we were overjoyed to see Don just setting off with the tracksetter. Could not believe our eyes when we got to the Goat Creek Junction to see that he had continued up to the park boundry at the Goat Creek trailhead. Had to make use of those beautiful tracks. Remind yourself what fresh tracks look like at:
Of course then we had to head home…. another 34 km day!
Same as Thorsten, Marmot from Nakiska Lodge with daughter A while daughter B snowboarded. Couldn’t get quite enough velocity for the Utopian powder run, just a tad too deep I suppose, fun all the same. I can’t believe it’s the second time I’ve missed Bob!
I didn’t go up Marmot, too much work in all that fresh snow! I went only to the Marmot/Skogan junction and turned around. I hope we meet soon, though. -Bob
Marmot Basin from Ribbon Creek. Trail is trampled to Nakiska ski area, machine groomed and track set between the ski area and the Skogan Pass turnoff , and skier-set the rest of the way. Big thank you to Helen and the unknown couple who put the track in for us. Still quite the workout in 20 cm of fresh snow. On the way down we met the man himself – Skier Bob. It was great finally meeting you in person!
Lake Louise area: stayed at the L.L. hostel and skied three days. Saturday was Pipestone Loops, which were in great shape as Helen Reid has already reported. Sunday we skied into Lake O’Hara. It snowed on the way in: 5 to 10 cm of new snow, depending on elevation. The road was skier tracked on top of the previous trackset, and the fresh snow was a bit sticky, making for a slow-ish trip going in. After changing wax, the trip back was wonderfully fast until the last three Km, when it got sticky again. Generally good conditions, which should be superb with the next trackset. Today (Monday), we skied Moraine Road and Tramline, all freshly trackset this morning after 5-8 cm of new snow Sunday pm. These trails are in very good condition, and should stay that way as the coming week’s temperatures are forecast to be cooler than the prior week.
I went out to the mtns this morning and thanks to your reports I picked Ribbon Creek knowing that it was trail set and knowing that the trails in PLPP would be covered in new snow.
I suspect I was only about the sixth skier over the trail today, and it was great. While Calgary huddled in a cold fog, I enjoyed sunshine and fresh snow.
I love this site!!!!
Skid Cascade Valley fire road yesterday. Lot’s of fresh snow. Track are not in good shape as skier set. Snow conditions were sticky and tracks were very slow on descents.
Track need to be reset in both directions. 😉 Happy to see new snow.
We did Pocaterra to the Lynx junction at PLPP mid day today. It was around -4C and continuous snow fall. Although it looked really pretty, we found it pretty hard to get around in the deeper snow. I guess we must be spoiled from the previous track set trails. I am sure once the snow stops and all is re-set, it will be fabulous!
Skied the Emerald Lake Connector for the first time ever today. Wonderful fast conditions although on the way back the tracks were getting a little glazed in spots. It had snowed there earlier in the day followed by lots of blue sky and lovely views. Two weeks old Swix purple worked fine as it did yesterday for very fast conditions up at Lake Louise on Fairview and the horse trail to the end of the lake (another first and a great alternative to the often trod-upon lake trails). Drove back from Emerald late this afternoon into snow starting at the Divide that was a blizzard by the Lake Louise turnoff. Considering Thorsten’s post, looks like tomorrow could be a fresh powder day up here.
Boom Lake, Kootenay NP: trail is in excellent condition. This is a multi-use trail, so no track-setting, but wonderful snow and lots of it. Skied a bit around the east side of the lake in knee-deep powder. It started snowing again in the afternoon and it came down pretty good. On the way back to Calgary we stopped for coffee and scones at the Storm Mountain Lodge – beautiful place. It continued to snow hard all the the way through Banff and Canmore. Can’t wait to get out there again tomorrow!
Powder Day at the Fire Lookout!
Up to 15 cm new snow, on our Sunday loop over the Kananaskis Fire Lookout.
Descending the south side was a blast with lots of turns in the low density dry snow. The previously set tracks were still well defined in most places other than in the open on Hydroline. Lower down on Fox Creek-Moraine there was less snow making for fast easy travel over what felt like quite icy tracks. Waxing was not an issue at all. Still more snow falling through the afternoon in the form of intense cells mixed with teasers of brighter sky. A much needed refresher!
Off Topic, but observed on the way to skiing:
We were driving out to PLPP today at about 10:00. At the Highway 40 turnoff we saw a hot air balloon, probably over Barrier Lake at that time. Within a few minutes it was well to the east. Given the Chinook conditions this morning, I figured this was not a great place/time for ballooning! In fact a second balloon set down on the lower slopes of Mt. Lorrett, and at the end of the day it was still there. There were more emergency vehicles at the Wasootch Creek crossing than I knew existed in the Kananaskis valley.
Anyone know any more details on this situation, such as whether the one balloon was able to set down safely before it got to Regina?
Kananaskis Country Public Safety posted a photo of the ballon at Mt. Lorrett on their Facebook page – there were no injuries, everybody walked away from it.
Here’s a link to the Facebook page and photo http://www.facebook.com/KCPublicSafety -Bob
Pipestone trails were a very popular place today; minus 2, sun/cloud mix, no wind. Tracks holding up very well. Did the opposite to the usual and went up Hector, Drummond, Merlin to the top, then went further up the Pipestone trail another 3 kms. While I cannot believe the efforts of people like James Kohut, to skier-track 16-18 kms BEYOND the top, we had a sufficient workout enjoying 3 additional kms. likely in his skier tracks. Also decided (for our first time) to come down Pipestone in the clockwise fashion and were surprised seeing so many people still skiing up at 2pm. The side trip to Mud Lake always nicer when beautifully trackset. Thanks James and Co.
SKI SUNDANCE TO THE WARDEN CABIN
There is a track all the way to the warden cabin, so we have another option for a good long ski.
Sundance Lodge is now open.
You might notice drums in which beavers have been dropped off for the wolverine project.
Snowmobiles have gone as far as Turtle Tom’s cabin (old logger’s cabin 2 km past Sundance Lodge) and then it’s skier tracked to the warden cabin.
Surprised to find some damage to trees in front of cabin.
Lots of wildlife tracks.
If Greg & Linda at the Lodge had not been so damned hospitable, headlamps would not be necessary!
SPRAY RIVER –
Lower to mid secton – 9 Km beyond Goat Creek
(NOTE: FINAL WARNING TO GET COMMENTS IN REGARDING PARKS CANADA USER FEE CONSULTAION PROCESS- CLOSES FEB. 18, 2013. PARK FEES ARE GOING UP UNLESS YOU STOP IT. GO TO
http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/agen/tarifs-fees/consultation.aspx. TO MAKE COMMENTS. ON FEB. 11/13 PETER KENT SAID IN PARLIAMENT “We have developed a new fee regime…” (see Hansard). SO CHANCES ARE FEES ARE LIKELY “FIXED” IN STONE ALREADY. MAKE YOUR COMMENTS KNOWN ANYWAYS! HURRY!!!
On Wednesday afternoon the lower section of the Spray River road trail was in generally good shape with minor debris and some sun affected areas on the trail. There was a medium to heavy skiff of new snow on the tracks. Snow varied in speed and grip. At the start of the trail it looked like debris hell but the trail quickly improved. The further you go up the trail the better the snow gets. A couple of cm’s of new snow will make for excellent skiing.
Beyond the Goat Creek turn off the trail is skier packed. A snowmobile did some damage to the skier tracks for the first 1/2 kilometer but after that the trail improves. I rebroke the trail past the Sundance turn off up to the old camp site. From there I broke trail about another 4.5 kilometers up the valley to the big clear cut to gain some nice views. This is a good area for a break as there are lots of snow free stumps to sit on. I was able to enjoy the company of a moose at about 10 feet away while skiing. There are a lot of tracks of various animals in the valley and animals to be found so bring your camera.
How delighted we were to ski in 2-3 cms. of fresh powder atop all the recent excellent tracksetting and a start temp of minus 4 @ Pocaterra. While we struggled with a bit of clumping in the fresh snow when climbing uphill out of the tracks, we found VR50 worked better than our original V45 Violet Special. Those often forgotten Stroil, Come Along and Rolly Road were also great fun! Thanks to Mary Perrott’s trip report, we deferred our planned trip to Nipika to next week, in hopes of more snow there. Lake Louise ski hill sure got a much needed dump. Can’t wait to ski out that way tomorrow.
Another full bus of 55 SOCC members and one other, who car pooled to the trail head, enjoyed the best ski conditions I have had for quite some time (maybe all this season) in PLPP. The tracks are holding up very well because the base is rock solid making for fast downhill gliding and a particularly exciting run down Whiskey Jack. Until new snow arrives caution is advised on the steep long hills as I was on the edge of control several times today. EXCITING! We toured from Elk Parking over Elk Pass and down Tyrwhitt and Whiskey Jack. We skied back to Pocaterra via Packers and then down Pocaterra to Lynx junction. This part of Pocaterra was glazed and fast. We climbed Lynx (more hills on sketchy violet kick wax now) to access Amos, Lodgepole, Sinclair and finished at Pocaterra Hut. Lodgepole and Sinclair were newly groomed and excellent for our final km’s. Most of us carried home forest souvenirs, but I feel the Park trails are relatively clean of tree debris. It was -6C at WW Lodge, as we set out, and -1C (?) at 3:00 pm at Pocaterra. Special violet was the best wax for the day, particularly good for climbing in the morning.
Fast! That’s how we found conditions at the south end of PLPP today. Starting at Boulton (-3C), we skied up Packers, Pocaterra and Tyrwhitt (-5C at the high meadows) to Elk Pass. We returned via Tyrwhitt and Whiskey Jack. All the trails had a nice, well defined trackset of hard packed snow (no ice) making for sometimes scary speeds (for us) on the steeper downhill sections. Great fun, except a little tricky on some corners. A few needles on most trails, with the only serious debris being on the section of Tyrwhitt from Lookout Jct south for about 500m. Temp was 0C back at the parking lot. A very enjoyable outing! Good to meet you today, skier Bob!
Great temperatures and sunlight allowed us to take in the sights of Lake O’Hara today, including the waterfalls at the end of the lake:
Great photos from a beautiful day !
We went to Lake Louise today and skate skied highway 1A to the divide. The temperatures were around 0, blue skies and the snow was in great condition. No issues with getting into a nice rhythm at all. Afterwards we went up to the Chateau Lake Louise and checked out all the ice sculptures along the lake.
7 Meanderthals headed up Moraine Lake Road to Paradise Valley. We skied on nicely skier-tracked trail to the last bridge before steep ascent to Annette Lake. Coming out alot of fun and we completed our trip with Fairview Loop/Tramline. Pleasantly surprised by minus 8 temps and nice snow-very little debris.
Skied to Lake O’Hara, Saturday on Swix blue, but could have been using Green. Skied Emerald Lake with Swix green. Great conditions, clean tracks, and cold temperatures made for great skiing.
Ribbon Creek Sunday, Feb 11.
We started on Ribbon creek at 10:30 am on Sunday.
Track were Icy as well as middle. The same on Link,, Terrace, and Skogan pass, Hidden trail.
On Skogan pass there was a even a huge Ice flow. In the Troll falls are the tracks were almost destroyed by walker and such.
Thanks to my Salomon wax less, back country Nordic skis I still had fun even on Icy conditions.
Conditions for the Birkie were all set up Friday afternoon for a perfect day – good snow, good tracks, moderate temperatures, and easy waxing. Then it snowed!
It started snowing at about 07:15 continuing until about 09:45, leaving 2-3 cm of new, wet, warm snow over the tracks. All of the wax recommendations from Friday afternoon were now essentially useless, as almost every wax combination was likely to either not kick, or to ice up and grab. Over the 55 km course the snow varied from soft & new, to glazed, to ice, to wet & icy, to firm old snow. You name it, we had it! And all of those snow types could occur anywhere on the course, and within the same section of trail!
I have done several Birkies since 1992, and these were the most trying conditions I have encountered. I have never seen so many skiers stopped along the trail to rewax. Usually there is some rewaxing towards the end of the trail as wax wears off or conditions warm. But this year the rewaxing began right on the lake, and continued to within a few kms of the finish.
To show you how slow the skiing was, the average time for the top 10 finishers in the Birkie with pack was 4:23:28. In the past 10 Birkies the next slowest year was 2003 when the corresponding time was 3:59:31, whereas the fastest year was 2011 when the times were 3:24:04.
Is there something to learn from this? I guess the main lesson is to be prepared for a range of conditions, even when the forecast is relatively stable.
I have yet to hear about a wax combination that worked without icing/grabbing. If someone was successful, I’d love to hear about what worked for them. The only success stories that I have heard came from people who went with “hairies”, or zeros, or waxless skies. And, the winner of the Birkie Lite skied without wax, double poling the whole trail!
Toko yellow over Swix red V54 did not ice and had good grip on all hills except the first 8k, which needed double poling. No skill involved, just blind luck – it was what was in my fanny pack when I was standing at the start line without any grip at all from VR45.
Yeah, tough one out there for sure. The biggest problem with the conditions was the fact that the track changed depending on how many skiers had gone over it previously. The hairies preparation was the only sure fire way to have decent skis in most of the conditions. Hairies are very rarely perfect, even in “perfect hairiesw conditions” like we had at the birkie. Anytime we see zero degrees and fresh humid snow, we generally think to try those skis first. At the front end of the race, I would have been testing Rode multigrade, violet and rot extra with various layering techniques. further back in the glazed track, I would have tried rode yellow, likely covered with one of the violet or multigrade. Either way, no guarantees! I made the decision to double pole the day before, not because of the conditions, but because the course was flat enough to make it faster, and it was training for the Swedish Vasaloppet. It isn’t a viable option for most people. The toughest job was for the waxing services provided by Fast Trax and Track n Trail. thanks to them for their efforts and their hard work! Anyone who used the service likely knows, or should know that it could have been much, much worse without their efforts! Congrats to all who persevered – I’m sure the stories are still being told!
Good luck with the Vasa Brian. The strength and endurance to double pole the entire coarse is quite unbelievable. Apperently it is the norm now in long distance races.Having watched vidios of the Vasa and Marcia longa proved that. The last three kilometers of the Marcialonga double polling; I would not think is physically possible. However the leaders indeed did it. Supermen to say the least.
We started out today not knowing if it would be worth the trip – and not knowing exactly where we were going either. Stopped off at Barrier Lake and made the decision that today was to be a “Shark” day, and boy am I glad we did.
We did Mary Perrott’s favourite Blue loop twice with a sprint up the Watridge Lake road thrown in for good measure before lunch.
After lunch we thought we’d do the 10k loop. “Daddy Face Plants” trail, the men’s 5k Red Loop was just fine, and in fact everything was gorgeous. About 4 cm of fresh snow over groomed trails.
We passed the 15K turn off and re-entry points and climbed to Watridge Lake Road and decided that rather than continue the 10k loop we’d head off to the Lake and the Park Boundary because we’d never done so. Had a blast gliding back down the hill. An amazing day.
Kananaskis Village – in the dark
Family ski out and back on Terrace, Kovach, and Aspen last night, starting at about 7:30pm (new headlamps from MEC). Amazing conditions, almost no debris (picked up nothing at all, using VR45). Fairly new tracksetting, well used trails but in almost perfect shape .Not a single footprint on the tracks. Perfect grip, screaming fast downhills (then again, speed is a little harder to judge in the dark). Shut the lights off a couple of times and skied by feel.
One of the best skis of my life (right up there with LL to Banff Loppet)
Skied pocaterra to the tyrwhitt meadows on Sunday morning. Snow was about -16C at 0845 and the tracks were freshly set up to the packers junction. Beyond that point they are a few days old but had about 5mm of new snow on top. Apart from a few pine cones there’s no debris and the tracks are wonderful.
Highlight was meeting a moose on the return trip. She was on the north bound track about 1km north of the whiskey jack junction and once she heard me snowplowing to a stop she moved off into the trees.
There was also a moose near the highway in the elk section near the mt Kidd rv campground.
To echo Stephen’s comments, conditions at PLPP are holding up very well. While Stephen started early, we took the afternoon shift, and temps at Boulton were -2 @ 1pm, snow temp was -8 in the shade, with about 1cm of fresh snow overnight by the looks of it in the parking lot. Skied on VR40 up Whiskey Jack and over to Elk Pass and back to Boulton – all trails were in great condition. Air temp seemed colder than the -4C displayed when we arrived back at the car, so with luck the overnight lows will help keep the snowpack cold through the week.
CASCADE RIVER- lower to mid section beyond Stoney Creek
The lower section of the trail is generally very good with some minor debris on the trail and some minor sun effects on the ski track on Friday afternoon. The snow was great for grip n’ glide.
The mid section of the valley was generally excellent. I crossed Stoney Creek below the knocked out bridge and skied about another 7 kilometers up valley to get views of Cuthead Peak and the Wigwam creek area along with the mountains beyond. The trail past Stoney Creek is skier tracked up towards the Cuthead Warden cabin area with an excellent firm base so your poles do not sink too deep. You will enjoy excellent fast snow to move quickly on. Lots of animal tracks can be found on the trail for your viewing pleasure. Get up into this area while you still have the chance to cross the frozen creeks and view some nice mountains and big elk on a sunny sunny day!
West Bragg, February 8
Not a ski report as such- I was on my bike, riding the Ranger Summit-Strange Brew- Boundary Ridge loop. Very good conditions for that on a brilliant warm afternoon. Studded tires recommended especially for Boundary.
My route crossed the ski trails numerous times- in general they appeared very firm with icy tracks. The conditions would make for fairly rugged and fast skiing. It’s been a tough season for West Bragg skiing, it’s actually surprising that we have had as many good days there as we have had- kudos to the groomers.
Having the good riding conditions is a consolation of sorts, but I’m still hoping for more snow!
Our first-ever ski at Nipika on the 7th. Ray and I, along with Keith Bagnall set out Wednesday and skied at Lake Louise (conditions excellent, as Chris reported yesterday). We stayed in Radium overnight and then drove to Nipika Thursday am. We found old, icy trackset with about a centimeter of new snow. The new snow made the track skiable, but we found hills to be a problem going up, very icy. Toughest hill of the season (Double-hump hill) was a long expanse of frozen herringbone tracks that made for a bumpy (and scary) descent for us! Still, some of the flatter sections were very pleasant and fast. Very friendly operators at Nipika, nice facility. Would be great with a lot more snow!
Thank you Mary very much for this post. Was planning a two night in Radium this coming Wed/Thurs and to ski Nipika both those days but we might have to rethink this. Have always appreciated your (and Keith Bagnall’s) credible posts on this forum. The Feb 6th report on Nipika website sounded somewhat more optimistic:
“EXCELLENT SKI CONDITIONS. 2 – 3 cms of fresh snow overnight, 100% of the trails groomed, -4 C temperature, excellent skiing. Everything is set for both classic & skate skiing.”
Cascade Fire Road – Yes! Freshly groomed for classic and skate. Don had just finished when we started and with the new snow on the trail and only two skiers ahead of us it was great! Skating or classic – you won’t be disappointed.
“Silky” snow at Lake Louise today thanks to 2-3 cms new overnight. VR45 worked all day (-4C at 11.30 am/0C at 2 pm). MLR, 1A, Lower Tele, Upper Tram groomed yesterday – for some unknown reason, Lower Tele was only single-trackset not the usual double. Even trails groomed on Feb 2 (Fairview, Peyto, Upper Tele) were holding up really well. Little to no debris on any trails. High use areas were just beginning to glaze over as we left. Still red tape across Lower Tram as we drove back down to the village.
GRIZZLY BEARS ROAMING IN KANANASKIS
MOUNT BLACK PRINCE AREA CLOSURE
The closure area of the Mount Black Prince area in Kananaskis Country has been enlarged after skiers with unleashed dogs were ignoring the signs and causing concern for a mother grizzly bear and her cubs denning in the area.
Kananaskis Park Rangers closed the Mount Black Prince day-use area, interpretive trail and the sweet ‘n deep backcountry ski slopes in November when a bear denned with her cubs in the area. Now more area has been shut down to protect the bears from irresponsible people who have ignored the law and concern for the bears.
The mother bear has been making some movements in the area during the winter months, which is relatively common with grizzlies in winter. Dogs off leash in winter, just like summer, can make very good bear bait attracting bears to skiers. Let me say you don’t want to face a hungry griz in the middle of winter.
As a result, the closure has recently been enlarged to include the day use parking lot and access roads, as well as all access routes to backcountry ski slopes from the Smith-Dorrien/ Spray Lakes Road in the Mount Black Prince Area.
The Grizzly Bear is a threatened species and as a result people should respect the law and stay away from this area so that the bears may sleep in peace otherwise the life of the bears may be put at risk. If a griz attacks someone, then it generally has to be shot. This is a lose lose situation.
Grizzlies were put on the Alberta’s threatened list a couple of years ago as the number of bears was declining. There are now only about 500 to 700 grizzly bears in Alberta, compared with 1,200 in the later 1980s.
Fines are being issued to law breakers who enter the closed area so be bear responsible and stay away from the Mount Black Prince area.
Make way for the winter survival of the endangered Grizzlies. There is plenty of other back country skiing terrain- like Mosquito Creek in Banff.
The closure of Black Prince this winter is unfortunate for back-country skiers, but obviously necessary in view of the sow’s habitat. From what I understand, this sow has been breeding offspring like no other! In this case, 3 cubs? I can respect the closure.
That said, Black Prince was one of the safer areas for alpine touring along the SD highway – if skied wisely (I was on it a dozen times last year). The slope on the “cone” is nicely pitched with open trees. With the closure, and modest avalanche hazard, we’ve been steered into various terrain that we had never skied before (eg. Tryst Chutes, SuperSlope, Hero’s, Murray Ck, etc.). There are tracks on every avalanche slope from Tent Ridge to Black Prince North. And in a lot of respects, it’s been pretty cool to be able to do those.
However, I’m just curious as to where this is going to lead. Many of the skiers/riders are young and inexperienced. What is going to happen when the avalanche hazard goes up to Considerable? Will they back off?
14 Meanderthals (ably organized by leader Geoff) arrived up at Mt Shark at 10:15 and temperature minus 6! The fresh track-setting of two days ago has 2-3 cms of great fun powder to cushion our descent on those big hills. 8 of us skied the 10 kms Yellow Loop, then out to Watridge junction and to joyfully end the day, up the yet unskied tracks to the heli pad with a quick 7 minute descent. We totally lucked out with great snow, minus 3 temps all day, cooperating wax, and in wonderful company. Thank you Geoff.
I did an overnighter to Healy Pass Area on Tuesday-Wednesday. Cross country skiing heaven!
Healy Creek trail was skier packed to the Meadows. When I skied out there was about 4cm of fresh snow on the trail.
-The snow on the East side of Healy Pass is very good right now. A consolidated base of +1.5m with +/-10cm soft fresh snow blown from the higher peaks. Because of the wind borne snow, it was sunny and snowing while I was there. Trail breaking is fairly easy as long as you stay off the facetted lake snow. The temperature probably never rose above -7 while I was there. It may look like spring in the parking lot but it’s deep winter up there.
Some general details about the area in case it’s new to you.
– Healy Creek trail is 7.8km from Parking lot to Meadows. In good conditions you could reach meadows in the ballpark of 2-3 hours. ( I took 2.25rs with XC skis and Skins). The Ski out is fast – it took me <1 hour!
-The rolling hills, lakes, and meadows on the East side of Healy Pass are excellent terrain for XC skiing and light touring (don't lug up AT skis). I was able to have fun making some turns on my 3 pin bindings. I traveled around easily on waxless skis. I had skins but didn't need them in the meadows.
– The terrain is quite safe with respect to Avalanches – use your wits and keep your distance from the larger mountains that wrap around the meadows. Lots of area to venture around without a chance of avalanche. There are 3 Avalanche runouts on the Healy Creek trail. These sunny spots are not a good place to eat lunch but not a big worry really since it only takes 1 minute to ski through them.
Skied the Canmore Nordic Centre this evening. The main tracks were pretty good, but a bit icy. Once passed the mine scar, Banff Trail, Meadowview, and Rundle were covered in pine needles.
Has anyone been on Goat creek or Spray river trails recently? I received this email from Dawn:
The Norsemen have scheduled a trip to Goat Creek this weekend and I want an honest opinion as to the trail conditions. The trail report says fair to good. I have been told that the upper trail to the hotel is not that bad.
Please comment on the following;
– Canmore to the picnic area
– Picnic area to the hotel (upper and lower)
Dawn Giffen, Tour Coordinator
A full bus of 55 SOCC members and some others, who car pooled to the trail head, traveled to PLPP for another great day of skiing (and snowshoeing). A group of us started at Elk Parking where we met Ray and Mary Perrott who joined us on our ascent/decent of Blueberry Hill. We toured ccw up to Elk Pass and down Tyrwhitt and Pocaterra to Pocaterra Hut. We found conditions between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm very much as Bob’s description of his day. The south most meadow of Tyrwhitt was spectacular in the sun and had the best snow we encountered all day. Once we were past the Packers junction the tracks were glazed and fast (not withstanding the debris jerks). We had enough time to include Come Along and Rolly Road for our finish. All tracks from the Lynx junction and around Pocaterra Hut were glazed. We observed millions of tiny insects in the snow along Rolly Road. The snow appeared to be sooty with them.
Minus 1 at upper Louise parking lot today. Used V 45 Violet Special which worked fine all day: descended down Green Peyto, Lower Telemark (yes, to needles and tree “mustache”) skied Divide to top of big hill, then back on Blue Peyto. Snow best on Divide but a pretty nice day all in all. Am guessing best snow conditions now in Yoho. Noticed a few trails marked closed with red ribbon while driving past them (lower Tramline and west side of Bow River Loop?)
I skied out at Mt. Shark today with the M n’ M bus group on the Watridge Trail followed by taking the blue loop near the Biathalon Range. There was a warm, blustery wind drifting fresh snow into the tracks, but the Piston Bully has just finished track setting so it was wonderful on my waxless skis. Those with the waxable skis had a bit more of a challenge with sticking issues. Overall, a lovely day in our mountains.
Skied the Golden Nordic Club trails on Sunday. What an amazing trail system. If you’re heading through Golden bring your XC skies along with your alpine equipment. You won’t be disappointed.
Here’s their trail map for those interested: http://goldennordicclub.ca/sites/default/files/pdf/Dawn%20Mtn%20Trails%20Nov_22_2010.pdf
Fabulous skiing out at Nipika for the loppet this weekend – a big thank you to Lyle for hosting, a thank you to the groomers for doing such a great job to get perfect crisp track setting, and a big thank you to the volunteers for making it such a fun day out. The scenery was great, the tracks were fast, and many thanks to the great guys from Salomon and Columbia Cycles who helped with klister waxing, as I still had good grip up the hills by the end!
Had a ski up to the base of Mount Robertson today. The trail is hard packed to about 5 feet wide the whole way to the lakes. No ski tracks, but a little side to side sliding just adds to the fun. The lakes have a packed trail as well, but the high winds and blowing snow make it a bit hard to follow in parts. Nice ski tracks on the east side of the side valley towards Mt Robertson make it a quick run up and an even faster run back. Air temp at my car was +3, but the wind felt colder so I put VR40 on at the start and it worked like a charm the whole day. The nice wide trail heading down made snowplowing easy on the run back to the parking lot.
The snow is holding up fine in PLPP, Bob – Boulton @ 0930 this morning air temp was 0C snow temp was -5C. VR45 worked well climbing to Elk Pass, top-coated with VR50 for Blueberry Hill, and then stayed with that for the remainder of the day. The southern trails have a fair bit of tree debris on them and the tracks have a little glaze but only where strongly sun-affected. The northern trails are still in good shape, VR50 continued to work well.
Despite the +9 degrees showing on my vehicle yesterday, the snow temp at Cascade/Stoney Creek was a perfect +1. The sky was blue all day, the trail was a bit icy in places but otherwise PERFECTION.
Great Divide @ Lake Louise was fine today – long drive for cold snow (-3C in the shade) but ultimately worth it. VR50 worked well, and the tracks were freshly groomed all the way to the O’Hara junction just before we arrived. Air temps stayed cool under the clouds most of the day, the sun was never that strong in the afternoon. Nice day out.
Trails @ Mt. Shark were in excellent condition today. Air temperature was +1, so I would assume that they will stay that way without icing over til tomorrow.
I totally agree! The skier-set 5km loop at the west end of the 15 km trail was in the best condition yet this year. And the bonus of that spectacular sunset on the drive back to Calgary…a great day all round!
PLPP today – the south end. We started at Boulton, and skied Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Blueberry, Fox and Boulton. It was 0C at 10:30am at the parking lot; -4C at the Tyrwhitt meadows, -2C at Elk Pass, and +5C back at Boulton parking at 2pm when we finished. WJ, Tyr, and EP were all in very nice condition, with blue wax working well on very good snow. The only detractions from perfection were some tree debris on Tyr, and a few snow bombs. Fox and Boulton were decent, but with a lot more debris, and some sun damage in exposed areas. Overall, a very nice ski. Lots of people on the trails! Note – I hate chinooks – need some cold weather, and some new snow!
Shaganappi update from Alasdair Fergusson
Hi Fellow skiing enthusiasts.
Shaganappi was packed and trackset Thursday after the 5 cm snowfall – Thanks Larry!
The trails are holding up remarkably well despite the lack of snow.
Every year is different in Calgary and this year the big surprise is how well the ski trails are holding up despite the thin snow cover and the minimal fresh snowfalls.
BUT we need more snow!
My request for prayers are not working..we need more effort, perhaps we need to get really serious with sacrifices to the snow gods!
West Bragg update for February 1.
Despite my truck thermometer showing a trailhead temp. of +5, ski conditions were holding up very well on Friday afternoon. I skied a figure 8 to take advantage of more sheltered trails: up Crystal Line West- Loggers from west to east- Crystal Line East- up Sundog, then back on Loggers E to W, finishing up with the remainder of Crystal Line West. Conditions ranged from fair to very good with well defined tracksetting under a bit of recent snow. Most of my loop had soft snow and good coverage with a few minor icier bits and thin spots. Start purple wax worked perfectly. A very enjoyable ski in the warm afternoon sun!
Thirty six members and guests of the MnM Outdoor Club (Seniors) just returned from three days skiing, snow shoeing and walking at Nipika.
Conditions were great and the food and lodging are excellent.
The Nipika Loppet is this weekend so we wish everyone good luck.
Thanks to all the great people at Nipika.
Lake Louise – Mar 1st
Skied Fairview today amidst moist snowfall conditions which continued until evening. Ski Louise reported snowfall of over 12cms by mid-afternoon today with more on the forecast.
Got a bit of glide with waxless skis but wishing for colder temperatures..
Early in the afternoon, we and some lucky folks at the Deer Lodge were treated by a surprise visit from 2 Canadian lynxes, rare sighting indeed!