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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
No ski today- kids birthday party.
Regarding the J.P. (Junk Poetry) that came from this house: It is both amazing and hilarious how many people found something in it that would prompt them to respond. Some quite clever comments too -the “tusk”, Dr.Shuss, and the evil/brilliant reference to “Frost”. That one found a way to imply that I have brain damage (to which I would plead “no contest”) yet they can claim total innocence. Awesome!
It has been a very delightful frolic.
Forgive me, one more time, couldn’t help it:
Though its been fun -I must put it to bed
Lest too much JP -gets me shot in the head !
A lovely Leap Day ski adventure at Kananaskis Village! With the recent Spring-like temperatures that this area has been having, one would have expected less than perfect ski conditions. However, a reprieve was granted from the vagaries of rising mercury by the snow gods who blessed us with an overnight blanket of the precious “white stuff” that freshened the trails. Beckoning us to come out to play, we made our own ski tracks in the newly fallen snow. Softly floating up & down the K. Village trails of Terrace, Kovach & Aspen. It was like taking a nice relaxed & peaceful “Sunday drive” through the countryside! How sweet is that?!!!
Kananaskis Fire Lookout
After volunteering at the Cookie race the last couple days I decided to ski up to the Kananaskis fire lookout before heading home. I was expecting fresh snow on the lookout trail so I used my tele skis. Whiskeyjack was in great shape but as I suspected there was about 10-15cm of fresh snow on the lookout trail. Arriving at the top it was calm with a few flurries. Not much for views though. Descending the steep south side was a blast as I did turns most of the way down in the fresh powder. I continued around the loop on Hydroline, Elk pass trail, and Boulton creek (all skier set) back to my car. It was a nice way to finish a busy day!
Awesome powder day at the Canmore Nordic Centre today. Staff said they got 5 cm overnight but it sure felt like more. We skied the 12 km black loop and it felt like we were ski touring at times. My 11 year old apparently loves breaking trail so that came in handy!
A few trails has been freshly groomed this morning but none of the black trails were groomed so we had a great day skiing the fresh snow.
It was a good day for waxless skis. Even they were clumping and icing up a bit till I pulled out some glide wax.
Cascade Fire Road was an excellent place to ski this afternoon. My VR45 kick wax worked perfectly in the recently set tracks, the glide was smooth and long, and the experience was delightful. Highly recommended right now!
Hubby went downhill skiing at Lk Louise while I took the car to Lk O’Hara Fire Road. -4 and at least 13-15 cms everywhere. Never thought I would get to break trail but with vintage Blue 0 to -7 was able to walk straight up to kms 10 where I turned around. Tess D. joined me in the trail breaking around kms 6 and I thanked her with chocolate and most enjoyable conversation. So nice to be able to enjoy Lk O’Hara in the absence of throngs of people-maybe saw ten people during my 4 hr ski. This was my 72nd ski in my 72nd year. Just grateful to be able to enjoy this powderific sport with a ten yr old knee replacement and a hip soon to be replaced. This serves as a long distance hug of encouragement to Cheryl T.
You’re an inspiration Helen! Congratulations on your 72nd ski!
I have always considered cookies health food !! I mean they even feed them to Racers.
STONEY CREEK CABIN – Feb 29
Another Cascade Valley report…. Cooler temperatures and fresh tracksetting made for excellent conditions.
Details available in the captions here:
Bob might want to learn from some of the recovery techniques shown!
Thank you Skier Chuck ?
Enjoyed talking about the info on trails
and the history of
Stoney Creek Cabin
Cascade Feb. 29
After reading Hugh’s trip report of his ski there yesterday, I didn’t have any great expectations, but hoped that a few cm of fresh snow would make conditions reasonable. To my joyous surprise, I arrived to find the tracksetter had started new tracks in some 5-6cm of fresh snow! Lucky Leap Day! Initially, the tracks were generally good, with some slightly icy sections. By the time I got up the big hill, conditions were really good. About 4km out, the tracksetter passed me – now grooming the return track and leaving a ridge in the middle. When I got to the Cascade River, I was disappointed to find the tracksetting ended at the bridge. With now 7-8cm of untracked fresh snow if I continued, I turned back. Some 10 minutes later, he passed me again, grooming the mid section of the trail. Shortly after, I switched direction to follow him, hoping that he would now trackset beyond the bridge. Lucky again!! Fresh tracksetting to Stoney Creek (I only went to near the Warden’s Cabin). So, an unexpectedly great day. And, bonus, I met Chuck on my way back. -2C to start, 0C to end. Mostly cloudy with light flurries. Quite a few people enjoying the nice conditions.
Feb 28 Cascade Fire road: After reading great reports, we decided on Cascade.
Don’t think it got below 0C on Thurs night. Started out 9:30 + 2c Snow was good even hard waxable but that deteriorated. We were skiing skin techs or fishscale. Tracks were good, washed out on the first downhill in spots. As the day progressed the snow became sucky in the sun and Faster in the shade.The transition between the two was problematic. We met some folks from Grand Prairie down here for the Cookie race. They went as far as the river. We travelled out to the Wardens cabin. On our return met a couple 1/2 way to the river who had re-waxed 2x and were struggling. Returned around 2:00 +5c
Skied the loop from Elkwood early afternoon – Meadow – Woolley – Amos – Wheeler, temps just above freezing, snow about 0C, good tracks throughout but fairly slick and hard to wax for. Should have taken waxless skis: ended up with very little grip and colourful collection of needles on my bases.
Still it is a treat to get out and get moving!
I haven’t been on my skis for more than a week so I’ve been entertaining myself with other people’s stories and pictured plus reliving memories of one of our trips this winter:
I lie there a while feeling some low,
“Get up”called my wife “You promised you’d go”.
I tried to think fast what excuse could I make,
I didn’t dare try an illness to fake.
She’s down in the kitchen making breakfast and lunch,
My job-load the ski gear we take quite a bunch.
We meet with the “Keeners” at the usual place,
We know they’re excited by the smile on their face.
The drive to the mountains is really quite fun
With joking and laughter and now risen sun.
I’m happier now its great to get out,
So dumb it would be to stay home and pout
Then at the trailhead some doubt had returned,
I’m now loosing back the points I had earned.
The Keeners are pumped we know they’ll ski far
As soon as they start out I get back in the car.
My wife doesn’t buy it her glare I can see,
“Get your ass in the saddle-You’re coming with me!”
My wife is still able to ski fairly well
She’s faster than me now so I call her “Gazelle”
The uphills were brutal both my pumps went red line
I wish I was home so I could recline
Downhills are deadly frightening things
Both skis start flailing like broken bird wings
Then it was over both of my legs sore
But I wouldn’t have missed it I wished we’d done more
In spite of myself I flash a big smile
The happiest feeling I’ve had for a while
We blast off to Canmore for munchies and beer
“Just one for you” “You’re driving my dear”
Me and Gazelle still best of friends
Nothing else matters when the day ends!
Nice! Best skier bob poetry post yet. Just do it. Driving home one day this week from an excellent ski day, looking around at the peaks, I wondered why my face was hurting. Apparently I was still grinning.
Thank you, Mr. L.E.Phant. It’s not an easy tusk to write poems like this!
<3 <3 <3
Delightful to read… Thank you Mr. L.E Phant for sharing your skills, especially during this dry period.
What a treat to read your creative expression! Thank you!
The comments you made – gave me a lift,
YOU made MY day -Thanks for the gift.
Are you sure you are not Doctor Schuss?
He has a touch of Frost.
Now how do we give personal credit to Old L.E. Phant and Gazelle on the trails? We need more defining characteristics or a selfie of the two of you? Your post was the absolute best as we all feel this way sometimes needing a push to get ready, but you captured the joyous feelings after making the gargantuan effort to get out there to a “ski” (tee). I can seriously appreciate your line about “Downhills are deadly frightening things”
This same scenario you captured in prose, I can relate to in trying to get my hubby out on a hike-his computer beckons him to read yet one more newspaper on line!! It is like pulling teeth. Now for a way to spot you on the trail……? We find Tavern 1883 in Canmore fabulous for Happy Hour ; everything $5 best sweet potato fries around! Heading to Silver Star in an hour for the week.
Helen Read: YOU are awesome, and not only for your skiing prowess! Kind words from someone of your stature are extra special. Thank You.
I think it is O.K. for me/us to remain faceless for now, however I must check out the tavern you mentioned.
West Bragg Creek, Moose Loop and Mountain View West. When I got out of the car this morning at around 9:15, my car said -3. Mountain View and Moose Connecter were lovely, although a bit icy… They looked like they had been pretty recently groomed and track set. Moose Loop, however, was trickier… The tracks were quite icy and blown out in some spots. Same with Mountain View West. It was a beautiful day and a great ski anyways, and my skins did not disappoint! It was around +7 When I got back to the car at 11:00! I would wait for more snow before going back to Moose Loop.
Lake Louise – Pipestone Loops: With snow over last grooming and a forecast for warm temperatures (-3C at 10:30 am to +3C at :00 pm), I decided on waxless skis. It was a good choice but others on waxable skis also succeeded on the hills. There was no recent grooming or trackset, but skier tracks in 3 cm recent snow were very good. Skied Hector, Drummond, Merlin and Pipestone in a clockwise direction to the Pipestone couch and returned the same way. Drummond and Pipestone tracks, south-east of Pipestone Pond, were covered with wind drifted snow. The snow stayed cold except for a few sunny spots on Hector. Should be good skiing tomorrow.
Spray River to Goat Creek parking (out and back). Snow cover is good on the entire route. The track was fast in the morning but by the afternoon there was considerable glazing on the last 6 km back to the Banff Springs Hotel. The sunny sections were getting a bit soft so the snow was sticky. I guess I should have started earlier…
Have never skied this before and it is sensational! The mountain views are glorious and the skiing is wonderful. We did not actually know where the cabin was, so skied past the turnoff, to the end of the track setting, and then returned down the narrow trail to the cabin. Had a fantastic tea and lunch break in intermittent sun on the cabin steps. It really warmed up on the return, so the conditions were not fast by any means, and we ski on beat-up 25 year old waxless skis, but it is an easy route. There is way more traffic from the bridge to the parking area, later in the day on our return, the tracks downhill were a tad wobbly, but not a problem.
PLPP – Pocaterra to Tyrwhitt Meadows
The track setting might have been a few days old but they were awesome !! Really we were so surprised and happy – they were crisp. defined and fresh. Yes FRESH, like fresher that a bag of day old muffins at Laggin’ Bakery in LL. And wolf tracks lots of them from about 3 km before WJ Jct almost to the Tyrwhitt Meadows. Did see some where in the neighborhood of 47 -53 pine needles but as Shad noted – “It’s a pine forest don’t you know” Saw 14 other smiling mugs who were also overwhelmed with how good it was. What an unexpected joy it was today.
Good Luck to the Cookie Chasers this weekend.
MORNING GLORY LAKES – Feb 27
Learned of this alternative exit yesterday, and it is well used!
Details available in the captions here:
I could do it on my racing skis, but metal edges make it more fun.
Hi Chuck: nice explorations! How were the Morning Glory Lakes? Any powder for turns?
Ulrike, I was not there for turns. I was on gentle terrain that is suitable for track skis. Any steep terrain would be avalanche prone, and I stay far away from that. Anyway, I am only doing a tour. But yes, the snow is cold… beautiful quiet powder.
Cascade Road terrific conditions today!
Its -4 in Peter Lougheed (at Visitors Centre), overcast.
No new snow.
Allison Wonderlands (Crowsnest Pass): with an early week fresh 20cm snowfall I took the yesterday to tour and experience the excellent work done by volunteers grooming and tracksetting -even most of the quite windy and narrow treed trails in the network.
Synopsis: beginner’s stick to Green wider trails incl. Mainline, Mill, Jackrabbit and southern campground loops. Those are skateable as well. The farther north-west the hillier, narrow & quite ‘pitchy’ it gets i.e. Hiking, Cabin, Saw-Cutline (think exhilarating skiing). Nothing far north got packed says board member Roy, so one can experience some nice off-track touring there as well. Not a place the novice should perhaps go if freeze-thaw icy or early season thin. If your not racing this weekend -go for a road trip and get it while its good!
Skogan Pass was screaming fun today. It was trackset this morning and although the tracks were still a bit soft since it was hovering around zero, it was an excellent ski. There’s a bit of needles on the Screamer and below, but snow coverage is great above Marmot Junction and gets even better near the top and in the loop. Was mostly cloudy and lightly snowing at the top, so it should keep the snow good for the next couple of days even with the warm temperatures. Only saw one other person the entire 20km ski.
Link with pictures had issues, so round 2
Appreciate all the reports. Anyone have beta on Goat creek, Canmore to Banff?
Ribbon Creek, Feb. 26
We skied most of the trails south of the creek. Kovach and Terrace to the Village Centre for lunch. Then return to the parking lot via Aspen and a loop around Terrace Link and Terrace for good measure. Trail conditions were great with lots of recent track setting. It was also amazingly unbusy.
Feb 26 – WBC outer perimeter
I skied east hostel loop, telephone, north moose loop, mountain view west, mountain view, loggers, elbow, iron springs, east crystal line.
The star in this itinerary was telephone. It’s in great shape: not a single rock or ice flow. I waxed violet which performed great. Temps around zero all day.
LE RELAIS SHELTER – Feb 26
Nice to cozy up to an open fire on a snowy day!
Details available in the captions here:
Nice reprieve from the Yoho Blow below.
So nice that they leave it open for ski bums.
Is that carrot cake?
Fruit Cake with a Marzipan topping… all the way from England!
Oh, so good.
WBC – West Crystal, Logger’s Loop, Elbow, Iron Springs (and creek), East Crystal
Pretty darn good conditions, snow temp -3C @ noon.
The descent to the Fullerton parking lot was also very good with just the odd dirt lump near the bottom. And no trail blockades, ha!
Sort of perplexing why Elbow south is not groomed and trackset whereas the dead end Iron Creek is.
Great skiing at WBC, better get out there while it’s still good. The March sun is just around the corner.
Elbow South is groomed by Alberta Parks. Everything else is groomed by the GBCTA.
Wednesday morning at WBC:
SUNDOG-ELBOW N- IRON SPRINGS N: excellent conditions overall, smooth and fast, it looked like the grooming had been refreshed since yesterday.
ELBOW S-IRON SPRINGS S: no grooming after the recent snowfall, a bit crunchy underneath in spots but still in good shape with decent tracks. If going CW- watch for lurking ice at the south end hill on Iron! Elbow down to Sugar Mama is good too, but gets progressively bumpier, and the new snow thinner, the further south you go.
IRON CREEK: Immaculate! If you pay attention- there is a surprise bonus trail partway along:
CRYSTAL EAST: fast and fun tracks on upper leg, lower part good but getting a bit worn in spots.
Wrapped up at 12:30 with warming temps, but still good results on VR50 wax.
PLPP Elk Pass Parking 10:30 am and -7C used VR40 wax with excellent results on the newly groomed Elk Pass trail. Dropped into Fox Creek and traveled north on Moraine. These trails, last groomed Feb 18/19 were in good condition with skier tracks in recent snow. Climbed Whiskey Jack in skier tracked snow of approx. 3 cm. Tyrwhitt was also skier tracked in snow covering the Feb 18 grooming. It is always a nice ride going south on Tyrwhitt but today was slower than I wanted. Elk Pass to Blueberry junction was well skied in but fast enough and safe in the snow covering Feb 19 grooming. I couldn’t resist the new grooming on Blueberry so skied to the steep hill and turned back for a nice fast run. Elk Pass was slow in skier tracked snow to the North Hydroline junction. (I missed the new grooming on Hydroline) Fox Creek was in very good condition and flowed with minimal tree debris. Added the Upper Lake Connector just to get a final taste of new grooming and track set. The snow is cold, the sun warm and the days are longer – perfect ski days.
Wedge Pond, Wedge Connector, Evan Thomas & Bill Milne were in awesome shape today! What a treat! Thank you to the grooming team! Cold, firm & fresh tracks, despite the air temps rising above the zero mark this afternoon! Blue skies were basking in golden sunshine & the mountain views were glorious!
Strathmore Golf Course. Another gorgeous sunset ski. Temperature was -6°C to start and -7°C when I finished, but there was a chilly breeze. I was delighted to find other skiers out (plus one happy canine). The track-setting was complete and the tracks were perfect. Once again, I skied until the sun came down. This place is a real hidden gem.
Thanks for the report. A photo of the freshly groomed Strathmore golf course was sent in by Norman Gavey. -Bob
Rounding out the WBC reports with one from this afternoon on Moose, both Mountainviews-Loggers-Sundog etc, etc. Ran into Ski Here reporter Kazzy along the way- she gave skiing conditions a “4 Paws Up” rating, with excellent conditions throughout other than thin snow and wobbly tracks on the short “snow fence” section of MV West, and a bit of barely covered ice on MV, at the corner just after the big downhill going N-S. Minor stuff! VR 50 worked great with temps around zero, didn’t notice any melting although there may be a glazed spot or two tomorrow.
Bill Milne Trail – 10/10 for entire length. Wind was up but there was no drifting or debris in this morning’s tracks.
Village trails – last night’s tracksetting is half-filled-in with a cm or so of fresh.
Wonderful day out there. It warmed up in the afternoon sun but the snow was not damaged.
CHESTER LAKE – Feb 25
Another destination not to be missed.
Details available in the captions here:
Powder snow conditions today
Great shot Chuck (#022) of mushroom cap snow draping over the rocks!
To Chuck: Thanks for the shoutout! Yes, I am checking in every day. I have been to Chester Lake many times in the summer but only once in winter. ( My natural stance is- skis at nearly 90 degrees to each other, makes it a bit difficult). Your pictures, as always, are beautiful and well received. Many Thanks!
Also; 50+ km. in one day?? Incredible stamina !! Keep up the amazingly good work!!
West Bragg Creek : Saw the sun coming up to a blue sky, checked this blog and saw the pic’s and reports from Monday, it got cold over night so an early ski seamed like a good idea. Well was it ever !! -10 at launch and tracks on the Chrystal Lines. Sundog, Elbow, Loggers were all hard, shaped and fast with lots of zoom zoom. The WBC Groomers had worked their MAGIC once again and it was a MMMMMMarvelous MMMMMMornining (had to type that) ’cause it was. Double donation in the pipe as Shad was smiling the whole time.
West Bragg Creek: I enjoyed superb conditions on the Hostel Loop this afternoon! I also took a little detour on Snowshoe Hare (west) to Telephone, which I won’t do again, though the good snow was quite forgiving :O
Great skiing today at Maple Ridge golf course! Got out there just as the groomer was finishing up his rounds. Though not as scenic as all the out of town xc trails, it’s wonderful to have groomed trails that are a five minute drive from my front door.
Bonus: Mr. Porcupine in a tree just off the trail, munching away on dead leaves and branches. Totally oblivious to us as we skied around the course three times.
Very good conditons at Confed Park today (Tuesday). It had been groomed and trackset since yesterday’s snow stopped. The tracks had a silky feel to them and were faster than you usually get with fresh snow.
Shaganappi trails are in great shape especially for skate skiing. Just back from an hour around the tracks. Thank you volunteers!
I explored the NE corner yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to find 2-3 cm fresh powder on a pretty decent base, quite delightful!
Confederation Park – Just finished a quick and pleasant skate ski on all the trails. Very nice conditions throughout.
Enjoy while it lasts….and many thanks to the groomers / volunteers!
INK POTS- JOHNSONS CREEK CABIN
Generally excellent advanced skiing. A couple of cm’s of new snow. A gropple squall occurred which slowed the snow speed significantly skiing up valley. Most of the trees that fell on the trail a few weeks back are now snowed over and can be skied over.
-5C at the cabin. Skiing out at night the snow speed increased to moderate speed. The trail below the Ink Pots has been widened more by skiers coming down from the Ink Pots making for easier skiing down.
Strathmore Golf Course. Leisurely sunset ski. I’d heard good things about this golf course in the Trip Comments, and since I was in Strathmore working for the day, I decided it was time to try it out.
The temperature was a pleasant -5°C when I started out. A fresh layer of snow had fallen in the morning, and the groomer was hard at work on his snowmobile somewhere on the grounds. I followed a set of roller-packed trails around the north and then the southwest corners of the course. The snow was soft and mushy underneath my skis, but it was dry and there was no sticking or clumping (hurray!). Later when I caught up to the groomer and said hello, I discovered a beautiful newly-made set of tracks behind him.
I skied until the sun went down. The southwest corner of the grounds, with its border of trees, was especially pretty with the sun streaming in from behind. The trees cast very long shadows on the snow. Overall, it was a very positive experience. It’s a great option if you don’t have the time to drive to the mountains, and it sure beats going to the gym!
WBC: another 2 inches Sunday night and during the day today made for a most enjoyable tour of most trails (except telephone). Even southbound Elbow to parking lot was fine (usually bumpy ice). No grooming except core area skate lanes. Silky quiet snow and tranquil trails. I always enjoy the scenic and flowy Iron Creek at the south end of iron springs but (almost) never see anyone down there. Do go and check it out people!
To quote Paolo and Paul, conditions today were MMMMMMarvellous at West Elk Meadows today. -8 in Elk Pass parking lot with 10 cms fresh light powder. Easy climb up what I call “the Baby Bear, Mama Bear, and Papa Bear” initial hills. Skiing down the terrifying hill was pure joy making turns in all that snow. Met the Shell/Esso retirees who were staying at WWL: they sure got perfect snow conditions! Headed straight for Blueberry Junction then deviated to West Elk Meadows where we skied past the original couch and re-established the glorious route to the new Loveseat (3 kms distance from Blueberry Junction). Relatively easy breaking trail, with lots of orange flagging. Ma Sid and friends found the BEST location ever for that Loveseat, where we enjoyed lunch in the sun and free of wind. Climbed back up Hydroline in the track 2 kms. to top of Elk Pass. Enjoyed Paterson powder/Elk Pass/Fox back to the car, taking in that pristine 0.9 kms trail down to the lower parking lot, since we did not want to stop. The William Watson grooming crew have done a phenomenal job removing trees and shovelling a lot of snow into Fox Creek trail in preparation for the Cookie Race. They deserve a big hand of thanks!!! No worries Sue-On-Skis.
Cheeky and Simona deserve full credit for the love seat at the hydroline end of the meadows, complete with their own furnishing style.
And thank you of course for re-establishing the track!
Canmore Nordic Center
Just when you thought it would never be that good again. Fresh snow this morning was left ungroomed so amazing conditions in track and silky smooth decents in powder. Banff, Meadowview, Bow, Lynx, Salt Lake, Lynx, Banff Loop (almost 14 km). Minus 3 oC this afternoon and Swix purple worked great. No needles except those well behaved ones on the lodgepole pines.
WBC – Good conditions with yesterday’s snow fall, skied Moose – Mountain View West – Loggers – Elbow – Iron Springs and back to the parking lot through East Crystal.
Excellent grip with V40 (-6C when I started).
On sun exposed tracks you can feel the ice right below the 3-4cm of fresh snow but all downhill were safe to descent.
Just finished at Confed. -2 when I started. Did yellow and blue/purple loops on fresh tracksetting since last nights snow. Conditions were very good. Good coverage and I had good enough grip with V40 to ski in track up most hills.
Regarding Creek travel; Years ago I was messing around on the Fairview trail when I noticed that someone had taken a shortcut back to the Morraine Lake Road by skiing on Paradise Creek -apparently having no problem. So I followed. Well, being a clumsy pachyderm, of course I fell- into the very deep and very soft snow. As I was trying to get out of the hole I had made,I heard the water running below me. In a panic I spread myself out as thin as I could and started to slither/crawl to the nearest shore. I almost had a heart attack when I realized that the water sound was getting louder. Obviously I did get out of there, but NEVER AGAIN ! The thought of spending the rest of that winter down in an ice tunnel still haunts me.
Wonderful description Old L.E. Phant!
While I like to think my pictures are worth a thousand words, your written descriptions give me a full visual experience… We look forward to more.
Skied Great Divide yesterday and lower telemark. Got to the trailhead at 1100, Temp was -8 and groomers just setting out. Three snowmobiles renovated the classic track and then trackset as well as groomed the skate lane after 2-3 cm overnight on Sunday. VR 40 worked very well both ways. Tracksetting was done all the way to Lake O Hara end.
Lower Telemark was getting renovated with only some skier trackset however the downhills were fast but soft.
Left to a bit of a blizzard so should be great conditions this weekend for those skiing the Lake Louise Loppet.
PLPP – Feb 23 2020
Skied approx. 20 km in PLPP on Sunday, beginning at the Boulton Parking Lot. Began with Lower Lake Group Camp out-and-back for a warmup (3 km), then the Wheeler/Amos loop around Marl Lake (7 km), then the Whiskey Jack-Pocaterra-Packers loop (10 km). I didn’t encounter ANY ice whatsoever. The trails were great. Only the Wheeler/Amos sections had pine needles, but they didn’t stick to the VR 50. Wax was great Leisurely pace with a stop for lunch and stops for photos and chats. Trip took 4 hours (11:30 am to 3:30 pm). What a day — and to boot it had begun snowing the last hour. Looking good for the cookie race, though I hard Moraine and Fox Creek are not great … come on snow!
If the photo works it is Lower Lakes … perfect conditions 🙂
CNC today: Absolutely MMMMMarvelous!
I have neve skied in such gorgeous trail conditions.
Skating or classic, no difference; I did Banff all the way, Meadowview and Bow 3 times, just on Bow, the tracks are a little shallow but perfectly skiable and listen to this:
NOOOOOO needles or debris, what more can you ask for.
West Bragg Creek
After enjoying a week of backcountry powder skiing in BC, I thought I would check out conditions at West Bragg Creek. I did a couple of laps around Hostel Loop plus the part of Telephone that bisects Hostel. Conditions were quite good for the most part, with a few bits of glazed track on sun exposed hills.
Hopefully the snow that is forecast for over night will provide a nice refresh.
Very nice short evening ski at West Bragg in the fresh falling snow. I went up Demi-Tel and went for a short distance (i.e. until the snow ran out) down a few singletrack trails. With the icy base under the fresh snow, red wax and Swix universal glide gave excellent grip and glide.
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Here’s Demitel from this morning:
The first skate skier to come upon that must have died and gone to heaven.
Wow! Demi Tel has become one of my favourite trails to ski at West Bragg.
It would be great if Reconnect were also groomed like that so we could make a loop.
Cascade Valley. Leisurely easy ski with the kiddos to the bridge and back. I was pleasantly surprised that there was as much snow as there was. Tracks were well-defined and fast. The downhill runs were a lot of fun. I thought the area needed new snow to freshen up the hard-pack. and then as we got to the bridge, I got my wish – it started snowing.
Overall, a very enjoyable afternoon, and a good choice of location to go with the family. One word of caution if you go – the parking lot is an ice-rink. Walk with care.
Skied in to Elk Lakes Cabin on Friday and out this morning. Excellent conditions overall. Were the first people to ski the Hydroline at noonish today. Nice fresh snow! Think that was you, Pete, that we saw at the Elk Pass picnic table?
It’s possible it was me although I wasn’t sitting at the table because of that wind. I just skied by!
Pete, guess it wasn’t you – we talked to the first guy and his teenager who came out of Tyrwhitt in the morning who had mentioned the wolf tracks.
Excellent skiing at Peter Lougheed today. And no needles! Started on Whiskeyjack up to the junction with Tyrwhitt. Tyrwhitt was beautiful with a skiff of fresh snow. There were fresh wolf tracks along a section of the trail also. The snow started falling near the south end of Tyrwhitt and the wind picked up. Elk pass picnic table was busy but with the wind blowing we continued on. Elk pass trail was fine, and Fox creek and Moraine were also in great shape. There will be fresh snow on all the trails by tomorrow. https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipPkmApex5IDd1zqKCvUFCFqIzuSCqTezlDpAYhaCXzLsfC6qSFVKeFUvOVYuhjImw?key=THJIel9zXzFXVk9iVWYyQ1ptODNYazU3VXV3cU5B
Great conditions at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park today. We skied from Pocaterra to Elk Pass and back via a nice selection of the best trails, and found great conditions throughout skiing on wax. Even the trails that were groomed Feb 18/19 were totally fine. We had no trouble with needles in the track that was mentioned as an issue in a previous post.
Checked out Strathmore Golf Course today. Amazing amount of snow. Tracks weren’t set but snowmobile was running around packing. No challenges but a very pleasant ski. Seems to be a big secret, only 2 other skiers there. Great place to have a quick ski close to home. Would be a wonderful place for beginners or skiers just wanting a great place to ski.
I gave the Strathmore Golf Club a try as well. If it snows tonight we may get a few more weeks.
I did better there with skis than golf clubs on most days.
Skied Mt Shark today. Trails were in great shape. Started at 10am and did the 15klm green loop. There was about 3cm of new snow making for a great glide on our classic waxing skies. Light dusting of snow coming down while we were out. Started at around -9 and finished at 1:00 with temps around -5.
It’s -7, overcast with light flurries in peter lougheed, Kananaskis.
Yes skied there Friday in very good conditions. Double lane trackset to first bridge and then single track past bridge. Fast conditions especially on hills. Good snowplow technique helpful.
Has anyone skied Cascade Valley area in recent days?
Skied Cascade to Stoney Creek Warden Cabin Sunday Feb. 23rd. Hard packed & fast with a trace of new snow to freshen up track (snowed lightly from 2 pm to 4 pm Sunday). Dual track-set to Cascade Bridge then single track-set + skier set to Stoney Creek Warden Cabin. A great “Blue Day” Swix V-30 wax worked perfectly – walked straight up every hill. Only encountered maybe a dozen people? – odd given the perfect conditions – including a couple of guys (dragging a sled) who has camped out at Cascade Bridge and a Warden headed into the Stoney Creek Cabin. This tour is highly recommended!!
Castle Mtn. LO parking to Baker Creek: -4C at 10:30 am and finished the day at -2C at 2:15 pm.With warm temperatures, new grooming and snow in the forecast, we chose waxless skis and they were perfect!
The first km, through the pine forest was littered with needles, but out in the open tracks were clean, crusty and fast. The tracks were washed out along the rail siding area/access road. There were good tracks beyond to Protection Mountain and around the two “penalty loops”. A short section beyond Protection Mountain through more pines there was needle litter in softer tracks. The final tracks from there to Baker Creek along the power line were excellent. Returned with a slight tail wind in a good snow squall that was filling the bottom of the new tracks. Hopefully our group, the Canmore-ites and other skiers have set the track well for Sunday skiers. It was an excellent and very relaxing ski day.
When I read Diana’s report about Pipestone yesterday, my heart sank. But arriving second car into the parking lot at 9:45, we found almost all the needles nicely buried under a couple of cms of new powder. We took the #20 up the west side to get there as quickly as possible as our goal was to ski up the Pipestone River beyond the couch. Thankfully we had a quick bite there, and Don enjoyed some hot soup, before we headed upstream. Perhaps we were 1.5 kms up river and he followed Brenda on the skier tracked trail, when suddenly his skis went from under him and he lost his balance falling his back end into the river. We were glad there were two of us and poles worked well to pull him towards us. He was an exceedingly good sport and called it an “adventure” to complete the story of when in 1980 he and his two girls (ages 12/13) skied all the way out from Skoki via the Pipestone. We turned around when my previous tracks disappeared about kms 4.5 below Merlin Ridge. Weather changed from no snow to mini snow blizzard to sunny blue skies. We skied down the #20 east trail which was fun (and fast) for a change because I have always done it counter-clockwise before the closure. Thanks Bob for posting the photo and to Don for being such a terrific sport. I put some orange flagging where we did a slight detour into the woods upon our return.
Regarding “Stinky Trains”,”Corrupt Corporations” et al : I also take issue with numerous things these days. Indeed, I could write a rant that would rival all others. However, out of respect for Bob and all people who visit this website I will NOT EVER attempt to make it into a forum to vent my spleen over my pet peeves. I see it as a place to share ski information and add some ski related comment. ………………
Skogan Loop – Fri, Feb. 21st
Started from the Troll Falls parking lot.
Surprisingly good conditions with no icy spots , snow temp -5 C at the start. Avoid skiing Troll Falls trail, hard packed from all the walkers. Lower trails were littered with debris with the snow cleaning up as you ascend. Skogan is always a grunt to climb, 600+ m, but the fast run down is a blast! The snow is still loose enough to allow for a relatively easy descent. And thankfully no ice on those connector trails below Nakiska coming back to the parking lot.
Mt. Shark Trails: Yesterday arrived to fresh track setting with corduroy on the medium softness side of things with no needles and only the occasional black lichen. Waxless skis worked best as the conditions varied with sun and wind having their way Lots of herringbone required on some side trails. Overall very enjoyable but not nirvana but who can have nirvana every day?
Anyone XC ski Bill Milne to the golf course recently ? How are the conditions ? Thanks !!
Bill Milne Trail: Wobbly Wednesday on the tracks to Wedge Pond. The hills had stayed soft enough for a non kamikaze type such as myself. The opens spaces, bright sun and stellar views made it all so worthwhile.
We haven’t been here for a couple of years and thought it was time, but perhaps it wasn’t……..
Our typical bad timing was in play and we found the trails to be hard-packed and fast with lots of tree debris. My waxed bases really need cleaning now! We went clockwise, for the first time ever: up the west side #21 Hector, then #20 Pipestone, not seeing another skier for nearly an hour, until we started up a long, steep hill and suddenly the great hordes were shussing down towards us and we had quite a scramble to get out of their way! More superb timing 😛
We returned via Merlin – Drummond – Pipestone, with fabulous views and fairly pristine snow in the open meadowy bits; did not get up to the far corner this time, maybe when the snow is a bit refreshed?
My wife and I skied almost the same loop today with about 3 cm of new covering the old tracksetting. Condition were perfect nice silky cold snow great kick and superb glide. Groomer was heading out around noon just as we were coming off the trail.
Baker Creek: We started on trail towards Morant’s Curve, but it was heavily pine needle infested, so turned around after 500 m. Was pleased to find that Barbara’s Salomon skin skis did not pick up any of them. My -4/-10 wax picked up lots. Crossed road to trailhead 50 m east of resort, found clean fresh tracks to Protection Mtn campground. The only two people we saw reported good tracks towards Castle Lookout. Air temperature ~ +2, but snow cold enough that Rode Green -4/-10 gave sufficient grip and excellent glide.
PLPP – haven’t seen a report recently so here it is.
Skied a figure eight circuit from Elkwood over Elk Pass. -8 C at 10:30, 0 at 3:00. Most of the lower elevation tracks were glazed and there was a lot of tree debris, particularly in the more treed places – scraped and rewaxed a couple of times and my grip zone almost as much brown as black by the end. The exception was Elk Pass trail which was in pristine condition and that’s where most of the skiers were. Other than the debris and glazing, all the tracks I skied on were in quite good shape. Although the wind was howling driving across the Morley Flats, there was little wind while skiing and the congregation at Elk Pass had complete calm. The sun threatened to shine for most of the ski but only appeared occasionally and very weakly for the last 1.5 hours and then come out in full force as I arrived in the parking lot!
It was interesting to see Lynx tracks on the narrow ridge between the ski tracks for quite a distance at the north end of Tyrwhitt and upper Pocaterra. It/they would walk on the ridge for a while then switch to the left track or the untracked parts (wiped out by skiers).
So still good skiing at PLPP!
Les Aventuriers de Charlo
Ok, this one’s a bit off the beaten path, but I just got back from Northern New Brunswick and I spent some time cross-country skiing at Les Aventuriers de Charlo. It’s a competition-class facility with superb grooming that also sports a biathlon range. If you happen to be in the area, I highly recommend checking it out. Having a nice warm chalet to duck into between trails is really nice, too!
Just got back from the Maritimes and decided to head to Lake O’Hara (Ok, in retrospect maybe I should have taken more time to get used to the change in altitude). At 0900 the trailhead was at around -20 deg. with a strong wind blowing from the West. Trail wasn’t groomed on Thursday, but was in decent enough shape. I ran into the groomer as I was heading up, so I had fresh corduroy and then a little later, fresh tracks all the way to the lake! Talk about being spoiled!
The groomer did a great job of resetting the trail. The snow is hard and fast. By the time I got to the lake, the temperature was around 5 deg. and the sun was shining. On my way back I saw a fair number of people, but since the snow is so hard, the trail was holding up well. With the temperature change, the trail was softening up a fair bit, so if anyone’s starting out early in the morning, expect the trail to be a bit slick when it all hardens at night.
PARADISE VALLEY (via FAIRVIEW) – Feb 21
A gentle route with awesome views.
Details in the captions here:
Still some opportunities for challenges!
Wow, don’t you ever rest?! You’re amazing!
Can’t rest with conditions like this Ray… Blue skies, powder snow and no wind!
Hey Chuck: you don’t seem to need any rest days!! Great photos again of Shadow Lake, Cascade Valley and Paradise Valley. Very inspiring!
Redearth Creek to Shadow Lake: started up the trail in -10C. The first km is quite hard packed with no tracks and lots of pine needles in places. Snow and tracks improved significantly higher up; temperature was warming up fast. Lots of bootprints on the steep narrow uphill. Skied halfway around the lake and was happy to find the red chairs, well, just the top of one poking out of the snow! Windy, sunshine and beautiful view of Mt. Ball. On return the skier tracked trail from the lodge had lots of bumps and dips. The downhill sections were fast and still manageable with skinny skis; the descent to the trail head was very fast on hard snow; glad there was no ice!
Good for you for skiing all the way to the Red Chairs on the lake… I was saving that for spring skiing… with beer and chips!
Did you take the winter trail across the meadow?
Great informative report… Thanks
Hi Chuck: Yes, took the winter trail across the meadow on my way back, much nicer than the dipsy hiking trail.
Didn’t bring chips or beer, left my sandwich in the car, so only a Clif bar and chocolate for a snack. I dug out the top part of one chair with my hands. This is a very scenic spot! Thanks for your inspirations!
Mt.Shark trails – great shape today!! Temperature at 9:30 was -8C warming to -3C at 11:30. The outer 15km was in great shape as were the other loops that drop below the Watridge road. VR45 worked well for the classic skier and LF7 for the skater. Thanks groomers.
CUTHEAD CABIN – Feb 20
Another beautiful day deserves sharing the sights with those who might find this a little far for a day trip!
Details available in the captions here:
Thanks Old L.E. Phant and Helen Read for your interest
The Chuck speed of 7.3 kph to Cuthead Cabin, that I mistakenly called Wigwam Cabin in my last report, is very impressive.
Nice to have that GPS for stats. I like that it includes break time.
Nice to have the sun at the cabin as well. I usually don’t get there until just before sunset.
Chuck, you are a beast! Thanks for sharing your adventures.
I think trains across the country should run on Chuck’s batteries!
As in Five-O?
Where do you find time for captions?
Baker Creek at 10 am and minus 18. Did not take long to warm up to +1 in the sun: by the time we got on top of the first “hump” at 11:15. Could not have asked for clearer blue skies and very little wind (predicted 30-50 kph winds might come later tonight or tomorrow). Tracks crunchy but after 9 of the Meanderthals skiing them both ways, they softened somewhat. We took in the two “penalty loops” at Protection Mountain: can’t get barely near these places in summer so nice to take advantage of their beauty in winter. While I have never skied in Full Moon there, it would be incredible!!! Two trains went by-a nice sound these days. Ditto to kudos written below by Old L.E. Phant so well deserved to Chuck and others who post stunning photos and to Skierbob for giving us this forum. The blue Donate button says thanks in a website-sustaining way.
Personally I can’t stand the noise or toxic diesel stink from trains. The last time I went up Brewster Creek 16 km, all that I could hear is trains. It drove me nuts having skied all that distance to get away from man’s unnecessary disruptive corrupt corporate operated nonsense.
Trains should be limited to 25 kph in Banff Park to reduce noise and save some wildlife that the trains may otherwise mow down at regular existing excessive speeds. If we lived in a real democracy this would likely be the case.
I won’t ski trails near the tracks normally due to the toxic effects of diesel on my ski lungs. The excessive non emission controlled toxic diesel particulate which contains benzene is brutal and cellular mutative when it gets lodged in the ski lungs. Like in much of Europe, the trains should run on cleaner and safer electric power rather than toxic diesel electric power for obvious health and tourism experience reasons.
This skier has issues with the way the railways are corruptly operated and poorly monitored by Transport Canada, having a farm so close to tracks where there have been multiple derailments in the last 5 years or so.
Ski on and don’t breathe the unnecessary toxic diesel emissions from the railways which are shareholder owned primarily by banks and foreign corporations who just don’t care about our parks.
Whilst I appreciate your prior ski-based trip reports this one wasn’t and instead read like a political manifesto, which I don’t believe is the intent of these Trip Reports. First paragraph fine, the rest not. Thanks.
Bragg Creek – south side
Talk about perfect timing today. Arrived at the parking lot across from Allen Bill Pond by 9 a.m. to temps of -12.5! Off on Elbow to Loggers for the lovely Iron Springs loop, hoping to get er done before the promised Chinook did its best to melt the snow. Bluebird day, tracks were good but a bit icy earlier. Had a great run and finished up before noon to a balmy +6.5.
Kananaskis Village – Blue skies and windy at the Ribbon Creek parking lot (-5C at 9:30am). Skied Coal Mine (pleasant downhill with a bit of fresh snow), Ribbon Creek (the sharp S turns were manageable and hard packed but not icy), Link, Kovach, Terrace Link, Aspen and Terrace North back to the parking lot.
Overall good conditions even though some tracks are a bit hard.
Just met the group of Shell and/or Imperial old timers (Don?)
I did not ski anywhere yesterday. I just want to say a huge Thank you to Chuck for posting so many beautiful photographs !! I take great pleasure in “seeing”all those places, many of them now beyond my reach.
And Thank You Bob for the great work you have done to get this awesome website up and running ! Life is better because of people like you!
Cascade fire road today, all the way to the end of the grooming. The tracks are a bit washed out in the usual places and something larged and hoofed has spent some time on the trail, but overall good conditions.
There was a very large male elk walking in the middle of the trail, on and off, on Saturday. He passed right by us.
WBC. Sunset Ski. Moose Loop, counter-clockwise. It was zero Celsius when I started out with the sun low over the hills. Tracks were well-defined, fast, and in remarkable shape, considering the warm daytime temperatures. There were only a few minor icy sections, where they are exposed to sun. It cooled quickly once the sun went down, and I expect the trails will still be in decent shape early tomorrow morning (before the Chinook blows in).
The sky sure was pretty as I was finishing up. To the east, it turned a soft shade of purple, more bluish near the bottom and almost pink higher up. The last stretch along Mountain Road was very fast with great glide, and I imagine this is what it might feel like if skis were equipped with wings.
Kanaskis Village was excellent today all around. I skied without a real plan, ended up checking out much of Kovach, Aspen, Ribbon Creek, Terrace. I got super lucky on the way back to the village with Terrace Link/North just being freshly trackset with no one else on them. Thanks groomers!
Lake O Hara ski trails – anyone any info on current condition? Parks say last groomed 06/02…
Feb 19 2020. Skied in and out to Lake Ohara. Trail conditions are excellent going up and coming down.. Trails are full of tracks Lynx ,Martin ,snowshoe rabbits ,grouse, squirrel … scenery spectacular
Thanks Bob. Sick dog stops planned play however. Glad you had a good run. Still not yet seen the lake and what lies beyond…:)
Good conditions at west Bragg Creek early this morning. The new snow covered any icy downhills and very few people on the trails at 9:30 am. -12o warming up rapidly.By noon, lots more cars coming in.
PLPP – North and Central
We decided to take advantage of the new tracksetting and skied north and south from Elkwood parking lot. Wheeler, Moraine, Amos, Woolley, Meadow, Sinclair, Lodgepole, and Meadow back to the Elkwood parking. Temperature at noon was -8 and temp at 4 pm was -4. Generally, PERFECT south of the Elkwood parking lot, and Very Good north of the parking lot. The tracksetters had shoveled a lot of snow from the sides of Moraine onto the track. Thanks!
SHADOW LAKE – Feb 19
Blue skies deserve a scenic destination… we were not disappointed!
Details available in the captions here:
Thanks for all the grooming
The ACC keeps getting more wonderful!
Motivated after reading Jean-Francois’ report on Skogan yesterday, we headed out there today. We also started at Nakiska parking (-14C), and enjoyed the initial 200m run down one of the wide downhill slopes. Meeting Lower Skogan trail at the Ruthie’s junction, we headed up the screamer – no tracks and a bit beat up from foot traffic. Above this section, tracks were good, and after the Sunburst jct they were excellent. Mostly calm conditions, though breezy at the top (-10C). The run down was fast, requiring some caution on a few corners. Several people out enjoying the cloudless skies today. 0C back at the parking lot.
Great conditions today in PLPP. Started around 11:30 and went up the groomed trails from last night in a CCW loop from the Elk Lakes parking lot up Hydroline, down Tyrwhitt, up Lookout North and down Lookout South. Generally good glide and solid tracks. Lookout South was definitely skiable down and was pretty fast and fun. Saw only two other people the entire day. Started at -10 and ended up around -5 at the end of the ski.
We don’t get many reports here from Jasper, but I just spent the weekend there and wanted to report back on the skiing. In short, I loved it – and the weather was a mix of sun and cloud with ig views and daily highs of around -5. I skied from the Whirlpool Winter Hub up to Leach Lake one morning. The tracks had been set about a week ago, and were still in fairly good shape. The trail starts off with a cross of the beautiful Whirlpool river. The brief climb up to Leach Lake was full of gorgeous views of Mt. Kerkeslin. Leach Lake was really lovely and the rest of the trail descends to Athabasca falls with Mts. Kerkeslin and Hardisty in directly ahead for the whole way. The return to Leach Lake is 7k, and return to Athabasca Falls is about 14k. There is a fun long descent back to Whirlpool! Didnt see a single person until I returned back to the parking lot. I also did a couple of loops around the Wabasso campground. While not as exciting as Leach Lake, the views along the Athabasca river were just gorgeous. The tracksetting obviously got much more use. Here are some photos: the first two are if Wabasso, and the rest from the Leach Lake Trail. https://photos.app.goo.gl/w6XgMBguhfPuz5LL9
Conditions at Pipestone were superb today for the Shell Oiltimers. -15 C to start but warming up quickly in full sunshine. The track setters were out and most if not all the trails are now freshly groomed/set.
I decided to try Sinclair instead of the usual Meadow to get back to the Pocaterra Hut yesterday, and it’s a keeper. The river is lovely, and there’s some great speed to be had. Highly recommended.
I tried Sinclair for the first time as well on Monday. I agree!
Jan 18 afternoon. Confed. -6C to start. -5C when I left.Saw about 8-10 others out there. Tracks are in very good shape with recent grooming. Good coverage wherever I skied. Skating lanes looked like they were in great shape too. Thanks to all the volunteers!
Question answered whether or not there’s still skiing in town. Hopefully it holds up until tomorrow night.
Skogan Pass – Started at Nakiska parking lot with a -15C at 9:00 am. Skied Sunburst to the Humming Plume lookout, High Level, then to Skogan Pass and returned by the Skogan loop. Overall great conditions with silky smooth fresh snow for a safe descent.
Saw no one….
“Teaser taste” of Paradise Valley today as we were checking out the Calgary Ski Club shorter course for their upcoming loppet this w/e. Could not believe how crazy busy it was at Lake Louise. The upper parking lot was already filling at 10:15 and upon our return at 2pm, it was packed. Basically we skied #4 to Upper Tramline and yes, as Mary commented, many walkers took liberty with the trails, even Fairview, but thankfully not in the tracks. The skier track off Fairview into Paradise was fairly narrow but we managed to get back down cautiously by widening it a bit with our snowplow descents. It was majestic in Paradise Valley but we only went to the second bridge-even so, it is truly breath-taking. Chuck and Jeannette just keep adding to my To Do list of new trails to explore!!! Now, the Ink Pots.
Great report (and picture) Helen.
Just a warning about the Ink Pot trail: Unless you are planning to continue past the Ink Pots up Johnston Creek, it is not worthwhile as a ski trip. It is a heavily used walking trail up to the Ink Pots. After that the trail is beautiful, either along the trail via Larry’s Camp or along Johnston Creek itself.
I do not recommend the Ink Pots unless there is a lot of fresh snow. It is usually very icy even for walking. But with the fresh snow-it is a beauty, except on the weekends.
PLPP-I skied up to the Tyrwhitt meadows from Pocaterra Hut parking lot. The first stretch of Pocaterra is a bit icy with some tree debris but the tracks are good and double poling is fast. The next stretch from Lynx to Packers is better, with hard tracks, and a little bit of tree debris. From Packers to Whiskey Jack and the end is exceptional with perfect tracks, great snow and very little tree debris. Tyrwhitt itself has a bit of fresh snow over the new grooming but the tracks are well skied in and silky, the best of the day actually. As expected, it was a winter wonderland along Tyrwhitt with big snow pillows on the trees, sunshine, and dramatic views of the French Military Group peaking out behind a bank of clouds rolling up on the divide. I turned around at the picnic table. Nice run back.
Did Pipestone Loop today using Drummond to connect the two legs since the South end is closed, for 17 km. The couch was a great spot to have a break in the sun! The conditions were pretty decent and there were quite a few people out enjoying family day. It was starting to snow when we left at 245. I wish I’d done the loop counterclockwise. Hitting a 90 degree corner at the bottom of a downhill with 70 pounds of Chariot + precious cargo behind me wasn’t fun.
JOHNSTON CREEK CABIN – Feb 17
Easy travel conditions allow for another destination early this season.
Details available in the captions here:
Numerous lost travelers due to poor signage!
Sweet. You broke trail for me. I have been waiting for that.
I will have to try to get up there after I recover from skiing all those Lake Louise double black diamond chutes that an old crippled guy probably should not be skiing.
Wish I did not forgot my XC skis the day I had to hike into the Ink Pots about 2 weeks ago.
When you go beyond the Warden Cabin and a relatively short ways beyond the Luellen Lake turn-off the meadows open up again and the scenery is spectacular. This upper part of the Johnsons Creek valley is a must to see. Sweet backpacking to Lake Louise, YaHa Tinda ,the bison pen or Banff from the Ink Posts.
I decided to ski the Skogan trails today. Started at Ribbon Creek and headed down to Hay meadow after crossing the road. As expected there were lots of people out on family day. Mostly walkers so the hay meadow trail did not have much left. From there it was a steady climb under increasingly better track conditions. There was a skiff of fresh snow so V40 worked good all day. After the Troll falls turn off, the walkers respected the tracks.
At the Skogan Loop junction I headed left and climbed, then really climbed up this steep trail. I forgot how steep it gets near the top. Then down to the Skogan Pass trail at the power line. At this point I only saw three other skiers; coming down. Unfortunately, one or possibly two uphill skiers for most of the Skogan trail decided to herringbone right in the ski tracks rather then move over to the centre of the groomed area, so any uphill tracks were partially trashed. They had no respect for anyone following, shame on you however you are.
Once back on the Skogan Pass trail at the power line, I headed up the last few kms of partially trashed tracks towards the pass. After about 700 metres I realized the tank was near empty after the climb. I wanted to save some energy for highline and a ski to the lookout, so I turned around for a fast, but not icy decent. After the lookout, I went down Sunburst, following some hikers who stayed between the tracks but they and others left some dents in the grooming on the steep down hills which made for a bit of a rough ride.
Overall a great day, always nice to ski in the Ribbon Creek area after fresh grooming and track setting before the tracks get worn out and icy.
Has anyone skiied goat creek trail or know about the conditions over family day?
More PLPP Magic
Richard and I parked at the VIC – nice place to change before/after ski. Followed the Groomer – for the first part – on the West side of the road. Meadow (West), Sinclair and Lodgepole – terrific tracks, hard packed corduroys on the downhills – made it interesting! Crossed over at Elkwood. Wheeler to Packers and up to Pocaterra – great conditions, weather was beautiful, a few degrees below and sun shining. Pocaterra to Lynk can only be described as: “Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!” – what a downhill. Lynx, Wolley and Meadow (East) back to the VIC – to end the 22 km circuit. Truly a great day. Life is good.
MLR – Our last day skiing from the L. Louise Hostel this weekend. We parked at MLR trailhead at -15C and headed up Tramline to the parking area near the hotel. Tramline was in very poor shape – heavily walked, with the tracks totally obliterated for the top 300m. Then we skied was along Fairview and back to MLR. Fairview tracks were skier set and lovely to ski. The downhills were utterly under control and there was lots of sun to make the views spectacular. MLR tracks, which had been track set on Saturday, were snowy, but skier set. The uphill was great, but the top couldn’t come soon enough for us; after three days in a row, we were pretty tired today. We had lunch at the top, fending off aggressive whiskey jacks who almost took the sandwiches out of our mouths! The temperature had warmed up to about -6 on the way down, but a cold wind had sprung up in our faces. The downhills were soft and a bit slow for those of us who like it fast, and we had to pole the shallower bits. All in all, a great day, and weekend. Happy Family Day to all!
Awesome conditions today at Red Earth Creek. Parks rolled and track set to Lost Horse creek 10am or so.
fast tracks down and blue skies enroute up..
Sunday afternoon, Feb 16 Mountain Road, Mountain West View, Moose Loop back to Mountain Road. Variable conditions with a couple of icy hills mixed in! Blue wax worked well going uphill. Beautiful sunshine, many smiles and happy dogs. We are so lucky to have West Bragg Creek! Thank you groomers!
Skogan Pass (me too!). I confess I’ve never “conquered” this one before. The only other two times I’ve gone up this way, I took the shorter route to the Hummingbird Plume Lookout (which itself a lovely and worthy goal). Well today was the day!
I agree with the other reports below. The view at the top was certainly worth the slog, and the snow in the upper areas was plentiful enough to feel safe on the return trip. The trip down was very fast and a whole lot of fun. I can’t say the same about the multi-use trails near the bottom, which were packed hard and slippery. I took a detour near the end, hoping to see Troll Falls, and instantly regretted the decision. I decided the falls just weren’t worth it today.
Basically, my thoughts of Skogan can be summed up like this:
I hate thee. I love thee.
Your climbs are relentless,
But the views are all worthy.
PLPP – I skied the Cookie Race 42 route and I would not recommend it until new tracksetting on Elk Pass. A lot of snow fell overnight and I had to pole down the big hill! It’s skied in now but still not ideal.
Spray Loop today with Jim B. – Spray West in decent shape, it got better after the turnoff down to the bridge. Spray East, in very good shape, very few people. I forgot how scenic this trail is, so close to home and the price is right!
Feb. 16 Lake O’Hara Road minus 7 at 10:00 am applied VR40 that worked well for climbing and glide in the 2 cm of new snow that has fallen since last Thursday grooming and track setting. Lots of folks sharing the trail with us. A Lethbridge couple on their first O’Hara visit had a fire on at Le Relais and the cabin was comfortable for lunch. The reward for all that climbing was an thrilling and controlled ski down.
After years of avoiding it I was finally convinced to tackle the mighty Skogan Pass. After years of Bobs warnings of near death sphincter puckering warnings of icy and or hard pack downhills, fat bikers, gravel sections, boot packers, and narrow passes, today was actually pretty sweet. First car in the Ribbon parking lot and first up the trails on ever-deepening fresh pow with excellent soft pack underneath. Between adding an extra 3” of VR40 kick wax length, plus powder, and arm-wax, we toiled up with great grip but very little glide. Definitely chilly and breezy at the top however blue sky and views warmed the soul. Heading down was quite reasonable without terror thanks to easy powder control on our skinny Xc skis. At one intersection encountered toe-only boot prints with what looked like claw marks…. which after looking around we figured were only crampons. Ha. Phew. Of course no bears should be around. 20km later the two of us finished up back at Ribbon quite tired and content at our adventure. Thanks tour-buddy TD.
Having a great laugh over your post, as I too try to CONQUER this ski to Skogan Pass once a year. It has to date evaded me, although on the list to try to ski before my season runs out end of March. Perfect conditions for me are 4-6 cms of perfect snow on top of night before grooming in minus 5 to 10 C. I always start at Nakiska-good on you for doing the whole thing. Also got a kick out of the reported claw marks. At Pipestone, I used to get puzzled by weird-looking animal prints, until I realized it was dogs wearing booties!!
Thanks Helen. At Ribbon parking lot area it might have been 1-2 cm, however up top it was ~5-7cm’ish… and also your perfect temps. Actually the part from Ribbon up to Nakiska isn’t too bad and at least allows some good glide and strides to help warm the whole body up.
Gotta also say a huge THANKS to Bob as his previous posts warned of the windchill coming down such a long ways especially after getting sweaty heading up. Doesn’t take much, just a light jacket and maybe an extra buff.
I also had a laugh at this post. I was there too today, but I was one of the last cars to arrive at the Stoney parking lot, and it was BUSY! I made it to the top but I can’t say I feel like I conquered it. More like a whimper, but I did it.
Sounds like we both missed a good window today helen. )-:
Yes, skiing it last year coinciding with your birthday was great, despite being quite cold, and the great choices of beer in the hotel lobby was super tasting following. Maybe another “window” will come to pass.
WBC – Telephone loop CCW, it was -1C when I started at 11:00am and the parking lot was quite full.
I initially took the West part of Hostel where the conditions were good, once on Telephone the trail is full of fat bikes tracks / ruts and also many deep foot prints from walkers as the snow is very soft. The trail conditions improves drastically after the junction with the Long Distance trail. The descents were fast but still easily kept under control even with skinny skis.
The only icy part was on the uphill to reach the beginning of Moose loop.
PLPP – 34 km circuit
Jamie & I skied from the Pocaterra Hut via Rolly Road, Pocaterra, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Boulton Creek, Wheeler, across the road to Braille, Lodgepole, Sinclair and back to the hut. We started at 9 a.m. and finished at 2:20 p.m. We enjoyed the fresh grooming on Pocaterra. The rest was in great shape, even with some snow on some of the trails.
As mentioned by a few others PLPP was wonderful today. We started at Pocatera and did the whole outer loop. Pocatera to Elk Pass returning via my favourite Fox Creek, Moraine and then Wheeler, Amos, Lynx and Pocatera. Beautiful snow on the upper trails and fast tracks on the lower trails.
Pipestone Loops were the choice for our first ski of the long weekend and what a good choice it was. We skied all the trails, which was easy considering part of the trail system was closed, but the skiing was fantastic. The tracks were in good condition and although a bit rough in spots, were fast, maybe a bit too fast for some of us. The weather was beautiful, with temperatures in the -6 to -3 range, there were very few people other than us, and we had Martin’s couch all to ourselves for a leisurely lunch. If you have not seen the couch, it’s well worth a visit, it’s located at the top end of the Pipestone River Loop. Distances in our group varied from 22k to 34k because some people just couldn’t resist doing some trails twice. If you haven’t been to the Pipestone Loops yet, check them out.
Is the main parking entrance open?
Yes parking lot is open on the Pipestone/
At least when I skied it a week ago
I doubt if anything is changed
We arrived at the Pocaterra, PLPP parking lot at 10:30 this morning and skied Pocaterra to Whiskey Jack and returned on the same trail. The freshly groomed tracks had enough time to settle and were outstanding.
I’ve lived in Calgary for 22ish years and have not seen such pristine and consistent conditions during any ski season that I can remember in that time.
Get out there!
Thanks to the groomers and their hard, late night, early morning work.
Couldn’t agree more, Rhonda. PLPP is a gem! Pocaterra area trails the best I’ve seen.
Big turn out and excellent grooming for the fun Yoho Nordic Challenge. It was my first time on these true “old school” single trackset trails and it was a blast. Getting from Field to Emerald Lake is more “Lake Louise to Banff” style than “Great Divide” style and hillier than expected, but once at the lake the Alluvial Fan was sublime. Big Kudos to organizer Jessica and all the awesome feed station volunteers! The gluten free date squares were a life saver after climbing up from the Emerald River!
Hopefully enough was raised for the groomer repair; it’s a large area with great potential. We’ll be back in no time for sure!
Natasha and I second that 🙂 What a great event, and it was our first time too at the Nordic Challenge. I think the estimated 100 metre height gain was a bit of an underestimate – more like 300m. Great Canmore turn out.
Yes, thank you so much to all the organizers and volunteers of this event!!! We’re planning on supporting this great initiative for years to come!
Ribbon Creek – Excellent – Following the Groomer!
Richard and I arrived at the Kananaskis Outfitters/Town Centre around 10 AM. Nice warm place to change into the boots. We went quickly over to trailhead and on to the Ribbon Creek Loop via Hidden. Superb conditions – both shwooshing down to the Creek and then up Kovach. If that wasn’t good enough – the other side of the slog – Terrace and Aspen, nothing short of magnifique. Warm temps and sunshine – all day – to boot! Life is good.
Sat feb 15: west elk pass meadows/couch tour.
-5 in the parking lot at 930, -2 on return at 2. In and out on fox creek. Fair amount of debri (no issues on the waxless) but decent enough tracks. Removed one leaning tree at the base of a hill. Thanks to cheeky’ trail breaking, hit the blueberry meadows first. A bit blown in with the light to moderate winds in the morning. Lots of hut goer travel on the main west elk pass meadow track, so well packed by skiers (one pulling a sled) and a few snow shoers. It’s not the pristine skier set track it used to be, but travels fine for all manner of skis. Somebody has added more flagging to the route, so much more obvious for the unfamiliar where to divert from the initial large meadow when heading south from couch HQ. Up to the pass via hydroline in both fresh snow and snowshoe track (looked like one was walking with only one snowshoe on?). Winds picked up after lunch and quite blustery in open areas. Added some additional off trail exploration by breaking trail through smaller meadows from elk pass to Patterson, roughly parallel to and west of hydroline. Ankle deep trail breaking. Nice little diversion. A good day of meadow skipping with intermittent sun and mild temps.
Mt Shark – I skied pretty much every trail today. There was 1-5cm of fresh snow on top of the most recent grooming, depending on how wind exposed each part of the trail was. The stadium and Watridge Lake trail were very windy and a bit unpleasant, but everything in the trees was lovely. It was a little bit sunny when I arrived around 10am, but then it started snowing and continued to snow lightly for the next few hours.
West Bragg – short ski around MV West. Brilliant sunshine, I love skiing at this time of year. Conditions were a bit variable – very icy at the start of Mountain Road, excellent in the shade, at the north end of MV West and the upper end of Mountain Road, a bit windblown on the north side of the big hill on MV West, very icy on the south side of said hill. Collembolas are out in a few places, and the bit alongside the road cut on MV is terrible with a lot of dirt in the tracks. Someone should plant bushes or something on that road cut.
Definitely a bluebird day!
I’d love the hear a trail reports from anyone who’s skied the Pocaterra end of PLPP in the past few days. The Live grooming says it hasn’t been groomed since Feb 9 so just wondering how it is from that end.
Saw the groomer working in front of Pocaterra hut at north end at 6pm. They’ll upload their GPS track in the morning. At the south end, Elk Pass had 2cm fresh over grooming in open areas, 1cm under the trees, enough to mitigate the debris Helen reported on. Made fresh couch-circuit meadow tracks (both routes) for the weekend wanderers while the sun broke out. More like 3cm fresh settled snow at the pass, but not blown in, at least on Elk Pass (didn’t see Hydroline) so decent was jiggly but not wobbly. Roughly -4 all day at south end, squalls ending at noon, mixed sun and little wind in the afternoon. Great day for a late start.
Feb 14 – Spray Lakes West
There were some pine needles on the trail the first few km, but beyond there the conditions improved quickly and the skiing was very enjoyable. There were times of sun today as well as flurries, sometimes occurring at the same time. The Spray River has a lot of open water, and we spotted a bald eagle looking for fish.
I meant Spray River West
Pipestone, Valentines Day. The snow was great as we headed out late morning but I wondered why the trail was groomed but not set. That is until the groomers went past us and we were on track set trails for the rest of the day. By the time we were done at around 3:30 pm, it was snowing fairly heavily. The conditions should continue to be great for the weekend.
CASCADE RIVER – Feb 14
Another few cms of snow overnight made the recent tracksetting very pleasant. Also a great opportunity to leave the crowds and make our own tracks up the river itself!
Details available in the captions here:
Makes for a nice circuit.
Goat Creek Trail ~ 20 kms one way / 3 hours on average to complete the entire distance with a starting point at the Goat Creek trailhead above Canmore nearby Spray Lakes. The elevation loss is about a thousand feet. That makes it an easy trail to ski down and to follow until you arrive at the other trailhead parking lot behind the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.
The Goat Creek trailhead is situated within Kananaskis and the first kilometre is not groomed. It is well used among hikers, snowshoes and bikes. Be careful once you get started, the moment you ski down from the trailhead, there will be a fork below. Bare right and uphill and that will get you to the Banff National Park boundary (800 meters away) where grooming and track setting occurs. Signage indicates the path to follow.
WBC morning classic ski – Sending lots of love to the GBCTA ski grooming crew as trails in amazing shape! MOST south aspects were machine-tred tracked to break/soften sun crust. Tracks on Sundog/Iron-Elbow-loggers and west to mtn view and moose all in good condition. ***ADVISE using NEW alt. route on MtnViewWest northbound descent from summit picnic table as ice/gravel mix on that small stretch. DO your part and DONATE!
WBC today and the conditions were fairly good, still soft snow to be had, but there was some icy sections on Iron Springs and glazed tracks on any trails that had a south or southwest exposure. Still a wonderful outing so get out there.
West Bragg, February 13. Brought three teenagers out for a ski day and they weren’t disappointed! Conditions up Mountain Road to Moose Connector and West Crystal Line were perfect, with pristine track set. Stopped for snacks in the cozy warming hut, then onward to East Crystal Lie and Sundog. Conditions were so good that even the newbie had a glorious day on these trails. Bluebird skies and above zero temps by 1:00, and so the snow was starting to stick to everything and the trails were getting gluey. On a down note, I saw three folks x-country skiing (together) each with a dog tied to their waist. While I’m glad these energetic dogs are on-leash, this just seems like an accident waiting to happen, especially on narrower trails when skiers need to pass one another.
This is called skijoring and is quite a common practice. I’ve never heard of an accident happening. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skijoring
I’m actually surprised there aren’t more accidents. I’ve had a few very close calls with dogs jumping in front of me as I descend. Once I had to jump right off the trail. I have no issue with dogs out on the trails – but they can pose a problem in certain areas. Some people dont actually have much control of their dogs, but most are great.
Brewster Creek to Sundance Lodge. Despite the “poor” rating on Parks Canada’s report, the trail up to the lodge is in reasonably good shape with a single worn skier track. The snowmobile track is flat and there is sufficient snow on the trail to make the downhill turns manageable. As a bonus, the valley provides nice cover from the high winds. The first 100 m of the Healy Creek trail is a mixture of sand and snow from the road but improves once you leave the roadside.
CASCADE RIVER- BEYOND ELK TRAP
The skiing from the parking lot to Stoney Creek is excellent. Nicely trackset. Moderately fast going in.
From Stoney Creek to about 3 km past the Elk Trap the trail has been snowshoer and skier tracked. The trail gets better towards the Flints Park area with more snowshoe traffic. It is likely snowshoer packed to the Wigwam Creek Warden Cabin ( ? 2nd warden cabin), Snow slowed down with a little new snow on the return back to the parking lot at night.
Skied at Kananaskis village trails this afternoon, Terrace, Kovach, Aspen, and back down the fun curves on Kovach. Some debris with all the wind, but conditions good with the fresh snow. Just below zero at 2:30.
My wife”Gazelle” and I went to Cascade today. First the Bankhead part which was fine except that the recent track setting had been done with a light weight machine. I found many times as I shifted my weight for the next stride-that the track would “settle” an extra half inch or so. Of course it was better than no track setting, but that “punching through” does affect your rhythm etc.
Next we skied to the Cascade bridge and back. We were 100% happy with everything we experienced there!
PLPP today was great. Very windy on the drive there but once in the trees skiing was great. Minus 6 with sun . We skied Amos, Lodgepole, Braille and Spruce Road. Some great tracks, some with snow drifted in and a bit slow. Only a few other skiers there. Tail wind blew us home where temperature was plus 7.
Ribbon Creek: Bill Milne to Mt. Kidd RV park & return. Heading out at 10:30, found pristine tracksetting in protected areas. But very strong headwind was partially filling in tracks with windblown snow. However, the fresh corduroy was a skater’s delight. Treed section from golf course southwards was excellent for both classic and skating. Ski this area for the next few days, while it’s in great shape.
Went to Lake O’Hara hoping for new tracksetting but it hadn’t been done, maybe because there’s 5 cm in tonight’s forecast. Old tracks were okay and the downhills were in good shape.
West Elk Meadows recon: had not been in there yet this winter but picked a rather blustery afternoon to start out. New tracksetting to Blueberry Picnic table then it the skier set trail. Checked on yet another little blue bird (to add to Chuck’s photo collection) and it was turning in the wind. Played around in the various tracks in the meadows and enjoyed finding the new Loveseat (Cheeky taking lessons from MaSid?). Brilliant sunny spot about 2.5 kms below Elk Pass Picnic Table. Climbed back up Hydroline, skied down to Patterson, and back the direct way I came. A gale of wind started around 3pm, bringing all kinds of golf ball sized ice chunks, treebeard and many twigs over that beautiful new grooming. I skied in the middle corduroy trying to avoid the mine field of tree debris.
ALLUVIAL FAN – Feb 13
Quiet fresh snow… and still snowing!
Details available in the captions here:
Snowshoe tracks well designed to avoid conflict with the set track.
Feb 13 – Cascade
Cascade was freshly groomed, hard-packed, and fast. The chinook winds put some pine needles and snowdrifts across the first 1 km that’s along the summer road, but it didn’t get hot enough today to cook the snow. The snow on the fire road is in excellent shape, and beyond the bridge the new grooming is magnificent. We enjoyed partly cloudy skies with some sunny breaks. Air temp -2C on arrival +1C at the end of the day.
We enjoyed very good ski conditions, mid-day on Moose Loop and the Crystal Lines etc. Dry snow for most of our ski, but with the arrival of warm winds and full on sunshine around 1:00, things began to change quickly, with some stick and slip as the snow began to moisten. Our car thermometer read plus 7 as we drove by downtown Bragg Creek.
Enjoyed the newly trackset Lower Telemark and Great Divide trails in Lake Louise today. Upper Telemark nice as well with new snow overtop recent track setting. Saw less than a dozen skiers in total – we all thought it was our lucky day out there!
It did get warm, but was on my r-skins which worked fine but suspect waxing was in the purple range. Wind and tree bombs kicked up at west end of Lower Telemark, so beware!
Sandy McNabb – Yesterday, mostly just north side ridge loop. 6cm or more fresh over the grooming. Easy to fling aside the big tree debris (poplar sticks and bottle-brush) mentioned in live-grooming report. Pretty thin on the west end of Long Prairie Loop. Lotsa rocks lurking under a skiff of snow on the hill betwixt Death Valley intersections. Must go uphill there (clockwise). Tried to bury and pack down around the biggest frozen-in rocks, but there’s surely some more. Looked too thin and icy to ski Long Prairie Ridge.
Welcome top Sandy sounds like good conditions for us how ski there regularly
REDEARTH- New snow on the trail yesterday, about 4 inches by the time we got 11 km to the turnoff. Great sunny conditions. The trail is now widely skidoo tracked, not groomed. Watch out for the swales, ridges u’s and dowhill bumps from the skidoo. Lower end seemed quite skied off when we returned to the parking lot.
Shaganappi Golf Course
Good snow, -4 C, albeit a bit thin in spots.
Fortunately skiing over grass presents no harm to your skis. Another snowfall could make the job easier for the track setter. A handy venue for Calgarians to get in a couple of hours to practice technique.
Feb 12 – Castle Lookout to Protection Mtn
Glorious sunshine today. -7C when we arrived and -3C at the end of the day. There was 1/2 in of new snow, covering a few pine needles in the first km and on top of clean snow beyond that. We had lunch in a suntrap and it felt like spring!
Fresh grooming on Meadowview and Bow. Perfect as usual and fast. Must have set after short snow storm
Skied trails w/ new lite snow- fun on Rundle
The ELK TRAP – Feb 12
Birding was another reward!
Details available in the captions here:
Note that today’s tracksetting also went all the way to Stoney Creek.
Yoho was a dreamscape today thanks to Joe and other’s hard work grooming trails. After dropping a car at Emerald Lake, we started on Tally HO on perfect tracks. Headed up The Connector (which I had been patiently waiting for all season) and it was superb. After a delicious lunch at the Lodge Lounge, we headed out to the Tree Hugger and Alluvial Fan. It could not have been any nicer finishing at -2 with longer sun hours available. The new snow on excellent tracks accompanied by the 360 degree views are next to impossible to beat.
Ribbon Creek parking lot had only two cars in it when we arrived at 1:30 this afternoon! It was a lovely afternoon for a quick trip up the Coal Mine trail. We skied up the down tracks of two skiers who apparently skied up the Centennial hiking/snowshoe trail, in near perfect conditions. There was about 6 – 8 cm of fresh light powder over Monday’s grooming, making for a very sweet descent.
Wait..what? You did what for fresh powder?? Do tell….!
A blue wax afternoon on Hostel-Telephone-Reconnect-DemiTel. February 12.
Encountering virgin track setting on Hostel almost had me changing plans, and heading back to my truck to exchange my metal edged light touring skis for the track setup, however I continued on towards Telephone, which was already mildly trampled until Snowshoe Hare. After that-bliss!-five to seven cm’s of cold snow over a smooth hard base, with a good old skier track under the new snow for much of the way. Descents were dead easy (although an icy base could be felt at times), grip and glide were very good through the untracked. Perfect- my favourite conditions for Telephone! Along the way were many animal tracks ranging from mouse sized, up to deer ,with some cat like prints in one area- one of the delights of skiing in fresh snow.
At the junction with Reconnect I took the narrow packed track, which had been groomed for fatbiking, up along a sunny hillside with mountain views to the west, climbing easily to Demi-Tel. Once again onto the untracked, (other than one fatbiker) Demi-Tel led across and then down steadily and quickly, to the trampled (but perfectly fine for skiing) Snowshoe Hare. A quick finish on Hostel completed the loop.
Pipestone – tracks holding up well since being set on Sat, with a few open areas blown in by yesterday’s winds. About 4 cms of new made for silky texture, -8C at start, -3C at end, combo of blue/green wax worked well. Pretty quiet on the whole, only saw about 10 other skiers (and several snowshoers who were all being very courteous and avoiding the tracks). All 4 dogs seen (including our own Kazzy) were on-leash – too bad to hear about the fellow at PLPP from Mary.
Shaganappi-Tuesday afternoon. Quick apres work skate ski on the trails next door. Managed to get a couple loops in before the blizzard hit. Good coverage on the middle skate super highways and driving range loop. The snow was a bit soft due to the warmer temperatures. Some thin areas but the grooming crew have done a great job diverting trails around those areas. Actually the crew have done an incredible job keeping these trails alive in some tough freeze/thaw weeks. Thank you!
PLPP south end
Encouraged by the thought that a few cm of fresh snow would make some steep hills a bit easier, we started at Boulton parking at 10am (-11C). Headed up Whiskey Jack, breaking trail in some 4cm of new snow. Then a slow but enjoyable ascent to Lookout, again breaking trail. Breezy and cool (-13C) on top, but great views. The descent to Hydroline was fun – first tracks! Then south to Elk Pass on Hydroline- this trail was totally blown in, so a bit slow as we trackset it. Then back north on Tyrwhitt – nicely skier set by others. Finally, a fast and confident descent on WJ. -4C back at the car. A good day, even with all the tracksetting we did.
A bit of a negative note on our trip (above). We came across a trio of skiers who had an unleashed dog that accompanied them on Tyrwhitt, WJ and Moraine. Most disheartening of all, when asked if they knew that no dogs were allowed on the ski trails, one fellow said he knew and didn’t care! Oh, well, most skiers are polite and follow the rules.
Its -12 in Peter Lougheed PP.
There’s been aprox. 2cm of fresh snow.
2-3 cm at the discovery centre*
WBC Tuesday afternoon: Moose Loop was groovy on the downhills and the track set was well loved. The wind has created some impressive drifts between telephone junction and Moose connector, as well as made sections around the swamp shear ice. The wind and trees conspired to leave debris on the trail, but it wasn’t as bad as Epiphany. It began snowing ever so faintly and the clouds clearly had much more to bring. Moose connector and West Crystal Line to Logger’s Loop. Logger’s always seems to have significantly less debris than the other trails, although it became hard to tell as the snow fall intensified. I made an abbreviated hoser call before skiing downhill around a corner and an owl flew across my path. It was plus 6 when I started and I was soaked with the snow. Then my skis started to ice up on East Crystal Line. I thought it was the skin tec and wished for some skin wax, but when I got to the parking lot and looked, the ice was all on the tails. Weather problem or glide wax problem? It was snowing so heavily in the parking lot that by the time I had finished brushing of my car, another centimetre had covered the first half of the car. I should have stayed put, but instead drove the West Bragg Creek road at 30 kph because the visibility was so poor. It cleared somewhat by the hamlet. Skiing should be great tomorrow!
PLPP – Feb11 – Minus 4 at Elk Pass parking at 10:00 am. VR 40. Tree on Fox Creek has been removed. Skied new track set on Elk Pass, Hydroline and Tyrwhitt trail in light snow flurries snow. Pocaterra was fast on snow covered ski tracks to Packers then no snow below Packers. Skied Lynx to Amos on good track set. Upped the wax quotient to VR45 and finished the day on Lodgepole, with side trips to Sinclair and North Meadow to to Pocaterra Hut. Soft wax after noon and no new snow caused pine needle headaches. It was a beautiful day.
PS: – the snowshoe trail is set all along the west side of Hydroline up to Elk Pass
SP 16 or RINK’S Camp – Feb 11
With VR4U’s report, I hoped to photograph Wolves… guess what I found?
Details available in the captions here:
Interesting ski adventures! Your skis take you up valleys where not many people go. What type of GPS do you use? And do you use it frequently to stay in the right direction in the trees and creek beds? Did you ever get lost on your excursions?
I’ve never got lost yet… but then I’ve got my Garmin GPSmap 62s on all the time (just to record my track for skierbob of course). Though I must admit it has helped us back off a lofty summit in the fog once!
But please note… the Spray River is not far off track… we go there regularly.
That one high banked creek crossing that had a thin patch of snow to cross took me about 1/2 hour to make. As you can see in your “Chuck Shots” I moved a fair bit of snow around and did a lot of compacting. I also threw water on the snow to create a stronger snow bridge across the creek. That creek crossing was just a big dry rock and a very thin layer of clear ice when I first got there. I was surprized the crossing held my weight actually.
Too bad you did not hear the howling wolves. Perhaps turn on some Howling Wolf tunes as an alternative- like Smoke Stack Lightening. Find it on YouTube.
Maybe a guy should break trail to the mid Spray River section from Bryant Creek. Perhaps the wolves will howl for a person there too. There is lots of game in the valley for them to snack on so I think they will be howling around for a while.
West Bragg still great conditions. Did Moose Loop and it was much better than I expected. It was starting to snow at 3 PM when I left.
Skied at Shaganappi golf course today for the second time. It was gorgeous and sunny, and the sun softened the tracks a little bit. I did every trail there – excellent grooming (especially considering the last 2 weeks in Calgary), and no one was there. I feel really lucky to have this golf course in Calgary – great job Shaganappi Nordic Operations! Grass was poking up here and there, but generally great conditions. It will probably be even better after our snow tonight!
LAKE O’HARA ROAD- good conditions skiing up to the lake, took us 2.5 hrs on our slow fish scale BC skiis. Skied down in 1.3 hrs, centre getting a bit skied off then…… as lots of skiers, snowshoers and hikers seen today. Beautiful sunny day!
MID SPRAY RIVER- SP 16 CAMPGROUND/ OUTHOUSE
The West Spray River was generally excellent skiing. Moderate speed snow coming back at night. Some skate skier hack damage done to the ski track coming back which slowed the skiing down a little bit.
From the Goat Creek turnoff to SP 16 Campground/ Outhouse the trail was very good skiing. It was skier and hiker tracked for about 2 km or so. Yes- a crazy hiker up there. All creeks are crossable without taking skis off. I broke trail for several kilometers There was a good rain crust with several centimeters of newer snow on top. Ski penetration was a little over the ankles. Above normal easy travel conditions for this time of year. A few fallen trees on the trail that were easy to get around.
Just before I got to the old campground, I heard howling wolves maybe 400 meters down river while another wolf howled maybe 400 meters up river. Hearing the wolves on both sides of me was a classic howling treat- kind of in stereo sound. I wished I had a recorder as the howling went on for a fairly long time. Ate lunch at SP 16 and watched the golden sun set on the mountains. Skied back while hearing lots of wolf howling. The howling ended about 2 km before Goat Creek.
An unusual howling great ski day which was a sound rush.
OMG how awesome is that!
This goes into my books as being the best howling wolf sessions I have heard to date. I was actually hoping they would come in close when I was eating my lunch before the sun went down.
I have had a number of great experiences with wolves. The worst one was watching a starving wolf chewing on a empty can of pop up north. That is a sound no one wants to hear.
Started out at 13:00 around zero in the Parking Lot. Skied the northside of Moose Loop, Mountain view west, Mountain Road, Moose Connector, West Crystal, Logger, East Crystal and Middle Crystal to have abit of a spike before I finished, Moose loop was a bit chewed up parts of Mountain View West are blown over by loose snow and there is a icy section on the north side shortly before the top, but anyway it was good for the arms making it up the icey part. If you ski Mountain View West ski it counter clockwise as it is safer to go up through the ice rather than down.
Sorry did not take any pictures, never stopped. Did the whole thing in just over 2 hours.
PALLISER CABIN on the UPPER SPRAY – Feb 10
Excellent travel conditions and longer days allow exploration!
Details available in the captions here:
Wow, great day, thanks for sharing. But wouldn’t you categorize this as “backcountry”.
Then again, it would only be seen by the likes of MaSid, BigSteve and Chip… so yeah… I get it.
Definitely not “backcountry” aqua toque!
No avalanche risk, no climbing skins, no turns… just a tour that anyone could do, even on track skis! Track is in now.
But yes, no couch necessary… not a trail for slouchers!
Try it, you’ll love it.
Very nice, Chuck! What I wouldn’t give to get the key to the Palliser cabin for a few nights- there’s a lot of very good ski opportunities in that area.
Me too, Steve!
How long a ski was it?
Hey Louise… you obviously didn’t look at the captions!
As I noted on the map photo, it was a 30 km day (ie 15 km each way).
Any report from Goat Creek from Canmore this Sunday?
Bob, Goat Creek was trackset today(Monday), and Spray River was trackset yesterday.
Big shout out to Ivana Novosel for her FIRST PLACE FINISH in the Canadian Birkebienr this weekend. She dedicated her race to Kat Armitage-Amundson who ended her life through MAID, after suffering for 4 years with ALS, on the very day of the race, one year ago.
Beautiful news and two individuals to admire.
What a nice dedication. What a wonderful woman Kat Armitage was. It was always lovely to run into her on the trails and exchange pleasantries with her. She was such a lovely person and a great skier!
FULL MOON SKI – BANKHEAD – Feb 9
No headlamp required!
Details available in the captions here:
Thanks Darrell for the reminder of the upcoming Full Moon
Wow! Love the picture where the ski tracks are shining in the moon light. Talk about great moon tan skiing conditions. Nice glistening shot Chuck!
Full moon tan ski nights are “snow” precious and can offer some amazing scenery whether in the mountains, in northern muskegs or out on the prairies.
Ski it up while the night sky is shining and look out for the huge flying owl shadows. They are a hoot!
Another WBC report – skied around Moose Loop in the late afternoon. As Shulamit mentioned the tracks are pretty wobbly, but the snow is very good quality silk. Snowdrift Corner and the Half-Pipe are rather wind-affected, and sometimes on Moose the track was too far too the edge and my poles plunged through. Other than that, though, conditions are great.
Great day out with the clan on the Elk Pass – Tyrwhitt Loop and down to Pocaterra. Good snow conditions, lots of people out, mixed sun and cloud. VR45 throughout worked fine. On Pocaterra you can tell that the groomers have been up to the challenge of mixing the wet, icy crud into the recent snow falls. You can feel the icy bits but they’re minimal.
Note: One item of ski clothing found on the trail today – looks pretty new so let’s see if we can get it back to its owner.
WBC (me too!).
I agree with Steve, that it has been extraordinarily good this winter at WBC. I can’t remember a winter when it has been so consistently good so often.
Was it ever busy today! I arrived around 9:30 am, and the parking lot was already filling up quickly. The snow was quite good, but with a brisk wind, the snow was blowing off the tracks in a few spots. I kept to the wooded areas and avoid the open spaces. On some downhills, I felt a hard base of ice underneath the skis, and there was that telltale (cringe-worthy) scraping sound.
My ski was relatively short and rushed today, but even by the time I finished, I could tell the tracks were getting chewed up by busy use. Then again, what’s the point in having pristine tracks that no one ever skis on?
It already seemed like this extraordinary ski season at WBC would be one to remember, and today’s excursion taking in East and West Crystal lines, Iron Springs, Elbow, Sundog loop and Loggers made it even more so. While they say variety is the spice of life- with such consistently good dog-friendly skiing so close to home- it’s been hard to justify going anywhere else! Conditions ranged from newly trackset, to packed only, to skier tracked- all offering great skiing in smooth easy soft snow. As a bonus, it was a glorious day for an extended lunchtime picnic in the sun at the far south corner of Iron Springs (skier tracked only).
Extraordinary it certainly has been and Telephone loop is not to be missed for a more adventurous ski when the season is this good, conditions right now are very good with amply snow for great skiing almost the whole route, the only except being a couple of shady icy spots on the roller coaster not long after Hostel when skiing counter clockwise. I was the only one using light touring skis today, which is my preference for this awesome trail.
Cascade Fireroad to the bridge and a bit beyond
Lots of fresh snow between two well established skier set tracks. The long hill coming out was soft and most enjoyable to ski down – easy to control speed. Great afternoon, 13 km on swix purple V50. About -3oC warming to -1oC by 3:30. No sign of a crust in the snow from the Canmore rain last weekend.
Highly recommend the CNC after skiing it Friday and Saturday.
Canmore Nordic Centre – 10 out of 10.
Bow-Meadowview had clean cold soft snow, fresh tracks albeit still a bit shallow and they were ridden hard today. Lots of sunshine and just below freezing – but no adverse impact on the snow. Beauty day, too nice to quit, had to ski them twice.
Parking lots full this afternoon at West Bragg, everyone out skiing with their dogs and kids! Also lots of bikers, snowshoers, and walkers enjoying the fresh snow. Conditions were great and the temperature was a bit above zero.
Sunday always a good choice for Sundance Lodge as skiers coming out making a nice snowplow descent and maybe 6 people skiing up. Conditions were very nice and track-setting was some of best I’ve experienced up there. -8 to start and -6 on Swix thermometer at Lodge. Tempting to go beyond to that Turtle Tom’s (?) cabin, but lodge guests recommended using snowshoes to get there. Met Greg B riding up on his fat bike and enjoyed brief chat, as he recognized me from this forum. Thank you lodge groomers. Got home without even a single needle from 2.5 kms. Healy Creek portion of trail.
Nice meeting you on the trail today Helen. Congratulations on reaching your 1,000kms skied mark so early in the season! Good call at turning around at the Lodge. I went about 2km past it and as you reported it was only snowshoe packed and would have made for a tough go on skis. See you on the trails!
Went for a ski under last night’s full “snow moon” up the Spray River trail. The sky was absolutely clear and the trail was fast and smooth, as described in Mary’s report earlier in the day. When I got to the junction at around 10, the moon was shining directly into the shelter, making it the perfect place for a late-night snack. On the return, the moon was at my back, lighting up the trail and scenery ahead making it possible to ski some sections without my headlamp. Temperature was around minus 15. Good old green wax worked perfectly.
Sunday from the field
Ribbon creek, warming up from -10. Seems skier track set, except for someone doing herringbone at even the slightest incline, or trying to skate ski? ???? . I smoothed it out for ya’ all.
There’s a bit of powder on Coal mine, it’s not virgin but worth the feeling
Sun is trying to come out.
I just saw a single Rossignol ski set in the snowbank on the shoulder of highway 22 close to the 4 way stop in Bragg Creek. Maybe a Skierbob follower.
Bowness Park, Friday afternoon:
It is still possible to ski at Bowness Park, and even to enjoy it! However, things have changed. There is now a construction corridor along the south side, occupying the big walking path, so options are much more limited and walkers are all over where ski trails used to be. There was no grooming yesterday, and unlikely to be any for a while, but there are some skier tracks in those places. Plenty of snow around, and not much debris, so decent conditions, just a bit limited.
Skogan Pass / Loop / Sunburst / Highlevel. There was about 10 cm of fresh snow on top of the earlier in the week grooming. The fresh snow made for easy descents on the numerous hills.
West Bragg Creek
It looks as if West Bragg Creek hit the snow jackpot again! I measured between 12 and 16cm of new snow on what can only be described as an unusual skinny ski route. While the 2.4 hours of Adrenalin event was taking place on the West Crystal loops, I set off on an adventure tour of the north side trails. We followed some skier-set tracks on Hostel Meadow and east Hostel Loop to East Telephone. The new snow over the Feb 6 grooming on East Telephone was moderately multi-user packed to the Snowshoe Hare north junction, but after that, there was only a single skier-set track heading north. All normal enough to this point. We observed that there were no tracks of any kind on Disconnect, so we decided to tour up this single-track trail. Eventually we met a pair of trail runners coming the other way. At the top of the ridge, we connected onto Long Distance, which we followed south to the junction with Reconnect and DemiTel. DemiTel gets roller-packed, so it is firm and wide. And there were only a few snowshoe and fat-bike tracks in the new snow. Our fast and easy descent took us onto Snowshoe Hare and back to Hostel Loop. We turned north, to go clockwise around west Hostel Loop to East Telephone, which we followed back to the parking lot.
Should be a lot of great skiing at WBC for the next while!
Ski Heaven at PLPP
Snowing in the morning
Snowy roads; no ice
-6 degrees Celcius
At Elk Trail
Snow on tracks
Others had packed
Broke trail on pristine snow
Blueberry Hill was the way to go
Suppose we were too slow
Got passed by a fellow
Quick lunch at Blueberry Hill
No wind, high clouds, good views
First ones at the couch today
Jamie’s chocolate chip cookies
Were enjoyed with tea
Under a glimpse of sun
Up to Elk Pass
Against a breeze along the pole line
Perfect conditions up to the Lookout
Views of Blueberry Hill and Elk Lakes
Safe fun downhill
Whiskey Jack, Moraine
Split up via car and Boulton Creek
Drive back with clear roads
With the full moon guiding us home
Confederation Park. Urban ski adventures today. It isn’t mountains or even foothills, but there’s a lot to be said for not having to drive too far. You can have a lazy morning AND ski all in one day!
I had never been to Confederation to ski before, so was impressed by the efforts of the volunteers. They do a great job of making cross country skiing accessible in Calgary. The snow was in very decent shape, and I’m well aware of the hours of labour that go into making it that way. There were people out in all ages and stages, and it was nice to see people trying out skiing for the first time.
The coloured trail marker flags were a bit confusing, particularly where different trails intersected – and also by end of day, there were a lot of skier tracks meandering in all directions. I meandered too, between east and west side. I had no idea where I was going, so I either followed the tracks or just followed other skiers around the park.
Some of the tracks got worn and a bit icy by late afternoon, in particular on one hill in the corner- where I took an embarrassing wipe out – my first in years! But in all, it was a very nice afternoon.
Finally got a chance to try out my new Asnes BC nordic skis. Slapped on the mini mohair skins and made quick work of the (mostly) ascent to Boom Lake. Not much of a view with the snow and came across 5 downed trees along the trail but a great day nonetheless.
Ten Meanderthals enjoyed Lunch at Lake O’Hara Lodge. -8 at 9 am and 6 cms fresh powder. We got to the top about 11:30 so did a wee tour down to the lake and around the lakefront cabins. Ample homemade bread, delicious mushroom barley soup with side salad and Almond Cake for dessert with herbal tea and coffee. Many of us remarked how it was the easiest ski up there that we had ever experienced; basically walked straight up even the toughest hills using VR 40 or 45 : both worked great). Double trackset and nice flat section in between. Maybe saw half a dozen others on the trail. It was also one of the easiest descents skiing back down that most of us have ever experienced. Thank you Alison and Bruce for your staff in charge making us feel so welcomed.
There had to have been a good 5 cm of fresh snow in the Elbow Valley which made conditions perfect for a tour of the South Elbow and Iron Springs Trails starting from the Fullerton parking lot.
We beat many of the hikers out on the Elbow Trail so had plenty of fluffy snow to enjoy on the first multi-use section past the junction with the Fullerton Loop. Everything was skier tracked once we reached the Elbow/Iron Springs junction and we started to see skiers that had started at WBC.
We took Elbow Trail out and then shortcut back to Iron Springs for the return through the meadow on the Boundary Ridge bike trail.
It was an easy 8km Loop.
Hikers had packed the trail between the parking lot and Fullerton by the time we returned so it’s not as nice to ski from this side now. Just a slippery hard packed trail now resembling a sidewalk.
Definitely a trail to enjoy with fresh snow early in the day!
South South Glenmore Park (not a stutter) – Numerous breaks in the south fence-line allow access to the newly expropriated area betwixt the park and 90th Ave ring-road access (unfinished). In there you’ll find over a km of our tracks circumnavigating various tree stands and knoodling in the headwaters of a creek. Nice place. Crust is generally supportive expect in one or two short stretches – lee side of the stands. New snow was really fast this morning. There’s a distant din of large trucks working on the ring-road, but merely a shadow of Deerfoot’s roar at Maple Ridge golf course. To extend the trip, use the east parking lot (90th Ave and 24th St SW), ski half of the groomed loop, then continue past the west parking lot and slip behind the new electrical sub-station, or go north and use some side trails – they’re just north of the main paved pathway but still stay up on the terrace. Westward along the terrace trail you’ll find a hole in the fence just after crossing the paved pathway again, and before the paved path descends into the Weaselhead. Been wanting to get in there ever since we learned of the ring-road plans. Glad we checked it out.
Spray River at Banff. We parked near the Banff Springs Hotel and skied down the West side. The tracks were older, but with 3 cms. of fresh snow on top, they were wonderful. Tracks were like white satin, the temperature was a balmy -5, and it was calm. We saw very few people as we skied down to the junction with Spray River East, and then started south to the top of the hill above the Spray River Bridge. We saw a few people coming down from Goat Creek, and then a large peloton from the Foothills Nordic Ski Club came whooshing down, and back up the trail later. Lots of other people about too, especially at the junction. Heading back up the west side, we found the tracks silky and enjoyable. People are still ignoring the no hiker/biker/snowshoer signs, but as they did no damage to the ski tracks, we forgave them. I used my fish scale waxless skis today and Ray had his waxables with VR40 wax and neither of us had problems with grip or glide.
We must have been just behind you and confirm your comments. The final icy descent to the golf course was still very tricky but it’s been worse. It was a very fine ski!
Temp -1 at 2:00 pm. The sheltered trails of Terrace, Kovach and Aspen provided relief from a moderate wind. Track setting remained good with only minor tree debris. Where was everyone? Didn’t see a single skier.
INK POTS From MOOSE MEADOWS
Lots of snow. Multi use trail which is snowshoe, skier and hiker tracked. There are about 2 dozen trees leaning over or fallen on the trail. No real problems getting around them. The trail is currently suitable for advanced back country skiers only.
Beyond the Ink Pots the trail breaking should be relatively easy/ probably ankle to boot top ski penetration with 60mm XC skis.
Hiked to the Ink Pots due to forgetting the “right” skis. Forgot to replace downhill skis with XC skis in the car before coming out.
The hiking was the best February hiking I have had in Banff. The snow trail for walking is firm with excellent grip- with good boot treads. No real boot penetration on the trails. Easy walking, better than summer. Conditions will change with a snowfall.
It would have been nice to have the skis to go beyond the Ink Pots though.
The Ink Pots is a very scenic area once you get there. Lots of sweet skiing potential beyond, along with a warden cabin roughly 6 km up valley.
I’ll be back- soon!
FAIRVIEW AND BOW RIVER LOOP – BOTH in great shape, especially Fairview. So much snow! We did some packing on the couch!
Two thumbs up! It might even look like a place to sit now.
Lake O’Hara Fire Road
Thanks to the Lodge for the fresh grooming. The trackset conditions were great and the day was mostly sunny. Temperature was -8 at the start. V40 worked well all the way to the top. We sure appreciated the stove at Le Relais since the temperature was still -8 when we arrived. There was all sorts of traffic going to and from the overnight accommodations – skinny skis, wider light touring skis, AT skis, snowshoes, sleds, and boots. Thanks to everyone, including the wider skis, for staying out of the trackset. The trail was quite hard and fast on the return. The center was a wee bit rough but the packed snow was still soft enough that we were able to make the return safely in just over a hour. Temperature at the parking on the return was -4.
Great day today. Minus 10 at 11:00 ish, beautiful blue Alberta sky and no wind. Tracks were good as described yesterday, good grip up and effortless down…except for a serious case of the wobbles on the big downhill coming back, and some serious divets there to avoid as well. Needs some real track setting on that part for sure – not for the faint of heart or for new skiers as the tracks are shallow and easily skied out of. Skiing out of the tracks on this section is doable with no icy sections to report. Should be even better with the promised new snow.
PLPP – Elk Pass area
Our group of 4, motivated by Skier Bob’s article on Elk Pass, headed out there today. -11C and sunny in the parking lot at 10am. We headed up the Elk Pass trail (hard and a bit icy) and it wasn’t long before we were re-waxing with VR45 and VR50. Generally good conditions. When we reached the Blueberry Jct, conditions were excellent, and we headed up Blueberry for about 1.5km before retreating and skiing to the couch, where we relaxed in the sunshine and enjoyed our lunch (thanks, Martin). Then up to Elk Pass, and down Hydroline – a bit slow as the tracks were moderately blow in, and ice chunks were frequent near the power poles. We skied a 1km diversion along Lookout (a somewhat icy feel), before returning to ski the north end of Hydroline, and then Elk Pass back to the car. The steep downhills were quite manageable. -7C when we finished. Nice bluebird day.
im jealous. A bluebird couch day. With the “extra” skiing, surprised you didn’t extend south through the meadows to the power line and back up to elk pass from there, as meadow travel is excellent currently. And now, thanks to cheeky, there is a 2nd couch where you pop out at the power line in case the meadow skipping is too overwhelming for the senses. A veritable couch tour.
Confederation still in great shape. Thanks to the volunteer snow farmers and diligent groomers!
Convinced the CEO of the company I work for to let a bunch of folks take this afternoon off with pay so that a co-worker and I could introduce them to a great winter sport. The company even sprung for the rentals, hot chocolate and cookies.
WBC mid afternoon, skied the freshly groomed trails towards Iron Springs taking in Iron Creek to the dead end, good fast skiing everywhere although the farthest part of Iron Spings to Elbow contrary to the live report isn’t groomed . VR45 worked well for half the distance but had pretty much worn of by the time I turned around at Elbow.
Mt Shark was deserted today! New tracks were fast! Care required on the downhills.
Maple Ridge golf course in very good shape, was just groomed. A few thin spots but overall good fast tracks.
PLPP – Feb 6 – Minus 4 at Elk Pass parking at 10:45 am. With VR 40 skied Fox Creek around the Big Hill. Tree debris and no recent grooming aside it wasn’t bad except a tree is across the trail just below the first hill off the south entrance from Elk Pass trail. Every track skied today was rock hard and fast. Skied new track set with no new snow atop to Elk Pass. Tyrwhitt trail was skier tracked in the skiff of snow over like-new tracks. Deeper snow over good track set encountered at junction of Lookout and Tyrwhitt. The snow over track on Pocaterra lessened the further north we skied. Set off up Lynx to Amos on like-new track set. Got mixed up in the Ski for Light tracks (very good) and back tracked to find Wheeler. Upped the wax quotient to VR45 and finished the day on Braille and Lodgepole to Pocaterra Hut. These trails were icy and fast. Suicide Hill required more caution than usual but the bumps across the ICE at the bottom are now smoothed off.
PLPP West Elk Pass meadows on Thurs; in a word, skookum. -4 at Barrier Lk Info Center, but quickly dropped to -10 at Ribbon and was still -10 at Elk Pass at 10:30. Warmed quickly under sunny skies and no wind. Slight breeze from the north and -3 at 5pm. Minor to moderate pine needles only near the trail-head, and most looked well embedded at end of day. Super easy off-track meadow travel. Guided some nice folks we met at Blueberry junction table to Couch HQ via short route from Elk Pass tracksetting, then encouraged them follow the hut-goer-set track that contours to the powerline. It’s gorgeous out there. Eventually made our way to the power line too, often making new trail that’s straighter or sunnier (and narrower! Pack-laden hut-goers often waddle like stink-bugs) At the power line…. What’s this? Alas, a lunching love seat seems to have sprung up (gets shaded about 3pm.) Not precisely MaSid’s monolithic Machu Picchu block construction, but nonetheless another kick back spot. Also re-set the longer scenic route from the main couch to Blueberry tracksetting. Skookum!
Loved your report Cheeky, and more than anxious to enjoy those West Elk Meadows. Sounds like there are lots more options to explore, as in the longer scenic route towards Blueberry. I can tell you have been hanging out with Ma Sid too long when you include when the sun goes down on the new block construction Love Seat.
Critical info for usage, and for selection of location and orientation, for the best lounging. Grasshoppa learn quickly. (-; They weren’t sunny today, otherwise I would have been inclined to stop by.
We were able to sneak in a quick ski around Moose Loop in the late afternoon. The skiing was fast and fun, as conditions remain very good generally, with a few short spots of iced up or glazed tracks, and downhills that are shaved in places, but still very controllable. VR 50 worked perfectly.
Brilliant day on cascade fire road. Blue wax was perfect , good grip and fast downhill. The tracks were newly set beyond the bridge too all the way to the warden’s hut. Mr moose walked along the trail leaving big hoof prints but nicely kept out of the tracks. Unfortunately a skate skier left cuts into the nice new track for us to discover on our way back.
TURTLE TOM’S CABIN – Feb 6
Longer days allows us to go further up Brewster Creek!
Details available in the captions here:
Thanks to the Banff Trail Riders for extending the tracksetting
Lake Louise Hector, Pipestone, Merlin Viewpoint 4 km past Couch
Trace of new snow last night. -8 at 11am -2 at 4pm.
Hector starting to get bit warn and very hard, almost icy on the downhills.
Pipestone very good tracks and still some loose snow on the hills.
Pipestone River to Merlin viewpoint was spectacular in bright sunshine, but alas, Merlin was in the shade. The tracks from previous skiers were in good shape, no drifting with only one or two cms of new powder.
Day 2, sunny and -7, perfect temp and snow conditions. Only challenge is day 5 of skiing and the arms and legs are tired.
Skied the longer lower trails, used hawk owl to access raven, Martin, caribou and moose. The caribou-moose loop is great so did it twice. Marmot is a great trail to climb back up to chickadee and the day lodge. Many thanks to the Golden Nordic Ski Club and the weather gods for great conditions.
Moose Loop (north) both Mountain Views. Both of these trails had been recently groomed (Mountain View West so recently that it did not show up as fresh groomed on live grooming). Ma Sid’s report had indicated that a bit of Mountain View West was in rough shape. With the re-grooming that has changed a bit. The section along the snow fence is now decent although there is not a lot of snow. The hill from the col heading north is better than it was yesterday but the lowest quarter or so is still pretty icy. I would not want to come down that without metal edged skis. Above that it is fine. The hill down to the south (the direction I was skiing in) is in great shape. The only other area of concern was a short section (about 5 m long) from the high point on Mountain View East heading west. It was really icy and hard even to get up. It would be really tough to go down. Most people were taking off their skis for this very short stretch. There is also a short icy section heading east on Mountain View East as you go through the “fence gate” near the Crystal junction. It is only a few metres of ice and one can avoid it by staying on the south side of the trail (right side if you are heading down). Overall conditions are really good. It is amazing what the trail grooming volunteers are doing to keep this area in such great shape. I cannot remember a year in which one could ski here essentially uninterrupted for such a long time (roughly 3.5 months so far)
If you’d like to join the Magic Snow Fairies, please sign up for snow farming here: https://volunteersignup.org/EAXWL
The weekly snow farming session at Confederation Golf Course in Calgary worked on the purple look last night.
Here is the dance of the Magic Snow Fairies:
This is one of the best stories and pictures of volunteer “Snow Fairies” who are passionately ensuring Confederation Golf Course remains one of the wonderful places to ski within Calgary.
Dawn Mountain – Golden BC
We had a great ski at Dawn Mountain today. They did get rain over the weekend then snow on top. All trails were groomed and trackset since so the conditions are very good, but a bit slow with – 10 temps.
Skied the upper trails: beaver, chickadee, lynx, hawk owl, part of moose and coyote. They have a great day lodge and the locals are friendly. Rates are $12 and $10 for seniors.
BOULTON-FOX CREEK- ELK PASS-TYRWHITT-WHISKEY: great snow on ungroomed trails all the way up to Elk Pass. Snowing a bit at the pass at 1pm. Icy on groomed Tyrwhitt to Whiskey. Whiskey has lots of nice ungroomed snow, watch out for very hard snow bombs on downhill tracks!!
Please, tell me how did you find the boulton creek trail, is it skiable and somehow free of needles and twigs?
Many thanks: Paolo
STONEY CREEK – Feb 5
The further you go up the Cascade Valley, the better!
Details available in the captions here:
More animals than humans!
Lk Louise area: Started on Fairview about 10am at -11C. Headed east on great trackset and had a wonderful ski to MLR. Arrived there to find the outbound tracks eradicated by the groomer, so we headed up on the downhill track. Very soon, the groomer returned, mostly eradicating that track. We continued on, soon to be passed by the groomer again, as he started to groom the skating area. Unsure about how much grooming would happen before tracksetting, we turned around at the top of the steep hills and had a slow but decent glide back to the Tramline Jct. Met the groomer again just before that – now he’s tracksetting. Bad timing on our part. Headed over to Pipestone – skied Hector and Drummond, also lower Pipestone. Generally good conditions – some needles prevalent on Hector, and just a few hard (slightly icy) sections throughout. Quite pleasant overall. Finished just after 2pm to -8C and flurries.
Wed feb 5: WBC (moose/mountainviews/loggers loop).
-6 this morning at 830 and +3 at 1. Fast tracks initially until catching the groomer on moose and as things warmed up. Helped the groomer move the moose NE picnic table back to the knoll. Where the groomer continued on moose I continued on the wind affected mountain view west trail, perhaps unwisely. Fairly indistinct shallow tracks for a good chunk, then the wind blasted exposed hills that were stripped of new snow down to the rain crust layer. Fine dust and gravel in the snow at the snow fence hill. Manageable with light touring gear. Some chose to walk these couple of stripped sections. Base covered again down the hill to mountain road past the last picnic table. I’d give mountain view west a pass until more snow/harvesting/grooming. Faster travel again on mountain road and loggers for a nice end to the day.
Had a great ski at Lake Minnewanka yesterday afternoon on the Cascade fire road. It was recent dual track set to the bridge and then not bad after the bridge, but not machine set.
Im guessing you were the Ron I met on my return?! Great ski 🙂
Evan-Thomas-Wedge – 4 Feb.
Nice crisp tracks but very hard and plenty of debris. Fast on the flats, scratchy on the descents, tried softer wax for grip on the gentle climbs but it was scraped off quickly. Very windy all day, even in the trees, with significant drifting in open areas.
Pipestone newly tracked yesterday and our destination was heading up Pipestone River past the couch. Looked like a few people used the couch today (likely Skier Doug) and did some maintenance on it. We wanted to follow Chuck and Jeanette’s (and previous skier’s) tracks up the river and while the tracks vanished in a few places, we three got it back in decent shape to where we turned around at 1pm, below Merlin Ridge. We skied 4.5 kms past the couch. The views got socked in on and off but that has only enticed us to return and ski further next time. Upon our return there was one car in parking lot. Little wind and -22 starting temps quickly rose to -11. One coat of VR 40 held up for 6 hours. We almost prefer the new routing options on Pipestone now, avoiding that first section and my guess is, that east gate will remain closed until next season.
TUNNEL MOUNTAIN CAMPGROUND LOOPS – Feb 4
Thanks to the Tunnel Mtn Sledheads, these trails were also single trackset.
No captions necessary this time!
Note that the “letter” loops in the back of the campground have been extended to create a great trail system.
Oops… wrong link… please try this one:
A chilly -18 start on freshly groomed trails. Some icy spots on the downhills. Due to the cold snow there was little glide. Managed to ski most of the trails in a 16.5 km figure eight loop. Access from the east parking lot still closed. Starting to snow at the end of the trip.
Will be going to pipestone for first time next week. Comments about east parking lot being closed? Will we have hard time finding open parking lot. Coming from North Carolina. Thanks Rob
Parking lot is open. It’s the gate at the east end of the parking lot accessing the east start to the ski trails that is closed, namely the start of trail #20. Enter the ski trail system through the west gate (trail #21). Have a look at the trail closure map on the banff park trail conditions report (click on the link to the closure bulletins near the top of the page and look through the list for the pipestone bulletin).
WBC – Telephone Loop
I gave up waiting for Telephone to ever be groomed and since I had my wider light touring skis with metal edges, and a strong ski companion up for a challenge, we decided to give it a go today.
It ended up being an excellent choice for a busy day at WBC. There were two school groups meeting in the parking lot as we arrived and in total there must have been upwards of 80 people getting ready to head out. Good old Telephone for solitude though! We saw one person the entire time until we reached the table on Moose.
Conditions: there was a layer of ice and hard crusty snow under a new layer of powder. Fortunately there was enough soft snow over the ice to keep us from slipping. The hills on the first part were a little “spicy” but we stayed standing. Wider skis with metal edges are almost necessary on this trail right now.
As we got around to the back, past Long Distance, the snow was actually quite good! We had nice soft skier tracked snow and no ice.
The West side had the normal icy section lower down near the junction with Reconnect and it was a bit of a mess of mixed frozen tracks until we reached Moose. Definitely needs a good grooming on this part.
Weather: -16 to start. Got up to -2. We had waxless skis.
One West Bragg Creek trail not yet mentioned by anyone is Hostel Loop. It was also in good condition, with a dusting on new snow over the most recent grooming.
A suggestion to Tanya or anyone else skiing Telephone Loop, is to start out by taking one half of Hostel Loop to the upper junction with Telephone. That way, you’ll enjoy better ski quality, without snowshoe-hike-bike traffic.
WBC (again…) – It was a chilly -19C at 9:30am and very few cars in the parking lot, I skied East Crystal, Iron Springs & Creek, Elbow, Loggers , Moose connector and back to the parking lot where the temperature was a balmy -5C.
Excellent conditions throughout with no rocks or ice, Alberta park had roller packed the south end of Iron Springs / Elbow and it was a nice ski on soft snow.
Added on to your list of trails with West Crystal, Moose Connector, Mountain Road, Mountain View and the Sundog loop for a 25 km tour. All good-excellent! Still a bit of ice lurking just under the new snow in a couple of spots on Mountain View, most notably on the descent going northbound, but there’s lots of room to go around it. Highpoint of the day for me was Iron Creek- so good! Temps rose in the afternoon to around zero, and I had to change up the wax to VR45 from the 40 that I started out with. Winds were picking up a bit also.
WBC (me too!). Counter-clockwise loop: Mountain Road – Moose Loop – Mountain View/Road – West Crystal Line – Loggers/Sundog Loop – East Crystal Line. Arrived with overcast skies, snow falling and -7 deg C and left with the sun shining brightly.
This seemed the place to be today in the Skier Bob empire. I can only echo the numerous reports that have already been posted. I was likewise impressed with the good conditions, especially after a miserable mild-wild weekend of rain/wind/snow. The 5 cm cushion of fresh snow was most welcome. It covered the usual icy spots.
In order to take advantage of the most recent grooming and new snow at the Peter Lougheed Park trails, we did a loop of the north end trails, starting from Pocaterra Hut. Lodgepole, Sinclair, Meadow and Wheeler were all in great shape, with a bit of new snow over the recent grooming. It was snowing off and on as we started out, but the sun appeared with increasing regularity as we neared the Boulton area. We went up Packers… which was in in wonderful shape, completely free of the usual dips, bumps and ice flows. And finally, we enjoyed the reward of the long, fast glide back along Pocaterra. The new grooming was excellent! You’d never know that it rained here on Saturday.
The temperature remained steady at about -9C, although it felt warmer than that while going up and colder while descending. https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZwxViaoWhmeWjc9B8
WBC. Moose Loop (counter-clockwise), Moose Connector and Crystal Line. Great tracks with fresh snow covering the ice. The only challenge was with our pole tips sliding on the ice under the fresh snow. Things just got better the further we went from the parking lot. Definitely worth the effort.
LAKE LOUISE area – Feb 3
Well worth the drive today for blue skies and Good snow conditions.
Details available in the captions here:
Very quiet… where is everyone?
Banff Spray RIver
A group of 8 seniors from Calgary skied to the second Spray River bridge today.
Conditions were very good. There was 5 to 10 cm of fresh powder on top of the ice so skier set tracks provided good grip and glide for both skintecs and V40 waxed skis. On the way out, even the steepest downhill sections could be navigated easily by steering through the powder rather than snow plowing.
The temperature was -10 in the morning and warmed up several degrees in sunshine during the afternoon.
On the return the trails were becoming well worn. The downhill sections were packed but not scraped bare so they should be fine tomorrow.
A great day was had by all.
WBC moose loop. Was bullwinkle today stomping repeat loops in both directions whilst it snowed continuously: a little and then a lot until a fluffy 2.5” was covering the corduroy. Enough 2 legged animals out to pack it into the tracks.
We had a glorious day skiing the Kicking Horse Tail in Yoho today. There is about 5 cm of new snow on the ice crust and old tracks so made for easy gliding. This is a beautiful trail with lots of views through the trees and along the river. The grooming ends just past the Otterhead River at about 7.2 km with a great sunny view across the valley.
Met the groomer outbound as we were returning so there are now fresh tracks that will setup overnight. Tally Ho is groomed but not trackset.
West Bragg Creek
Snow over the past couple of days and some good grooming and WBC is shaping up well again.
Lightly snowing this morning, air and snow temp -7 C.
If it continues to snow, it’ll soon look like pre-Christmas again!
Fire Lookout from Pocaterra day hut – Feb 2
Starting at the hut with knife-edge tracksetting into crusty snow. Very thin fresh snow cover between the tracks until about the Packers Jct on Pocaterra trail. Fast conditions even going up, with VR45 wax. Higher up, the fresh snow increased to about 4 cm pass the junction with Whiskey Jack, where last night tracksetting stopped. One single ski track was seen as I headed up the North (Fire) Lookout trail, with snow increasing to about 12 cm at the “S” bent. That was also there where my poles were not hitting an icy crust under the fresh snow. Presumably, that would mark the snow line of Friday night and Saturday mixed rain-snow fall. By the time the fire lookout was reached, a good 20 cm had likely accumulated in the last day and a half. Stunning views of Kananaskis Lakes and the Valley, as usual, from the top. Once I got back on Tyrwhitt, it was a quick cruise back to Pocaterra Hut, with (very) fast conditions.
A nice outing and destination.
We ventured out to Lake Louise today. Nice fresh snow over the rain crust. New tracks up Tramline from Moraine Lake Road. Then skier track set along Fairview and fresh tracks along Moraine Lake Road.
PLPP was a great place to ski today.. After seeing that Pocatera was trackset Charlie and I headed there to enjoy the fresh snow and grooming. Driving out was a bit slow with some snow and ice on the highway but we arrived safely. First time skiing the entire length of Pocatera this year. Started at the hut and skied up to Tyrwitt Meadows. Beautiful fast tracks, especially on the way back. Sunny skies good temperature and Happy people,on the trails. Looking good for,the Cookie race at the end of the month.
CASTLE LOOKOUT TO BAKER CHALETS – really nice skiing this morning on the new snow. Lovely. Only two other skiers on the trail today. Did a drive by observation into Redearth, it looks like tons of new snow there, and no ski tracks from today at all. Where was everyone?
Excellent conditions at West Bragg Creek today. I did the Iron Springs- Elbow loop. Just enough snow fell last night to cover the ice from the freeze thaw cycles of the past week.
Another shout out for WBC, Moose & Mountain View West in good shape with some wind blown snow, the ice beneath wasn’t an issue but did make for some pole plant surprises! Sure I saw Steve Riggs and co a couple of times.
That probably was us, as we were on much the same program: Moose-both the Mountain views-Crystal lines etc. One place where ice could present an issue is at the top of the descent to the north from the highpoint of MountainView (East), where there is a wind exposed 10m long patch across much of the trail. I’ll let the pix tell the rest of the story about conditions:
BOOM LAKE – Feb 2, 2020
Unbelievable powder at this elevation… not necessarily FAST!
Details available in the captions here:
Merveilleux a rencontre Ro encore sur le retour.
Hi Chuck: You really seem to have a good inclination where to go after a storm and snowfall! Beautiful pictures. Looks like you had to ski crawl under quite a few fallen trees!
Canmore Nordic Centre was beautiful today as well, especially while skate skiing on the ungroomed trails in light, fluffy powder and cruising down King of Sweden!
Noticed that you had skins on your skis, where did you buy your narrow skins?
Yes, 50 mm full length skins are very handy. Can’t remember where we got them… either MEC or Norseman in Calgary.
Canmore Nordic – I did a short ski there this morning. Mostly I was curious to see the effects of 22 hrs of light rain, followed by some 4 — 5 cm of snow. I was pleasantly surprised. The new tracks on Banff Trail out to the warming hut were quite good, though a bit glazed on the bottom. The skating lane looked exceptionally good. Unfortunately, trails (Banff, Meadowview) beyond the warming hut were groomed but not trackset (that may happen tonight). Temps were -9C to -5C. The worst spot for ice was the parking lot – caution advised.
Decided last night to venture out today to ski up to Lake O Hara. Not visited before. What a total blast. The only other skiers were ACC users on their fat skis, skinning up, which was great as it gave me something to ski on. 3″ fresh wet snow. Stormy, whiteout, headwinds etc the whole way. The Lodge made me very welcome, but still have not seen the lake. I can see why people love this area. Looking forward to returning on a better day, and in the summer running the myriad of stunning trails.
Not the only non-ACC skier on Saturday. We followed you up the trail for 6k on our skinny skis but bailed when the red klister we had on started to drag too much on the wind blow snow. We used to ski this route a lot in the seventies so not much impetus to reach the destination.
Went for a skate ski today at CNC. The tracks were fast and super fun, and quite firm, but it rained lightly the whole time. Not too cold – around plus 2. We were soaking wet when done, and were happy to change to dry clothes. It was pouring rain when we left around 1:15. I hope they get some snow if the temperature drops – otherwise, it will be nasty icy!
Ice conditions are a rush to ski with sharp metal edged XC skis as long as the snow surface is smooth. Ice means rocket fast speed and there is no bigger rush than rocket fast speed on metal edge XC skis.
If ice has formed on top of the snow pack throughout Banff, the back country travel will be superb as long as the snow surface is smooth. Skiers with metal edges will be able to skate across meadows and make numerous miles, real fast with little effort. No groomed trails are required in such conditions which opens up the skiing options greatly.
Smooth icy conditions are my favorite type of skiing which are normally only enjoyed under special conditions late in spring after a snow dump followed by warm melting conditions followed by below normal temperatures or cold weather. Such conditions are awesome and can get you into places like the Ink Pots in 45 minutes or less with little effort.