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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
Ribbon Creek – skied Terrace, Kovach, and Aspen this morning starting at 1030am, -2 when we started out. Fairly fresh grooming with a few walkers that were kind to stay off the tracksetting. At times we avoided the tracks because they were on and off icy and few needles, but groomed trails were lots of fun. At the bottom of Aspen/Kovach snow was getting very sticky from the sun but if you didn’t linger too long was no problem.
Just thought I would throw in an update for Kimberley. I know a few of the Skier Bob community head out there and as I spend Jan., Feb., and March in this beautiful town, decided to give an update. We have been alpine and Nordic skiing every day and I must say it is fast, very fast. Lois Creek trails and Trickle Creek require a new addition to your skies…brakes. This could all change this weekend tho. A big dump is predicted and fingers crossed the weatherman is not just teasing. For alpine skiers, the hill has remained in reasonably good condition. For x-country, I would maybe recommend the Nordic center which is always beautifully groomed, until said snowfall materializes. Cold spell predicted next week so bring your woollies if Kimberley is on the agenda.
West Bragg January 31.
With a few free hours this afternoon- I headed out with expectations lowered by the warm temperatures- plus 7 in the parking lot at about 1 PM. While a test run indicated that VR60 might work ok on the waxable skis, I opted for the simplicity of fishscales, which gave decent kick and glide but were slow as molasses on any gradual double-poling downhills. Conditions were ok on my initial loop of the core trails- W and E Crystal and Sundog. Then- despite the sign warning of “marginal conditions, not recommended”, I skied Elbow-Iron Springs. While the bulk of this loop was adequately enjoyable on rock skis, there were numerous very thin, and a few almost completely bare areas of trail. I actually walked a section of one south facing hill. Can’t complain- I was warned. Still, it was better than no skiing at all!
PLPP – Elk Pass – Great ski on freshly trackset trails. Fantastic conditions.
Hwy 93N closure Feb 1&2
Parks Canada announced closure north of Louise Friday and Saturday in anticipation of large snowfall and necessary avalanche control work.
Sorry, that’s north of Saskatchewan river crossing, not the south end.
Thu Jan 31: MLR/Fairview/lake loop.
-6 to start at 930. -1 on return at 1230. Snowing lightly the whole time while in Louise. Half a centimetre of fresh in the tracks, which was nice as it was a bit crusty in the tracks underneath. Stopped at the Fairview couch for some tea. Seems the icicles may have been “removed”, no sign of them having “fallen” out (or maybe kids having sword fights). Being somewhat disenchanted with this notion, didn’t pursue making it into what it was intended to be. So scooted over to the lake to bang out a throne near the hockey rink in the sun. Not enough snow on the lake surface without scraping a big pile together, so returned the way I came. Also looked like snow and ice had been cleared from roof overhangs at the boathouse and bathroom? Hmmm. Regardless, nice to sneak in some mild skiing in a snowy environment before the freeze, and successfully managed to not impale myself on anything sharp while skiing.
Sheriffs and park staff were actively thwarting speeders in the park. The parks guy pulled over someone buzzing through the Banff gate bypass lanes. Don’t see that often. As I went by the driver was getting a good finger wagging, and perhaps a beware of icicles warning too.
As to a 4 couch tour (really just 3 locations), totally doable in a day, but why when you could lounge about in the sun if there was some. A true proper tour of the Louise couches would be to do it from one parking lot and not move the car until done. Is there a route across/under the highway? Start with Fairview and save the pipestone ones for the late morning/afternoon sun.
And now that some potentially decent snow is in the forecast, stay tuned for the “Couch Surfers Guide to Maintenance”. If you like the couches and want to contribute to their upkeep, there are some simple ways to do so without needing specialized tools.
Cascade Fireroad (to 9.2 km mark) Jan 30th
One of the lost posts from Jan 30th. Good snow and tracksetting to the Cascade River bridge. The next km or so (the detour) had pine needles etc and the short hill leaving the open area had many exposed rocks. We walked down on the return. Sailed on with good conditions to the turnaround point hill. Nancy hit a new high speed down the the hill, over 30 km/hr!! Met Chuck and his friends on the return. Great afternoon out skiing at about -3oC (Swix purple of course, again).
Thanks for re-submitting it! -Bob
A very useful and detailed report. Thanks Paul & Nancy.
Nothing to add, other than wish we had used Swix Purple… it was warmer than we had expected!
CNC Wed Jan 30
10:30 -2C Skintecs
Skied out Banff Trail off the Manmade snow and found no tracks
Dropped onto Bow Trail to find tracks that given the snow cover are shallow but usable. The skating lane has lost most of it’s corduroy and tracks have varying degrees of pine cones etc.
We skied out to Cold Shoulder and enjoyed the views from the picnic tables.
Returned via Banff Trail, hunting for soft snow on the sides.
Goat Creek & Spray West to Banff and back – Jan 30
-7C @ 10:15am, -1 @ 11:45am and for the rest of the day. Started with VR45 and switched to VR65 on my 2nd visit to the Goat Creek bridge (see below). Wax worked well.
The trail is pretty much as Bob reported yesterday, although it looks like his report got lost in the WordPress upgrade he reported on the current home page. Be careful on the first descent about 30m from the trailhead. A few rocks are sticking out or lurking at the snow surface, but are easy to avoid. Along with a few bloodstains in the snow (not mine!). The trail is hard-packed and pretty slick for the first km until you reach the Banff Park boundary, which is where the tracksetting starts. The tracksetting is in good condition, The track is hard and slick, but not glazed yet. It made for fast progress on the flats and downhills, but for the uphills I was stepping out of the trackset and onto the corduroy which provided good grip. This is pretty much how the entire trackset and corduroy are all the way to Banff. No sign of anyone having walked in the trackset anywhere! At about 2.5-3km from the Goat Creek trailhead, you’ll encounter branches and needles from a tree that had fallen on the trail but has since been cleared. Like Bob, I took my skis off for that section. The descent to Goat Creek is hardpacked but safe enough if you slow down at the top. I, on the other hand, decided this would be a great opportunity to practise my high-speed step turn technique, and almost ended up in the creek! At this point, I realized that I had neglected to put on my pack (due to too many recent days skate skiing at West Bragg without a pack). So I turned around back to the Goat Creek trailhead, picked up my pack, and headed off again. From the Spray West / Spray East junction to Banff there were lots of pine needles and cones in the trail. The trackset on this section is not as good as on the rest of the route, but is still fair. Once I got back to the junction after turning around at Banff I stopped to remove pine needles from my wax and had no further problems. No issues on the return to the Goat Creek trailhead other than it’s mainly uphill. When I got the Banff Park boundary I realized I would be 3km short of 50km, so I turned around for 1.5km to take care of that! Great day on the trails!
Thanks for the descriptive and informative report Mike.
You’re welcome. And as an addendum, it turned out my GPS was a bit wonky, resulting in it underestimating my distance when I turned around to log an additional 3km. Turns out I actually skied 54km in all.
…and I’m happy to report a good ski was had today on aforementioned trail from the Banff to Canmore and return for (a nearly waxfree) fast decent. Temp’s hovered around 0 with slightly colder tracks (VR45 perfect) to keep the few hills manageable side-stepping and snowplowing to avoid winding up in the drink! Still very good tracks, little debris easily avoided and no rocks lurking beneath save for the one Mike told of. Saw maybe a dzn skiers & 1 FB’er out around noon hour.
I’m always mystified as to how other people get by with colder waxes on their skis. At 0C, even if the track were slightly colder, VR45 on my skis would have been pretty much like applying glide wax to my kick zone!
Its all in the technique … 😉 (and lots of double poling!)
Goat Creek trail from Banff to Spray Creek bridge and return. The trail got better and better as we went further from Banff. Lovely snow and tracks beyond the picnic shelter. Three cheers for all the groomers who have managed to make some good tracks even without much snow to work with.
Ribbon Creek :
Seeing that some grooming had taken place on Monday, I made my first trip of the season to Ribbon Creek. I parked up at the Village, skied up Terrace Link, then around Aspen – Kovach clockwise. We usually do Kovach clockwise because the north side holds snow better for the descent, and that was definitely true today! It was a fast and fun descent on fresh corduroy, with no dirt or hazards. The rest of the loop was mostly good with the odd dirty or icy section, but all in all a very good ski, not too warm (lost my snow thermometer 🙁 ), and nice to be back here.
Twin Couches at Pipestone and beyond: -11, only one white van in parking lot. Saw no one all day-6 hours of skiing. Been drooling over Chuck’s post and breath-taking pictures of Jan 26th when he and Jeannette followed John Blum up river to Pt Camp Meadows. I must have gotten fairly close but turned around at 12.88 kms. Thanks to MaSid for putting in the first two kms. while couch building to entice us all further up the Pipestone River. I am so appreciative of all of your experience breaking trail (especially on a river) and all your efforts. I might have followed in Wendy’s tracks but went at least 2 kms further in fresh cm. of snow in the excellent tracks. Loved those 4-5 forest sections. And thought the Pipestone Moose was extremely respectful hardly ever once walking into your skier tracks. The wind was picking up on my return but if you like skiing up a beautiful winding river, go for it before the snow and frigid temps come this w/e. Thank you Martin, Chuck, Jeannette and John Blum for the initial trail-breaking and any readers who ventured there since. The back of those couches were a very welcoming sight. Next time I will go further.
Skied at Mount Shark today. Watridge Lake trail to Bryant Creek. It was mostly cloudy with a few sunny breaks. Temp around -5C. The trails were groomed to perfection. The pristine corduroy had me trying a few skating strides before reverting back to a Nordic shuffle with my three-pin gear. The skier-set trail along Bryant Creek is in excellent shape. There are some trees down across the Bryant Creek trail but all can be limbo-ed or bypassed with easy detours. One is on a downhill just around a corner – watch out for that one.
I ate my lunch at the Bryant Creek cabin (halfway hut). There is about two feet of snow in the area. It’s mostly depth hoar with little or no midpack. There is about two inches of fresh snow. In places that got sun last week this new snow overlies a sun crust. I contemplated breaking trail to Owl Lake but I was too lazy. I returned the way I came.
As Steve mentioned, PLPP was glorious today with -10 to -7C temps, brilliant sun and hardly any breeze to speak of. Swix Blue (V30) worked well all afternoon. We mostly skied on the lower elevation trails between Elkwood and Fox Ck. with little overlap. 4-5 cm of fresh snow with only skier set tracks and some easy trail breaking. There was an extensive layer of needles a few cm down. I also skied Lodgepole and north Meadow where there was less snow and windblown along the hydroline. There are three trees completely across Meadow trail at the northernmost end close to the hydroline and north Sinclair junction, luckily after the big downhills on Meadow.
Super silky smooth PLPP
Boulton showers start: Moraine, Fox, Elk pass, Patterson, Lookout, Poca, Whiskey, home. A few cm’s on the w/e trackset, most of the time it was easy to discern. -7 to start ~12:30 but MUCH colder on north descent of lookout. Snow was amazing; staff at Discovery couldn’t explain why nothing freshly machine set. 4 respectful walkers ascending Elk towards the hut but Hydroline had snowshoe tracks ignoring their very ‘close by’ trail in favour of obliterating the trackset. Only a handful of folks out & no one after Hydroline. Patterson has a downed tree right across the trail ~ 1/2 > 2/3 of the way ‘up’. Groomers will definitely need a saw (& recommended caution to ‘descenders’). Absolute bluebird at the lookout w/ no wind …GLORIOUS!
I’ve seen lots of chatter re: ‘the year of the walker’ & I’ve been incredibly frustrated while trying to be a good ‘ambassador’. Any breakthrough suggestions from the masses on how to improve this situation? It seems to be getting worse than years past, by disrespectful ‘non-skiers’. Of course it’s a minority of users but their selfish actions spoil good work (& $$’s) by tracksetters. As others have stated, sometimes it’s a safety issue as well. I spoke with a friend who frequents the network in Gatineau Park, PQ. Occasionally they have monitors to catch folks as they’re starting out of the parking lot & educating them. Is that a better solution than a group of ‘semi-organized Ambassadors’ ON the trails???
Ambassadors would be ideal, however better signage with maps and clearer trail identification with who should be on it and where would be a great alternative. I believe that the signage is the first step and with the money they put into grooming, they should be investing on protecting it. I’m surprised there aren’t park staff doing surveys for trail user numbers and type?
After yesterday’s wonky weather wasn’t sure what to expect, so we voted for sun and headed to Baker Creek and then west on last week’s Loppet Route. Had 2 cm of fresh snow over a crusty packed base – let’s say we “freshened” the tracks, so it was quite lovely, in the sun and very peaceful (read: no one else out there). Turned around where the trail joins the roadway — the snow plow has made a mess of the shoulder. Must admit the drive out of Banff was horrendous, but got better after Sunshine turn-off.
So good coverage then, even in treed areas?
There’s enough coverage everywhere, though of course more snow would be most appreciated.
If anyone is heading through the BC Interior, check out the Larch Hills cross country ski resort near Salmon Arm. They just had their loppet, and you can see it here (drone footage allowed here):
We did, and now we are here enjoying the trails after the crowds!
-9 at 11am, -4 at 1pm. We classic skied from the parking lot, along the north side of West Crystal, Moose Connector then Mountain Road and West Mountain Road to the corner where Mtn Road and West Mtn Road branch, we tried the hill but found the packed snow too thin and somewhat rocky, so retraced our steps, taking the south side of West Crystal. VR40 worked well on some very good packed corduroy with good coverage, the set tracks were intermittent and sometimes contained needles. Then we tried a short skate, Mountain Road to the Moose Connector junction and back. Again very good corduroy, kudos to the walkers they were staying well to the side of the trail.
A beautiful sunny day, it did not get too warm, could be good again tomorrow.
Canmore Nordic Center
After 10 cm new snow in Three Sisters thought CNC would be good. Skiied Banff and Meadowview to the top of the last hill (return). Maybe 1 to 2 cm of new snow over very hard pack. Not great conditions, snow was very hard and the fastest I’ve skiied this year. Ridges in the middle were hard and at times my pole didn’t penetrate the snow.
Skate skied a little on the driving range area at CONFED yesterday, Jan, 27. Trails are now in desperate need of more snow,with only patches of ice every here and there. Half of the golf course is now grass.
Had a great day skiing 24.6 km return on Cascade fire road Sat Jan 26 with the Calgary Ski Club. Started at 10am with 0C temperatures and it just got warmer from there. Good thing most of the trail is in the shade! Waxless skis worked great. Trail conditions were listed as Fair on the Parks Canada website. I’d say it was good for most of the trail. There was one short hill with rocks peeking out and a couple of places with ice from a stream or spring. It was so warm the last km was icy/slushy.
I’m adding to Greg’s Pipestone report. It was sticky going up but then, once our wax cooled off, it was pleasant. The fresh snow covered some of the needles. Thank you MaSid for our comfortable, pleasant lunch in the sun on one of the couches. Another couple used the second couch. We skied up the Pipestone for what I figure is at least 2 km but the trail continued beyond where we turned around. We will have to venture further next time. The downhills were fun, but a bit hazardous due to the warm temperature and the changing snow conditions. The actual snow covering the trail was quite reasonable. Another awesome day on the trails! The calmness at Lake Louise and the sunshine sure contrasted with the early morning Calgary weather and the snow storm upon our return.
PLPP – winter snow storm arrived afternoon. Accumulation of the snow and reduced visibility on the road made travel back home slow, whiteout conditions and slippery. Chinook winds left lots of debris on the ski trails. I think I have picked them all except huge log across Tyrwhitt trail close to Elk Pass summit. It is behind a bend on the downhill slope, watch your speed there. Fresh overnight snow was sticky. The trick was to stay in the middle and shuffle more. The recently groomed trails were covered up by snow, except Fox Creek and Moraine which were in excellent shape.
Thanks for the warning about the tree. Came in handy today. Easy enough to step over with the skis on if you don’t catch a branch. For parks staff: about 12 inch diameter or just less, requiring a chainsaw for multiple cuts. Another tree down on the way up to elk pass from blueberry. Small and only half way across trail so easy to avoid on descent. snow has dried out with the cold temps. No stickage issues at all. All the tracks are newly skier set and in good shape given the low snow amounts. Blueberry should be awesome tomorrow. Nobody has been through west elk meadows lately but should be reasonably easy to follow the old track.
Pipestone – A few fresh cm’s overnight. 0 at 11AM and +3 a 1PM. Tricky skiing going up (from the parking lot), icy, sticky and lots of needles. Much nicer on the downhill (Pipestone-Merlin-Hector).
Great Divide/up Peyto/Fairview circuit/Peyto back down to car. Used waxless (-2 all aft). Groomer worked all day on Great Divide, and skaters were happy both on MLR and GD. NO WALKERS!!!! One could see the black snow clouds moving in and by 3pm, it became a blizzard and slow cautious drive home. One semi landed on its side in the median just before 3 Sisters Exit so it was down to one lane. Another accident at Deadman’s so I was glad to cancel attending the fundraiser concert tonight in Banff and cosy up around the fire. Lots of snow to shovel on our driveway. CNC should be stellar tomorrow.
Mt Shark (15km loop + Spray river bridge)
Excellent conditions with a few cm of fresh snow covering last night grooming and sunny conditions. It was -3C when we started at 10:00am and V40 wax worked like a charm (the snow looked sticky but in reality was not ..). The few hazards / early season conditions as described in the latest groomer reports were non existant. The fresh snow cover was indeed way thiner when going to the Watridge lake / Spray river bridge.
Ditto on RICHY’s report for Mt Shark. I started skiing at 10:20 and did the 15K loop and a bit more. I didn’t encounter any hazards. I did encounter other happy skiers.
Good news for WBC? Heavy snow all afternoon @ Prairie mountain area, a good 3 inches of snow fell on my vehicle @ Elbow Falls and still snowing when I left 3:30.
Nothing showing up yet on Live Grooming, but Jeff is out grooming as we speak.
Lake O’Hara Rd; Sunday 10:00am
Light snowfall overnight enough to fill in track setting. -2C at parking lot.
We are getting ready for a couple of BC lodge trips so strapped on our AT gear and put the skins on.We talked to some skiers who were waxing and they were egetting mediocre grip and glide. No doubt due to the new snowwarm temps and as we got night an icy track under the snow.
Lots of walkers again today. Three or four med/large groups heading up to the ACC hut. One large group was walking although they had snowshoes strapped to their packs. It looked like the Chilkoot trail at one point with all the people heading up! We ended up turning around at 7KM point as we’ve never had a 2h up track and the repetitiveness of trudging upwards on the same slope was hard on the knees. The return wasn’t what we envisioned. At around km 5.5-2km on the return the trail gets rolling. We’d get some good speed then come to a short up and with our heavy gear managed to skate some of it but finally succumbed to taking of the skis and trudging up. So if you see our footprints our apologies.
Yes….the Lake Ohara road is great for classic or backcountry skis but doing it with AT gear is pretty hard work on those rolling hills!
I haven’t seen any posts this year for trails on Bill Milne. Has anyone been?
There hasn’t been enough snow to do much grooming. The Wedge Connector and a couple K of Bill Milne(south of Golf course) were snowmobile groomed on Jan 7.
Thanks I was wondering the same thing. I hope Bill gets snow soon. Sounds like it’ll be Mt Shark tomorrow.
PIPESTONE RIVER to POINT CAMP MEADOWS – Jan 26
This destination in Lake Louise was a great choice today, with warm temperatures everywhere else.
Details available by reading the captions in this album:
What a beautiful day!
Merlin castle looks great from that perspective and ample reason to go visit.
Spectacular photos Chuck, thank you! We are in the area next week and looking forward to taking advantage of John’s and your trail breaking to go for a tour along the Pipestone River!
Great pictures again, Chuck. Even the wildlife photo is pretty good.
Redearth was indeed lovely today – but then, we started fairly early and had waxless skis as others have mentioned as being an advantage. Given the still shallow snowpack the track was better than expected, well-groomed with a track on one side and enough of a groomed section for any walkers or descents. Yes, pine needles dot the beginning of the trail but it’s not for that long. Past the campground the snow got appreciably deeper and backcountry poles with better baskets would have been an advantage getting to the warden cabin – probably up the hill to the lodge as well. Lovely to see the sun but it was getting warmer and warmer as we skied out. No bets on what tomorrow will bring.
Lake O’Hara Road – We started in the windy parking lot at -5C. with V40 and 45 wax on our skis. The tracks were pretty good, except shallow by Pisten-bully standards. The edges of the road were quite soft. By the 7 km. mark, a warm breeze had spring up and suddenly we lost all grip on our kick. Stopped to put on old RED wax! and also noticed that the temp had risen to +4C. From there on, the going was arduous, with little to no grip, herring-boning most of the way (or carrying skis and walking!) to the lake. We had a quick lunch on Le Relay veranda, as the building was locked up tight. Temp here was +2C. On our return, the centre of the road had been trampled by walkers, so the steep sections where snow-plowing is necessary were painfully bumpy, just trying to keep control. Also below the 5 km. picnic table, walkers had walked on the uphill tracks. There were also a couple of unleased dogs in this area. So, a lovely warm day, with some distinct skiing challenges. The next few days may see the tracks on the steeper hills very icy after today’s warmth.
It is the “Winter of the Walkers” for sure. If there was more snow, perhaps they would use snow-shoes. Certainly some HUGE signage might help. Hard to believe Bruce just groomed it on Thursday or Friday. Sure hope temps stay below zero for rest of week, and that they get the promised new snow to cover the icy parts. Have ten booked to ski it Tuesday. Thanks for the timely but realistic report. Lodge opens Feb 2nd and that is when Le Relais gets unlocked. It is only open when the Lodge is open; and the Lodge is open only on weekends.
I agree, the “walkers” are becoming a serious problem! We were at Pipestone today and (for me at least) it was quite challenging snow-plowing down some hills when they are all churned up people walking up/down them. I had a hard time keeping my balance skiing over all of the bumps they created. It’s a accident waiting to happen!!!
Spray River – Nice sunny day and snow is holding up well, but tracks full of pine needles. My grip zone was totally covered with needles. I would recommend only using waxless skis until we get more snow. And snow was melting on the way back with above zero temperatures, so will probably be icy tomorrow.
PLPP south end
We had a great ski today. +9 dropped quite fast as we drove down h’way 40 to be -3 at Boulton showers parking. The new tracksetting was excellent (thank you to those responsible). We ascended Whiskey Jack on pristine tracks and corduroy, then were tempted on same up Lookout, that was a great decision, we basked in sunshine with blue sky and stupendous views at the picnic table at the top, overlooking a bank of cloud resting on most of the south end trails. The route down was fast, fun and frantic, woo hoo!
There was a stiff, cold, damp wind in our faces as we turned up hydroline but the downhill fun continued on reaching Patterson. We put in a quick visit to the couch for a sandwich then returned via Elk Pass trail, Fox Creek and Moraine, all in great shape with a nice track and only a small amount of debris which is easily dodged.
Anybody been out to Sandy McNabb recently? Parka website reports all trails are open and I’m curious on conditions. TIA
There has not been enough snow for ski grooming at Sandy McNabb since last March. However, conditions are great for hiking.
The road past the winter gate is probably still great for biking as well. It was almost totally clear a couple of weeks ago.
Goat Creek. It was -2C when I arrived at the trailhead, partly cloudy, and -1C when I returned. Overall the show conditions were good. There are a few rocks on the first downhill and one or two more further on, but the hill at the first bridge still has good coverage. The snow is hardpacked and fast. The first few km have been trampled by hikers and snowshoers, but the snow is so hard that it did’t completely wreck the track. Beyond that, great conditions to the junction with the Mount Rundle trail (with the bus-stop like bench with the roof). After the bus stop there are some pine needles, cones, leaves, and twigs on the trail. I turned around just before Banff. Blue-extra did the job for the uphill return.
Fri Jan 25: pipestone.
-6 to start at 9. Zero on return at 230. If you get to the river couch and you think you are seeing double, it’s not exercise induced! There are now twin couches. With the access twinned, it only seemed right to add another couch. And it’s set for more afternoon sun (for bob!). Lots of like minded fellow couch lovers made for a busy social affair at the north end. Heather and John continued their journey up the skier set track up the pipestone. Never saw them again while i was there so they may have gone quite far (take note chuck). I can verify that the track was pushed out to at least 2km which is as far as I went waiting for compacted snow to set up. Stay right at the first fork and avoid one snow bridge over fast flowing water. Wendy (who i missed meeting last week) and husband Hillary showed up with their collie with the incredible eyes. Apparently she can control sheep with just a look, but wasn’t perturbed by the “no dogs on the couch” rule. (-: And lots of other happy people as the sun and temps rose. Went up to the lake after, intending to visit the Fairview couch for a bit more work, but high tailed it out of there given the traffic/parking/bus pedestrian shenanigans. Apparently it’s hard to figure out. Quite a few needles and debri on the first 5 k of pipestone (ccw) often necessitating a ski lift.
It was great to meet you today MaSid, now we can put a face to the name. We enjoy reading your trip reports immensely!
MOUNTAIN MADNESS – Jan 25
We volunteered today at Banff’s annual Mountain Madness Relay.
See some of the fun (and check out the captions) at:
Thanks to all (including the weather Gods)
Lake Louise seems to be one of the places to be at present! Great skating on the 1A/Great Divide today. Heading out from LL (temps around -4), winds picked up just before the Great Divide and beyond that there was about 2-3 cms of fresh snow and/or wind sift – really nice for skating, not so good for those classic’ing as the tracks were pretty well obliterated (and it was cold with the wind chill!)
PLPP – Whiskey Jack, Lookout, Hydroline, Elk lakes, Blueberry, Fox, Moraine.
A good day at PLPP with mild temperatures (-3C at the start and 0C when arrived at the car). Overall great conditions.
BANKHEAD – Jan 25
When you only have time for a short ski, it is good to remember this one.
Details available in the captions here:
Clean and white for all!
West Bragg Creek. I skied West Crystal (upper) / Moose Connector / Mountain Road out and back to the end / Loggers north to south / Sunburst / East Crystal and then a short out and back up Middle Crystal for a 17 km tour. Conditions were decent, which is amazing when one considers that there is nearly no snow on the ground in much of the bush. Nearly everything that I skied can be skied mostly hazard free if one is careful. Most of the downhills were fine (especially if one does not snowplow) with the exception of the north end of Loggers which I skied up. I would say that it is unskiable going down that way. There is also a short section at the top of the first little steep down hill on Middle Crystal (heading west) with some rocks. If one does not snowplow there it is possible to get down it without wrecking your skis. I attempted to ski East Mountain View (from both ends). That one is in pretty poor shape. There is of course a fair bit of tree debris on many of the trails. Using waxless skis made that a non-issue. The warm weather forecast for tomorrow is going to take its toll on these trails. Getting out there early, before it really warms up, might be the right thing to do. The volunteers out there do an incredible job. Remember… If one donates online, a receipt is provided so the donation can be claimed on one’s income taxes. That way, the governments help out a little bit too.
Strathmore golf course
Only a couple spots with grass poking through. Snow was really quite good. Has some issues with icing up with the warm weather, but that was mostly my fault for picking a bad wax.
Watch out for loose gravel as well, especially around hole 10.
UPPER SPRAY RIVER/ PALLISER WARDEN CABIN VIA SHARK
Thursday afternoon and a Bob Seger inspired “Night Moves” ski.
The grooming from Mount Shark parking lot to Watridge Lake/ Spray River bridge is incredible. The tracksets are straight as an arrow and a nice treat compared to skiing the Banff trackset trails that tend to be a little wimbly wombly. There is nice ski skating with moderate speed and a firm snow base. Excellent snow conditions with no rocks. There is a skiff of new snow on the trial.
The Upper Spray River is skier tracked with some fresh snow on top. Excellent ski conditions and there has been plenty of new snow since I first cut trail up the valley in December. The further up valley one skis, the more dense the snow base becomes. By the time I hit the meadows at the Palliser Warden Cabin, ski penetration was only ankle deep in about 5 to 7 cm of fairly fresh snow. The meadows up by the cabin have been hit hard with some big winds which have made for a nice crusted firm base to travel on. Dips seemed to have been filled with drifting snow. This is a great time to ski up in the Upper Spray River. It is rare for trail cutting to be so easy for this time of year. The views are stupendous by the warden cabin.
On my way out at night, some where down stream of the White Man Pass turn off and bridge, I assume I forced some wolves off of the trail which were coming up valley as I was going down. There were some pretty big tracks on my fresh cut trail. They wolves started to lightly howl about 100 meters behind me after I passed. I have never heard wolves lightly howl before. Normally they are very loud. This was rather interesting and it made me wonder what they were trying to communicate. The light howling seemed to follow me for a while in the dark and it stopped. I have a hunch that the wolves are finding good hunting in this area as Chuck reported wolf tracks in the area when he last skied the Upper Spray not to long ago. It is rare for wolves to hang out in the Upper Spray at this time of year. The good base snow is making it easy for them to move around to hunt moose.
Maybe 1) debating/arguing whether they should have moose AGAIN this week or try something new, 2) or discussing if it was chuck or the other guy and what he was doing out so late, eventually reverting back to 1).
I can understand why wolves love to eat free range moose- it tastes pretty good with a relatively low gamey taste. It is not as good tasting as mountain goat or bison though. One benefit of the wolves feeding on moose is that there are less moose post holes in the XC ski trails. Seriously though, the moose is in serious decline in Alberta now and hopefully it does not disappear like the caribou are. I would be surprised if there were any caribou left in Banff National Park. There are only 3 left in the Southern BC Kootenay herd. In Canada’s north, the caribou herds have dropped by hundreds of thousands of animals in recent years. A number of herds are down roughly 95%. Some others have completely been wiped out. Canada is not a good place to be an ungulate these days.
I think the wolves checked me out for dinner but probably figured out that I am too contaminated to eat. The non organic Canadian grains I eat are the most contaminated glyphosate grains in the world and I think the wolves would puke me up after taking their first bite out of me.
But are you free range?:)
West Bragg Creek
The WBC ski groomers have put in a valiant effort to make the best of the 4cm snowfall. But it’s been a low snowfall-Chinook blown winter, so there is not much base to work with. The core trails have been roller packed, but there is not enough snow depth to set tracks.
I joined Steve and Jo Riggs, and their golden retriever Piper on an afternoon ski. The air temperature hovered between 0 C and +1C, but the snow stayed just cold enough for wax to work. I was on my Twin Skins. We headed out Mountain Road, then took Moose Connector to West Crystal and Loggers and completed the loop via Sundog and East Crystal Line. Conditions ranged from pretty good to sketchy. It’s best if you have rock-skis.
Mt Shark – Great conditions
According to the grooming report, Mt Shark’s Watridge Lake trail was groomed on 22Jan, so we headed that way late this morning. Ideal conditions – fresh grooming/track setting, a 1 or 2 cm skiff of snow, sunny skies, warm temperatures, light winds. It was a great day. The Watridge Lake trail is in excellent condition and has essentially no debris. V30 was perfect. Saw maybe 10 people all day.
Ok, I snuck in a picture of Spray Lake from the north end, but I really like it…
BLUEBERRY HILL in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park was very good today.
Nine Meanderthals enjoyed over a centimetre on new snow, a beautiful blue sky, and no wind when we ate our lunch at the top. Track was skier set but OK. Fox Creek on the return trip was on a heavily skier chewed track and some needles. There is enough snow on Fox Creek and it could use a track set. Started at -11C with V20.
ELK TRAP – Jan 24
1 cm of fresh snow overnight, and blue skies, was icing on the cake.
Details available in the captions here:
Makes for a nice 40 km day.
Nicely done Chuck.
West Bragg Creek Jan 24 12:30pm – 2:30pm
I spent a couple of hours skate skiing on East Crystal, Loggers, and West Crystal. Had a great time on my rock skis. Snowpack is still very thin and I would not recommend going out on good skis.
Headed out to Banff today to try the Healy Creek trail. Beautiful day to be out there, and the snow was fast. The track was in half-decent shape, not too much snow or recent track-setting but easily doable. Got passed twice by the ski-doers from the lodge.
Track was in good shape skiing in, skiing out not so much. Unfortunately passed a few employees or guests going to the lodge who where snow-shoeing in the tracks and chewed them up quite a bit. They took turns either walking or snow-shoeing in the tracks and left plenty of holes. They weren’t in the tracks when I skied by them as they had moved over but the evidence was clearly there that they were walking in the track. Otherwise it was a great day to be out skiing.
Cascade Road – Beautiful day skiing in the sun. Tracks could use refreshing, but still a great ski. Good snow coverage.
Confederation golf course – Went for an evening ski tonight. Part of it was groomed, part just skier set. There are several thin (even bare) patches, but it was lovely to be able to get out in the city.
Canmore Nordic Centre benefited from just over a centimetre of new snow late this afternoon. This put a thin cover to protect me from many of the needles and cones (certainly not all!).
Olympic and Meadowview track set, but further on Rundle was just groomed and had a lot more needles and cones. North part of Bow (all track set) has lots of needles, but gets better and better to the south (towards the Visitor Centre).
Easy waxing on green V20 at about -10C between 3 and 5 PM.
PIPESTONE- we skied the outer loop today, the west side snow always seems in better condition. Met the groomers on the east side after lunch. The couch on Pipestone Creek is getting alot of attention, we had to wait to get a spot on it! Followed lynx tracks clockwise down the east side tracks. A great day. Warm sun radiating on black ski pants is so nice!
Jamie, Al, Cindy and I skied up Elk Pass trail to MaSid’s original couch and then down to Elk Lakes cabin via the meadow trail. Thanks to MaSid for breaking that 2 km section to the hydroline. Amazingly enough, there was another group at the couch. Perhaps we should have made a reservation. Fortunately it is a pretty big couch and it was nice to run into Jane again. Conditions were quite good with a skiff of snow covering the trail and most of the pine needles down low. The trail down to Elk Lakes has been made fairly wide (about 2 snow mobile widths) by users from the BC side so it is a fairly pleasant ski down to there and back up again. We returned over the top and then down Patterson to the Elk Pass trail.
It is a long shot but… I dropped my fanny back with my wax kit at either the shower parking lot at Bolton or the information centre parking lot last week. The information centre does not have it. Perhaps if someone picked it up, it could make its way to the information centre. I will keep checking…
I can’t take all the trail breaking credit GH. Lots of help from the super(ski)models, a moose and other parties making their way through the meadows. When I was there last Sunday a snowmobile came up to elk pass, riding right beside the broken trail. Probably the reason it is now wider.
Lake Louise had a sniff of new snow overnight but these trails in really good shape: Fairview, Moraine, Upper Tramline, Tramline to Village, Pipestone. Temperatures about -8, blue wax worked well. Mostly sunny and a joy to be out on the trails today.
Lake Louise -12C and VR40 wax: Skied upper Peyto and Telemark to the Great Divide and then Lower Telemark east to west. The east section trails are snowplow degraded in the bottom curves and parts of the trails show evidence of some hard falls. The west section is better but all Lower Telemark tracks are showing their age. Returned up Peyto to access Fairview which was excellent. Super glide in very good tracks for a fast run on MLR and Tramline. Bow River and Campground loops were excellent with new track setting of yesterday. A small amount of tree debris on Peyto and Telemark trails. Other trails were debris free.
The Norseman Ski Club was out in full force on the same trails Jan 22 as well as Pipestone. Excellent conditions of all. I must say what beautiful trails the Bow River and Campground Loops are. For those wanting a scenic easy ski with the option to ultimately do about 20km, these trails are wonderful! Dogs seem happy too!
Yes, dogs like me are definitely happy on the Bow River and Campground Loops! We also checked out the Townsite trail for the first time today which leads behind many of the LL hotels to Pipestone (didn’t go that far though). My humans used VR45/extra blue and give a huge thanks to all the walkers and snowshoers who had stayed out of the track!!!
FAIRVIEW LOOP with MaSid’s Couch and Ice Magic – Jan 22
WOW… and such easy access to a MaSid Couch, this was a great choice today.
Details available by reading the captions here:
We’ll be back on a warmer day
Nice to see what it looks like in the sun! Also looks like some of the “teeth” have fallen out.
The Norseman Ski Club did Fairview today and fully enjoyed the beautiful trail, weather and especially MaSid’s couch at which we lounged in the sun and took many photos. Thanks MaSid!
REDEARTH CREEK – Trail is still good condition, gets better condition in terms of snow as you ski further. We skied 10 km to Lodge turnoff and back. The ski out was really fun, the steep parts weren’t too fast or icy.
LOPPET COURSE EAST OF BAKER CREEK – Jan 21
No stress today… and even better for photography!
Check out the happy skiers reincarnating the route.
See the details at:
But be aware that the snowplow has dumped gravel on the ditch east of Castle Junction.
Skied South end of Peter Lougheec on Sunday. Started at Boulton Creek and did the Boulton-Fox-Elk Pass-Tyrwhitt- Whiskey Jack loop. Sunny sky’s and -3C at trailhead. 2-3cm of fresh snow over old tracks. I was testing my waxless skis but I would think that VR45 would have worked well. Trails were in good shape with very little debris. About 200m West of the Elk Pass summit a large Tree is completely blocking the trail. Fortunately it is on the flat portion and not on the hill.
CASCADE RIVER- TO NEAR CUTHEAD CREEK
Sunday afternoon and lunar eclipse mojo navigating night ski show.
The road is in great shape . The trail from the road to the Cascade Bridge is generally in very good shape. The tracks are slightly worn. Fairly fast snow except at night where the snow slowed to moderate speed for eclipse viewing.
From Cascade Bridge to Stoney Creek the tracks are in a little better condition. The skiing is generally excellent. Fairly fast snow and great grip with -2 to -10 C Swix blue wax for old snow.
Beyond the Stoney Creek Bison fence, I broke trail to within roughly 2 KM of Cuthead Warden Cabin. The trail breaking was easy to moderate. Was able to get across the little creeks without taking my skis off. Decided to turned around after the sky darkened somewhat and a big predator ran across the tail about 100 m in front of me. Snow in this section of trail was somewhat slow. Ski penetration was generally ankle deep to boot top deep in more open areas away from trees. Lots of critter tracks in this trail section including some predator tracks with at 220 cm stride!
I was able to view the beginning of the eclipse at Cascade Bridge where I ran into other people skiing in for the “night of it.” More people were climbing up the hill. As I got to the parking lot the eclipse became “full.” Pretty awesome to be able to ski along and watch an eclipse occur. That was a first for me.
Strathmore Golf Course
Made it out to Strathmore today shortly after 2:00 pm. The snow was really nice and most of the course was fine for skiing. Some grassy patches but nothing that’s really gonna do a number on your skis, in my opinion. Like so many places in southern Alberta right now, I think it’s a few cms away from being completely good to go. Thanks to Ed for his grooming work.
Sun Jan 20: west elk pass.
-7 to start at 930. -4 on return at 5. It was time to check in at couch HQ. Nice mild, reasonably windless day. Fox creek tracks were getting washed out. Enough so we took the hill on the way back. Elk pass trail decent. The trail to couch HQ is in excellent shape. Good enough for skinny skis and small pole baskets no problem. Same with the full trail through the meadows to hydroline. Only ankle deep trail breaking off the skier set track, so pretty much go anywhere with light touring skis time. Reestablished track through blueberry meadows and did a jaunt part way up blueberry for a cruisy run down. Excellent times roaming the meadows in good company. Topped off the day in k-country with a fire and watching the moon ascend and become eclipsed. Good Milky Way action out there while fully eclipsed.
Thank you Martin for introducing me to Couch Headquarters and West Elk Meadows. Today, Carol and I met Georgina there (another member of SkierBob family) and bathed in the 1pm bright sunlight for close to an hour. It was heavenly and appreciated your recon of it yesterday to enhance and confirm its perfection. Absolutely love that ski through to Hydroline, so much so, we turned around and came back the same way. -4 at couch. Reading your report this morning made my decision very easy where to ski today.
Prime time for couch visiting (-: Similar experience yesterday that I had to do the hydroline and back twice! No snow dinosaur yet. When we get more snow I’ll increase the back wall height for more reflection and wind protection. See if you can catch the Fairview one on a sunny day. Should be good given its size and shape.
Spent the weekend skiing on Kickinghorse Rd and Great Divide. Kickinghorse was wonderful freshly trackset and there was no wind only the birds singing broke the stillness, it was very nice. Great Divide from the Lk O’Hara side hadn’t been trackset since the 18th and enough snow has fallen and blown over the trail so that the tracks were filled in or obliterated. Made the skiing a bit tricky, the snow was grippy making the glide short and the tracks were hard to stay in which made for lots of corrections.
CNC and Confederation Golf Course
On Saturday I skied multiple loops out to the warming hut and back at Canmore Nordic Centre. Conditions were great for both classic and skate skiing. I was having so much fun I didn’t bother to go further to check the natural snow trails.
Today (Sunday) I had a surprisingly enjoyable skate ski outing at Confederation Golf Course. Snow cover was very thin which resulted in a few lurches from hitting grass or dirt. Tracks for classic were skier made – I doubt there’s enough snow to set tracks. The volunteers have done a great job – it’s amazing that skiing is possible at all. Thanks!
I received this photo and email from Andie Shaffer:
Strathmore golf course photo
Good afternoon, Bob!
My family and I had a lovely day skiing out at the Strathmore Golf course. We had been reading about it on your website and thought we would give it a go. It was our first ski out with our new puppy (10 month old pooch). It was gorgeous. Yes, there were some thin sections and rock skis would be advised but it was well worth the drive out.
Thank you for your continued work. It’s awesome!!
Groomer perfection last night added to Jenn and Bodhi’s already terrific report at Mt Shark. Lots of people must have checked the live grooming report this morning as a lot of happy dogs and their well trained owners (did I get that backwards?) were out, along with some skate skiers enjoying the corduroy. Minus 9 at 10 am and maybe -6 at noon, with some vintage 0 to -4 wax worked great to get me to the Spray Bridge and back up that monster hill in a few hours. Was tempted to venture up Chuck’s tracks up the Spray trail, but was volunteering at Parks Avalanche Awareness at Burstall for 1pm. A great day was had by all who attended the event there as well. We counted attendance but should have counted all the lovely dogs also.
Mount Shark – Watridge Trail to Spray River
Arrived at parking lot at 10am. -8 degrees. Snow temp about -7. Swix V40 worked mostly OK, if slightly grabby. Tracksetting was excellent, and corduroy for the big downhill to the river was great for snowplowing. No wind and the air warmed up as we proceeded, but never enough to affect track conditions. Blue skies and sun (when not behind a mountain), see photo album below.
Everyone AND their dogs were there today. Probably, like us, they had read skierbob.ca this morning and had decided to take advantage of the good conditions and stay away from the Loppet and Ice Magic Festival crowds out at Lake Louise.
Thanks to everyone for the trip reports. I can’t count how many times we’ve changed plans at the last minute due to excellent tips from the Trip Reports page!
Kananaskis Village, skied the same trails as Skier Bob Jan 18 and found them very similar, most trails apart from Terrace haven’t seen much traffic and the set track quite good, except Aspen as noted in Bob’s report. After the monster ice flow which was easily avoid by walking up the snowy side, we back tracked along Ribbon Creek to the washed out bridge to nowhere before heading back up the creek, this trail hasn’t seen any grooming but has reasonable cover and a few rocks. Overall a nice enough ski and glad I’d given it a try
CASCADE- we skied 10 km in and return. Snow quite good, with a light dusting of new snow this morning. Skiing down the 2km hill was great, not too fast. Snow gets better the further you go.
Goat Creek trail to Spray River Loop shelter
Started at 8am, -6C on cold firm snow base. The tracks are shallow and beaten, but okay. Snow plowing to the Goat Creek bridge wasn’t a problem. Just confirming what Doug reported below and don’t have much to add. Wax: Start -1..-5C
Ribbon Creek very thin in some spots on Saturday but a light snow was falling. Temp rose to about 0 at noon, if it cools it could be better Sunday. We got sticky a few times. Rocks here and there.
No ski tracks from Kovach all the way to/from the RC parking lot due to obliteration by snowshoe/walker peeps.One group of 8 must have missed the blazing orange snowshoe symbol sticker right at the top of the post with an arrow to turn here. Jeez Louise.
Cascade to first bridge: groomed yesterday but well skied on by the end of Saturday. At +1C, waxless worked well. Fast slippery conditions–great day for double polling!
Mt Shark-great ski today! Surprisingly warm for what the forecast had predicted. Started from the parking lot at 11am at -1. As a group we started with V30 but were quickly slipping all over the place. Switched to V50 with good results. Judging by the other skiers pulled off rewaxing I don’t think we were the only ones with waxing problems today. Headed out to the lake and then grabbed the skate skis for a quick loop of red/black. Great conditions on the trails with a perfect light dusting of snow to keep the steeper hills from feeling too icy.
NORTH END OF PLPP: Pocaterra – Come Along – Lynx – Woolley – Meadow – Amos – Lynx – Pocaterra heading south – Pocaterra heading north
On December 29 I met a skier at the Elk Pass picnic table who had already passed us the second time and was heading up Blueberry and Lookout that day, while we did the Elk Lakes Cabin for the day. He was clearly someone training for the Cookie Race and I commented that I’ve always wanted to watch that some day (I’m a slow [relaxed speed] skier). He made a comment to just ski it for the fun of it and for the cookies. Well, that planted a seed. I checked out the Cookie Race finish imes from last year to see if I’d have any hope of not being dead last in case I were to enter :-).
All these years I’ve only ever skied the south end of PLPP, but for today I decided to start from Pocaterra Hut and ski the 15km Cookie Race circuit. Temperatures as I left Calgary were -15C, then 0C as I arrived at Pocaterra just before noon. I was expecting waxing to be bad, but VR45 worked quite well for the time I was out without needing to rewax Probably over half of this loop is trackless as the snow is just so thin, and as someone else has already commented, quite twiggy at Woolley. Other short sections got quite earthy, but still skiable. A short ~200m stretch (I think it was on Woolley?) had significant needle debris in the tracks. And some intermittent sections had quite nice tracks and clean snow. Definitely more marginal to good conditions, but thanks to taking one wrong turn near the end (heading south on Pocaterra instead of north) I got an extra mile and ended up skiing 18km.
Thanks to the random speedy skier from three weeks ago for encouring me to enter the Cookie Race. I think I’ll try this loop a couple more times and then enter for the tour. I think at my current pace I could manage the top 80% :-).
Amazing conditions in PLPP today for a trip up to the Lookout. We skied up Whiskeyjack (note we parked at Boulton Bridge and you could ski straight up to WJ without the construction detour,) up Lookout, across and down the crazy steep side (which I swear gets steeper every time I do it,) and down to Hydroline. We finished our loop with Elk Pass Trail down to Boulton Creek (the only trail that still had early season conditions.)
Snow was soft and powdery on Lookout with lovely fresh snow covering up a firm corduroy base. Perfect for the descent.
Other hills were bordering on icy though as we got to Hydroline and Elk Pass from the heavy traffic they saw today.
Hello. Can anyone tell me where to park if you want to ski up whiskey jack to Tryhwitt with Boulton Creek parking lot closed? Also what is the skiing like on Trywitt, Elk Pass, fox creek like? Thanks!
Start at Boulton Bridge and go straight up to Whiskey Jack as per normal. Construction wasn’t a problem today. The gate was pushed aside and everybody was ignoring the detour.
Trails were all good today. Starting to get icy on the big hills though.
The Perfection at Pipestone continued today. This is really a jewel at LL and the conditions were like the ones you long for at the end of October as you are waiting for the flakes to fly. I stopped at MaSid’s couch at the top of the loop and marveled at the construction. Sat and had a spot of tea and as I viewed the area the term “Banksy of the Alpine” came to mind. Thanks MaSid for setting the stage for that moment.
Definately stretching that comparison. Although the couches do self destruct every spring.
LOPPET COURSE WEST OF BAKER CREEK – Jan 19
Surprisingly good shape with maybe a cm of snow last night, and final grooming.
Details available in the captions here:
Good luck everyone, and have fun!
Thanks Chuck for the pictures and info. Very much looking forward to the start gun tomorrow. Massive thanks to all the volunteers and helpers to set up this amazing event. This will be my first ever ski race, let alone a loppet.
Elkwood, Wheeler, Whiskey Jack, Pocaterra, Lynx, Amos, Wooley and Meadow back to Elwood. Temperature around zero and snowing lightly all day. I used fish scale waxless and had no trouble, while the others used V45 wax and had some minor sticking. The tracks were much cleaner of debris today since the couple of cms. of fresh snow hid most of the needles. Pocaterra was fun going downhill, although slower, as we had to break trail, until skiers coming uphill polished their uphill track, which we used as much as possible. Snow was considerably thinner by the time we got to Lynx, and Wooley was quite twiggy in places. Whiskeyjack grooming was excellent and the hill would have been great had we been going down it. What a waste of a good hill! Next time we will go DOWN it instead of up.
Goat Creek is in great shape. Only concern are a few rocks at the trail head. There is a skiff of new snow that freshened up the tracks which are in good shape. Even the Banff end is good with minimal debris. The decent to the bridges were all in great shape.
Thanks for your report Doug!
Lake O’Hara Road – Double Trackset!!!
Got to the Lake O’Hara parking lot for a late start (after 1400) and happily found the road had been freshly double trackset. The snow is still very soft, and is really crowned in the middle in places, but the good news is the tracksetting is amazing. The bad news is that a large group of tourists really churned up the centre, and seemed to enjoy walking on the tracksetting for the first couple of km. The sleds a number of them were dragging behind them didn’t help, either. After that the holes in the tracks are less frequent, but still do occur. We did the best we could trying to fix it up, but expect bumps.
The tracks themselves are firm and I didn’t end up sinking at all. We only made it just over 7 km in due to time constraints, but the trails were great all the way in.
Only a handful of cars in the parking lot, and on our way out we met a young couple getting set to back country ski in and spend the weekend camping.
The Yoho end of the Great Divide was quiet – lots of fresh snow, and when we checked it out at 1400, the tracksetting was still good, but only the south track had been skied on.
Confederation Golf Course
Just enough snow for good skiing.
Trails had been groomed as of this afternoon. There were some tracks set, but that was probably a mistake since they sometimes hit the grass.
I came in across Canmore Park, which also had enough snow to ski on, but no grooming.
Get in a ski there soon before the next chinook.
Just back from a spin around the lit loop at CNC. Great conditions and the best part is the temperature: -2C.
CASCADE VALLEY Jan 18
Double trackset again today, to the Cascade River Bridge. Old tracksetting to Stoney Creek is still working well… in fact silky smooth!
Details available here:
Nice to meet Kathy, Patti, Diane, Pat, Ulli and John again!
Canmore Nordic Centre today…. great skate skiing along the Banff Trail, Banff Trail Loop, and the Bow Trail. No classic tracks along the Banff Trail past the meadow. My husband says Meadowview Trail was also good. Snow overall was not fast, but it was a great day.
BLUEBERRY HILL – we had our best ski day of the season thus far today, new grooming and some new snow made the trail to Elk Pass and Blueberry Hill perfect…..skied out on nice snow in a winter wonderland! Skiing softly down, down, down……we skied Fox Creek on the way out, it was fast and fun! Just past the second bridge we noticed debris on the trail, looking up there was a woodpecker chipping the bark of some conifers….diseased trees with insects? Then a flock of waxwings flew in….
West Bragg Creek Jan 18
Yes! West Bragg Creek! The groomers worked their magic on the core trails with only a few cm of new snow. I spent about 4 hours skate skiing and rock picking a variety of trails. -15C at 10am, -10C at 2pm. The core trails have mainly Fair to Good coverage, with a few short Poor sections. By Poor, I mean you’d want to use your rock skis. I ended up with several minor scratches in my bases, but the skiing was well worth it. If you’re doing classic, Mountain Road is trackset, but you’ll have to step out of the tracks fairly often to avoid places where the tracks have bottomed out on dirt and rocks. Conditions as follows:
Mountain Road: The first km to the bridge is generally Poor. The remainder of Mountain Road to the Mountain View West junction is fair to good with a couple of short Poor sections.
Mountain View: Both ends start promisingly, but the middle section is unskiable. Superb rock picking though!
West & East Crystal: Fair to Good with a couple of short Poor sections.
South leg of Sundog Loop between Iron Springs and Elbow: Fair to Good.
Loggers Loop from Elbow to West Crystal: The steep hill down to West Crystal is unskiable. The rest is Fair to Good with a couple of short Poor sections.
Bunny Loop: Fair to Good with a couple of short Poor sections.
Photos of West and East Crystal at the Sundog Loop junctions:
Good thorough report Mike. Did 15km of wandering on said core trails myself and Moose as well (not packed) and I would generally agree with your assessment – except to say, that even though I brought my ol’ 62mm boards, I wouldn’t recommend skiing at WBC on anything but ones worst pair of old skate ski’s, especially considering as temp’s warm and foot/paw traffic increases this weekend, that infinitesimally small skiff of snow over the little-to-no base creates very hazardous sliding.
for P.K who does not ski but who likes to read SkierBob
January 18 – Peter Lougheed – Elk Pass Parking – Bolton Creek – Fox Creek – Tyrwhit-Paterson-Hydroline – Elk Pass – Tyrwhit -Fox Creek – Bolton Creek Elk Pass Parking
Good tracksetting on Tyrwhit and the Hydroline. Skier tracked on Bolton Creek and Fox Creek. Fox Creek is a little sparse but for skiing thrills it is hard to beat. You will learn more on Fox Creek about step turns, side-slipping and double-poling than other more mundane trails.
Perfection at Pipestone Trails today: stayed around -10 all day, 3+ cms powder in tracks. Total of 8 people plus one very well behaved dog seen all day. Tracks perfect and all needles/tree beard disappeared. Enjoyed lunch at Ma Sid’s first snow couch at top of circuit and discovered second couch on east side of Pipestone Pond just north of junction where Drummond comes down hill to Pond trail. Loppet Gods delivered with at least 2-3 cms. light powder in tracks today. Terrific building Ma Sid and hope your skills found another sunshine spot today to build on Fairview. Do we need a Snow Couch Ice Sculpture design to submit via our locally talented designer, MaSid?
Fri Jan 18: tramline/mlr/Fairview loop.
-11 to starry from the railway station at 9. -4 on return to n at 430. 1cm fresh in the tracks and maybe an inch in total throughout the day. New pop-up couch location along Fairview in one of the meadows. Cheeky Simona (the poster children) swung by to help out, and brought icycles! So we added teeth to, whatever it turned out to be? Maybe you can tell. The teeth were for Wendy, as she had to stay in the lodge today with a toothache, while Ernie had a solo day.
And of course, tracks were great throughout with the fresh snow for added avocado glide.
Well said MaSid it was great to meet you and while I marvelled at the ice carvings at LL it was great to see you wield your snow saw as a craftsman at
the art of couch building A sight to behold.
I’ll look forward to seeing the couch with teeth! It certainly brightened my day and I laughed out loud when I read your posting MaSid. Sorry to have missed such a great day and I hope to meet you on the ski trails sometime soon!
I found a Toko snow thermometer at the junction of Pocaterra and Whiskeyjack at noon today (Friday 18th) – left it at the PLPP Visitor Centre
I kind of kissed it goodbye. I didn’t think any one would spot it, especially if there was any fresh snow.
Thanks for handing it in to the lost and found!
It makes for a good reason to head there for a ski this weekend.
Canmore Nordic Center
On John Reeves’ advice skiied Banff Trail to check out Meadowview Trail. Nicely trackset with some of yesterday’s snow adding to the grooming. Skiied to the Banff/Bow/Meadowview junction. Hill was great out of tracks, powder still over grooming. Skiied back up the Meadowview hill as Banff looked fair at best. West side of Meadowview Trail was slightly better. -1oC, Swix purple, worked very well. A nice 13 km ski.
Has anyone skiied Pocaterra lately? Is it icy? Thanks
As of last Wednesday no ice just thin snow coverage with needles and dirt showing under trees. All it needs is an inch of snow and will be perfect.
The Yoho BLOW was alive and well when 13 Meanderthals arrived at Field Info Centre. Temp -7. We decided not to ski Tally Ho first off, due to the ferocious easterly wind, but drive to Natural Bridge and ski Kicking Horse Trail. It was incredible how there was no wind there and at lunch temp was -4. Snow was plentiful and smooth as ripe avocados; tracks were as perfect as if they had been done yesterday, with exception of very initial part of trail which is always adorned with hiking boot marks. Not wanting anyone to miss Tally Ho and suggesting (?) it was all downhill to Info Centre, seniors skied it one way back. Skis now need a quick cleaning after Tally Ho as stuff blew into tracks. Gorgeous day out there with mostly blue skies. While I had cookies for the volunteer groomers, they are back in my freezer for next ski out there.
The trackset last night on Elk Pass at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park was beautiful. Thank you to the groomers. There was enough fresh snow to hide almost all needles.
Hydroline was also freshly groomed.
It snowed lightly throughout our ski from 10AM to 1PM.
Waxing was easy with V40 in -10C to -12C temperatures. However, it felt colder with a moist air mass and a slight wind coming from the north down Hydroline.
Tyrrwhitt from Elk Pass to the picnic table is super fast and has not been groomed.
Cascade. To Cascade River Bridge plus around 15 minutes beyond. The trail has had a lot of traffic since the last fresh snow or trackset but is still in pretty good shape. Needles weren’t a problem at all. I did see an exposed rock near the bottom of a short sunny hill around 10 minutes past the bridge but otherwise everything was snow covered.
Redearth Ck-Shadow Lk
It was a chilly -16C at the parking lot, when we started up the Redearth Creek trail this morning. There was a clear blue sky, but you have to get all the way up to Lost Horse Creek campsite before any of the sunshine reaches the trail. As others have noted earlier in the month, the track setting ends at the 7.5km mark, so there is 2 km of skier set trail to the Shadow Lake junction. The trail up the nasty steep section from the junction is a mess of post-holes, as many people have decided to either hike up or down that part. And nobody has yet taken the scenic winter by-pass to the lodge. The snowpack is so weak that we also opted to just follow the existing skier-set track to the lodge.
There was a temperature inversion, so it was a balmy -5C at Shadow Lake Lodge. The ski back to the parking lot was fast and frosty. It had warmed up to -13C at the highway.
RINK’S CAMP – Jan 16
Another ski option… with wildlife.
You would not believe who followed me!
Details in the captions here:
Great photos Chuck. Always enjoyable to open.
Thank you for sharing
Elk Pass-Tramline: Today we skied to Elk Pass then down the Tramiline-OMG-perfect trackset, perfect weather-nice sunny blue sky. The downhills were fast and fun. It was the perfect place to be. Saw a group of students from Westmount Charter heading to Elk Cabin. It’s so nice to see young people out in the mountains. Apart from that, it was not busy- much to my surprise only a few cars in the parking lot. It was a really fun day. Used blue-40. When we left the parking lot to head back to Calgary we smelled “fire”- there were quite a few “controlled burns”.
Westmount Charter has an awesome outdoor ed teacher. They do paddling as well.
One of my most enjoyable skis on Elk pass!
PLPP today had sunny blue sky and no wind. Temperature was -9C on start at Pocaterra hut and -6C afternoon. Old and dry snow made tracks fast. Best conditions today was on Wheeler, Elk Pass and Pocaterra from Lookout trail to Lynx.
Also, I have found fancy steel water bottle, Roots brand 500ml with black cork. I have left it at Pocaterra hut on the counter with other lost and found items.
CASCADE – we skied 10 km up the fire road today, conditions were a bit better than we expected, and improved the farther we skied. A tad slippery. The sunny areas were wonderful to linger in. We followed large canid tracks the whole 10 km, either a large delinquent dog or a wolf track. However there appeared to be a distinctive wolf scat on the trail at km 7.5. Hopefully some snow freshens this trail soon!
Bluebird cold day. It was -19C going in to the parking lot and -15C when we left. SkiGo Blue HF worked as well as it could on our metal-edged Rossi BC 65’s, given the amount of brilliant stellar crystals on the track, shrubbery and trees.
The track is a wonky set of lineations created by all forms of skis and snowshoes punctured with indentations from travellers who couldn’t afford either. That said, you can work with them, and there was often enough uncut pow on the sides to slow your otherwise perilous descent down the steeper grades.
We had a quick lunch on the lake and got back down in 90 minutes.
Send snow soon. It’s hurt’n out there.
Lake Louise – Skied down Peyto/Upper Telemark and then skied Lower Telemark and back up Peyto to the hotel for lunch. Great skiing on Blue wax- VR30. After lunch we did Fairview, down the Morraine Lake road, and then down the Tramline to the village via the south side of the river. The temperature was between -12C and -10 C. The tracks are holding up well throughout and were reasonably fast.
Pipestone Loops again; this time on the lookout for MaSid’s couches. More on that later. Temperature at Lake Louise was about minus 12C. at 10:00 am. I was expecting minus 8C, so I had the wrong wax. VR40 was great for climbing the Pipestone ccw, so I sacrificed better glide reasoning it would warm up after noon. It did warm up and glide was great coming back. It was about minus 5C at 3:00 pm. Ski tracks are holding up very well due to the denseness of the snow when tracks were set and the cold nights. Tree debris is still minor – amazing for this area. Also skied Hector down to the gate. This seems to be the favourite snowshoe/walking trail and parts were somewhat battered. High on the last hills of Hector some new skiers had an exciting day evidenced by several bathtubs and the chopped up track. Gotta learn somewhere – I hope they prevail!
MaSid’s couches are spectacular! Particularly the one at the north end out on the Pipestone River. Our lunch stop at the north couch was super warm in the sun. We also checked out the couch at Pipestone Lake. Thanks MaSid!
Nothing like a comfy seat in the warm sun to make the ski smile a bit wider. It’s amazing how much more reflected heat can be captured. Better views at the lake couch, but a bit more wind exposure. (-:
PLPP North Trails – this wasn’t exactly the plan, and we started south on Wheeler from Elkwood parking, only to encounter thickening smoke from a fire (presumably a controlled burn) that was somewhere near the south end of the lower lake. Not wanting to breathe that stuff (shades of last August), we changed direction and skied north, ending up with skiing Lodgepole, Meadow, Sinclair, Come Along, Pocaterra, Lynx, and Amos. Mostly decent conditions, though lots of pine needles on some sections of all the trails. Sinclair was the worst for needles, and Pocaterra between Lynx and Packers the cleanest. Several thin spots, but rarely a problem. Downhills were very fast (wheeeee…). Started at 10am to -16C, finished at -5C. Lots of frost crystals on the trails, re-waxed a couple of times (VR40). Smoke was mostly gone when we finished.
Photo of smoke in PLPP
A stunning sunny, blue sky day in the park.
It started cool at Pocaterra Hut at -15C and was probably nearer -5C when we finished at 2pm. We took Rolly Road, Come Along, Pocaterra, Lynx, Amos and Wheeler to reach the climb up Whiskey Jack, generally nice track setting but with some debris trying to catch hold of the VR30/VR40 wax, the snow is becoming quite abrasive so we rewaxed to go up the hill. The glide down Pocaterra was fast and fabulous, very little debris on the stretch back to Lynx, and still a fun ski from there back down to the hut. We possibly met 13 people all day – much quieter than last Saturday!
January 14 – Goat Creek from Spray Lakes to Banff Springs.
Lack of snow is Goat Creek’s biggest problem now with rocks protruding from the snow at the Spray Lake end and the Banff Golf course end. It could really do with a grooming make over in parts of the trail to either set track or give the trail a little more texture. The last 0.2km to the golf course is best walked for the safety of your skis. Texture is adequate for control generally on the trail and it was quite fast with a cold wax for the conditions at the time. We had a very sunny day with minus 10 C to minus 1 C and everyone enjoyed the day. Watch the rocks.
SKOKI – Jan 14
With today’s weather forecast, today was perfect for a day trip into Skoki.
Details as usual in the captions here:
Track skis worked well for me, but most would prefer a light touring ski with skins.
Was the Lodge open, Chuck?. Years ago, what with the commute back and forth to Calgary, Skoki was scheduled for the spring to allow more light. It was a great run back to Lake Louise.
Absolutely Frank… check out their website:
If you like a view of Mt. Temple from Boulder pass, you may like this photo.
It’s from last year, taken after sunset.
Wow Wieslaw… lovely sunset lighting.
Thanks for sharing
WOW WOW Wieslaw!! I scrolled back and wow’d over all your pictures; the Burmis Tree, the “ice-like jellyfish”, those Northern Lights pcitures, etc. Please invite me to a slide show at your house anytime!
Thank you Helen,
I’m sure we can arrange something.
Al, Cindy, Kati and I skied a loop from Bolton (shower parking lot) up Whiskey Jack / Tyrwhitt and then down Elk Pass / Fox Creek / Moraine. We stopped by Ma Sid’s couch for lunch. Today was a very good day for that with bright sunshine and nearly no wind. We went up Whiskey Jack which was fine. Coming down there would be challenging as it has not been groomed in a while so the downhills are gouged out a fair bit. There is also that problematic rock embedded in middle of the trail heading into the “s” turn at the bottom of the steep hill. Conditions on Fox Creek / Moraine are not great with lots of tree debris on the trail. Tyrwhitt has not been groomed in a while but it was okay for our direction of travel (would also be a bit tricky going the other way). Elk Pass was in fine shape.
-19 at Castle Lookout parking lot at 10am. Saw two skiers all day but only skied (with difficulty) to Castle Junction and back. I used to love this section of trail but that must have been in the good old days when we got a lot more snow, or when I was a lot younger and braver. Walked up and down that big hill nearing Castle Junction. Blissful sunny skies above and lots of animal tracks to be seen, but doubt the Loppet racers will take their eyes off the ski tracks, which are excellent in sections and somewhat bare or twiggy in others. Groomers made the track as wide and as great as they can given the shallow base they have to work with. What a gift it would be to get 4-6 cms before Jan 20th big Loppet race.
PLPP from Visitor Centre – Meadow/Wheeler/Amos loop – trails were nicely trackset but lots of pine needles, especially near visitor centre, and some very thin spots. I will avoid until there is more snow.
BREWSTER CREEK- BEYOND SUNDANCE
The Healy Creek trail from the Sunshine Village access road parking lot to the Brewster Creek turnoff is generally in good condition with a few avoidable rocks in the tracksets. Firm base with fairly fast snow. Excellent grip with -2 to -10 Swix wax. There is roughly about 18 cm of snow at the parking lot.
The Brewster Creek trail is in good to excellent condition. There are a couple of rocks on the hill that are avoidable. The snow was firm packed. The trail is fairly narrow and could be widened several feet. The snow is very nice and fairly fast. Good grip up the hill. The tracksetting ends at the double bridges crossing Brewster Creek. After the bridges the trail is skier tracked to about 1/2 kilometer past the Fatigue Pass turnoff. Beyond Sundance Lodge the skiing is fair to good. Expect some rocks on this portion of the trail There was about 35 cm of snow at the Lodge with a temperature of -8 C.
Several of us did a loop at the north end of the PLPP trail network, starting from Pocaterra Hut. This included Lodgepole, Wheeler, Packers and Pocaterra.
Lodgepole had good coverage and track setting. Wheeler was wonderful, with great tracks and a few areas with noticeable needles. Packers was last roller-packed before Christmas and has wobbly skier-set tracks and snowplow packing. It’s still quite bumpy-lumpy… OK for going uphill, but not great for going down.
Pocaterra was perfect! Excellent track setting and nice, fast snow all the way to the Come-along junctions. It was thinner and has seen more skier traffic closer to the Pocaterra Hut, but still fun. https://photos.app.goo.gl/JDSggDLP8SrpxwrJ6
Pipestone with friends Sat Jan 12th. Lovely loop, yep parking lot full by the time we arrived. Some pine needles down but no issue. Decent tracks & -6 start.
Photos on Flickr.
GREAT DIVIDE FROM YOHO – Fog this morning made the trees nice and frosty. Saw fox and lynx (?) Tracks along with abundant snowshoe hare. Ski tracks are still a bit soft, but the skiing was generally excellent. Lower Telemark is well groomed and fast and fun coming down the hills!!
Wheeler-Packer-Pocaterra-Lynx-Amos-Elkwood. No complaints about this quick ski on a spectacularly sunny afternoon. Sure, some pine needles, some twigs poking through here and there, but none of that slowed us down one bit. Pocaterra was fast and fun, wheeee! The temperature was perfect, especially because nothing was melting.
PLPP – the middle. Beautiful blue skies day. Snow was a bit thin in some spots with some roots and pine needles. An enjoyable day nonetheless.
Sun Jan 13: shadow lake.
-10 at 930 to start. -5 on return to the lot at 330. Fair amount of needles for the first few km, improving as you get further away from the bow valley. The hill up to shadow lake lodge was a bit frozen up and chunky. Worked ok for herringbone or side stepping. Doesn’t seem to warm up in that valley until you get to the lodge. Watched some small cutthroat trout swimming around lethargically in the outlet stream under clear as glass ice. Just like in a zoo. (-; Very few people. A few other intrepid soloists at the lodge. Wonderful being back there. Many years since I have been close to mount ball, a little trip down memory lane. Should sustaine me until Friday!
Found Sunday- sunglasses along Pocaterra trail.
-3C at 1300hrs. Jan 13, 2019.
Very good kick and terrific glide on somewhat icy tracks.
Still barely adequate snow depth on the north end of PLPP. Lots of twigs and the odd patch of gravel. Glad to have brought the rock skis.
Beautiful blue skis and -4C at 1500hrs.
A fantastic skate ski at Mt. Shark today! A bluebird day and no wind! Grooming was great. The hills are wicked as always on the 15km loop. The ungroomed trails (Yellow and red) were fairly good with soft snow and lots of boot prints from walkers.
Cascade valley. Great ski on V40 and fast snow and good well loved tracks. There are a few rocks starting to rear their heads on the small climb through the rock bed on the rerouted trail.
Dawn Mountain at Kicking Horse
If anybody comes this way, you can expect a professional grooming and great, fast trails. Lots of fun today there. Highly recommended!
Since not one of the million other skiers (only a small exaggeration) has yet reported so I thought I would. We started at Boulton Showers with -5C, the snow was good with skier set tracks up Whiskey Jack and along Tyrwitt to Elk Pass, we did encounter a stiff cool south breeze in the exposed spots. Next we rejoiced in the recent track setting, taking a swift descent down Hydroline and Patterson to enjoy a quick lunch in the sun at the Blueberry junction. The Elk Pass trail down from there to the Fox Creek Junction was excellent, fast but with plenty of control, Fox Creek is still good although, like most places, a little snow would be a beneficial addition to the base, similarly Moraine. An enjoyable day, we used VR40 and VR45; thank you to the track setters.
Skate skied Great Divide on Sat Jan 12. The trail was a little soft but otherwise conditions were ideal – freshly groomed, nice corduroy with a temperature around -5 and winter wonderland scenery. The Morraine Lake Road and Great Divide parking lots weren’t too busy. Definitely worth the drive from Calgary.
Mt Shark – to add to others reports, there were lots of happy tail wagging dogs out today (mostly on leash, including me!) Great that we have such a wonderful trail network for us pooches! And the humans were very happy too!
My daughter and I arrived to a bit of a parking rodeo at Pipestone this morning. Once all contestants were scored, we found great conditions with a bit of tree debris in the usual spots but easily managed. We saw 2 happy dogs and about 30-35 people (some twice!). Busy at times with large groups but solutude and buttery fast snow the rest. Thanks again MaSid for the couch!
MT. SHARK – Jan 12
As Robin M. has reported, good classic and skate grooming.
One photo is all it takes:
The 15 km loop is awesome, but Green does not mean easy!
Castle-Baker: Today’s ski was on a real mixed-bag of trail conditions. We started at Castle Lookout parking, heading west. The first km through the pine forest was OK except for quite a few needles and the odd rough spot. From that point to Km5, the trail was quite clean and the tracks good, except we met the tracksetter (at about Km4) who was heading east and laying a new set of tracks, obliterating the previous ones (don’t know why – the previous tracks were actually the better ones). From Km5 to Km7, the trail is flat near the railway tracks, and in decent condition. Then the fun began – Trans-Alta is doing construction work in the area, so a temporary trail has been put in (about 600m). This consists of ski tracks near the railway (lots of bush and needles), and then a road section which is best if you just walk it). At the end of that, the ski trail continues on the other (east) side of the road, and is in very nice condition all the way to Baker Creek parking (Km10), where we had lunch. After lunch, we walked 150m to the Baker Creek chalets, and picked up the groomed trail behind these chalets. We followed this (mostly excellent trail) west for about 2km before heading back. V45/50 wax worked reasonably well, as the tracks were hard and slick. We started at -6 and ended at -4.
I finally took the opportunity to ski Nipika yesterday and today. I drove right passed Settler’s Road on first attempt and had to turn back at Radium.
In tune with what I’d read about the Nipika owners and staff they were very friendly and helpful and I’m pretty sure I could have left the key in the ignition of my car while I skied and it would have been there when I returned. I don’t recommend it even so.
My own pooch was a great ski buddy in his earlier yrs but he’s 14 yrs old now so he’s not up to it now which made seeing the resident dogs so great. One of them ran with me for a bit with some encouragement.
Yesterday I skated the North trails and covered most of the area in 2 hours. The groomer had ‘scratched’ up the skate lane just prior which gave the old snow more grip otherwise it might have been too slick. Today I classic skied the South trails and I was glad my wax worked despite the warm temps. I think it was -1 when I arrived. Sadly there was a lot of debris on the trails and they need more snow. I had a few good falls after trying to avoid debris in the tracks. Not pretty.
I’m doing a snow dance for all trails, everywhere, because if I’m going to dance I might as well include all of them in one sweep!
Great snow and mild temps today on Peyto, Fairview and Tramline.
We found a black Samsung cellphone on Lower Tramline and turned it in to the Lake Louise Visitor Centre near Samson Mall.
Great ski this morning at CNC. Used VR 45.
Went out on Banff trail to the end of the meadow, then up to Meadowview and east to the competition trails. Then turned around and went back on Meadowview and stayed high on Rundle then down to Meadowview at the west end. Skied east on Meadowview, back to the meadow and down to the Banff Trail and the lower Banff loop.
The conditions on the manmade snow was excellent and for the most part good on the natural snow trails (Meadowview and Rundle). There were a few places where there were some needles and a bit of dirt mixed into the snow. The only exception was the big dip near the west end of Rundle where it is very tough with a lot of dirt mixed in with the snow (50/50) on the westward climb.
The signs on the natural snow trails say the conditions are marginal, I believe they are being over cautious except for the short dip section on Rundle.
Classic skied Cascade Valley this morning to the end of track setting . Hasn’t been groomed in a while but it was in fine condition. A wonderful with trail with a very gradual and rolling ascent makes for a vwry pleasant ski. Descent is definitely about 60% faster but no where close to the top speed of Moraine Lake road. A great trail for those who prefer gentle, flatter terrain.
Lake Louise Moraine
Awesome condition yesterday. Snow was packed and smooth, the tracks were fresh and fast.
PLPP SOUTH END (Not Pocaterra) but all trails recently trackset per live grooming last night were “excellent”. Started Visitors Centre and skied several trails in both directions starting 8:30 and logging 40km. Sinclair and Spruce Rd were surprisingly very fine and the usual circuit: Meadow-Amos-Whoolley-Wheeler were ALL excellent with very little glaze as was only 0 deg by 2pm. Sun is low in Jan, so do powerline trails in am and bush trails afternoon. Very pleasant ski on VR40, VR45 after lunch. No slip and only a dozen or so skiers today.
CORRECTION: PLPP NORTH END …
To complete your story, we skied Pocaterra – Lynx – Come Along, and they were very good in spite of needles and no grooming. Temp – 8 to start, VR40 worked a charm, and the downhills were fast and fun!
Fri Jan 11: pipestone couch bombing!
-11 to start at 930. -4 on return at 330. An excellent day all around. Haven’t skied at pipestone for prObably 5+ years. Great tracks. Moderate needles throughout and minor tree bombs but travelled well on the waxless fish scales. Unsatisfied with the seating options, added two couches to the trail system. Maintenance needed by visitors (twice as much gas than going to PLPP!) or
they will disappear after a few snownfalls. One is on a river. One on the edge of a lake. Both are within 100ft of the groomed trail, but not necessarily visibly obvious. And both seat about 3 or 4. The lakeside spot was wonderful in the afternoon sun and heat with great views of the Louise group of peaks. Nice to run into Fran and friends at couch #1 (where was helen?). Then ran into Ray and Mary. A good social outing in fine conditions.
Good to see you, too, Ma Sid. We will check out your couches next time. We started at -9C and blue wax (VR40) but it wasn’t enough. It took a couple of layers of VR45 to get some semi-decent grip. The offset to our sometimes slippy uphills was the great glide going down – so fast on some hills that exhilarating became scary. Fun day!
My daughter and I enjoyed the couch on Pipestone Pond today for lunch. Thanks!
Nice (-: Jumping up and down to compact the snow yesterday up on the bank I triggered about a 70 ft section of snow pack collapse, shaking small trees that distance away and knocking the snow off them. Spooky.
Spooky indeed! Let’s hope backcountry folk heed the warnings this season and all stay safe. Here’s my daughter from the couch. If you look closely, you can see me sitting on it in the reflection of her sunglasses.
Seems you may have stopped at a nearby snow “bench”. The lake couch has a back with 5 spires along the top. So close…..)-:
Came across the Pipestone River couch Saturday. Wow, work of art! I suspected it was a MaSid creation. Never having visited the Elk Meadows couch, didn’t know the MaSid design style, but the chance there was another “master builder” on the ski trails seemed remote.
There were five “Golden girls” (as they called themselves) enjoying lunch in the sun on the couch when our group of six came along, so it had many impressed and appreciative users. Thanks!
Fantastic. Glad to hear it is getting discovered and used (a successful social experiment). Thought it might have been too removed. The snow quality there made for a very formal throne of a couch (better consistent blocks). The lake couch is different, more fluid and melts into its environment. There may be more in other great locations down the road as the franchise expands……
SHADOW LAKE – Jan 11
With clear blue skies, it was time for a spectacular destination.
Details available by reading the captions in this album:
Cold fast snow… an amazing day
Were you able to point the skis straight down the hill below the lodge or was it still a little rough to ski?
Ski ya later
As you pointed out on Dec 27, that steep slope is still “skier packed fairly wide”, so we were able to ski down it comfortably.
Only question is why you or Russell never chose to use the scenic winter trail as one approaches the lodge?
Never one to “look a gift horse in the mouth”, I must admit I followed your tracks”!
I just followed the existing tracks to the Lodge the last time I skied up to Shadow Lake Lodge. I think I was skier #2 on the freshly broken trail. In past years though, I will admit I broke trail on the tree route (and roots). I guess I have a lazy habit of following the blaze marks in the trees. I don’t recall seeing blaze marks on the scenic route. I can usually keep the trail straighter and faster if I see blaze marks. The tree route is also a little more of a challenging faster “rush” with the small hills and corners on it – particularly at night coning down.
Lake Louise today
Some of the best conditions I’ve encountered there this year.
Skied Pipestone up 20, to end then back on ‘cabin’ trail down 20 hill . Track setters even left more tracks on the hills which was easier to ski .
Tracks set up and quick!
Skied Telemark and Fairview – a bit slower, softer. But still good tracks..
Ps don’t trust down hill tracks on Telemark if sking race directions from the 1a.
GOAT CREEK TO BANFF – skiing down to the Goat Creek bridge was fine with metal edges; the middle section of the route had decent snow, but the last 5km on the Banff side was icy. Would recommend waiting for another snowfall.
We skiied it Jan 11th as well. A bit skied off on the Goat Creek downhills. Best snow in the mid section from Goat Creek to the Picnic Shelter. Snow would be nice.
Has anyone skied at Sandy McNabb this winter?
Trails not groomed and not skiable …at all. Considering one can road bike well past bighorn meadows, the Sheep Valley is going to need PLENTY of snow for it to be ski worthy.
Yesterday at Lake Louise, saw only 4 people on Moraine Lake Road. 5 cm new snow covered any grooming, but old tracks easily uncovered. Fairview a winter wonderland. Met groomer Jeff packing the short piece of Fairview above the upper parking lot. Returning on freshly trackset Tramline, a single skater had completely crossed both uphill and downhill classic tracks. This was not someone struggling for grip, but someone skating with long, consistent strokes. Jerk.
I second that sentiment! Selfish!
Good conditions at Cascade today (Thursday) despite the heat. It was +3C when we arrived at 10 am and +3C again when we left at 16:00. I think the first kilometer or so will have slight a glaze on it by tomorrow, but beyond that the snow is hardpacked and fast and the snow stayed cold all day.
Started on the Townsite Trail (newly groomed) behind Lagans and skied/walked to the Pipestone Loops. Skied Pipestone (groomed last night) in CCW direction coming down along Merlin for lunch at the lake then continued down Pipestone to finish the tour on the tail of Hector. All trails were great; tree debris was minor but tracks are already showing wear as the snow is still soft and more so on Merlin. Started with VR40 wax but soon added a layer of VR45. This worked well for the rest of the day. Temperature in Lake Louise was -5C at 10:00 am and -4C at 3:00 pm.
I was very disappointed, although not surprised, to see that a skate skier had already skied on the new tracksetting on Meadow/Wheeler by noon today, with the tracks less than a few hours old! We have been waiting all winter for there to be enough snow to get some tracks in the middle and north sections of PLPP. Come on folks, use some common sense and common courtesy – if there is not a skate lane, then don’t skate – it breaks down the tracks and makes the skiing much less enjoyable for everyone else. It’s as simple as that.
If you want to skate how about using the areas where there are skate lanes:
Moraine Lake Road
I both skate and classic, and couldn’t agree with you more. Lots of other places to skate as well near Nakiska and West Bragg (when they finally get snow). I don’t see a problem with skating at PLPP on trails that have only been groomed, but certainly not on trackset trails!
Both Goat Creek and Spray East are also groomed for skating (according to the trail report). Bill Milne Trail is a good skating option if it has enough snow. Most of the trails in the Ribbon Creek area are currently signed as being available for both skate and classic.
Has anyone skied at Nipika in the past few days? Looking for a first hand report.
I was at Nipika from January 8 to 10 and classic skied all three days. Steve has done a fantastic job of grooming/track setting with a bit of new snow that fell earlier this week. Conditions are great – this morning was around 0 C and clearing so tracks were very fast with my skin skis. I would absolutely recommend that you get out there!
Great thanks so much Judy..I’ll head there tomorrow.
With temps rising quickly, decided to change Mt Shark loops destination to two of my favourite trails out at Lk Louise: Peyto green/blue then skied to Divide Shelter, back on Lower Telemark and up green to Peyto. Lower Telemark was clean white new tracks, with no tree bombs happening. 17 kms. circuit in -4 to -2. Saw maybe 8-10 people all day, but wish I had caught up with the hiker/s who walked all way up #5 right in the tracks. Thankfully they switched to Upper Telemark leaving most of Peyto intact.
PLPP Middle Trails – The middle section of PLPP was trackset overnight, so we decided to go out and do our favorite figure-eight ski on Wheeler, Amos, Meadow and Wooley. The tracksetting was well done, as usual (THANKS) where it was possible to trackset. Wheeler was in pretty good shape except for one spot just south of the picnic table where the pavement could be seen. Easy to spot. Amos & Meadow were OK, with a few places where grass was still coming through the snow. Wooley was in the roughest shape with the section by the meadows just rolled for the most part. None of the hills on those trails showed any signs of hazards.
With temperatures between +2 & +3 during our ski, the snow and tracks changed considerably. By 1PM the snow was softening, the tracks were glazing and will probably be quite slick if it freezes over night. It was also a day when skis were icing up, not for us as we chose crown skis today. Not only were the waxers getting ice, but they were also picking up pine needles which were present in great abundance.
Overall, it was nice to get out on those rolling trails in the middle of PLPP, but those trails still need a major dump of snow before they get to be really good. And, you might still think it wise to not use your best skis there quite yet.
GREAT DIVIDE FROM YOHO- no one at the parking lot when we arrived at 11 am yesterday. The trail had been freshly groomed, there was a light covering of new snow on the tracks. The tracks were quite slow and soft all the way to the Lake Louise side, but we still had a lovely day.
I had been curious about conditions up Skogan Pass way, since noticing in a recent grooming report that conditions were described as good up high. Last weeks new snow on top of grooming before Christmas sounded like a recipe for decent skiing to me! The issue though- getting there on the minimally covered lower trails, and more importantly- getting back down safely. With a limited time window today- I decided to give it a go. Less driving equals more skiing- right?
Starting from Nakiska, I skied down through the base area, and onto Skogan trail at Ruthies. The trail is very thinly covered here, and this persists up to around the Marmot Basin junction. Going up was no problem, but there is no way that I would descend this section right now- it is simply too thin for my liking in too many spots. More on that later….
Once onto the long hill up from Marmot- conditions started to improve, with a fairly consistent packed base covered by about 7 cm of dry snow. A few skiers mostly on wide skis, had been up in days previous, along with the usual trudgers on foot. Beyond the Sunburst junction, the hikers turned off towards the old lookout, and I from here on up to the picnic table on Skogan Loop I followed a nice untrampled skier set track (a rarity these days it seems) in increasingly good snow. Delightful! After lunch at the “Vista View” table (the view is gradually disappearing!) I broke trail easily to the highpoint of the loop and then enjoyed some fun easy powder turns down the north side of the loop to rejoin Skogan Pass trail. Did I mention that in light of the unknown conditions- I had decided to use my old light telemark setup from the mid 90’s, which proved to be perfect for today.
It was a now decision time as my clock was ticking- Skogan Pass, or the old Hummingbird Plume Lookout?
I opted for the latter, as the ongoing Skogan trail was unbroken (though packed underneath the new snow), and quickly descended in snow that was rapidly becoming grabby as I lost elevation. Hanging a left into untracked conditions up High Level- the moist snow forced me to deploy skins, making for a bit of a slog up to the lookout. After taking in the view, and a thermos of tea- I descended the hiker potholed Sunburst trail, and merged onto Skogan for an unusually slow descent in the now sticky recent snow back to the Marmot Basin Junction. All easygoing on my tele skis- but multiple divots, left behind from some skiers who had gone partway on xc skis, made me cringe a bit.
With lower Skogan looking risky to body and skis- now what? As I have often done when on my metal edge light touring skis – at the meeting of Skogan trail and the ski area cat track- I ascended the track briefly and veered left at the obvious place onto the Homesteader ski run for a fun, quick and painless finish down to the Nakiska base area. Unless things are REALLY soft- I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone on pure xc skis, other than the very skilled and confident. As I drove away at 3 pm- the temp was showing a consistent plus 6 for a good ways north on Hwy 40- that would explain the wet snow. A great day out!
I would recommend to NOT do Skogan Loop in the counter-clockwise direction (I did it CW). The steep south facing hill going down from the highpoint of the loop has numerous very thin spots.
Good descriptive report. As with others, I too was wondering about Skogan.
Goat Creek is still pretty good. Temperature was around 0C and VR50 worked fine. There are some rocks on Spray East trail as Diana Piggott mentioned yesterday. It is best to stay on Spray West for now.
Sunshine road to Sundance lodge. Fresh grooming and track set to within 2 km of the lodge. There are still some rocks, particularly on the lower 3 km of the Brewster creek trail. However they can be avoided by staying alert on the descent. Very nice grooming considering the circumstances. Altogether, a pleasant ski. Saw no one else, all day.
Odd question, but is the trackset in the middle of the trail or off to the side? I try to keep to the latter when I ski with the dogs – it’s easier to keep them out of the tracks. Thanks!
In my experience, the track has always been on the righthand side as you’re going up.
Thanks Bob! We love bringing the puppers, but try to ensure everyone’s day is enjoyable! Happy trails 🙂
Red Earth Creek trail is in excellent condition to the Shadow Lake Trail sign (10.5 km).
Perfect temperature start of -9C -finish -5C (Blue wax) and great snow. No rocks seen at all. There is so much snow the snowmobile had turned around at 9.5 km. For the next 200m the hillside drift has been shoveled to create a bench.
CASTLE LOOKOUT to PROTECTION MOUNTAIN CAMPGROUND – Jan 9
Beware of AltaLink closure on north side of 1A.
Condition details available in the captions here:
Looking forward to full access for the Loppet Jan 20.
Al and Cindy and I ran into Chuck today. We extended the trip eastwards to Castle Junction. Conditions on that hillier section were decent. The downhills were pretty much hazard free. Traveling west from Castle Junction, the first (steepest) downhill is fast. It might not be much fun without metal edged skis.
I can give you some insight into the AltaLink sign which says the ski trail is closed. They’ve had to move the location where the ski trail crosses the road. It’s now a bit further west. The new part was snowmobile packed this afternoon. The trail from Baker Creek to this spot was all snowmobile packed but should be trackset soon. You will no longer be able to cross the road at the old spot due to the ongoing construction, but the entire 9.7K from Baker Creek to Castle Lookout is still open.
Sure wish Parks Canada would hire Skier Bob to provide this information on a timely basis… or at least post it on their own website!
Cascade Tues Jan 8 – Trackset trail in great shape!
Tracksetting was holding up well yesterday, Tue, on Pipestone. Car registered -19C in the parking lot at noon, but watmed up to -10C at 3 pm. A few pine needles but nothing to interfere with a lovely ski. Skied it counterclockwise and then took Merlin back to the car. First time on that one…there is a wonderful view across to the mtns & valleys on the west side of the TCH from a meadow on that trail! I was on waxless (skin tecs) but another skier mentioned that green wax was a bit grippy!
LIVE grooming is down again !!
But the good news is many of the trails including Bow and Meadow view have been track set!! Just of a few twigs in the track a couple places to step out only
GOAT CREEK Trailhead, from Banff & back – Jan 8
First tracksetting all the way to the Banff Park Boundary was worth doing twice!
A little thin near Banff, but I never saw a single rock all day.
Details available in the captions here:
Nice to see Bob, but I only saw him once!
We missed you!
Matthew and I skied the Spray River loop this afternoon, clockwise.
That seemed correct, because the hill up from the golf course was well trampled and very rocky – good to be going up that hill!
We were a little disappointed at how little snow there was in Banff, but had a good outing. The connector from Spray West, across the lower bridge and back to parking area was also very well trampled and bumpy.
Castle Jct to Castle Mtn Lookout
Rather fresh -21C to launch at 11 am. and was up to -16C at the turnaround.
Mostly nice tracks or packed, a couple twigs here and there and the odd ice spot, but we had never been there and it was a first day for a couple of us and only saw 2 other skiers. Pretty nice it was !!! Thanks Castle Mountain Chalets for grooming.
We arrived back to Castle Jct and a couple Parks guys were there loading up a snowmobile, one came over to advise they had punched the Loppet Trail down to Sawback. Had run the sled over it 7 times so far . ooooh may be back pretty quick for that.
Wedge Connector, Kananaskis – good for Kazzy dog running and trotting, not so good for us humans skate skiing. Stopped on Bill Milne at Golf Course but trail though packed and groomed was too thin (in our opinion) to ski so we continued to Wedge Pond. Skied up the Wedge Connector – very pleasant skate skiing at first with about 1 cm new on the smooth grooming but got progressively worse, with lumpy grooming, and dips on either side, some twiggy bits, and rocks just before the bridge so we picked a few but didn’t continue to the bridge. Didn’t ski any of Bill Milne. Hope for more snow there soon as it’s great for dogs!
Cascade Valley to Stoney Creek Cabin: -16 at parking lot. Temperature dropped to -20 near the campground and then rose to -13 at the cabin. Conditions were a lot better this week compared to last, with the by-pass hill ski-upable, but we carried our skis down so as not to hit the few rocks still showing in the road. Tracks were generally good, but wobbly in a few places, especially the hill back down to the parking area.
11:30 AM -11 C.Terrace N to Kovach to Aspen to Kovach to Village. Light dusting of snow on yesterdays track set. V40 Blue extra worked well. A little thin on some hills but no problem. Probably could have used our good skis as rocks were not an issue.Great day!!
I’m surprised that no one has reported on Pipestone. It was excellent, as you can imagine, with fresh grooming yesterday.
Has anyone else ever thought that the two-way traffic on the loop is an accident waiting to happen? Some of those downhills with corners are really fast and narrow, and I’m not at all confident that someone in a wide herringbone could get out of the way of a downhill skier. I think it would enhance everyone’s experience if they made it a one-way. What do you think?
It says on the back of the Lake Louise Winter Trails guide the following under Pipestone #20 Loop: “The recommended direction for the outer loop is counter-clockwise” and the majority of people do ski it that direction.
I have done this trail in both directions and prefer clockwise. You go up on short steep sections which is good when snow conditions are poor. You can spot and avoid hazards. Downhill is gentle, easy to control your speed. There are many blind spots on those trails so it is good to shout first ..TIMBER!
i agree with ‘fallsalot’.
I ski the trail every direction and have for over 25 years. I
usually avoid the summer trail as it’s dark.
but it Definitely skis better clockwise in my opinion in terms
of warm up and fast descent.
We definitely prefer to ski it clockwise too.
Mt. Shark to Bryant Creek shelter. Trail in good shape, a few fallen trees, but easily negotiated. Met Chuck exiting the Upper Spray. A winter wonderland along Bryant Creek.
Cascade “Chick-a-teers” enjoyed perfect blue wax day to the Stoney Warden’s Cabin. At lunch, thermometer in shade showed -6. We were entertained by a helicopter dropping off and picking up a load in the adjacent corral while we ate. Tracks still in terrific shape but likely not good for skaters. Enjoyed delicious Morning Glory muffin in campground on our return.
Skied at PlPP this afternoon. There is a decent amount of snow and all trails are well covered however, the majority of trails have not been track set which lends to a bit of survival skiing. There is also a fair amount if needle debris on the trails as well. The saving grace of the day was that it was sunny and only -4 outside.
Redearth Creek – Perfect
Started at 0915 and was skiing on about 2 cm of fresh snow over yesterday’s track setting. Conditions were just great! Snow was -22C at the start, but the air was about -12C. Some needles in the usual spots, but nothing that stuck. Trail is trackset through to second bridge at 7.5 km. From there it’s about 2 km of skier track setting over snowmobile grooming, and from about 9 km on it’s just skier track setting through about 25cm of fresh snow. I was breaking trail to the Shadow Lake junction and turned around about there. A guy I passed on the way back said he was thinking of heading to Shadow Lake, so the trail may be broken all the way through now. Wiped out in all the usual places on the way back. Tradition is important…
Tried to get to Wedge Pond, the first 400 m or so
on Evan Thomas there was at least some snow.. but after that it was no bueno. Exposed rocks, needle, and eventually all sorts of fallen bark and twigs. This is where we turned around and headed back to Ribbon Creek. 5 minutes up the road made all the difference, terrace link again had old snow but skiable and Kovach had fresh tracks set.
Sunday Jan 6, 2019 Busy day at CNC parking lots were full at noon. +3C Skintec kinda day! After seeing updates on the CNC website and new snow in the last few days we were keen on seeing how the trails faired. Skied out of stadium hooked up onto Olympic (still snow piles) up Coyote and at Junction 57 turned on to Silvertip, freshly groomed only, and skied it it out until the junction where Bruin, Silvertip and Flying squirrel meet. The maps don’t accurately depict this junction. We went up Bruin and crossed over Banff Trail and turned back on the old,old Banff trail which hadn’t been groomed and returned via Banff trail. There are still a few rocks to be found. Hopefully, we will get enough snow to put tracks in on the natural snow trails.
There was Fat tire traffic all along Silvertip as well as trail runner traffic. It can be dangerous with the current snow conditions as one is descending to have footprints on your downhill line.
Brewster Creek Trail to Sundance Lodge
Had an enjoyable ski up this trail on Sunday, Jan 6 with 7 other members of the Calgary Ski Club. Snow was thin, with my pole hitting rocks occasionally. One of our members would expose larger rocks and mark them with branches. Snow was very thin for the last 150m from the lodge, but there were wolf tracks, which was cool. Waxing was very difficult. We started with the air temp at -4 so I tried Swix extra blue but was icing up. Blue worked better. A snow storm came through on the way out so many of us were walking on “high heels” which necessitated scraping off our wax as much as possible. Lovely trail and enjoyable ski despite the conditions!
Perfect skiing at cascade valley this afternoon in buttery snow and mild temperatures. Windy conditions at the beginning had resulted in some minor needles and leaves in the first few km of tracks, otherwise it was smooth sailing to the cabin junction and beyond. I heard some comments when starting out of many people on the trail (most ever seen) but that must have been in the morning. I saw the usual numbers and lots of smiles. A short-lived, late afternoon blizzard came through and caused some drifting (probably just affecting the exposed sections near the start).
FAIRVIEW at LAKE LOUISE: Beautiful conditions today. It was groomed last night although with all the snow it’s still super soft. It started snowing very heavily again when we left around 2pm. Thanks to whoever dug out the log bench at the rest stop!
Mt. Shark – Jan 6
It was a snowy and windy classic ski at Mt. Shark today. We skied the 15km loop. My first time on it since helping to brush it out a few years ago with my daughter, parks and Friends of Kananaskis. It was nice to not have to break trail or climb over fallen trees to get through it. Tracks were excellent (thanks Jody for your hard work!). It was snowing and blowing pretty good when we left around 3 pm so a lot of the tracks will probably be filled in by tomorrow.
Mount shark had a major snow storm by about 3:30pm. Brutal winds. Snowing sideways. Looked like all the nice grooming was getting covered. We bailed and drove on to goat creek for an epic late start. Much better weather. Lots of snow, but no tracks. Still nice though
Skied west towards Lake Louise on snowmobile packed and skier track set. We hoped to go to Morants curve but were stopped short at about 4 km where the power line crossed the road and Altalink was working. They had recently plowed the old road where the ski tracks were. I assume the loppet in 2-weeks will be able to get through.
Then skied east towards Protection Mountain where Altalink was again working. There appeared to be a detour trail which we tried. It crossed the road and made a sharp left along the tracks through some willows then abruptly stopped before a a major forest of willows. Not recommended!
Went back to the trail and continued east past the construction on the power line. Some of our party continued east to Castle Lookout and some went back to Baker Creek to get the car. Overall a very pleasant day on fast snow.
Your day sounds almost exactly the same as mine Doug. The “detour” trail near Protection mountain fooled me as well.
Excellent late afternoon classic ski at Mt.Shark. Puked snow for the last half of the 15 km loop (which was trackset – sweet)!. Very windy so the tracks filling in at spots. Snow squall was clearing as we left the parking lot. Probably about 4 to 5 cm fresh. Conditions were fabulous, just a bit of snow balling on the ups but nothing too major. Some dogs off leash running in front of skiers and on the set ski tracks…. please folks – there are not many places to ski with you dog, don’t abuse it, we’re lucky to be able to have dogs here. Otherwise, epic day!!!
SPRAY RIVER WEST – trail was very good but saw lots of use today so tracks getting a bit wavy. Excellent fast conditions, we classic skied 10 km towards Goat Creek and then back. The Parks signs for all the different users were out, and for the most part quite effective.
We skied Goat Creek today and would agree that for the lower half, from the Spray River down to Banff- multi-use seems to be working ok as the trail is generally wider, and, after the “picnic area”- there are options for all. On the narrower trail from the Spray up though- not so much. The grooming there was already moderately trampled when we went down, and heading back up to the trailhead later on- most of the track whether machine or skier set had been pitted by ignorant foot traffic. And don’t get me started on the fatbiker struggling up the hill from the Spray Bridge towards Goat Creek, churning a rut as she went. I hope that she had the sense to turn around without trashing the relatively untouched track in that section.
Despite that- a fun day out in pleasant weather of around plus 1, with generally very decent snow conditions- a thin layer of VR60 worked great. Downhills, including the notorious one going down to Goat Creek- were still soft enough to be easily skied, with the few thin spots being simple to avoid.
CASCADE VALLEY – Jan 6
Conditions have improved greatly since last week, but this place was very busy today and the rocks are prevalent again in the usual areas.
Check out the details by reading the captions here:
TUNNEL MOUNTAIN TRAILER COURT – Jan 6
No signage in place yet, but conditions are good. Nice to have skiing available so close to town and lit at night.
Details available in the captions here:
Skated at Mt. Shark today. There’s plenty of snow and the conditions were good, though Mt. Shark needs to be packed a few more times or we need a cold spell to firm up the skating lanes as they are still soft. Watridge trail hasn’t been prepared for skating as the 2 classic tracks are too close together, and the trail is much softer than all other trails.
Castle Junction to Baker Creek: -8 in the parking lot when we started. Trackset from Castle Junction to Castle Lookout. A few small ice patches and one natural bridge over a mountain brook to cross. Castle Lookout to Baker Creek had been packed since the snow, but only skier trackset for this portion. We were able to ski all the way through to Baker and had a nice chat with guys working on the powerline.
Andy, please list the ‘many places’ that are not groomed I can ski with my dog, look forward to your insight.
BTW Baker Creek to Castle Lookout yesterday was packed not groomed, maybe that is the reason for your disappointment, personally I found the skier set track quite good and I’m very grateful to Baker Creek Chalets maintaining this lovely trail.
Skied the Lodgepole Braille Meadow loop yesterday. The grooming is covered by fresh snow. It’s wobbly skier set in most places, but quite a few sections had no tracks at all. Should be great once it’s groomed again. Will try Mt. shark today 🙂
Report from Golden: CONSISTENT GROOMING
The storm cycle in the past two weeks buried us and took out one of our snowcats. But Golden Nordic has two snowcats (and two snowmachines). So, the grooming continued without fail. Lots of pleasantly surprised Calgarians out enjoying the 35k of trails. Golden Nordic does collect $12 per day trail fees to pay for that daily grooming, and comfy day use chalet. Temps predicted over the next week hover around -5C.
Baker Creek to Castle lookout, packed and skier set, our first ski on this trail, what a nice gentle trail, probably the nicest ski I’ve had with Jip to date, wish I’d discovered it last year when Jip was just getting used to wearing a harness. There is a TransAlta sign stating the ski trial is closed and some related construction activity along 1A close to Baker Creek, not sure what the status of the work is, we did not see any obstacle. A great dog friendly ski trail !
I skied it and it was a great day. Couldn’t quite make it to Morants Curve because of the power line construction. I don’t agree that this is a “great dog friendly” ski trail. I have to ski in the holes punched in the trail by your dog. A lot of work goes into grooming and tracksetting this trail for people to ski. There are many places you can take your dog but I can only ski on ski trails. Take your dog somewhere that is not groomed for skiing.
Andy, there are very few trails where dogs are allowed, so perhaps you should ski on the many trails where only humans are permitted such as this one or Goat Creek trashed by human hikers or PLPP. You would enjoy this trail which was recently groomed and dogs are not allowed.
I agree with Bob. I skied from Castle Lookout to the end of the grooming at the lake Louise side. There were skiers enjoying the trail with their furry friends and I was glad to see them. Even stopped for a petting. I didn’t notice any problem on the trail except it could use a track set by the groomer.
??? I am a skier. I don’t agree with people walking on ski trails either. I was not aware this was a trail where dogs were permitted. If that is the case I can live with it. I still don’t think dogs should be allowed on groomed ski trails but it sounds like we will disagree on that!
???? My point was that humans cause a lot more damage than dogs.
Heartily agree with you Bob. Wondering why commercial outfits get to run their sled dogs on certain trails (eg Great Divide) while my dogs sit in the car.
A ton of fresh snow and -9C.
The vehicle line to exit Hwy1 and turn right to Lake Louise Ski Resort was 2km long today at 10am. The smartest men of us drove farther under the bridge and made a U-turn.
Slow but great ski, amazing grip on wearable skis with -2..-12C wax. The tracksetting was going on as we were going up. Recorded 32km. It’s been an amazing trip with Calgary Ski Club.
Took a trip to the Shark today from some skiing. I was skating and the rest classic. It was a beautiful day and the tracks were very good. Skating was a bit challenging at time due to the recent snowfall. The track was nicely rolled out but it was a bit soft in places, making tough going in some spots.
Thanks to whoever groomed it yesterday.
Spray River – Goat Creek Bridge
Arrived at the Springs Parking lot at 10 a.m.and -5/6 degrees, about 2/3 full only.
We were wax-less and the track was hard and had some zoom. Centre was not
packed to hard so you could plow very easy prior to going in to Paskapoo Scramble and hitting the deck on some of the downs. Went as far as the Goat Creek Bridge and today was just wonderful. Nice to get an option from PLPP and very few people – and they were smiling !!!! no wax whining or clumping just the joy of being there.
The Norseman Ski Club skied on a variety of trails today ranging from Elk/Whiskey Jack//Tyrwhitt to Wheeler/Amos/Woolley/Meadow and W Watson. All wavy gravy skier set but with pretty good snow coverage. Hope tracksetting can happens soon. Extra blue wax worked the best but there was some clumping on Meadow near the Visitor Centre. Lovely clear day with temperatures in the -2 to -6 range. Lots of happy faces!
Sat jan 5: West elk pass
-8 @ 930, -4 on return at 4. Nice mild day and more sun than expected. Got close to zero for about an hour in the meadows. Wobbly skier set track on fox and elk pass trails. Trail breaking in the meadows has improved substantially with the 25 cm of new snow measured at the couch (ankle to boot top). Much better pole plants and only the occasional wallow step. Every kind of interesting clouds one can imagine. Including wispy cotton balls wafting and bouncing through the meadows and sticking to mount fox like snowballs. Would have made a great time lapse video and certainly made for a magical day. Couch now seats about 10!
So if I wanted to find the couch, do I just take the summer trail to West Elk Pass? And it’s easy to find? Thanks!
Basically, yes. At least it starts there, then diverges a bit. Just head into the big meadows and you will find it shortly thereafter. Just think best sunny hang out spot and you will find it. Always want to keep the wonder of discovery alive. If there is no track venturing off trail and you are on skinny skis with small pole baskets, you might be in for some adventure if you can’t see/feel the last set trail. But it is getting better with more snow and it’s a short manageable distance in the grand scheme of things.
Bring a foamey to sit on and put your pack against the back wall and you’ll have a nice comfy seat to enjoy the view. Pick a sunny day with low wind for the best experience. Couch gets sun from about 1130-3. Prime time is 1-2.
Thank you! Sounds like a great adventure and I love touring off trail.
Sounds like you will enjoy it then. Check out a topo and google satellite before exploring the full meadows. It’s really a big flat long field, flanked by natural and man made features on all sides like a fenced in yard. Easy to wander without much mishap (other than equipment) when knowing the lay of the land a bit.
There is enough snow to built amphitheater but only at the south side of the park. The north remains relatively thin and bumpy. The suicide hill on Lodgepole trail looked good thou for descending. Yeah, the weather was perfect today and VR45 worked for me.
What a workout that was. I had a late start, starting at 12:05pm from Elk Pass parking lot (-5C). Immediately I was glad to have taken the metal edge skis as this end of PLPP wasn’t groomed or trackset. On the way out there was only one skier set track to Blueberry Junction, but later turned into two. Heading up Blueberry Hill was a workout. S-o m-u-c-h s-n-o-w. It was serene, so quiet and wonderful. Just one skier set track, picnic table was nice and calm, but even heading down you had to keep pushing to get any kind of speed. Ski from Blueberry junction felt very slow as well due to the amounts of snow and no tracks. All parking lots were filled to capacity. But only saw about 20 people over 4 hours. It’s gorgeous out there.
Photo album saved here: https://www.flickr.com/gp/136268189@N02/5X0rV9
Mt. SHARK & WATRIDGE LAKE – Jan 5
Thanks to the update that the Mt. Shark trails had received 20 cms of snow and had been trackset overnight, there was only one choice today. Check the album captions here for details:
Nice to see all the SkierBob enthusiasts out enjoying the excellent conditions.
Great to meet you today and thanks for the great photo of the Ouellet’s- going to get it framed 🙂
-the Ouellet’s (Josh, Natasha, little Chloe and dog Finn)
Thanks for the positive feedback, Natasha. Glad you found it. Let me know if you have any difficulties downloading the photo. It is high res and 2.6 mb.
PLPP – Elk Pass got a bunch of new snow and unfortunately, trails were trackset before the snow fell, so everything was skier tracked today, and trails were a bit rough, especially on the way back. But sun was shining and temperature was a perfect -6C, so a great day of skiing!
Starting from the bottom parking lot beside the creek, we skied up Terrace (thin, but skiable both up and down) and did most of trails on the hotel side today. These were all freshly groomed and partially trackset, with variable conditions, ranging from fair to very good. Overall, the skiing was enjoyable on soft packed snow- watch for occasional thin or rough spots on the descents, which were all easily negotiated. The weather was sunny and around freezing- VR 45 worked well. As these trails are very friendly for on-leash dogs- Piper the retriever was happy that we had checked the text of the live grooming report, as somehow the new grooming didn’t show up on the map.
The only gripe of the day would be the friggin walkers who had already trashed a few stretches of the set tracks, and potholed some of the downhills. I assume that it was simply ignorance- in that regard the signage at Ribbon could be a lot clearer as to what and what isn’t designated as multi use.
It appears to be the “Year of the Walker” partly due to our limited snowpack; or they might be “track-shoeing” which is what I call snow-shoeing on tracked trails. I hear of people hiking up to Galactea Lakes and other rather dangerous hikes. Not sure if they are as aware of avalanche risk as they should be, but my premonition and concern this winter in particular, is that innocent hikers will be amongst the rescued and/or victims of avalanches this season. While I x-c ski early season maybe once into Moraine Lake, I have met many walkers on MLR who are bound and determined to walk to the lake as if it was the 9th wonder of the world.
Sadly being so close to the hotel this may always be the case. And signage improvements may help but if English isn’t the tourist’s first language it may be moot.
The new signage is particularly confusing for users who are trying to figure out what is permitted on which trail.
-Classic XC skiing is not identified anywhere on the map. Trail users have no idea which trail is meant for XC skiing. Skate skiing is identified on Terrace, Terrace Link and Bill Milne.
-The maps seem to indicate that hiking, fat-biking and snowshoeing are permitted pretty much everywhere. However, most of the actual snowshoe/fatbike trails are not shown on the map at all.
-The signs say nothing about dog use. Are dogs permitted? Should they be on-leash? Nothing.
There is a Ribbon Creek XC Ski map, but it does not resemble the trail junction map signs at all. And it also says that dogs are NOT permitted on groomed trails.
This albums illustrates why there is a lot of confusion about how to use these trails. https://photos.app.goo.gl/isLGJw9MuEtfKPt9A
We skied the Cascade Trail to the bridge and back on glorious fresh tracks and grooming. The grooming snowmobile passed us in our first 20 minutes, finishing the tracks in the return direction and then he passed us again heading up valley as he packed down the middle of the trail. I don’t remember seeing him again so he must have headed further towards the warden cabin.
It was nice to be skiing in such great conditions. One of the best days I’ve had on this trail. And no sticking!
I second that emotion, it was stellar on Cascade. Conditions were excellent, if the snow coverage gets deeper it will put it over the top. Plenty of smiles on the trail today.
We skied Mt. Shark Sat. Jan 5, it was incredible. We followed the grader on the road up the last couple of K, and were excited to get on the trails with fresh grooming. You know that feeling you get when you are the first skiers out on a freshly groomed trail….yea we didn’t get that feeling, we were 3rd or 4th. We skied all the loops including the 5 k loop that they now groom, and the trails were great. A big shout out to the groomers.
Alan & Pat
Mt. Shark trails
I was going to leave the Mt. Shark report for Chuck & his photos but will write a few words too. Groomer Jody performed his usual skillful magic on the trails and added the far outer loop of the 15km as well (skate & classic). A few tight upper corners looked to have been a challenge for him with the big machinery. Well done!
A pleasure to ski!
I would just add that 4 of us skied out to the Spray River. We were the first skiers on the Watridge Lake road – it had about 1cm fresh snow over the grooming. The hill down to the river had a few soft spots and some ridges, but other than that the conditions were excellent. -9C to start at sunrise (at Mt. Shark parking), and -4C and almost sunset when we finished. Lots of cars in the parking lot when we left. Excellent ski day!!
The early bird gets the worm today on Watridge. I was still in pj’s by the time you likely hit the lake. Two of us skied all the loops 1-26. I always find that first loop a killer, but wanted to re-con the 5 kms. now groomed recreational loop so well described by others before me today. Thank you, groomers, for an absolutely glorious experience in “almost Heaven” on that stunning “top of the world” scenic experience. Might tweak my CSA ski trip for Thursday to make it just a wee bit easier. Gaia stats: 190 metre ascent and 177 metre descent. So grateful you are grooming that last big loop….but wished I’d had a dog on leash helping me up all those hills. The Symbicort didn’t quite do the trick for my lungs today.
CASCADE – Conditions were cooler than yesterday so no sticking snow on waxed skis. Trail was freshly groomed the entire way past the Cascade bridge. Nice to have a deeper base. Tons of skiers out today so tracks will get wavy by the end of today. A perfect day to be out!
I’m hearing and reading mixed things about new snow and grooming at CNC. Did they get new snow and enough to groom to the end of Banff Loop and Banff Trail? Inquiring minds want to know.
Thanks, Rhonda W
I don’t have any inside information but Kate Easton’s report indicated that Banff trail was trackset on the natural snow. “I skied to the last junction at the west end of the trail system. Coverage was great, trackset the whole way.” The CNC trail report shows Banff trail is trackset; Bow trail and Meadowview are groomed.
I arrived at the Lake Louise parking lot Friday around 1pm and was happy to see the temperature drop to -1C as we climbed the hill from the village. Blue wax did the trick with only occasional clumping whenever I stopped to admire the surroundings. Fairview was skier-tracked and I enjoyed the silky-smooth descent when we returned. I continued down Tramline as far as MLR parking lot. Considering that I was on soft skier-tracked snow, it was surprisingly fast and I just double-poled it the whole way. As an added bonus, we snowshoed part of the campground. The campground loop and Bow River loops had not been skied at that point.
CNC Banff Trail
My late afternoon ski began with the application of goopy SkiGo yellow wax, which seems to cover a slightly broader temp range than Swix red. The xc training grid wasn’t fully trackset – just four lanes. Even though the webcam showed it puking snow all morning, it had been so busy that Banff Trail trackset is icy to junction 4. I had no kick in the tracks, but it got sticky if I stepped out of them. I skied to the last junction at the west end of the trail system. Coverage was great, trackset the whole way. Had to scrape snow and ice off my skis a couple of times, especially after more snow started falling after sundown. Next time I won’t forget my headlamp in the car; the race back to the lit trail as darkness fell was fun though. The skiers I talked to all seemed to be having a better time with skintec. I thought there would be too much fresh to skate, but the skaters seemed to be doing fine as well.
Cascade Valley January 4
Last few times we went Minnewanka way, Parks has been checking for passes. They were there again today. Lake Minnewanka has frozen about 100 m from the south shore, the ice is covered with the recent snowfall. The rest of the lake is still open. Ten vehicles in the parking lot. We started up Cascade trail at noon, air temperature zero. We turned around after a kilometre as our no-wax skis were seizing up. We both had a good build-up of caked-on snow when we got back to the parking lot. Is that typical or were our skis dirty from the car-top rack? I’m new to this no-wax business. I usually ski on wood — just finished the pine tarring, the shop still has the smell.
On Mary Perrott’s trip report, she referred to Swix Easy Glide. Polish your grip zone with this stuff. It helps prevent today’s type of snow from sticking.
It was pretty sticky everywhere today because of the combination of temperature and fresh powder. Dirty skis would make the sticking worse. You can get a base cleaner/ liquid glide wax for waxless skis.
January – – Pipestone -Pipestone #20.
The huge dump over the Icefields Parkway covered up whatever previous grooming there was at the Pipestone although maintaining a good base.. Trail conditions upon departing the area consists of snowshoe packing with skier tracks on top. The trails have high embankments (12 in approx.) of soft fluffy snow making herring boning somewhat difficult. The new snow has helped to tame the downhills. Some clumping was experienced today.
HEALY & BREWSTER CREEKS to SUNDANCE LODGE – Jan 4
Fortunately, Mitch had groomed the trail before this last dump of snow, so trail breaking was not to difficult.
Check the captions here for details:
Actually, I find the short hill well graded, so this is a very pleasant choice. I introduced my aging parents to cross country skiing here, and they loved it!
PS Forgot to mention: No Rocks and NO Avalanche risk… what more do you want? Enjoy it before more grooming brings the Fat Bikes!
Great photos, hopefully we will be able to follow in your tracks later in the week. I think that the bird is actually a Boreal Chickadee rather than a Nuthatch, but I cant remember if I’ve ever seen one, so that is another great reason to try the trail.
Yes it looks like a boreal chickadee.
Okay… you are all right… a Boreal Chickadee.
Glad you passed the test… somebody is checking the captions!
Lake Louise – Great Divide
Skied about 5 km along 1A starting at noon today (Jan 4). Skier tracked in about 20 cm of new snow for the first 3 km. Hoped to return part way on Lower Telemark but there must have been 30-40 cm of new untracked snow there, so “no go”. Snowmobiles were packing the dog sled track, but no sign of any grooming when we left the parking lot at 2:15 pm. Light snow falling, but very pleasant conditions.
What a beautiful day at Elk Pass! Fresh snow and warm temps. The snow was sticky but picturesque. We met some wonderful people on the trail, most were passing us as we hauled two kids in a chariot up. I would like to thank the kind people who checked on and offered help to my dad who broke his ski. To the ignorant group who yelled at him and pushed him over in front of his grandchildren, Karma is a B. Anyway get out there and enjoy Peter Lougheed this weekend. Once the groomers get there it will be phenomenal! Happy trail!
Somebody pushed your father over and yelled at him?? What is wrong with people! That’s horrible. I’m so sorry that happened to you.
It is simply deplorable, we all know this is happening too often.
The best method of fixing this attitude problem is to take a picture of the offenders and report to the authorities including the RCMP, I have done it in the past and the officers are very much on our side.
There is no place for vigilantism in our society, no less the trails of Peter Lougheed.
Thank you all for your supportive comments. It was deplorable and I was a little shaken up by it; as was my 2 year old daughter. I wish I had been more quick thinking in the moment but I couldn’t believe this would happen on our ski trails. I’m sure they aren’t skier bob readers but it’s nice to know 99% of skiers are wonderful people.
Goat Creek to Banff
0830. First tracks the entire way. Divine. Ankle deep snow, making skiing more pushing than gliding. Definitely a work out. Super Sticky Skis last 5km. Watch for rocks last 2k. I left a nice big splodge on the final corner, trying to miss rocks but got caught up in branches of a fallen tree. Groomer has been out, which ended up being my saviour. Note to self: Don’t forget to wax the skins before setting out!
Thanks for track setting for us Tim. We started at the Banff Springs Hotel lot in all that fresh snow. Luckily, there was fresh tracksetting, and while we were half way to the junction with east Spray trail, the track setter was making his way back up to the north end. We skied on waxless fish scales generously rubbed with Swix Easy Glide wax and had no trouble. Those we saw skiing on waxables were sticking hugely in the soft, new snow at 0C. As Tim mentioned, the trail was not groomed south of the junction, so we used his tracks to go as far as the hill before the drop to the Spray River Bridge at 11 kms. As soon as we got to our turnaround point, the snowmobile went by for a first pass at packing the Goat Creek Trail. Lots of happy people out enjoying the snowy day!
Thanks Mary. Glad my tracks were useful. I thoroughly enjoyed my ski even though it was hard work. Great loppet training! Two weeks to go…. 🙂
Aaaaaay! Shark was cool yesterday. I considered jumping it, but opted for classic instead. 15-20cm more on top of somewhat compacted snow. Temperature around freezing the fresh snow iced up for most people. Swix tape was good if following someone. All trails seem to have great coverage now.
Warm snow on the road was slippery, I doubt anyone could make it up there without snow tires (which you really should have even if you never leave the city). It was a real challenge on my motorcycle.
Easily my favourite report from the last 5 years! I sincerely hope the references aren’t lost on the masses.
PS> watch out for the ‘Malachi crunch’
SOUTH GLENMORE PARK CALGARY
Well the chinook winds are affecting the groomed trails in the park. Skiing is fair to good, firm packed with some thin sections and bare patches in wind exposed areas. Don’t use new skis. It actually is good skiing considering how little settled snow there is. The groomed trails are very wide for the most part which allows one to dodge most of the small little bare patches. The snow pack ranges from 5 cm to about 15 cm. This is a good place to learn how to ski as it is basically flat terrain. Another 5 to 10 cm of new snow and more grooming will make for good to excellent city skiing unless the chinooks eat up more of the current snow base. The coyotes have been yapping quite a bit in the area later at night. Expect them on the trails with the possibility of a cougar at night on the west side of the park. Bring your night vision camera just in case you are lucky to get close enough for a good wildlife shot.
Where’s the best place to park for the South Glenmore ski trails?
The best place to park is the parking lot immediately northwest of the corner of 90th Ave and 24 St. Right by the spray park.
I received this email re: Chester Lake:
Hi Bob. I read your website nearly everyday. Not sure how to post a trip report but I was at Chester lake today and the tracks were completely covered. We skied counter clock wise and I opened the track to the halfway intersection. From there to the lake it was easy to follow. It was snowing quite hard the whole time but on our drive back at 1pm, there was no snow falling over Pocaterra. Hopefully it came in later during the day? Thanks, Anne-Claire
Thanks for this report. We hope to snowshoe to Chester on Monday.
We “skied” at Pipestone today, and by “ski”, I mean, my husband broke trail for 8km while I followed behind. There was so much snow! The parking lot had not been plowed, so we parked on the access road and skied to the trailhead from there. When we started at 10:30am, there was only one other party that had started and another one a few minutes behind us, so we knew it would be an adventure. This will be fantastic once it is groomed and track set, and might be more doable tomorrow as we crossed paths with a few other skiers on our way out. We skied Pipestone to Drummond, and back to Pipestone – 8km took us 2 hours! It was still a great day.
January 03 – Peter Lougheed – Elk pass parking lot – Bolton Creek- Moraine-Wheeler-William Watson Lodge -Wheeler-Amos-Lynx-Pocaterra-Pocaterra Hut.
Tracksetting on the Elk Pass trail reducing to skier tracked everywhere else. There has been previous grooming on the trails skied and this has set up good conditions on those trials. Snow depth has increased from marginal to good and these trails will be acceptable to anyone not needing a machine tracked trail.
Champion Lakes, B.C.
This is not a day trip for those in SkierBob’s traditional skiing grounds, but if you happen to be near Salmo, B.C., as we were the past week, then I can recommend Champion Lakes Provincial Park, about 25 min from Salmo. There are about 12 km of very nice double, track-set trails, a nice shelter with a wood-burning stove next to a pretty lake and, of course, gorgeous B.C. forest to ski through. The turns are a bit tight, particularly on a fast track, but it’s a great little diversion if you need a day off from skiing the groomers at Whitewater or the Kootenay Pass backcountry. The fee is $5 per person.
FYI, parts or all of the park will be closed soon for winter fuel management, which I take to mean reducing wildfire risk. See…
Tried to ski Spray today, but parking lot was too crazy. Instead we went back to the Cascade where we skied on Christmas Day. It has definitely improved, (still only ski-tracked) though the initial stretch of pavement is still thin. We used the R-skins today so we didn’t have to contend with wax, but w did see others scraping off ice along the trail as there were a few wet sections. Hills were dreamy and fast. Best parts – the peace and quiet – and plenty of parking!
8 Meanderthals started at the Boulton “Showers” parking lot to bring in the New Year with a “Skier Bob Special”. We stopped at the regular parking lot to take advantage of the bathrooms first. Met a big group backpacking into Tombstone. Not sure if I got that right but sure hope they remain safe.
Up Whiskey Jack and surprisingly no one at the intersection with Pocaterra. The greatest amount of snow was on Tyrwhitt and not the wind (hardly any)we anticipated according to the forecast. Lunch at Tyrwhitt Picnic table then fast enjoyable ride down elk Pass to Fox Creek (newly groomed and busier than all other trails) to Moraine. Slightly less distance 17.4 kms due to higher starting point. McKeever homemade fruit cake and Gingerbread Cookies by Marjory made for a perfect day. Stayed around -1 all day and 0 to -4 vintage Blue did the trick.
Confederation Park Jan 3, 2pm
Despite the valiant efforts of the snow harvesters and groomers, Confederation Park is in pretty bad shape. All the trails have completely unskiable sections. Many sections have grass and dirt spots that can be skied around. There are a few sections up to 30m long that are completely snow covered. The training grid is barely hanging in, but a woman who was leaving when I arrived had done enough laps for 20km! It was icy when I arrived at about 1pm, but was softening up by 2pm.
SPRAY RIVER to GOAT CREEK & back – Jan 3
This is what we have been waiting for… permanent winter conditions. I have not skied this since October 2, 2018… that is 3 months ago!
For details, read the captions here:
Some rock hazards between Banff and the 10 km bridge, but none after that to the Park Boundary.
I know where Bob will be tomorrow, and I can almost smell Helen Read baking, in preparation of thanking the tracksetter!
Fantastic news! Thanks for scouting this out.
Trip report for Lake Louise
Bow River Trail and CampGround Loop Jan 2,2018
Beautiful conditions along the Bow River after a few years of either marginal conditions or bear activity. Nice new track setting and skate on Campground loop. Even under the trees on the Bow river Loop the trails were in great shape. A nice beginner trail to get a feel for skiing close to trees.
Lots of snow at Nipika today. Groomers were out in the morning tracksetting. Fresh snow and 1 degree celcius meant super slow and sticky conditions though, even on waxless skis. Can’t complain though – it’s beautiful out here!
Red Earth Creek – Shadow Lk (Jan 2)
Conditions to Red Earth Creek warden cabin as described below. I walked up the hill. The skier tracks to the cabin and lake were good. A few minutes before the cabin I was passed by someone with better grip. He broke trail in a clockwise direction around the lake. A few short slushy sections can be expected. At the last narrows (before the farthest bay) he crossed to the other side and then went to the end of the lake before continuing back a short ways (to what looked like two camp chairs). I did NOT feel up to breaking trail on the north side to complete the loop so I followed him back the way we came.
Great conditions on moraine lake road and upper tramline, to be expected a day within tracksetting. Fairview was in good shape, too, and provided occasion to run into Skier Bob. Funny enough, we did the opposite wax layers, each motivated by respective logic, no doubt. We played with blue and purple wax (purple was my top layer, blue beneath). Mine held up well and I’m sure his did too. That’s the benefit of great conditions! I had good grip throughout and stayed in track on all the MLR descents. Mild flurries in the afternoon have given way to fairly steady snow tonight. Bob, you have a killer double pole; shoulder 2.0 is working just fine! 🙂
PLPP – Skied from pocaterra hut to elk pass, blueberry hills, and back whiskey jack. There were skier set tracks the first 4 km on pocaterra (from the hut) but they are not great. Snow cover is sufficient. The next 3 km of pocaterra (linx to packers) has relatively good skier set double tracks. All the trails at the south end had new tracks or older tracks that were well skied in. Overall great skiing.
Skied Redearth creek today. -2C at trailhead at 11am, -4C 2.5 hours later. Machine set to the campground, skier set after. There are a few rocks in the first km, easily avoidable on descent though. Pleasant ski, although tracks are somewhat shallow.
CASCADE LOOKOUT TO BAKER CREEK RETURN- snow quality quite good despite occasional thin areas. Snow is better on the Cascade to Campground section. If we get new snow in the next few days this trail will continue to be amazing. A winter wonderland right now. Great views!
I think you mean CASTLE, not Cascade!
Moraine Lake Road, Fairview, Lake Louise – Jan 2
We were the first car at Moraine lake parking lot this morning! Never seen it so quiet! Beautiful silky snow right to the end of the grooming on the road. A skiff of fresh snow in the tracks. While having a snack we discussed skiing all the way to Moraine lake when suddenly a very large avalanche came off of Mt. Temple crossing the road nearer to the lake and right to the valley bottom! Yikes! Decision made! Pay very close attention to the avalanche warning sign at the end of the grooming! We continued back to the Fairview trail junction and onto Fairview. Excellent conditions on Fairview all the way to Lake Louise. We skied to the lake and around the lake to Louise falls. Tracks on the lake are a mess from people walking on them and icy sections. Skipped the chateau this time and skied down upper tramline which was also in great condition to our car at MLR parking. Went to laggan’s for coffee and treats after. An excellent day out!
Yes Pete… a good reminder for people to check this link:
Agreed! Thanks Chuck. It looked extremely windy on top of Temple today. No doubt adding to the instability up there!
BOULDER PASS – Jan 2
I used my track skis, but many would prefer to take light touring metal edge skis.
Very windy today, so did not continue across Ptarmigan Lake.
Remember to read the captions for details:
So nice to have another ski choice in the snowy Lake Louise area.
Looks like a new log bench at the halfway hut. Very nice.
Skied at Spray River West trail on New Years Day. Trail desperately needs some snow. Groomed with some remnant skier set tracks. Most tracks however have been obliterated by bikes and people walking. Used VR40. Was -5C at trailhead. Went to the bridge and came back.
REDEARTH CREEK – January 1
What a wonderful start to the year. We arrived at the Redearth parking lot at 10am, just as the tracksetter was finishing. Tracks went to the campground, and the trail was skier tracked beyond. We were on light touring skis, so loved the conditions. Skied to the warden cabin, then enjoyed the nice downhill return. Absolutely perfect snow. -12C to start, felt colder than that at the campground, then finished in -7C.
ELK LAKES CABIN – December 29
Best conditions I’ve experienced going into Elk Lakes Cabin via the Hydroline in at least six years. From Elk Pass the base was packed with fresh snow on top, so a wonderful ski. For years I have tried to ski out from the cabin the back way via West Elk Pass. Made it once before by bushwhacking on skis, tried again a year ago, but ended up at the bottom of the canyon, so this time we went in in September to check it out without snow. Straightforward ski when you know where the trail is. It’s now flagged (#25 down at the cabin, decreasing in number as you approach West Elk Pass). Only attempt this counterclockwise with light touring skis and skins (loss of control going down from West Elk Pass can launch you into the canyon). Great to be able to do it as a loop now.
-16 when 6 ladies got a later than usual 10:30 start at Baker Creek. Sections of twigs in tracks but none that caused a catapult. It feels colder skiing through that long straight shady section with the trees on both sides, but I love that section and keep searching for animals. Ate lunch back in the sun, at top of first hump and saw maybe a dozen others out enjoying the spectacular scenery and escaping the crowds. Turned around at 1-A just before having to cross the road and face the big hill up to Castle L/O. Would love to hear how the section from Castle Junction to Castle Lookout is currently.
PLPP South – Blueberry Hill
We skiied up Elk Pass trail to Blueberry Hill today. Cold and windy, but beautiful, and great conditions. The very windy conditions have filled in the tracks somewhat on the powerline right of way, but otherwise excellent tracks all the way up Blueberry Hill (except for the last 200m where there isn’t any tracksetting….why?) Not too much glide on the cold snow, especially at the top of Blueberry Hill. Despite this the run back down was fast and fun.
Re: the last 200 metres, the trail report mentions “the rock on the top 150m is still not covered enough to trackset.” I believe it’s slab rock and/or large boulders and it’s very uneven. Takes a lot of snow to allow tracksetting. Jody was describing it to me once but I can’t exactly remember what he said.
Tue Jan 1: elk lakes hut day trip.
-13 at 9 to start and – 10 on return at 430. Elk pass track setting has firmed up pretty good with the cold. A cold wind in the meadows at west elk pass, strong enough to fill the track through the large meadow, as well as requiring some fortification of the couch wind walls. Guests arrived and we booked it through the meadow and down to the hut. Southern meadows didn’t get filled in being more protected. A good solid track down the hydroline just wide enough for snow plowing. At blueberry junction on the slope right behind the picnic table is another bird of prey takedown site. Massive wing tip imprints. There are some nasty creeking/cracking trees along fox creek that made me Leary on the way in. Looks like one snapped while we were gone.
Kicking Horse Trail – Yoho NP
-7C at 3pm at Natural Bridge parking area.
Skied 4km to the picnic table. 3cm of very light flakes on the trackset. Good kick and glide with a vintage stick of blue Swix (circa early 90s?). The storm snow is still hanging onto the boughs. Gorgeous.
Started the New Year with a new skiing destination, Strathmore, skate skied all the groomed trails I could find and some that weren’t, did multiple laps around both lakes till Jip was confused enough to call it a day just as Bob, Christine and Tessa we’re arriving to sample skiing in the east in 2019
Happy New Year!
We also skied Strathmore today, with our pup Klara and a group of friends. A first visit for all of us and a very pleasant day. Skiing there will become a regular activity each week, it’s less than half an hour from home. It was a pleasure to meet Ed who was grooming when we arrived, thank you for your hard work!
Strathmore as well! And also a first visit. What an amazing surprise so close to the city. Our pup Bodhi loved bounding along next to us and we loved the skate skiing conditions. Groomer, Ed, is doing a fantastic job keeping the trails skiable with the thin snow base. Thank you!
Bow River Loop, Campground Loop – Lake Louise
Excellent easy ski. Recently trackset and in excellent condition. Few people, dog friendly, lots of snow ghosts and a beautiful sunny day made for an excellent ski today.
Cascade fire road – January 1
Happy new year! Had a nice ski today with my family and our relatives from overseas on Cascade fire road. It was a bit chilly when we started so it was nice to warm up in the sunny bits. Lots of skiers out today. The first few km are a bit thin so there’s the occasional rock and pavement to avoid but otherwise fine. Encountered some impressive wolf tracks along the way no doubt from a large wolf and his smaller companion perhaps following an elk or moose on the trail.We only went as far as the campground as the little ones who were with us were cold and tired. Had a nice ski back. Bumped into Chuck on our way out of the parking lot so had a quick chat with him. Good seeing you! ! Off to Lake Louise tomorrow for some more x-country skiing.
I have been enjoying two days of very good skiing at Allison Chinook trail system in the Crowsnest Pass. I was skeptical of the likely snow conditions on the trails when I was driving down from Calgary last Saturday; but the snow conditions have been very good to good; if not better.
My two days on these trails on the east flank of majestic Mount Tecumseh and under the glare of impressive Crowsnest Mountain to the east have been lots of fun. The Crowsnest Nordic Ski Club does a great job and deserves more support.
So come on and try them out.
PIPESTONE- we skiied #21 then #20 in a clockwise direction….conditions were excellent….a great day to be out.
STONEY CREEK – Jan 1, 2019
Don’t give up too early on the Cascade! Conditions improve as you continue towards Stoney Creek. Thanks to all those who have helped remove rocks. The best thing about not having new snow, is that you can see the rocks!
For details, read the captions of these photos:
Lot’s of people out today… makes for a very sociable occasion.
Happy New Year
Another view of the wolf pack tracks hunting a moose, probably New Year’s Eve. https://www.flickr.com/photos/152288647@N08/31639367017/in/dateposted-public/
Heritage Ranch – Red Deer
We were tired of the same old drive west so headed north to try out some sking in Red Deer at Heritage Ranch. It was a 90 minute drive from NW Calgary and we pretty well had the QE II to ourselves.
The ski was great on single and double set tracks with a couple of cm of new snow on top. Temp was about -8 C and it warmed up to near 0 in the afternoon. The trail head is easy to find: right behind the Alberta Sport Hall of Fame on the east side of the QE II between the new Gaetz overpass and the Red Deer River. The trail system includes the Heritage Ranch which terraces down to the River plus a 1.2 connector trail to the tracks set in the Great Chief park. Terrain is easy and includes open field, forest, riverside and landsacped park (playing fields).
Here is a link to the Heritage Ranch and Great Chief park maps, although there appeared to be more tracks set then shown on the map:
Here are some photos to enjoy:
We spent the last few days in the Columbia Valley skiing Panorama and skiing/biking Nipika.
Panorama: The Trail up to the Hale Hut was great but the day was frustrating/disappointing overall.
– single tracksetting only (very dangerous when you see families skiing up the left side of the trail in the tracks, oblivious to potential skiers coming down towards them from above.)
– propane wasn’t working for the heater in the Hale Hut (so the warming hut was cold)
– lower trails were a mess of boot prints and snowshoe tracks (pretty near unskiable)
– they’ve changed how you pay Nordic trail fees and you now have to pay in the Upper village with the downhill skiers (and there was a 40 minute wait when we were there to pay.) The adventure centre in the lower village was no longer open for rentals/day use fees. Everybody I talked to reported being frustrated by rentals as well because you have to now go to two different locations to rent gear/pay day use fees. (Used to be done all together.)
– parking was a gong show
Nipika was perfection as usual! Fabulous grooming, lots of parking, quiet trails (even when busy,) and dedicated trails for each sport. We had such a good experience skiing yesterday we returned today for fat biking. Had a great time on the fat bike trails and were able to rent bikes (even for a child.)
skied the Columbia Valley recently and can echo Tanya’s comments on Panorama and Nipika
Nipika was in great shape with the exception of a short stretch near the natural bridge where some fat bikes rode down the middle of the skate lane. Easy mistake to make as the bike trail crosses the ski trail, but the bike exit and re-entry spots are offset. A sign here would probably be helpful for all users
Panorama has some nice terrain, and could be a great XC ski destination except that the resort seems to treat the area as an afterthought. Grooming is inconsistent and doesn’t seem to happen on any sort of a regular basis. There was tons of snow, but some of the black diamond trails had yet to be groomed for the season. The multi use aspect of the area means that there are bike tracks and foot prints all over. In some spots the classic tracks run so close to the edge that you have to duck under branches or step out of the track. Considering that they charge more than other areas in the region, Panorama should be offering more.
Also skied the Nordic trails in Kimberly and they were in fantastic shape. Highly recommended!
Happy New Years 2019!
Busy day at CNC. We need snow badly. Even with the efforts of the groomers the popular natural snow trails are getting hard and have lost most of the corduroy. We skied out Banff Trail/Banff loop past the Wamrup shelter onto Bruin up onto Meadowview and returned across the middle of the Meadow on the original Banff Trail back onto the snowmaking into the Stadium. Lots of skiers out and parking lots were full. Pretty disappointed that the lower lit loop is not groomed and appears only to have been pushed out so access to Bow Trail is difficult. VR 45 day with rock skis. Not sure of what the Nordic Centre’s plans are but there could be a few more Km’s of tracked trails with a bit of effort.
To be clear, if one skis on the trails with snow making, skiing is excellent. We try to avoid skiing those trails and venture further afield onto natural snow trails ergo we use rock skis.
Cascade Road – Excellent ski to first bridge/campground. Recently trackset and in very good condition except for a few thin sections at the beginning. Trail got very busy in the afternoon, parking lot was full! Beautiful sunny day, no wind and -10C.
Cascade Valley – with the report of new tracksetting, we thought this would be a great place to start the New Year. Arrived to almost empty parking lots at 9:45am, and -13C. The first 700m down the road was dicey and often needle covered, and had a few sections of exposed pavement, generally avoidable. Starting up the big hill was also a bit sketchy, but the tracks improved with elevation, and were quite pleasant (good early season condition) from the top of the hill to the Cascade River bridge. We skied about 3km beyond the bridge – the post-flood section was gnarly, and we walked up a short rock-strewn hill. Back on the old trail, things were a bit better, but there were quite a few rocks in the track, most too big or solidly frozen to be removed. On the return, we skied out of the tracks on this section, to avoid damaging our skis. From the campground to our turnaround, we followed at least 4 sets of cat prints, all going north (a big cat with three cubs? Cougar? Lynx?) We passed lots of people on the return – the parking lots were quite full when we got back (though many were tourists checking out Lake Minnewanka). An adventurous ski to start the New Year. We saw Chuck and Jeanette – maybe they will post some pictures. Happy New Year to all.
Ray, would you recommend for skate?
It looked reasonable for skating from near the bottom of the big hill to just past the Cascade River bridge. A little uneven in places. Further out than that, it’s narrower, and there are a few rocks – caution advised.
I skied to the end (classic) – gets better the further you ski but it’s terrible for skating. Another 20cm and it’d be decent. Still lots of rocks to watch for.
Confed Park – Annie and I skied early Tuesday. Snow cover still allow for reasonable skiing. This being said do not expect pristine snow conditions. Mostly hard packed… skate conditions are fair while classic fair to poor … but at least we can still ski in town.
Has anyone been out to West Bragg in past 2-3 days .Wondering if they got any new snow after Xmas
Skijored at West Bragg today. Mountain Road and Crystal lines actually aren’t too bad for skating, I am not going to say the conditions are good, however looks like the snow harvesting that was done (I believe there was some done) has at least made a few of the trails skiable. Definitely need rock skis though. If you aren’t picky, it’s an option.
I crossed a bunch of the WBC ski trails today on my mtb ride. Sundog, Loggers, Elbow, Iron Springs and Crystal E all had ski tracks in the 2 cm of recent snow, but the base underneath looked pretty rugged to me- I was very happy to be on my bike! As a consolation for the poor skiing- the all season trails are good to go- either dry dirt with a very thin topping of snow (80%) or firm packed snow (20%). Fats or studs were not needed at all today- the riding was stellar. As was the weather!
ELK PASS -TYRWHITT- WHISKEY-MORRAINE LOOP: Very cold today but conditions on loop were excellent overall…the snow was “slow” due to the cold. Watch out for the wicked ice patch in the centre of Whiskey trail just below the second “steep section” sign! Also a few thin patches on Morraine. A great ski day!!
BRYANT CREEK BR-14
Greatly improved snow conditions in the last couple of weeks. Trails are skier tracked. Generally excellent ski conditions. There is about 45 to 50 cm of settled snow pack at BR 14. Snow speed was somewhat slow in some areas and moderately fast in other areas. The trail up Bryant Creek should be excellent skiing for the rest of the season now. Hopefully the Watridge Lake trail gets trackset soon.