Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and site URL in my browser for next time I post a comment.
Notify me of new posts by email.
At 10am, it was -3 with about 5cm of new snow in the parking lot. Jeff G and I headed out, he on fishscales and me on blue wax with a bit of special violet under my feet for the hill. Even though the skier set tracks were pretty good, I started snowballing up pretty quickly (dad’s skis didn’t ice up at all but he found them to be very slow today). After scraping off most of my wax, and also a snowmobile on the way down flattening the trail nicely (it was worth the sudden lack of tracks!) we were able to make it about 1km past the campground before my skis told me that I wouldn’t get much farther up. After meeting Helen and Mary on their way down, it became clear that I wasn’t the only one to struggle with wax! The way down was much faster than the way up, and all the snow made plowing easy peasy (despite the footprints from some hikers for the last 2km or so). It was about +1 back at the car.
PLPP North trails
Just adding to the Shulamit, GMJ and Mike W reports… It was an overcast day with near 0C temperatures at the north half of the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park trails. Our loop included Pocaterra, Lynx, Amos, Wheeler, Packers, Pocaterra, Lynx, Amos, Lodgepole and Braille. Great conditions throughout, with nice new grooming on Packers and Pocaterra. https://photos.app.goo.gl/urZnsAK2hTocnpKR9
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (PLPP) – leisurely ring around the middle with the family. Started at Elkwood, and skied a counter clockwise loop including Wheeler, Packers, Pocaterra, Lynx and Amos. Easy-peasy. Cloudy with snow falling gently. Some of the snowy tree corridors looked like a scene out of Narnia. It was a misty-mountain sort of day. Temperatures were very pleasant around the zero-mark, and the snow and tracks were in fine shape. A few needles were on the trails here and there, but nothing too terrible. In all, it was a fine afternoon.
PLPP late afternoon ski. Starting from Boulton Bridge , skied Boulton Creek, Elk Pass over the first hill, Hydroline, Lookout and Whisky Jack. Temp hovered around zero so the snow was pretty sticky but still very nice conditions. Trails south of Pocaterra-Lookout-Tyrwhitt junction haven’t been groomed for a bit.
PLPPPWPPPLP (Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Perimeter Whiskeyjack Plus Packers Plus Lookout Palindrome)
From Pocaterra Hut: Lodgepole, Meadow, Amos, Wheeler, Moraine, Fox Creek, Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt, Lookout (out and back), Pocaterra, Whiskey Jack, Packers, Pocaterra, Come Along, Rolly Road.
-9C when we set out at about 0930, going up to +2C during the day. Overcast with 1cm fresh snow at Pocaterra, clearing by the time we reached Elkwood, followed by steady snow on Elk Pass and Tyrwhitt with 15-20cm fresh snow. Blizzard on the top of Lookout. Great trackset on all trails including Amos and Wheeler, which supposedly hadn’t been done since Jan 17. Lots of fun descending Lookout and Whiskey Jack with perfect “edgeability” for navigating the hairpin turns at speed. Ice flow on Packers is starting reappear. Lots of people on all the trails. Skin skis today with Vauhti Pure One liquid base binder wax and Pure One LD +5C/-10C liquid glide wax.
Healy/Brewster creek- skied to till the trail closure at the 5.4km mark. It was absolutely beautiful out. We met only 6 people total and were so happy we made the choice to ski there today.
Trip report for the 15km loop at Mt. Shark – although it pains me to have this beautiful hidden gem revealed – I have to say the conditions on this loops were PHENOMENAL! Fresh snow, approximately 4-5cm and it was snowing while we were skiing back there!
Temp -4 in the parking lot at 11 am and V45 worked well until it didn’t and there was clumping – however V50 was the winner for the last portion of the 15km loop. So nice to see so many families and pets and friendly people enjoying the majestic parks.
REDEARTH CREEK – Beautiful new snow on the entire trail, tracks in good condition. First big hill in good condition too. A bunch of happy people skiing and snowshoing out of Shadow Lake Lodge. We skied to the Shadow Warden cabin return. Aside from the lodge folks, trail was not as busy as we expected for a weekend day.
Thanks for volunteering. It’s so awesome that the various groups were able to figure out a way to keep the grooming going.
We were up there just before 10AM and managed to get a spot but barely. There were several groups from Foothills Nordic starting at Pocaterra and there sure were a lot of FNC jackets on the trail. But since they travel at least twice as fast as the regular recreational skiier, that probably explains the emptying of the lot by noon. Great to see so many kids taking up XC. Skiing was superb!
Whoops – this should have been posted as a reply to Hugh’s post from Saturday Jan. 30. Sorry for the confusion!
PLPP: fun and warm day on Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Fox Creek and Moraine. Dumping snow on Tyrwhitt and down to the Fox Creek junction, skier set tracks from the top of Elk Pass. Very few skiers on WJ and Tyrwhitt and lots of folks on Elk Pass…
Adding to Caroline’s report, Dana and I had planned to explore the East Elk Pass Trail so after a quick bite at Tyrwhitt table, found the skier track already reinforced before we got there. Thank you to the couple enjoying the couch when we got there, because they had also skied beyond the couch for about 25 minutes. We enjoyed their tracks a bit beyond and then headed back as it was snowing fairly heavily. My Gaia measured about 2.7 kms. upon our return to the main trail where one must exercise CAUTION since skiers are zooming down the hill while others are herringboning to get up the hill.. I created “my own couch” with a fall and compared to West Elk Meadows this was more of a challenge, but wonderful!!! Congrats to Martin, Cheeky and Simona (who I am guessing helped make that wind wall)
Helen, sorry I did not recognize you. We met you some years ago in Lake Louise. Jamie and I were the ones who skied along the East Elk Pass Trail ahead of you and had lunch at the couch. What a pleasant side adventure!
For those who know this trail, how far down does it go? It gets a bit technical with tight turns through the trees but so beautiful and fun. Where is the turnoff to cut up to the pole line? Is it just before the couch?
Our loop had us skiing up the freshly tracked Whiskey Jack, where a moose had already left its tracks on the trail. We circled Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Patterson, Fox Creek and Moraine. The last bit from the bottom of Patterson to the Boulton Creek Campground was busy with lots of people. As we drove out, a moose came out to the road to greet us.
It’s isn’t a “trail” in the sense of being a formal line on a map, official or maintained. It’s just an accessible pass in winter that has a recent skier set track. There is no summer trail in the area. One can go anywhere or as far as one wishes, depending on capabilities and conditions. There are no fences, just obstacles to overcome. So far I haven’t gone farther than about 3 or 4 km from the grooming so can’t tell you much about tobermory creek to the elk lakes road other than it becomes a tighter, steeper sided drainage and is a long way. The purpose of the couches in the area has always been to encourage people to look beyond “the lines”, explore around and enjoy the discovery of such beautiful places, to appreciate it comfortably for a bit and perhaps learn and grow in the process. Knowing everything before going isn’t necessary, but you can always look at a topographical map or satellite imagery to understand the lanscape first. The height of land at east elk pass is the border. There is no sign indicating such. The couch is maybe 100 ft on the BC side. Getting to the hydroline direct from east elk pass is back country terrain involving avalanche risk, route finding challenges and other associated risks, and not cross country ski terrain. There are other ways but I wouldn’t recommend them. The best and most enjoyable route to hydroline is back the way you came to tyrwhitt and up to elk pass.
It’s all very interesting information, MaSid. It was fun to explore that area. Thank you for your response and for the great couch!
I’ll probably explore further south down tobermory creek at some point. If horses are using that drainage to get to the outfitters camp in summer, perhaps there’s a way. Just not sure how workable it is in winter and if any avalanche exposure, creek crossings, etc.
We parked at Nakiska where it was -1C at 9:00am. We skied Sunburst, Hummingbird lookout, High Level, Skogan pass to the end of grooming and Skogan Loop on the way back. The snow coverage is excellent, the tracks in good shape and we just saw 2 skiers at the junction of Skogan pass trail and the snowmobile trail.
Swix V45 violet special provided reasonable grip. Many many footprints from walkers on Sunburst, High Level and surprisingly to Skogan pass, looks like Skier Bob empire is being invaded….
The snow was very soft providing an efficient snow plow when required.
Jan 30 Excellent conditions on the Kananaskis Village trails with the bit of new snow on the older tracks. Bill Milne from the Village to the bottom of the hill was in great shape and across the valley the tracks were well polished and fast. VR 40 worked well all day -13C to start and -1C at end of our ski.
Jan 30 – Had an amazing time at PLPP. Minus 8 to start at 11:15 am at Pocaterra Hut. Decided to go out a little farther this time; it’s my 7th time ever on x-country skis. Followed Pocaterra all the way up just past the turn off for Packers (what a climb! Thank god for adjustable grip on my skin skis!). I turned back and enjoyed the (fast) downhill (again, thank God for the adjustable glide on the skin skis!). Erin went all the way up to the Whiskey Jack turn-off (she used to race and train) before turning back. Met up in the parking lot after a good couple hours on the trails. Sincerely appreciate the work of the Alberta Parks grooming crew for setting tracks and taking advantage of the recent snowfall on Jan 29/30. PLPP (so far) is my favourite place to go!
Skin skis are the way to go for conditions like today at PLPP where it started at -9C and went up to +2C. In fact, I feel that no matter what the temperature, skin skis are now as good as grip-wax skis (at the same price point). Just remember that skin skis still need to be glide waxed, and the skins need to be periodically cleaned and waterproofed. Overall, they’re a lot less maintenance and hassle than having deal with grip wax, and heaven-forbid, klister!
I find heading up Pocaterra is a mind-numbing experience, but it’s lots of fun on the way down. You could also try Come Along and/or Rolly Road on the way back for variety. I think they’re more difficult trails though.
I think I actually ended up doing Come Along on the way back down, so there was a “black” section for a downhill. I still managed my way down without falling so considered that a win! Each time out, am getting more confident. Yesterday, we took the kids and the dog on Bill Milne, I had the confidence to have our dog on a lead alongside me! So far, I really love this sport!
Love the skin skis! My wife raced nationally years ago and knows all about waxing for the conditions, so I let her take the lead on that front. What I love more are the Rottefella MOVE bindings that allow me to dial up / dial down grip as needed. As I understand, it means I won’t have to fiddle as much with applying different wax (or God help me, Klister).
Good morning! It’s -9 degrees, overcast with light flurries at the Peter Lougheed Information Centre in Kananaskis.
Thanks Sophie, it helps to have a dog owner advocating. If anyone wants to report an off leash dog, just call Banff warden dispatch and they will address it when possible.
I agree, having too many owners not complying puts responsible owners at risk.
People with off leash dogs don’t understand/care how much it upsets others. Dog owners or not.
In Kananaskis – Call KES – Kananaskis Emergency Services to report this.
Mount Shark: Watridge Lake / Bryant Creek to Meadows Warden Cabin
A fair bit of new snow last night over the grooming made for a soft ski down to the Spray River bridge in the morning. By the afternoon the big hill down to Spray River bridge had seen enough traffic that it is fairly gouged out. There were quite a few walkers, some even walking on the track.
The back country route up Bryant Creek is skier set and in pretty good shape. There are a number of trees down but only 2 of them require off the trail detours. There was quite a bit of traffic on this route today so the steep hills are packed down enough that they are quite fast.
Beautiful sky and lots of smiles
Jamie and I skied from Baker Creek towards Lake Louise to the railway underpass and back. We had lunch under the warm sun and a blue sky near McNair’s Pond. We met loppet skiers and pulled off to allow them to pass efficiently while cheering them on. Smiles were popular today with the exceptional skiing weather. We started under a cloudy sky and -13C but it warmed up to -5C. We were happy to meet Chuck and Jeannette and had a great conversation with them as a train rolled by us. We have appreciated Chuck’s fantastic wildlife photos over the years. Merci, Chuck!
Great to meet you too Carole (with an E)…. and now we also can put a face to a name!
You even spelled Jeannette correctly… a la prochaine
Today I heard of a lot of dogs off leash on Pipestone. I posted this on the Cross-Country skiing YYC Facebook page:
PRIVILEGE OF DOG FRIENDLY TRAILS IN DANGER.
Dear fellow skiers, I have been skiing in the Rockies with my dogs on leash since the 90’s. I consider any trail that allows dogs a huge privilege, that could be taken away quickly if some dog owners continue to ignore the on-leash rules. With the increased number of people enjoying the trails lately, it’s just a matter of time before this privilege (not a right) is taken away.
Please kindly remind any dog owner with an off leash dog of the privilege we have and how fragile it is.
Pass the word!
As a trick, we put a mountain bike tube around our waist so it flexes if pooch tries to pull. We then clip a retractable leash with a carabiner on the tube. This way the leash never drags or trips us and we can lock it shorter going uphill to protect skiers coming downhill.
As Tanya put it so clearly, if you can’t handle skiing with your dog on leash then chose a different activity or leave it at home.
Sophie, Andrew & Bajoue
THANK YOU SOPHIE,
Dog owners always seem to come up with some excuse!
Unfortunately, Parks seems more intent on keeping their staff at home during Covid, rather than out monitoring the trails.
Today, an owner let their dog jump up on me during the Loppet… “it was so happy”!
Then it bounded after a squirrel.
I’m sorry to hear that, it’s not ok. That’s exactly what worries me. We will lose the privilege if it continues to get out of control like that. We need to remind them kindly of that. To get them thinking about it and avoid confrontation. It usually works for me because I have a dog attached to me when I tell them. Better on leas than banned…
Agreed, Sophie. Like you, I’ve been skiing with dogs for 25 years. I use a 3m long skijoring harness which has an elastic section for some give. For any dog owners reading this who are new to skiing “on leash” 🙂 , the narrow width and winding trails at Pipestone, combined with a couple of moderately challenging hills, make it not a good place to train on. It’s best to start training (both dog AND human) for tethered skiing on wide and easy trails like Bill Milne, from there a natural progression would be the Village trails at Ribbon Creek, which feature plenty of hills, but are still wide and relatively easy. And yes- reel in that mutt when ascending fast downhills!
I would hate to see more restrictions placed on xc skiing with dogs. They truly do love to be asked “do you want to go skiing?”
Hopefully the word goes out to protect what we have or lose it…
I absolutely love to have my pup trotting along and coming home tired with us. Off course off leash is a blast but better be on leash than banned.
Checked out the Great Divide Trail in Lake Louise today. It was -11 at 10:45 AM and about 5 spots remaining in the parking lot. The sun had yet not poked through the low lying cloud but it was a beauty of a morning. Many groups were present on the first 5 km of the trail. Found that many of the groups would stop in the middle of the tracks to take a break or chat so I did lots of leap frogging. This also made it difficult to distance as many of the groups were stopped on or beside the track. Tracks heading West (To Lake O’Hara Fire Road) are skier set and are a bit messy. The East track is track set and is in good condition. Went to the end and back and on the way back the trail had emptied (so I thought), however the parking lot was gong show with Standish Traffic Control present to help with parking control. The lot was clogged up beyond max. capacity. We didn’t bother going up to the Lake, there was a slow parade of cars heading up and we figured the masses would likely be converging in high densities. Very nice conditions out there today!
Similar mayhem in Kananaskis. Almost like a summer long weekend. Parking spilling over onto roadway pullouts (merge lanes). Not good to use those parts of the travelled way for parking. Maybe some tickets were handed out again, or if not today, likely in the future. Another bad spot is at the village turn off. Cars are parking on the road side where the merge lane heading north from village is (east side of 40). Doesn’t help when cars pulling out of village don’t use the merge lane to get up to speed and ram right into the main lane. Speeds on highway 40 were varying wildly on the way home 430ish with long lines behind cars travelling below the speed limit on dry pavement. Should have skied longer to let it go by or stop for a fire and cookout. But even wedge picnic tables looked busy.
Arrived shortly after 9:30am; -12C. Skied out past Watridge Lake to the Spray River, then returned to the parking lot for lunch (at a sunny picnic table). The Watridge Trail was covered with 5-7cm new snow since Thursday night’s tracksetting. The outbound track was in poor shape, not well defined or much used, but the return track was pretty good, so we mostly skied out on that. The final 1km downhill to the Spray River was good fun – the new snow helped our speed control, though there were a few “interesting” corners. Quiet on the way out, but we passed some 25 people on our return, including 3 young walkers with a dog who were doing a very good job of walking right in the tracks. Yes, we encouraged them to be more considerate. After lunch, we skied the red/black and the blue loop – decent conditions considering the fresh snow. -5C to finish. A pleasant day overall.
I Volunteered today for K country Parking. We had parking attendants at Pocaterra, Boulton and Elk Pass.
It was fun talking to skiers as they got ready to ski. I wandered around Pocaterra PL and asked the wax of the day. Most said VR 40.
Pocaterra parking was full by 10:00! Folks were parking on the road. It opened up starting around noon and by the time we left, parking was ok.
By noon all the other parking sites were full.
A majority had heard of the program and already had their seasons pass or had gotten a day pass.
The program really isn’t a parking program but a grooming program. The voluntary fees help offset the grooming costs of K country.
We returned to Canmore via the Smith Dorian. Lots of traffic. Watch at trailheads where there is parking on both sides of the road! Lots of inattentive drivers!
Thanks for volunteering!!
Good Morning it is -14 in Peter Lougheed at the information centre.
Roads were ploughed – but some icy/snow covered sections.
Wolf Moon ski one day later on Castle Lookout to end of railway tracks, then across thru Protection Mountain Campground (skier tracked only). -7 at 6pm and -10 at 9:30. Fresh and well loved double track-set grooming for almost whole way; which made for more careful attention to poling in the dark. First time skied there at night and moon took its sweet time to rise over Castle Mountain. Surprised by the number of trains going through at night and so noisier than alot of other Moonlight Ski trips but stars were magnificent, as was the moon around 9pm. Saw two others zooming by us.
Spray River Trails, Banff
Had a great afternoon on the Spray River Trails in Banff. I was the first car in the lot at 10am.
Did the loop of West side to East side, but would recommend just sticking to out and back on the West. Double track set just yesterday, with a few cm of fresh snow, it was pretty lovely. East side manageable, but not nearly as groomed (or as much snow).
PLPP-Blueberry Hill, West Elk pass
From Elk Pass parking lot we took an off-trail route up Blueberry hill. Some bushwhacking and steeper sections but for the most part it wasn’t bad. I managed it with just wax (a lot of it!). Near the top we stopped for lunch then the rest of the guys went tree skiing near where we climbed up. I continued to the viewpoint on Blueberry, took some pictures, enjoyed the scenery for a bit, then followed the x-country trail (skier tracked) down to the Elk pass trail. I continued to West Elk pass meadows for a quick visit. Caught a few rays of sun near the couches then back to the Elk pass trail. Slow going in the fresh snow and skier set tracks back to the parking lot. The rest of my group hadn’t arrived yet so I did a short add on to the Upper lake trailhead and back. The rest of the group arrived shortly after. It was a nice day out and everyone enjoyed themselves!
Mt Shark. Green loop. Despite 3 to 4 cm of fresh on top, the track setting was still easily felt under our feet; subsequent tracks are still nice and straight. We had always wanted to get down to the lakeshore for some views, and today we found a couple of access points: both of them divert from the yellow trail, only about a km and a half or two from the parking lot. The lowest points on the most northerly sections of the trail are fairly obvious. The first track that diverts is about 400m of only slightly tricky travel for track skis, the second is just a hop, skip and a jump over to the shoreline. Nice place to be as the morning squalls broke up, the clouds lifted and we watched dog sled teams head up the lake.
show pics else it didn’t happen…
Superb photos Cheeky (and Simone) ! Congratulations. This 73 yr old still hasn’t figured out how to post pics from her Iphone to her antique Android laptop. Snowshoe day today with hubby at Marble Canyon. Tthank you for all your help in building wind walls and other enhanching other couch stops, and being a good friend to Ma Sid.
Great conditions at the south end of PLPP today. Boulton Bridge and Elk Pass lots were both full at noon so I started from Upper Lake. A few cm of fresh snow on the trails. But sticky to start (-3 at the parking lot) but it got better as the sun went down. Skied Lookout south to north, Tyrwhitt and Elk Pass with a side trip to West Elk Pass. Martin your couches need some packing down.
Yeh, I have been neglecting couch HQ. They need rebuilding to increase height. However, the Fork ‘n Meadow lunch log, just another half km south, doesn’t change height and also has a wind wall, good views and sun exposure (cheeky and simona’s project). Seat and footing just needs flattening on occasion, which I did the other day.
Tour de PLPP
Visitors Center – Lodgepole-Pocaterra-Tyrwhitt-Elk Pass-Fox Creek-Morraine-Wheeler-Meadow – Visitors Center
Car said -4 at 11:00, thermometer by door of Visitors Center said -8 ….. VR40 was too slippery so I think closer to -4. -1 at 2:00 pm
Trails other than Tyrwhitt and Elk Pass in great shape, just a few cm of new snow since last grooming which has been well skied into the existing trackset. In fact, track seemed a bit glazed in places. Tyrwhitt has about 5 cm of new snow on old tracks, and Elk Pass perhaps 10 cm, so the track is a bit wobbly and wandering and a bit slow, but still good.
All of the debris from the wind event on Jan 20 now covered. Kudos to our trail crew, Fox Creek in great shape!
On the drive out temps around Nakiska were close to 0 deg, so Bill Milne and the Ribbon Creek trails may suffer. Seems they were good today due to a few cm of new snow, fingers crossed for sub-zero temps.
We – Sam, Jeff and Richard – met at Boulton at 10 AM. -7, silky tracks. Whiskey-Tyrwhitt-Elk Pass-Fox Creek- Morraine. Gorgeous conditions and scenery. Snowing on and off – more to come!!!
WBC: Crystal East and West, East Sundog, Iron Springs – Elbow North loop, Loggers, Moose Connector, Mountain Road
Most of these trails have been recently groomed with the exception of the full loop of Iron Springs – Elbow North. Considering the lack of new snow, conditions are quite good, especially on Mountain Road. Recent grooming on Iron Springs extends over the hill but not through the meadows. Grooming on Elbow North extends to the picnic table at the Iron Springs junction. The loop between these points is not great to ski on (icy) but certainly can be done.
Concur about the good ski conditions. I’ve been out there doing short loops in the late afternoon for the last 4 Fridays, while my granddaughter is in her Jackrabbits class. If anything- the skiing on the core trails has been improving week to week thanks to repeated grooming breaking down the crusts, and burying the pine needles. Classic again today on Mountain Road-Moose Connector- Crystal West-Loggers-Sundog East. Fast and fun skiing, with VR50 working well.
Pipestone was near perfection today. Minus 5 at the parking lot to start around noon, about the same when we returned 3hrs later. Beautiful blue skis, no wind and a bit of fresh snow in well maintained tracks. Not quite sure why the Parks website is listing conditions as fair…it was magnificent!! Saw just a handful of other skiers the whole afternoon. Only thing missing was my pup who would have loved it as much as I did!
Pocaterra to the Lookout junction
Skiing solo (without my dad Jeff G as he was enjoying a ski with some friends in south PLPP) and I got nervous about what conditions I would find while driving through a snowstorm on highway 40. Luckily, the storm didn’t last long and the other side of it was full of blue skies and warmer weather. My car said -8 at the parking lot at 10am, and I was so happy to find pristine tracks with snow that matched my skins perfectly all the way up. Many skiers out today enjoying the beautiful weather and conditions. Back at the trailhead just before 1pm, and my car (which has been sitting in the sun) said +4! I have a feeling the lot will be full tomorrow…
TRAMLINE/LAKE LOUISE/ FAIRVIEW/MORRAINE LK RD AND DOWN TRAMLINE- about 5 cm new snow on all trails made for a beautiful ski day: Morraine Lk road being groomed by Parks as we skied down it.
Lots of folks out enjoying the recent grooming and new snow (approx. 2 cms making for soft skating texture from Kovach parking to H40 crossing to Wedge). -4C on arrival, -1C on departure at around 2 pm (some folks were beginning to have waxing problems by then but not an issue for skaters!) A few lucky/happy pupsters out including Kazzy!
CNC 10:00 -10C. Wax VR 40 with VR 30 cover. Still some fresh snow around to slow things down. A snow shower moved though while we were there leaving fresh sharp snow.
Parking lots were close to empty but at noon they were just about full. Hardly saw anyone on the trails until we returned via Banff Trail.
Out Bow Tr skied Wooded Bliss and up GreyWolf. Bow and Wooded Bliss dirty in the tracks.
Tracks on Bow are getting shallow and washed out on the downhills.
Returned via Banff Tr and skied across middle of the meadow on Coyote
Grey Wolf has been groomed and TS great shape Banff Tr had been groomed and TS but the tracks are shallow.
Confed. Lots of folks out enjoying the sun. Conditions are very good. Good coverage everywhere I skied. Groomers have done a great job!
SKI POLES LEFT BEHIND. if you were parked on the street by the lower gate before 12:30pm, check that you have your poles. There are a set stuck in the snow.
Skied most of ‘The Village’ trails on Thursday the 28th. The snow was really good – very soft, no ice, temp around -10. Downhills very manageable due to good grooming and light snowfall. Very few people parked behind the hotels.
Elk Pass – Patterson – Hydroline
All in all a good morning to be skiing for most! We had struggles with distance as the fresh falling snow was dry and slowed us down a fair amount. Gotta hate when downhill glides are work too!
We cut trail going through Patterson and down Hydroline, hope it’s decent for everyone out today! Parking lot was mostly empty when we arrived at 9am, and very full when we left at noon. Happy skiing!
(As a side note, my dad had quite a remarkable telecrash on the way down the connector to the parking lot. A great source of laughter for my day)
Kananaskis Area –
It is 11am and it is -8 degrees with broken cloud cover at the Peter Lougheed information center.
Has there been any fresh snow in the area of Mount Shark?
See Bob’s Friday morning update on the home page
West Bragg Creek
We left the gloom in Calgary this morning and drove into blue skies at West Bragg. Firstly, the parking lot is extremely icy and cross country boots provide very little traction – which I was able to confirm, ouch. Unfortunely there wasn’t the few cms of snow that Calgary got. We skied East Crystal Line and conditions were very firm, once on Sundog however conditions were much better, we skied Iron Springs to the meadow on really nice snow. The trail at the meadow is basically ice so we turned around and made our way back on Loggers and West Crystal Line, which were both OK, and drove back into the murk.
Wonderful conditions even on north end of PLPP today. A few cm new snow gave silky smooth glide, if a bit slow. Looked like only one skier was ahead of us on Pocaterra, starting from the hut. As Gord F wrote below, very pleasant temperature inversion. “Warm” blue VR40 covered with cold VR30 worked well on entire 24 km Cookie Race loop. Stepping out of track into new snow did cause light icing, easily skied off. One disconcerting note: Apparently new skiers standing in large group smack in middle of trail junction, had to be asked twice to move.
It was a delightful ski at Cascade Rd today. At 9.30 I was the second person to go on a trail, which had 3-4cm of the powder in it. No needles anywhere. It was gently snowing the whole day all the way to Stony Creek cabin. I expected to meet some people, but I only met the guy who broke the trail for me, and two other people when I was getting close to the parking lot. It was a very peaceful day, but the fresh snow was s l o w.
CNC is back – did the whole Beckie Scott, Rundle, Bow, Banff loop and then from the warming hut back on Banff. Great ski and the small amount of snow made the trails ace. Classic ski on cold wax but probably would have worked better on blue. Even so it was good and as it got later the wax worked better. Only needles on the trail from the top of Beckie Scott on the extra link trail to Meadowview and on Wooded Bliss. Though who cares on Wooded Bliss when the down hill is so fun and no needles in the middle of the trail. So lucky we have these trails. Tons of kids out when I got back – next generation are already so good and I love they are out and having fun.
This is the sport for Covid without which I would go nuts.
Bowness Park was being track set late this afternoon. My 5-year-old recommends it! Great for beginners and kids!
A loop at Lake Louise today, taking in Fairview- MLR-Tramline-GDT-Telemark-Peyto, etc. The conditions were superb, with about 4 cm of new snow making for silky smooth skiing, in tracks with no pine needles, and calm weather of around -6. It was quiet out there- both from the perspective of encountering less than 10 other skiers, and from the silent snow after a couple of weeks of skiing much noisier hardpacked trails.
Coming and going- Hwy 1 was especially slippery between Banff and Castle. Beware!
PLPP-Blueberry Hill- West Elk Pass
Conditions were wonderful at the south end of the PLPP trails today. The first pleasant surprise was a temperature reading of -6C at the Elk Pass parking lot and then measuring about 4.5cm of new snow on top of last nights grooming. Perfect blue wax conditions.
The next pleasant surprise was the absolutely delightful conditions on Fox Creek trail. It was clear that the trail crew had done a lot of shovelling work to fill in the dips and level the side hill tilting. The track preparation and track setting was the best I’ve ever seen on that trail. And the new snow on top just made it magical.
Both the temperature and snow depth increased as we gained elevation. I measured 11cm of fresh snow on the Blueberry Hill trail and a temperature of -3C. It was kind of blustery at the Blueberry Hill viewpoint, so we didn’t linger. On the way back, we toured off-trail, connecting a bunch of meadows to Fox Lake and couch headquarters at West Elk Pass. The couches were covered with a lot of new snow, so they looked more like bean-bag chairs.
The ski back along Elk Pass was a soft, silky smooth glide, and we absolutely had to take Fox Creek again on the way back. So good!
Always appreciate your comments. Hope you continue .
There isn’t anything much more fun than Fox Creek when it’s good!
Temperature Inversion – Jan 28
I have nothing to add about trail conditions, but we were pleasantly surprised by the temperature differential between Nakiska and Peter Lougheed Park. Possibly this is old news as it seems from the reports it was warmer at PLPP all week. It was -14º all the way from Calgary to Mt Kidd, then -8º at the Fortress Junction and -5º at Boulton at 10:30. After skiing a long loop in North PLPP it was -2º when we returned to the car around 3pm. On the way home, -8º at Mt Kidd and -12º at the Casino intersection. Thought it was going to be a green wax day, but ended up with Blue Extra.
Lake Louise: Morant’s curve / Tramway. There was about .5 to 1 cm of fresh snow in the tracks this morning. The skiing was pretty good, reasonably fast in the tracks. It flurried all day but the accumulation was negligible.
PLPP North Trails – Just a follow up from previous reports. The recent snow (< 2 cm) covered any remained debris on the middle trails (Amos, Wheeler, Meadow, Wooley) that had not been re-tracked for some time. The only caution that I would throw in is that the ice flow on Packers is getting ready to emerge again. As I went up Packers I noticed that the "snow" there was very hard, and that there was almost no snow left over the ice. It will be probably be OK for a while, but if I were going down Packers, I would exercise some caution in that area.
PLPP North End Loop
We started at Pocaterra parking lot and skied Rolly Road, Come Along, Pocaterra, Lynx, Packers and then all the way back down Pocaterra. There was about 2 cm of fresh snow on the trails and it snowed lightly until noon. -7C to start, -1C at the end. V40 worked well. Excellent snow conditions throughout the loop. Pocaterra had a nice glide on the downhill and Packers looked like it would be easy to snowplow down with the fresh snow. The fresh snow covered most of the needles on Amos and other places. Great ski day. Not very busy.
Anybody find a pair of Rossignol 140 cm. ski poles left at the Elwood parking lot today (Thurs.)?
William, I think Paul Ivison found them. See his comment on the Lost and Found page.
PLPP middle and north trails – Wonderful ski on 2-3 cms of silky new snow. We skied Wheeler and Lower Lake, back on Amos to Elkwood. After lunch we skied Spruce Road, Lodgepole, North Meadow, Sinclair, then past the Visitor Centre and back on South Meadow. Temp at start was -7, -2 at end. We used all manner of waxes, and everyone thought theirs was perfect! The new snow made the steeper hills feel safe and ‘attackable’ for some very fast descents, and the flatter trails quiet and quick. Lots of skiers out today.
Jan 28 – Ribbon Creek trails
Started at Ribbon Creek and skied the Bill Milne trail to Wedge Pond and back, then skied Terrace and Kovach. Around 1cm of new snow when I arrived at 11am and another 1cm fell while I was skiing. The new snow was pretty slow, but yay! New snow!
Only -9C at Boulton Creek parking lot (-16C when we passed Nakiska) at 9:30am and snowing lightly. We skied Moraine, Fox Creek, Elk Pass, East Elk Pass / MaSid couch, Tyrwhitt, Packers.
All the trails were covered between 2 to 5cm of fresh snow (goodbye needles!) and glide was rather poor but skiing quite delightful.
We had the pleasure to meet MaSid on Tyrwhitt just after exiting from the East Elk Pass trail.
Good timing to meet you guys at the exit. Glad you made it in there, and unfortunate not a better day for it. And thanks of course for keeping the trail broken!
To add to the PLPP reports, I started at elk pass lot and went up hydroline to lookout, descending north side and around on tyrwhitt. Temperatures ranged from -8 in the morning to -3 on return. A bit of stickage near the end with the fishscales, but minor. Otherwise, silky and quiet tracks. Fresh snow amounts were variable based on location/wind, not elevation so much. The least amount of snow encountered was up on top of lookout, which was almost out of the cloud. Snowed the whole day in the south end with decent accumulation over the course of it (maybe 4″ in places, but felt like more off track). An excellent refresh. Great conditions for descending lookout with the fresh grooming and a bit of snow over top. Wandered around a few other meadows in the elk pass area near boulton creek, the boundary cut line and hydroline. Near boot top ski pens off trail (LT). Rebroke trail through the Patterson meadow via the filled in hydroline snow shoe track, as well as checking out the “bonus” meadow north of the blueberry/Patterson junction area (just a quick out and back meadow). Road out was a bit more slippery than expected with the combined snow, ice and slush, which improved further north with cooler temps.
CNC 9:40 AM-11:40 -14C. parking lots 1/4 full. Lower 2 lots full and main lot was 1/4 full when we left.
Must have been locals day. Spent more time talking than skiing.
Classic wax day. Diamond dust snow falling. Light accumulation but enough to cover trails
Fresh snow made waxing hard in that usually we need a softer/warmer wax on the hard snow. We used VR40 then covered it with VR 30 (10-30C) Should have gone with straight VR 30 the softer wax poked through and dragged. Great kick but mediocre glide.
Skied out Banff Loop to Meadowview out to the end then back on Banff Tr. Tracks were great on Manmade and natural snow.
East Village 1k Loop, 27 Jan 21
These tracks have been a bit dodgy with all the recent melting and freezing in the mostly wide-open space, but with the light drop of snow yesterday, they came to life again! Doesn’t compare to the mountains, but great for a quick whip-around when short of time.
REDEARTH CREEK/ RE21
The trackset up Redearth Creek was roughed up by snowmobiles all the way to the Shadow Lake turnoff. The trackset is shallow. Snow speed was moderate coming out at night.
The trail to Shadow Lake Lodge is snowmobile packed and reasonably wide.
From the Lodge to Shadow Lake the trail is well skier packed.
I rebroke trail from Shadow Lake to RE21 campground/ Ball Pass Junction after the sun set. On average there is about ankle deep ski penetration or so. Excellent travel conditions. The moon was somewhat diffused by thin cloud and very light snow falling and made for nice night skiing..
Temperature at 9 pm was a mild
-10c with only a slight breeze blowing. Perfect ski weather.
Ya my body feels real “well done”- almost for the season or hopefully only a number of days.
The diffused moon lit skiing up through the meadows before RE21 was just awesome though- and on the way back too. The diffused light “scattered” better than regular hard bright moon light and as a result there were much fewer hard shadows behind trees which made for easier travel in the shadows.
Moonlight shadows up at Shadow Lake.
Bill Milne Trail: Great conditions today. Only skied til the Boundary Ranch, but there were excellent conditions the entire way. It cleared up to sunny skies in the afternoon, and fast tracks (but not icy). A lovely trail, albeit flat, but 360 views of the mountains make it worthwhile.
Great Divide: A new skiff of snow made the tracks fast and the grip good (VR 40)! Skied to O’Hara parking lot and back. Did one loop of Lower Telemark on the way back. Still needles and tree debris on those tracks but didn’t impede glide too much. Good conditions overall with temperature around -10C.
KICKING HORSE TRAIL- perfect snow conditions right now, lots of snow still in the trees. Used warm blue swix wax. Nice to visit with Helen Read and Julia at the bench at the end of the trail. Snowing in Yoho this aft all the way back to Banff townsite so ski trails should get a refresh.
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park – 1mm new snow at the Tyrwhitt picnic table this morning.
This little bit of new snow was certainly welcome as my Blue wax tried to perform in the very old snow in the tracks at -12C.
Traction was highly variable. Numerous times I stepped out of track to get a grip on fairly gentle slopes.
From Boulton Creek Campground parking I skied up Packers – along Pocaterra onto Tyrwhitt south to the picnic table. Turned around and came back to Whiskey Jack for a high speed downhill.
Only the one kilometre of Tyrwhitt south of the Lookout turnoff had significant (but skiable) needle debris. Elsewhere only very scattered debris of no consequence. A good ski as the sun shone from noon onwards!
JAN 26 WEST BRAGG CREEK East Crystal, Loggers, Upper West Crystal, Moose Connector, Mountain Road to Mountain View West junction and back to parking, out and back on Lower West Crystal and a few Crystal Links
Took my skate skis out for a spin this afternoon with a variety of techniques: double poling, diagonal stride, and even some skating! East Crystal had a fair bit of debris and the skate lane was very hard and smooth, making it difficult to get an edge in without skittering off the trail. Loggers was in good condition with little debris. The remaining trails had been recently groomed and were in very good to excellent condition, especially Mountain Road. I’m guessing those trails had been tilled and groomed by the Snow Rabbit, because it had a surface I hadn’t encountered before: almost corduroy, but not quite. It looked like a magnified version of the structure imprinted on a ski base! See photos at https://photos.app.goo.gl/1SXeCHLQrPqoDtH67.
It had a somewhat rough surface, which made it easier to dig one’s edges in for skating. The real bonus was coasting on the descent, where the rough surface gave you a foot massage, best at about 20km/hr! For classic skiers, the trackset was impeccable, but don’t forget to step out of the tracks for your free foot massage.
Boomer Groomer gave me the following explanation of the Rabbit’s snow texture from yesterday. I’m very impressed with what the Rabbit can do in so difficult conditions. In fact I was so impressed, I made another donation to West Bragg Trails to keep the Rabbit well-fed!
“The texture you see is not unlike when you rill the base of your skis. Tines on the tiller are offset and when it rotates you can end up with the pattern in the snow that you saw. If the snow is tilled enough it will assume the consistency of mashed potatoes and the flexible comb behind the tiller will make it into corduroy. We are intentionally not over-tilling the snow as eventually it becomes unworkable unless there is new snow added to it.”
Bow Valley Trails:
Started from Baker Creek at 10:00 am (minus 13 C) and skied single track to Morant’s corner and returned for a tailgate lunch at the parking lot. Always a challenge to go from the parking lot, through Baker Chalets to the ski trail. Extra caution is advised around the red chairs and fire pits as the track is barely skiable. The first km beyond Baker Creek has some debris and the tracks are in rough shape. Beyond this point to Morant’s curve the track and snow conditions were fast and clean. We walked the 1A highway to view point and were disappointed to not see a train snaking around the curves. After lunch we skied toward Castle Lookout on new double set tracks. I skied as far as the Camel Hump Hill and found these tracks to be excellent. Minus 6 C at 4:00 pm. VR30 worked well all day.
Many skiers out for the Virtual Loppet.
A beautifully quiet glide down Fairview, MLR, Upper Tramline, Peyto, Lower Telemark & Great Divide this afternoon. Enough new snow coverage on all trails made for softer conditions for all the downhills. “Easy peasy” today in -7ºC temps & no wind. An awesome day on Lake Louise trails!
I second this- the conditions on the Fairview loop were excellent and the downhills were very doable with the amount of snow. Saw hardly 5 people on the entire loop. Very quiet, no wind, and a lovely ski all around!
Elk Pass to what MaSid called East Elk Pass meadow
My dad (Jeff G, who will hopefully post his amazing pictures) and I started off at the Elk Pass lot at around 10am and -15 degrees (no wind, so it didn’t feel very cold). We lucked out and enjoyed fresh and crisp tracks to match the fresh and crisp weather… great job groomers! Dad’s skins and my green wax were both great on the fresh tracks. At the Blueberry Hill junction, we were debating which great option to follow. Luckily, MaSid was there and suggested visiting his couch at East Elk Pass, which neither dad nor I had ever done (he assured us that it was doable with our skinny skis). The fresh grooming ended at the top of Elk Pass, and the approx. 1km of Tyrwhitt that we skied to get to the trail to the couch was fine but had a lot of needles and debris. After under 2km of picking our way through beautiful meadow and woods, we arrived at the couch, wind wall, and absolutely gorgeous scenery! We also had a really great lunchtime chat with MaSid. If anyone wants something a bit different and off the beaten track, I highly recommend checking it out!
Temp was -6 when I left and my green wax wasn’t working as well as it had been in the morning…I was grateful for all the downhills on the way back!
What a fantastic ski to MaSid’s couch in East Elk Pass Meadow. And the architect himself showed up to give us a personal tour. The meadows were stunning today. See the photos attached…
I am so envious but absolutely delighted you won the prize today meeting Martin and getting a private tour to this incredible latest masterpiece. Superb photos Jeff and jubilant trip report Erin. Aren’t you lucky to be brought up in a ski family! and now you have another Ski Family in the SkierBob community.
Thanks Erin for such a well written report, and your Dad for the photos…. he deserves the capital “D” and you a camera, on your next birthday!
Jan 26 – the Corona Challenge (LL to Castle Junction and back)
A mix of needles and clean, clean snow on the trails today. Needles on Tramway, along the river, and through the campground. I didn’t pick up any needles on the way down, but on the way back up I picked up a fair amount. After the train tracks and the highway, the conditions varied in terms of debris… The more treed in the trail was, the more needles (duh). The grooming was solid and fast, and holding up well. More recent grooming started at Baker Creek. In many places, the tracks were very shallow, like the tracksetting equipment couldn’t get deep enough into this old snow. Mostly needle-free to Castle Lookout, and then needle-y through the trees to the Junction.
Amazing Snow in Yoho!
Skied the Kicking Horse Fire Road trail and it was very nice! Great snow, nicely groomed tracks, no tree debris and sunny skies. There were only two other skiers on the trail and the temperatures were mild. Started off at the parking lot at the Natural Bridge with -9 degrees at 11 am. Thanks to the amazing volunteer work of the Kicking Horse Ski Club in Field for the fine work on the trails! They post updates on the track setting at: https://www.khsc.ca/ Make sure to leave a donation so that they can keep up the good work!
Pocaterra – Come Along – Pocaterra – Lynx – Amos – Wheeler – WhiskeyJack – Pocaterra
As others have commented, the tracksetting was just excellent, and there was enough control on the descents. Amos, and to a slightly lesser extent, Wheeler (from the Amos intersection to Boulton Creek) are both well trackset, but with lots of debris, so you have to be careful, and it does slow you down. The other trails were great, very little debris (other than from snacking squirrels), and not icy at all. Trails are fast, and grip was good with my skin skis.
On Wheeler, had a somewhat one-sided discussion with a couple of moose about respecting the tracksetting. Not sure if it made much of an impact.
To add to Sara’s CNC report today, Bow was fair but pretty needle-y in some spots. My wax definitely picked up some debris, but it didn’t seem to affect my skiing today, luckily. The blue skies and nice temperature (at least compared to Calgary) were bonuses. Crossing my fingers for more snow in Canmore!
Skied W Bragg Creek this afternoon. Short Inner loop up Crystal Line West, Loggers over and down Sundog – in surprisingly good condition – especially Loggers. -12 at trail head and very few other skiers. Amazing job by the groomers.
Jan 25 – CNC
Quick ski this afternoon. Banff was pristine to the end of the snowmaking, and stayed pretty darn good beyond that with only some debris. I returned on Meadow, which had more debris but was still good. Most of the smaller side trails looked like they hadn’t been groomed in a while and were covered in needles. After making my way backwards down the competition trails since snowmaking is still in progress there, I skied Salt Lake. Salt Lake has been groomed in the last few days, but the snow is quite dirty in places and there was the occasional large rock poking out of the snow… Maybe give that trail a miss if you’re on your good skis!
Parked at Ribbon Creek at 11:30 temp was -9 one car. The pictures Steve Riggs posted yesterday could have been taken today. Track was crisp cold and fast. Sky was blue and the only wind was self induced by double polling. Went up Bill Milne to highway 40 crossing then turned back skipping Wedgey Pond The Connector and E-T based on yesterdays reports. Saw about 20 other happy happy people as it was so good. A great escape from the world we have to the world we want. Back to parking lot – 8 no other cars..
Shad laughed out loud and exclaimed “Now that was a Gooder”
Indeed it was.
Jan. 25, 2021
Just to add to Chris and Karl’s report, we were skeptical about the temperature and conditions at PLPP today, but couldn’t have been more satisfied with the day. Arriving at 10 a.m. at Pocaterra Hut, it was a comfortably chilly -10C, far warmer than predicted. We skied Rolly Road to Come Along, both in excellent condition (Swix Green) and then went up to Whiskey Jack. After a bit of time in the sun, we returned to Packers and skied down, my first descent in years. It was quite good. We came back on Meadow – more pine needles and glaze there – and then crossed the road to continue down under the power lines. Hardly anyone on the trails, no wind, blue sky….It was just about perfect!
Fairview and MLR. The temperature was around -9 C at noon when I started from the Lake Louise parking lot, and it warmed to -6 C by the end. I skied Fairview and then up MLR to the 7 km turn. I returned via MLR and Tramline. The tracks were perfect the entire way, albeit a bit slow for my skin skis. As I say every year, Fairview has to be one of the prettiest trails of all, right up there with Tyrwhitt! The couch is in great shape and it is perfectly situated for skiers to rest and take in the best view of all. It was extremely quiet today, although I was lucky enough to run into Helen and a few others. What a fabulous ski!
MEADOW, WOOLLEY, AMOS, WHEELER, AMOS, BRAILLE: started with blue wax at noon, then finished with purple blue swix; trails generally good, Wheeler getting a bit icy in sunny spots, most needles were on the longer Amos; Braille was the best trail of the day. Nice and warm in the sun. Very quiet on trails today.
Mount Shark – Pristine track setting and perfect conditions on the 15 km loop. I had forgotten how hilly Mount Shark is – phew! Not being hard core, I took the opportunity to walk up some of the steepest hills, to save some energy. The scenery was spectacular, -8 when we arrived, all in all a fabulous day.
Confederation Golf Course.
Conditions are holding up remarkably well this year. I had a great ski this morning, good coverage still and the classic tracks were recently reset, many thanks to the groomers!
Kananaskis / Skogan pass.
A balmy -11C at Nakiska parking lot with no wind, nothing really new since yesterday’s Mike W report. We skied to the pass on excellent tracks and on the way back we skied Skogan loop and High Level / Hummingbird Plume / Sunburst.
We just met two skiers on High Level as well as group of walkers coming from the Hummingbird lookout. They created a lot lof divots but the snow was soft enough to not create issues when snow plowing.
The snow quality is amazing above Sunburt’s junction becoming hard packed below the junction, from Nakiska the first 100m as soon as you leave the ski area are in bad shape with icy tracks covered with needles.
Yesterday, we went out to ski the Bill Milne trail. From the golf course, we first went out to Wedge Pond, then back on the Wedge connector. All went well until we crossed the creek. There, the lovely new grooming ended. To climb the hill, I would have loved to have my cleats instead of my slippery plastic-soled ski boots – it was a sketchy climb. Eventually, we got up to the trail that had been groomed some time ago. Covered in needles and very hard, it wasn’t a pleasant ski back down to the Evan Thomas parking lot. I would recommend skipping this trail until there is more snow and grooming! The remainder of the trail back to the Nakiska road was great. Lots of other people, dogs and Burley’s were out enjoying the warm temps (-7 when we started and -2 at the end). Looked like the weather forecasters missed it!
Took my gear but after a brief exploration, opted for hiking boots and microspikes instead.
Cascade Fire Road to the first bridge was speedy – not icy – in both directions late-afternoon today. Considering the absence of new snow for some time, the tracks are well-defined and very good. At 4:30 pm the temperature was -6C, making it easy to stay warm. The downhills are packed but still offer good resistance ‘as they should’ for effective snowplowing. A most enjoyable time!
I’m not usually much of a fan of Bill Milne trail- generally preferring more hilly terrain- but based on Bob’s glowing report- I skied to Wedge Pond this afternoon, starting with a quick loop up Terrace and around Kovach to the village. Back in the valley and heading south- I took Evan Thomas, which as mentioned below is icy and rugged. Going up was reasonable, downhill would have been unenjoyable at best. After a nice break in the sun at the creek, where I scraped off a multitude of needles picked up on Evan Thomas, it was a relief to hit the clean fast grooming on Wedge. Heading back north was delightful, with fast tracks and nice lighting as the sun began to set behind Mount Kidd.
Maybe I could learn to like this trail after all!
Bill Milne makes a fabulous Moonlight SKI, especially when the hotel lounge re-opens for drinks or the pub up top for munchies. Great photos Steve. One can park at Golf Course, RV Park or right at Ribbon Creek, which is where I usually start. Hardly need a head lamp.
Cascade to 2nd camp ground (1/2 km beyond grooming). Conditions were actually reasonably good today. The only places with a lot of debris were just before the Cascade River bridge and a short section about 7.5 km in, the north end of the “detour” away from the river. Other than that the trail was mostly clear although there are certainly needles in the track for some of it. The weather was surprisingly pleasant, -9 to start and -5 to finish with no wind. Travel was fast.
JANUARY 24 RIBBON CREEK from Stoney Parking Lot: Hay Meadow, Ruthie’s, Skogan, Sunburst, Hummingbird Plume, High Level, Skogan Loop, Skogan Pass, Skogan, Ribbon Creek, Link, Kovach, Aspen, Terrace Link, Terrace North, Hidden, Skogan, Troll Falls, Stoney Parking Lot
A mix ranging from excellent winter conditions, dust on crust, and the dreaded boilerplate. The 0930 temperature was -9C, a lot warmer than the forecast -16C. Cloudy with sunny periods. Temperature went up to -3C during the day. Hay Meadow and all the Skogan trails had been freshly groomed last night. I was the second person on the fresh grooming. The first person had taken the same route as me, and would have started at about 0800 based on where he passed me heading down as I was still heading up. Hay Meadow was thin and icy with lots of needles and other debris. Ruthie’s and Lower Skogan were a bit better, but had a few rocks. Conditions continually improved with increasing elevation, good above Marmot Creek and excellent on Sunburst and above.
The trackset was extremely fast on downhill sections, and I had to have at least one ski out of the track for half the time. Skogan from the Hidden / Ruthie’s junction to Mount Allan Drive was icy. After crossing the road I rewaxed. There was nothing left of my 4 layers of Swix VR30/VR40. I rewaxed with VR45, but I think conditions really called for klister at this point. Conditions improved to dust on crust for Ribbon Creek. I was planning to head up Coal Mine, but unfortunately it was in use by the Canadian Olympic Bobsled team who were taking advantage of the excellent boilerplate conditions. Dust on crust continued on Link, Kovach, and Aspen, and softened up a bit for Terrace Link and Terrace North. From the Ribbon Creek parking lot I returned to Stoney via Skogan and a death-defying boilerplate descent down the Troll Falls connector trail.
Photos at https://photos.app.goo.gl/MpaGXm5Zrw1ntXV9A.
I did a lot of the same trails… minus the Skogan Pass trails above the Ruthies junction and minus the early start. Temperatures were downright pleasant in the afternoon!
I was super impressed with the conditions on the Village area trails. The trails were fast, but very ski-able. Aspen was particularly enjoyable. By later afternoon, Hay Meadow was well travelled by many different users, but the XC tracks were still in good shape. I was impressed by the sheer number of happy hikers enjoying the short trek to Troll Falls and making a loop of their outing by taking one of the alternate trails. Good on them.
The short, somewhat terrifying slide down the melt-freeze ice on the Skogan-Troll Falls connector was a great reminder of what conditions would be like without the grooming expertise of Jeff and Alex!
Cascade Fire Road was great today. Heavily used but in good shape up to the bridge. Past that the needles and twigs got pretty thick. It was actually fine with blue wax and fast snow – picked up lots of crap but kept good glide. It would be awful on a warm day though.
Trail was steady, but at all too busy. Lake Minnewanka was amazing, with glassy ice. Loads of skaters.
BEWARE: 4 ice skaters fell through the ice on Lake this weekend.
Started at Pocaterra at 10:30. Temp was -11C. Headed to Elk Pass on Blue VR40 which worked well. Pocaterra was in great shape till the Tyrwhitt/Lookout junction. No needles or debris. Tyrwhitt had a fair bit of needles and lichen on it but it was still nice. Once at Elk Pass it was onto a new clean track again, with no debris. Fast run down. Fox and Moraine were in good shape but had a lot of needles. Same with Wheeler and Amos. Once onto Lynx conditions were good and same for the last bit of Pocaterra and Come Along. Not too busy today but I had a few encounters with groups taking up both tracks to socialize and ski as they were heading uphill . Made for some exciting downhill runs for me and quick stops. Temps warmed up to -5C
Two groups of Ramblers found their way onto the Pocaterra ski trail at PLPP. I had several misgivings about this trip, all which proved to be unfounded. The temps were supposed to be frigid. Non-sense! We started at -9 and ended the day at -3c, with no wind. The skies were supposed to be mostly cloudy – BULL – blue bird skies all day long. I feared that the trail would be still very icy, and full of pine needles and debris – WRONG AGAIN ! – exquisitely groomed, zero ice, snowy tracks which provided a great kick, even uphill, and the downhill segments were raked, providing beautiful snowplowing conditions. A few places had imbedded needles, but totally not a factor. Nothing but smiling faces encountered all day long.
On behalf of the Sheep River Ramblers I want to thank the grooming crew for the exquisitely well groomed trails we skied today. I don’t know what kind of magic you people perform – but you should have seen the smiles on all the skiers I encountered today. Your work does as much to combat the Covid curse as anything else on the market today ! Totally worth the $50 paid for grooming the trails. Thanks again!
After two days at PLPP, including enjoying the trails west of the road, spending a few very chilly hours at Boulton parking lot followed by more laps of the west side trails in the sunshine the choice was made to try Mt Shark. What a delight. Today these trails had minimal debris in the tracks, they are in really good condition and great to ski. We went to the bridges (not track set between Spray and Bryant but OK), then turned back, the drop to Watridge Lake was fine but a strong north west breeze was blowing across the lake. We sampled several of the 5km side runs on the way back, all in great shape. A good day for wildlife, we glimpsed: pine martin, boreal and mtn chickadees, a dipper, a pair of woodpeckers (possibly hairy), blue grouse (no attacks).
We decided to hit Bragg Creek this AM. We started on East Crystal which is pretty gritty and icy. I enjoyed hereto unheard ski noises for most of the trip. We are on waxless skis so our technique on this snow was less kick-glide and more slip-shuffle. Still, we persevered to Sundog (better!) and then onto Loggers where the groomers had performed some sort of blood-sacrifice magic to get the tracks in as good of shape as they are in. Spooky! After visiting with a resident grouse and the ever-hopeful whisky jacks we continued down West Crystal and home. Parking lot was (unsurprisingly) not full at any point that we were there.
Skied Ribbon creek to wedge pond today. Bob Milne trail in excellent condition 4/5. Tried Wedge Connector trail for return- ok to the creek- then terrible!! Too much debris to ski in tracks, center was icy and covered with debris. ( Had to walk part). Despite all was a good day, warm – minus 5, total was 21 km
Janet, thanks for the report. It sounds like the trail with the debris was Evan-Thomas, being that it was after the creek? They weren’t able to groom Evan-Thomas, so I imagine it’s in rough shape.
We did Janet’s route on Monday and concur with her assessment. Between the Evan Thomas Parking Lot and the creek with the washed out bridge is very debris covered. We cleaned up a great deal of the mess using the waxed bottom of our skis, so it’s a little cleaner now. Until it gets groomed, I would suggest avoiding that section.
Confederation Golf Course
I concur with Richie Rich, and I only classic ski – the groomers work magic here! There were a few icy, unworkable days over the last few months but today was terrific! The skiff of snow added a nice glide and I am grateful that we have a space that doesn’t require a long drive. Thank you again and again and again to groomers and volunteers.
CASTLE LOOKOUT TO BAKER CREEK- Cold start today but temps warmed up and sun came out. Many loppet skiers out today, tracks still in great condition.
Note: we saw 2 adult moose at Protection campground a week ago. Sadly we found evidence that one of them had recently been hit by a train ……so sad.
Skied to Boom lake today. Observed over 20 cars in the parking lot but my partner (on classic skis) and myself (on NNN-BC) were the only ones on XC skis. Came across 3 people on AT skis and the rest were hikers or snowshoers.
Trail was hard packed but completely doable on XC skis with almost no postholing. Very fast without being icy.
We skied the CNC this AM. 9:00. -9C Parking lots were 1/4 full
Waxed Vr 40 with some old Rex green underneath as a binder. Other wax brands would be a blue.
The snow is old hard and abrasive at the Nordic Centre so we usually wax one step warmer than the Temp.
Man made trails were outstanding,virtually clean of needle mania.
The Groomers have done a fantastic job.
Grooming report showed that Bow Trail had been groomed last night and although the Trail report shows it was Track set two days ago, it really looked to us that the Tracks were new. Still some dirt in the tracks, just be aware. We also skied part of Banff Trail past the Meadow. Tracks are old and beat up. We hooked off onto Silvertip where Greywolf crosses Banff trail (junction 13). It skied really well. Some dirt in the tracks. Skate lane was good.
Again, cudos to the groomers at CNCPP
Good Morning, Its -15 degrees at the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre.
Confed – I am amazed at how well the grooming team has been able to bring this ski area BACK to being reasonable for skate from mid-afternoon to 5’ish today. Pretty fast, a bit abrasive snow, but 97% great. Also a number of classic skiers seemed to be doing ok (those with good wax and technique). Seems the crazy parking crush days are (temporarily) over. Thanks!!
Mt. Shark after lunch. Pkg lot 75% full at 12:15. Temp -17C to start but sun and no wind made it a very comfortable bluebird day. Skied past Watridge down to Bryant Creek bridge. Cold temps made for slow speed and minimal glide on our waxless skis. Did some offtrack exploration on the peninsula after 2nd bridge. Light crowds and practically had the place to ourselves on the return when the trackset glide was better.
Castle Junction to Baker Creek was superb today under a cloudless blue sky. Late-morning at Castle the temperature was -22C and 4 1/2 hours later it had ‘warmed up’ to -18C. Much of the distance is double trackset and the tracks are in great shape. Lots of friendly people of all ages out enjoying a spectacular Canadian winter day.
Bill Milne / Wedge Connector
Just about didn’t ski today when I saw 8am temps of -25C in Banff and PLPP. Then Bob’s daily update showed that Bill Milne and the Wedge were recently trackset – turned out to be a decent choice. A late start, 11am, saw -19C at the golf course parking. Skied north to the Nakiska turnoff, then back to the car for lunch. Then south on Bill Milne to the Wedge Connector which we skied to Evan Thomas Creek. Returned the same way. The new trackset was great (thanks, tracksetter), clean with only sporadic ground-in needles. Hard and fast conditions, often noisy – especially downhills on the corduroy. -7C to finish at 2pm.
We skied the loop up Wedge and down Evan Thomas then back on Bill Milne. We wanted to show our daughter how fun Evan Thomas was to ski down, but there was too much tree debris on the tracks, so we had to go down the hard packed, icy middle or the side. Hopefully next time. Wedge and Bill Milne were great. Two big hills from the highway to Wedge on Bill Milne were very icy. We were pleasantly surprised at how warm it was in the afternoon.
Strathmore Golf Course:
Minus 8 C in the parking lot and virtually no wind. Not enough snow around the clubhouse to see grooming and track set. Walked the golf course following hard packed icy snow (remnant grooming) and found some disjointed tracks in protected areas. The area is very flat, as expected, and will be great for novices and training. A two hour 10 km walk on a pleasant morning close to home. Doing my snow dance!
Mountain biked Telephone loop on Friday. Dirty and icy. Saw one death-defying skier. Would not recommended it for skiing.
Kananaskis Village – Parked at Ribbon Creek lot with a chilly -22C at 9:15am.
Skied Kovach, Terrace, Aspen, Terrace link, Link, Ribbon Creek and Bill Mine (up to the Golf).
Swix V20 / green provided reasonable grip, the trails are in good shape clear of debris / needles just hard and fast.
Bill Mine was well groomed and it was a very pleasant skate in the sunshine.
The snow pack on Ribbon Creek is indeed quite thin, the tracks along the creek are a bit glazed and in the hairpin turns some dirt and rocks are appearing (easy to avoid when uphill).
Bluebird Day at PLPP
Parked at Elkwood and skied the trails across the road (Lodgepole, Braille, Sinclair, etc). Conditions were very good to excellent. Get out there and enjoy!
It is currently -24 at the peter Lougheed Discovery center.
Jan 22 Arrived to -19, pure blue sky and freshly set tracks. The groomer was just leaving the parking lot. Skied the 15km loop and conditions were fantastic! Snow was great, tracks were fast and the scenery outstanding. Thanks for the great track setting guys!
WBC- West Crystal-Loggers-East Crystal
Sunset ski as I was in the area anyway. Decent and enjoyable classic skiing on regular xc skis, in hard well set tracks that were sometimes icy and/or a bit needled. In a few spots- better grip and glide was found on the well groomed granular surface out of the tracks. Downhills were fast but controllable- no need for metal!
With an air temp of -6, Start Purple grip wax did the job well, but was nearly stripped away by the abrasive snow, by the end of my little loop. As mentioned in the grooming report- the best skiing was on Loggers, which is in very good shape.
PLPP South trails – January 22
Trading the light touring gears for the first time in 3 weeks, it felt great to be back on skinny skis and great track set conditions. Started at Boulton Bridge parking lot, under a balmy -22 C at 10:30 am, skied up Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, up and down 3 times Blueberry Hill, then back up Elk Pass, Tyrwhitt and down Whiskey Jack. The conditions on Tyrwhitt in the meadows and throughout Blueberry Hill were phenomenal. VR30 worked well all day. Had the pleasure to chat briefly with MaSid, returning from his off trail exploration. Although the net elevation gain was only 370 m, the cumulative climb was 1200 m for this marathon+1 km distance.
CUTHEAD CABIN – Jan 22
Inspired by Sara M’s trip yesterday, I used her tracks to update the photo library.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Did not see anyone all day, I started early and ended late, a reminder as to why I have never done this trip in January before!
It looked like some skiers got pretty hungry when they saw those elk ribs out there.
I thought about digging deeper to check out the meat on the leg bones, but knowing my luck some Warden would have busted me.
If Sara followed wimbly wombly wambly wolf tracks that look like a giant slalom course ski trail, she must have broken an extra kilometer or so of ski trail!
I had no idea chickadees are such ravenous meat eaters as your picture indicates.
A great photo ski report and your elk skeleton picture of the year appears to have been re-topped.
Castle Junction to Baker Creek return: after reading the reports here we decided to check out the loppet tracks. It was a cold start at -20C from Castle Junction, tracks in the first km had lots of pine needles, in some places the tracks were crunchy and wobbly, the 2 short downhill sections were hard packed, even saw some rocks. We enjoyed double poling along the powerline and railway track. So nice to be in the sunshine with good mountain views. After a brief stop we turned around at Baker Creek for the faster ski back to the car.
Jan 22 – Most of the main trails at Canmore Nordic are in very good shape. Of course there are others that need grooming and are still covered in debris. Hearing reports about needle mania at other locations I was happy with my choice to ski at CNC today.
PLPP: Elk Pass / Blue Berry Hill / East Elk Pass via Tyrwhitt to MaSid’s couch and back around Alf’s track to Elk Pass / Hydroline
I skied up Elk Pass on Monday and it has been groomed at least a couple of times since then. Much of the debris has been plowed under now on that route and up to Blue Berry so it is way better than it was. Tyrwhitt has only had one grooming pass so there is still a fair bit of debris to contend with. Hydroline tracks are a bit blown in but not too bad. The descent down to the Elk Pass junction was pleasant.
East Elk Pass was quite nice. It was my first visit and the view all the way down the Elk Valley in BC towards Sparwood is pretty impressive. The couch even has an operational cup holder. I actually encountered MaSid on my way back to track setting on the alternate route. That one is real back country. Bring skins… A few small trees on that return route have been sawed off making travel much easier. Thanks to whoever did that. I do carry a small saw but I did not have to use it.
Thanks for building that couch and all the other ones that you do. I guess that I owe you a beer or two.
It looked like you may not have been on Alf’s route, or initially anyway. It traverses under the ridge crest (on the east side), slowly gaining height and the crest about half way along, instead of going up the steeper cut line direct to the crest. How was the ridge coming down the cut heading north on the light gear? Track is a bit crusty/solid on the north half from more travel. I like beer. Maybe next time Bob has a trip reporter get together and the world is more social again.
Yes I did wonder about the steepness. Where should I have started out from the couch? The ridge coming down northward was pretty gentle so that was not problematic. I would not have wanted to come down the way that you came down…
social stuff again… That would be great.
Directly west of couch is the outfitter camp, somewhat hidden in the trees at the meadow edge. Alf’s track started angling right at the camp, about 50 ft or so south of the cut line. His track crossed the steep cut line, not too much further below where we saw you. My track down the steep cut line a couple days ago and our track zig zagging up it today made it less obvious.
Thanks. I will try that next time.
PLPP – north end
Pocaterra hut -20 C @ 10:30 am (snow temp -18 C).
Warmed up to -10 C by 3 pm.
Trails on the west side of the highway are cleaner and in excellent condition.
Whereas trails on the east side are well littered with tree debris.
Overall a cold, calm day and a bluebird sky provided a warming sun in particular spots along the trails.
Took advantage of the refreshed tracks around K. Village & Ribbon Creek. THANK YOU!!! to the very skilled Groomers who worked their magic on the trails to transform the underlying hardened icy glazed surface to very skiable fast tracks & corduroy for the downhills. Perfect, especially given the lack of new snow in these parts. Tracks were reasonably free from debris too 🙂
Freshly groomed… Pretty much perfect conditions including unadulterated corduroy for skating (though glide was limited due to cold) and we’ll set tracks!
Cascade Fire Road 10:00 AM 3-4 cars in parking lots -17C We used either VR 30 or Rode Special green with Rex green underneath it as a binder. Worked great. Tracks are getting rattly or wibbly wobbly especially on the last downhill . Tracks for the most part still have good definition. They are a bit dirty up to the River. After that tracks alternated between clean and dirty. The pole tracks are getting worn. Skate lane is hard especially on the last DH back. Near the bottom its tending to be icy. Someone wisely walked down most of the hill.
Next to no wind and bluebird sky.
Returned around 1:00 10 cars in lot. Tonnes of skaters on Minnewanka.
Sam and I also skied Cascade today. The only thing I will add to Hugh’s great report is that the plateau between the initial uphill and the first bridge is in excellent condition. So those looking for a shorter ski will find mostly clean snow with great tracks, except for the first km. Our skins and fish scales worked really well today. The warming sun was a pleasure!
The Chester Lake trail is in poor condition. It is very icy and absolutely covered in hikers tracks. I have skied this trail more than 50 times over the last 40+ years and these are some of the worst conditions I have encountered on the downhill. If you don’t have metal edges, best not to try it. Hikers are supposed to stay on the snowshoe trail, but most do not. There is some confusion with the new signs that show this as a ski trail and a hiking trail, no mention that it should be seasonal. It was a drop dead gorgeous day on Wednesday in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
This is tragic news Peter and truly wonder how to keep hikers off many ski trails. I have been tempted to make my own signs and thumb tack them into trees at various locations. It seems the only way to enjoy skis like Chester Lake and Boom Lake are to be there at 7 am after a big snowfall. But judging by many parking lots, even arriving much earlier than years past, many have caught onto the “early bird gets the worm” saying.
Reading that it was trackset, we were headed for goat creek.
lots of needles starting out, and very icy..
it didn’t improve and it was slow tripping on Clumps of the Forest.and Terrifying fast.
got to the first bridge and realized this was not getting any better.
returned on the Rundle side where there was slightly less pine and not as much large detritus.
So Sorry Bob I have no idea what goat creek was like but I figured going down all those hills I would not be fun.
Evening ski Jan 21 – Confederation Park is holding up surprisingly well. I appreciate the work of all the volunteers and groomers. I was skate skiing and the trail is hard enough that balance is a little tricky but it’s still very skiable. (And it’s fast! I liked the average speed that was displayed on my Garmin at the end of my ski.)
PLPP Whiskey Jack / Tyrwhitt up and back / Pocaterra / Lynx / Amos
All of these trails have had fairly recent grooming. There are areas with considerable tree debris and needles but I did not have any problems even with my wax skis although because I have wide bindings I generally do not ski in the track. My ski partner mostly skied in the tracks and did accumulate some debris on his bases. It was cold enough today that debris was not sticking to my skis. It was cold out there in the morning (-18 on the car thermometer) but better in the afternoon (-8).
This report may be moot, as the Mt Shark trail system was being groomed as we left just after 1600, but for what it’s worth – We took the Watridge Lake trail to the top of the Spray hill and back. Single trackset the whole way. Not sure if that’s the way it is now, or just due to snow filling in the other trail. Probably the latter, as I thought I could see hints of the other track under all the boot marks. In the clear areas, the trail was pretty good – filled in somewhat due to drifting snow, and a little wide, but otherwise clear of debris, for the most part. Once you hit the treed area, it’s very different. Enough debris so that you have to be careful not to be jerked to a stop if you’re hill climbing, but fine on the return if you’re going fast enough. Hopefully tonight’s grooming/tracksetting will help all that.
Did the short loop by the biathlon range as well – the tracks were all deep and very clear of debris (especially after being in the area are Watridge).
PLPP-parking at Elkwood (third car in lot at 9:45 and minus 20). Decided to take Chuckley’s advice and headed for west side of road into William Watson Lodge territory. Skied Spruce Road as our warm up and then Lodgepole to Braille to bottom of Sinclair, then back on Sinclair, Braille for warm sunny lunch (-7 in sun), then did another round of Braille and Lodgepole going in opposite direction and a few more strides on Braille until we were ready to call it a day. Many who started on the other side (Wheeler/Amos etc) reported not so great conditions so we never left the sunny side and the cleaner snow.
Serious needlemania today on the Tramline up to Fairview (starting from the Station restaurant). Fairview was much cleaner and very nice, as was the trail to and on Lake Louise.
Upper Lake Louise: Much much better conditions than expected along the Tramline (needles but no issue with the skin ski glide), MLR and Fairview (as good as it’s ever been), Peyto and Upper Telemark (not wonderful but better than expected and the tree that had fallen at the bottom of the hill has been removed already), and Great Divide (absolutely fine but perhaps not so much for skate skiing). What a relief to know that our lovely skiing was not obliterated by the latest windstorm!
JAN 21 – CUTHEAD CABIN
Oh, Mike W, if only you had skied an extra 25m! After a short wallow beyond the end of your tracks, the snow got a bit more solid and I was able to break trail on my track skis. The wolves returned to the road a couple times, which helped a lot. My track is a bit curvy in places because I was either following the wolf track, or feeling around trying to find the shallowest/most solid section of the road. But, a curvy track is better than no track at all! The last few hundred meters to the cabin were the toughest, with the bottomless sugar snow making a comeback. After a lunch break on the cabin porch, I made my way back. There was a wolf (or a VERY large coyote) hanging around near the elk skeleton. He ran off into the forest as I got near, but just heads up to anyone planning to check it out, the predators are still in the area!
As for the groomed part of the Cascade fire road, it was in surprisingly good shape. The worst parts (for debris) were the very beginning, and the flood detour after the bridge. Other than that, the needle situation was pretty minor. The hill is getting pretty smoothed out and solid, but I could still get an edge in.
Wow! The women ski rulers conquer the Cascade Valley too- leaving the guys in the cold snow dust.
As the Eurythmics Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin sing, “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves.”
“Would I lie to you?”
Stay tuned for more xc ski butt kicking action. The best has yet to come.
thanks MAAD! I’m getting a kick out of taking my skis onto trails where they don’t belong. You guys keep giving me trail ideas, and I’ll try to keep butt-kicking!
Congratulations, Sara. Seeing that you posted your report at 4:37pm, you must have started really early or moved really fast!
a bit of both! I started at 8:30, and the time to beat is 7 hours and 1 minute (breaks included!)
Great report, Sara, very inspiring. I remember you from your ski racing days. Awesome that you take your skis on fast backcountry excursions now. Keep them going and stay safe from the predators.
It sounds like she can out ski the predators that are not in jail!
Canmore Nordic Center January 21. Groomers have done an amazing job on the natural snow trails today. Classic and skate back to normal on meadowview and Banff trail with tree debris ground into snow. Classic skied with a thin blue klister base covered with hard wax and picked up zero pine needles. Happy camper! More trail repair should happen tomorrow I expect.
To echo Roy’s comments but for skate conditions, Banff Trail and Meadowview are groomed and good – everything else on either side is covered with tree debris and downed trees (e.g. Silvertip, Bruin, Rundle). Bow is ungroomed beyond junction #25 (per CNC trail reports) and unadvised – I took 6 strides on it and immediately decided against it – presently very icy. Extensive snow making is underway on the upper competition trails and it’s really confusing presently how to connect the end of Meadowview to the grid but perhaps that’s just because I’m less familiar with those trails. Warm in the sunshine to start at 1pm but noticeably colder when in the trees this afternoon.
Lake Louise Mix and Match – It was a chilly start to our day (-23C) but with no wind to speak of when we started at the Heritage Train Station at Lake Louise. The uphill on Tramline warmed us up to the point of removing a jacket. Unfortunately the recent winds had made a mess of the usually pristine trails. Lower Tramline in particular was covered in needles and black lichen. Upper Tramline was slightly better. We walked to the start of Peyto, behind the hotels, and found it to be blanketed with needles, especially the first 100 m. and the trail itself was tricky with snow bombs in the groomed area, which made snow-ploughing interesting. Having survived Peyto, we skied Great Divide for about a km. going west, just for a bit of extra distance and to ski in the brilliant sunshine, then skied east to the parking lot where a dog sled was readying to take off. The last km to the parking area was covered with needles and huge hunks of old-man’s beard with large twigs attached! First lunch there, then walked across the road and back up to Tramline to Fairview. Fairview was the best track today, mostly needle-free, fast and fun. We had second lunch at the couch before skiing down to MLR (the last hundred meters had more debris), and back down Tramline to the car. Going down Tramline, the needles slowed us down and made for a jerky ride. Not a cloud today, and it warmed up to -11C. by the time we finished at 2 pm.
Photo of debris on Great Divide
A bit late with the report. Skied Pipestone yesterday. Pipestone Trail (#20) CCW until the pond then descended on the green run. Debris definitely a factor but still skiable. Tracks are glazed but along with the pine needles, the wind has also brought in snow so the sides of the trail are skiable if the track is too icy. The tracks at the pond were all blown in. A nice groomer refresh would be in order. Bluebird afternoon, almost no wind. Waxable skis did OK with purple.
Confederation – The yellow loop was in very good shape, thank you to the trail groomers!
And the snow farmers!
I skied there yesterday and shoveled in the evening. Although the tracks are glazed in some spots, the base remains very solid with very few bare spots despite the drought and warm conditions. (in fact the way the base has sustained beyond all expectations I’d describe it as “trumpian”).
With cooler weather and fresh grooming the trails should be Ok for skating or classic with a bit of caution.
PLPP JAN 20
We skied The Skier Bob Special today, counter-clockwise beginning at Boulton Bridge. We expected a cold windy day but were surprised to find it -5 at the parking lot and around -3 all day and although it was a bit breezy, the wind was not a big deal. Most trails at the south end of PLPP are littered with debris from the winds the past few days but remarkably, Tyrwhitt was almost completely free of tree material in the tracks. But when we reached the high point on Tyrwhitt as we headed north, the trail was again filled with debris. I’m thinking the wind hammered anything with western or northern exposure but the Tyrwhitt trail was protected from the wind by the lookout ridge, (whatever that’s called).
Did anyone go to Pipestone today? We’re thinking about going tomorrow – wondering if it’s worth the drive.
I have seen this post from Corinna Bryson on Skier Bob facebook page: « From the other end of your domain, we skied Pipestone this morning – lots of pine needles on the trail after the high winds. »
PLPP=Peter Lougheed Provincial Park -3C at Pocaterra at 11:30AM. Skied south loop counter-clockwise. Pleasantly surprised to find few needles on freshly groomed trackset of all trails on the west side including Sinclair, Braille, Lodgepole. Crossing the road at Elkwood Parking we entered into a different world with some needles -but passable. Good snow just needs a little new coverage of needles to make wonderful snow. A beautiful day!
Should read north loop!
PLPP – Needlemania under blue skies
-7C at Pocaterra hut this morning (9:30am), we skied Rolly Road – Lynx – Woolley – Meadow – Wheeler – Whiskey Jack – Tyrwhitt- Hydroline – Lookout and back on Pocaterra.
The best trails were Tyrwhitt (superb conditions), Hydroline ( a bit of blowed snow) and the southern part of the Lookout, the rest of the trails were covered with needles / debris providing a very poor glide most of the time.
The initial plan was to ski the 42km cookie race route but with all the needles / debris we decided to modify our route but still managed to do the distance, so at the end it was a good day!
We were also at PLPP today. Tons of debris, but waxable skis worked remarkably well. Did Whiskey Jack, ElkPass loop. Moraine is in great shape after the work last night, also Fox was in good shape. Most of the heavy debris was on the Elk Pass trail with lots of needles, some branches and lots of black lichen. The snow under the lichen was softer, maybe because it absorbed the sun and heated up the snow. The loop is still very doable, however.
Lake Louise: Parked at Great Divide. -9. Climbed hill to ski Tramline (lots of needles but skiable) MLR (pretty great shape considering) up Fairview (also in very good shape, worsening towards Upper parking lot). Skied a bit of #4 and it was tricky snowplow over a “mine field of twigs/treebeard/branches”. Walked to Peyto and it was nicer in open areas but final descent onto great Divide, big tree that actually holds the PEYTO sign had fallen right across the trail. Sat on fallen tree for lunch, then skied west into the wind to Lower Telemark. It was fairly good as tracks were free of debris (just needles) but had to duck down under one tree across the trail on that western third of Telemark. We had a much better ski than anticipated when first skiing down Tramline. The Fairview Couch was in perfect shape.
We skied west from Great Divide parking lot to Lower Telemark then to the Great Divide. Then returned to east end of Peyto up to the Chateau, across to Tramline and back to Great Divide Parking lot. Our experience was same as yours although Tramline was being trackset on our way out.
Skied Tramline from the Station then Peyto to Lower Telemark and return. Same observations as Helen. Skin skis worked well. I was concerned about picking up needles with my wax so I experimented with Swix VR45 (o to -2C) covered with the much harder Swix Polar (-15 to -30C) – temp was -5 to -3C. This worked very well and I picked up almost no needles. Grip and glide were both good.
GREAT DIVIDE: first two km have debris on them, but still very skiable. Skied to the Yoho shelter near Great Divide and back. Ski conditions very good overall.
Cascade Fire Rd. Well, it was a beautiful sunny day but the snow conditions were not the best on Cascade Fire Rd. We got an early (9 am ) start. Right from the start the tracks were hard-packed and icy for the first km. Things improved on the climb but tree debris made the going a bit more difficult. The middle section (at about 2-3 km until the bridge) was reasonably fast and fun. Past the bridge conditions deteriorated as the needles and twigs were worse. We finally turned around about 2 km past the bridge. Again, the section south of the bridge up to the first big downhill run was pretty good (not much debris). The downhill sections were hard-packed and icy making it very fast but hard to control. Not recommended for novice skiers until we get another 2-3 cm of fresh snow.
Canmore Nordic Centre (CNC ) 9:00 AM -2C Skin skis. Ran into waxers using VR 55/60(purple)
Checked Trail report and just the manmade snow had been groomed over night. Big wind event yesterday and last night. Lots of twigs needles and a few trees etc down on the natural trails
Man made snow was truly outstanding relatively soft for the Nordic centre
Most people stuck to manmade and some were going straight out Banff trail.
Tried going low out Bow Tr but found numerous downed trees. We took off our skis and removed as many small trees as we could manage. We hooked onto Silver Tip when we saw skating lane on Bow was glazed and the track dirty. Skied up Silvertip to Meadowview and found two big trees across Meadowview. Another tree blocked the intersection up onto Bruin at Meadowview . We are in dire need of snow.
Bragg Creek – East, West Crystals, Sundog considering conditions very good for skating … would be if not for hikers and one biker.
Please talk to everyone you meet. If I can do it with my introvercy, heart rate close to red zone and heavy accent on top so can you. And some of us are still too shy: I met hikers very far on the trails,who were surprised they do something wrong. Someone passed by not saying anything. Why? Not good!
Cascade – Stoney Ck cabin
Snow temp -6 C at 10:30 am.
The snow and tracks are holding up very well.
Gusty wind along the road access from Minnewanka and Upper Bankhead with a lot of debris blown into the tracks.
Banff Tunnel Mountain (entire network) / Spray east and west an Spray towards Goat Creek as far as the hill heading down to the upper Spray River bridge.
I have never skied Tunnel Mountain so I wanted to give it a go to see if I could recommend it to people learning to ski. It is indeed pretty much totally flat. It has been a while since the last snow and grooming so there is a fair bit of glazing in the tracks but the centre is better. Users will get lots of practise stepping into and out of the track to avoid loads of Elk droppings.
The Spray trail conditions are variable. It has been a while since the last snow and grooming. There was a fair bit of debris on the trail on the West side, much less on the east side and nearly none on the upper part of the trail. Conditions were fast which would be a concern when descending to the golf course as the east leg is much narrower. The upper Spray had the best conditions. I suspect that above the upper bridge the going might not be that great on the narrower trail given the fast conditions.
PLPP on Jan.19
-8c and windy at Boulton at 11:30. Parking lot was about half full.
Did a 30k loop on many of the trails that have been recently track-set. Some debris on the tracks due to the high winds, but really not bad (yet?). Skied Whiskey Jack, Tyrwhitt out-and-back (which was in pristine condition), down Pocaterra was a blast, Lynx, Woolley, Meadow, Wheeler, Lower Lake. Seeing a Wolf near the Pocaterra-Lynx junction was pretty cool, although it could have been a Coyote.
PLPP Discovery Centre parking. -6C at 10 am. Meadow, Woolley, Amos, Wheeler, back to Elkwood Parking. All in good shape. Then made the mistake of crossing road to return on the eastern trails. Last Tuesday (Jan 12) these were freshly groomed and immaculate. Today they were in very poor shape with multiple skier made tracks. Need some work. Wind was howling on the TC back to Canmore.
Confederation Golf Course
Groomers are worth their weight in gold…! They have chewed up that ice so nicely and spit it back out into very workable classic tracks! Magic! Skate skiers looked like they were having a grand old time. Thank you, saviours. There were enough groomed sections to get a fairly good workout and one pass around the ungroomed sections wasn’t even that bad.
With the promise of fresh tracks on Tyrwhitt and Hydroline, we headed to Bolton Ck. parking lot. It was -10 when we arrived, with a chilly wind that blessed us for most of the day. VR45 worked for some of us but others needed softer wax for the harder sections. Whiskey Jack was in good shape but the highlight was definitely Tyrwhitt. The tracks were in perfect shape and the snow was quite fast. A quick lunch at the picnic table, with extra layers to buffer us from the wind, then up to Elk Pass. We were the first ones down Hydroline, so the first of us had a bit of a bumpy ski as we smoothed out the wind drifts for those behind. Overall a great cruise down except on the last steep section where wind drifts necessitated a quick step out for safety’s sake. Fox Ck. and much of Moraine were pretty skied out so the ski was more about endurance than fun. Overall, another great day at PLPP, in spite of the wind.
Elk Pass Parking lot half empty but brand new grooming awaited us (thanks for head’s up Bob). -8 and my Asnes performed well in relation to waxing all day. Some serious wind at top of first big hill but stayed away from Hydroline and Elk Pass. Went up Blueberry for first time this year and surprisingly little debris on trail. Was able to get up even steepest hill and spent only a millisecond at top as it was blowing up there. I actually enjoyed the descent as snow was cold enough to allow for some controlled turns. Checked out just a bit of ski tracks in the upper meadow, but friend’s wax was not working so turned around where it involved a little uphill. At Blueberry junction, skied over towards the couch but too cold to head to Power line. Skipped Fox Cr. and even climbing that last big hill was a bonus wax day for me. Windy drive home on TC.
Do you know if yo can ski and or snowshoe at William Watson ?
Responded by phone. The new maps available at Discovery Centre which bob already told us about, include ski trails and also a bigger map highlighting all the snowshoeing and multiuse PLPP system of trails.
Tue Jan 19: redearth ck (to 1st campground and back).
Light to moderate debris for the first few km, improving with height and distance from bow valley. Tracks in fair condition, getting a bit worn. Light Walker traffic, but not in the tracks (party of two?). Just noticeable signs of a fat bike track here and there. Hills still “edge-able”, even the last one down to the lot with only slight dishing, and things stayed below zero. Only saw 4 people all day and nobody in the lot before 1030.
CNC skied 9:30-11:00 -4C main parking lots full at 11:00
The usual snow made trails had been Groomed and TS Great shape. Trail report shows some track setting on trails natural snow trails and more grooming.
We skied up Banff trail to Freddie’s Flip and up Coyote, Rundle, Roller coaster We just tend to follow our noses when we are out and find the obscure trails that have been groomed and sometimes TS. We returned via Meadowview and debated as to how to get from it, back downhill to the stadium. We elected to follow Rundle back to above the stadium. Trails up there are quite dirty. Gliding was iffy. We managed to work our way down to the stadium via Centennial. Snow making in progress in the area but it was easy to avoid.
Great Divide, 18 Jan 21
Nice fresh layer of snow when I arrived and easy for classic skis to break trail. Had a good chuckle at the lead dog for the dog sleds as she was more interested in frolicking in the snow than running the team, causing a slight sled traffic jam. Sure it was less funny for the driver. Groomers showed up just as I was leaving, so the tracks are probably beautiful today. Not very busy, even when I left at 1ish.
Canmore Nordic center
Went for a glorious skate ski around the “lit loop” AKA man made snow trails on Monday. I was very pleasantly surprised!! Despite the town of Canmore being a skating rink, the snow was fast, smooth and soft!! I didn’t venture out onto the natural snow trails as Bow looked a bit glazed and had a fair amount of debris in the skate lane. I imagine the rest would be similar. Definitely still skiable, but just not as nice as the artificial snow.
JAN 18 CASCADE FIRE ROAD TO ELK TRAP AND BEYOND
It’s usually Chuck that arrives at a trailhead just after the tracksetter heads out. But today was my turn. Upon arrival at the Stoney Creek Bridge on the Cascade Fire Road, I was informed that the tracksetter had just headed up valley 15 minutes ago, and that the tracksetter was Chuck himself! I was on my flimsy track skin skis, but had no problem skiing in the track that MAAD had originally made the day before and that was further packed down and smoothed out by Chuck on his light touring skis. My timing was impeccable as I caught up with Chuck just as he arrived at the Elk Trap.
After a Chuck-guided tour of the site, I continued up valley. Without Chuck’s grooming, MAAD’s track was softer and a bit more difficult to ski on. MAAD’s track ended 1.4km beyond the Elk Trap, where he left a message in the snow (see photos and turn on the captions). My plan was to break trail for the remaining 3.5km to Cuthead Cabin. But as soon as I started, the centre of my skis were sinking about 40cm into the snowpack while the tips stayed on the surface, resulting in an alarming curvature that was clearly beyond the design limits of a ski meant to be used on a hard track. So I reluctantly turned around and snapped a few photos of the elk carcass on my way back. Next time I’ll bring my light touring skis which are twice as wide!
Nice shots of the elk skeleton Mike. I really like the low level shot.
I thought I made it several hundred meters further up valley. I guess my old surveying estimate paces are getting out of calibration as my age goes up and the sun goes down. I might have to modernize and get one of those GPS thingies now.
The trail breaking started to get more difficult the further up the tightening valley I went which was the opposite as to when I first broke the trail several weeks back. The snow crusts seemed to have weakened in the snowpack over time. The ski penetration was variable. In sunnier areas or areas where the winds blew snow out of the trees, the ski penetration only tended to be around boot top deep. A few areas resulted in knee deep ski penetration. My ski tips also stayed on the surface which greatly helped travel.
The wolf pack packed trail certainly reduces the ski penetration. It looked like the wolves continued up the valley on another mission which should help out the next ski trail breaker on at least 59 mm x 205 skis.
I skied on the wolf tracks for a bit, but they soon moved off the road. I zigzagged across the road looking for a firmer base, but couldn’t find one. Hopefully the wolves rejoined the road a bit further along. As for the GPS thingies, I find them inconsistent. Some days my in and out tracks are aligned within a few metres of each other, and with a satellite view of the trail. Other days they can be off by 100m or more. Although they generally work better in open areas vs. dense trees, this doesn’t seem to always be the case. The Elk Trap, which can easily be seen on satellite photos, was 60m to the NW of where my GPS said it was.
Tunnel Mtn Campground – Thank you to the volunteer trail crew for doing their best to try and refresh the sun baked, icy, thin, elk poop tracks at TMC. I for one, was pretty happy to make it out of there without a visit to the surgeon (again!). The PC site has it listed as good, I would recommend a down grade to fair. On the flip side, the new outer trial looks good for fat biking!
Cascade to the warden’s cabin on a perfect ski day. The tracks were fast, the air was warm (or at least not freezing cold…-5 when Jeff G and I started out), and the sun came out as dad and I were enjoying lunch and a chat with Chuck at the beautiful Stoney Creek meadow. My blue + a bit of special violet wax combo was just perfect, as were dad’s skins. Conditions couldn’t have been better!
Great Divide / Lower Telemark – Jan 18.
Temps of -5C all afternoon with scattered flurries. The conditions are very good, and the GD was groomed and trackset while we were there. Lower Telemark is also in very good shape – an excellent alternative to the GD returning to the 1A parking lot. There was lots of room in the parking lot at 1pm today.
ELK TRAP – Jan 18
Thanks to encouragement from MAAD, this trip was well worthwhile.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Wish I had stopped to reconnoitre with the couple who recognized me as I descended near the Warden Cabin. As I thanked the gentleman for giving me the track, a recognizable British accent said “My Pleasure”. Maybe you will Reply to this!
Glad you found the skeleton, Chuck…cool pictures! It was nice meeting you!
Thanks for writing, Erin. Glad to see that you are replacing reduced work with more life!
Thanks for the trip report, I have a couple of questions:
1- How far is Elk Trap from the end of the grooming (approximate km)
2- Is it feasible with skinny track skis or one needs light touring skis?
I like reading the trip reports to also improve my Frenglish but it was the first time I read the word “reconnoitre” , it looks like an old obsolete form of “reconnaitre” in French but not sure if I would know how to properly use it in a sentence 🙂
Hi JF, I was there with Chuck today. Elk Trap is 200m on your right, about 4.5km from the Stoney Creek Bridge. I think the bridge is 200m or 300m past the end of the grooming. I was on my skinny track skis and had no problem skiing on the track which was packed ahead of me by MAAD and Chuck. More details shortly.
Many thanks Mike W!
The only question left to explain is my use of the word “reconnoitre”. While I’m not a linguist, it is the first word that came to mind when I meant something like ‘reconnect’. Looking forward to our next reconnoitre, maybe at Boulder Pass!
Merci Chuck, Skoki lodge is on my list to do in February when we have longer daylight.
Nice to see you had shutter bug fever and took pics of the elk skeleton. My personal favorite pic was number 13 with the slight uphill shot. The curves and lines in the photo just seem to keep my eyes moving around. I really like the 2 spikes sticking out from the buried antler.
The caption on one of your pics said there was “nothing left for me.” but it looked like there was more red on those bones when I was there 2 days earlier!!! I know a guy gets pretty hungry on ski trips!
Thanks very much for the ski flashback with the photos.
I hope my trail on top of the wolf pack packed trail was fast for you to get in.
Hopefully someone with a camera will continue past Elk Trap and follow my trail and break the last 3 km of trail to the historic Cuthead Warden Cabin or perhaps continue further to where the buffalo roam.
Hey Mr. MAAD,
I think we’re again waiting for you, or at least much longer daylight hours!
Thanks again for all your encouragement.
Up from Banff Springs to Goat Greek parking lot and back – so fast! Not the best for grip but our blue purple did fine until the return then we did some skate skiing for the last 5km to make it up the hills. Not at all surprised to find we were the only people on the trails apart from one fat biker on the way up. Some skiers out on the last 5 going back. It would have suited a Walter Scott as shoulder power was the best. I did more double poling than ever before on this trail. The last run down before the split between east and west spray was exhilarating!! Need more snow but really this was fun!!
PLPP from the visitor centre: Meadow / Wooley / Amos / Wheeler / Bolton / Elk Pass / Hydroline / Tyrwhitt / Pocaterra / Lynx / Wooley / Meadow. Much of this route has recent grooming and track setting. Those sections are in really good shape. Exceptions are Bolton and Tyrwhitt. Bolton saw a lot of walker traffic on the weekend and is pretty skied out anyway so conditions there are not great, especially if you are heading down to Bolton parking that way. Tyrwhitt is okay. The tracks are more backcountry like than trackset. The big hill down from middle Elk Pass to Bolton Creek requires caution going down as the packed section is fairly narrow. I saw Alf’s back country track coming off East Elk Pass by the creek crossing. I did not see MaSid’s entrance. Is it further west towards middle Elk Pass?
I’ve been approaching east elk pass from the low point on the grooming between elk pass and the thyrwitt table (Bolton ck). Alf’s alternate return exits to the grooming further west at the first meadow down from elk pass (east of the pass and west of Bolton ck). The loop route probably best done CW.
Thanks. The trail that I saw was your then. Next time…
For maximum value, save it for a sunny low wind weather day when the elk pass cloud isn’t present.
Spray River West: -2 and tracks somewhat glazed with occasional pine cones, needles and tree bark “brakes”. Love Alf’s creative expression describing Tyrwhitt’s Sunday tracks being “wibbly, wobbly and wandery” especially coming back around all those corners on West Spray. Too hard packed for me but still nice to have a short ski with stunning mountain views. Trail quiet at noon with maybe a dozen skiers.
Mon Jan 18: east elk pass (again).
Went in to explore some back country terrain along the west slopes of Mt Thyrwitt/pocaterra. So many ridges and avalanche paths to explore (dozens), but not the easiest access for all of them, varying terrain angles and aspects, plus significant hazard in places. More exploration required to find the best lines. Snow in the trees was very supportive and didn’t produce much powder skiing, except in more open glades (which aren’t prolific).
Also provided an opportunity to check out Alf’s alternate return route via the north end of ridge between boulton creek and elk pass/hydroline. Probably not for most people but easy enough for those used to that kind of travel. It’s a gentle rising traverse northwards to the crest of the ridge and the boundary cut line. Some tight spots between trees on the way up, but once the height is gained, improved travel. Probably best with LT gear normally, but doable on skinny gear with the current supportive snow conditions. An interesting loop for something different. It’s in the shade in the afternoon so most would probably enjoy the out and back on east elk by itself, extending further south through the meadows as desired.
Bill Milne Monday pm
Fairly glazed, but still snow-like. Cover is wafer thin, so hopefully more snow comes before the next warm day. Skating lanes firm-to-icy. Classic tracks getting lots of tree debris in them.
Found a grip wax. Respond here or on the lost and found tab (main menu) to describe and claim it.
PLPP – Southern trails
Cloudy sky and -8C at Pocaterra parking lot – We skied a figure 8 with Rolly Road – Come Along – Pocaterra – Lynx – Amos – Wheeler – Whiskey Jack – Pocaterra – Lynx – Woolley – Meadow – Lodge pole.
Brand new tracks on Amos, Wheeler and Wooley, the rest of the trails are in good conditions, just a bit more needles on the lower part of Pocaterra. Excellent grip with Swix V40 Blue Extra and later on a layer of Violet V45.
I forgot to display my pass at the parking lot and was gratified with a pamphlet to remind me to buy a pass….won’t happen again!
Castle-Lake Louise – skied LL to castle lookout & return yesterday encountering lots of happy families and well behaved leashed K9’s. Tracks were excellent whole way except non-existent in Loppet section from LL (hard sided) campground to morants curve —only single snowshoe wide soft packed. (Of course the road walk is skiable on snowbank as expected) Also, noteworthy is gap along Baker Creek chalets ‘creekside’ so must cut through middle of resort and ski/walk road shoulder to next parking lot. Other than that, lots of snow this year there! https://photos.app.goo.gl/txtgfbEv6mTD33Yv9
PLPP-East Elk Pass
For this adventure, we parked at Boulton Bridge… busy but not full. We followed the fresh grooming up to the Wheeler-Packers junction and then took Packers (in perfect condition) up to Pocaterra. The new track setting was amazing on Pocaterra, but it ended at the Lookout/Tyrwhitt junction. Tyrwhitt was as scenic as ever, but it hasn’t been groomed for a while, so the tracks were wibbly-wobbly-wandery. Leaving the groomed trails, we followed MaSid’s tracks across the lovely series of meadows along upper Boulton Creek to East Elk Pass. There we enjoyed a sunny break at the latest snow couch. From there, we roughly followed the Alberta-BC boundary back to the Elk Pass archway. We flew down Elk Pass and took Fox Creek and Moraine back to the parking lot. By the end of the day, Fox Creek and Moraine were looking well used, but still very much fun.
Interesting. How was travel over the north end of the hump?
No need to go over the hump. Just start from the Outfitters campsite and contour north around the bump at about the same elevation as East Elk Pass until you hit the boundary cut-line. Then either follow the boundary, or take a series of meadows to the base of the final short hill on Tyrwhitt, east of the HydroLine. Travel was easy, even with skinny XC skis and wax.
doumo arigatou gozaimasu
West Elk Pass – Another great Blue day for the Mountain Trolls. Only 3 cars in the Upper Lake overflow parking lot. The connector trail to Elk parking lot was in excellent shape having been recently track-set. Lower Fox Creek trail was well skier-set with plenty of snow to fill all the dips and flatten the hills. Upper Fox Creek trail had been recently track-set and was surprisingly not very busy? Followed drifted-in skier set tracks from the Blueberry junction across West Elk Pass to the new logged area on the Powerline to Elk Lakes PP – did not encounter another person the entire way across West Elk Pass (given the crowds elsewhere it was very special to have this place all to ourselves).
Terrace/Kovach/Ribbon Creek/ short but sweet clockwise loop with some meanderings near the Village to add distance to the workout. Overall the area was looking “well-used”, but the tracks were compact and solid. Some hills seemed a bit scraped and slippery with a few icy sections – particularly the big hill on the “new” Ribbon Creek trail. There was also minor debris here and there.
I arrived around 9:40 am, with the temperature hovering just above zero, a stiff wind blowing, and the sun poking up above the peaks to the east. The lot was already filling up quickly. By the time I finished, it was a real zoo. I should add that the pavement was very icy. On my route, I passed several groups of snowshoers, hikers and a few people on fat bikes – but everyone was being mindful not to trample on the ski tracks (much appreciated!).
WBC most of the Crystal Lines and Links / Moose connector and south portion of loop / Mountain View west / Mountain Road upper (above Moose Connector) / Sundog / Iron Springs – Elbow north and south loops. I was skiing on waxless metal edged skis.
Trails that were groomed yesterday are in decent shape in most places. Shady areas are better than sunny ones. Walkers have been all over the trail system (perhaps thinking that skiing is done for the season or just feeling particularly entitled). Fortunately, the grooming has compacted the snow enough that there is less damage due to walkers than one would usually expect. Some of the downhills on Moose south were icy. Be especially careful on the “s” turn descending to the bridge over Bragg Creek if one is skiing CW on the south leg. That one is very icy.
Mountain View west is rated as “marginal”. I would certainly concur. There are a few good sections but lots of icy sections. I skied CCW. The hill coming down southbound from the col was very challenging even with metal edges. Going the other way would not be any better.
Iron Springs – Elbow both loops. This one is also rated “marginal” but I was pleasantly surprised. I was not going to ski it but as I passed by the entrance as I was skiing up east Sundog a couple of guys were skiing down and they indicated that it was pretty good. I would concur. There are certainly a few icy sections in the usual places with lots of sun exposure but all of the steep downhill sections with the exception of the southern most descent on Iron Springs towards Elbow were actually fine, better than the harder hills on Moose Loop. I skied a figure 8 and ended up going up the one bad hill (which does get a lot of afternoon sun).
Lake Louise campground 10:15am -7C, 1 other vehicle. Headed up from Field where we spent 3 nights at Truffle Pigs Lodge & Bistro, highly recommend it! Snowing and blowing as we left but clear and calm in Lk Louise. Did the Bow River and campground loops and saw only a handful of people and a couple of dogs. Tracks were quite good, a little wobbly and somewhat dog tramped in spots but nothing horrendous. A great finish to a 3 day weekend.
CASTLE LOOKOUT TO BAKER CREEK: As reported below, conditions are excellent, looks like trail was recently groomed. Sunny railway side not melted out yet, new fluff of snow was excellent. About 5 cars in parking lot when we arrived at 10 am, but Castle Lookout parking lot full by 1 pm. Some skiers commented that they had to drive to Baker to get parking. About 12 dogs on leash, only one dog left off leash. Quite an improvement over the usual. Lots of wildlife activity in this area.
Cascade Valley: a later start today with a pleasant temperature of -3C, lots of people were climbing up the hill with us, tracks were fast and in great shape. Mountain views, pristine snow and some sun rays beyond the end of tracksetting at the old wooden bridge. Enjoyed a nice break at the warden cabin by the river and were surprised to meet up with old time friends there. The return ski was fast, as we mostly could stay in the single track and double pole. Tracks were a bit washed out and wavy on the last part of the downhill, but good control on dry snow. Such a beautiful place to ski.
Beautiful day of skiing from Baker Creek towards Castle Lookout. Lovely single track with a fresh dusting of powder made for a glorious day with some sun and light winds in temps around -5 to -2. Light traffic picked up as the morning went on but it was smiles all around including on the faces of the many dogs on trail, all well mannered. All of us were on classic waxless and the grip and glide were excellent.
Thanks to the groomers at Shaganappi for tracksetting what’s left of the snow in Calgary. Tracks were fast and hard this morning and lots of people out. Overall decent coverage except there are areas that are exposed or have twigs or rocks. But great ski on an above 0 degree day in Calgary.
Has anyone skied Healy Creek lately? The Banff trail report hasn’t been changed since their “poor” comment in mid December.
Healy Creek had numerous exposed rocks as reported here on Jan 4:
Cascade Valley to Stoney Creek-Saturday. Beautiful day of skiing. Blue skies, excellent grooming conditions, perfect snow temp for V30 wax. Started from the parking lot at 9am, about -7. Only a handful of skiers all the way to Stoney creek. On the way back a huge bull elk blocked the trail and caused a small traffic jam. He was HUGE! Everyone gave him lots of space and after about 15 minutes he slowly wandered into the woods and down the hill. Quite a sight! Back at about 2 PM to very full parking lots but the trail never felt busy.
Its -6 at the peter lougheed discovery centre and partially cloudy.
The Lookout Trail at PLPP was very choppy yesterday on the downhill, heading towards the Hydroline because of the new snowfall. However the view from the top was beautiful!
CASCADE RIVER- ELK TRAP +
Elk photographers take note below.
Excellent ski conditions on the Cascade River trail right to the end of the trackset. Lots of people skiing. The most I have ever seen.
From Stoney Creek I rebroke and broke trail to roughly 2 kilometers beyond Elk Trap. I would imagine I fell maybe 3 km short of Cuthead Warden Cabin. There is on average boot top ski penetration while breaking trail on 205cm BC59 XC skis with about 170 lb gross weigh on the skis. A few spots I sank to the knees. Moderate trail breaking difficulty on average with just a few spots that were moderately difficult. Snow speed was moderate at best while trail breaking.
Photographers who are looking for a unique photo of an elk will find one about 750 meters before the Elk Trap. This elk is not moving anywhere. From about 200 meters before the elk, I noticed antlers sticking sideways out of the snow along with some rib bones. It was a scene reminiscent of an eerie Western Movie the way the bones and antler stuck out. The elk was a recent kill and it was well consumed. Not a hair left just a whole lot of bones.
This elk had a big battle before it finally fell judging by the snow marks. Every scavenger in the valley had been feeding on it. It was partly buried from the last 2 snow falls. I wish I had my camera to capture the eerie sight of bones and a 110cm antler sticking out of the snow. It looked even more eerie on the ski back at night with the boney shadows of my headlamp.
On the ski back the trackset was a little damaged by a few skate skiers who had no skier etiquette or skill to to skate only on the narrow skating lane.
The snow was moderate to fast coming out at night using Swix 30 wax as usual. The temperature at night at Stoney was a very pleasent-5c and cloudy. Winds were light to light moderate speed.
No need for a camera, when you can write such a vivid description like that!
The dead elk skeleton could be the photo of the year or decade Chuck!!!!
The ribs sticking out of the snow just add so much to the scene. It is a show stopper.
I have seen a number of dead animals in the bush over the decades, but never any with so much of the skeleton still intact. Usually the bones tend to get dragged around the country side. Most of the skeleton appeared to be buried under recent snows. The animal was being fed upon until sometime just before the last snowfall.
I am kind of glad I did not ski up further the last time I was in the area otherwise I may have disrupted the dinner of the local wolf pack which was so kind to break or “pack” much of the “ski” trail. That would have been highly impolite and uncultured without having Grey Poupon to offer.
PS – there is no need to take skis off at any of the little creeks that cross the old Cascade River Fire Road beyond Stoney, as long as you can do leg stretches.
Nice report. I just can’t imagine skiing alone in the dark, by large mammal remains far away from my car.
Well it did freak me out somewhat when I first noticed the antlers from about 200 meters away in the daylight, particularly when there were semi fresh cat tracks in the area that were less than 24 hours old. But once I noticed the bare elk ribs, I got hungry, I mean more curious and felt better about approaching. As I approached the skeleton I noticed a lack of fresh tracks and knew no animal was in the immediate area. When I got right up to the elk skeleton, I noticed some sort of thin red tissue on the bones which temporarily freaked me out again until I realize it was likely something the animals probably are not interested in eating otherwise they would not have left it. I guess that must have been some sort of ligament material.
I have backpacked and skied through these mountains at night going way back into the last century. I have had the pleasure over the years of having Grizzlies and Wolves hang out around me, up to 3 days, with no troubles. Having taken a bear awareness course 26 years ago really helped increase my knowledge and reduced my fear of the animals. It was like taking an avalanche course. It helps increase your knowledge of hazards to make travel more safe. Plus I probably watched to much Grizzly Adams when I was a kid.
Looking at things from a statistical perspective always helps too. Very few people are mauled by animals in Banff. Far more people get hurt by elk than predators. The last time a skier was killed by a predator at night on the Cascade River trail was in the 1990’s.
Stats aside, everyone who goes into the bush should expect a potential attack by an animal. Generally predators go after the sick or injured animals as they can smell them out. As I age, I become a greater statistical risk and I have to except that. I would much prefer my bones to be spread through the Great Canadian Rockies rather than being dumped into a 6 foot hole behind some COVID old folks home.
I have also been practicing marshal arts with xc skis on!
PS- do you know where a guy can buy bear spray for xc skiers with antifreeze in it?
The dark skiing humor will hopefully continue.
The bottom part of the trail is hard and well scraped, so some may experience a few difficult moments on the descent, if you are planning a trip to the area. Good conditions above Marmot creek.
Peter Lougheed PP
-13C at 9:00 AM / -3 at 4:00 PM at Pocaterra Hut. Five of us volunteered with Nordiq Alberta to monitor PLPP parking lots from 9:00 Am to 1:00 PM. All parking lots from Pocaterra to Elk Pass were full by noon and we were directing folks to the Upper Lakes lots.
After work we skied Pocaterra to Packers junction and returned same trail. Pocaterra and Come Along tracks are still in good condition considering the traffic since January 14 grooming. Pocaterra from the Hut to Come Along is well loved but okay. VR45 and VR50 worked for this afternoon ski.
Fairview, Moraine Lake Road, and Pipestone really don’t get any better than they were today. -7C everywhere all day, tracksetting perfection, it was even sunny at Pipestone, and smiling faces abounded at every corner and junction. Swix V40 worked well for grip, and glide was slightly better than outstanding. Skiing these trails right now is HIGHLY recommended. 🙂
Well we did Pipestone and it was busy! We tried to replicate a MASID bench at the top – reasonable – but not as sophisticated. We had the help of our grandchildren who contributed snow angels too. Not sure how I can post a picture.
I love Pipestone and know it is a canine friendly ski loop but it does seem a bit much to have a guy skijoring the trail with three dogs…It is not exactly a wide trail and one track.
Anyway lovely day and so good to see lots of people out and cross country skiing.
Adding to the other Blueberry reports of excellent conditions…a photo trail report below, and an encounter with the two errant snowshoers on middle Elk Pass. They were on their way out at that point when we mentioned in a nice way that they shouldn’t be on that section of trail, to which they replied, pleasantly- “yes, we have been told that many times already”. So it sounds like maybe an honest mistake, but there were a few short areas where they had dug in a bit and created some divots. No damage to the set tracks though, and I thanked them for that.
The snowshoe trail all along hydroline was nicely compacted post storm when we were there Thursday. Perhaps it had blown in. If I recall correctly, dont think the trail maps at intersections show snowshoe trails? Not easy to even find the right start at the parking lot as snowshoe trails (multiple options) appear to go off in different directions than expected, with no map details handy to orient oneself from the get go. Probably time to do better. Until then, I can’t even point them in the right direction adequately. It’s almost comical.
The Elk Pass trail is shared with snowshoers from top of Big Hill to junction of Fox Creek. They have a signed SS trail linking them to bottom of Hydroline Hill. Shared trail again to top of Hydroline Hill. There is marked trail along the power line ROW (right of way) to Elk Pass. My theory is, by the time most get to top of Hydroline Hill they are tired and select the not so busy ski grooming to reach Elk Pass.
The start of the SS trail from Elk Pass parking is not clear, but we rarely see them on the grooming up the Big Hill.
Pipestone has been such a joy this year to many people: families and canines alike. Good to hit the parking lot before 9:30 and today there had to be a km of cars trying to exit at Lk Louise, so forget the civilized bathroom break, and get into the left hand lane to bypass all the downhill skiers trying to get into the lineups. While Mud Lk is only 0.4 down a short trail, it has one of the most majestic pics of Mt Temple. If you did not stop for the civilized BR break, then it offers some privacy. We had a fairly early start up #20 Blue, but one has to be aware that this trail, while recommended to be skied counterclockwise, many prefer to ski it in the opposite direction so “head’s up for skiers and dogs”. The grooming was amazing as was the snow and even the last hill on blue was relatively easy to descend. Couch provided a sunny enjoyable seating and we were surprised we did not need a reservation. Please note: last year at this time, Pipestone had not even opened, and today was my 6th time there already this year. Thank you Parks and groomers for it skiing like ripe avocados!!
PLPP. Started from Boulton bridge and skied up Whisky Jack, over the Lookout, then to Elk Pass and back on Fox Creek and Boulton Creek. Very nice snow. Trails north of Hydroline did not have grooming since it last snowed, and Lookout was especially choppy and a bit slow to descend as a result. Whisky Jack also has a tree down across the trail near the bottom of the s bends. Superlative fresh grooming on Hydroline, Patterson’s and Elk Pass, as good as I’ve ever seen them. Fox Creek and Boulton Creek were very nice and fast to ski. View from Lookout with the elk pass cloud below and sunshine above was very nice. Funny to think that a certain current politician referred these trails as underused; every parking lot was full and there were people everywhere. Thanks groomers!
Yeah, something is certainly “underused” but it ain’t the trails!
Lovely Lake Louise
Jamie and I skied many kilometres today, starting at the 1A parking lot. I was the first skier on the fresh grooming on the first part of lower Tramline. The lower Tramline was fun and so pretty. We continued down to the Continental Divide. Our return was along the 1A to blue Peyto, up along the Upper Tramline. It had just been groomed and track set, so we had to zoom down the Upper Tramline. We skied Peyto to Deer Lodge, crossed over and did the Fairview loop counterclockwise. MaSid, we were happy to have lunch on your bench, in the sun! Fairview was amazing too! We skied over to Lake Louise, and on the lake (following the groomer right in front of us), where hundreds of people were skating. We went back up to upper Tramline, down blue Peyto and took the lower Tramline, back to the 1A. It was a super great snow condition day!
Hi carole, Is it still in decent shape?
Yes, it is still very reasonable; it could probably use a touch up.
Correction… part of my description should have stated Lower Telemark and Upper Telemark (not Tramline). So sorry for any confusion yesterday!
Evan Thomas – Wedge loop CW / Bill Milne up and back to the hotels. Conditions were pretty good out there today with temperatures a degree or two above zero most of the day. I skied up Evan Thomas. There are lot of people that walk that way so the middle is getting pretty bumpy. If you can stay in the track going down it is fine. Other than that there have been few walkers on the route so damage to the grooming not very extensive. There is a some tree debris here and there in the forest sections but not a lot of stuff on the trail.
After reading the recent trip reports (thanks Normand & Chris S) regarding the removing of the fallen tree and the recent grooming, it was a perfect blue day for a nice ski. Just after the steep climb after the warden cabin, the roller coaster trail was “interesting” on the way back on skinny skis as sometimes you get “stuck” in the tracks where you would love to snow plow… As Normand mentioned the last 4km back to the parking lot were quite fast but still controllable. I never saw so many people on the trail (counted 30 folks) and most people stepped to the side of the tracks as we were cruising down.
Nice Jean-François you got to enjoy some blue sky up there. Got to return with skinny skis for once, as opposed to light touring gears, to take full advantage of a great ski out especially from km 14 to 4.
Normand, the first and only time I met you was at Shadow lake in 2018! Enjoy the ride on skinny skis.
I figured so, but wasn’t sure if there was another JF in this website. See you on the trails.
Bluebird day with a dusting of fresh snow in the track on the Bow River loop at Lake Louise. I finally found where to park in the campground.. https://photos.app.goo.gl/tu7rfH8mSStn2Sj8A
Had a great day on Great Divide and Lower Telemark today. Started at the Lake O’Hara parking lot. The tracks were good although a bit blown in at spots – certainly not an issue. The trail on the east side of the great divide arch was great and Lower Telemark was absolutely awesome. The round trip was 21 km, so we got our half marathon in.
Skied the Goat Creek Trail to the Banff Springs hotel today. A very enjoyable 26.4 km but some of the downhill sections were bordering on too icy to be completely safe. I would not try it again myself until we get some new snow. Pretty deserted until the Spray Loop junction, and even then very few folks out. The Goat Creek parking lot however was full when we were dropped off at 1130…
Boulton Parking- Wheeler-Amos-Woolley-Meadow-Wheeler back to Boulton
-5 deg at 11:30 under sunny blue skies. VR45 was good. Meadow and Amos north/west of the Lynx junction trackset and in immaculate condition.Wheeler, Woolley and Amos (south of Lynx) covered with 3-5 cm new snow on older grooming, but there was a very serviceable skier track that provided very enjoyable skiing. No sign of temps above freezing doing any damage to the trails.
Pocaterra, Elkwood and Boulton parking all close to full by noontime, but no cars parked out the road at 1130, or as we left at 130.
Did Tramline today. It was lovely and not busy until you get closer to the Lake of course. It’s track set but someone has recently walked all over the first and last km of the trail- bummer!
MORAINE LAKE ROAD – Jan 16
Great conditions today at this iconic location.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
The best part of the trip were the people we met!
Started out at PLPP this morning at the Elk Pass parking lot at 9:30. Most trails freshly groomed and perfectly track set Elk pass – Blueberry – Patterson – Hydroline – Fox creek – Moraine.
Had my skate skis in the truck so stopped by Bill Milne for a cruise on the flats. Super fast and crusty snow and still in decent shape despite that rain they got. Went from Mount Kidd to Ribbon and back and it was pretty similar conditions throughout.
Elk-Pass —> Blueberry.
Arrived to no cars at 9, and fresh trackset/corduroy. A little chilly and windy at -16, but warmed up to -7 at noon.
Lot full at noon.
Trackset was in really good condition with minimal shrapnel in the tracks from the wind.
Just an all around nice ski. Amazing sunrise over the mountains and a super cool fog cascade down the valley from Elk pass in late morning.
Couple of errant snowshoers decided to go on corduroy where they shouldn’t. Won’t get into that debate. But just makes me feel bad for all the hard work the tracksetters did the night before to get it ready for today.
Not sure how we can let them know how much we appreciate their effort. The tracksetters not the snowshoers 😉
Forgot to mention. Fox Creek had been set as well. Nice little alternate route through the trees to by pass first big hill on Elk Pass.
Got there early to avoid the masses – no problem parking – did the Crystal Line Sun Dog Loggers loop cw then turned around and did it ccw. Tracks were as advertised by Boomer cold crisp and fast. A little crusty on the snowplow sections but we are half way through the season so we had our snow plow on when needed but given the masses were yet to arrive it was mostly point them and push and let it go. What a great time is was given what the Groomers had to work with. DONATE FOLKS these guys work magic for us so DONATE
CNC 9:00. -4C parking lot empty but filling fast 11:00 full
Used Skin skis again today.
Trails are hard Natural snow tracks are glazed and Klister would work. Saw a few waxed skiers armstronging it. The skate lanes have been groomed but were hard. Later in the day they should soften up somewhat.
The man made snow trails were groomed, trackset and in great shape. We skied Lynx For the first time from Biathlon Stadium up to Banff Trail Also skied the 200m Riversdge trail extension to BNP boundary.
Check on the CNCPP trail report page for which trails have been groomed.
VR65 was the grip wax for today. Worked on both man made and natural. Doesn’t pick up much debris.
It is -10 degrees and sunny with some scattered clouds in Peter Lougheed PP at the discovery Centre.
PLPP on Friday – Elk Pass via Morraine/Fox Creek and Tyrwhitt/Whiskey Jack. Skier tracked on most of them which made for some fun powder skiing on the downhill. Lovely solitude on a single skier tracked trail through the meadows on Tyrwhitt. Sounds like major grooming/track setting happened last night. Get out and enjoy!
Forgot to mention there was a tree down on Whisky Jack – its along a flat section (as you come down) not sure if the groomers are able to clear that out of the way!
Thank you for reporting this. We will pass along to the Peter Lougheed Trail Team.
What was the size of the tree? This will determine what they need to remove it. (chainsaw/handsaw).
It’s fairly large, I’d say a chainsaw is needed.
PLPP on Friday. Started at Pocaterra, temperature around -4, V40 wax worked well. It doesn’t get much better. Pocaterra (as far as Packers), Come Along, Amos, Meadow, Lynx all beautifully groomed. For most of the drive the temperature was well above 0 and there was no new snow on the ground, but PLPP had lots of snow and winter wonderland scenery.
SHADOW LAKE LODGE
For this section, I will only refer to the ski track setting all the way to the lodge. Look into the backcountry section for the ski touring I did beyond the lodge today. About 2 km skiing into the Red Earth Creek trail, I was passed by two skidoos with 3 people; they were going to “rescue” (their word) a skidoo in the meadows before the lodge. Until I met them back passed RE6 campground, the track setting was pretty poor. BUT, they were laying out brand new track setting going down from the meadows before the lodge. What a treat to get that for an easy approach to the lodge, for already my 5th visit this winter to the area, before a long tour up the upper reach of Haiduk Creek (see backcountry section, as well as photos). The return from the lodge was great on the new track setting. I was on light touring skis with metal edges. I can see the lowermost 4 km being challenging on skinny skis, especially where the snow is starting to be a bit scrapped off. Just need to adjust your speed accordingly. More fresh snow would not hurt lower down.
Pipestone-What a great xski day. Great glide. So much snow. Only saw a few ppl. So peaceful.
It would be nice that anyone who brings their dogs, as this couple did, that they follow the trail rules-that dogs Must be leashed. The snow was soft, and this very cute dog was following in the back and making non stop paw tracks in the middle of the track set trails. Thx
CNCPP. I skied the alpenglow Friday night. Tracks are icy, glazed and fast but not yet deadly. Parks staff have revived sun exposed and dirt prone areas. Many needles and debreeze in wind prone places. Skate lanes were also fast. Needles abound but overall, it’s okay. It will be fast and icy Saturday morning. Crown skis had weak grip, but wax to your own peril.
WBC at sunset:
I did a quick ski on the various West Crystal options, and onwards out Mountain Road west. The skiing was fairly good throughout, with nice tracks, and a thin layer of softer snow over a smooth icy base out of the grooves. Fast skiing! It’s amazing to me that there is much enjoyable skiing at all at WBC- considering the bad hands that have been dealt by the weather recently! Skied classic, with Start Purple, my go-to wax for these conditions, performing perfectly.
Nakiska to Skogan Pass to Dead Mans Flat return.
Enough has been written about Skogan, I’ll just add icy and fast on the descent. Light trail breaking on the descent from Skogan to Dead Mans. About halfway down where the traffic picks up from that side, it became very icy and the descent was fast and sketchy. Used skins for the ascent back up to Skogan. Great day out!
Was there any trees down past the ski trail grooming at the top?
STONEY CREEK – Jan 15
Perfect timing, with excellent tracksetting on the Cascade Valley.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Bob, we might need a reminder that trail etiquette is that the downhill skier has right of way when there is only a single track… especially on their escape!
Hey Chuck, Bob and track setters. Where there is only a single track, such as Cascade Valley beyond the campground, why isn’t the track set on the LEFT side going up? That would indicate to the uphill users that it belongs to the downhill skiers, but uphillers can still use it when safe to do so. Problem solved?
I hope the tracksetter is reading this!
Maybe more a good practice rather than etiquette, it would be nice to remind uphill skiers to look up from time to time to see if anyone is coming downhill…. specially on steep hills and / or approaching blind corners.
Baker Creek with my dog Bajoue today. Perfect tracks and a temperature of -5 at 1:30 pm. One of those perfect days. We ran into Bob; his face really lights up when he sees a dog on a trail! Attached pictures of perfect tracks and pooch. https://photos.app.goo.gl/uqt8CrKMeQZJqhy76
Castle Junction (CJ) to end of Railway Track grooming towards Baker Creek. Started at 9am on the fresh track setting at CJ. Stayed cold -9 most of day. Started seeing alot more people and their dogs closer to our turnaround at 11 am. Cars on 1-A appeared to have spotted moose as they kept stopping across from Protection Mtn. It has been years since I skied that stretch of 5 kms from CJ to Castle Lookout. Grooming was sweet and I felt like I might be in a different province, it had been SO long since I’d skied that stretch. Decided if there was to be a Lk Louise Loppet, that stretch could prove rather interesting. Not sure which direction best to ski it in, but we did both. Skis came on and off a few times. A great but humbling 24 kms day.
Windy drive with temps around +6C around Nakiska turnoff, but by the time I reached Elkwood parking lot is was -3C at 10:30. Perfect wax for the day with VR40 as a base and VR45 on top. Started out on Amos which was freshly trackset. Wheeler and Amos, past the Lynx Junction, were skier set tracks on 10cm of snow. Went on to Moraine and Fox which were freshly track set and in perfect condition. It is probably the best I have seen these two trails. Up to Elk Pass on wobbly skier set tracks. Same with Tyrwhitt but it was such as nice day it didn’t matter. Continued on Pocatera which was skier set tracks until you got to the Packer junction when excellent fresh track setting resumed. Nice and fast trip down Pocaterra to Lynx which is also fast and has fresh track setting, and then back to the truck. Great day out. No pine needles or debris on trail. Some old snowbombs on the north side of Tyrwhitt. +1c at 2:30 at the truck.
Mount Shark – Minus 2 upon arrival at 10:30 – Greeted by a very friendly Ken Hewitt who was out volunteering / collecting parking fees. Fresh overnight grooming and track setting throughout the entire area. We skied the Watridge Lake trail and carried on down to the Spray River Bridge. Some degree of needles and tree beard in the area near the Banff border, but otherwise it was a spectacular day.
The 5, 10 and 15 kms. loops looked fantastic. Just 20 cars in the parking lot at 1:30 pm – temp. minus 1.
I would also concur that the grooming throughout K-country has been outstanding this winter. Thank you! We are so lucky!
Skied Cascade to about 5 Km past the bridge, we got there at about 10 and the temp was -1, and were met by fresh track setting. Not very busy in the parking lot and the temp stayed constant all day. Great conditions and lots of smiling faces.
PLPP South Yesterday (Thrusday Jan 14) – Fox Creek and Elk Pass; OT (offtrack) in East Elk Pass and Patterson Meadows
About -13 to start with brilliant sun all day. Fox Creek was freshly groomed and a nice bookend to the near boot-top trail-breaking on Elk Pass and Tyrwhitt. There’s a most impressive tree bomb crater on Elk Pass. Not much hang-fire left in the trees anymore, thankfully. Meadow travel was easy enough for track skis.
Fri Jan 15: castle lookout to baker ck and back.
Crunchy, chunky and a bit rough in the base of the track to start early in the morning, improving further west. By the time I got back, enough travel to smooth out the chunky bits, so even better tomorrow. Busy parking lot on return, but nobody there before 9 in the morning. To finish I skied down the south ditch to the parking lot. A good alternative to the hill so close to the lot.
Castle Junction to Protection Mtn road crossing.
This web site is wonderful, first thing this morning 3 destinations were considered from previous reports, the new track setting along the 1A won out. We parked at the Rockbound Lake lot just south of the junction – the washroom is open here. The track setting was excellent from the work done yesterday. The section to the Lookout parking lot is double track set except where the trail is narrow. VR40 was good but a hint of VR45 made it even better. The kick and glide all the way to our north turn around was a delight. After turning we spotted two moose browsing in the forest. The next interesting sighting was skier Bob near the bottom one of the faster hills, thanks for standing to the side to let us pass! Many people and dogs were enjoying the trail, all hills are passable by all abilities, and it will still be good tomorrow.
Redearth Creek, snow temp @ 10:30 am was -6 C.
Just before starting up the trail, Bill and the Alpine Club crew came down to the parking lot on 3 snow machines after having cleared away the fallen tree and groomed & trackset the trail, thank you!
Definitely not a beginner trail unless you’re comfortable with the downhill runs, in particular the final drop to the parking lot.
But a pleasant ski once you’ve climbed up into the valley beyond the roar of the highway.
CASTLE JUNCTION TO CASTLE LOOKOUT: had never skied this section before so tried it today. Nice fresh grooming and snow quality, more steep hills than we were expecting but they were fun and fast. One section in trees is too narrow for double tracking (going back to Junction) so be careful you don’t get a ski stuck in the down track!! Some nice views and lots of wildlife tracks.
Castle Lookout to Baker Creek yesterday: -16 at 10 am, -8/-10 snow temperature, warming up nicely in bright sun. Swix VR40 worked well all day, fellow skiers on skin skis. Slight icy crunchiness covered with new snow. Smooth snow last 3 km towards Baker Creek, but snow covered skier set tracks. Note: washrooms at Castle Junction gas station NOT available. Baker Creek trailhead outhouse open, no outhouse at Castle Lookout. https://www.flickr.com/photos/152288647@N08/albums/72157717906927227/with/50838419518/
PLPP – Whiskey Jack-Pocaterra-Packers
Conditions were very nice for skiier-set tracks when setting out at 9am, another reminder that about 150m before the large hill heading CCW there’s a fallen tree across the whole path. Warmed up while we trekked, plenty of skiiers later in the morning. Hope it’s an enjoyable trip for all!
I should clarify, tree across the path on Whiskey Jack. Ski brain gets everyone at some point!
Jan 14 – Redearth Creek to Shadow Lake. The trail had both a fresh snowmobile-packed trail and a skier-set uptrack at the side. One fallen tree blocked the trail near the bottom, but otherwise the going was easy. I enjoyed the nice sunny weather at the lake.
Maybe this is why it’s called Shadow Lake?
Sorry second link should be http://arievandervelden.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/8015ShadowLake.jpg
Skied Cascade fire road today. Skier set tracks were well established to the 7 km bridge and campground. We continued on for another 5 km, breaking trail for most of that distance, so slow going but very pretty. We had wanted to make it to the warden cabin porch for a break, but turned back as it was getting late in the day. Fresh powder and blue skies – a slice of heaven!
-15 when I left Boulton Bridge at 10:25. Lovely track set run up Boulton Creek and Fox, then skier set tracks from The Elk Pass jctn over the pass and down Tywitt and Whisky Jack back to the car. A beautiful, sunny and crisp day. Blue wax all the way!
Wedge Connector to Bill Milne (crossed River on foot to make loop to Wedge Pond parking). Thin skiff of snow on crusty hard snow with some debris. Was doing some reconnaissance for skate skiing. Wedge Connector is not wide enough for skates about 1.5 km in. Bill Milne is better. My first time here. Lovely just to be out even without ideal grooming or snow! https://photos.app.goo.gl/1nBeXnZjrdvqqdyM8
Ribbon Creek-Skogan Trails
Yesterday it rained at lower elevations at Ribbon Creek but snowed at slightly higher elevations. And the trails report said there was fresh grooming on most of the Skogan part of the trail network. Add clear skies, pleasant temperatures and no wind, and it’s a recipe for a great day of skiing.
The rain crust at the Troll Falls parking lot suggested the potential for difficult conditions to start out. But one second on the Hay Meadow trail laid those fears to rest. The snowcat tiller had worked it’s magic on the ice crust an Hay Meadow was impeccably groomed. The snow was firm and fast, but the corduroy was still “edge able”. There was no problem with grip on Ruthies and the Skogan Screamer, and then things just got better above the old Marmot Creek junction. The new snow depth increased from a few cm at the top of the Screamer to around 15cm at the higher elevations.
We went up Skogan Pass trail to Sunburst and stopped at Hummingbird Plume Lookout. Then across on High Level to Skogan and counterclockwise around Skogan Loop. The snow on Skogan Loop was actually a bit soft-packed, so you had to be careful not to edge too hard on the crazy-steep south side hill.
I’m sure Bob would have loved spending the day with the Samoyeds. They loved the loop too.
Thanks to the Ribbon Creek crew for the superb grooming!
Thanks, Alf. What a fantastic set of photos. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Hay Meadow without a boot print! Those beautiful dogs look right at home in the snow. -Bob
Boom Lake ski tour. Soft beautiful powder on the way up. Chewed up snow full of boot holes from winter hikers who refuse to wear snowshoes on the way down. The trail definitely warranted skis or snowshoes today but I guess it’s easier to leave the snowshoes in the car (as one group reported.)
I remember the good ol’ days when this was an official ski trail. A groomed one in fact. Wish we could get grooming and tracks on it again.
Detest for winter hikers in running shoes aside, it was a gorgeous day and a fun ski. Only one tree down too. Climbing was easy, we had good control coming down, and no evidence of rain or ice.
Lovely fresh grooming on Pocaterra. A short run from the Pocaterra Trailhead to about 1 km past the meadow and the Lynx junction. About -5, no wind, sunny. The fresh snow is covering the debris that was there a couple of days ago. Tracks are hard and fast, and grooming is superb. Again. Soooooo lucky to have such great skiing so easily accessible.
LAKE LOUISE – Tramline from near Railway Station to meet Fairview and then out Lake Louise to the Lake for a quick stop. Back down Fairview (best I have seen it) on fresh grooming!! to Moraine Lake Road. Went to the sunny spot just past Paradise Picnic Area (at the curve in the road) for a quick lunch. Back down Moraine Lake Road and the Lower Tramline to Railway Station parking. A cold day to start at 10AM -13C with grippy snow. 16.4 km, 440m ascent on a glorious blue sky day!
PLPP New Grooming:
Our group of three skied all the new North-end grooming at PLPP today. Pocaterra (hut to Packers), Lynx, Come-Along and Rolly Road are all in excellent condition. We also skied some other trails (Pocaterra south of Packers, Amos, Lodgepole, Braille, north Meadow) which were generally skier trackset in some 10cm of new snow. Mostly decent skiing on these trails, though bit wobbly at times, and certainly slower than the new grooming. Overall, a pleasant day under sunny skies and calm conditions. -12C at our 9:30am start; -5C at 2pm.
PIPESTONE- nice fluffy new snow was cold and slow at minus 14 degrees at 10am. Great skiing conditions!! Skied the outer loop all the way around, and to Mud Lake. About 18 cars in parking lot at 130pm. Parking lot has at least 6 in, our little car juuuuuust made it in and out. Blue swix wax worked well. Met Skier Bob on the trail too!!
CNC -4C 9:00AM parking lots quite empty. Skintecs rule! Snow reports show Banff Tr to Meadow groomed and TS. The rest of the trails were just groomed especially the natural snow trails. This means the tracks are decent but not fresh VS the skating lanes were groomed but not in tip top shape. I’m thinking the lack of natural snow base isn’t allowing the groomers to put in full tracks for fear of hitting the ground. We found one spot on Snowshoe Hare where the renovator hit dirt and there is barely 3CM of base. Skied out Banff all the way to the North end then up Rundle and connected back onto Meadowview. Snow on man made is hard! Past the meadow maybe 1CM new snow at Meadow and 3CM at far end. Banff trail got progressively dirtier the further out we skied. Good skiing regardless. If we were waxing layers of VR 50 corked in really well covered by VR 45 or a -2C wax covered by a blue extra or purple multigrade.
Jan 13, Moraine Lake Road. Got to the parking lot (open again!) at 9:30 and was the only car. Tracksetting had just been done but the middle of the road had not been smoothed so wasn’t suitable for skating. I was on classic skis with 1 layer of Vaughti violet (+1 to -2) and one layer of Swix V40).
Grip was okay, but virtually no glide since the tracks were so soft. About 1/3 of the way up it started snowing, and by the time I neared the top, the tracks were filled in with powder.
Lovely day, not the speediest but better than no skiing. And lots of work when you have to stride downhill because you can’t even double pole. (I scraped all the wax off with my More rewards card, but it didn’t make much difference, there was no glide to be had).
Well done… you deserve More Rewards!
Thanks for the very valuable report.
Red Earth Creek. We started at 9:30 this morning in about 5 cm of new wet snow. I used my fish scales as the wet snow scared me away from using my metal-edge wax skis. My friends both waxed, and we all did very well. The snow dried up and the temperature cooled as we ascended beyond the first 2 km. There were about 10 cm of new snow up top, and it was snowing quite heavily. Our turn-around and lunch spot was the warden’s cabin a few hundred meters beyond the Shadow Lake junction. It was just glorious up there. The descent was good the whole way, except that some walkers had really made a mess of our newly-made tracks. Also, there were some downed trees, one of which had fallen after we ascended. We were able to move that one off the trail. Managing the hill in the bottom third was no problem at all. Overall, it was a magnificent ski!
Hi, where did you park to start this trail?
Is it the 10.5km one way from Redearth to Shadow Lake? Or how far?
Park at Redearth Creek parking marked on Highway 1 between Sunshine Turnoff and Castle Junction.
10.5 km (one way) of grooming to Warden Cabin. After that is a very steep hill. Additional 3.6 km one way to Shadow Lake. This is a trail for experienced intermediate skiers – not for beginners. Have fun!
Thanks so much!!
Confederation Golf Course
Ice, ice, and more ice. Oh, and debris. I was there early this morning and suspect it might have been slightly better in the afternoon. Let it snow…
Groomed a bunch of skate lanes tonight so conditions will be much better tomorrow for skating. Snow softened up nicely after grooming.
Thank you Jamie! I’m not a skate skier, only classic, but if the snow is less treacherous, I’m there! Appreciate you.
Minnewanka Loop Road/Upper Bankhead area. Zero to start at noon and on fish scales. Snow squall came through for about an hour, before blue skies appeared by time I was finished. Varied stride between slight glide, then kicking off excess snow, scissor-scraping and eventually decided on the white universal glide for waxless skis. Much better after that. Played around in the little wooded trail from Upper Bankhead to Cascade Meadow. -1 at finish.
Did Kovach and Terrace loop at Ribbon Creek. It was very slow going. Icy underneath a few centimeters of fresh snow. Snowing heavy, wet flakes as we left at 2pm ish. Hard to wax for, little to no kick, yet snow was sticking to skiis. Bit of an arm workout!
The temperature is -2 at Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre this morning. Approximately 9cm of snow accumulated at the PLDC overnight.
Terrific ski on the trails in central and south PLPP. We arrived at Elkwood at about 9:45 to a temperature of -2C. VR45 gave good grip as long as I was paying attention to my technique. Wheeler, then Amos and Lynx had good tracks with a some debris and a few snow bombs. Just after we started up the perfect tracks on Pocaterra it started to snow, adding a dusting in the tracks that gave a bit of extra grip but didn’t affect our glide. There was heavier snow on Tyrwitt with up to about 2cm in the track. We were first skiers on parts so the skiing was a bit slower but still great. At Elk Pass, the tracks were partially blown in but they packed down easily. There was some wind but nothing close to the gales further north. The run down from Elk Pass to Fox Ck. was a speedy cruise that ended too quickly. Fox Ck. had older track so there were lots of skied out turns, debris and snow bombs. Moraine was better, particularly as you got further north. The track had not softened on Wheeler, back to Elkwood so my wax still held, but just barely. As always, thanks to the groomers for their great work.
WBC late afternoon skate outing report:
It’s gonna be ice ice BB!!
Had a good skate there from 330-5’ish today. They did an amazing job refurbishing and tracks look great but two days near 10C have them heavily glazed as was the grooming for skate when we finished it was sure crusty and getting slick and fast. Not good for beginners right now. Spiked tires needed for FB I’m sure.
Just under 13km. SUPER windy and gusty and so even on flats going into that wind was tough. However the tailwind back on Mountain was pretty awesome. Will see evidence of the wind by way of more debris. They might get snow tomorrow… hopefully not rain. Will need a major refurbishment IMO before it’ll be worth going again (or just above zero to soften things).
I’m curious if Confed conditions are about the same now? (Minus debris)
I went to check out the “other” Baker Creek that Chuck reported on a couple days ago but quickly decided it wasn’t a trail for me. It’s alot more hilly and winding than I was expecting and I foolishly took my skinny skis, so all speed and no control! Fortunately, the main Baker Creek trail was being trackset today so I did that instead. It was getting a bit late in the day so I only went as far as the campground at Protection Mt. and enjoyed a nice loop around there on a lovely, skier-set track. I stopped at the Castle Lookout parking lot on the drive home and it looks like the tracksetting goes at least that far. Depending on how much snow falls overnight, it should be a great ski tomorrow.
ELK LAKE SUMMIT – Jan 12
Some exposed rocks at lower elevations near Forty Mile Creek, but a good broken trail all the way.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
This trail in BNP used to be called Elk Pass, but the new name attempts to avoid confusion with the Elk Pass in Kananaskis.
PLPP Central Trails – Wonderful day on fresh tracks with a skiff of new snow (it flurried on and off most of the day). -1C – +1C. Wheeler was great with minor debris.
Boulton was fair with lots of big debris (twigs, old man’s beard) which didn’t bother us much. Moraine had very good tracks with small debris (needles, cones) while Amos was quite needley. Lodgepole and Braille had excellent tracks, with a few needles on Lodgepole. We used fish scale and skin skis and had excellent traction. There was very little wind most of the day, with a few big gusts in early afternoon.
Jan 12 – Redearth Creek and Ball Pass Junction
I was inspired by Mike W’s backcountry report amd decided to head out that way. It started snowing shortly after I started skiing, and it snowed off and on for the whole day. I skied along the edge of Shadow Lake to Hiaduk Creek (as per Normand), then followed it up to where Mike’s tracks on the summer trail met the creek. Mike’s tracks were covered by wind-blown snow in many places, but it was nice to be able to follow them. I broke trail for the last 1.5km to the campground. I was on track skis but the supportive layer ~15cm down held me up most of the time and it wasn’t too tough. On the way back, I followed Mike’s tracks on the summer trail. Now that there’s a bit of a track set, this was better than sticking to the creek, although that might change with the coming snow. Fresh grooming on the trail on the way back down!
Hi Sara – Glad to hear you got some use out of my track before the coming storm. Did you have to break trail along Shadow Lake and up Haiduk Creek before you met up with my trail?
There was a hint of a track along Shadow Lake for the first 100m or so, but it was mostly covered. After that, I was breaking trail for a little over a kilometer before hitting your trail.
Did you happen to come across my old ski tracks going up Haiduk Creek roughly 2 km from Shadow Lake? Or were they snow covered over?
Impressive ski. The women this year are showing superior endurance in the back country of these Great Canadian Rockies. Thanks for breaking the last of the trail to the Ball Pass campground.
Have you ever broken trail to the Cuthead Warden Cabin up the Cascade River- hint hint?
Thanks! No, there was no sign of your tracks up Hiaduk Creek. The wind was moving a lot of snow around today – there were some spots where my 45-minute-old tracks were already disappearing as I skied back!
Cuthead Cabin sounds like a fun challenge. I don’t have LT skis, so I’d have to pick a day with supportive snow… I’ll keep an eye on the weather!
Parked at Boulton Creek parking lot (-1C at 9:30am) and skied Whiskey Jack – Lookout – Hydroline – Tyrwhitt – Pocaterra – Lynx – Amos – Wheeler
The conditions were fabulous with a skiff of snow over recent tracks. The lookout descent on the South side was one on the best I ever done, fast and safe. As mentioned by Ray Young, there was a bit of pine needles on the lower part of Pocaterra and Lynx but Wheeler was in superb conditions (I had forgotten how pleasant this trail is).
We had the pleasure to meet the. Ever Green gang on Tyrwhitt (Amongst which Greg, the leader, Anne the writer, Michael the trail breaker).
Another great day out
Tue Jan 12: upper blueberry meadows
And beyond, towards the turret, looking for an efficient route. Didn’t find the best line, only found tightly gladed trees. Know where to look next though. An inch or two fell latter part of morning back there, with wind. Above ankle ski pen off the track (AT). 1.2 m of snow just below treeline. Blueberry grooming was a bit slappy on return with tree bomb debri. You didn’t want to sit under a tree today if it was loaded. Fresh grooming in the morning on initial part of elk pass to north end of hydroline (groomer turned up hydroline). Mostly irrelevant grooming info after tonight and tomorrow’s snow, unless they keep grooming. Just above zero on return to the car at 1.
Pocaterra-Come Along-Pocaterra-Lynx-Amos-Wheeler-Whisky Jack – Pocaterra
Got to the Pocaterra parking lot at 0815, just as the groomer was finishing up. It looks like Meadow was done, but I’m not sure what else. The conditions on the route I took were just perfect. Recent tracksetting everywhere; about 1 – 2 cm of snow fell while I was on Whisky, but only a trace of that was at the Pocaterra trailhead. Debris is a bit of an issue on the wind-exposed parts of Lynx, Amos, Wheeler, and parts of Pocaterra, but I’ve seen worse, and the coming snow (fingers crossed) should take care of that.
I have to admit, as I was skiing along, I couldn’t believe what a privilege it is to be able to ski in such a great location on such exceptional grooming. I’d swear the grooming is the best I’ve seen in years, but maybe that’s just my impression based on lucky timing. Still, the groomers are doing a fantastic job. Full kudos to them!
REDEARTH CREEK- Pharaoh Creek Trails
Generally excellent skiing on Redearth Creek trail with 59mm wide metal edge XC skis. Mid winter conditions. Moderate to fast trackset snow conditions on VR30 Swix wax (last applied 87 km ago). The wax worked much better once I skied on top of the first few hills.
I decided to ski up Pharaoh Creek beyond the warden cabin, I followed an older skinned fat ski trail on my wax skis. It was a bit of a challenge with small snow basket poles to ski climb. I skied or side stepped somewhere around 2km beyond the Redearth Creek Warden Cabin. My old muscles prevented me from side stepping up the last little steep portion of the hill before the trail began to mellow. It was not even dark out at that time.
I kick backed and enjoyed lunch-dinner and headed back after the sun set. At dusk the temperature at the warden cabin was -5c. The snow slowed as it got darker to moderate speed on much of the trail going back.
The steep hills on Redearth Creek trail were in nice carving shape and the snow was moderately fast. coming down them. It is well worth skiing Redearth Creek trail but with 5 cm of new snow, the trackset could get rather shallow and a bit sloppy as it is getting a bit worn now.
The ACC snowmobile tracksetter should consider widening the trail more where ever possible, particularly on the downhill sections as the trackset has been getting partly snow plowed out by skiers. I skied off the snowmobile track in some areas to demonstrate where the trail can be widened up on a number of hills. A 20 -50 cm wider trail in areas can make a real big difference and make the skiing easier for less advanced skiers. It could also allow for a skating lane on much of the trail which would be greatly appreciated by those with combo skating/classic skis or those with metal edges and big honking legs.
Wider trails are wonderful ski trails!
A quick ski out to the end of Spray and back along the Watridge trail (and a couple of quick trips to some side trails). Watridge tracks in good shape, but are getting windfilled in the openings. Trails in the trees are in great shape, but the winds are causing a fair amount of debris. No impact on skin/waxless skis, but a couple of people I met on wax skis remarked about debris pickup.
PLPP Bolton parking to couch via Bolton / Elk Pass / over Elk Pass/ Trywhitt / Pocattera / Lynx / Amos. It was warm out today with temperatures around freezing. There was fresh grooming / track setting on upper Pocattera / Whiskey Jack (which I did not ski) and Lynx / Amos so conditions were great in those places. Otherwise the tracks were pretty good. It was windy enough that there were quite a few tree bombs hitting the trail and there are a fair number of pine needles on the trail in places. It was not windy at all up at the pass / couch. A couple of walkers made it up all the way to Elk Pass from Bolton. As usual, the impact of the damage is on gentler hills were skiers may wish to snow plow outside of the track. The ride will be a bit bumpy where that is the case.
To echo gh’s observations, we skied the freshly trackset Wheeler, Meadow, Wooley, Amos, Wheeler loop this afternoon, and the tracks were in great shape from the groomers’ great efforts Sunday night. Temps were cooler at Boulton 0C @ 1pm than at Ribbon Creek 5C at 12:30pm – cloud cover helped most of which was snow blowing off the surrounding summits. VR45 worked best – a small cap of VR50 seemed a bit sluggish. Tree debris was limited – surprisingly Wheeler was pretty clean while Amos had more than we expected. A few small tree bombs were in play already but only a few. Finally, when we pulled into Ribbon Creek there was plenty of room, and Boulton Creek only had half-a-dozen cars in it so it seems that we’re back into the normal weekday pattern after the holidays.
JAN 10 REDEARTH CREEK, GIBBON PASS, TOWARD BALL PASS
See Trip Reports > Backcountry 2020-2021
EMERALD LAKE and the ALLUVIAL FAN – Jan 11
Lovely quiet snow with great views.
Details in the photo descriptions here:
It’s been a while since any tracksetting has been done.
Field: Tally Ho from Natural Bridge then Kicking Horse Trail to beautiful spot at Ottertail River. 20 kms with both trails. Met only two skiers. -7 warming to -2. Grooming excellent on both. After, checked out Yoho Valley Rd and while ascending saw two Parks snowmobiles descending. Track was not in good shape perhaps due to heavy use on weekend. Volunteer Joe will get it beautiful again: please support KHSC as these machines need more than a volunteer groomer to run.
Shadow Lake via Redearth Creek 27.4km 647m total ascent. The snow gets better the higher and further you are from the TransCanada Highway. Single track is good (a little weary in places) throughout. Good snow coverage on the steep hill at the Shadow Lake turnoff . Made it up the hill but I walked on the return downhill for safety. V45 special violet in the kick zone worked all day starting at -5C and ending at 0C. Strong winds in the afternoon were causing snow bombs which may interrupt the track in places for future travelers. Downhill was delightful and fast with just a skiff of snow for control.
Pipestone. 10;15 -7C two other cars in lot. Waxed VR45 which proved to be fast but slippy. Upped the ante to VR 50 and Rode Multigrade. Stickier wax worked but picked up debris. Tracks are well used, in good shape, but hard due to the traffic.
Skied Pipestone CCW and returned via Hector. The downhills on the west side were quick and we used caution snowplowing and bailed a few times.
Returned to 12 cars in parking lot. -5C .
A beautiful springlike morning ski at WBC. Stepping into my skis around 10:30, the air temp was plus 1 and VR45 was working just fine as I looped around West Crystal-Loggers-Elbow-Iron Springs-East Crystal, with a side trip out Iron Creek. No surprise at the plus 7 as I left at 12:30, after armstronging my way in bright sun up the final long south facing hill to the Iron Springs highpoint. Ski conditions were good-very good overall, with some imbedded vegetation in the well defined tracks. Hills were firm and fast, but “edgeable” for control. Walkers have put divots along all of Elbow, but miraculously stayed out of the tracks. Same goes for the multi-use Iron Creek trail- chewed up on one side- great untouched single trackset on the other. Maybe there’s hope in education after all! If contemplating a ski later today, or tomorrow- south facing hills will be in melt-freeze condition, but the sheltered core trails should still be really nice.
Confederation Golf Course
The south-west side is freshly groomed and quite nice today. The north-east side is very icy, so classic skiers beware. Skate skiers appeared to be more graceful, even on the icy side. We could use another good dump as the groomers probably have a tough job in maintaining these trails and I’m always grateful.
Its -3 this morning at the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre.
Here’s a weird one. West Bragg was great today if somewhat icy in spots on Mountain View.
Biggest item I noticed was a steady trail of…yellow snow along the edge of the trail and most thoughtfully patches of the trail markings in front and surrounding the trail signs.
At the picnic table on Mountain View when looking at the view of the valley there is a veritable field of Pee markings perhaps a foot away from the table…Really guys?
There was a post a few days ago about signage an it’s effectiveness. Perhaps we should be putting up sings that indicate how disgusting it is that humans feel so compelled to urinate right beside the trail we are skiing on.
I propose a 5 meter minimum distance from the trail into the woods. People shall have full right to yell deprecating and ” belittling” comments at the people/men creating these offensive blights.
Cmon guys we can do better than this.
Perhaps it’s the pooches.
How you manage to stay tactful is beyond me. I was all set to unleash my full right…
Hopefully someone let you out into the yard quick.
how disgusting those off leash dogs piddling where ever when ever they want so let’s get volunteers to to educate these dogs to stop this behavior
Agreed, this is pure laziness and shows a lack of respect for groomers and other skiers. Almost every ski trail has some element of this behavior.
I am thinking it is the dogs,too. Especially around the trail signs. One dog goes there and then the others mark their territory. Still not nice, but I cannot see a man using a trail sign as urinal. In all the years I have been skiing I have actually never caught anyone “in the act”. I will take better notice around PLPP which does not allow dogs. If all trail signs are in pristine (pisstine?) condition, and only the signs at Sandy or West Bragg marked, I would say it is definitely the dogs. Male dogs, but dogs.
No doubt in my mind that it is the dogs – doggy see doggy do
Be careful of lurking about trying to take better notice and catch people in the act. Some may take offence trying to PLPP.
Got me to humming a song I used to sing when it was windy…
K, thank you for raising this. I tend to avoid dog-friendly trails, not because I don’t like dogs, but as a runner, I have spent years dodging and being mowed down/bitten by excited pups. I have noticed yellow snow beside non-dog-friendly trails and actually came upon an offender on the Lake Ohara trail last year. This behaviour is disrespectful and repulsive to me however, I don’t have a solution. Perhaps those who are inclined to relieve themselves wherever they stand should stick to dog-friendly trails so the rest of us can also enjoy the winter wonderland?
I knew it was going to be a fantastic ski day, when I started up Rolly Road from Pocaterra parking lot. The trail had absolutely perfect, pristine grooming. Many of the north-end trails at PLPP had been groomed overnight and had set up superbly. Nice, crisp tracks, which had set up firmly. The great conditions continued for our entire figure-8 tour. We skied Rolly Road, Come-Along, Pocaterra, Lynx-Amos-Wheeler and Packers. Packers is now good to go in both the uphill and downhill direction. We then took Pocaterra down to Lynx junction… maybe my fastest descent on that part of Pocaterra. Then once again on Lynx to Amos and Elkwood parking lot. We crossed the road and returned via Lodgepole, Braille, and Sinclair.
The parking lot was about half full when we arrived and about 2/3 full when we finished, but it probably filled up in between.
West Bragg Creek-skate skied West Crystal Line, Mountain Road, Sundog, East Crystal Line-We opted for a close, quick morning ski today having not ventured over to West Bragg since long before the holidays (mostly to avoid crowds). 1st car in the South parking lot at 8am!….but had to wait 15 minutes for it to be light enough to ski 🙂 . The grooming was very good considering the lack of snow and warm temps in the last couple weeks-excellent job groomers! Very few, if any, icy spots; trails were smooth and fast. There was a lot of small tree debris along all the trails (to be expected) but as we were skating it did not affect us at all. Trails were quiet for the first bit and as we headed back to the parking lot we saw about a dozen people total in small groupings. Got back to the lot at about 930-the place was packed!! With more cars heading in…great early morning ski though
Lake O’Hara Fire Road to just beyond the steeper grind at km 8. Rode blue -2 to -6 worked fine all day and temp around -8. Saw one couple who’d been at the Hut and decided to ski out a day early. I am giving up hope that the road will ever get groomed this season. If I loved the men’s downhill at Lk Louise, I’d be in my element. Perfect width for snowplowing down. Staying two nights at Truffled Pigs Hotel/Bistro in Field. 10%off for Kicking Horse Ski Club members. Terrific in house dining for guests: take out otherwise! Only 3 of 12 rooms bkd. Great inexpensive getaway!
Sun Jan 10: pocaterra meadow hunting.
Adventure light with cheeky and Simona, scoping out a meadow route north of packers and west of pocaterra. While we found open(ish) terrain to play in and stay away from the crowds, thin snow cover in these north meadows. Doesn’t compare to higher meadows further south with better views, and perhaps only worthwhile when the cloud is present at elk pass, winds are strong and snow is deeper later in the season, or you are into early morning moose photography. Something new and different to entertain ourselves at least. Came back on lynx and a clockwise loop around marl lake (including venturing onto the lake for some tea in the sun), crossing the road to Braille, lodgepole and suicide hill to finish. All track set in pretty good shape despite the traffic. A bit more debri on the other side of the road, but not under the power line. Great snow conditions down suicide hill. Good times. Traffic volume issues coming back on the TCH about 6pm.
MaSid, do you remember the old Lynx trail which avoided the big hill, and was a shorter route to Amos? They re-routed the trail beacause the old trail always had a big ice flow. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some skier tracks through there. The traffic issues have me avoiding skiing on the weekends.
Not sure I ever did it in its prior form. Of note though, witnessed what could have been a nasty accident on that hill part way along lynx going south. A multi-family group was ascending and descending, with kids all over the trail left and right. Looked like dad came down to meet back up with some members and got out of control weaving around others, only to fully take out one of his kids at the knees. Lucky. Now they know what human ski bowling is, and maybe wont stand around on a hill like pins ready for knocking.
Hi Bob, I remember that one. I used to ski that connector regularly in the early 90’s. It’s probably covered in fallen trees nowadays.
Bill Milne/Evan Thomas/Wedge Connector
Great day trotting along with my humans, even if I did have to wear this new-fangled Halti harness which I hate so that I don’t pull too hard nor go off to the sides. Lots of happy families with kids out though not many other pupsters. Fresh grooming so great tracks for the humans (I stay out of them!), except for short sections of wind sift in the open meadows. -2C at start, +5C at finish (around 1.30pm), Peter used VR45 which was getting a bit slippery by the end, Chris used twin skins which worked really well. Now back to my well-earned bone, yum!
Redearth Creek, BNP
Went for a ski on Redearth to the Shadow Lake junction. Turned around there and headed back. Temp was 9C at the parking lot at 11:Am. Blue VR 40 worked well. We were on skinny skis which managed fine. Still able to get a good snowplow in. Track was in reasonable shape. Skied out on some of the steep descents. Trail was hard packed like concrete- wouldn’t want to fall. Trail wasn’t too busy and didn’t see any walkers. Could certainly use another snowfall to refresh it.
Ha! I skied out on a few of them as well. I think I may have to go back with my fat bike. I would have more control with the big studded tires then my pesky misery sticks!
Can someone remind me if fat bikes are allowed past the Shadow Lake Junction to Shadow Lake Lodge in the winter?
Definite no no. No bikes past the junction of the shadow lake trail in summer or winter. With a refresh of snow coming Tue/Wed this week, I expect the trail to be groomed again.
CASTLE LOOKOUT TO BAKER CREEK: snow is still very good quality but high use has made the tracks wobbly in places, still a great ski day tho. Took the recent tracks through the campground, nice. Recent cloudy skies have conserved the snow really well as the tracks near the railway do not appear to have melted in any way yet. Used cold blue swix wax, minus 13 degrees when we got to the mostly full parking lot at 10:30 am.
Pipestone (LL): Parking lot was full by 11:30 AM. Beautiful conditions out there. Temp. Was about -10 when we started and warmed up to about -5 into the afternoon. Lots of groups on the trails enjoying the conditions. One set of snow-shoers that we observed were staying off the ski tracks. In general, a low amount of needles and debris on the trails, just a bit in the more densely forested areas. Been noticing ample human urination locations on the trails today. I get it – if it’s yellow go mellow but it only takes a second to cover it up with snow using your ski or pole or at least try to go off the trail/rest areas a bit. I drink as much coffee as you do and I can find a way!!! Otherwise great day out there and lots of folks getting after it!
BAKER CREEK (incl. Scout Cabin) – Jan 10
Only locals seem to know about this adventure!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Don’t tell anyone.
Hey Chuck! I’m glad to see that old cabin is still standing! It’s probably been a decade since I was there last.
I use to backpack up Baker Creek to go to the Pulsatilla Pass area and beyond. I thought the trail was closed many years ago.
Did tracks look like they continued towards Pulsatilla Pass junction ?
I would think it would be a rough ski route.
No tracks beyond the Four Mile Meadows yet… we are waiting for you!
Actually, the creek is still quite open.
It was a fun day and good to meet you Chuck.
Very interesting, I will have to check it out one day. Thanks for sharing your trip and photos.
Went to Mt Shark for an easy trip into Watridge Lake and Karst Springs on light touring gear. Lovely day out, albeit a little on the windy side. Kind of wished we had been on regular track skis (skate or classic) – every trail looked to be in perfect shape with solid tracks and cord visible from every junction. The Watridge Lake trail was double trackset the whole way, with a lane for snowshoers and other users which everyone was doing a great job of sticking to. Maybe we can just all get along 😉
PLPP- Whiskeyjack, Pocaterra, Tyrwhitt, Elk Pass, Fox Creek, and Moraine.
We had a wonderful ski at PLPP this afternoon. The temperature was around -4c so waxing was easy. It was also a lot quieter then I thought it would be. Whiskeyjack had new tracksetting, and also Pocaterra up to the Lookout junction. Tyrwhitt was on old tracksetting but it was fine, and also beautiful (like it always is!). Elk Pass trail was recently trackset and the busiest but even then less busy then what I’m used to. Fox creek was in great shape and also Moraine. Only a few debris in the tracks throughout so overall conditions were excellent! Thank you Alberta parks groomers for such amazing trails!
CNC start 9:10 -3C Iron in VR 30, 2 layers of VR 50 and covered with VR 45. The snow at CNC is getting old,hard, and abrasive. We always wax up one wax warmer due to the snow at CNC. Hoping to prolong our wax, we heated in our first layer, added a warmer wax then covered it with a harder wax. Did it work?, Really well for 30 minutes and once we got onto the natural snow and gone down some steep hills the wax was gone. Switched skis left to right 1/2 way through and came home with barely enough wax.
CNC website showed minimal grooming and Track setting. Mainly Banff Trail up to meadow and Bow junction 18-25 which appears to be the lower lit loop. The rest has older grooming. Tracks are holding up well. The skate lanes are smooth IE corduroy gone. The natural snow base further out is maybe 20CM deep.
We skied Bruin full length, which was a chore going from the lowest point on the system to nearly the upper elevation. Skied onto Meadowview and back into the Meadow on Coyote. Lots of team skiers out this early so keep an eye out behind and ahead for these young rockets.
Hugh, VG35 ironed or heat gunned/corked was a minimum binder today on a sanded ski base. I think the snow also changed around 11 am as my skis went from being great to not so great. If I was skiing tomorrow would actually go to Vauhti Super Base to prevent loss of kick wax. Hope this helps.
WE NEED SNOW!!!!
What do you think of R-skins hugh?
Kovach-link-Ribbon-Milne loop starting and ending at Village.
Trackset is still in pretty good condition. A little bit of debris here and there from big wind last night. But very manageable.
Downhills were still in good condition on Kovach.
Getting a little thin in spots on Ribbon, with the odd rock visible, so if you are headed downhill on the big decline, best to use caution going down.
Milne from Ribbon to Village was excellent.
Its -13 degrees at Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre this morning
PLPP North End
Skied a counter-clockwise loop yesterday starting at the Visitor Info Center. Meadow looked recently track set but had a lot of needles and other debris, Wheeler was in good shape, Packers also in good shape, the downhill skiers seemed to be snow plowing ok since it was not icy, Pocaterra was a fun steady downhill and the tracks were decent if a bit wobbly, Lynx tracks were getting quite wobbly and worn, Wooley was in good shape. Overall a great blue sky day with quite a few people out having fun.
Tunnel Mountain Campground is in pretty decent shape, just watch out for the occasional elk droppings in the tracks as they tend to grab the skin skis quite well!
Kudo’s to the volunteer track setters who have been working hard at keeping the skiing close to town looking good. I really like the “outer adventure loop” just outside of the campground. There are no tracks, but it is a fun groomed addition to the regular skiing at TMC. I am not sure if they plan to pop a track in it after the next snow fall, but I would be okay with that!
If you are looking to ski in the sun, your best bet is likely the afternoon, as 10am-11am was pretty much full shade.
Yoho today including Kicking Horse, Emerald Connector, and Alluvial Fan. Starting at -9C, the KH track setting was sublime and with a couple centimeters of new snow, the glide was exceptional. The downed trees on EC have been removed, and this trail has not been skied much this year. Snow coverage is good, and views from the trail are inviting. Halfway along EC the sun partially appeared and there was a teenie bit of warmth on AF in the late afternoon. There was about 8 cm of new snow at the alluvial fan and the setting is simply wonderful there. This most enjoyable day ended too early and darkness made the final, steep run down to Tally Ho invisible. A superb day on the skis. 🙂
Mt Shark. Skied the 15km loop. Heaven. Beautifully groomed all the way along. And the various steep hills were in excellent conditions for my legs (+ dog-in-training…) to stay under control.
PLPP: Whiskey Jack-Lookout-Pocaterra-Packers
Stunning day on the trails! Grooming report said that Lookout was last trackset on the 4th of January but the wind has swept any sign of it away (or there’s been snow but it seemed more wind than that!). It’s quite soft, especially at the bottom, then has icy patches between the hairpin turns and the viewpoint. Pocaterra and Packers were FAST today!! So much fun
Goat Creek Canmore to Banff
Conditions were surprisingly awesome once we reached that first park boundary sign where track setting begins. (Before that it was like skating on skis, and not the good kind of skate skiing!)
Tracks were fast and very well preserved.
Hills weren’t exactly icy but they were fast and polished. I appreciated my metal edges!
I was with another family and all 6 of us (including three children) made it successfully down every hill without having to walk at all. And we all made it over the “death bridge” without having to stop at the bottom of the hill – always a victory. Just had to take it really really slow!
We took Spray East to the golf course which also had decent tracks, easy to ski.
The bottom steep part had several exposed (and unavoidable rocks.) if you have new skis I’d walk this part.
And best of all, the trail was gloriously quiet today! We saw very few people until the second bridge. And even after that it was still quite peaceful compared to the busy trails in Kananaskis.
Ribbon Creek – Skogan Pass
It was pretty much a perfect day for a ski to Skogan Pass. A sunny, blue sky day. Cold enough for easy waxing and warm enough to be comfortable. No wind. And absolutely text-book perfect grooming on the Skogan Pass and Skogan Loop trails. Firm, crisp track setting… spaced about a metre in from the edge… and nicely edge-able corduroy. All on clean, debris-free snow. It is so worth the Nordiq Alberta parking pass to enjoy this great skiing and wonderful trail. https://photos.app.goo.gl/orMNnM8bZt427rNB9
Great photos Alf of perfect knife-edge track setting. $50 a ski season pass is dirt cheap for such nicely prepared tracks.
I see a dog on your Skogan pictures. I would love to take mine there but I am mistaken or they’re not allowed? Or it’s part of the Ribbon Creek/Kananaskis trails system and they’re allowed?
Sophie, dogs are allowed on all the trails in the Ribbon Creek system including Skogan Pass. I’ve added it to the list of Dog-friendly ski trails just so there’s no confusion.
Wow thanks Bob, we had no idea!
If you are skiing the Bill Milne trail, to avoid the congestion at Ribbon Creek, there’s now lots of parking at the golf course for about 25 cars adjacent to where the ski trail crosses the access road. It’s been plowed.
Skied Baker creek to Castle junction. Great conditions and views from end to end. Only came across a dozen or so skiers all day.
Sundance Lodge and campground beyond from Healy Creek parking. It was cool day (-12 on the lodge thermometer at 1430) but the snow conditions were quite good. The lodge is closed this winter. There is no grooming beyond the Healy / Sundance junction. This route does not see a lot of traffic (thankfully nearly no walkers) so the skier set trail and the downhill sections are holding up nicely. The Healy creek section sees a lot of walker traffic (Share the trail) and has not been groomed for a couple weeks but the ski track is still reasonable.
Tyrwhitt Loop, plus. January 9
A cool minus 20 encouraged a fast pace up the freshly groomed Whiskeyjack this morning, and onwards around Tyrwhitt in the face of a southerly breeze. After a brief lunch under the damp feeling Elk Pass cloud and a quick descent on fast tracks, we were delighted to find Fox and Moraine recently trackset and in great shape. All too soon we were basking in the early afternoon sun on the final stretch of Moraine- too early to go home. Okay- how about a bonus loop over to Elkwood on Amos and Wheeler! This was in the same superb condition as everything else we skied- fine snow, great tracks, and easy waxing with VR30. Despite the cold start and lack of the usual views on Tyrwhitt and Elk Pass- one of the better days on what has already been a very good xc season.
PLPP was pretty busy today (but not as crazy as Ribbon Creek). Most lots nearly full, and lots of people on ski trails. And why not? It was a gorgeous day with fresh tracks on several trails.
Parking volunteers reported between 60% and 90% of cars with passes
Thanks to the volunteers! I must confess, I forgot to put my pass on the dash (it was in the glove box), so they can add another one to the count! ?
Well, I hate to be a Debbie downer, but we skied Sandy today and, well, maybe best to stay home. I saw that some trails had been groomed and some track set so threw skies, dog, and my beloved of 41 years into the car for our 20 minute drive to Sandy. Because of dog, we stuck to Logger’s and I can say without exaggeration that it was pretty bad. Oh, there were a few nice spots that reminded us of why we enjoy skiing, but not many. The rest, even after the valiant attempt to groom, was hard, icy, and filled with debris from wind storm only now pressed a little deeper into the snow making it even more treacherous. I took off my skies at one point to walk down a “hill” (did I mention we were on Logger’s) due to ice and no ability to snow plow as nothing for my skies to grab onto. Can’t even imagine what north side behind ranger station would be like. Only a death wish would motivate anyone to do Pine Ridge until we receive a substantial amount of snow. On the bright side, we were out in beautiful sunshine, got some fresh air, and exercised Bob (the dog) who never complains about the conditions!
We were out there, too, and tried Pine Ridge Loop first. Track-setting on slush froze to marbles, and boot-tracks (horse tracks at the bottom) made for a clattery, death-defying descent. You had a choice of inching down, going through the deeper snow on the side, or risking an icy rocket ride. Some of the boot tracks were stuck skiers. Tried Loggers next, and although the snow was better, it was skied off, boot-tracked and full of debris in parts. As we were leaving, hoards of multi-users were unloading. At Sandy McNabb there are not enough trails for them, so they tend not to stick to multi-use trails. Just sayin’. But a bad day of skiing is still better than a lot of things.
Cascade Valley to Stony Creek (just past the end of the tracksetting) – great conditions. Tracks mostly in very good shape. Cold snow in the shade, especially on the way back. Lots of people out.
Lake Louise Pipestone Loops:
-15 C at 9:30 am / -9C at 3:00 pm. VR40 wax worked well all day. Early morning valley cloud lifted by 11:00 am to give warm sun in the meadows of West Pipestone. We skied all Pipestone trails today, Hector and Merlin twice both directions. Early track set of East Pipestone was worn by the many skiers but not washed out. Beware of a large snow bomb with wood on the trail to Mud Lake. Beyond Drummond, Pipestone tracks improved all around to Pipestone Pond. In the sun, Ma Sid’s couch at the Pond was the big draw making physical distancing a wee bit tricky. The chutes of Pipestone are well scraped but were not icy. Merlin tracks and hills are in great condition. Hector tracks were great except on two tight curves were they were washed out over very short distances. Lots of skiers today and the parking lot was filled but only one vehicle remained on access road at 3:30 pm. Overall a fantastic day and a super place to ski.
Post Script: The line of vehicles leaving the TCH at Hwy 40 this morning was fantastic! Small wonder Ribbon Creek was busy.
Confederation Golf Course is in great shape – maybe the best I have ever seen it. The classic tracks are good and the skate lane is flat and firm. The snow cover isn’t that deep so I hope it holds up to the warm weather in the Calgary forecast.
Skied Canmore Nordic Centre yesterday and it is also in very good shape.
It will. We have been farming like crazy and the sun doesn’t have a lot of power right now so will be all good!
Thanks Jamie. Great work by all the volunteers. A huge thank you!
SHADOW LAKE – Jan 9
To Begin… Thanks Normand!
Many were inspired by your report, but I chose this more traditional destination up Redearth Creek.
Details in the photo descriptions here:
No parking issues, but this valley feels cold until you get up into the sun.
Great photos Chuck, as usual. Mount Ball seen from the bridge is always the ultimate shot to capture, especially with a blue sky.
Lets hope the illegal fat head bikepirate gets busted by Parks Canada with the cameras along the trail. Pictures should be taken by skiers of such illegal bikepirates when possible and given to the wardens for evidence purposes.
I wonder what happened to the no bike signs at the Shadow Lake trail junction. Even with no sign it is the responsibility of bikers to know where they can ride and where they can not ride. No bikes means no bikes period. No other interpretation period. No one should Trump the bike laws in Banff. Fines can reach $25,000 which just does not seem to be enough for some people to deter them. So mandatory community service working on fixing trails should be part of the law for law breakers. 30 days of hard labour working on trails and living in a tent with no bug dope should be suitable to deter these law breakers- although that would be an enjoyable good time vacation for any old hard core backpacker like me.
Thanks for the great pictures, Chuck! Great meeting you and hope to run into you again out on the trails!
First ski for us at PLPP this season. -15C at Elk Pass trailhead and a stiff breeze, but we warmed up fast climbing the hill. Excellent tracksetting on the trails. Blueberry Hill was wonderful with hoar frost trees, the view of the lakes in the sun, yet a strong wind blowing. Descent was chilly and not that fast with the cold snow. Elk Pass was enveloped in the cloud, so we didn’t linger and double poled down Hydroline. Turning off at Fox Creek was a great choice. Good tracks on that fun narrow trail along the creek. Have to come back for more.
Afternoon Ski Peter Lougheed from the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre.
Crossed Road to Meadow – skied downhill (some pine needle debris but nothing sticked) …. Skied Up Lodgepole; Sunny and no debris. Excellent Trackset, good beginner/intermediate ~3km loop.
Loop could have been made longer by doing Braille and the rest of Lodgepole towards William Watson Lodge.
Early ski at Ribbon Creek
Jamie and I skied early at Ribbon Creek, with three cars in the parking lot at 8 a.m. We went up Coal Mine. The descent was fast but controllable; I was pretty cautious and not too brave today. When I came around the corner near the old cabin, a big lynx ran across my path. I stopped. It stopped and looked at me. Jamie got to see it in the trees. What an awesome sight! I did not get a picture of it. We went down Ribbon Creek; a bit of soft snow helped the control issue but once again, I was not extremely brave. We both skied down the winding trail. We looped around Kovach, did an extra middle loop and along Terrace. I met many skiers going up the last hill as I descended. The track setting is beautiful! The parking lot was very full by 10:45 a.m. when we finished skiing! Some volunteers were checking people in as we left. We forgot to put out our pass this morning.
Volunteering at Ribbon today. Stop in and say hello.
Temperature is -16 with no wind, feels brisk out.
For those interested. We counted a little over 240 cars at Ribbon today. Many not counted as lot was full.
Lot was full by about 11. Parking was bananas.
If you want to do a late ski, spots start to open up past 2pm. Leaves you lots of time for a nice ski.
Would say it was 4:1 multi user vs XC.
Most XC had a pass or knew of program.
Lots of happy people and furry friends out enjoying a beautiful day in the mountains.
RED EARTH CREEK & GIBBON PASS, January 8
Since I had to ski to the Shadow Lake lodge first, before the grind up Gibbon Pass, might as well talk about the GREAT conditions on Red Earth Creek. VR40 wax worked fine on the way up. Single track setting all the way to pretty much the front porch of the lodge! The ski track setting above the short hill past the lodge turn off is very good and fun to cruise along going in and out; the best I have seen in many years. As for the last 1 km to the lodge in the meadows: AWESOME. Overall, one of the absolute best skiing I had to the lodge from TCH1 in over 30 years. Get there, to see majestic Mount Ball dominating the skyline.
Now the climb to Gibbon Pass from Red Earth Creek may have been too early for this time of the year, to take advantage of as much daylight. Once you get to the lodge, half of the 900 m elevation gain remain to be done in only 3 km. I normally wait till late January to attempt it. The trail breaking was mostly with 20-30 cm ski penetration; smooth at first on the summer hiking trail, which I lost about one third of the way up; fell pretty bad about it. But I persevered upward on a steep treed ridge, too far to the SE of the drainage where the summer trail merge with. Finally emerging in the alpine meadows of Gibbon Pass was satisfying. Blue sky and windless; so peaceful. Trail breaking in the meadows was about boot top. I could have spent an extra hour up there, but I was not keen to ski out in the dark so early in the year. See photos and comments.
Hi Norm, what kind of skis were you using for the climb up gibbon? Purchased a pair of BC65 this year and have been wanting to give them a good test.
Thanks. Atomic BC, 57-54-57 mm wide and 205 Cm long. Too long for a steep descent through trees, but very good for long distance approach on machine or skier track setting, as well as off track touring.
WBC at Sunset today.
After getting my granddaughter set up at her XCBC jackrabbits class, I had time for a short loop of West Crystal-Loggers-East Crystal. Skiing conditions were quick and enjoyable, on smooth firm recent and older grooming, with very well defined tracks – except on Loggers, where they are a bit worn but still decent. VR45 grip wax performed well, and as expected picked up a small amount of “lumber” here and there in the tracks. Upper East Crystal was a highlight, with perfect tracksetting and clean fast snow!
LAKE OHARA ROAD- Minus 13 at the parking lot this morning but minus 20 at the lake, yikes it was cold! Slow cold snow today, no grooming, thus not much for classic tracks. Mostly AT skiers since the last big snowfall, it appears. Great location if you are looking for a quieter wilderness trip and don’t mind following wobbly AT tracks but attention needed (if using classic skis) on the steep hills down since the AT trail is only about 1m wide. Anyone know if any future grooming is planned since both the lodge and Acc hut are now closed?
Skogan Pass and Loop. Fast skiing on a freshly groomed track on a bluebird day. It was good.
A short ski day on Mt Shark to Watridge, around part of the lake, and then a bit beyond. It looks like the whole network was done yesterday as MAAD pointed out. The grooming and tracksetting is very hard, and so made for pretty fast conditions. Temperature was -15 at 1400, humid, and no wind, so the tracks should maintain their consistency really nicely. Anyone heading out on them over the next few days should have a great time. The handful of people walking the trail were taking care to avoid the tracks, which was nice.
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Kananaskis Fire Lookout via Whiskey Jack. Was met this morning by very friendly parking volunteers at the Boulton Creek Parking Lot. Temperature was -11°C at around 11:30 am. Up Whiskey Jack, turned right at Pocaterra and plodded up to the Kananaskis Fire Lookout. What a view!! White-frosted evergreens and frozen Lower Kananaskis Lake in the background. Upper Kananaskis Lake was covered in low-hanging cloud. Due to the cold, my phone camera went back to sleep after attempting two measly little photos. I signed the guest log, and found my name from Jan 27 2013. Back down the north side to Pocaterra – then returned via Tyrwhitt-Elk Pass-Fox Creek and Moraine. Good track-set conditions for most of the way. Lookout trail (north side) was getting windswept and icy near the top. I didn’t even attempt the southern side. Fox Creek has single tracks and is in good shape (only minor pine needle debris); Moraine is mostly track-set, except for some small tricky areas. Mine was the last car in the parking lot upon returning. Temperature was -10°C but was dropping quickly.
Skied Cascade Valley Jan 8. Arrived ~9:30; two lovely young wardens were checking for park passes. Three improvements to excellent Jan 8 report: 1) here is a 1k ski to the the signage for the division between Cascade & Bankhead. 2) the description of a “hill at the beginning is 1.7K with 110 metres of elevation. You might climb it okay, but it’s pretty adventuresome coming down.” is a bit of a misstatement. It is a steady incline rather than a hill. That e-gain over distance is fairly doable for most unless icy conditions. 3) Oppportunity for a nice sunny lunch spot w good views of peaks is ~1/4 k past the turnaround for the initial loop 6k (just past bridge).
A different perspective is always welcome. I’m not sure if you are aware that I was referring to beginner skiers when I was talking about the hill at the beginning of the actual Cascade Valley trail. I use the criteria for when I was a beginner skier to give my advice to other beginner skiers, and there is no way I could have successfully come down that hill when I was a beginner. I don’t want to encourage beginners to get themselves into a situation that could result in an accident or injury. Perhaps the beginner skiers you know are much better skiers than I was. 🙂 1) It’s 750 metres to the Bankhead sign. -Bob
PLPP – South
Elk Pass parking lot was -18 at 9:30 and -10 at 3:30; wind blowing fairly strong all day. The persistent cloud in the Elk Valley side of Elk Pass stayed roughly in place all day, shading the southern reaches of Tyrwhitt and Elk Pass. The Blueberry side was still seeing sun, so we followed the couch-builder into the “upper Blueberry meadows”, which spur left a km or so before the viewpoint. A couple nice spots in there to get out of the wind and gather some rays until 12:30, 1-ish, before the cold shadow of Mt Fox encroaches. So back we scurried to the sunlit “lower Blueberry meadows”, where the latest track now meanders further south along in the west side glades before crossing and connecting the two meadow forks, and looping back to the Fork’N Meadow Lunching Log. Meadow travel is generally supportive, with a nice wind-sift / hoar-frost mixture that satisfyingly goes zzrunch zzrunch zzzrunch at these temps. Tracksetting, if that’s your thing, on Elk Pass and Fox Creek, is skookum.
Banff Cascade fire road – excellent conditions right to the end of grooming (14.4 km out). There were not a lot of people out there today so it should be pretty good tomorrow.
Skied Goat Creek today in great conditions. Starting from the top, there is no track setting until you reach the park sign – and some rocks on the first hill. But then the tracks are great. Today was really fast, but still some snow to control the crazy descent down to the creek. As I got closer to Banff, the tracks became less firm and many sections could use a re-set.
Re the conversation about signs. I encountered a group with 2 skate skiers in PLPP last week. They pointed out that the common signs say ‘Cross country skiing only’. A few signs do say that the area is for classic skiers, but these aren’t common. The narrow trails aren’t fun on skate skis, and if the tracks are soft, just one skate skier can cause a lot of damage. Fortunately, the tracks were very firm that day. But there does seem to be a need for better signage.
-3 deg at noon, -1 at 2:00 pm. Grooming done on Jan 4 still in good shape. Skate lane from Ribbon to Golf Course getting a bit beat up, trackset is a bit worn but in good shape. South of the Golf Course conditions are better ( due to less traffic, or shadier trails?). It has obviously been above a little above freezing since the last trackset, but the trails are not icy – firm and a bit glazed in the track in places, but very enjoyable. VR 50 with a touch of VR55 was good.
PLPP – Middle trails (Wheeler, Amos, Meadow, Wooley) – Trails in excellent condition. A skiff of snow after the last grooming has been well skied in, leaving very good tracks. The hills are firm but not overly so. There is some debris in the tracks, but with cold temperatures it shouldn’t be a problem with your kick wax. Temps were -13 at 11:00 warming to -8 at 1:30, amazingly close to what the Boulton Creek weather station was reporting (not always the case!). With a clear sky, it made for a wonderful sunny day of skiing.
Thanks goes to the parking volunteers for being out there on a cool morning (yes, that’s you, John R)!
This morning skied a loop from Ribbon Creek parking lot: Hidden, Ribbon Cr, Link, Aspen, Aspen/Kovach connector, Kovach, and Terrace. All in excellent recently groomed shape with good coverage but slow due to cold temperature. Nice corduroy for snow plowing the hills. -13C in 1/3 full parking lot at 9:30 AM, -10C at 12:30 PM in 80% full parking lot; however Ribbon Cr, Link and Aspen were around -20C and no sun.
A BLUE bird day! -15C to start and -11C at 12:30PM. Blue wax and beautiful Alberta Blue sky.
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park NORTH LOOP 15.2km. About 200m of ascent.
Start at Pocaterra Parking
Cross road on Lodgepole
Right onto Sinclair
Right when meets Lodgepole
Follow Lodgepole to right
Stay on Lodgepole to Elkwood Parking (including road crossing)
South to connect onto Wheeler
Turn left onto Amos (1.0 km from Boulton parking lot areas)
Right onto Lynx
Turn left onto Pocaterra
Ski ComeAlong and RollyRoad to Pocaterra Parking Lot.
Trackset in good used condition except for Rolly Road which has skier set track.
Fun and thoroughly enjoyable. Lynx is my favourite.
Hi Buck, Did the some of the same and saw you on Lynx. Yes it was a beautiful day albeit a tad chilly. The thermometer at the Pocaterra Hut read -17 at 10. Did Packers and had a swift descent on Pocaterra.
Bragg Creek @ 10am was -16C and green wax worked well. We did East Crystal to Sundog, conditions were pretty good considering the chinook. Not icey, definitely some pine needles though. Wasn’t very busy while we were there.
It is -19 degrees Celsius in Peter Lougheed Provincial park.
Looks like its going to be a blue bird day.
Thanks for reporting the temperature, very useful for waxing my skis
WATRIDGE LAKE – SPRAY LAKES WEST TRAIL
Skate Skiers Take Note
The grooming/ tracksetting crew was out today laying sweet corduroy and tracks throughout the Mount Shark trails and the Watridge Lake Trail system. Excellent ski conditions to the Spray River Bridge. Such nice straight tracks to enjoy.
From the Spray River Bridge to the Spray Lakes West trail system it is excellent skier tracked skiing. I took the second exit and broke trail towards the mid Spray River. I decided to check out various trails on the west side of the Spray River and ended up in several old burn blow downs. Eventually I took a light bush whacking route near the shore of Spray River and the reservoir to the bridge with the impressive canyon upstream. Off trail travel was generally easy to moderate difficulty with generally less than boot top ski penetration. I never did hit the mid Spray River as planned. On the way back I followed the road up valley of the bridge. After about 500 meters I came across 3 fallen trees that I decided not to go over, fearing more after. I reversed course and followed my track back along the reservoir and river shores, enjoying pinkish snow after the sun went down.
The routes I took where rather impressive blue sky scenery. In one particular area along Spray Reservoir, there were very nice 360 degree views of a number of mountains. This was a great trail breaking ski with great views. Skied out at night to twinkling hoar frost on the snow which was reflecting off of my head lamp.
Lake O’Hara fire road, not track set. Cold -15 with a fresh layer of snow, made for a wobbly slow ski up and slow ski down. Wait for the much needed tracksetting.
Got there a little after 2, just as the groomer was finishing up. What a treat! Brand new double trackset to the river and single trackset beyond that. I only went as far as the campground so I don’t know how far the tracksetting went beyond that. Minus 6 at the parking lot and -14 at the campground.
Pipestone parking lot was jammed packed (still not ploughed) @ 12 noon with overflow on Slate Rd, skied the perimeter trails counter clockwise to Mud Lake, visited with Kassy and humans a couple of times, second time at the couch photo opp where Jip shared her lunch, what a good dog! Awesome tails on a really beautiful day, walked over the highway and skied back to LL village for refreshments, my ride home and time to reflect on our good fortune 🙂
Redearth Creek – very nice fresh grooming (although a little wobbly in places). It’s groomed all the way to Shadow Lake lodge, although past the warden cabin the track is fairly rough and very narrow. Met the groomers on snowmobiles coming down from the lodge. There was a skier set track going to shadow lake but I only followed it to the end of the meadow by the lodge. Mt Ball and Copper Mountain stole the show today. Fresh wolf tracks. Beautiful but cold bluebird day, especially in the shady valley.
Castle Lookout towards Baker Creek: Gorgeous day out there and warmed to -6 as stated on Weather Network. Snow abundant; no sign of groomers. Saw 6 happy people all day and one even happier dog. Anyone know why they are not grooming through the usual loops in Protection Mountain-it is one of the prettiest parts of the whole ski, besides the top of the two “humps”? No sign of the moose’s.
Ribbon Creek south towards the hotels – entire network plus Ribbon trail CW and Hidden to Nakiska. Snow conditions are pretty good and grooming is recent. Unfortunately there is a fair bit of damage due to walkers in places. Mostly the damage is in the middle between the set tracks (as mentioned by Jean-Francois. It would only be an issue on the gentle downhills for skiers that want to use the middle to slow down. This was most pronounced on the little hills above the big one heading south from Ribbon parking. The ride down the middle would be pretty bumpy. Signage for appropriate use is a little better than last year but still ambiguous in places where the stated usage is sometimes a function of which end of the trail one enters. Still, in a couple of cases the signage was really clear but the sense of entitlement that some walkers have won out anyway. I skied by one of my old time favourites, Coal Mine and saw that it had a little bit of grooming (looked like 2 passes of the narrow grooming for fat bike trails). It would sure be nice if that one could get regular grooming. It has the best viewpoint in this part of the trail network.
gh, the Live Grooming Report indicates Coal Mine is being trackset tonight. Ask and ye shall be given!
Wow, that would be great.
CNC 10:00 -9 VR 45 over top of VR 50. We always wax up one level of wax at CNC due to the number of skiers and the hardness of the track setting. Skied out Banff Trail onto Olympic and up Coyote and King of Sweden We worked our way down from Rundle, Wolverine and out on Silvertip to the North end of the system Grooming was either new or a day or two old, the whole width of the trails were groomed. We returned via Banff Trail with lots of arm strong skiing due to the downhill snow plowing we had done coming off Rundle and skiing Silvertip, stripping off our wax. Need to iron in our base wax next time. Trails weren’t busy but were being used even further out. Met quite a few skiers, parents with pulks on the return from the meadow.
Parking lots were 1/2 full when we left at noon.
Skied the same as you today but I switched skis for the way home. Wax wears off on inside edge so rather than rewax, switch.
Today we did, from the Ribbon Creek Parking lot, Bill Milne to Evan-Thomas parking lot, continuing on Evan Thomas to Wedge Connector and back to Bill Milne and the Ribbon Creek parking lot, starting at 11 AM it was about -4C, on some section of Wedge connector got down to -10C, and back and the Ribbon Creek parking lot was ~2C. Snow/tracks were excellent on the Bill Milne trails, some needles on the Evan Thomas, and a bit less on the Wedge Connector, overall excellent day with blue skies, used Swix V40, worked well.
PLPP South Trails
Encouraged by the lure of fresh tracksetting, we parked at Boulton, and skied to Elk Pass via Moraine, Fox, and the Elk Pass trail. Fabulous conditions! From Elk Pass we skied nearly 4Km north on Tyrwhitt, to the high point of that trail. Tyrwhitt was decently skier trackset in some 5-10cm of fresh snow. We returned by the same route, enjoying some fast downhill gliding, especially on sections of the Elk Pass trail. Fox and Moraine were as nice as they ever get! Total bluebird day, no wind, -15C to start at 9:45am; -5C when we finished 4.5 hrs later. Quite a few happy skiers out there.
Nice to see you and your group today Ray. Forgot to say happy new year!
Fox creek: a moose had stumbled along a portion at the north end, in and out of the track, but no significant issue. Doesn’t seem to like bridges, but got himself a soaker as a result, then right back into the track!
FAIRVIEW – Jan 7
Beautiful conditions on a beautiful day in a beautiful place!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Temperatures of around minus 10 required a change from my favourite kick wax!
Skogan Pass Area / Kananaskis Village
We parked at Nakiska (-9C at 9:00am) and skied Sunburst, High Level, Skogan Loop (CCW), Hidden, Kovach (CCW), Terrace and back on Hidden.
All these trails have been groomed recently and the tracks are in great shape. There are a few areas with a bit of dirt but nothing too serious.
While on Kovach I noticed many tracks from walkers (tracks untouched) and met a group of 6 on the downhill towards Aspen spread over the width of the trail. I stopped to let them know that they should not be on Kovach as it’s a skier only trail, thanking them for not trashing the tracks but still creating many deep divots that can be hazards for skiers. I suggested they should buy a day pass to help with the grooming but they did not seem too keen to do so…May be there should be more yellow signs “skier only” at some junctions.
I can second the comments on Confederation Golf Course. It’s in good shape, and snow farmers were moving a lot of snow last night. I like the atmosphere at Confed at night. The reduced festival of lights is still festive and the east end of the park is not as crowded as it has been in other years. Lots of skiers with headlamps were out. A fast line of skate skiers with headlamps in the dark is an impressive and beautiful sight (who knew?).
Agreed. Best conditions I’ve ever seen over all the years I’ve been Xc skiing there. Classic tracks looked decent today and seemed to be holding up well. I skated every segment (both ways, sometimes a few times) mid afternoon in the glorious sunshine. Much much quieter on weekday afternoons.
Kudos and thanks again to everyone involved with the trails there from the city, to golf course folks, to volunteers, parking lot snow removal, and everyone else!
Lastly… please park respectfully of others! No big vehicle distancing required especially during the busier hours and days. Thanks!
Confed is 100% run and funded by Foothills Nordic including plowing the lot, potties and of course grooming. Trail fees from Foothills, other clubs and trail fee donations from everyone as well as hundreds of Volunteer hours is what makes it possible. It has been crazy busy there and glad that everyone is enjoying the trails. Visit foothillsnordic.ca if you like to contribute.
Confederation Golf Course
Still great conditions on my ski yesterday afternoon. The tracks are still in great shape, and some snow farming has maintained the snow cover. Thanks to the volunteers for creating this great facility in the city.
Skogan Pass , Sunburst, High Line trails.
Snow temp @ 10:30 am -4 C
Great grooming and track setting!
Get on it while the goings good.
Do you think its possible to go in the trackset with 80mm (telemark) ski’s, Thanks for the report!
Absolutely not! The track width at the base of the track is 70mm, so your 80mm skis are 10mm too wide assuming the 80mm refers to the maximum width of the skis. But since you call them “telemark” skis, the 80mm may refer to the width of the skis’ waist, which is the narrowest part of the ski. If so, the widest part of the ski could be 100mm or more. In practice, a maximum ski width of 65mm or less is required for skis to run properly in the tracks and particularly around curves. Using skis too wide for a track not only slows you down, it also ruins the track by gouging out the sidewalls of the track. If your skis are too wide for the track, it’s best for you and other users to ski next to the tracks. I often enjoyably ski Skogan Pass (and other trails) skiing next to the tracks on my 89mm maximum width light touring skis.
Thanks for the info Mike!
Track width is 60-70 mm at base. I’ve measured tracks set by Pisten Bullys at both the Nordic Centre and PLPP, and it is closer to 60 than 70 mm. So I second everything Mike W wrote below. Heavy usage widens the tracks and makes then “wobblier”, not good when descending at higher speeds. Good example of this are the long downhill stretches on Moraine Lake Road.
WBC groomed trail tour. East Crystal / Sundog / West Crystal / Moose Connector / Mountain Road. These places with grooming were okay to ski on (with waxless metal edged skis). There is still a fair bit of tree debris in places which wax ski users would find annoying. West Crystal and Moose Connector were also trackset and in much better shape. It is amazing what the grooming crew is able to accomplish. There were lots of walkers out on the ski trails today. On fresh grooming the divots were 5 to 10 cm deep. Perhaps the blue ski trail signs need to be replaced with the more obvious yellow “skier only” signs. I would certainly volunteer to put those up. I tried a couple of not yet groomed trails, Mountain View West up the big hill from the south and Moose Loop. Mountain View West (hill) was decent with no debris but a bit of softening in the sun exposed places. Moose Loop was not great. I gave up there pretty quick.
BOULTON-FOX-ELK PASS-TYRWHITT-WHISKEY: Lots of wonderful snow out there. Fox in excellent condition. A bit of sticking with purple/blue swix wax near Elk Pass, but Tyrwhitt had drier snow so not so sticky. We saw a fox jogging down the trail towards us on Tyrwhitt, we stepped aside and she passed us. We took a look at the tracks. Lots of snow when we skied down Whiskey. Some skiers were stopped in the middle of the trail chatting — please beware as the downhill skier may not be able to stop very well when you are not visible around the corner!! Boulton parking lot was mostly plowed out when we returned to the parking lot about 230pm. Saw a female moose on the side of the road, she was in excellent condition likely due to no calf at side this winter.
I know you guys are experienced skiers. You may recall that Bob has written several times the past years that it is better to ski that circuit clockwise: By ascending Whiskey Jack you avoid snowplowing and pushing snow down the steep S bends. You also avoid losing control and plowing into the uphill skiers you can’t see around the corner. I’ve often seen “human divots” at the S bend … By going up Whiskey jack and Tyrwhitt to Elk Pass you gradually gain altitude which you can then more enjoyably lose completing the circuit. Both the 24 and 42 km Cookie races go up Packers and Whiskey Jack rather than down. Bob, maybe you could dig up and repost that article from years ago.
PIPESTONE and a little beyond – Jan 6
Tracksetting occurred while we were there… but parking lot remains unplowed!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Happy Ukrainian Christmas Eve
Re: couch. I added to the existing one last time there, instead of putting a new one on the river. Not enough time, snow was not so cooperative.
Mt Shark @ 9:30 am -2 and warmed to -1. Occasional new snow in mini squalls hampered the waxing job, but we switched to different waxes (Ski Go -1 to +3) with some success. Managed to ski to top of the big hill down to Spray Bridge. Tempted to do 5 km Rec Loop but would have been a workout breaking trail. Picked up loops at #13 to #26 back to car. Upper parking lot of impeccably cleared just before our arrival.
Icy debris filled tracks at Shag this morning.
I managed some kick with V60 Red Silver Swix.
Good for some fresh air. Lots of parking available.
Its -4 degrees at the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre this morning.
Is there any way to know what lots are plowed when, what isn’t plowed, or what the normal order of lot plowing is, to assist deciding where and when to go?
Great Question! I wonder the same!
All plowing is done on a priority basis so the lots get done as soon they can. There is no consistent order that the lots get done in, as far as I’m aware, and no way to get updates on what’s been plowed.
Excellent. Sounds like a simple communication issue, similar to grooming info. Road conditions are reported via 511 Alberta. Kananaskis he ooming reported by grooming staff on line. Parking is the missing piece, in the context of a user fee parking pass system to fund grooming in lieu of general tax revenue funding. Who do I talk to so snow plow shift report info gets shared with grooming staff who provide the updates (one possible solution)?
Volker Stevin has that contract I believe.
Ribbon Creek: Skied up the Ribbon creek ski trail and then Ribbon creek proper, down link and Kovach yesterday with my dog. The fresh grooming was lovely. Snow conditions were good early season with thin spots in places. The only problematic spot was a rock right in the middle of the hill going down to the bridge over the creek where you essentially turn from Ribbon to Link. Glorious day to be skiing!
Confederation Golf Course, 5 Jan 21 & East Village
I have been skiing at Confederation for the last few days and especially with the fantastic recent grooming, it is great for those who don’t have time to go further afield. Small benefit to not having the Christmas lights up there this year – the trails are nowhere near as tramped down as in previous years. Thank you to groomers and all those who respect the trails. I also took a crack at the East Village trail at Fort Calgary a few days back. It is also groomed and only 1k round-trip, but great for a quick whip-around if you live close by or want to practice on flatland.
JAN 5 GOAT CREEK & SPRAY EAST RETURN, GOAT CREEK & SPRAY WEST RETURN
I started at about 9am from the Goat Creek trailhead, along Goat Creek, Spray East and back. The temperature was in the -4C to -1C range for the trip. I was on skin skis. There were some strong wind gusts in the open area and the usual 3 or so rocks to avoid on the steep downhill at the start, and then boilerplate until you get to the Banff National Park boundary. Beyond the boundary the trackset is in great shape, but the descent to the “death bridge” is getting hard-packed and “dished”, so beware! There was just a skiff of fresh snow in the tracks. The good trackset continued all the way to the Spray East/West junction, where I saw the first person of the day at the shelter. As expected, the grooming and trackset on Spray East wasn’t as good, but was still better than usual. I passed 2 groups totalling about 10 people heading up the trail in the opposite direction. The uphill return trip to the Goat Creek trailhead was uneventful, and as usual a lot slower, taking about half again as much time compared to the outbound leg.
After lunch and reapplying glide wax, I headed out again, but this time connecting to Spray West. The temperature was in the 0C to -4C range for the trip. Along Spray West the trackset was shallow and getting worn out, and tree debris on the trail for the last couple of km. Arrived back at my car just as it was getting dark. Another great ski day!
Mike W, If am reading this right, you did a ~75km day?
Yup, I’m afraid so!
PLPP 24k Cookie Race Route.
Isabel and I had a marvellous ski under sunny skies and great conditions. Lynx, Amos, Wheeler all in pristine condition with fresh snow and fresh tracks. We were even treated to a great view of a magnificent male Moose with a huge rack of antlers in the woods near the bottom of Pocaterra on our return . Feel so lucky to be skiing in this beautiful place.
It was a pleasure to meet Bob in person on Evan Thomas and my son, being as astute as he is said, “He just loves to ski”. Today was the best day of skiing I have had this season and one of the best in recent memory. Excellent conditions, great company, and a beautiful setting.
Arrived at Boulton Creek parking lot circa 0950, first car in lot with one more arriving before I departed. Temperature in lot was -3C with 5cm overnight snow in the parking lot and a bit more up higher. Skied Whiskey Jack > Tyrwhitt > Elk Pass > Fox Creek > Moraine. Caught the best powder of the season coming down from Elk Pass, where the fresh corduroy and track set from December 31 were nothing but a distant memory (probably 30 cm has fallen since then?). Fox Creek and Moraine were a delightful way to end the day. 10 cars in the lot, -2C on departure. Wonderful day to be in the mountains.
PLPP I skied from Elk Pass parking up the Elk Pass trail to the couch. My son was with me for his first trip in 17 years. It was good to have some help breaking trail (15 cm penetration when we were on it and about double that when we could not see it). We broke trail all the way to the hydro line having lunch at the the alternate couch. There was a good trail coming up from the Elk Lakes cabin so we took that back up to Elk Pass then down via Patterson. Logging on the BC side may have stopped for the time being. Grooming had only been done on lower Elk Pass and Hydro line. There was about 5 – 10 cm of fresh snow on that grooming so a lot more where it had not been groomed but the skier set trail up to Elk Pass was pretty good. The parking lot had not yet been plowed out so it would be a good idea to only enter it with a high clearance vehicle and winter tires.
Surprised you didn’t make it a “3 pass day”, although maybe your son would have disowned you.
Yes, perhaps he would have. He did really like the couches and locations.
Check out east elk some time soon while the track lasts, different and worthwhile. 2k from the grooming, about the same as going to hydroline through west elk but a gentle uphill grade.
Conditions at Ribbon Creek were lovely today! Started off on the actual Ribbon Creek trail for the first time since before the 2013 flood. Holy COW, has that changed!! So thankful for the conditions, as that series of downhill S turns was pretty intimidating! Especially endeavouring to negotiate the last right turn and coming across four skiers across the width of the trail. Yikes!
It’s been awhile since we have skied that area, the last couple of years being so amazing at Bragg. Lots of changes and also lots of signage for fat bike trails and snowshoe trails (some of which had not been touched it would appear) but the fat bikes made the decision to ride right in the middle of the two ski tracks on Terrace. While it IS a shared trail, there was so much room for them to be riding to the right.
Ribbon Creek: all the Skogan trails. I skied up Hidden and then to Skogan Pass, and did Skogan Loop on the way down as well as going over to the Hummingbird Plume lookout. Snow was sticky at first (+1) but got better after it clouded over. There’s a few cm of ungroomed snow on all the trails I skied after the first junction out of the Ribbon Creek parking lot.
Fairview Circuit: early birds got the first tracks down Upper Tramline today. -11 at 10am. Saw no one on MLR or Fairview until we were comfortably on time for our outdoor lunch reservation at Ma Sid’s couch. Gorgeous spot with amazing views. Parking lots seemed half empty at Great Divide and MLR. No sign of the groomers on Fairview but evidence they had done #4 to the Lake. Lots of people enjoying skating on the lake. -5 back at the car. Would have been a perfect day to ski Townsite groomed on the 4th!
Meadow and Wheeler trails were a delight this morning. Fresh snow and track set. Minus 6 or so when I started and minus 2 on the return two hours later.
Pocaterra -> Whiskey Jack
Arrived at the Pocaterra trailhead at about 0845 and there were 2 other cars in the parking lot. There was about 4 cm of fresh snow on the ground. Took Pocaterra to Lynx to Amos to Whisky Jack, and back by Pocaterra. The Pocaterra tracks are holding up well, but are slowly getting beaten down. Most of that loop hasn’t been groomed/trackset recently, so there’s anywhere from 10-15 cm of fresh snow to contend with. Whiskey was “interesting” to climb, as the fresh snow made for somewhat slick conditions on skin skies. All in all, though, great conditions, no wind, and temperatures just below 0C. About 30 cars in the lot when I left at 1300.
Thanks Bob, for the track setting report early this morning. We parked at Ribbon Creek – parking volunteers already in position – and thoroughly enjoyed the perfect snow along Bill Milne to Wedge Pond. We then took the Connector to Evan-Thomas Creek, pausing to bask in the sun for a snack. The path up to the E-T fire road was in good shape and as we pushed off to glide down to the highway we passed Bob himself. The return to Ribbon was enjoyable with a following wind. The trail should still be great tomorrow. No idea what wax worked as temps were around and slightly above zero and we chose to use skin skis.
Castle Junction to Baker Creek, plus the other Castle Junction trails.
There was a few centimeters of fresh snow over skier-set tracks. I started early-ish at Castle Junction and got the first tracks of the day until the final kilometer before Baker Creek, where a couple skiers had began the trail in the opppsite direction. My return to Castle Junction was much quicker as more skiers packed down the fresh snow. The creek crossing at the Castle Lookout parking lot is getting a bit narrow and should probably be approached slowly. Other than the whole trail system being in need of some fresh grooming, conditions were great!
3:30 – We were just finishing our ski and passed the groomer on his way out onto the trail heading west from Castle junction.
Spray River west side to high point before Spray River bridge and return – What a delight to ski this route today. Warm temperatures(-3C. to 0C.) and cold snow made for some fast skiing on the downhills. The dusting of fresh snow on new track set was welcome, and only a few hundred meters near the parking lot had any needles to speak of. Most of us used fish scale skis, but two were on V45 wax. No one had any problems with their choice of ski. Not many people on the way out, but by the time we reached the junction with Spray East on our return, we saw many more folks out enjoying the perfect conditions.
Jan4- Kananaskis Village pioneer tour- 50km covers a bit of ground suffice to say KVillage trails are superbly trackset. Go there & find out about the Kovach claim-to-fame. Don Gardner’s Hummingbird Plume was skier trackset in 15cm light powder which though slow up, safe for the screamer descent. Good fitness tester and just fine tracks above Ruthie’s. Upper Skogan is burried so don’t bother unless on 60mm+. Who/what was Skogan? Mr.Bill Milne & Sir Hugh Eva-Thomas trails weren’t (but are now!) trackset and -befitting the former gentleman, the BEST trail for beginners, leashed k9’s and skate skiers. Try Hidden Trail connecting 2 areas via the upper Ribbon Crk trail for some lively ‘Nakiska’ traversing.
Tue Jan 5: main ribbon creek trails
Hidden/ribbon/kovak(lookout)/terrace. A handful of thin spots on the steep S turns of ribbon heading to the bridge to be mindful of, but easily managed along with a couple sticks. Snow seemed to stay cold even in the sun with the breeze despite being just above zero back at the car at 1pm. A couple of other thin spots lower down on terrace and link, but mostly good throughout. Most walkers, joggers, snow showers and fat bikers stayed out of the tracks, except 1 Walker heading to centennial ridge, but minimal damage (until they return?).
When I first starting working for Parks back in 1980 there was a water researcher named Denis Fisera. He was a really cool old Czech guy full of character. I met him one day on his old Alpine skidoo with no brakes way up on Skogan. I asked him where the name Skogan came from and of course he told me it was an ancient Czechoslovakian mythical beast half man half Troll.
Years later I learned it was named by Don Gardner and is really just the wood in Norwegian (Skogen) . Some still say that word means a magical forest full of elves and trolls. Either way it’s still magical.
Jeff winner winner you get chicken dinner; Don Gardiner lived down the block from me in Elbow Park i thought he was a hippy a cool guy who together with Charlie Lock, not a cool guy, would do stuff in the mountains that no one else was doin including puttin the manuscript together for all that Skogen area trail system and Denis Fisera, at least to me was an interesting tough foreigner who talked the talk and probly walked the walk, Fisera Ridge is named after him I have skied in that area before Nakiska even got started so lots of memories.
I’ll add a little here Chupster . I think you just might be Charlie. Right about Skogan . Gardner spent a winter in Norway hence the norse skogan . Hummingbird plume is Mayan of the Yucatan. Gardner has done many things for sure.
O.T. good one ha ha i’m Charlie well i’ve been called a lota names but not that one anyway you want to talk local skiing history cause i started 6 decades ago on elbow park hill
Maple Ridge Golf Course: We skied last night after work and the tracks are still only skier track set. We used VR60 and grip was reasonably good around the majority of the typical loop but there were definitely a number of places where the tracks were glazed over. The west leg and west side in general were full of pine needles, leaves and twigs. While the east side, along the ridge over Deerfoot, was reasonably good – grip was best along here. The tracks are getting a bit worn in places – I hope the city will start grooming and track setting on Tuesdays as per their website and previous years! Does anyone know for sure?
On the city of Calgary website, they state that they will start grooming and tracking mid January ??? Sigh….I’m still perplexed that they would have opened the gates, plowed the parking lot, put in porta potties (which they’ve never done since we have been skiing it the last four years) and then to not do anything re the trails???
If any Calgary skiers have a shovel and extra energy, please consider shovelling the snowed in parking areas on the north side of Shag golf course across from the Extendicare Nursing home. People from the apartment towers park there and prevent the grader from getting all the snow. The nursing home needs those street parking spots for staff, especially tomorrow (Jan 6) when they have extras there to give all residents the vaccine! And while you are skiing, stop and wave to the residents. They are watching you through their windows. My Mom says “look, look” when she sees a skier as I visit with her through the window/telephone.
SPRAY RIVER TRACKSET TO SUNDANCE JUNCTION
Parks Canada was out with the trackset equipment and grooming the skating lane today. Generally excellent skiing up to Goat Creek junction.
Beyond the Goat Creek junction up to the Sundance trail junction it is well skier packed with a couple of centimeters of new snow in the skier track. The skier track was pretty nice and straight and wide. My ski trip up the upper Spray River was cut short at the creek beyond the junction. It was not crossable on skis due to high water. This is the first time in decades that I could not cross this creek with my skis on. I headed up the Sundance trail but was blocked a few hundred meters up by fallen trees.
I turned back and decided to go part way up Goat Creek to ski some hills. The snow was moderate speed and excellent skiing for a couple of kilometers past the bridge.
Coming back to the Banff Springs Hotel area at night the skate skiing was nice and soft and the snow speed was moderate. I have now skied 14 days using the same Swix 30 -5 to -15c old snow wax without using anything else and it performed well again today. The snow consistency has been superb this season.
Castle Lookout to Baker Creek return: – 10 at 10:40 am. Saw hardly anyone until top of first “camel hump”. One area of water open on a little dip after the “tree tunnel” which I marked with orange flagging. Was hoping to encounter the groomer which often happens when wanting to unload cookies in my pack! Was trying out new booties so was glad tracks were well worn with lovely soft snow. I find the new longer stretch along the railway tracks no where near as nice as the trail through Protection Mountain Campground, so skied it on the way back. Two moose were spotted in there (from the railway tracks trail) but no sighting for me skiing through. Generally it seems people like to start at Baker Creek, but I find the most scenic part is starting from Castle L/O. Anyone know why the trail is not following thru the campground this year? No sign of any work trucks.
Thanks for the tip about starting at Castle L/O. We skied the trail for the first time on Sunday, starting out from Baker Creek, and only went as far as just past campground as we started out later in the day. Easy going but not much to look at. We did detour into campground on return trip but didn’t venture too far on that side for fear of losing light before we got back to the car.
Kananaskis village -Terrace to Bill Milne to wedge pond and back. Wind blown and a bit wobbly tracks, but still an enjoyable day out.
Mon Jan 4: elk pass.
Ah, nothing beats a weekday non-holiday ski. Parking lot unplowed in morning, and still unplowed at end of day. Got stuck on the way in and on the way out (slushy junk). Nothing a bit of back and forth couldn’t solve, and didn’t have to break out the metal folding traction devices. But glad I wasn’t the last car in the lot. Wobbly Skier set track throughout. The best “ungroomed” grooming of the day was fox creek on return with an excellent track compared to elk. But not to worry, when I popped back out to elk pass trail, fresh corduroy for the final stretch!
HEALY & BREWSTER CREEK to Bw10 campground past SUNDANCE LODGE – Jan 4
Thanks to all those who have previously broken trail up here, I could just take pictures!
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Nice to see Frank & Leslie who were smokin’ fast on the way back!
Skied CNC late morning and early afternoon. Conditions on Banff and Meadow View trails were sublime. I returned on Bow trail, which was softer and slower and had more debris (needles and twigs) to contend with. All and all a great outing!
Goat Creek Trail from Goat Creek to 10 km top of hill and back. Other than the first kilometre in the Provincial Park the snow was excellent and is completely groomed with a single trackset as of Noon today (Thank you Parks Canada). Only met one skier all morning! Temperature -6C at trailhead when -3C in Canmore at 8:45AM. Temperature held below -2C .
For those that don’t want to travel to the mountains, or just have an hour to ski, Confederation Park is a great alternative. All the trails were trackset last night and thanks to some snow farming and grooming, they are in very good condition. A big THANK YOU to all the volunteers that have worked so hard to keep this facility in shape over the holidays.
-10 degrees at the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre this morning.
Lookout-Tyrwhitt- Sunday January 3
Thanks to some suggestions here on Skier Bob- we were very happy with our route 🙂
Skier Bob asked me to share my thoughts / experiences so here it is:
I decided to try a new route and head out for a bigger ski with our 9 year old son. I should say though that he’s been cross country skiing since he was 2 and has already put 320+ km in this season with our family and training with the Nordic Ski team – so I probably wouldn’t recommend this trip typically for a child that young 🙂
We had a bit of problems finding the parking lot for the trail head. I heard some others in the parking lot say the same thing- but when we did we were greeted by a friendly volunteer checking for parking passes ( we purchased ours last month).
Although I have winter tires on our van- we sometimes have problems in the parking lots when there is a large fresh dump of snow like there was Saturday night/Sunday am. PLPP apparently got 15-20cm and I can say that it was even more in the higher elevations! After talking to other skiers I am going to carry kitty litter in my van and traction aids. I love the ski community 🙂
We headed out up Whiskey Jack and found it to be fairly gradual with a few parts that needed herringbone. Once we hit the lookout trail the tough slog began.
I had fish scales and it was mom’s ski’s for the win today!!! My son had waxed with blue in the parking lot- but the deep, deep powder combined with the wax less skis had him slipping and sliding everywhere. We put 2 generous layers of purple on and that helped a lot. It looked like there was some snowed in tracks of someone ascending when we went up around 1pm. Encountered a few skiers coming down from the other direction and they were struggling with the powder on the downhill as well as us on the up. It was far to deep to snow plow- and one commented we all needed back country skis!
The Lookout was BEAUTIFUL! definitely worth the climb. We layered up and enjoyed a surprise hot chocolate with marshmallows for a treat!
On the advice of others we went BACK down the North side of Lookout ( the way we came up) and it was a crazy ( from all the powder) but fun ski down in the powder. My son wiped out and it’s the first time I’ve ever “lost” a ski. LOL!!!! After digging in the buried powder we found it (phew). Encountered few frozen binding issues and frozen water bottles- but all was good. The tracks coming up were ruined by all the downhillers trying to save their lives by staying upright in the deep powder 🙂
Once at the junction we headed South on Tyrwhitt and it was beauuuuuutiful. A welcome flat compared to the black uphill of the lookout! Had another hot chocolate break at Elk pass and then started our fun descent. Hydroline was not groomed at all so the only option was Elk Pass that had some skiier set tracks on the flat and then it was a free for all on the down hills with tracks in the powder everywhere.
We took Elk Pass all the way down to Fox Creek, then Boulton Creek. Boulton was done in headlamps as we started late but it was totally fine. Ironically Fox Creek and Boulton were some of our favorite trails because they were nestled in the trees and the trail was so narrow you felt like you were in another world.
Made it back to the parking lot the only vehicle-and never got stuck.Phew!
My apple watch said 22km, and it was about 5 hours with lot’s of hot chocolate stops, pack adjustments, finding ski’s in powder etc.
Overall I’d say the fresh powder would have made the ski ( down especially) MUCH more difficult for beginner skiers and would not recommend this loop if it’s a lot of fresh powder and you are not comfortable on skis.
Love this page- this community is the best!
Hi, I met you coming down from the lookout. (The first of 3 skiers. You asked me how much further it was and I told you it was maybe 10 min?) It was certainly a day to remember. My only regret was not bringing my backcounty nordic skis. Haha!
Hi Ken- yes we remember you guys! You had good news to tell us 🙂 LOL! Yep- I agree it was completely a back country ski day! But we lived to tell the story on skinnies- Phew!
You guys were one of the only 2 out of 3 groups we saw ALL day up there!
See you guys on the trails!
Brilliant trip report! We talked to you (I think somewhere on Pocaterra) and were wondering how your trip was. Sounds like an adventure!
CASCADE to past STONEY CREEK
Quite sticky snow when I started at 9:30 am. Ended up scrapping all grip wax and it worked fine over freshly machine trackset to the Cascade River bridge. Then skier track only to Stoney Creek, with up to 15 cm of fresh snow over previous tracks. Skied another 2.5 km past the old bridge wreckage at Stoney Creek. Good thing there was an older ski track past Stoney Creek, as my light touring skis were sinking almost to the ground in places with some whoofing collapse. The crux of the day was a 2 hours long drive from Canmore to Calgary; stalled traffic starting a few km west of the exit for K-Country.
I broke trail up there in the last week and the whoooomfs in the snow pack were amazing. The sink-age of the snow during the whooomfs made it somewhat difficult to keep a straight trail when I decided to get off the wolf pack packed trail.
To have lots of whoomfs occur after the trail is broken, even with 15 cm of new snow on top, is something else and a somewhat rare event in may experience.
Sinking almost to the ground on your skis on my old trail blew me away. I would have figured the snow would have sintered better than that. I assume being a XC skier you don’t have a weight problem but perhaps a floatation problem!
I used Rossignol BC 59 metal edge skis (total gross ski weight load about 175 lbs) and travel was good with an average of near boot top penetration on the hills but deeper on the flats. The further I skied the less the ski penetration.
Thanks for rebreaking trail again up there as those who like to ski to the Cuthead warden cabin or Elk Trap need all the help they can get.
Shaganappi Golf Course-2 skate spins around the complete golf course today to have a day of no car and walking to the trails. Still generally in good condition despite the mild temps and lack of snow in the city. There are definitely some bare spots in the usual areas-near parking lot by the club, along the condos on the west side and near tree covered areas. Easily avoidable though. Some of the steeper hills are getting pretty slick. All in all though still good snow coverage and the classic tracks look like they are holding up well. Thanks SNO team!
Ribbon Creek-Skogan trails
After seeing the report of fresh grooming on the Ribbon Creek-Skogan trails, I headed out there expecting pristine corduroy and clean, crisp tracks. Boy, was I ever disappointed. Everything was covered by 15 cm of fresh, soft powder. Despite those conditions, I persisted and did the Hidden-Skogan-HighLevel-Sunburst loop. There was lots of evidence of damage from skiers leaving deep tracks in the snow, especially on hills. Still, it turned out to be a great ski, despite the conditions.
Skogan Pass plus loop and Sunburst / Highlevel from Nakiska. There was about 15 cm of fresh snow in the parking lot but less higher up 5 – 10 I would guess. The conditions were quite good but by this afternoon it was getting pretty chewed up particularly lower down on the “screamer”. Up higher there was enough fresh snow that descending without snow plowing was feasible most of the time. Fortunately there were only a couple of walkers that got up as high as the Sunburst / Skogan junction.
Another great day at PLPP!
Headed out early and hit the Pocaterra Hut parking lot at 9:15 – might be a record for us! There was a lovely dump of fresh snow which totally filled in the tracks that were groomed last night. We skied Pocaterra to Whiskey Jack and while Pocaterra was a bit of a slog with the sticky snow, the downhill on Whiskey Jack was a ton of fun. Returned via Wheeler/Amos/Lynx/Pocaterra on much faster trails. Wasn’t as crowded as we expected and everyone seemed to be really enjoying the lovely conditions. We even had blue sky to really enhance the Narnia effect. Overall, a wonderful outing!
CNC – soft and clean.
Outer Ba-Bo-MV. Little congestion, not perfect, a bit slow with the fresh, but it was so nice to ski on soft snow after the too-hard-too-fast conditions recently at low elevation, and especially nice to ski on clean snow after seeing pics of the debacle at WBC and reading the caveats on Ribbon and PLPP websites.
Redearth Creek to Shadow Lake Lodge. A fantastic ski in beautiful new snow, 5cm at trailhead, more like 15cm at the lodge. Quiet winter wonderland today with lots of snow goblins. We opted for light touring skis which worked very well with Rode light blue wax and followed a good skier track. Met the young trailbreakers at the lodge. The snow was deep and soft and made the steep hill descent manageable with skis on. Amazing!
SPRAY RIVER to PARK BOUNDARY on GOAT CREEK and back – Jan 3
Excellent conditions today on yesterday’s tracksetting, with beautiful temperatures.
Details available in the photo descriptions here:
Must have missed Carole, but met lots of other interesting people!
I might have been coming back between the first and second bridges as you were talking to the group of 5 from Canmore. It’s my guess, but I don’t know what you look like!
Yes Carole, that would have been me… chatting away with the delightful group of five.
Now that you know what I look like (which I try to avoid), I hope you interrupt me the next time.
CASCADE TO MEADOW: Snowing at 10 am until noon, groomer was out all morning smoothing out the 5cm or so of overnight snow. Lots of skiers out this morning which probably reduced the probability of snow sticking. Warm blue wax worked well. Stopped for snacks at the meadow past the campground, then turned home. Tracks back wer