Sunday morning update

April 11, 2021: Could this possibly be a blue-wax day?

The overnight grooming in PLPP should be in near-perfect condition today for some excellent skiing. The trails which were trackset last night, shown in green on the map, were Whiskey Jack, Upper Pocaterra, Packers, and Wheeler. There was no fresh snow on top of the new grooming, so the trails should be fast. 

Wheeler. File photo

If descending Packers, watch out for the ice flow which only has a thin covering of snow.

The temperature is staying cold enough for wax. The Lower Lake this morning is at -17°C with an expected high of -1. 

Moraine Lake Road at Lake Louise was trackset yesterday. Thanks to Dave for the unexpected good news. 

Some snow flurries are in the forecast for this afternoon. 

At Canmore Nordic Centre, trails on man-made snow were trackset overnight. 

The easiest, longest, most scenic beginner trail in Kananaskis

Lionel: Plenty of room for double tracksetting and a skate lane

Lionel

This trail would create thousands of happy skiers every winter. Wider than Moraine Lake Road, exactly the same distance, without the long drive to Lake Louise. Alf Skrastins has explained the logistics of bringing it back to life in today’s trip reports. Alf started at Pocaterra hut and skied an 18K loop back to the hut. He found the old Sounding Lake trail in order to access Lionel, which is actually Hwy #40. Check Alf’s comment on the Trip Reports for a detailed photo story on how to get to Hwy #40 from Rolly Road/Pocaterra Hut, and how to complete the 18K loop. 

Lionel. The guard rail could separate the ski trail from the snowshoe trail. Photo by Alf Skrastins

Alf further elaborated in an email…

“The closed portion of Highway #40 is the Kananaskis Version of the Moraine Lake Road. It’s a wide, easy ski with plenty of snow and no hazards.  It would be the best “green” ski trail in all of Kananaskis Country.

The new snow on top of the melt-freeze crust got deeper with every southward kilometre. After about 6 km, you could see the “back door” entrance to Pocaterra… which also used to be part of the Lionel trail.

Returning on the groomed Pocaterra trail

The “back door” segment had the deepest snow.  It joins Pocaterra Trail at a T-intersection.

For snowshoers, it would be very easy to set a separate trail (and pack it by snowmobile) at the west edge of the road cut, adjacent to the forest.  In a few places, you could duck in and out of the forest, just to add some variety. And at the major creek crossings, you would bring the trail up to the west side of the guard rails.  The guard rails would provide an obvious physical separation.

It seems like re-activating Lionel as a ski trail should be a no-brainer.  The highway is much wider than Moraine Lake Road, so adding a skate lane should be no problem.  Even if this was the only skate ski trail in PLPP, it would be a good length(9K) from the winter gate to the “back door”.  If the winter gate was the only place where skate skiers could park, then you would only need “classic XC skiing only” signs at the junction where Lionel joins Highway #40 and where the “back door” branches off.  But at least that way skate skiers who drive all the way down to PLPP have somewhere that they can go… rather than turning around and driving back to Ribbon Creek.”

Grooming continues in PLPP

April 10, 2021

Tracksetting will continue in the south end of PLPP, but last night’s grooming on Lower Pocaterra, Lynx, Rolly Road and Come-Along was the last of the grooming in the north end. 

Pocaterra near Lynx junction. File photo

“A few light flurries fell during Friday night’s grooming, with a heavier spell of snow falling just before the grooming ended.  At 4:30AM, almost 1cm of new snow had accumulated overnight, and it was snowing lightly at the time- expect at least this amount on all the new grooming.   The new snow that has fallen over the last few days has shrunk down to about 5cm’s at the north end of the Park with up to 10cm’s or more existing at higher elevations since the last grooming.  This will be the last grooming of the season from the north end of the Park.”

It’s -5°C at the Lower Lake in Kananaskis this morning with an expected high of -1. Snow flurries are in the forecast for today, tonight, and tomorrow. 

In the past 24 hours, Lake Louise received 5 cm of snow and Nakiska got 4 cm. 

Snowfall update

Canmore Nordic Centre on April 9. Photo by Jeannie McBroom

April 9, 2021

Jeannie’s caption for the above photo: “Corduroy is back in style”

Anna(Thursday April 8): “Elk Pass parking to Blueberry Hill Kananaskis is a winter wonderland! It snowed for a good portion of the day with the temperature around minus 3 or 4.  Very enjoyable skiing, but slow.”

Lake Louise and PLPP received a significant snowfall yesterday. As Anna reported, Wednesday night’s grooming in PLPP will have lots of new snow on top. There was no grooming on Thursday night. The north end of PLPP has received about 7 cm. 

Canmore Nordic Centre received enough snow to trackset the main natural snow trails including Banff, Meadowview, and Bow.

At Lake Louise, MaSid started out in 7 cm of fresh snow, and it snowed more while he was skiing. 

Nakiska is reporting 10 cm of overnight snow. 

Mt Shark tracksetting

“From almost 10 to over 15cm’s of fresh, dry snow was groomed and trackset at Mt Shark overnight on Thursday.  No new snow fell during the grooming, but intermittent strong wind gusts were moving around some loose snow and dropping countless very small tree bombs.  Though there is a possibility of one more night of grooming next week, this may be the last grooming at Mt Shark for the season.”

The temperature at 8:30 a.m. at the Kananaskis Lower Lake in PLPP is -6°C with an expected high of +3.

The Smith-Dorrien(Spray Lakes road, Hwy #742) is reported to be in poor spring driving condition with lots of potholes. 

Fresh snow and cold temperatures in PLPP

Elk pass near Patterson junction. File photo

April 8, 2021

The south end of PLPP received 8-10 cm of new snow last night. The forecast is calling for more snow and sub-zero highs every day until Monday. Last night’s tracksetting included Elk Pass, Blueberry Hill, Patterson, Hydroline, and Upper Lake. 

 Upper Lake Connector. File photo

“Periods of snow moved in to the Park on Wednesday evening, very heavy at times, with about 5cm’s falling in the south end before the grooming began, and another 3 to 5cm’s falling during the grooming, accompanied by high winds.  The snow tapered off around 2:30AM just as Blueberry Hill was being finished; at 5:00AM there was no snow on the Elk Pass grooming, and between a trace and up to 5cm’s on the remainder of the new grooming, and at the time there was a mainly clear sky in the south end.  At that time there was a total of about 5cm’s of new snow in the north end. Though the temperature dropped a few degrees below freezing after midnight, the new snow insulated the moist snow underneath, and there is likely to be some slick spots especially early on Thursday.”

The temperature at the Lower Lake at 7:30 this morning is -6 with a predicted high of -1. More flurries are expected throughout the day. An additional 14 cm is in the forecast between today and Sunday night. 

Canmore Nordic Centre. File photo

Canmore Nordic Centre:

“There will be limited grooming on the natural snow ski trails moving forward due to melting/thinning snow base.”

The forecast is calling for small amounts of fresh snow at CNC but temperatures are still above zero during the daytime. The man-made snow trails should still be in good shape with regular grooming. 

Spare socks came in handy

Sara M at Spray warden cabin

April 7, 2021

If you’ve been reading the PLPP trail report this winter, it advises… “Plan for rapidly changing conditions and bring extra socks.”

Sara M crosses the Spray River

Yesterday, Sara M completed an epic trip which started at Mt Shark, accessed the Spray Warden Cabin, then finished on Goat Creek for a 43K day, much of it an obstacle course. Not to mention she walked a further 10K from Goat  Creek trailhead to Canmore!

One of the easier sections of Sara’s trip

Read Sara’s trip report and see her photos for all the scary details and the formidable challenges she faced. Here are a few highlights…

“At this point, the river has many smaller branches and I had to wade one of them”

“the road was washed out and I had to bushwhack in the trees above the river”

“There was a lot of deadfall that completely crossed the road, requiring either a careful step over, skiing off the road and around, or removing skis and climbing over”

“I had to use my skis as axes to anchor myself as I kicked steps to cross a particularly steep wall of snow”

“The burned section was ~3km long and it took me a little over an hour to cross, and I’m amazed that I didn’t break any equipment”

“Long story short: I would not recommend skiing from Mt Shark to Goat Creek”

All this after driving to Mt Shark on another obstacle course, the Spray Lakes road. 
******

Snow and colder weather on the way

Last night’s tracksetting in PLPP included Lodgepole, Braille, Sinclair, Meadow(partial),  Spruce road. The steep hill at the north end of Lodgepole(suicide hill) will no longer be groomed this season. 

It didn’t freeze last night in PLPP, and the temperature at the Lower Lake this morning is +3°C. A wind warning has been issued, but there is also significant snow in the forecast along with cooler temperatures for the coming week. Snow-Forecast.com is predicting 20 cm over the next six days and sub-zero highs. 

More photos from 2020-2021

Descending from Kovach Lookout, Feb 26

April 6, 2021

I would like to put a name to the skier in the above photo if anyone knows who it is. It’s one of my favourites from the past winter. 

This is my second instalment of photos from the past winter. Thanks to everybody who submitted photos, many of which are included below:

The life-blood of this blog

It’s time to put faces to many of the names you’ve seen on here who have submitted trip reports and other comments over the years. I’ve collected a large album of photos which I’m displaying in the gallery below. The 86 photos only account for about 5% of the total, so I’m missing a lot of important people. If anyone wants their photo added to the gallery, email it to me. 

I’d like to give special mention to Steve Riggs and Alf Skrastins for their reports during this blog’s infancy in the winter of 2008-09. Their comments gave me much-needed encouragement. 

In the beginning…

I posted this in April 2009 after my first winter of blogging:

Chuck’s favourite way of being photographed

“It’s been a lot of fun blogging about skiing this past winter, and I thoroughly enjoyed the excellent comments, reports, and photos which were sent in. I am pleasantly surprised at the interest which this blog received: it has been viewed 16,463 times since I started it in November!”

Winter of 2008-2009: 16,463 readers

Winter of 2020-2021: 1.7 million readers and counting

One of the things I’m happiest about is that people like Chuck did not have to toil in obscurity. Can you imagine not having access to Chuck’s(and many others) amazing reports and photos? My blog statistics show that Chuck’s name has been referenced 1906 times in the comments. That counts his comments and the times that someone has responded to his comments. 

Warnings

April 4, 2021

First, I’d like to thank MK and SA from the PLPP Visitor Centre for their early-morning weather reports throughout the winter. I don’t know if today’s report is her final one, but MK said this morning “Good Morning! Flurries, obscure skies, and 0 degrees C in Peter Lougheed PP, Info Centre. Hope everyone has had a good season!”

Saturday night’s tracksetting in PLPP included Whiskey Jack, Upper Pocaterra, Packers, and Lower Lake.

Elk Pass

If the slush doesn’t stop you in your tracks, there’s another hazard lurking on Elk Pass…

“This very large tree is across the Elk Pass trail- located at the base of the steepest downhill section coming down from Elk Pass before the Blueberry Hill junction. It is fairly visible so people should be able to stop well before, but still wouldn’t want someone to get hurt plowing into it. Also wanted to give a heads up as the trail crew might need an extra set of hands to cut and move it.”

Thanks to Rhonda Jewett for the photo and report. 

Hwy 742(aka Smith-Dorrien, aka Spray Lakes road). 

I’ve always stayed away from the Smith Dorrien in the spring and with the increased traffic this year, it’s even worse, as Helen Read will attest: “DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS on Smith Dorrien yesterday all the way from Canmore end through Goat Creek and all way to Hwy 40.”

Walkers on Pocaterra

From the PLPP grooming report: “A few walkers have been ignoring the signs and there have been footprints on every part of every trail groomed on the weekend.  Walkers also took Friday night’s fresh grooming all the way up Pocaterra, and these prints will be frozen early Sunday morning.”

Saturday morning update

April 3, 2021

The final trail update from the Chateau grooming team at Lake Louise:

Chateau tracksetter Jeff. File photo

Upper Telemark and Peyto Trails (#5&#7): Double trackset, April 2, good spring condition. Icy in places during the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.

Fairview Loop (#2): Double trackset, March 30, fair spring condition. Icy in places during the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.

Lake trail (#4) at Lake Louise. File photo

Shoreline (#4): Double trackset, March 30, good fair condition. Icy in places during the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon.

Peyto trail. File photo

Lake Trail (#4): Double trackset with a separate path for walkers, March 30, poor spring condition. Icy in places during the morning, slushy and sticky in the later afternoon. The melt water from the snow is pooling on the lake making for VERY slippery conditions with potential for wet feet. We are no longer checking ice thickness and the skating rink is no longer being maintained, use at own risk!  

I’d like to thank Jeff and the entire Chateau grooming team for their timely reports. Throughout the season, I received an update immediately upon the completion of the day’s grooming. It’s me who is  12 hours late with the above report. 

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Trails which were trackset overnight in PLPP include Pocaterra from the hut to Packers, Rolly Road, Come-Along, and Lynx. The middle section of Come Along was not groomed due to bare ground.

“Warm winds kept the temperature above freezing, throughout the grooming period, and grooming the moist to wet snow will result in even the new grooming being on the icy side first thing in the morning, until the temperature rises (if it freezes in the early morning hours).”

The temperature at the Lower Lake this morning at 7:30 is -3°C, so it did indeed finally freeze overnight. The temperature at midnight was +4. 

I spoke with PLPP Tracksetter James at the Wednesday meeting, and if all goes according to plan, tracksetting in PLPP will continue until the middle of April. Of course, the weather will have some bearing on this. 

Yoho/Emerald Lake 

Lorraine from the Kicking Horse Ski Club: “April 2, I brought my old fishscale skis to Emerald Lake. Skied to the back of the lake and in the alluvial fan –but on the supportive crust. Track is icy and uneven so off trail is much better. Quite busy at the lake but I was the only skier. Everyone else was walking.”

Canmore Nordic Centre

The trails with man-made snow were trackset overnight at CNC. 
******

Bike season

The Lake Minnewanka Loop in Banff will be closed to motor vehicle traffic Monday to Thursday, May 1-20 to give the road to cyclists. This is a pilot project and Parks Canada is looking for feedback. This reletively new website CycleAlberta.ca is devoted to promoting road biking routes that are quiet (less motorized traffic) and showcase Alberta’s countryside.