Sun-screen update

Paradise Valley on Mar 3. Photo by Chuck

Winter is scheduled to return next week, so I hope some snow will survive. 

Not even the high elevations are safe from the heat wave. The predicted high in PLPP tomorrow(Thursday) is a blistering +7°C and sunny according to the Weather Network.  

Three-toed woodpecker. Photo by Chuck

It was nice to see the Ribbon Creek crew was able to get Bill Milne, Wedge, and Evan-Thomas trackset this morning.

With the extremely warm temperatures we are experiencing, you can expect very little tracksetting over the next few days(but I hope I’m wrong).

If it freezes at night, we might see some grooming in PLPP. 

Chuck spent the day in Paradise Valley, where it was cooler and he was able to use wax. 

Avalanche warning for Kananaskis, Banff, Yoho, Kootenay

Avalanche danger is rated Considerable at Alpine, treeline, and below treeline. 

“Avalanche Canada, in partnership with Parks Canada and Alberta’s Kananaskis Country, is issuing a Special Public Avalanche Warning for recreational backcountry users across a widespread area of BC and Alberta.  Increasing temperatures are in the forecast and the effect of this first big warm-up of the season will destabilize the snowpack. This special warning is in effect immediately and will stay effective through the weekend.”

If you stick to groomed trails, you’re pretty safe, but there is still some risk on a few trails: Groomed trails with avalanche risk

Tracksetting update

The following trails were trackset today(March 3) but a few in PLPP would have been done late on March 2:

Bill Milne, Wedge Connector, and Evan Thomas

“Groomed and trackset this AM with 5 cm new snow since last grooming. Great conditons, but expect a freeze / thaw cycle over the coming days.”

Cold Shoulder at CNC

Canmore Nordic Centre

In addition to the usual man-made-snow tracksetting, the following natural snow trails were trackset: Banff trail, Bow, Meadowview, Grey Wolf, Cold Shoulder, Wooded Bliss. 

Cold Shoulder(pictured) is one of the most scenic trails at CNC. 

Bow Trail at CNC

Yoho/Emerald lake

“Joe just got back from track setting all linked trails between Field, Emerald, Otterhead River(KHFR). Enjoy Spring conditions–careful on the hills. He will wait for Yoho Valley Road for a while yet.”

PLPP

The trails on the west side of the road including Lodgepole, Braille, Sinclair, WWL Access, Spruce Road, and Meadow(partial). 

Lake Louise

Lake Louise surface, Lake Louise Shoreline, Lower Telemark, and Upper Telemark.

One more day of winter wonderland

Meadow in PLPP

I was greeted with a winter wonderland atmosphere when I arrived at Boulton Creek in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in mid-afternoon. 

Woolley

I skied on last night’s tracksetting: Wheeler, Amos, Woolley, and Meadow with a side trip on Lynx. I had not even skied on Woolley and Meadow this season, so it was about time.

Amos

There was 1-3 cm of new snow on top of the grooming, but it was well skied-in by Jean-Francois and all the other early skiers and was in excellent condition. 

The temperature at 2 pm was +1°C and the fresh snow almost scared me into using my twin skins, but I decided to try out the waxable skis first, and I’m glad I did. Darcy already gave you the formula for successful waxing today. Purple covered with blue. It worked perfectly with excellent grip and no sticking. I used one layer of VR50(0/-4) covered with one layer of VR40(-4/-12). 

Bob Moir

I started out on Wheeler, and the first person I met on the trail was Bob Moir, president of the Senior’s Outdoor Club of Calgary. It’s been a difficult winter for all the senior’s groups who usually take buses for mid-week trips to the mountains. No wonder there were a lot of cars in the Boulton Creek parking lot. Elkwood was also very busy. 

Today’s tracksetting…

Lake Louise: Moraine Lake road and Great Divide. 

Wheeler

Kananaskis: All Skogan area trails groomed and trackset this AM after 5 to 7 cm new snow fell last evening and upwards of 20cm new higher up since the last grooming. Though subject to change in the coming days conditions are still very good winter conditions, particularly at elevation.”

West Bragg Creek update from Boomer Gromer: “Variable conditions including Slush and ice flows, snow fleas, soft skate lanes due to deep renovation to remediate equestrian damage on Mountain Road, and glazed tracks. Best bet if classic skiing to stay on core trails and avoid sun exposed areas. Travel on the east section of Mountain road (east of Blue Bridge) is not recommended.”

Manic Mike skis 100K – in one day!

March 1, 2021: I had to read Mike W’s late night trip report twice before it registered with me that he had just skied 100K on Goat Creek/Spray River. 

Mike W (file photo)

Starting at 7 a.m from Goat Creek trailhead, he did two round trips to Banff, then finished his epic trip as follows…

Mike W skied across the Goat Creek bridge 6 times today.  

“After another rewax and refuel at Goat Creek trailhead, I headed out for my last lap, as far as the Spray East/West junction.  By now, the trail was deserted.  I had to pull out my headlamp for the final Goat Creek section.  This turned out to be a great psychological boost, as skiing by headlamp gives you the sensation of moving at a tremendous speed.  Now I know how MAAD does his epic night trips! 

About 3km from the end, I saw headlights from the other direction that looked like the groomer was coming my way, but it was two fat bikers.  Back at the trailhead, I was the only car left in the lot, the wind had died down, and stars were out with a nearly-full moon.  I can now last a week without skiing until the cold weather and snow hopefully returns!”

Ski Mania update

March 1, 2021:

Ski mania continued unabated in February. The daily average of 10,054 unique visits to this blog is up 116% over last year. 

Since Oct 1, 2020 we’ve received 1.48 million visits. 
******

Kananaskis sees record visitors for 2020

Estimated number of visits to Kananaskis Country

  • 2015: 3,597,678
  • 2016: 3,706,633
  • 2017: 3,733,772
  • 2018: 3,793,782
  • 2019: 4,103,965
  • 2020: 5,394,168

“The 2020 season saw a jump of more than 1.2 million visitors to 5,394,168 compared to 2019. It also shatters the five-year average of 3,787,166 by more than 1.5 million estimated visitors.”

Read more in the Rocky Mountain Outlook

Comment from Greg regarding the Kananaskis Parking Pass: 

“$50 is good value. I have used my Pass over 30 times. Hoping to hit 40.  In the fall, I thought I’d have to take up snowshoeing. Instead I’ve skied more than ever. Thank you to all who saved the season.”

Tracksetting Feb 28/Mar 1

Castle Lookout to Baker Creek on Feb 28. Photo by Chuck

If you’re looking for cold snow today, Lake Louise is your best bet. The Pipestone trails were trackset yesterday. 

Chuck was at Castle Lookout/Baker Creek yesterday where the snow was still cold. 

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park tracksetting: Elk Pass(partial), Hydroline, Lookout, and Tyrwhitt. 

“Grooming under mostly clear skies on Sunday night, with light intermittent flurries, totalling <1cm of fresh snow by the time grooming was completed at 02:00. Expect 1- 2 cm’s of snow on top of Friday night’s grooming, and all other trails will have from almost 5cm’s to possibly 10cm’s, depending on location and when they were last groomed.”

The temperature at the Lower Lake this morning at 9 a.m. is zero. The predicted high is +3 with wet flurries. 

Horse damage at West Bragg Creek

West Bragg Creek:

Update from Boomer Groomer:

“Chinook winds, above zero temps, snow fleas and equestrian damage are all factors contributing to suboptimal ski conditions. Avoidance of Mountain road is advised if you want to avoid isolated slush/ice flows, snow fleas and soft skate lanes (due to a deep renovation to try to eliminate 6” postholing by a horse.)

There will be a mixed bag of conditions including glazed tracks in sun exposed areas. Best to stay on shaded core trails if you are classic skiing. Might be time to start applying sunscreen!”

Some of the core trails were trackset early today. Check Nordic Pulse for details. 

The temperature at the WBC trailhead this morning is +5 with a predicted high of +9.

Banff: Cascade Valley and UpperBankhead were trackset yesterday.

Waxless ski weather is here

Feb 27: West Bragg Creek. Photo by Steve Riggs

Feb 28, 2021:

West Bragg  Creek Grooming Report from Boomer Groomer:

“A big shout out to volunteer groomers Bill, David, Peter and Jeremy. These fellas spent their Saturday night track setting close to 70km of trail for everyone’s enjoyment.

Thankyou Gentlemen!

Get it while you can as temps are shooting skyward on Sunday relatively early in the day.”

Starting later today, we will see above freezing temperatures  at West Bragg Creek, Ribbon Creek, Canmore, Banff and Calgary.

The warm weather is predicted to continue for the forseeable future. 

The places which have the best snow early in the season are also the places which will continue to have the best conditions now. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Lake Louise and possibly Mt Shark will hopefully still have cold, waxable-conditions snow. 

New tracksetting on Feb 27/28:


West Bragg Creek:
Every trail has been trackset. The temperature at the trailhead at 7 a.m. is -5°C .

Kananaskis Village and Bill Milne trail:

“Kananaskis Village trails and Bill Milne trail from Ribbon Creek to Mt. Kidd RV Park groomed and trackset this evening after 5 to 7 cm new snow. Great conditions.”

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park: Whiskey Jack, Packers, Upper Pocaterra, and Lower Lake. 

“A few flakes of snow on Saturday night  but no real trace was noticeable on the grooming at the time it was completed.  Friday night’s grooming will have 1 to 2 or so cm’s of snow on the surface, and all other trails will have from almost 5cm’s to possibly 10cm’s, depending on location and when they were last groomed.”

Canmore Nordic Centre: Most trails have been trackset over the past two nights. Check the CNC trail report for details. 

Banff: Tunnel Mountain

Lake Louise: Great Divide, Lower Telemark, Moraine Lake Rd, Upper & Lower Tramline.

Confederation golf course: All trails were groomed and trackset on Feb 27.  The predicted high in Calgary for today(Sunday) is +5°C. 

Shaganappi golf course: Track setting was mostly redone Saturday evening 

Did you get your money’s worth?

When Ruth Ramonas posted her comment on Oct 19, little did she know how prophetic her prediction would turn out to be. 

The “explosion” in xc skiing caught everyone by surprise. 

Only four months ago, we were still in fear of losing the grooming in Kananaskis.  Nordiq Alberta put together a feasible proposal which involved a $50 season pass or a $10 day pass(completely voluntary. You didn’t have to pay if you didn’t want to). The announcement came on Oct 30 that grooming would continue.

Previous to the decision, as encouragement to the government, I posted the question What do you like about skiing in Kananaskis? and received 101 replies, a few of which I’ve displayed on this page. 

The efficiency of Nordiq Alberta to put together the infrastructure to collect the fees, and the hours of work by Ken Hewitt and his gang of parking lot volunteers has been amazing. 

The excellent grooming at Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Ribbon Creek, Mt Shark and Sandy McNabb has continued. 

There remains a lot of good skiing in the month ahead, but I wanted to post the question while we still have a lot of people reading. Did you get your money’s worth?  

Snowfall and tracksetting update

Moose Connector at West Bragg Creek. Photo by Boomer Groomer

Feb 27, 2021: A little bit of fresh snow in Calgary and West Bragg Creek, but more in the mountains. The web cams are showing snow covered roads from Canmore to Lake Louise. 

Shaganappi golf course

“All trails were groomed Friday evening by one volunteer as it was snowing.”

West Bragg Creek

“The forecast did not live up to expectations but it should be a lovely day of skiing in ‘the creek’ none the less. We will have a limited number of trails track set for Saturday but there has only been a dusting of 2-3mm overnight, so tracks will still be discernible. Grooming will resume tonight when we are not having to dodge around people. Have fun out there!”

Check Nordic Pulse for the latest WBC grooming information. 

The WBC trailhead temperature at 8:30 a.m. is -13°C. 

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Last night’s tracksetting included Pocaterra from the hut to Packers, Lynx, Rolly Road and Come-Along.  The Rolly Road and Pocaterra training grids were also trackset. The grooming report indicates 3 cm of new snow by 4 a.m. and still snowing. The Mud Lake weather station shows 6 cm overnight. 

The temperature at the Lower Lake is -12°C.

Ribbon Creek

“Feb 26: Ribbon Creek, Coal Mine, Hidden, Hay Meadows, Ruthies, Skogan Screamer, and Lower Skogan groomed and trackset this evening. Be aware of an ice flow on Lower Skogan. Stoney Trail from Hay Meadows to Wasootch Creek groomed and single trackset as well. Be aware of a very shallow snowpack on parts of the northern portion of this trail, which can be accessed via Hay Meadows.”

The Hay Meadow weather station shows 4 cm and Nakiska reports 7 cm of overnight snow. 

Lake Louise

Lake Louise Ski Resort indicates 5 cm of new snow in the past 24 hours. 

Banff

Feb 26 tracksettting: Goat Creek, Spray River West, Spray River East. 

Covid-compliant selfies on the Bill Milne trail

I’m standing six feet behind Barb for this selfie

Conditions on the Bill Milne trail weren’t quite as good as on the village trails, but it was still enjoyable. 

Janice and Charlie Perry on Bill Milne trail

Now that I’m on the farewell tour, when I met Barb and her friendly dog Jamie on the trail, she wanted to take a selfie with me. I had to stand six feet behind her in order to comply with the pandemic rules. 

Running into renowned poet Janice Perry, who is always way ahead of husband Charlie, was another highlight of my day on the trail.

Bill Milne trail

Earlier this season I had encountered Janice and Charlie a couple times, but one of us was always zooming downhill and going too fast to stop and talk. Between Ribbon Creek and the golf course, 3.9K, there is only one hill on the Bill Milne trail and that’s exactly where we met. Luckily, it’s just a small hill so I stopped at the top and waited. 

Bill Milne trail

The wind of the past two days has taken a small toll on the trail. There are a few snow drifts where the tracks are filled in and there is some unusual tree debris for about a 100-metre stretch. It’s not the usual pine needles but instead it consists of small twigs from the stand of dead trees along the trail. 

Thank you, Bill Milne

I skied between the golf course and Kovach Pond parking lot which means I had to ski on the ice-flow detour trail for 1K. The reroute is skiable but it’s not pretty on the stretch which parallels the highway due to all the crud from the snowplows. 

If you’re approaching the ice-flow bypass from the south, the trail starts out in the trees and there is a marginal spot with very thin snow. I didn’t realize it in time, but there is a bypass for the bypass which has plenty of snow. 

The tracks were fast but I don’t know if my wax was working because I double-poled the entire time. Okay, I already said there is one small hill and my VR45(-2/-8) gave me a bit of grip. That hill can’t be any longer than about 40 metres with an elevation gain of five metres. 

With up to 5 cm in the forecast, tonight’s snowfall should cover most of the debris. 

My favourite line from one of Janice’s poems:

Need to write a letter to the government to lobby
Get all the information on the Blog of skier Bobby

Beautiful conditions at Kananaskis Village

Descending the steep hill from the Kovach Lookout

I didn’t get her name, but the young lady in the above photo was descending the steep hill from the Kovach Lookout and she told me she had fallen a couple times, but as you can see, she was still having fun. 

Flying down Lower Kovach

I met lots of skiers with big smiles on this spectacular sunny day. Last night’s tracksetting on the Kananaskis Village trails was in great shape and a real treat on which to ski.

I also skied the Bill  Milne trail but I’ll  do a separate update for that. 

Terrace trail near the Village

The sun was shining but the snow was still cold enough to use purple wax. The air temperature at Kananaskis Village in mid-afternoon was -1° and the snow was -3 as I started on Terrace trail, heading north. 

The only “inconvenience” I encountered was a bit of tree debris on Lower Kovach but it was mostly embedded in the tracksetting so not a big problem. There were a few bottle brushes on the trail from last night’s wind but surprisingly few needles. 

Aspen

The tree debris disappeared as I made my way up to the Kovach Lookout, and the snow was pristine at the top. I enjoyed meeting Gudrun and Howard from Red Deer at the Lookout. 

The descent from the Lookout to the Village was pure enjoyment on the great conditions. All the S-turns had plenty of snow and were easy to negotiate. 

Terrace

With tonight’s expected snow, most of the tracksetting will have some fresh snow on top by morning. Most forecasts are predicting around 3-5 cm. The clouds were moving in as I was leaving around 5 pm. 

Gudrun and Howard at the Kovach Lookout

As I write this at 7:30 pm, the Ribbon Creek snowcat has begun the Friday night tracksetting. So far Hay Meadow has been trackset.

Unfortunately, tomorrow(Saturday) is going to be our last day of sub-zero temperatures in Kananaskis. The predicted high on Sunday is +6. 

Goat Creek, Spray River West, and Spray River East were trackset today. 

Golden, BC: the final day of the Dawn Mountain Challenge is Feb 28. 

Starting a new blog

If you missed it, I announced two weeks ago that this winter would be the end of the trail for me. 

In the interests of helping out a new blog person, what has been the most important feature of this blog for you? What would you miss the most if it wasn’t there?

I’m not going to make a shopping list of the requirements necessary for a blogger because I expect you wouldn’t be considering it if you didn’t already have the dedication, commitment, and most of all, the time. I fully expect someone with creativity and passion will take what I’ve done and make it into something even better.

I’ve had encouraging enquiries from a few people who are interested in starting up a new blog to replace this one. Below is the essence of my reply…

“I’ve already made the promise that I will post a link to anyone who starts up a site and I will do it this winter if someone has a viable website up and running.

It’s not my place to endorse or select anyone in particular. I’m going to leave that up to the readers. In other words, whoever makes their blog the most attractive to xc skiers will probably end up with the most readers as time goes on.

It would be wonderful to have a site set up this winter, mostly so you could fine-tune it during the quiet summer months. It would also allow you to receive feedback from readers on what works and doesn’t work.

I’m quite happy to have any of the information on SkierBob transferred over to a new site. For example, you could copy and paste a lot of the information under the Resources tab. The same goes for Webcams, Dog-friendly ski trails, etc.”

Keep it simple

Don’t try to be everything to everyone(admittedly, I wasn’t very good at taking my own advice!). As I’ve mentioned before, the Trip Reports are the most important feature of this blog, and should have a prominent place on your new blog. 

Another vital aspect of any new blog will be to act as a “nerve centre” for the xc community such as important announcements from government, tracksetters, or concerns affecting xc skiing. For example, the Kananaskis Grooming issue. This blog was the place to go to stay informed, to advocate, and ultimately to learn how and where to buy your parking passes.