Monday, March 31, 2014

Mar 31/14 - Few CM & Congrats!

Evening gang! Well we only had a few cms today down here but on my way to and from Calgary on the highest part of Hwy 22 it looked like this photo and was snowing. BIG CONGRATS TO RHONDA AND MATT DOWNS! Rhonda is now a Thunderstruck Girl (as well as a Bettie cause girls rule at multi-tasking!) Way ta go Rhonda! Matt you worked hard for this too so Congrats to you too! We look forward to the videos! And we look forward to sledding together in a couple of weeks! Will be great to get out there mid April with you guys - nice when the season winds down and we can ride more. Don't winterize your sleds yet gang! Cheers - V

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mar 30/14 - Evening Report - BIG SNOW

We have been getting lots of snow down here all day - we have about 15cm of fresh snow in the yard and the photo is from Elk Valley Road Report and is going over the Pass above us - they say the roads are terrible and the Pass should be closed! It is still coming down - big flakes. I don't know why I am not getting calls for cabins cause the snow is that great! Here are some photos from CRANBROOK from our friends out today on the sleds if you are headed that way. Get out in the snow! Cheers - V

Mar 30/14 - +2 and Snowing

Another morning and more snow....about 4-5cm so far. The photos look like its clearing in the sky but it isn't its just a weird colour this morning. Yesterday by end of the day the all the tin roofs were clear but it was cool enough last night that the snow is sticking again. More snow forecasted for tomorrow. Avy report yesterday says there is at least 25cm (almost a foot) of fresh snow out back. Curt and Cooper are likely headed out on the Timbersleds today to just play in some close cut blocks. Sled season doesn't have to be over by a long shot yet! We have cabins available. Cheers - V

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mar 29/14 - Light Snow On & Off

Howdy gang, it is +5 here this late afternoon and it has been snowing on and off all day and socked in up top. Weather is supposed to be between +2 and +5 for the next few days and -1 and -7 at night. Our snow is warming up down here and is heavy and wet on the trail - haven't had reports of what it is doing up top for a week now but its likely a bit lighter but moving towards that spring riding conditions. Supposed to snow daily for the next three days. Have been seeing a number of sled decks and trailers headed west. If you are a spring rider and are looking for accomodations - I am still open and think its still good riding out there. Cheers - V

Friday, March 28, 2014

Mar 28/14 - Daily Snow

Morning - just a quick update, its been -7/-8 but felt cool and snowing about 5-10cm daily. It is finally looking like a clear sky out there although more snow is forecasted. If you missed out on winter during the -20s to -30s this winter then you can certainly make up for it now! Better snow than we have had all year and risk is leveling off to seasonal norms. We are booked this weekend but have cabins available on Sunday and through the next week. I wouldn't balk at booking cabins because the snow is still very good. When we lived in Sask we would come out to Cranbrook and sled til the end of April. This is better than the warm, set up maybe rainy spring riding - this is back to feeling like winter riding with deep snow in the alpine and in pockets of tree riding. OH COOPER GOT HIS DRIVERS LICENSE YESTERDAY!!! Cheers - V

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mar 26/14 - Flurry of Snow

Morning Sledheads, we just got a flurry of snow - 1-2cm in 15mins - sorry I missed it with my camera but its kind of lifted now and just lightly but steadily snowing. Visibility is decreasing up top and it is +2 going to +3 today with snow in the forecast all week. Avy report is looking better and better with super steep unsupported terrain still something I would leave alone but the rest is filling up with snow. The bulletin for South Rockies has a great video from the forecasters on the snow reactivity which is again...improving. We had a little bit of mist last night but no rain. The Flathead is groomed and like a highway! Please donate in the box at the start of the trail. Its $15 and it basically just pays the fuel for the VOLUNTEER groomer(this time Curtis)to go out and take the 5hrs it takes to groom. Cheers - V

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mar 24/14 - 50-100cm of fresh snow up top

A photo from last night. We have gotten 10cm of fresh snow down here over the past 48hrs with more than that falling up top. Weather really cooled down and was -14 yesterday but its warm and sunny today at -4 with +9 forecasted for tomorrow..?..then back to norms of +1 & 2 degrees with more snow daily all week. The avy report says that between 50-100cm of fresh snow has fallen over the past almost week and the guests said there was 120cm of fresh snow up in Rain Gauge. They said there wasn't much fresh snow in Barnes Ranch which surprised me but they said it was set up in there with just about 15cm of fresh on top. Ride with caution, but the situation out there has improved. When the rain starts falling up top then it will be super touchy again but for now it is some of the best snow we have had all winter. Still able to ride from here and Curt going to groom the Flathead this week. Cheers - V

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mar 21/14 - 15cm & snowing up top

Well it stopped snowing by 10pm and we have 15cm of fluffy dry snow on the flat down here - will be blowing snow again today. It is snowing lightly up top and may be patchy visibility. Guests were going to go to Barnes Ranch today for some apline meadow riding. Its a cool -8 right now at 11am and supposed to dip down to -18 tonight and be sunny and -1 tomorrow. Sunday we are supposed to see more snow and then Mon/Tues coudy and more snow on Wed. Cheers - V

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mar 20/14 - Spring Equinox brings lots of SNOW

Happy Spring! Its snowing - I want you to look at the sky in the background of all three of these photos. It was lightly snowing little flakes all day and we had about 2cm until about 2hrs ago and it is getting heavier and heavier. We have 10cm now and it is going to be a bunch deeper than that in the yard if this keeps up. I can hardly see the highway now so its kicking into a higher snow gear and the flakes are a lot bigger. So technical eh? LOL. Anyway the guys were up in Limestone and said it was fantastic and about 35-45cm deep of new fresh snow. No signs of slides or spooky stuff. Remember this increases the weight & tension on the persistent weak layers buried below so still be conservative in your terrain choices. Its -2 and supposed to go to -10 tonight and -3 tomorrow with more snow in the forecast. Check out Fernie ski hill snow reports to get a parameter of measurements. This is definitely a big pow type snowfall. We will see what we have in the morning! This system is widespread and it was snowing hard in the Crowsnest Pass also with reports of Hwy 3 accidents between Hwy22 and Pincher Creek. This is "close the Pass" type snowfall now. Haven't see a vehicle in a bit so it may be closed now. Flathead and Divide open now and through the weekend and then on Monday the Summit and Divide are available with the Flathead booked all next week. Cheers - V

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mar 19/14 - Snow in the Forecast

Morning, it is +3 here although it feels a bit cooler than that - clouding over a bit so we may get the snow that is forecasted for the next three days. Fernie ski hill got 35cm overnight when we got 10cm down here so that means there is somewhere between 10-35cm of fresh up top. We have crusty snow down here so you may need scratchers til you get a bit higher. I haven't been out on the trail lately but I am sure it is getting set up everywhere and under this fresh up top. Avy reports are improving but that weak layer down about 150cm is still a sleeping giant - don't poke that bear on risky slopes that have not come down yet. Limestone will be very good now I think. Its spring riding so check your gauges often and dip into snow to cool down every chance you get. We have the Summit Log cabin is booked today to Monday but the Flathead and Divide open tomorrow through the weekend. The Flathead is booked all next week but then the Divide and Summit Log cabins are available. In April I stop advertising unless we get a big dump of snow (which happens) and then I pretty well leave it up to the guys that know our place, the area and are seasoned spring riders to just call me if they want to come stay and sled. I know Curt and Cooper are going to get the tires back on the bikes mid April as they are headed to the Kooc early this year. Cheers - V

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mar 17/14 - St. Patricks Day Snow

Happy St. Patricks Day everyone! Well it went from misty light rain to a bit more steady and then late in the evening it turned to sleetish snow and we woke up to 10cm down here and it is very lightly snowing straight down big flakes. Trees are covered all the way to the peaks in both directions from our window. Likely got closer to the 20cm up top. Temp is zero here and it is supposed to flurry a bit today and snow all week except for Tuesday. Keep reading your bulletins and making conservative choices. This new snow puts extra load on cornices that have not come down and the weak layers in the slabs below. Afternoon riding will change the strength of the bonds so your terrain choices will be different from the morning. Be safe and enjoy this beautiful day - it is winter wonderland-ish out there on the trails right now with this kind of snowfall. Cheers - V

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mar 16/14 - Misty light Rain down here

Morning, we are getting misty light rain down here (no snow mixed in yet) and it looks like it is snowing up top. My guys that rode yesterday decided to go up into Rain Gauge and said there was 15cm of fresh snow over set up base there and they stayed in the tree and were careful crossing avalanche paths. They had a good day but said Limestone was better. They heard one slide come down but did not see it. They loved the groomed Flathead and said it was super smooth and they had it pinned coming back on it. The yard looks "dirty" because we had it scrapped out and sanded but you can see there is plenty of snow on the trail and that is down here at this altitude. I think you should ride our your back and time and trailer to be closer to the area you want ride - tis the season. If the trail you ride is groomed then contribute with a trail fee. Temps are +5 right now and suppposed to be +4 all week and snow forecasted all week except for Tuesday which is sunny. Caution, diligence and knowledge all still required as you ride. Anything that hasn't come down should be suspect but that is kind of standard thinking. We installed a boot dryer in each cabin so two guys in each will have dry boots! Cheers - V

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mar 15/14 - Rolling Hills Update

Morning, our guests reported that Rolling Hills and area was very set up everywhere they went. We did not get the rain there nor rain here except for a little spitting around 7:30pm. It is bright and clear out now and high is supposed to be +5. Watch for solar radiation changing conditions over the course of the day. Our guests were either going back to Limestone or to Barnes Ranch today. They like the groomed trail in. Tomorrow it is supposed to be +9 with rain/flurries with 10-20cm expected. Monday is more flurries as we expect a high of +3 with another 5-10cm predicted. The avy report via the CAC Mobile app reports that north of Elkford a large cornice drop triggered a 2.5 avalanche and that the snow there is still very dry. This is normal activity but still an example of the need to be aware of what is at the top that you must consider when choosing terrain. It has been cool enough during the day here at the resort that the snow hasn't gotten super slushy - it is still melting slightly and then freezing so you will see that in a crust out there when you ride and over the course of the day watch the crust to see how much it warms up or remains cool. Read your bulletins/blogs/weather and still ride with conservative vigilance. It would be very interesting to take an AST course having this year for discussion. I think everyone has stepped up their knowledge or their thirst for knowledge after riding this season. Cheers gang - V

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mar14/14 - Morning update

Hi, it is +3 and snowing lightly but steady up top and bit here but not below us yet. I have contacted my guests to give them the option to cancel. I am not going to predict what the weather will do to improve or hinder the snowpack over the next week - everyone will just have to watch and wait and check the avy bulletins and blogs for recommendations. I still have groups coming but they simply were flexible enough to adjust their expectations to riding conservative terrain. I would say Heartbreak & Rain Gauge would be hazardous but that Rolling Hills type terrain and trails and Barnes Ranch maybe even Limestone (as it seems to be withstanding the bad year in true consistent form) may be the best options now. If you are okay with making a terrain adjustment then your season is likely not done yet. Most of my guests like to ride the big stuff and that is why I am overly concerned. I am just trying to err on the side of safety and hopefully get everyone really paying attention to conditions. If I have scared you or run you off I apologize. I would say this, you need the equipment and you need to know how to use it. Wade, Chris...if you guys can enjoy your trip without spending time in the usual places then come but otherwise...if your crews won't be happy in meadows and the lower terrain then wait til next winter or better yet - get the summer toys ready and come see us between winters! I will give you an update tonight from the guests here that are riding Rolling Hills today. Cheers - V

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mar 13/13 - Report from Limestone

Howdy, it was +7 today and sunny - roads looked like July driving. Its +2 tonight but our slushy yard has firmed up a bit and is crusty again. Forecast is for flurry snow tomorrow turning to rain in the afternoon. Temps are supposed to stay in that +6 range except for Monday when it drops to +4 and is supposed to snow 10-20cms. Our guests (one group out of three came), went down the Flathead today and up into Barnes Meadow. The meadow was set up a bit and they played in there for a while. They then went up the drainage which showed no signs of sliding, sluffing or pinwheeling and rode conservatively up in the Limestone saddle in 20-30cms of snow with no tracks. They said the snow was notably drier up there and they had a good time. They are headed to Rolling Hills tomorrow. The rain in the forecast is supposed to be below that 1600-1800m mark or 5500-6500ft which is typical for this area. That is why there is a stern warning for the trees as the snow is getting soaked which is putting pressure on weak buried layers. Cornices are heavy and when they fall and trigger slides, that snow comes down and engages the wet snow and triggers that too. Joe Trotz, groomer for Crow Snow Riders said he remembered a year like this a long time ago and it rained on conditions like we have now and on that day nothing was safe out there. Karl Klassen used two words in his blog on"vigilance...and ....patience". Slopes that appear safer or more stable in the morning are going to be weakened in the afternoon by solar radiation so if you are riding this weekend you must be vigilant, have enduring patience and keep your head and eyes up. Be accepting to the decision of "not here, not now, not today" and be prepared with skills, knowledge and tools. Read the bulletins but go deeper to the forecaster blogs to read the conversations about decision making and possible scenarios. Watch the "Throttle Decisions" video on - it has a cartoon depicting snow conditions and weather and how that plays out in relation to terrain and human triggers. Its a start to understanding the risks. Be careful and be safe...V

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mar 12/14 - Please Review the Forecasters Blog

Hi Crew, here is the photo of the slide that comes down - down the Flathead. True to current warnings it let go right from the top and is wet and took a few extra full grown trees with it. Curt groomed through the debis. Packhorse comes down too and adjacent to it will be weak so I would be weary trail riding down there. Watch above you and take a look before you end up in a tight no exit spot anywhere. We have a group here that got a report from one group that was riding Fernie area over the wet weekend last weekend and they said don't go and another group told them that they just picked really super conservative terrain, took their time everywhere and had a good weekend. So its up to you to decide what kind of riders and people are in your group. Are they a group that will be satisfied taking it very slow and being methodical in their riding and decision making or do you have guys that will crack and want to take risks that could put the entire group in jeapordy right now? For some people, riding this weekend will be ok and for others it will be best to just skip it. That's ok just be honest about it. Please go to and go to the Forecasters blog. It will show Coal Creek Road that had three avalanches within a few kms of the staging area come down on Sunday with all that rain (we got alot of rain here too in the afternoon Sunday). Two crossed the trail and the video and photos are on the blog along with some head shaking forecasters who have never seen that occur in that area. Honestly I was amazed. I kinda felt like what? I don't know what to tell you. My "go to" of Rolling Hills at the very least is now in doubt. I urge you to be very careful, be very informed. You must have equipment and know full well how to use it but believe me, its the last thing you want to have to do...use it that is. Check out the Trip Planner on the website and know how to use your avulator because the bulletin works best hand in hand with the avulator and knowing what type of terrain you are riding. Is it treeline but with complex or simple terrain features? Our trail has a sidehill cut out that has never slid, that we have watched carefully and been respectful about it but right now its feels like a dog that has never bit me but has shown me he might. Right now I don't trust even that section. The drainage in Limestone that has never slid or given us the slightest indication that it might now puts doubt in my mind. If it went there would be no escape route. If it was ever to let would be the time I think. So again, to my guests, if you wish to cancel given the highly unusual conditions right now, I will not hold you to a cancellation fee. There's always next winter (or this summer/fall if you quad/dirtbike/side by side/hunt or fish). Be careful and enjoy the outdoors however you get outside these days! Cheers - V

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mar 11/14 - Decisions on Conditions

Hey Gang, I want to take the high road here. I have never really seen forecasts or blog comments on the current conditions like this before. I had one group cancel with my blessing, because they just felt the avalanche conditions were too risky and they have not ridden out here and have limited mountain experience as a group. There is always the risk of avalanche but we have areas that are relatively safe to ride year after year during changing conditions. This winter has dealt us a rotten set of cards especially as of late and is HIGHLY UNUSUAL and so in this circumstance, to my guests - I will not charge you a cancellation fee if you decide that you will not be able to find safe riding in the Corbin, Crowsnest, Fernie area. I doubt you will find this at any other resort but we are sledders and although sledders/locals/skiers/snowshoers etc will be out this week, everyone will be doing so with careful and conservative observation and not be under the self imposed pressure of having to put in four days or so of vacation worthy sledding. I think that a a change in attitude is happening where people are becoming more flexible in their expectations because we are better informed and I am seeing guests more prepared to simply adjust their riding and terrain choices accordingly and I congratulate them for it and the forecasters for shaping this new way of thinking. Its great to have forecasters that sled. They get it and they know how to convey practical decision making. I recommend trailering from our place to get closer to the area you want to ride. Its got lots of snowpack but is really rough and we can't groom it well enough in these temps all over the board. Curt just groomed the Flathead and it was really needing it! First two kms of the Flathead is snow/ice mix but then after that the snow improved greatly as per the photos. The avalanche that runs across the trail has come down. Remember it is March and so you have that mix of spring riding and the possibility of a big snow so be prepared with your expectations and for what the weather will dictate because it is the boss. That is the update from Summit Creek Cabins mid week. Enjoy being outside and not frozen - every day on a sled should be a good day no matter what you end up riding. Cheers - V

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mar 9/14 - Raining here

Hi - I have some photos but I have misplaced my cord so I can't upload them. It was +5 here this morning and spitting a little but nothing major and now it is socked in up top - looks like it might be snowing and it is raining down here and +3. I am leaving the yard for a couple of days to see if it will melt down a bit on its own before scraping away at the slushy snow. You can still ride our trail but I would trailer around just because it is really rough from all the guests we have had on it over the past week and its too warm to do anything with it. There were TONS OF TRAILERS & SLEDS this weekend. Every staging area was full plus on the sides of roads. I couldn't believe the traffic. With that our guests said they only ran into 4 other guys up in Limestone. They said it was fantastic in there and NOT ridden out. Snow was waist deep in some spots in the trees and set up by wind in others. They got stuck in some tight steep trees on the East side - stuff most guests don't ride and heard a whumphf on the snowpack. This is consistent with the avalanche bulletin right now. I want everyone to read the South Rockies avy bulletin and then go to the South Rockies Blog for a video on whats going on out there. The reporting is great because this is the first year that we have had trained observers in such full time consistent and dedicated force reporting on the South Rockies - we have been getting better each year with the manpower dedicated to the region and it is appreciated! It is HIGHLY REACTIVE out there even below tree line right now so read the bulletins and then you will be able to plan your terrain choices (meadows and low angles with no terrain traps) carefully and still be able to enjoy the snow that is out there. It hasn't been a climbing year since early on in the season and my guests have said that was fine and that they were really working on their skills in less aggressive terrain as a result. You are going to get wet coming down below 6000ft yesterday and today and likely for the next couple of days. It is officially SPRING RIDING but reviewing the blog from last year we got a big dump of snow around the 17th and another one later in the month. So it will be lottery chances of riding set up wet snow in most places or deep fresh in others depending on the weather and anything can happen right now. Anyone booking in March usually is aware of this crap shoot but I just wanted to tell it like it is again. Be prepared with conditions information, training, the right expectations, clothing and a boot dryer if you are riding the next three weeks. Lots of guys riding and finding snow that is safe and enjoyable but they are making very conservative choices now and paying attention to the landscape around them on the way out. I will upload photos as soon as I can. Cheers and safe riding gang! - V

Friday, March 7, 2014

Mar 7/14 - From -11 to +5

What the hell! Yesterday I blew snow for 5hrs and it was still lightly snowing by evening and today it was +5 and heavy wet snow. Oh well more snow to come I am sure. Trail out of our place is rough right now and can't groom it til it snows and cools down again. Our guests did an epic trail ride by mistake today - poor guys but they are going to get to the Alpine for sure tomorrow! They said a big crew left the staging area at Corbin today and headed up into Barnes so that is likely getting ridden out. They said it looked like no one had gone up into Heartbreak and they are likely going to check out Rain Gauge and ride the trees there with a heads up. Got an email today asking about avalanches and yep the season has been precariously resting on a crappy weak layer and yep its still there in many places and yep these temp swings don't do it any favors. Gotta take a look and make some decisions and observations before you hit the throttle. My last guests from Spring Valley, Sk said that Barnes Ranch was awesome snow - alpine meadow. Cooper and Tanner were out today just in cut blocks behind us on fresh snow and said they could still carve so snow lightens a bit with altitude. The lower angle terrain towards Fernie likely holds some hidden unridden spots just waiting for some adventurous sledders. No rain today just sun and some high level cloud. Temps going to remain fairly constant over the next few days. Have a pair of scratchers at the ready for riding the lower levels. More snow in the forecast for Sunday and Monday but be prepared to get wet on the way back down. Travel with a boot dryer - tis the season. Cheers - V

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mar 6/14 - SNOW DAY

Morning crew, I am sick so I will make this short. We have overnight gotten 10-15cm of snow either from snowfall or blowing or both but its here and its snowing hard enough that I kept the kids home. Pass is still open but my porch has about 8cm of snow on it and visibility is weakening so I am not bothering to hit the hwy til I have to. Plugged in the tractor cause nobody is going anywhere til I blow snow....again. Its -9 and supposed to go to +2 later today. Jeesh! It was +4 and sleeting and melting yesterday - snow got soaked - the kind where you get stuck on the flat, sticky, wet snow - I am sure there were many natural releases yesterday because of it. All the snow came thundering off our roof with the extra weight in the snow. Guests say it was snowing above 6800ft. Tomorrow we are supposed to have more snow/rain maybe and then its predicted to go into the low teens by weeks end. I doubt it will swing that far as they have said that before and it changed daily to come back into the +2/4 range. Read your avy reports - they have really good weather info too. Having a coffee til the tractor warms up again! Cheers - V

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mar 2/14 - 5cm of Snow on the Flat

Click on these boxes to see the photos. Here's a photo of the vehicles that have sat all day and Curt back from grooming our trail today - he was missing Arizona! The bombi photo is from the Friday at Corbin where Curt went to help Terry & George fix the blade. Terry and George went out and groomed the Flathead this weekend. Well it has been bloody cold here and Cooper and I went out today just on the trail with a group that kept going headed to Corbin and the trail had 10cm easy of fresh on it and more coming down all afternoon and 5cm here on the flat in the yard with the wind blowing it around. Supposed to get 5cm daily this week. Temps were in the -28 range - holy crap - froze my feet and fingers and my nose was humming just like I was back in Sask! But tonight I was back in a fleece and vest doing chores around the yard. Temps warming up to +2 & +3 degrees tomorrow and all week! Crazy temp swings. Listen there is some great snow out there now - not what we are accustomed to but the best its been all year BUT....avy conditions are "spooky". There have been some huge hard slab avalanches and its getting deeper on that week layer(s) that are still there and it is propagating like mad! Be very careful. No joking. You need to look up when crossing terrain that could slide. Don't highmark okay...just not worth it right now. Know your group, know your skills and plan ahead and don't be afraid to look up and decide on safer terrain and say "not this area today guys". Take it seriously. Lots of safe riding to be had and there is always next year for different conditions. I tell ya, you don't want to be digging someone out, you just don't. So plan on finding those meadows you knew about but didn't bother with in previous years. Work on learning how to carve and bend that sled through the trees. I haven't seen a winter like this for extreme cold and warm swings and for sugar underneath the slabs when you are digging out. Don't ignore it okay. The group today had a blast they said. Keep your heads up in the corners! Cheers - V