Real Ski Report: Spring-like conditions at some hills

While daffodils are starting to bloom in the city, there's still some great skiing to be had in the mountains.

Many resorts in a holding pattern as they wait for fresh powder

Ski reporters this week say it's been prime time for sunny groomer laps — everywhere from Nakiska to Kicking Horse. 1:41

Each week, CBC Calgary's Paul Karchut speaks with dozens of dedicated skiers and boarders across eastern B.C. and southern Alberta to get the real scoop on conditions at resorts, on cross-country trails and in the backcountry.

While daffodils are starting to bloom in the city, there's still some great skiing to be had in the mountains.

After a decent refresh of snow into last weekend, we've seen blue bird skies and milder temperatures at resorts. Ski reporters this week say it's been prime time for sunny groomer laps — everywhere from Nakiska to Kicking Horse.

Sunshine Village has seen 18cm of new snow in the last week, but it's been packed down, says John Hornak.

"It's fast snow but it seems thin," Hornak said. "It seems like a better year than last year but when I take a look at the mountain as a whole, it seems a little more bare."

One indication of that is that Delirium Dive is still closed. It's been a few seasons since we've seen the Dive remain closed this late in the year. Snow safety staff at the resort say the snowpack is slightly lower than usual. On the plus side, though, it's far from over — March can often be the biggest snowfall month.

Meanwhile, Alan Reese down at Castle Mountain says the wind has been doing wonders.

"The skiing has been pretty spectacular," he said. "I was getting untracked, knee--deep powder at the end of the day."

"We need some cooler temperatures ... but the skiing, where it counts ... excellent."

Further afoot, ski reporters say conditions vary

  • Fernie: The hill has seen 55 cms of fresh snow in the last seven days, making it the snowfall winner this week. But most of that fell last weekend. Now, there's been a pause in snowfall everywhere from Fernie to Panorama to Revelstoke.

  • KimberleyThe lower elevation has left it susceptible to this warm-up, and it's also been raining. "It's gotten very warm and we had a little bit of rain a few days ago," said James Gray. "The top part of the mountain is in excellent shape, but if you go the lower part of the mountain, it gets pretty icy."

XC near Lake Louise 

Sue Shih is training up for the Big Mountain Challenge which starts Friday at Lake Louise. Following some great skiing last weekend, many runs are starting to get packed down and icy and Shih said she's questioning whether she'll be hucking any big cliffs for the competition.

Lake Louise has seen just 7cm of snow in the last week. (Facebook)

But Lake Louise and area continues to be your best bet for cross-country skiing, and the freshly groomed trail up to Lake O'Hara is reportedly excellent. The news isn't quite as good in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, but you can still find some good skiing on the higher elevation trails like Elk Pass in the south end of the park.

On Saturday, more than 450 skiers will be taking part in the cookie race out of Pocaterra in the north end, so Kananaskis grooming crews are working really hard to make it good. They're hand shovelling snow from out of the trees in places, since the sunny spots are just getting really thin.

Despite their efforts, the trails for these competitors are going to be tricky, says Bob Truman

"They're going to have really fast conditions," Truman said. "The trails are reasonably good in the south end but in the north end they haven't had any snow and there are some really sketchy sections where it's icy and you have to be extremely careful."

Trails near Banff including Cascade, Goat Creek and Healy Creek are in bad shape, said Truman. 

Complex snowpack

Take special care if you're heading into the backcountry as there's still a complex snowpack in many parts of interior B.C. 

Forecasters at Avalanche Canada remain concerned about the weaknesses in the snowpack and say the new snow could compound the issue.

In Kananaskis, things look better, but Friday's warm temperatures could worsen avalanche conditions.

The biggest challenge, however, will be finding good snow. Stick to north aspects and get into the trees.

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With files from CBC's Paul Karchut


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