Ivan in the Back Country

The personal thoughts and suggestions from Ivan Dixon, in his own words, on snow conditions he has experienced in his prolific ski tripping.

November 25, 2022

Basically nowhere is good skiing.

Skied Chester Wednesday. 30 cm snow. On packed trail skiing was nice and my grip wax worked. Luge exit was the typical snowplow. But step off into fresh snow and almost down to ground.  Wax would not grip. Most are talking sugar snow. Engadine burn is on edge of snow belt so had less snow when looked at.

Skied near Lake Louise on Sunday (not valley bottom). Same result. And same 30 cm snow.

Was in Sunshine meadows this and last week. Thats up high. 30 cm snow. Combination of wind crusts, sun crusts, faceting, 1 finger snow, sugar snow and hoar frost. The 30 cm was even in gully features I normally ski early season where typically have deeper snow. Surprised by wind effects from east.

November 15, 2022

“Sunshine downhill needs refresh. Need to go slow as thin spots. Lot of young out messing up gear.

For backcountry snow the Sunshine meadows looking good. Wind exposed areas are very thin. And wnat to think of vegetation not yet covered. Skioutis colsed but good for up and skiable for down. Dindnt dig ubt feels like a number of latyers. Suggest its your place to go.

If looking to ski from Bow valley bottom, the snow is thin and it is a poor snow. I say not to a Healy pass day, Panorama, etc. And I would not go on a thinner ski thinking grip wax will work. I don’t know about the groomed or rolled conditions.”

January 12, 2020

Jan 10th, 2020

I have been out a few times since xmas break.

Very good skiing in trees and nice in protected bowls. Staying away from terrain with avalanche potential or wind affected. With frequent snowfalls and winds, my snow pits become obsolete within a few days. My pits have been giving me positive results.

Nice skiing in valley trails, for example Cascade River trail. Kananaskis Country reports indicate they are having problems with downed trees, fallen branches and snow bombs. Skier told me Taylor Lake trail used to be good but last windstorm gave it the same problem.

Dec 11th

Went most of way up Healy yesterday; turned off and skied trees. Then Healy luge run out.

Snow good from trailhead to treeline. We looked at but didn’t go into open areas.

Dec 5th – General comment

Another nice snowfall on Dec 4th; but again with high winds. With winds and flat light was not going out into Sunshine meadows. Snow conditions and snow pit results are highly variable.

Windswept areas have snow depth in 40 – 50 cm. In sheltered areas and low spots this can be up to 80 cm deep. Guessing everyone chasing such sites and they are quickly skied out.

There seems to be a sweet spot between windswept level down to 1,850 m elevation. Below 1,850 m the snow is too thin. Had a little rain in Banff valley bottom on Dec 4th.

Dec 2nd

New ACC hut at Jacques Lake in Jasper. Here is the link.

Nov 25th

Had cancellation in schedule so decided to downhill at Sunshine; they had 20 cm snow on weekend.

Rode up Angel chairlift; one of main chairs. Only one green run open!! All the sideruns and other main runs off it were closed.

Did that run twice plus 2 other runs and came home.

Nov 21st

Nov 20th