8 Charleswood Ski Club members skied Otter Falls on Sunday. Very good tracks. The snow was generally very good, but Canadian Shield granite is lurking near the snow surface in a few places. Our skis have a couple new very minor scratches. Very enjoyable except …
“a couple of intermediate hills”. Yes, parts of the 7K loop are gently rolling, but if one of those “intermediate” hills is the short steep hill with multiple moguls, I’d say “dangerous … take off your skis”, at least when descending it (when skiing the loop in the recommended counter-clockwise direction). A warning sign is required, and the groomer should stop the tracking a few metres before it … as a warning and to enable snowplowing to a stop.
Even worse: Approximately halfway through the loop, there’s a creek crossing. I’m not sure what the crossing usually looks like, but for us it was a metre long chasm with a half metre deep drop. Skiing over it might snap skis, legs, and possibly a spine. Like all creek crossings, it’s at the bottom of a descent. The classic track led right up to it. I was enjoying the descent, realized the length of the chasm at the last split second, and jumped over it. (Ouch, my knee.) I shouted back to the other 7 skiers in our group. They snowplowed to a stop and took the 90 degree turn detour in deep snow that had been skier-tracked. Extremely dangerous. We laid a large branch across the descent at the point of the 90 degree turn detour.
And while I’m being critical …
There are a few other places where the groomer has laid the track around a sharp corner at the bottom of a descent. This makes it difficult for novice skiers to snowplow to control their speed, and difficult for advanced skiers to execute a step turn.
The worst place is near the end of the 3K loop. At the bottom of a fairly sharp descent, the track veers right onto a snowmobile trail. There’s a STOP sign for skiers, but it’s impossible to stop because of the steepness of the hill and the existence of the track which hinders snowplowing. A warning sign is required at the top of the hill (beginning of the descent) and it should not be tracked.
Thanks for the detailed track report, a lot of good info for someone heading out there for a ski.
Sloan Cathcart (Head of Interpretation, Manitoba Parks) has looked into my concerns about the trails at Otter Falls. He has told me about solutions that Whiteshell Provincial Park staff will implement:
Staff went out yesterday to see what can be done. They report:
• They will be bridging the open water issue at the shoreline with some logs and branches and then cover with snow in an attempt to freeze up the hole.
• They will also be installing some warning signs at the intersections and moguls to let people know there are hazards ahead.
• Finally, they will be carrying a rake with them in order to smooth over the track set before these hazards so people can slow down.
Hopefully these steps help.