Palisade Lookout (Attempt)

On 17 February 2018, Gail Molina, Gil Molina, Leslie Pryslak, Zosia Zgolak and I skied up Pyramid Lake Road in Alberta's Jasper National Park with intentions of reaching Palisade Lookout.  The trip is described in Chic Scott's Ski Trails in the Canadian Rockies.  Despite frosty temperatures and a less-than-stellar weather forecast, we were in good spirits as we set off from the trailhead at the end of Pyramid Lake Drive just outside Jasper town site.  Though long, Pyramid Lake Road is usually groomed in the winter, and the grade is not too steep.  Fresh snow covered the road on this day, but we had no issues skiing the first 7.5 kilometres to the junction with the side road leading to Palisade Lookout.

The side road is much steeper, and while everyone else donned their climbing skins at this point, I did not have any skins and had to make do with my ski wax.  Snow drifts and encroaching bushes rendered some sections of the side road quite challenging, and I struggled a bit to keep up with the rest of the group.  We eventually leveled off about 3 kilometres past the junction, and we were probably somewhere not too far from the lookout site.  However, low visibility and a biting wind sapped our will to continue, and we opted to take a quick break in the shelter of some trees before returning the way we came.

Not unexpectedly, the descent of the side road proved to be quite tricky on our light touring gear, and some of us fared better than others in negotiating the numerous moguls and hairpin turns along the way.  After skiing back to the junction, we enjoyed a much more relaxing descent on the Pyramid Lake Road and made it back to the trailhead without incident.

Despite not making it all the way to Palisade Lookout, I think the skiing overall was still quite enjoyable (over 21 kilometres round-trip with more than 850 metres of elevation gain), and I hope to return in the future on a clearer day to complete the ascent.
We're moving fast to try and stay warm! The group makes good progress up Pyramid Lake Road.
These will make nice speed bumps on the way down! Gil climbs over some snow drifts along the side road leading to Palisade Lookout.
AT skis would probably work better here.

The group continues to break trail up the steep side road.

It was a good try. Too bad we weren't rewarded for all our efforts. Leslie, Gail, Gil and Sonny stop at their turnaround point.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Not the best of days to be up here... This is looking back along a level stretch a little south of the lookout site.
Nice form! Zosia practices her ski jumps on a frozen unnamed lake near the road.
See you all at the bottom! The group resumes the easy descent of Pyramid Lake Road.