Hog's Back Ridge
On 19 November 2022, Zosia Zgolak and I skied up unofficially-named Hog's Back Ridge located at the confluence of Muskeg Creek and Threepoint Creek in Alberta's Kananaskis Country Public Land Use Zone.  Zosia got the idea for this trip from the Bragg Creek & Sheep Valley Gem Trek map, and a couple of different routes to access the ridge are described in Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guide.  Because we were skiing, we would follow the official Threepoint Creek trail which runs right over the ridge crest, but in doing so, we would miss out on the more scenic but steeper hikers' route on the lower east arm of the ridge.  We were not even certain if the trail would be skiable given the complete lack of snow reports for this area, and the only way to find out was to go see for ourselves.

From the intersection with Highway 762, drive west on Highway 549 for 8.5 kilometres to a Y-junction just past Mesa Butte Provincial Recreation Area.  Take the left branch and drive another 100 metres to a gated bridge which crosses Threepoint Creek. Park here without blocking the gate.

Starting from the bridge, Zosia and I skied along the continuation of the road which was snow-covered but also recently plowed.  We tried to ignore the frequent scraping of rocks under our skis as we passed two junctions (keep right after 230 metres and keep left after another 1.3 kilometres) before reaching a fenced gas well site.  Following ATV tracks, we skirted around the perimeter of the well site before entering forest at the far (west) side.  About one kilometre further, we turned right at a signed junction with North Fork trail and subsequently crossed over to the north bank of Threepoint Creek.  The skiing here was not overly difficult especially since we did not have to break trail, but the variable snow coverage meant that we had to be constantly vigilant for protruding rocks.  Some washed-out sections of trail and a few wet creek crossings also helped make the already long approach feel even longer.  The trail eventually veers north to follow Muskeg Creek before climbing out of the valley and onto the crest of Hog's Back Ridge.  At this point, we abandoned the trail and skied north through light forest for about 350 metres to tag the unremarkable and tree-covered high point of the ridge.  The high point is near the edge of a cut block to the east, and we stopped here briefly for a snack break.

For our return trip, Zosia and I skied back exactly the same way we came.  Although our descent took less time than our ascent, the overall ski out felt like a real grind both figuratively and literally.  Again, the thin snow cover made us extra tentative especially while descending steeper hills, and we rarely felt comfortable enough to let our skis run freely.  There is also an annoying number of uphill sections on the way out, and toward the end, I was cursing each one that I had to wearily herringbone up.  Despite all our precautions, the bases of our skis were absolutely raked on this trip, and it is a miracle that the skis were still gliding at all when we finally coasted back to the bridge gate in the dark.
This adds an extra 2 kilometres each way to the trip.

Sonny climbs over a locked gate on a bridge at the start of the trip.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Smells like rotten eggs here!

Zosia follows ATV tracks around the perimeter of a gas well site.

We would walk down this on the way back too! Zosia picks up her skis and walks up this steep uphill section of trail.
Barely skiable!

The already thin snow coverage is even thinner along these open hillsides.

Guess where the ATV went! Zosia manages to squeeze through the high embankment along this section of trail which was probably washed out by the historic floods of 2013. 
I already had my skins on for quite some time!

Anticipating sustained uphill sections ahead, Zosia straps on climbing skins to her skis.

Nice to get out of the shadows of the trees.

After climbing out of the valley, Zosia enjoys warm weather while skiing through a cut block.

Tree skiing?

Gaining the ridge crest, Zosia abandons the trail to head for the high point.

Another tree-covered high point...sigh.

Sonny checks his phone to verify that he is standing on the high point of Hog's Back Ridge (1795 metres).

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Oink, oink!

Sonny and Zosia show off their pork snacks at the edge of a cut block near the high point.

Watch for sharks! Keeping climbing skins on her skis for more control, Zosia cautiously descends this long downhill section of trail.
Really need another good dump of snow in this area!

This flat stretch in a cut block grants Zosia a brief respite from the nerve-racking descents.

Survival skiing at its finest! Sonny barely keeps himself from wiping out while descending this hill.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak


Zosia tries to avoid getting her skis wet at this previously frozen creek crossing.  It appears that an ATV drove through here earlier and punched holes through the ice.

Slowest ski trip ever... Total Distance:  24.1 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  9 hours 27 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain:  441 metres

GPX Data