Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dome Glacier and Wheeler Hut

John and Jeff are two fellow inmates of the yoga class I attend. Oh how we suffer! They're also backcountry skiers and we joined them this weekend at the Wheeler Hut for some some end of season skiing. Not that we could actually keep up with these guys or anything since they could probably give Greg Hill a run for his money. So perhaps "followed their up track" is more accurate than "we went skiing together".

Steve and Nick joined us on Saturday morning and we headed up to the Dome Glacier. The weather was in-and-out for much of the day making for some great photos as we climbed up along The Cleaver with Sir Donald as a dramatic backdrop.

When we reached the Dome Col the sun came out for good giving us great views all around.

Nick at Dome Col. Sapphire Col in the distance.

Dome from Rampart

Andrew on the Rampart

Mt Fox seen through Asulkan Pass

We found light wintry snow all the way down from the Dome Col, behind the Cleaver, and out onto the Dome Glacier. Below that it was every man for himself in sloppy, nearly isothermal snow.

Brenda with Youngs Peak in the distance

With me starting a new job our plans to head to the Columbia Icefields this month have fallen through. So unless I can convince everyone to go to the Glacier Circle Hut (nudge-nudge wink-wink) that may be the end of the season. There's still plenty of snow, but it's the motivation that is beginning to wane...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Three Pass Traverse

Update Jan 2017:
Google killed Picasa so the photos in this post no longer click through to larger versions. Thanks Google. Here's a link to the full photo set if you're interested.

We skied the Three Pass Traverse over two days during the Easter weekend. It was a wonderful trip through some spectacular alpine terrain under warm spring conditions and blue skies.

The route begins in the familiar Connaught drainage behind the hotel in Rogers Pass. On the first day we climbed up to Balu Pass, descended into the Cougar Valley, and re-ascended to Catamount Pass. From here we made a short side trip to climb Mt. Catamount before dropping 1300m down to Ursus Creek to spend the night. After a 1900m day with overnight packs we were happy to call it a day. We had a pleasant evening re-hydrating with tea and Scotch.

#1 Balu Pass

Next objective Catamount Pass as seen from Balu Pass

Brenda just below Catamount Pass

#2 Catamount Pass

Nearing Catamount summit

Not quite the true summit but good enough

Nick skiing off Catamount


We packed up the next morning and hit the trail just as the sun starting peaking into the valley. It was a gentle climb up Ursus Creek and soon we came out of the trees and had our first views of Bagheera and McGill; huge peaks that tower over the narrow valley.



First view of McGill Pass

Approaching McGill Pass

Nick just below McGill Pass

#3 McGill Pass

The slope from McGill Pass down to Bostock faces just about due south and it had been cooking in the hot sun all day. The heavy wet snow was diabolical. We thrashed around a bit after skiing below the usual exit route but eventually got our bearings after booting back up to the summer hiking trail.

A wry smile from Brenda

It was a super trip and well worth the effort. Bugs to Rogers next year?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bonney Glacier

We had only gone up Loop Brook on days with poor visibility, the treeline skiing being one of the better options when things are clagged in at Rogers Pass. On my last visit I resolved to come back on a sunny day to do a bit of exploring. Inspired by recent photos from fellow Kelowna blogger Loïc we ventured up there on a glorious day over the weekend before Easter. With the warm temperatures we were looking for that mythical high, north, and sheltered terrain that would still be holding cold snow.

Climbing up above the moraines we then made a high traverse across the glacier towards the Bonney-Green col. Following an old skin track for a while we noticed that a mouse had also been using the track; the prints looked so sharp in the fine snow, we joked that the mouse must be running along just ahead of us. This went on for a few hundred meters until we came across the very mouse itself. Well, ex-mouse anyway. Poor thing looked like he'd just keeled over a few minutes ago. Still warm (yes I checked).

As we climbed higher the snow started to dry out. We hadn't figured out exactly how we were going to ski back down, so just as the sun began to disappear behind some high clouds we sneaked through a rock band at around 2400m and started to look for an exit. A rocky rib looked to offer the shaded run that we were after.

Not entirely sure that it would go, we nevertheless ripped off the skins and headed down. Wowee! 500 meters of cold light snow all the way down to the head of the valley.

Where we came across "interesting mouse incident" number two. Not sure if this is clear in the photo (click to enlarge) but mouse tracks come in from the left, wing and tail impression, no mouse tracks leaving the scene.

The rodents are taking a beating in Loop Brook.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Hermit Meadows

Steve has developed a penchant for the Tupper Traverse this spring, trying to get us up there several times lately. The weather on Saturday wasn't overly sympathetic to the idea, but we're aways happy to oblige Steve with his eccentric notions so we shuttled a car to Stone Arch and began tromping up towards Hermit Meadows.

Saw a white rabbit, and *this* time had my camera.

We quickly realized that on this day we weren't going to get over Tupper; the trail breaking was diabolical and we were getting 60-70cm of ski penetration in storm snow over moist snow over sun crust. The weather completely crapped out too and we couldn't see a darn thing.

We pulled the plug at around 2100m and did a couple of laps below the Hermit Meadows campsite.

The skiing was pretty tough though, as evidenced by Henry's looping double-eject swan dive face plant.

To top the day off I had an awkward tumble when a snowy ledge collapsed underneath my skis with a loud whoomph! I dropped several feet and landed sideways on a hard wind roll. At first everything seemed okay but by the time we reached the car I knew something was definitely wrong.

To make a long story short, the doctor says I've cracked a couple of ribs. What a drag. Hurts like stink.