Friday, February 7, 2014

Skiing Rogers Pass 2014

Rogers Pass Ski Trip, Jan 30 - Feb 3, 2014

Last weekend Mike and I, along with  friends Aaron Cornes, Jay MacArthur, Tony Knight & Margaret Hanson headed out to Roger's Pass for 3 days of Backcountry Skiing Guided by Tom Wolfe.

Tom Wolfe - ACMG/IFMGA Mountain Guide (Photo by Jay MacArthur)

Mike McMinn (Photo by Jay MacArthur)

Aaron Cornes (Photo by Jay MacArthur)

Margaret Hanson & Tony Knight (Photo by Jay MacArthur)

Jay MacArthur

Amber McMinn (Photo by Jay MacArthur)

We all met up on Thursday night in Revelstoke at our home for the weekend, The Mountain View Motel, and went for dinner in town at a little Italian place called Isabella's where we caught up and chatted excitedly about the adventures in store for the next few days. We were a bit worried about the lack of fresh snow in the Pass over the previous weeks, but having skied with Tom a few times before Mike and I had faith that he'd know some places to check out that would still be awesome and suitable for the current conditions.  We were not disappointed!

Friday Jan. 31 - Day 1: Ross Peak Avalanche Chute (1100m Elev. Gain, 6 hrs)

Approximate Route; Red = Up, Blue = Down

On our first day we skied Ross Peak. We parked at the Loop Brook trail head, walked over the highway bridge and then worked our way up through the treed slopes of Ross Peak.   The trees were tight, the snow a bit slick and there were some cliffbands thrown in for good measure making the skin track up less than straightforward. But after a few hours of hard work, consistent climbing, an  bootpack into a notch and sweet, dug-out, kickturn platforms courtesy of Tom,  we made it to the open slopes near the top of Ross Peak. We enjoyed fabulous views of the surrounding peaks and a nice sit down lunch break before ripping the skins and beginning the adventurous descent down the Ross Peak Avalanche Path. The ski run was sweet! The top had great snow and was fairly steep (35+ degrees), and the bottom added some adventure and challenge to our day with trees, gullies and less than ideal snow to contend with. We all enjoyed the open pitches and worked our way safely down the tight challenging sections to the bottom of the chute. We enjoyed a snack break at the bottom looking up at our tracks with a sense of accomplishment for a great first day in Rogers Pass.

Gearing up

Tony and Margaret in the tight trees

Views from the Up-track

Up, up, up..... Tom, Mike & Margaret

Amber Skinning up Ross Peak (Photo by Jay MacArthur)
Sir Donald (Photo by Jay MacArthur)

Ski tracks on near the bottom of the Gully

Snack Break

Ross Peak

Saturday Feb. 1 - Day 2: Lily Traverse - Up Loop Brook and the Lily Glacier to Sapphire Col,  return via the Asulkan Glacier and Asulkan Valley. (8hrs, ~16km, 1500m Elevation Gain)

Approximate Route; Red = Up, Blue = Down

On the second day we had the best weather and our most adventurous day of the trip. We started the morning by shuttling cars to Loop Brook and Asulkan Trail heads with thoughts of completing a traverse up and over Sapphire Col.  The route starts out fairly casually as you wind your way up Loop Brook towards the Lily glacier. There was one ugly section of skinning with a steep, slick skin track that we opted to boot pack up, but otherwise it was a fairly mellow, constant climb along the creek and up to the edge of treeline.  Once we broke through the trees, we took a break and then the real climbing began. The day was quite cold and we were in the shade for a good part of the morning so we tried to consistently keep moving. We headed up the moraine, which provided amazing views, and  after about an hour or so we were finally in the sun. We took a quick break, put on our harnesses and headed onto the  Lily Glacier. The Lily Glacier was cold, windy, shady and a pretty solid climb, so we slowly and steadily worked our way up until we reached the sun at the crest of the glacier. We took a lunch break in the sun before heading out onto the final traverse and a steep bootpack up the final climb to Sapphire Col.

We arrived at Sapphire Col at about 3pm, 6 hours after leaving the cars. We took a quick break, checked out the Sapphire Col Hut and enjoyed the views before ripping the skins for the 1500m, 8km ski run back down to the cars. The ski run down the Asulkan Glacier was epic. Great snow and fun slopes with some careful navigating by Tom to keep us away from the crevasses. The lightly treed slopes below the glacier were fun skiing too, even on tired legs.  The tour ended with some single track skiing and flat slogging along Asulkan Brook, all very scenic albeit a bit painful at the end of an 8 hour day.  The last km was the longest kilometer in history as we shuffled along a flat, old railway bed to get back to the parking lot. We popped out of the trees and back at the cars just as the last light faded shortly after 5pm and quickly headed back into Revelstoke for well deserved Beers and Burgers.

Mike (Photo by Jay MacArthur)

Breaking out of the Trees, looking towards our route

Skinning up the Morraine

Skinning up the Lily Glacier (Photo by Jay MacArthur)
Mike, Amber, Tony & Margaret at Break Time (Photo by Jay MacArthur)

Tom at our Lunch Break (Photo by Jay MacArthur)
Aaron at Sapphire Col & Sapphire Col Hut

Tony & Margaret at Sapphire Col (Photo by Jay MacArthur)

Amber (Photo by Jay MacArthur)

View from Sapphire Col
Skiing down the Asulkan Glacier (Photo by Jay MacArthur)
Last Light in the Asulkan Valley (Photo by Jay MacArthur)

Sunday Feb 2 - Day 3: Balu Pass and Cheops Cone Gully (1100m Elev. Gain, ~12km, 6hrs)

Approximate Route; Red = Up, Blue = Down

On our last day we opted for a slightly less committing trip into the backcountry.  We met up at the Rogers Pass Visitor's Center at 8am with the thoughts of skinning up Connaught Creek to Balu Pass, a fairly relaxed day with mellow terrain and moderate elevation gain - perfect for our tired legs. On our way up Connaught Creek we passed below the Peak of Cheops and Tom pointed out the Cheops Cone Gullies to us.  They were in the shade and holding some untouched snow that looked enticing so we decided on a detour and headed up the Gully. We sported our ski crampons for the slick, steep skin track and, after 400m of skinning, enjoyed a glorious powder run down the Cheops Gully. It was well worth the extra work and elevation gain! From there we took a quick break and then headed up to Balu Pass. The legs were a bit tired and it felt like a bit of a grunt up to Balu Pass, but the skin track up to the pass is quite mellow and the views are enough to take your thoughts off of tired legs. Once we reached the Pass we enjoyed a lunch break at the top followed by our final powder run of the trip. The ski down Balu Pass was great, good snow and fun slopes all the way back down to the creek followed by some fast and easy single-track skiing along the creek to get back to the cars. A wonderful end to an awesome trip!

Skiing Cheops Cone Gully (Photo By Jay MacArthur)

Balu Pass (Photo By Jay MacArthur)

Amber Skiing Cheops Cone Gully (Photo By Jay MacArthur)

Aaron Skiing Cheops Cone Gully (Photo By Jay MacArthur)

Tom Skiing Cheops Cone Gully (Photo By Jay MacArthur)

Mike Skiing Cheops Cone Gully (Photo By Jay MacArthur)

Looking Down Connaught Creek Drainage

Skinning up to Balu Pass

Aaron at Balu Pass

A big thank you to everyone on the trip for the fun times and to Tom for keeping us safe in the backcountry and showing us the goods in Roger's Pass.

My Full Photo Album 

Photos By Jay MacArthur - Day 1

Photos By Jay MacArthur - Day 2

Photos By Jay MacArthur - Day 3

No comments:

Post a Comment