Hmmm. What do I say about this particular day? I'll make it short and sweet (ish). On Wednesday, March 10 2010, Wietse, Kevin (Papke) and I headed into the Wapta area to ski Crowfoot Pass and scramble the west slopes of Bow Peak before reaching its summit.
Beautiful day in the mountains! There was some moderate wind once we got higher up but the sky was bluebird and the snow was deep and fresh. I had excellent views from the summit ridge. This is indeed a small summit with stunning views.
The ski down was quick and fun in boot top to knee deep powder.
We followed a down track on the way up. This cost us time and energy. We should have followed the well beaten trail (somewhat buried for us by fresh snow) about 200 meters further before turning left up the ascent gully. Oh well. Now we know...
There was some avalanche concerns including some soft slab releases of about size 1.5. These were on North / East aspects (lee slopes). We didn't trigger any slides but did trigger settlements on several occasions, on the steep rolls up to the pass.
Yeah - there's some ugly too! :D Wietse was understandably tired with a newborn baby in the house so he started running out of gas before the pass. Kevin also started running low on gas. What really happened (I think) was that they didn't pace themselves properly and felt wiped at the pass. I think with a nice long break and a bit better pacing (partly my fault because I was breaking trail at a pretty fast pace) they easily could have followed my tracks up to the summit.
What happened instead is that they talked themselves out of the summit and I ended up high on the ridge by myself. Wietse and Kev tried to wait for me at the pass but they got cold. I saw them heading back and became concerned about heading back solo through some avi terrain. I had two choices. Continue slipping, sliding and bashing my way through knee to waist deep snow on the summit ridge for another hour and then go solo back down from the pass through some avi terrain or head back immediately and forego the summit.
It wasn't really a choice.
Kev and Wietse seemed surprised when I told them I turned around because they had left the pass but I don't think they realized that there was some avi terrain I had to travel through solo - or how I couldn't really see the point of them skiing 1-2 km away from me from a safety point of view? How were they supposed to rescue me if they couldn't even really see me, much less would be so far away if something did happen?
So I turned back relucantly.
All in all it was a great day out. I learned that I have to make sure I pace the group correctly and 'force' other members to slow down, eat, drink and take a break when needed.
I learned to set my own expectations a bit differently. I also found a new favorite pass to ski in the Rockies! My previous favorite pass was Burstall. Crowfoot has the same stunning views (maybe better) but a shorter approach and probably better snow on average. It's nice to have choices! :-)
Skiing on the south end of Bow Lake on our way to the pass.
Crowfoot Mountain on our right and the pass on our extreme left:
After struggling up to the bench I can finally see Bow Peak ahead (right of center).
Looking ahead to the pass. Bow Peak on the left:
Wietse skis up the pass:
Wietse and Kevin look tiny underneath Crowfoot Mountain:
Looking back at Wietse and Kev as I start up Bow Peak:
Looking north across Bow Lake from the summit ridge on Bow Peak:
Howse, White Pyramid and Chephren show up on the left with Weed and Murchison on the right and hwy #93 in the middle!
Mount Daly looks impressive from here:
Mount Willingdon with the two sub peaks on its right:
Mount Balfour with Lilliput to the left:
Summit ridge panorama (click to view full size):
Looking back at the descent slope from just under the pass:
Looking back at Bow Peak:
The setting afternoon sun on the peaks around Bow Lake:
Mount Jimmy Simpson: