Summit Elevation (m): 2865
Trip Date: April 15 2012
Elevation Gain (m): 1030
Round Trip Time (hr): 7.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 17
Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 2 – You fall you sprain something – unless you’re caught in an avalanche. Then you could die.
Difficulty Notes: Winter ascent includes serious avalanche risks. Learn how to manage these risks and perform avalanche burial rescues before attempting this trip.
Technical Rating: OT4; YDS (Skiing)
GPS Track: Gaia
Map: Google Maps
On April 15, 2012 I was joined by Kev Papke and Jason Wilcox for a ski ascent of Ramp Peak in Banff National Park, just to the east of highway 93 up the creek near the Mosquito Creek hostel. We were a bit apprehensive on the drive to the mountains. The weather forecast was rather dull for everywhere but a patch of hwy 93 and we were a bit doubting about the accuracy of it. Avalanche ratings were low and I needed some exercise but was also suffering the lingering effects of a cold / flu from the previous week. Originally we had planned a long day trip up Mount Baker but given the energy levels and the weather forecast we decided to try Ramp Peak instead.
Last year Wietse, Kev and I had scrambled Mosquito Mountain and enjoyed it so we were planning on coming back for Ramp and Quartzite anyway. Doing them on skis just made much more sense. We got ready at the hostel parking lot as the sky started to clear. Right away we made a bone head move and got off route which cost us time and energy. We followed a well-defined skin track up the creek bed and up the right hand bank, while we should have known better and simply followed the summer trail on the left (climbers) of the creek bed right from the road. Basically you shouldn’t be in the creek for at least an hour or two from the road! The creek narrows and forces you to exit quite quickly. Although scenic, it’s a pain. Literally.
As we approached the mountain the weather continued to improve until it was almost too sunny and warm! We didn’t want the bottom to fall out of the snow pack and we were a bit concerned about avy hazard on the main mountain but decided to keep going and get our noses in the slopes before making any decisions. The west slopes looked plenty steep as we approached! From the campground we trended up and climber’s left through an open glade forest on a very firm snow crust. Travel was quick and fun as we broke tree line about 30 meters too high – basically perfect navigation.
After a quick break in beautiful sunshine in a nice alpine bowl (worth skiing in just to ski this bowl!) we pushed on. JW broke trail across a suspect (loaded) slope and then we started the grunt up the main mountain. Trail breaking was a bit of work in 8-18″ of fresh snow on a very solid base. Kevin heard a settlement low down and higher up JW heard a settlement when we got close to the thinner snowpack near the summit but other than that the snow was very solid and quiet all day. The sun was cooking but the air temps were around 0 degrees – breaking trail was still plenty warm though!
The summit views were stunning, especially with the cloud and blue sky mixing it up for dramatic effect. The clouds were welcome as they kept the snow stable. We didn’t linger too long in the cool summit breeze and soon we were strapped in and ready for a great ski run down the west face. What a great ski run!! We whooped and hollered all the way down in ankle to knee deep snow – one of the best ski runs I’ve had in awhile! It had some length to it and was fairly steep so we could get some speed. It was almost worth another go but we weren’t about to push our luck.
Soon we were back at tree line. We were a bit nervous about the descent through the trees but again, the snow held up amazingly well! We managed some nice fast tree skiing to the backcountry campground. From there is was a fast run back to the road on the regular summer route – the snow holding up very well the entire way (as long as we stayed on the well-beaten ski tracks). We ‘stole a day’ and came away with one of the best ski runs I’ve done in a while. A very satisfying day out – and it was nice to get out with JW again, it’s probably been a few years!