Despite skin troubles on the ascent I enjoyed skiing Ochre Spring Peak more than the hike and would highly recommend it for a winter ascent.
Summit Elevation (m): 2800Trip Date: Saturday, January 09 2021Elevation Gain (m): 945 (1500 with laps)Round Trip Time (hr): 7Total Trip Distance (km): 21 (with laps)Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 2 – You fall you sprain your wrist. If you’re caught in an avalanche you could get seriously hurt or 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: OT3Map: Google Maps Wietse and I decided that since it has […]
Wolverine Ridge is a nice ski objective when the weather isn’t perfect or when you aren’t sure about snow conditions. There are enough sheltered and reasonably angled runs to be safe in all but the worst conditions and steeper options when conditions allow for it.
It’s been a while since I skied to Burstall Pass. It used to be my go to spot for early season or shorter day trips but over the years we found many other spots and BP sort of dropped down the list. On a cold Monday in late December 2020, Wietse and I decided it was finally worth a repeat trip in our new ski gear that we bought way back in early November already.
Summit Elevation (m): 2865 Elevation Gain (m): 1050 Round Trip Time (hr): 8.5 Total Trip Distance (km): 19 Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 2 – You fall you sprain something – unless you’re in an avalanche. Then you could definitely 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) Map: Google Maps I can’t believe it’s already been 8 years since I last skied […]
Summit Elevation (m): 2560 Latest Trip Date: Monday, December 30, 2019 Elevation Gain (m): 1100 Round Trip Time (hr): 5 Total Trip Distance (km): 16 Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something Difficulty Notes: A very easy backcountry ski or snowshoe trip with minimal exposure to avalanche terrain. Technical Rating: OT2; YDS (Skiing) Map: Google Maps As the year closed out in 2019 the avalanche ratings were still fairly high and the weather was bitterly cold. […]
I forget when I first heard of BowCrow Peak but it’s been on my never ending and never shrinking list of Rockies summits for years. Something that was frustrating me was that even though I had a general idea where it was located, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how anyone bagged it!
After braving fairly cold temperatures the last weekend of February 2019, I was ready for some more bravery on the first weekend of March 2019. When I say “ready”, I really mean I was desperate enough to get my ass off the couch and out of the city to suffer -30 temps – frostbite be damned! When I contacted Ali to find out what she was up to, she mentioned Matt Clay was planning something.
After missing out on a gorgeous day on Family day, I was absolutely determined to try something (anything!) on the following weekend. The weather forecast wasn’t looking ideal with 2 hours of sun and overcast conditions but I decided to follow Matt and Alison’s ascent tracks up Helena Ridge East no matter what the views might be.
Since my last ill-fated trip with Dr. Phil in an ill-advised November 2018 attempt of Stenton Peak with an immediate subsequent follow up failure on an unnamed pile of choss nearby, my mountain mojo has been sitting somewhere between a 0 and a 1 with 10 being the amount of mojo required for peaks like McConnell or Cataract and 8+ being the amount required to get me out of bed at 04:00 on a weekend morning.
Most of my Wapta summits have had brilliant blue skies and views to die for. Mount Rhondda was not one of those peaks. When I first ascended it back in April of 2007 we had very windy conditions with limited views. I set out to rectify this injustice on Thursday, April 26 2018 on a brilliantly sunny and warm Spring day. I was joined by Liz and Alison, both of whom had not done this central icefields peak before.
After skiing to the summit of Mount Field the day before, I was ready to enjoy another perfect winter day on skis before returning back to the drudgery of another work week in the concrete jungle. Since I haven’t been out much on the snow sticks this winter, I was certainly feeling a bit stiff the evening before! On our drive to Mount Field, Wietse had pointed out the East Ridge of Panorama Ridge to me and I thought it was the perfect winter solo ski objective for elevated avalanche conditions – provided I could drag my butt out of bed early enough.
Finally on March 10 of 2018 I managed to ski a peak that’s been on my hit-list for many years. 13 years ago, I’d scrambled Mount Field in Yoho National Park from a weird approach (the Stanley Mitchell Hut) with the infamous Dave Stephens. Since then a lot of my mountain friends had skied the peak from the opposite side and highly recommended it to me. Of course, because I’m a peakbagger I don’t normally like to repeat summits, but if the mode and route of the peak being bagged is completely different, it can be worth a second trip. In this case it was certainly worth it.
Quartz Hill has been on my radar ever since I first skied the Sunshine Meadows way back in 2007 with a large group trip up Twin Cairns. Well, almost exactly a decade later and I was back for my first real attempt. I briefly considered scrambling up the ridge while backpacking along the NE face of it on my way towards Howard Douglas Lake and Citadel Pass back in the fall of 2016 but a closure forced me to reconsider that idea.
Summit Elevation (m): 2813Trip Date: April 22, 2017Elevation Gain (m): 1600Round Trip Time (hr): 13.5Total Trip Distance (km): 40Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain your wrist.Difficulty Notes: If you ski up the peak, the main difficulty is planning your trip around a good snow pack and stability. There are avalanche slopes on this route despite reports suggesting otherwise. If hiking dry I’m sure it’s no more than a hike.Technical Rating: OT3; YDS (Hiking)Map: what3words On Saturday, April 22 I finally […]
Saturday, January 28th, 2017 was the perfect day to finally knock the easy and short Wawa Ridge ski tour off my list. This tour was perfect for a day when I didn’t feel like something bigger and wanted a solo ski. There’s nothing really difficult about it and I could have done it in less than 3 hours return except I tried taking a shortcut up through trees off the approach trail and got hopelessly lost for about 20 minutes or so. How does that happen at a bloody ski resort?!
Summit Elevation (m): 2412Trip Date: January 14 2017Elevation Gain (m): 800Round Trip Time (hr): 4Total Trip Distance (km): 15Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain somethingDifficulty Notes: No difficulties except resisting spending your whole afternoon in the Temple Lodge drinking beer on return! Limited avalanche terrain.Technical Rating: OT2; YDS (Skiing)Map: what3words After a hiatus from the mountains due to motivation issues and cold weather, I decided to return for an easy outing up Wolverine Ridge with a group of friends on […]
I wasn’t sure that I would manage to summit my last 11,000er on the main Columbia Icefield in the spring of 2016. Rumors were flying around that the Athabasca Glacier approach was toast this year thanks to an extremely warm winter / spring combined with low snow and an serac event that covered the route I’ve always used through the headwall with tons of ice and snow earlier in the year. I wasn’t too concerned, as I knew I could approach the south ridge from the Saskatchewan Glacier if I had to, some other year. The South Ridge is the easiest route on Andromeda (there are a lot of routes on this particular 11,000er) and probably one of the technically easiest ascents on the Columbia Icefields – but it does have a lot of objective hazards so I didn’t want to underestimate it. To be honest, I had mixed feelings about doing my last Athabasca Glacier ski mountaineering approach. It’s true that this approach is full of objective hazards and I’ve been extremely lucky not to have had a single bad experience through the icefall, but it’s also a gorgeous area with rock, snow, ice, wind, clouds and sun all competing for attention as skiers skin up steep snow through crevasses and under towering ridges of snow and ice a vertical kilometer above, staring coldly down at them as they thread their way through it’s hard, blue detritus. It’s an area that hundreds and hundreds of visitors to our beautiful province gaze towards every day and wonder who the heck goes up to that forbidding place and actually enjoys themselves while doing it!
As I lay in my truck at the Kinney Lake parking lot I could hear the Robson River gurgling cheerfully behind me. I could see a million stars starting to come out high above me and there were even some birds chirping their final evening songs just outside my window. My trip had already started out on a good note. On the long drive from Calgary I was cruising past the North Saskatchewan River flats near Mount Amery, when I noticed some movement in the far distance across the Athabasca River. It looked like a large cat! I stopped the truck and took out the longest telephoto lens I had with me – only 300mm unfortunately. (I left the 600mm at home which is the last time I do that.) I spent the next 5 minutes playing stare-off with a very large (almost certainly a male) Canadian Lynx!
After building our camp, it was obvious that Resplendent wasn’t a go for Saturday. Clouds were intermittently covering the upper slopes under the RR col. We decided that with tons of time left we might as well work our way up Rearguard Mountain, so that’s exactly what we did! I have to say, Rearguard was more work than I thought it would be. It was still 880m height gain from our camp which made the total height gain around 1400 meters from the shelter – the same amount as Resplendent from our Extinguisher camp! We had to give a wide berth to the ice fall on climbers left (SW) before finally skiing north to Rearguard Meadows and closer to the peak itself.
On Sunday, January 24, 2016 I was joined by Mike Mitchell for a long ski tour up Unity Peak in the Skoki region of Banff National Park near Lake Louise. Due to a ‘considerable’ avalanche rating, specifically around ridges and wind loaded, faceted slopes, we had to be very choosy with our choice of ski tour. Originally I was planning to ski Mount Turner, but the weather forecast was calling for snow flurries and essentially 100% cloud cover for most of the day which defeated the point of ascending a peak with great views!
Despite a very chilly forecast, Wietse, Bill and I decided that we’d brave the -20 degree temps near Sunshine Village in Banff National Park to give the Monarch Ramparts a go on our skis. Wietse and I had been up Healy Pass Peak almost exactly 2 years previous and at that time we’d gone up the north end of the Monarch Ramparts, but not far enough to claim the summit which lies towards its south end.
Summit Elevation (m): 3342Trip Date: May 8 2015Elevation Gain (m): 2500 (from parking lot)Round Trip Time (hr): 10 (from high camp)Total Trip Distance (km): 48 (from parking lot)Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain somethingDifficulty Notes: Glacier travel in an extremely remote location and some avalanche risk to the Cromwell / Stutfield NE2 col make this a peak to be taken seriously. No technical difficulties to the summit – beware the cornice!Technical Rating: MN7; YDS (I)Map: Google Maps The winter […]
Chickadee Peak has been on my radar ever since seeing Raf’s trip report on it. Back when Wietse and I did Boom Mountain, I remember looking at all the skiable terrain further up the Chickadee Valley and wondering if there were any other peaks we could ski in the area. Well, it turns out that there is! As Wietse, Ferenc and I drove to the parking area, Wietse started asking what we’d do if there wasn’t any snow on the approach! We weren’t laughing so hard when we finally parked. There wasn’t a lot of white stuff around anymore… 😉