When I talk about this time of year I don’t even bother calling them “rock skis”, I call them ” walk skis”. You spend most of your day walking over rocks and roots and grass on your skis just hoping for a dozen good pow turns on some old summer snow. Sure, the skinning on the way up is usually passable, but the decent back to the lower elevations can be downright scary. Mistakes this time of year can have big consequences.
Nonetheless, ski stoke is at an all-time high. Social media posts popping up about people getting out, and getting after it early in the fall. The usual early season haunts were likely a complete mess this morning. Stuck vehicles, boot-packing on the skintrack, and just flat-out survival skiing to get home.
I applaud those of you who are heading out fully prepared to completely and utterly destroy your skis for these early season turns. Forty-five centimetres of unconsolidated snow isn’t a base, but it’s sure as hell beats 95% of the other things most people spend their days doing. You might even be pleasantly surprised that your “walk skis” make it through to “rock skis” season. But if they don’t, it just means upgrades in your quiver 😉
A little vid that McNab put together from a climb/bike day he did this summer. Hopefully we’ll get to see alot more of these edits from him!
Some pics from our recent trip into the Bugaboos…
Just got a mini-TR from our good friend Christina Lustenberger who was just up at the Great Cairn hut for a short stint. Looks like she really knocked one off with a solo ascent/descent of the prominent South Couloir on Adamant. The 55- degree line skis from the summit ridge splitting the face, straight down to the Adamant glacier below. Awesome work chica!
When I first moved to Revelstoke and started ski touring, I never really had any issues with the permit system. Likely because my days were filled with following skin tracks to areas that I knew about from the “touring Rogers Pass” mini guide of the day.
As my skills and skiing progressed through the years, I found the permit system a bit limiting. But there were still plenty of options for getting in to non-permit areas. With my work schedule I found it possible to get some early days in the mountains. Access to Bostock and Flat Creek meant you didn’t need to get a permit and could get out early. Then things changed…
The Winter Permit system allows backcountry users to enter Winter Restricted Areas that are affected by the highway avalanche program when artillery gunfire is not anticipated. This system protects the public from danger resulting from direct artillery fire, including shrapnel that can travel up to 1000 metres and the potential for sympathetic avalanche releases.
This is the bullshit that baffles brains. They have been closing permit areas regularly and NOT shooting. For sure, I understand that there may be a possibility that winds and/or precip could change the situation, but the seemingly random nature of the decisions makes it very difficult to make a plan. Parks suggests you leave a detailed itinerary with a friend, pretty hard when you don’t even find out where you’re allowed to go until 7:30am at the earliest.
A recently released publication from some of the best ski mountaineers around labels the descent off the North side of the Swiss and Rogers peaks as classics. The current permit system makes it next to impossible to take on a adventure like this while giving yourself enough time in the day to deal with the unexpected.
The inclusion of the 1000 m shrapnel zone has also boggled my mind. For instance, they created the Grizzly Shoulder permit to account for shrapnel from shooting at Hermit, Puff Daddy specifically. But here’s the thing, if they open Grizz Shoulder, it means they KNOW they’re not shooting Puff Daddy, so open it too? You can find multiple situations like this throughout the park.
It just leaves us with questions. While much of the “directly-facing-the-highway” stuff stays closed through and after the cycle, after a few days of stability, it usually re-opens. I informally asked Parks (through some random trash-talking on twitter) what the deal was with the MacDonald and Tupper permits being closed for 7 days recently. The response was that the “natural cycle last week kept many permit areas closed for avalanche shooting. Still winter up (there).”
The frustrating piece was that I was aware it was winter up there, that’s why I go up there every flippin’ weekend, AND why I was surprised that they hadn’t shot at MacDonald from the 3rd till the 9th!?!? Or, if they had shot at it, why didn’t they open it? Or if they felt they needed to shoot at something, like, say the Herdman, why would they keep Avalanche open since it’s waayyy within the 1km shrapnel radius. A raw deal for my three friends who had planned to head up there to ski a sweet line in sweet conditions.
There’s answers. And here’s what’s even better, people are getting paid to solve them. So solve them. Let’s hear what’s in the mix to fix some of these issues. Hiding behind the “transportation corridor being the number one priority” will only come back to bite you if anyone actually takes the time to read the Parks Canada mandate.
A two day window of good weather this season will get you to organize a trip in a hurry.
Audrey, Christina, Julie P and myself ventured for a few days in the Dawson Range area. We left early in the am on Thursday to get up the other side of the Asulkan Pass and set up camp. We had a quick look at the Dawson amphitheater trying to plan our next day’s objective.
Friday morning we were up early, roped up on the Dawson glacier to access the south face of Fox. With a little boot pack we obtained the ridge leading us to the Witch Tower. By that point the wind was howling and the Selwyn glacier was looking a lot more broken than the picture we had of it. Committing to going up Selwyn meant committing to navigate it skiing down which didn’t appeal to any of us.
We then turned around with the intention of bagging Fox’s summit and skiing down its North West face. We had a great picture of it which helped us find the sneak into the rocky face. The run was amazing, the snow “powderrific” and we were all smiles skiing it.
Back at camp, we discussed our options for exiting the next morning. The weather allowed us to navigate through the Geikie glacier and we finished our trip with a ski down Forever Young.
Oh ya, followed by a beer and nachos at the Village Idiot with the girls and to top it off, Jeff and I had a delicious venison burger at the Woolsey Creek Bistro. The best burger I have yet to have. 😀