Saturday, February 19, 2011

Alpentouring At Roger's Pass, Glacier National Park, British Columbia

Looking at the Mt McDonald Chutes across the Trans-Canada Highway, from high atop the Cheops Chutes.

You know you're in the right place when the roads up to the ski area have snow stacked 45 feet high on the sides.

Roger's Pass is a touring-only backcountry ski area about an hour from Revelstoke. There are no lifts, you must earn your turns.

The area is partially avalanche-controlled, but it is, admittedly, a bit dangerous. Cliffs, ice falls, and avalanches can ruin the fuck out of one's day.

The park has an interesting permit system in place whereby its 12 (or so) mountain peaks are divided up into approximately 4-square-mile chunks, and you must take out a permit for the area you intend to tour / climb / ski. Attached to the permit is a numbered tag which you must leave on the dashboard of your car in the only parking lot. If darkness is approaching and there are any cars left in the parking lot, the Park Rangers will know who you are, when you departed on your tour, approximately where you are climbing / skiing, and that you're overdue.

Dudley Doo-Right patrols the high peaks sporadically in helicopters, on snowmobiles, on skis, and via snowshoe, checking permits. The permits are not expensive ($7 day, unlimited number of tours), but Dudley REALLY REALLY wants you to utilize the permit system properly, because dead skiers do not make for good public relations.

First we climbed and skied the Cheops Chutes, which rise up about 2000 vertical feet from the shoulder of the Trans Canada Highway. We climbed up in dense trees (virtually avalanche-proof) and popped out into a chute with perfect untracked powder. Absolutely unreal tree skiing, not another skier's track in sight, and judging by the depth of the tree wells, snow about 25 feet deep. We then took a break, fueled up, took out another permit for another area, and climbed and skied the Grizzly Shoulder. Grizzly drops about 2500 feet down into a drainage creek. It was getting late so we only climbed / skied about halfway.

We started our day about 10 AM and finished up around 3:30.

Jane, jumping for joy.

Jane gets it on, in the Cheops Chute.

Yours truly scoring face shots at the Grizzly Shoulder.

The Moment Of Truth. This is exactly what I came to British Columbia to do.

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