Stewart – Rio Nexpa.
Back from a welcome break on the beach in Mexico, I had my bike out yesterday, trying to get psyched for a summer season on the trails, but winter’s not yet done in the Kootenays. I woke this morning (April 28th) to a raging blizzard, and Andrew, Cam and I headed up for a lap on Granite, finding 20cm of light pow on the top of slides, and the best coverage I’ve ever seen on the mountain.
Andrew – First Slide.
I understand the business case for closing the mountain at the beginning of April, but (unapologetic collectivist that I am) the absurdity of the mountain sitting closed while weeks of incredible skiing conditions pass by has me wishing for a state of affairs structured to serve the interests of the people rather than absentee owners. At least the sledders seem to be making the most of it.
I’m told that Kootenay Pass has had 2m of snow through April, and from what I can see in the Rossland Range, it’s going to a record late opening for the 7 Summits trail this summer.
Elise – enjoying the sunshine atop Powderfields last weekend.
Our original plan was to traverse the Southern Selkirks from Ferguson to Rogers pass, however you have to be adaptable in the mountains. Our food drop didn’t make it into Battle Abbey, so after dropping a car (and waiting for a highway closure) at Rogers Pass, we loaded 8 days food and gear onto our backs and started slogging up Ferguson Creek. A 10 hour climb and a long north side ski brought us into the headwaters of Boyd Creek. Expecting a few days of mixed weather, on Day 2 we negotiated a high pass into the Westfall River, and set up camp at the base of the climb to the Scilla Glacier. On Day 3 we woke to heavy snowfall, 20cm of accumulation, and limited visibility, and with no consensus on whether it was prudent to continue, decided to wait it out. Powder skiing on nearby treed ridge was deeep! By the morning of Day 4 there’d been another 10cm accumulation, it was still dumping heavily, so in the face of dwindling supplies, uncertain hazard, and energy sapping trail breaking, we plotted a route back to Ferguson. Down through the magnificent untouched old growth of the upper Westfall River, and up the narrow and precipitous MacDonald Creek, with some deep powder skiing (without packs) to finish the day. Cold temps and clearing skies on Day 5 made for the first real views of the trip, and surprisingly good (given the aspect) skiing back into Ferguson Creek, and finishing with a sun bathed slog back to the truck.
The rest of the crew headed back to Rossland, but I stayed over at Rogers pass, and got in an early morning solo descent of the Saphire Glacier in perfect conditions, before heading to Golden.
Tracey – On the Brazillian.
In Golden I joined (skinning from the bottom) Elise and her friends for some side-country skiing adjacent to Kicking Horse Resort. We were all enjoying ourselves on the back-side of Ruedi’s, when Sabrina cartwheeled, blowing her knee and requiring heli-evacuation. A bummer for her, but impressive that with cell phone reception ski patrol had her in the chopper within 45 minutes.
It’s still snowy, and snowing in the Rossland Range. In a better world the lifts at Red could keep turning into May, but Elise and I are off to Mexico for some R&R on the beach.