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Author Topic: Dec. 5-9, Rogers Pass  (Read 4407 times)
zackalope
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Dec. 5-9, Rogers Pass
« on: 12/11/08, 11:37 AM »

There was an amazing time had at Rogers Pass last weekend.  I hadn't been there before, and I figure it will be a while before I luck out as well as happened on this trip. 

The plan was hatched somewhere in between 65th and Muir on the day when the weather was fine and Mike was passing out beer, and turned into real sometime around 2:30 last Friday when I picked up Ali at the station.  Ali apparently used up a trip's worth of bad luck right at the start of the trip by buying a bus ticket to Vancouver, Washington, fixed that, then lost the ticket, but managed to make it up to Vancouver anyway after almost being stopped at customs for having too many bags.  We lit out of town as quick as my little pickup would take us (possibly in aiming for true dirtbag status, I seem to drive only borrowed vehicles, the current one being a not very snow worthy truck), and made for Roger's Pass.  Anticipation was high, and I can actually recall little of the nine hours it took us to get there.  We did stop for gas a couple of times, the second being in Revy, where at the late hour of after 9pm, we could not find a store where we could buy cheese, but beer was not a problem.  There was also the surreal experience of picking up hitch-hiker Tracy Pope out of a snowdrift in the middle of nowhere, whereupon she rapidly and somewhat incoherently described to us the tale that had led her to the situation we removed her from.  Her story seemed to involve a number of recent deaths, a hot tub, the David Lynch worthy setting of Three Valley Gap (the resort ghost town just west of Revelstoke), and a visit from Romulus Minor.  But we made it through all of that, and the snowy roads that caused me to creep along at a semi-annoying but survival inducing pace brought us to the Glacier Park Lodge aka the Bates Motel just before Midnight.  We arrived to a typically empty creepy lobby, picked up an old fashioned phone, spoke to an Asian voice, and found our key in a drawer.  The room was down a hall haunted by lost skiers' souls.

Saturday morning, in case the view out the window in the predawn light of trees thickly covered in fresh snow didn't clue us in to the epic-ness of the snow, upon stepping into the hallway, I was greeted by a hurrying man clad in gore tex and polypro who reminded me that there were no friends on powder days.  After breakfast at the hotel we headed over to the ranger station to get out permits and talk to Luc about where to go.  Luc spends about four days a week dispensing wisdom to skiers, and apparently he spends the other days out on the snow, acquiring said wisdom.  Luc remembered Ali and Alan from 2 weeks ago and proudly informed us his wife was 5 months pregnant.  We decided on Ursus Trees for our day's objective, and set out up Connaught Creek.  On the way up, we found ourselves synced up with a group of patrolers from Kicking Horse who knew the area better than we did, and were generous enough to tell us where we were in the minimal visibility.  Across the valley, the rocky slopes of Cheops let loose frequent and impressive avalanches.   It made things feel pretty real when the entire crowd would stop and just watch those things go off.

We made our way into the alpine above Ursus Trees.  Because of low visibility, we decided not to go far above treeline, and took our first run of the trip.  I had forgotten the joy of skiing in over a foot of dry powder.  The ability to do so elegantly eluded me for the most part as well.  All smiles, we headed back up for a second lap.  This time, we found ourselves in the company of a pair of Quebecois and a self described free-heeling Alberta redneck.  They helped us out in that one of them had a radio, and had been told that the obvious exit drainage was not the way to leave the run, due to inadequate coverage, and so we followed them up to leave via the Hospital Chutes.  Coverage was indeed thin down low, and there were some thick trees to be navigated.



Safely back to the hotel, we had a couple of drinks and a plate of nachos that thoroughly defeated our ability to be hungry before heading back to check in with Luc and decide on our further adventures.  In the morning we had decided that we would head in to the Wheeler hut that night, and had been debating moving on to the Asulkan hut for Sunday.  Although the avy danger was High for Saturday, we decided to plan on heading in to Asulkan in hopes of taking advantage of the storm snow.   

The ski in to the Wheeler hut is a short glide along an old railway grade.  Traveling by headlamp and cloud-diffuse moonlight through falling snow among tree spooks and silence is magical.  On arrival at the hut, we were greeted with chocolate cake, prosciutto wrapped cheese, and good company.

On Sunday morning, we took our time getting ready, and headed out for the Asulkan hut after waiting long enough to ensure that some folks who knew the route would set an uptrack for us.  Our plan worked, and other than a couple of decisions at diverging paths near the Mousetrap, we followed a clear path and arrived at the hut just after Kaymin (the hut's caretaker) and Andrea.



Just behind us were Yehudi and Jamie.  Yehudi and I took a run through the tree triangle below the hut in the last minutes of daylight.  The powder was so deep that it was difficult to get enough momentum on all but the steepest pitches.  We got back to the hut, had dinner and sipped at some of the fine single malt scotch that Ali had in her pack.  When Yudi and I had taken off earlier, Ali wasn't feeling up to taking a run, but soon after we left, she was regretting her decision, and by the time we got back Ali was getting antsy and demanded we go back out for one more short run in the dark since the trees were so solid.   Back at the hut, we swapped tales and jokes with the others until it was late, then Andrea and Ali played cards while Yudi and I played a couple games of chess (one win each).  Time for bed.

On Monday, we were all up early.  Visibility was still poor, so there was no desire to explore the open areas above the hut, and we spent the day in the trees.  It took some exploration to find sustained slopes steep enough to actually ski, there was so much snow on the ground, but once we found them, it was amazing.  Stability was surprisingly good, without much movement at all even on steep and heavily loaded slopes.  Ali and I quickly decided that leaving that day would have been foolish, and that we could manage another day with the food we had, took three runs, went in for lunch, and took two more before dark.  During lunch we had the only break in the cloud for the whole weekend, and there were brief views of Young's Peak, Lookout Mountain, and the other surrounding crags. 



We headed in when light failed, with plans to enlist the crew for some night skiing after dinner.  At this point, a new group had arrived at the hut.   They were somewhat surprised when the five of us (Andrea decided that she had had enough for one day) geared up for more skiing instead of the expected after dinner dice games and what not.  "So how long should we expect you to be gone?"  one of our new hut-mates asked.  "Well, it takes about an hour for a run," replies Kaymin, "but maybe we'll take two or three."  They thought he was kidding.  We found a slope that had somehow been missed during the day, and at the bottom, there was not a chance that we weren't going to do that again.  Yehudi fortified us with his high octane hot chocolate at the top, and we dove into round two.  Two was enough for most of us though, and Kaymin couldn't convince anyone else to go for three.  I think it was almost 10:00 when we made it back to the hut.

On Tuesday, we really did need to say goodbye and make our way back to this other world.  The wind had picked up significantly, and many of our tracks of the previous day were filled in.  Almost all of us lazily listened to the sound of the howling Maelstrom around us – except Yudi and Jamie, who were up as usual at the crack of dawn and beating the door down to get out for a new run.  After one more glorious run through the triangle we picked our way over to the Mousetrap, with significantly more making our way through the trees and along creeks than we had figured on.  We ran into Luc, out for a tour with his friend Mandy and a "communal" dog, Bear.  Then we slid and slithered down the track towards the road for another hour.  On one of the few steep bits of the track out, I unfortunately divined a tree well with my ski tip, and somethings in my knee and hip made some unfortunate noises, but all seems to be doing OK as of this TR.  Ali, as per tradition, waited until the end to crash, ejecting madly off a kicker into the freshly plowed parking lot right next to someone's car.  The lot had been considerately plowed, and it didn't take us long to dig out the car and find the two perfectly cold beers that were waiting for us.  The long drive back to Vancouver was punctuated only by lunch at the Modern in Revy, and dinner at some place in Merritt, where we were the only customers save one guy at the bar.  By 1am we were back home and ready to sleep the sleep of the thoroughly sated backcountry skier.




 


 





 



 
 

 

 


« Last Edit: 12/12/08, 11:15 AM by zackalope » Logged
Randy Beaver
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Posts: 238


Re: Dec. 5-9, Rogers Pass
« Reply #1 on: 12/11/08, 01:11 PM »

 Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin
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The mountain might get 'em, but the law never will
brownc9
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Posts: 152


Re: Dec. 5-9, Rogers Pass
« Reply #2 on: 12/11/08, 01:29 PM »

^^^^^^^^^^^ incredibly inspiring for a road trip!
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Marcus
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Posts: 2434


WWW
Re: Dec. 5-9, Rogers Pass
« Reply #3 on: 12/11/08, 01:51 PM »

Nice Zack!  I can't wait to get back up there...
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Don Heath
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Posts: 836


Re: Dec. 5-9, Rogers Pass
« Reply #4 on: 12/11/08, 04:57 PM »

Ahhh, Now that was a trip report!  Sometimes I kind of like being an armchair skier.  Thanks, Zack.  I'll dream of powder and crazy women in snowbanks tonight...
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The best part of summer skiing is napping on a warm rock.
Zap
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Posts: 2428


Re: Dec. 5-9, Rogers Pass
« Reply #5 on: 12/11/08, 07:47 PM »

Great trip !  Wink
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russ
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Posts: 194


Re: Dec. 5-9, Rogers Pass
« Reply #6 on: 12/12/08, 03:54 PM »

Nice write up Zack, I could almost feel the turns  Smiley
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