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+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2004 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  March 2004 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  March 13-21, 2004, Rogers Pass
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Author Topic: March 13-21, 2004, Rogers Pass  (Read 2375 times)

Posts: 2418

March 13-21, 2004, Rogers Pass
« on: 03/23/04, 07:45 AM »

Saturday, March 13. We left Seattle at 7am on a beautiful sunny day.  It was an easy 9 hour drive to the Glacier Lodge at Rogers Pass.  Stopped in at the Visitors Center and purchased a year long Canada Parks Pass seeing we were planning to stay for 8 days and the extra $20 for the Canada Pass would be used later in the year during a cross country adventure.  Checked the weather and avy reports and then immediately ran outside to photograph the surrounding mountain scenery before the approaching storm began in the morning.

Sunday, March 14.  Checked in with the visitor center, got our Permit and confirmed the approaching storm and decided to ski near the hotel. We found an old track behind the visitor center up the Cheops Glades. The climbing was direct and fast.  Unfortunately, there was a crust with a few inches of dust in the deep canopy of the trees.  As we broke out of the trees things opened and there was about 6 inches of new at the top of The Hourglass.  Another group had just finished digging a pit and the conditions were not encouraging.  The top portion of the run was enjoyable and then we darted into the funnel part of The Hourglass which was crusty and thrashed by another group.  The final part of the run fanned out and was heavy as we reached Connaught Creek. Craig and I had been spoiled by previous trips in the powder and decided to return to the hotel and soak in the hot tub.  Darryl and Rich have been a bit powder starved and returned for another beating.  Go figure.  We were in the area of the avalanche accident from last year where the school kids were buried.  Definitely a dangerous area when avy conditions are considerable.

Monday, March 15.  It was snowing lightly last night and was forecasted to continue during the day.  Returned to the Connaught Creek drainage and headed for Balu Pass. As we moved further up the valley, the winds accelerated and by the time we neared the Pass, the visibility was poor.  Dug another pit and the R4 did not enthuse anyone in the group.  The snow was light but the limited visibility and wind loading brought another short day.  

Tuesday, March 16.  It continues to snow but the temperatures are mild.  Decide to try another drainage and drive down to Loop Brook.  As we drive into the lot, 2 skiers from Whitehorse, Yukon begin to break trail.  We finally stall enough to let the Yukon guys set in the track. While waiting, a mini bus arrives and 15 kids plus 4 guides start assembling for a trip up the valley.  Not a wilderness experience.  Todays goal is The Bonney Trees which we heard good reports from another guide at the hot tub.  The snow was heavy through the Elephants Trunk and became powdery at 4700 feet.  We climbed to the Bonney moraine in a whiteout and pulled the skins at 5700 feet.  The 1000 VF runs through the glades provided the first face shots of the trip. Yahoo. We cycled the top 1000 VF. As we descended the snow became heavier and by the time we reached the car our clothes were wet.

Wednesday, March 17.  It snowed a bit last night so we decided to try another drainage.  Drove to Asulkan parking area and were joined again by the school kids and their guides.  Luckily we passed them early in the day.  Todays destination was the Asulkan Hut. The first 2 hours of the climb was basically a cross country tour as we skated along the rolling terrain and gained only 600 VF.  Finally, we reached The Mouse Trap and could see how the name was selected.  Not a friendly place in considerable avy conditions. As we began ascending The Tree Triangle we heard the barking of the group that was descending from the Asulkan hut.  The snow was powder.  We arrived at the hut to find the door unlocked and had a pleasant lunch inside.  The hut is available by reservation through The Alpine Club of Canada for $20 per person per night.  It sleeps 12 and has a propane heater, 2 cooking stoves and lights plus cooking utensils and foamies in the bunks.  It is at tree line so you ski below the hut in the trees on storm days.  On sunny days, you are positioned to climb to Youngs Peak, The Steps of Paradise, Sapphire Col, Lilly Traverse or Dome Glacier. The skies never cleared so we skied powder down to the Mouse Trap and then slogged out in heavy snow to the car. When we returned to the Visitors Center, we learned of a 2.5 avalanche in one of the Grizzly Chutes which was triggered by a skier.  The skier survived and injured his knee and was rescued by a helicopter team.  Although it finally stopped snowing, the forecast was for another storm this evening and increased avy danger.  The incoming storm called for Plan B to be initiated.

Thursday, March 18.  I woke at 5am and could see about 10 inches of powder on the car and it was snowing hard.  I called the Kicking Horse ski report in Golden and started salivating about the report.  I could not convince anyone to pull out their VISA card for a lift ticket.  I lingered about 5 seconds and began the hour drive to Golden.  I arrived to wet snow falling at the base gondola station at 3900 feet.  15 minutes later, I stepped out of the gondola at 7700 feet and entered a white world of blowing powder.  Life is good.  Spoke to the ski patrol about my flight plan and started my 3800 VF face shot descent. The ski area has numerous bowls separated by steep ridges that hold powder.  It was nice to ski steep lines with trees providing visibility. The tourists were returning to the warmth of the lodge and a few other dirt baggers and myself were enjoying the whiteout conditions.  As the day wore on the lower 500 VF turned to rain and the upper new fixed quad shut down due to high winds.  Time to leave.  It was a great powder day plus Golden has a DQ to satisfy my Blizzard habit. As I drove back to Rogers Pass, traffic came to a brief stop as the highway department and military were finishing up avy control work.  Met the group who spent a relaxing day at the visitors center.  They also met Chic Scott, author of Summits & Icefields, plus 2 Brits traveling with Chic. During the next 2 days we skied with Chic and shared dinner with them at the restaurant.  Chic is an easy going guy who has climbed and skied in more places then we have even dreamed about.  He will be at The Mountaineers in October giving a presentation and if you are around I think it should be an enjoyable evening.  Traveling with Chic was Henry Day who was in the second group to climb Annapurna in the early 1970s.  That was 20 years after the first ascent by Herzog and Lachenal.  When I returned home, I learned that only 130 climbers have summited Annapurna and 53 have died.  It was great evening learning about his adventures in the Himalaya.  

Friday, March 19.  Another snowy morning so we headed for Grizzly Shoulder with Chic and the Brits.  The visibility was variable and the powder was still protected by the trees.  We broke out of the trees and based upon the avy conditions decided not to proceed higher towards Little Sifton.  Our descent in the trees was steep and powdery.  

Saturday, March 20.  Craig departed to Kaslo for his next trip. It was our first sunny day since arriving the previous Saturday and it was a perfect day for touring.   We decided to return to the Asulkan area and head up the Illecillewaet Valley. We stopped by the Wheeler Cabin to the smell of fresh pancakes.  We then returned to the ruins of the old Glacier House and headed to the east side of the Illecillewaet River.  The track was old but it finally broke out into the valley where we merged with the more heavily used trail along the west side of the river. Todays goal was the Vaux Moraines below Mount Sir Donald.  The day was perfect - sunny, cool and no wind.  We followed an earlier track to the junction for Lookout Col, Perley Rock, Terminal Peak and Vaux Moraines.  We could see a track heading towards Perley Rock and another meandering towards Lookout Col.  Both routes are on my list for future trips.  The trail breaking from the junction was rather long and in deep powder.  We had been spoiled by previous uptracks.  The views from the moraine and the entire climbing route were spectacular.  Finally, with clear and sunny skies, I could understand why skiers return to Rogers Pass.  The peaks and surrounding terrain are breathtaking.   Our powder descent continues to bring a grin to my face.  It was the perfect way to end our weeklong adventure.  We returned to the hotel, sucked down some cold beers, soaked in the hot tub, gorged ourselves at the evening buffet and crashed early.

Sunday, March 21.  Another sunny day but for us it was a 9 hour drive home and joining other motorists traveling 70 plus mph down crowded freeways.  

Some parting thoughts:  This was the first trip to Rogers Pass for 3 of the 4 group members.  We are all ski bums (retired) so our future trips will be last minute adventures when the weather and avy conditions are good.  The hotel is a reasonable alternative to staying in the Wheeler hut-hot showers, hot tub and dinner buffets sure are appealing after a long day. A few days at the Asulkan hut would be ideal in good weather.  Our original plan was to traverse to the Glacier Circle cabin for  an overnight but avy conditions did not allow that adventure.  It's still on the list. If you haven't skied Rogers Pass yet, do it before you are another year older and slower. Smiley



Posts: 228

Re: March 13-21, 2004, Rogers Pass
« Reply #1 on: 03/23/04, 09:54 AM »

thanks for the great report Zap.  Skiing with Chic Scott, nice!

Posts: 19

Re: March 13-21, 2004, Rogers Pass
« Reply #2 on: 03/24/04, 04:31 AM »

Nice work Zap. the Silver Fox still remains my hero. lets get together for some turns before the year is out.


Posts: 345

Re: March 13-21, 2004, Rogers Pass
« Reply #3 on: 03/24/04, 04:39 AM »

Sorry we missed you Zap.  We would have stopped in for a hello on Sat. after Little Sifton had I known you were there.  The Asulkin looked busy on Sat!  
Mike-I want to talk to you about Shasta sometime.

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