Saturday, March 1, 2014

Roger's Pass, Photo report

Glaciers, blue sky, tons of snow. Welcome to Roger's Pass.
Leah and I spent four days touring around Roger's Pass. A deep and scary persistent weak layer kept us from getting out into any steep alpine terrain, but the weather and snow were top notch. By maintaining a relaxed pace, we were able to ski about 6,000 vertical feet every day and not get too worn down.

Day 1: McGill
We toured up the McGill shoulder and skied two runs with excellent powder around the edge of the main avalanche path and the gunbarrel chutes. Much to our surprise, skiers were exiting the way they came, and we had second tracks down the awesome Camp West path back to the car. Camping was cold but still fun.
Skinning among snow ghosts on McGill. 
Leah busting powder on McGill.
Ripping skins at the end of a the day on McGill.
Dropping into the Camp West path on McGill.

Day 2: Flat Creek
After waking up to blue skies, we made the difficult decision to still spend the day below treeline. We toured up the normal Flat Creek trees skin track, then took a surprisingly poor east facing run down to the creek. From there, we climbed through old growth trees to about 2/3 height up the mighty Smart Avalanche paths. The ski was long and amazing. Arriving at the car at dark, we quickly packed our stuff and made the frigid ski into the Wheeler hut in the dark. We met up with some good Missoula friends and had a great time in the hut. Until I fell asleep about an hour before anyone else.

Leah skiing in the Smart paths. 
More powder in the Smart paths.
Day 3: Asulkan hut and Sapphire col
It may have been frigid, but the day dawned clear, so we headed staight up the Asulkan valley, with intentions of summiting Youngs peak if conditions permitted. Unfortunately, several large recent crowns indicated that avalanche danger was still perilously high above treeline, so we stopped at the Asulkan hut, had a snack, and had a good run down the Triangle trees back down to the Mousetrap. From there, we followed a skin track to the top of Triangle Morane, and forged a route up to Sapphire col. Pushing past where everyone else had stopped was unnerving, but the route seemed low angle enough to be safe, except for one short rollover, which we managed the best we could. Topping out in the sun, with Leah, in the heart of the mountains was fantastic. The run down was every bit as classic as it was supposed to be, and we were soon back at the hut, kicking back and swapping stories from the day.
The last few steps to the Asulkan hut.
Leah enjoying great turns below the hut. 
Climbing up the Triangle Morane with Youngs taunting us in the background. 
My eyes hurt. On the climb to Sapphire col.
Leah at Sapphire col with a whole lot of classic Rogers Pass touring terrain behind her. 
This is the steep rollover we were worried about. We ascended and descended one at a time. 
Day 4: Lookout col 
We spent the morning skinning up to Lookout col. To our surprise, no-one had pushed the skin track all the way to the col, and we had a great view of the surrounding area before skiing the rolling, enjoyable run back to the hut. On the way out we passed at least 10 skiers headed for the col, and I'm glad we were able to beat them to the punch. The drive back was long but uneventful, and I can't wait to go back with more stable conditions.
Another day, another great view. Near Lookout col.
My first few turns off the col.

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