The trip in which all elements clicked and came together…
Rogers pass isn’t much of a secret anymore. There are guide books, maps and a social media roll so deep that you can scout any run you want by a simple search. Often times the information isn’t the challenge here, it is the weather. Factors encompass visibility, sometimes stability, and some times physical fitness. There are times when all of those things are in sync. When this happens your imagination is the only limiter and amazing things happen.
Five straight days of touring covering 8000m (26,000ft) and a healthy 110km of travel had the first week in Revelstoke ending with a bang. Or, more like an explosion of my legs, but for achieving some objectives that I have long dreamed of. The snowpack is lower than normal in Revelstoke but they are faring far better than a lot of areas in British Columbia.
Day 1 – Christiana Trees
After a long day of driving from the coast, we attempted to ease into the fist touring day with an objective of examining the snowpack. The turns were short but the snow was good. It was great to reconnect with some friends and share a great day in the mountains. This area is great for storm skiing but it is easy to hit and the approached and exit are pretty simple.
Day 2 – Asulkan – 7 Steps of Paradise
It is almost by fluke that it has taken this long for me to enter the Asulkan drainage. More often than not we have looked at this drainage and been deterred by the stack of cars spilling onto HWY 1. Other times, the conditions became a bit too hairy to approach and clear the mouse trap. 7 Steps Of Paradise was the first run that I researched before my first steps in the Pass eight years ago. A long hike in some favourable conditions and this long valley run was in the bag! It is always great to tick one of the classics and though the snow was variable, the satisfaction of skiing this gem was prize enough.
Day 3 – Cheops North Bowl and Bruins Ridge to 8812 Bowl
As they say in golf, it was a moving day. The day when everything changes, and the trip and missions feel like it’s startin to get real and deep. This day was a turning point in the week, with a group of friends that wanted to reach far and his the Pass hard for a few days. I have pushed my limits skiing over the years, but there are times in which you need people to push you out of your comfort zone. This was one of those times. North Bowl of Cheops is a line that calls to you from the valley. Though not technically, difficult it has some hazards.
Crushing a 1000m of skiing in a little over two hours we headed for the second round up Bruins Ridge to slay the Bruins/8812 Bowl. All in all it was just short of 2000m of skiing.
Day 4 – Dome Glacier, Dome Col and the Cleaver
North facing skiing was about the only place the sun and wind didn’t totally screw over the snow. With a well equipped and experienced crew, we ripped to the Dome Col for a long run to the valley. Crossing paths with familiar faces (which were later confirmed via the ever invasive social media), this day though the shortest was the most challenging with a boot failure and a 1500m run the the valley bottom. It is days like these that you really understand how exposed and reliant your safety is on a small piece of gear.
Day 5 – Video Peak and 8812 Linkup
This was the third day chasing my mountain goat friends up the hills. The rhythm was starting to feel normal but the leg fatigue was setting in. A quick change of plans in the parking lot due to some favourable weather set us up to link two of the classic big faces/bowls in Connaught Creek. Video Peak is one of the best runs in the drainage but it is a little intimidating, and exposed to avalanche paths for much of the final ascent. We reached this spot after almost a week of sun to find only three tracks down the face. The snow was well preserved and made for an amazing run to the valley.
A quick transition and a blast to hit 8812 bowl for a finale to the first week in Revelstoke. The light played with us all during the ascent and the mutual fatigue of three long days were evident in everyone. It likely could have been the 600m+/hr of vertical ascent we had logged until that point. As we sat at the top of the last run of the week we shared a few awesome moments and to recount the achievements of the week.
Arriving back at the Rogers Pass Discover Centre we said our good bye’s and wished each other well as we traveled our separate ways until our skin tracks crossed paths again. For some it would be a long trip back to the coast but for this skier it marked the end of one of the most successful weeks I have had in Rogers Pass. The best part, it was only the first week and there is still another one to go. With fresh snow piling up, and a few rounds of shoveling the driveway, who knows what week two will bring.