3/4 Couloir

My first ever September turns (Seriously. I have no excuse.) took place Sept 21st high above iconic Moraine Lake. This trip report will be brief, as in all honesty there wasn’t much of a trip to report on. Just a great day on an easily approached big line for my 11th consecutive month of skiing. Plus a few photos, which I think came out all right.


I can see why so many people come here.

Trevor’s night shift ended at 7 AM, so by the time we left the moraine lake parking lot the sun was well and properly up, and the lake already teeming with tourists. We set a brisk pace around the lake and up the fan to base of the line, arriving in just a little over an hour. Fresh snow in the couloir overlaid a solid foundation of firn snow and ice, making for quick travel up the ~700m of foreshortened terrain.


Four hours after leaving the parking lot, we topped out in brilliant sunshine to views of Mounts Bowlen, Tonsa and Little, as well as the Neil Colgan hut. A nice spot, and somewhere I’d like to return to. Thanks, maybe in part to our making quick work of the climb, we witnessed no rockfall and little sloughing, though we saw and heard plenty of excitement across the valley on Mt. Temple’s solar east face.


Neil Colgan Hut.


Tonsa Peak

Once transitioned, there was nothing left to do but go skiing. The line rolls steeply at the top, so both of us threw a ski cut into the ~30cm of fresh. Mine was a dud, but Trevor’s just a meter below sent a good sized slab careening down the couloir. On the plus side, this made for a nice, soft buffer between our skis and the rockfall littering the ice in the bottom of the line. As a bit of a negative, it left the steep pitch at the top rather firm. It was great skiing regardless, though. Solid enough to require thought and good technique, but not firm enough to reject a ski edge. A nice skill building combination.


These steep turns were kind of special, high above the blue of the lake. What a contrast between elevations.

The lower half of the line was far better skiing, with a fun layer of dust on crust giving way in places to piles of deep, soft slough . A few rocks were lurking in there at the very bottom as well, but thanks to Trevor and his rock skis setting a path through the minefield my bases got through relatively unscathed. Thanks, Trevor. From there it was nothing but a scree run and a quick walk down the lakeshore back to the car. Really, the biggest obstacle was the barrage of questions from the confused groups of tourists. An excellent, quick day out on an iconic line that I’ve been wanting to ski for ages.




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