Sifton South

My days in Rogers Pass have been limited this season, which has given me a bit more motivation to put in the effort for some new (to me) summits and lines. After a few weeks of what felt like nonstop snowfall and great tree skiing lately, things went clear and cold. Luke and I got talking and decided to poke our heads above treeline to see how things were looking up there, as well as hopefully have a go at Mt. Sifton’s south face/couloir.

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Good morning Tupper.

Joined by Luke’s buddy Alex, we hurried up Grizzly Shoulder, chasing the warmth of the sun into the alpine. Motivated by outrunning -20 temps in the parking lot we made quick work of the always slippery skintrack.

At the top, I stupidly mentioned that I was feeling strong and was quickly assigned the job of breaking trail, a position I would hold for the rest of the day. No matter though, I was feeling pretty strong and soon enough we were all standing at the col below Little Sifton, looking over at our objective on Sifton proper.

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Our first look at Sifton. The ski line runs down the profile ramp to the right of the obvious couloir, finishing in the bottom right of the shot.

A fun bootpack through some rocks, then a short descent had us on the NW glacier. From there we just skinned and scrambled our way up the NW ridge to the summit. It was as fine an easy alpine ridgeline as any, with incredible views in all directions on such a clear day. The sun was warm and the three of us were stoked as we crested the final pitch onto the summit – a new one for all of us.

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Now exposed to the bitter wind, we quickly transitioned and skied down to the top of the couloir, where we spent some time rolling blocks of snow down our line. It was pretty clear that a windslab lurked in the top of it, but how far it extended we couldn’t quite tell. Regardless, it was going to have to go, or, at very least be thoroughly tested.

Having crushed trail the whole way up there, I had naturally earned first tracks. Or in this case, first nerve-wracking ski cut. We might have to give some thought to retooling our reward system.

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A look down the line, pre ski cut.

I figured the slab would be on its way without too much of a fuss, and a few stomps later I proved myself right. The ground shifted, I dug in and below me, nearly the entire width of the couloir’s surface snow deposited itself on the moraines some 800m below with a sphincter tightening roar. Problem solved, but next time I have to do a cut like that I’m wearing a rope. I’ve usually got one anyway, this time included, and it adds a layer of safety that would have been quite comforting.

The day’s major excitement now out of the way, we got to work on our descent. The bed surface in the couloir was softish, as bed surfaces go, and skied much better than the punchy windslab ever would have. It made for an excellent, if slightly firm run.

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Luke picks his way down the upper couloir.

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Alex rides out onto the debris in the fan.

Then a quick skin in the fading light back up to Little Sifton with the hope that we could find some sheltered pow somewhere in Puff Daddy or Rogers Run. Ultimately we settled on Rogers and had a long sunset powder run right back to the parking lot.

What a day.

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Evening light on the Sir Donald group.

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