Canadian Rockies Ski Descents: Classics, Testpieces, Sandbags and More

What is a classic? Does it have to be hard? Scary? Popular? Should the access be easy or does it need to be memorably tough? I don’t have answers to any of these questions, but I do have this list. It’s my best crack at a directory of Canadian Rockies steep (or at least steepish) skiing classics, plus some extras that I feel are worthy of recognition for whatever reason.

I don’t have a hard and fast set of criteria here, but I did ask myself a few questions before listing a line as a classic. Each bolded line has some combination of ski quality, aesthetics, uniqueness, challenge and renown that speaks to me in some (completely subjective) way.

Currently there are a total of 100 lines, which feels like a nice round number to keep it at.

I’ve attempted to sort the lines by region, link to trip reports where I’m aware of them and made the following legend to help organize things a little. Hopefully this all provides some inspiration. Feel free to let me know what I missed. I haven’t skied every line on this list (obviously) so expect it to evolve over time as I work through it.

I have not included anything that hasn’t been skied yet – you can go find that on your own. Nobody has ever skied every line on this list and I’m pretty confident in saying that nobody has come even close. It would be a hell of a lifetime goal for an incredibly motivated completionist.

Legend

Bold and underlined– No question uber classic. Best of the best. Must ski if you have the means and opportunity. 

Bold: Really, really good line. Still contains all the elements that make a classic, but may be lacking that wow factor. Let’s call these tier two classics.

Italics: Testpiece.

Regular text: Above average lines for one reason or another, but debatable for inclusion as classics. These have some but not all the elements of a true classic. Good history, testpieces, wildly popular, sandbags, etc. Go check them out for a very worthy adventure.

*: A reference to lines mentioned in the old Biglines.com classics thread, which was the original classics list for many of us. Alas, the thread is no more.

[#]: Links to trip reports, interviews, press, etc. Please report dead links in the comments.

Northern Rockies

  • *Yuh-hai-has-kun/Mt. Robson, N Face [1] [2]
  • *Yuh-hai-has-kun/Mt. Robson, Kain Face [1] [2] [3]
  • Whitehorn Peak, N Face [1]

Clemenceau/Chaba

  • *Mt. Clemenceau, N Face [1] [2] [3] note:[1],[2] heli assisted.
  • *Mt. Clemenceau, W Face [1] note: heli assisted.
  • Tsar Mountain, N Face/Ridge 

Columbia Icefields

  • *Mt. Athabasca, Silverhorn [1]
  • Mt. Athabasca, N Face
  • Mt. Athabasca, W Shoulder [1]
  • *Mt. Andromeda, N Face [1]
  • *Mt. Andromeda, Skyladder [1]
  • *Mt. Columbia, SE Ridge/S Face [1]
  • South Twin, SE Face [1]
  • *North Twin, East Face [1]
  • Twins Tower, SE Arete [1] [2]
  • *Mt. Diadem, S Couloir [1]
  • Mt. Kitchener, E Ridge [1]

Bush River

  • *Mt. Bryce, North Face [1]
  • *Mt. Bryce, S Face/Couloir [1]
  • *Rostrum Peak, E Face [1]
  • *Icefall Peak, E Ridge [1]
  • Mt. Forbes, N Face [1]
  • Mt. King Edward, E Face [1]
  • Mt. Alexandra, W Ridge

Wapta

  • Peyto Peak, N Face
  • *Mt. Baker, E face
  • *Mt. St. Nicholas, NE ridge
  • *Ayesha Peak, E face

Blaeberry Rockies / Freshfields / Mons / Lyells

  • *Mt. Mummery, W Face
  • *Mt. Pilkington, SW face

Hwy 93N: Lake Louise – Saskatchewan Crossing

  • *Bow Peak, Grand Daddy Couloir [1]
  • Bow Peak, Gutentight Couloir [1] [2]
  • Bow Peak, Funnel of Death [1]
  • Bow Peak, Godfather [1]
  • *Crowfoot Mountain, Crowfoot Couloir
  • Crowfoot Mountain, Janoline Couloir  [1]
  • Caldron Peak, Caldron Couloir [1]
  • Mt. Chephren, L Couloir [1]
  • Mt, Chephren, R Couloir (Kum Bah Jah) [1] [2]
  • Mt. Patterson, Centre Couloir [1]
  • Mt. Patterson, R Couloir
  • Mt. Amery, Amery Notch
  • Mt. Murchison, NE Face [1]
  • *Mt. Murchison, Mega Couloir [1]

Lake O’Hara

  • *Popes Peak, N Face Direct (To Summit) [1]
  • Popes Peak, N Couloir [1]
  • *Cathedral Peak, Keyhole Couloir
  • Cathedral Peak, S Couloir
  • *Narao Peak, Left Couloir [1]
  • *Narao Peak, Right Couloir [1]
  • *Mt. Victoria, N Face [1] [2]
  • Mt. Huber, W Ledges [1]
  • Ringrose Peak, Ringrose Couloir [1]

Lake Louise

  • *Mt. Victoria, NE Face [1] [2] [3]
  • Mt. Victoria, The Sickle [1] [2]
  • Mt. Aberdeen, W Couloir/N Glacier [1]
  • Mt. Lefroy, W Face [1] [2]

Moraine Lake

  •  *Mt Temple, Aemmer Couloir [1]
  • Mt Temple, Dolphin Couloir [1] [2]
  • Mt Temple, Cobra Couloir [1]
  • Mt Temple, Sphinx Face [1]
  • Mt Temple, SW Face [1]
  • *3/4 Couloir [1]
  • *Mt. Fay, N Face (Roth Kallen) [1]
  • *Quadra Mountain, N Face

Hwy 1: Field to Golden

  • Mt. Burgess, N Couloir [1] [2]
  • Mt. Burgess, S Couloir [1] [2]
  • *Mt. Vaux, W face [1]
  • Mt. Vaux, Conviction (S) Couloir [1]
  • *Chancellor Peak, N Face [1] [2]
  • *Mt. 7, The 7
  • *Mt Dennis, N Couloir [1]
  • Mt. Stephen, N Glacier [1]

Bow Valley

  • Ha Ling Peak, Miner’s Gully
  • Mt. Lawrence Grassi, “S” Couloir
  • Cascade Mountain, S Face (Postcard Gully)
  • Cascade Mountain, E Face [1] [2]
  • Mt. Ishbel, Slab Couloir [1]
  • Monarch Mountain, The Cleaver [1]
  • The Sphinx, Hall of Records Couloir [1]
  • Copper Mountain, Mind Shaft Couloir [1]

Hwy 93 S

  • *Mt. Stanley, Kahl (N) Face [1]
  • *Mt. Stanley, Waterman Couloir [1]
  • *Mt Stanley, Y Couloir [1]
  • Boom Mountain, Kindergarten Couloir [1] [2]
  • Boom Mountain, High School Couloir [1]
  • Tumbling Mountain, Tumbling Couloir [1]
  • Mt. Whymper, X Couloir [1]

Kananaskis

  • *Mt. Joffre, N Face [1]
  • *Mt. Smuts, E Face [1] [2]
  • *Mt. Chester, N Face [1]
  • *Commonwealth Peak, N Couloir [1] [2]
  • *Mt. Maude, N Ridge [1]
  • Mt. French, Hole In The Wall Couloir [1]
  • Mt. Sir Douglas, NW Face Direct [1]

Southern Rockies

  • Mt. King George, E Face
  • Mt. Assiniboine, SW Face
  • Mt. Harrison, N Couloir [1]
  • The Steeples, W Couloirs
  • Mt Fisher, N Couloir [1]

2 Comments on “Canadian Rockies Ski Descents: Classics, Testpieces, Sandbags and More

  1. Revision 1: Added Cascade S (classic), Cascade E and Hall of Records in place of Baker N, Phantom Couloir and Niles S. The count remains at 100 and I don’t think any of the three I removed are particularly special.

  2. Revision 2: In: Mind Shaft, Kindergarten Couloir (classic) and High School Couloir, out: Dogleg Couloir (Crowfoot), Pearl Necklace (Cathedral) and the Mt. Gray Couloirs. This revision was a tougher call, but I feel the three inclusions are worthy, and more appealing to more people as ski lines. Revisions 1 and 2 cover feedback I got after sharing this list initially. I’m pretty happy with the list now, so I’ll likely leave it alone for a while except to add links for beta and stories.

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