I’m a sucker for an interesting bit of mountain history. Both fortunately and unfortunately, here in the Rockies, much of the history of even the most famous ski descents has gone unrecorded. But, when it does turn up it’s often presented in a wonderfully elusive, fragmented way. A forum post here, an aside in a climbing guidebook there, maybe a blog post or two if you’re really lucky. It’s modern folklore of… Read More
We still have a long way to go when it comes to highly technical testpiece ski lines in the Rockies. Consider the kind of outright gnar that sees descents on a near daily basis in Europe’s steep skiing meccas and many of our big classics seem pretty straightforward by comparison. There are, however, exceptions.
After skiing the West Shoulder of Athabasca the day before, Kieran and I had received some beta about the conditions on Mt. Andromeda’s ultra classic Skyladder. While it looked pretty shiny from the parking lot, another party had chanced it as a ski descent and found it engaging, but skiable. Full props to them. We’re fairly sure they opened the line in a season when many an armchair mountaineer had written it… Read More
With the heat doing its best to destroy any semblance of enjoyable spring skiing, Kieran, Joel and I decided to head up to the Columbia Icefields area for more relatively pleasant access to north facing glaciated terrain, easy minivan living and free wifi. On arrival we put into action a familiar schedule. In bed early in the parking lot on Friday, up at 0230 Saturday morning, a leisurely breakfast and brief astrophotography… Read More
A few years back, I remember wondering why I’d never heard of anyone skiing Mt. Kitchener’s East Ridge. It’s always described as a straightforward snow climb except for the notch some 150m below the summit, and its upper face looks fantastic from the Icefields Centre. Then, while driving home from a failed Robson attempt I noticed what seemed to be a skiable exit off the ridge via a hanging glacier on its… Read More
With spring beginning to settle in around here, and conditions looking up this past week Kieran and I decided we had better get out and take advantage. After some back and forth the night before, we settled on a proper mission in the NW Face Direct on Mt. Sir Douglas. Steep and imposing, the line goes at an alpine IV grade in summer conditions, but we were hoping for something a little… Read More
Welcome back stability; we’ve missed you. Earlier this week, we tried to ski the Mt. Bell couloir but were relegated to the north col by wind and increasing snowfall. With what looked like a perfect forecast lining up though, Joel and I decided to direct our Wednesday efforts at Narao Peak’s north couloirs. At the last second, Martin threw his hat in the ring as well, hungry for more after having just… Read More
With temperatures locked into a very spring-like cycle for a few days, Kieran, Joel and I got to discussing some bigger lines. It was looking like the time to send. So, some hours later it was 4am and we were rolling out of Canmore, sights set on Bow Peak’s Funnel of Death; a line that, while often talked about is not often skied. Perhaps understandably, given the name.
Some things don’t go as planned. Such was the case in early December when a friend and I were approaching Mt. Chephren’s N face, eyes set on the Kum Ba Jah Couloir. Our eyes were so set, in fact, that we neglected to realize how thin our margin of safety had become as we approached the line. Spurred on by better than anticipated stability, we rationalized that, despite sloughing on other aspects… Read More
Well into the second half of August and still no precipitation to speak of, so time for another corn ski. And a good, solid bushwhack to keep me honest.