Words By: Simon Coward
After the Rain – K-Country Delivers! Nov 27th, 2017
After this most recent rain event and reading posts from the hardy souls who braved the bone soaking precip the last week or so, it is safe to say I was feeling less than motivated to get out on Monday (thanks for the trip reports those of you who did go out, you are more motivated than me!). That internal dialogue many of us struggle with was as loud as ever (“ahhh, man, I don’t think it’s gunna be that good, so much work to get done, I should just sit today out)… However, my commitment to not being a flaky riding partner out weighed that dialogue, so with that Ali and I headed out on Monday morning…
PHOTO: 2 hours or so into the walking portion of the trip. At around 1900m, starting to wonder if we may be turnless for the day
With really low expectations we decided save some drive time and check out K-Country for the first time this season. We had also seen a post and got some beta from crew who had ridden Highwood Pass over the weekend and the consensus was that up high it ‘wasn’t that bad’, always inspiring words.. ha ha ha.
A few of the weather websites (including avalanche.ca) had all forecast 10cms or so of snow overnight so that had us hopeful that at least something would be covering the latest crust layer. At valley bottom however that was not at all the case, a mere trace of snow where we parked the car left us wondering if a day of kayaking on the Kananaskis or mountain biking might have been a better option. Though, like many good missions, we were there, so we figured we might as well check it out.
PHOTO: A mere 100 vertical metres up from the last shot. Stoked was mighty high at this point
As we climbed there were certainly some inward doubts that we were going to get any riding in, at 1900m elevation we were still crawling over deadfall, and carrying our splitboards (we did get to do a bit of skinning on a long flat section at lower elevation). The rain had pretty much stripped any base of snow below 1900m in the zone we were in, leaving just the 5cms or so of overnight snow on the ground. Then, super quickly the ground cover changed. By 2000m we were out of the deadfall and alders, on skis and starting to feel like this 10cms or so of snow was going to lead to something good.
PHOTO: Ali reaping the rewards for hours of walking and climbing over deadfall.
It certainly did. We topped out around 2300m and at that elevation in our sheltered storm skiing zone there was a complex but 130cm deep snowpack. 20cms of fresh non-wind affected snow was overlying the rain crust which (in supported terrain features of 30 degrees or so) was supporting our weight. We did see a sizeable natural avalanche pull out of steep alpine terrain which triggered a further slide on the snow slope below.
That aside we tore up three amazing laps in 20cms of fresh snow. The rain crust was soft enough that you didn’t feel it at all whilst riding. Was pretty darn good, especially with the low expectations we had of the day.
PHOTO: Light snow and high speed turns were the theme for the day. Such great travel and amazing turns. My best for the season for sure
PHOTO: The best feeling on a snow board. High speed toe side pow carves. Closest feeling to a bottom turn on a perfect wave in surfing I can find!
PHOTO: Shreds with a view!
It was a ‘pay to play’ kind of a day. We were on the move for about 8 hours, did three fun laps and a whole lotta walking and a little bit of skinning… ha ha ha. A great mission with some fantastic rewards. I did hear today (Wednesday) that the skiing and riding out on the icefields parkway at treeline was about as good as it gets. Hope some of you are finding time to get out there.
Check out avalanche.ca for the latest avy conditions and have fun and stay safe
The Splitboard HQ Team