Words By: Simon Coward
Report and images by Simon Coward
Video: Tom Stewart
I feel like this trip report title is becoming a redundant statement this season, with weeks now of incredible stability and ski quality remaining amazing on many aspects and elevations I kinda feel like a broken record. For Bill Murray movie aficionados backcountry riding this year has been perhaps a little like ‘Groundhog Day’, with each day lining up somewhat similarly and ending with someone saying “Man.. that was the best line of the year, no, really, this one was for sure”
In reality they have all been spectacular in their own right, steep tree pow lines, couloirs, pow filled runs in the alpine all the way to valley bottom, new zones and all manner of goodness in between. It looks like people have been ticking off ‘dream list’ descents and I think the Grand Daddy couloir may have been ridden more times this December than it does in most full winter seasons.
Photos: Tracks and scenes from the day (far right image is our main line)
Yesterday was a cool culmination of a few weeks out in the Icefields Parkway, we rode in a zone familiar to us (video will likely give it away for most) but got on a wide open, steep line in the alpine that I rarely feel really confident getting on, especially in good surface snow conditions. Yesterday was such a day, we had 4 variable turns at the top of a 1600ft + vertical run and the rest were soft, dry and light faceshot providing shreds.
We rode three laps in total, one alpine to valley bottom and 2 shorter, super high quality runs from the top of treeline to valley bottom, the snow quality at this 2140m – 2350m elevation on these E-SE aspects was amazing.
Photo: Lines, turns and other goodness from the day
Video: A quick edit Tom put together from some of the riding lower down in this zone (equal opportunity shreds with skiing too)
Looks like we have a pretty staunch looking warming trend coming this weekend with some weather forecasts saying freezing levels rising to 2800m, so, looks like our run of epic stability and ski quality pretty much everywhere may be coming to an end. Fingers crossed no, but man, has this been a December for the books. From our perspective it really couldn’t have been any better in the Rockies.
We hope it has been the same for everyone else and here is to a safe, adventure filled New Year
From the avy forecast it looks like the next few days are looking good so if you can get out, I think sooner may be better than later. Check avalanche.ca for up to date hazard report and current Banff, Kootenay and Yoho details on Facebook here.
Thanks for checking in on these updates, as long s they continue to be useful and interesting we will keep em coming.
Happy New Year from the Splitboard HQ Team