Words By:Simon Coward
Report by Simon Coward
I am going to start this trip report in a predictable fashion…… Winter has arrived, and with style I might add.
After a slow start to the late fall as far as snowfall values go, many snowsliders were starting to get a little antsy with the limited amount of white gold that has graced us so far. This last storm has definitely put those concerns (at least for the time being) to rest.
Mitch and I headed out yesterday (Thursday November 27th) to check out what the Icefields Parkway received for snow in this storm. It was a far cry from the scene we were greeted with this past Sunday.
30 - 40 cms on the road (which hadn’t been plowed and was soon closed after we got to Bow Summit) and upwards of 50 cms once we reached treeline elevations made for a lovely surprise.
This, at least in the short term will come at a cost, that being stability. This primarily warm falling snow is pretty dense by rockies standards and is sitting over a predictable base of mainly facets and in some areas wind slab on facets… gulp!! So, as it stands right now a lot of natural avalanche activity will be playing out, in fact Mitch and I saw a size 2 slide come down the main east face of Bow Summit which went all the way to valley bottom and remotely triggered a few smaller pockets on that face. The start zone was a sparsely covered east facing slope near ridgetop.
The skiing/boarding was super fun, as per usual for this time of the year lower elevation trail breaking is miserable, basically to ground anywhere in the trees, this varied from thigh to waist deep for us, though, once we got the skin track in we got some excellent turns in on some short east facing slopes at treeline.
We ended up doing 4 laps and letting out some very legitimate powder hoots and hollers. It is a bit of a fine balance though right now with the avy hazard and volume of snow. You need terrain that is steep enough to move in such a deep unsupported snowpack, but protected and supported enough so that the weak bond between layers isn’t an issue.
With the super cold weather this weekend I am sure a few hardy souls will be out but even with all this new snow the options for good turns are still super limited.
I would say look for slopes that have seen some skier compaction early in the season and if you can follow an existing skin track at least out of the woods at lower elevations would be your best bet.
Take care out there and stay tuned for weekly trip reports throughout the season.
Happy Riding and check out www.avalanche.ca for the latest avalanche conditions report