Words By: Simon Coward
Report by Simon Coward
Images: Simon Coward
Video: Simon Coward and Tom Stewart
After missing a trip report last week (after a fairly chill day out in the parkway on our way to a wavepool session in Edmonton), we are back in full force. With the snowpack looking like it is shaping up to get pretty sketchy when we get our next significant snowfall, we took the opportunity (before we get shut down for awhile) to head back to our Milky Way line that we rode a few weeks ago.
So, under grey skies we left the parking lot hoping that (as we were thinking) the feature had stayed largely sheltered from the past weeks winds and that the snow conditions were going to be soft and fun. We did have some beta from the area from a few friends who were in the same zone on the weekend, so confidence was high.
Photos: An interesting perspective of the line that makes it look hyper steep (not at all that steep)
This line is so unique in the sense that it is steep, but has great, easy, relatively low angle access with limited avy terrain exposure. It is also pretty wide so small sluffs are easily managed, and, there are lot's of safe zones to regroup on the way down. To get on it twice in one season is beyond awesome and I feel like it wouldn't be in really good shape all that often.
Of note, is today was the first day this season we have experienced 'real' rockies trail breaking. At lower elevations we were getting ski penetration consistently around knee deep. Kind of felt a comforting, familiar wave of suffering and frustration come over me as we wallowed around at the lower elevations. Felt like home.. ha ha ha. Once we got up into the alpine it was a mix of thin rocky ridge tops and soft windslabs.
Photos: Views from the climb
The run today was so good, better upper mountain snow conditions than when Tommy and I rode it a few weeks back, very little faceting in the upper half of the run, and 20 cms of dry snow had been blown in and settled light and dry on the top 1000 feet of the run. We linked this section together cautiously, stopping and regrouping frequently.
Once we hit the lower half of the run, the snow pack had started to show signs of faceting out, but, was still supportive enough to get some epic pow turns all the way to valley bottom. In fact, the last 500 or so feet of riding in the avy fan were some of the highest quality turns of the season.
After soaking in the run for a bit we started back towards to car, on our way we scoped a NW facing avy run out that looked too good not to ride, so rallied a quick 800 foot lap on that before blasting back to the vehicle.
Photos: Tom dropping in for the first amazing turns.
The steeper south facing first ramp did have a little sun effect however that it was short lived, much of the line was a shady east aspect and we were treated to a steep, fall line 2000 + foot line all the way to valley bottom in almost all powder and dry surface facets. It was really quite outstanding, Tommy and I rode short pitches and took photos from safe zones, playing it as safe as possible and just soaking in the surroundings.
Video: Some footage from the day
There is definitely some great riding out there even though the drought is pushing into the 6 week range (aside from the small pulse of snow from this past week).
Hope everyone is still finding the goods out there. Check avalanche.ca for up to date hazard report and current Banff, Kootenay and Yoho details on Facebook here.