Report by Tom Stewart
Once again I was fortunate enough to be chosen to represent Splitboard HQ at the Canuck Splitfest held in Revelstoke BC last weekend. 2015 marks the 5th year for the event and each year we see more riders coming from all over North America for the world’s largest gathering of splitboarders. Prior and Avalanche Canada both stepped up to organize things this year after an avalanche incident in Waterton Park last season took the life of Wade Galloway, the original organizer of the event.
The Canuck Splitfest differs from some of the other events held in north America as its aim is more to create a community of splitboarders in western Canada, while also offering insight into the lives of fellow riders, and generating much needed funding for Avalanche Canada (the public sector of the CAC).
I arrived in Revelstoke Friday night and enjoyed a few local brews at the Hillcrest hotel bar while some Splitboard HQ/Aquabatics faithful rolled in. We loosely started to generate the plan to get out riding the next morning in Roger’s Pass while reading over the new guide book written by Douglas Sproul. Knowing the snowpack had a few skeptical layers buried at scary depths we decided to take it easy and stick to some treeline and below riding in the Connaught Creek Drainage.
Expecting the majority of the easily accessed spots to be heavily tracked, we stared off Saturday morning from the info center aiming for the Ursus Trees. I was joined by Jamie, a good friend from Kamloops,as well as a solid turn out of Calgarian’s; Brad, Rob, Nia, Mark, and Lennette. Moving up the creek is always nice and easy going and it was great to see the skin tracks are being set more in the trees on the east side of the drainage then in years past. Once we left the track however we made the typical Cannaught creek mistake of following a previously established skin track. After about 45 minutes with what seemed like 100 kick turns and we stood two hundred meters above the drainage.
Eventually we made our way clear of the skin track from hell and started working our way up the ridge towards Ursas Minor and the grey fell upon us. We enjoyed a short lap down an alpine slide path runnout into really well spaced trees and pillows until we were funneled into a fun wide drainage.
We decided to ride all the way down to valley bottom and try for another lap deeper back towards Balu Pass. We started working up the side of the saddle into the big open bowl but the fog rolled in and we were in a pretty heavy whiteout. It was time to ride back down enjoying a few open turns between weather windows until we reached the trees and made out way back towards the car.
I should note that I took out the shop's Venture Euphoria demo, a reverse side cut, reverse camber, swallowtail powder board that was super fun riding at speed in the deeper snow. Skiing and riding this beast back down the skin track at the end of the day was a fun and terrifying experience
Saturday Night is when the majority of Splitfest takes place. Guest speakers offer up trip reports, info on local riding, and some insight into the world of splitboard guiding. Avalanche Canada introduced us to what’s new and on the way for the public bulletins and their website, and I was there to host a photo competition held on Instagram from shots taken that day. Overall the turnout was great and the raffle prize giveaway generated lots of donations for the CAC.
Sunday we awoke with more of a goal in mind for our riding. We decided to check out the other side of the highway where more north facing slopes would be holding better snow quality and access would be fairly quick for the crew driving back to Calgary. We headed up the Asulkan drainage with plans to hit the glacier crest trees, but as we approached the wheeler hut split we changed plans and opted for a tour up Avalanche Cirque as none of us had been up there in the past. The tour was beautiful as we weaved between old growth cedars quickly gaining elevation, a welcome change from the previous days bushwhack. We quickly found our way to the alpine as the sun started to shine.
Slightly worried about the way things were heating up in the large alpine bowl, we quickly weaved our way up onto the ridge of Avalanche Peak.
After digging a couple profile pits and generating some moderate results 80-90cm down we decided to ease our way into the main chute by riding the trees heading back down towards the car park. The riding was great and although the snow was definitely getting wetter as we descended, we were able to ride a perfect 1000 meter fall line drop right back down to the cars.
In the end it was a great weekend to get out in one of my favorite touring destinations. Although the snowpack was fairly thin for this time of year in Rogers Pass, there are always good lines and great times to be had.
Thanks to everyone that came out for the event. Hopefully I won’t have to wait until Split fest 2016 to return to Rogers Pass and the incredible Monashee mountains.
As always check out www.avalanche.ca for current avy conditions and while you’re there checkout the Mountain Information Network (Public Infoex) and some of the other new features they are offering for 2015!
Tom & The Splitboard HQ Team