Hardbooters and Faceshots on 93N

Words By: Simon Coward

Report and images by Simon Coward 

Just when we thought we were in for a long spell of dry, bam, ma nature drops off a lovely early December surprise of a lot of powder!

I was out on the icefields parkway on Sunday working with some guides on a Split HQ AST 1 course and, Bow summit was tracked out to say the least, between AST programs and recreational skiers there must have been 40+ cars in the car park, snow was soft and dry, but tracks everywhere.

So with the weather forecast being for a few weak weather systems over Monday and Tuesday I wouldn’t have thought we would end up there for our Tuesday day of splitboarding, however, upon reaching the icefields parkway we were greeted with an ever growing snow load on the highway, by the time we reached Mosquito creek it was starting to look pretty damn good.

Photos:  First run of the day

Visibility was next to zero (plus the avalanche.ca and parks forecast of extreme winds in the alpine) so that cancelled a lot of our potential riding zones, in the end the snow kept building and building so it was off to Bow Summit we went, and boy were we not disappointed, best pow turns of the year (maybe the last 2 years) so far.

It was the first time I had ever ridden with a group of only Splitboard hardbooters, was kind of ironic as it was the kind of day that you could have ridden in rubber boots on a plank of plywood and had the best day of your life, but, nonetheless it was great to geek out on harboot mods, forward lean angle etc..  However I digress.

Photo: A few images from our 2nd and 3rd laps

The day played out like this, go explore a little on a north facing feature on the backside of Bow summit, a little thin in places but faceshots and amazing turns to start the day (had to bootpack on scree a little to justify our hardboot setups you see.. ha ha),  We then did a short lap on a low angle feature that just looked to fun to resist, then a couple of laps on the south end chutes in some of the most outstanding pow I have ridden in a long time.  The old buried ski tracks from the weekend (and there were a lot) were almost imperceptible and they kind of created these pillowy features that were just so much fun.  We then did a little bit of snowboard scooching to access some lower elevation gully features all the way to valley bottom.

By the time we returned to our vehicles there was approx.. 15cm of snow accumulated on the cars in the parking lot, the access road was unplowed so required some creativity to get the Corolla rental car of Jason and Emmerson back down to the highway.  Nothing like a good 20 minute session of pushing vehicles after a day of touring to really get a sweat on.

Photo: Snow accumulation by the end of the day

A day of pure fun in the hills, and, still plenty of turns in sheltered terrain in that zone, likely for the next few days, and with more snow in the forecast this is looking to be a good week to be in the hills.

From the avy forecast it looks like the hazard is creeping up so check in on that before you head out.  Check avalanche.ca for up to date hazard report and current Banff, Kootenay and Yoho details on Facebook here.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy some of this storms offerings

Happy December

Simon