Backcountry 2018 – 2019

Alf Skrastins has provided a list of trails that are suitable for xc touring skis.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chip Scialfa December 18, 2018 at 6:44 pm

Black Prince Area Dec. 18th

After a final field day of the AST2 course, a few “graduates” headed out to Black Prince for some practice and, we hoped, a few turns. We arrrived at 11 a.m. to the resident moose cow and calf, waiting to lick the salt from our car. The predicted winds were not to be, with barely a breeze to be felt. There was heavy snow falling, the mercury read -2 and it was clear that there had been substantial accumulation recently. We dug a pit at about 1800 m, near the tarns. The snow depth was approximately 80 cm, with 25 cm of fresh on top of another 25 cm of faceted snow before hitting the Oct. 26th crust. Continued on in a westward direction, as if going to the Warspite Cascade. Several avalanches, one at least 2.5 were seen/heard. Dug another pit at 1850 m on a 20 deg, east aspect, below the fan. Comp Test failure E4, EPT M11. We turned back and had a wonderful run down to the car, and the moose licking on the only other vehicle in the parking lot. Things need to settle down quite a bit before it’s safe travelling in avi terrain, I think.


2 Duane December 17, 2018 at 12:24 pm

We did a recon of the Robertson Glacier route: Plenty of snow along the road in to Burstall/Robertson – just a few roots exposed on the singletrack section. We followed ski tracks for a short while once on the outwash plain, but cut our own along the proper route.

Several size 1 recent avalanches skiers right as you head towards the narrowing of the valley down the gullies reaching the valley bottom. Winds calm, but wind effect on snow evident. We stopped in the narrow area in a safe place to de-skin, as the snow pack is not sufficient for those caring about life and limb to go any further. Abundant evidence of wind scouring on the glacier and outcrops. Wait a while.


3 David P December 16, 2018 at 9:23 pm

Headed up to Boom Lake on Sunday. Lots of snow made for generally excellent coverage. A couple of small ice flows have been almost entirely covered up and the occasional creek bed crossings have been largely filled (small depressions only). If you are comfortable with the usual mix of snowshoe and occasional hiker traffic, not a bad option for the chronically snow deprived!


4 Jeff December 15, 2018 at 8:20 pm

Went to Chester Lake today. Late start and arrived at 2pm. Minus three. Skinned up to lake. Their was about 5cm of fresh snow. No wind. Trail was in good shape and most of the hazards were covered. It would be nice if the snowshoers and walkers could stick to their trail. Back at the vehicle by 3:40. Nice to out in the mountains.


5 Chuck December 10, 2018 at 5:07 pm


A nice change from another day on the Great Divide! Had the place to ourselves too. I have never seen so little snow here at this time of year, but it was quite skiable on light touring metal edge skis. Any rocks could easily be seen on the well worn ski trail. Many snowshoe hare tracks, wolves cut a highline track… great views. Check the captions for details:!AgTx5EOCG7eShCMm5MWNYH_tr1H5
Amazing to see that recent rock slide on a popular ski slope. For more info on this, check out:


6 MaSid December 10, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Wow! That’s significantly large. Must be all the snow compaction due to skiing, allowing slower spring melt and more percolation. (-;


7 MaSid November 21, 2018 at 4:19 pm

Wed nov 21: Quartz ridge
Another day in the sunshine meadows, wandering about in the sunshine getting a good winter tan base. Went up the ridge at the north end of Quartz hill and trundled along over the pine and larch covered hills to rockbound lake. Lots of trails in the area offering lots of opportunities to expplore, some more efficient than others and with various destinations. Surface hoar is present right up to ridge top (10 mm). Like skiing through chandelier carpet. Snow depths vary a bit more along the ridge, from 1 to 3 ft. A bit deeper trail breaking along the ridge (10″) compared to the meadows. Only the odd punchy spot near trees and rocks but otherwise excellent travel. The second day out is always so much better than the first time using those dormant ski muscles.


8 Chip Scialfa November 18, 2018 at 6:32 am

HIghwood Pass West

While Steve was skiing Arethusa cirque, we went west, battling a pretty marginal and at times icy trail through the trees until things opened up underneath Mount Tyrwhitt. While some young bucks set an up-track on steeper, east-facing slopes, we continued to easier terrain on the south end of Pocaterra Ridge. We didn’t have as much sun as on the east side of the highway, but the views were amazing. We need more snow!


9 Steve Riggs November 17, 2018 at 11:12 pm

Arethusa Cirque.
Not much of a snowpack yet on the sunny side of the Highwood. Fifteen cm of sparkling new under bluebird skies had our hopes up. In treeline glades there was a bit less than 40 cm at most, consisting of a thin icy layer at ground, then a variable midpack with an inconsistent crust or two. Travel was easy, but the often grabby crust and variable snowpack made for poor-fair ski quality overall, although a few short pockets of decent turns were had. Nonetheless- it was an absolutely glorious day to be out in the backcountry, and we lingered to savour the warm sun under glowing larches, many of which still had some color to them. The narrow trail out was very thinly covered in many spots (don’t bring your good skis!) but easy enough to carefully negotiate on skis.


10 Gord Ferguson November 17, 2018 at 6:19 pm

Skoki Trail – Halfway Hut.
Toured along the Skoki trail today, but just to the Halfway hut and back. Good supportive snowpack the entire tour even though there is plenty of low brush poking through here and there. We had planned to head up toward Hidden Lake and Richardson Ridge but got a bit of a late start and found the trail past the halfway hut unbroken so we bailed. We did manage some powder turns on some of the lower Lake Louise ski runs on the way out.


11 Gord Ferguson November 7, 2018 at 7:26 pm

Chester Lake.
Spent the day (Nov 7) looking at conditions in the Smith Dorrien Valley. Snow is thinner in the south around Black Prince and a bit better at Chester Lake and Burstall area. We attempted to climb in to Mt Murray Glades but turned back due to thin snow, weak base and open water. We climbed up to Chester Lake and to the slopes above the Elephant Rocks. Snow depth is around 20-25cm with intermittent base. If you want to get some turns, don’t bother, however the views are magnificent. The trail up to Chester is quite good. We skied from the parking lot and the descent was fast.


12 MaSid November 25, 2018 at 3:52 pm

While I have been into Murray north in november before, it’s only ever been after a week or so of solid cold temps to freeze up the second creek crossing.


13 Chuck October 25, 2018 at 2:21 pm


A lot less snow than when I last skied at Sunshine on September 16:!AgTx5EOCG7eSgmOQ28D4CEGkTG4s
No risk of avalanche yet, but bring bear spray!


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