Tuesday, February 1, 2011

When work and play are the same thing: days off ski touring at Rogers Pass

Evan and I had a few days off from slaying pow at Valhalla Mountain Touring this week so we decided to take a vacation to the ski touring mecca of Rogers Pass. You would think we would want to lay around and eat pizza and watch TV on our days off, but no can do. Apparently we don't get enough exercise and excitement at work. At any rate, we couldn't have planned it better: clear skies, a recent dump of snow and a pretty stable snowpack gave us a chance to sneak up several classic ski ascents over the past few days.

Our first day at the pass we headed up towards Mt. Rogers, where we hoped to stay warm on south faces in the -20C temps. Lucky for us a few other ski guides on their days off had broken a killer skin track and bootpack up the south face of Rogers. We met up on the summit, found out we knew a ton of people in common and then enjoyed a 2000m ski run back down to the highway together in lovely boot-top pow. Gotta love that.

Evan enjoying the view towards Sir Donald from a rest on the Tupper Glacier

Descending the gut-wrenching knife edge from the summit of Mt. Rogers

Descending off the summit in my pink suit

Enjoying the descent in the sun

Evan posing with his wiggles in the background

After having such a fun day on Rogers we decided to brave the shady side of the highway and head up the Asulkan Valley towards Young's Peak. We had our sights set on Forever Youngs, a classic couloir slicing the rocky massif of Young's Peak. Sighting crowns from a recent cycle on many, but not all, of the slopes around the ski objective we changed our plans to climbing and skiing the Seven Steps of Paradise, the classic descent of Young's into the Asulkan Valley. After freezing our fingers, faces and skins off we finally made it up into the alpine and even got to break trail to the summit of Young's, a rare privilege as Rogers Pass gets increasingly busy. It was a great day of skiing, although the snow was so cold we had trouble getting glide as we skied down the long descent.

Busting track up Young's Peak

Booting up the steepest slope to reach the Peak

Enjoying views from the summit

Scoping out the line from the huge windscoop near the summit

Enjoying the slow, faceted snow on Young's Peak

It's going to be hard to top these past few days as I spend the rest of my week off with Evan. Great tours, amazing views in a spectacular setting, and evenings spent catching up with old friends over nachos and beverages in the Glacier Park Lodge at the pass is just hard to beat. On the agenda is soaking in the hotsprings, going out for coffee in Revelstoke, oh and maybe a few more ski tours before we head back to work.... ski touring.

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