British Columbia Backcountry: Roger’s Pass

April 13th, 2008

Morning glory on Roger's Pass
We spent the night at Glacier Lodge at the top of the pass, surrounded by the beauty of snowy peaks and down-shifting semi-trucks. It was a nice little ex-Best Western with that old-National Park lodge feel run by a bunch of Asians with spotty English. Graham and I struck out for an evening tour up the Connaught drainage directly behind the lodge. We enjoyed one 2000′ run that was actually pretty fresh and deep up at the top, getting us excited for the skiing to be had the next couple of days. It was pretty cool how much good skiing there is, minutes away from the Lodge. It’d be a fine place to base a whole trip out of, without bothering to rent a cabin or anything. The rooms were not even very expensive.

Morning stoke is highAfter enjoying the hot tub and a good night of sleep, we awoke and gave the hotel breakfast a try. DO NOT WANT. It was the most expensive plate of re-heated frozen breakfast food I’ve ever had. And they wanted to charge for drink refills! We survived it though, and stepped out into a glorious, crystal-clear bluebird day. There was not a cloud in the sky, and the towering peaks just gleamed in the sun. YES. Graham demonstrates the high level of stoke in this picture. We checked in at the park information center and drove to the trailhead.

The skin up the Asulkan drainage was beautiful and uneventful. The first half is a chill skin through the trees and a few huge avalanche paths, Skinning up through the Mouse Trapthen you pass through the “Mouse Trap” and start climbing to up to the cabin. The snow was really nice up high - more than a foot of fluff, and no obvious signs of instability either. We watched a couple of other ski groups trace nice lines down the glacier and surrounding terrain. Clear skies and fresh powder! We made the cabin in the early afternoon. And what a cabin! It was very well outfitted with reasonably comfortable bunk beds, stoves, gas lights, big view windows, the works. We regrouped here, dropping a bunch of gear and soaking in the views, then set out up the glacier.

Look close to see the bold tracks The Asulkan Cabin

I was never intending to be able to do much more than ski the trees below the cabin, but with the weather cooperating so much we decided to bag a peak. About 2000′ above the cabin is Youngs Peak, and rounded and rather un-impressive one but with easy access. We could see that a group had already gone up it in the morning, so we would even have a skin track to follow the whole way up. I’d never been up skiing on a glacier like this before, so it was really exciting. Acres and acres of rolling white ski terrain, surrounded by mountains. Pretty much a skiers paradise on Earth.

Back down the Asulkan valley Young's Peak ridge

A long skin took us to the top of Young’s Peak eventually. We dug a Ruche-block on the steepest section, near the top, and were pleased to see our tasty layer of powder wasn’t very reactive, giving us a Q2 or 3 failure on 5, if my memory serves. Something like that. The green light for shredding. :) On top the view was amazing. An endless sea of white peaks surrounded us. To the west there was some weather moving in, but I think you could see all the way east to Banff. After taking it in for a bit, we pulled the skins off and shralped the rolling glacier powder back to the cabin.

Evening decent to the cabin Kings the Castle

We shared the cabin with two parties of two Brits each. One was a father-son group, and the other was two retired gentlemen out adventuring in their leisurely autumn years. We cooked up some bean-tastic burritos, chilled for a while, and sacked out in preparation for another day of skiing.

Freshies Sweet glacier powder fields

Calling it a dayThe next day visibility was in and out. We skinned back up the glacier again, re-tracing out steps from the day before in the uncertain visibility. It cleared out enough that the run was still enjoyable, with the only real flat-light up at the top. We did one more skin up the glacier to ski a slightly different line, and then gave the trees below the cabin a try (they weren’t as deep as I hoped, but still awesome). Tuckered out and the day drawing to a close we grabbed our stuff from the cabin and rode out to the car, arriving there a little after dark. One night in Golden followed by the looong drive home finished out our trip. Really, I could not have asked for a better trip. The weather and snow were perfect, the company was good, and British Columbia, well… I’ll probably have to move there.

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One Response to “British Columbia Backcountry: Roger’s Pass”

  1. [...] is for skiing, after all. It was ski trips from then on. I’ve ranged as far as Whistler and Roger’s Pass but this report is about the year I stayed a little closer to my home in Driggs, Idaho. After all, [...]

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