Last week, Henry Barrett, Dylan Zoratti, and myself, Luke Nelson set out on a mission to the Crowsnest Pass to ski out of Coulthard Cave.

1946 Plane Wreck

Coulthard Cave: Crowsnest Pass

We headed up to the staging area where Dylan towed Henry and I to the base of the slope where the cave is, and we began our tour into the fog.

There is an old plane wreck from 1946 at the base of the chutes, where you can usually see the cave, but not today. Luckily I had visited this cave in the summer so I had a general idea of how to access it.

Once we took off our skins and began bootpacking accross the face to the cave mouth, we popped out above the clouds, and could see the mountain tops around us. It was a wonderfull suprise on such a foggy day.

Above the clouds: Bootpacking to the cave

Cave entrance: final steps

As we ascended the final steps into the cave opening, the clouds lowered just enough to get a glimpse at the line we were going to ski, a perfect fall line chute out of the cave, to the valley bottom.

We regrouped in the cave mouth and enjoyed the breathtaking views over the sea of clouds, and then explored the cave.

Cave exploration: Spelunking in ski boots

Cave Mouth: Looking over the clouds to Crowsnest mountain

After we explored a side passage, Henry rigged up an anchor with a few ice screws, and we rappelled down the brown ice fall into the main section of the cave and explored further. It was nearly dark outside now, it is very easy to lose track of time underground, so we set up for our underground ice climb, to get out of the cave and go do some skiing.

Rappelling the brown ice: Spelunking

Underground Ice Climbing: back to the surface

Faction Underground: about to ski out of the cave

Once we climbed up the brown icefall we clicked into our skis and dropped into the fog, with only a few minutes of daylight remaining to find the snowmobile, we made it just in time.

Dark Fog Skiing: sweet pow

The snow was suprisingly soft, even though we could hardly see, we enjoyed our turns out of the cave and down the chute to the plane crash, where we congratulated each other on another epic mission.

Now we just have to go back when we can actually see what we are doing.

Coulthard Cave

Canada

49° 33′ 50.292″ N, 114° 34′ 12.8496″ W

The original article was written by, Faction rider, Luke Nelson, for Biglines.com


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