So, my ski hill closed way back on April 3rd in absolutely amazing conditions. The past month has been an "endless winter" sort of month in the West Kootenay's, as well as everywhere else in the province it seams. This spring I have experienced some of the best post season touring ever, with constant fresh snowfall and blower pow conditions right into May. Normally I have started work (treeplanting) by now, but due to all the snow we have been pushed back till May 9th. And with more snow up in the mountains forecasted for the next couple days, I have a feeling I'll be skiing well into June on my weekends this year.
Below are some pictures of some of the terrain I've been skiing at Kootenay Pass the past few weeks. We've banged off lots more at the pass and around the Rossland Range, but these are the only pics I have for now (there's some others on my friends camera I'll snag later). Kootenay Pass is an awesome playground for the ski tourer. Just over an hour drive from Rossland, it is the highest paved and yearly maintained pass in the province, topping out just shy of 1800M. From the top of the pass you can skin to so much amazing terrain it can be hard to decide where to go sometimes. The runs aren't incredibly long, with the highest peaks topping out at around 2200M and the lowest runs dropping to the rare 1500M, your typical run is around 300-400M vert.
A go-to area of mine is around the twin lakes zone, where three runs, each on a different aspect (E,W,N) is a easy goal for a day out.
first run from lightning strike ridge down to the twin lakes basin. west facing, nice steep trees with some cliffs, ridges and nice turns...
from the bottom of twin lakes, heading up the other side of the valley gets you to (east facing) LSD Chute. Really fun, wide open chute with some cliff options if you head skiers right... from small playful doubles to hero sized hucks... it's really all up to you.
If the stability is questionable and LSD seams too spooky, there's some really fun pillow lines in the trees on the skiers left that are safe and super fun. Got a picture here of some avi debris at the bottom of LSD from a previous slide.
Lastly, Banana Chute is a north facing run that takes you back towards the highway. This thing is what the kootenay's are all about. North facing, steep, chutes, ridges, trees, cliffs, fun to the very last turn. With a short climb back to the highway from the bottom, this run keeps a smile on your face for some time after.
At the head of the twin lakes basin is some bigger stuff that is more committing, with repel in chutes, no fall zones and complex avalanche terrain, the stuff off this ridge doesn't get skied as often.
A week ago, however I did manage to nab one line I've been wanting for a while. It's off the east shoulder of the bigger ridge of lightning strke, funneling into a chute with a fun choke. 500M vert, northeast/north facing... fun times.
bottom section through the chute
Yesterday, my friend Dylan and I made it to a zone I've been meaning to get to for a while but it seamed like there was always a "better" option. Because of that, I went to the pass with the soul mission of checking the Crags out. A quick mellow skin from the highway to the col and easy climb up the ridge on a beautiful sunny day in May made for a great approach. Due to it being damn close to 20C out, we decided to cut our day short and only do one recon run on the Crags and head back to the car before it got too warm and the snow too sun affected.
The top of our first run down the main chute off the north face of the Crags. (My line is black, Dylan's is red) Being hot and sunny in May, the snow wasn't great, but it was good enough to do a few smaller drops to keep things playful. There are a lot of really fun lines around these parts, pretty much everywhere you look is begging to have turns down it.
Dylan linking up some nice drops.
Our run down the Crags in full
A bonus of doing the Crags, is the joy of skiing "Show Off" back down to the car. Show Off is the face directly above the parking lot (hence the name). Problem is, the lap time to actually do Show Off is way too much for the length of the run, so I never really ski it. On our way back to the car from the Crags and not wanting to only do one run for the day we headed up to ski it. Very shitty snow conditions made for some technical skiing down to the car.
With a few more days before I have to go to work, and many weekends ahead of me, I'll try to bang off some more aggressive lines and put another update up before I pack my skis away for the summer.