The skies finally broke up here in Canada after dumping about 40cms of snow on top of surface hoar and near surface facets. Over the past few days we’ve seen snow running like water down steep slopes and have kicked off numerous soft slabs. Some running a good distance and producing powder clouds. Pretty wild stuff when you’re in one of the raddest ski touring areas in North America. Thankfully, we were out with Greg Hill and Aaron Chance yesterday when the clouds broke, both well traveled skiers of the Selkirks and beyond…because it was both exciting and amazing.
The day started with a cold tour and a variety of options. We slowly gained elevation and headed towards Ursa Minor. High avalanche danger would keep us off the steeper slopes today, as well as keep us all on high alert when passing underneath slide paths and setting skin tracks. The south facing slopes were warming up quickly and as we got higher on the slopes, we saw signs of fresh avalanche in the distance…with a skin track heading towards it. Greg was the first to rip the skins and head towards the area, which would require us to reskin and hike for about 15 minutes to reach. Reed called out that he spotted someone on the bed surface. None of us knew what to expect as we came on to the scene.
Tracks leading into the avalanche.
Rounding the corner, things were still a mystery, as not a single person was visible. I could see some skin tracks heading towards the slide. It looked like most of the activity was over with, but I still didn’t know if there was an injury we would have to deal with. Luckily, the group finally came into view and everyone was okay. The party had come into the slope a bit high and decided to try to punch the skin track through the steepest part of the bowl. The lone trailbreaker went for a small ride and we could see his body marks in the bed surface, which I think sent chills down all of our spines.
Our group had called in the avalanche to the pass center in case it blew up to something bigger, so Aaron called them back to call off any rescue efforts that might be underway. Zahan and Greg skinned up to the crown to do a quick snow profile analysis.
Humbling stuff any time you or another party gets a scare in an avalanche. But the warm temps have probably helped to stabilize the snowpack as well, setting us up for another great day in Rogers Pass. Lord knows we’ve got some great tour guides!