Our last day of the week at Fairy Meadows broke clear in the morning and we were all anxious to get ski touring. Steep moraines led us back up and onto Granite Glacier, with our objectives for the day being Mount Sir William and Enterprise Peak.
Some new snow had filled in the skin track across the glacier and we re-broke it as we traveled north. After passing Colossal and scoping out things Enterprise, we decided Sir William was first on the list and we ripped off the skins and made a quick descent down towards Ed Falls Glacier. After some refueling and re-skinning we pushed onward and pointed our skis towards Cycle Pass.
When we crested Cycle Pass, we could finally get an up close view of Sir William’s big East Face. Unfortunately it was blanketed in clouds and we could see some weather developing and all around us. We wondered if we should push on, since skiing on glaciers in bad weather can be pretty dangerous, since it’s difficult to navigate in the flat light and falling into a crevasse can really ruin a day. The clouds seemed to be coming in and out at the moment, with the occasional glimpse of Sir William’s summit, so we hedged our bets and pushed upward.
We quickly gained elevation and soon found ourselves entering the cloud deck as visibility deteriorated. Swapping leads, Dustin moved in front and pushed the track up a steeper section, popped out on flatter terrain and found himself staring into a large hole. We hemmed and hawed about continuing upward, but summit fever won out and we moved a bit to the skinner’s left and near a ridge for some hopes of increased vis.
The terrain kicked back and we transitioned to booting, without really knowing how much further it was to the summit. The low thud of a helicopter sound like it was right next to us, though we couldn’t see a thing, and made things more eerie as we crested a ridge. Simultaneously, the summit popped into view and felt like I was on another planet as we reached the top.
Hoping for a window of opportunity, we lingered as we got ready to ski and waited for a break in the clouds. It finally came and quickly made our way to a lower altitude where we could see much better. The face seemed to go on forever and after a brief pow-wow a few hundred feet down, we continued non-stop back down to the flats. The snow was a little variable, with some wind-skin, but still quite skiable and the clouds broke even more so we could check our tracks out from the bottom. A rewarding moment for every skier.
The weather seemed to be holding steady, so we chatted about our route up towards Enterprise. Considering the continued threat from the clouds, we decided that it was best to head back the way we came for a bit, making it easier to retreat back to the hut in case things really began to deteriorate. Once we were across the Ed Falls Glacier, we then banged a right and headed towards Enterprise.
The cloud cover made skinning on some of the more sun exposed slopes pretty challenging, but I was able to keep my skins on all the way to the summit. Slowly but surely, the rest of the crew rolled in to the top. A few of us dropped into a short couloir not too far from the summit, while others skied a gully a bit more to the skier’s left, which seemed to be the better call as things were kind of crusty in the couloir. We regrouped far down on the flats and made our way back to the hut, satisfied with our last tour of the trip.
A few people motivated for a ski the next morning before flying out, but I wasn’t really feeling that well and turned off my watch alarm before the sun came up. Our posse was the last to fly out and after some chores associated with cleaning and vacating the hut, we did our best to polish off the remaining Kokanes before jumping in the heli. When our turn finally came and in response to…“This is the scenic flight….right?”, the pilot gave us a show and cruised over the Granite Glacier, past the Adamant group and over Pioneer Pass as we exited the area. We were all wide-eyed and hooted as we checked out the lines, peaks and glaciers we had been playing the previous week, and it was a great way to top it off. See you next time Fairy Meadows!