Friday, February 3, 2012

Powder your face daily.... "The Pass" delivers!

May 29, 1881 was a good day in my books. It was the day Major Albert Bowman Rogers discovered the shortcut through the Selkirk Mountain range that would ultimately connect Canada's west and east coasts. The Canadian Pacific Railway hired him with the promise of having the pass named after him and a $5000 bonus. The rest is history and Glacier Park Lodge is now at the heart of Rogers Pass deep in Glacier National Park. I haven't missed a season to shred the legendary lines in over 10 years now so we packed up and headed East from North Vancouver. 

My fellow pow soldiers would be Kurt, Dave, Chris and Mike. Kurt took on the high pressure job of trip brew master so we found ourselves at the Mt. Begbie brewing company in Revelstoke and loaded up another passenger. I pondered Major Rogers having a few Begbie kegs and how much faster he would have located his namesake Pass. 


We finally arrived at our pow slaying headquarters after 8 hours. With not much daylight left we decided to make our newest guest feel at home and "Tap it". 

That night I felt some real anxiety trying to figure out where we could actually shred some turns. The Pass had received heaps of snow over a short period of time and the slopes were sensitive. The predicted report for Wed was "High" "High" "Considerable". This is a place you need to respect and that diagnosis pretty much says "Stay in your room and drink beer". That said I know of a few spots I like to keep in my back pocket reserved for days like this. When morning came we paid a visit to the Rogers Pass Visitor centre  and quickly discovered that all permit areas were closed for Avalanche Control. This left us with only two options so we packed up our Pow Weapons and headed out to the confines of some really tight trees and Pillow heaven. 

On route we discovered even snow-plows have bad days! 


Half way through the day we were fortunate enough to witness (from a very safe distance) the Royal Canadian Artillery using 105 mm howitzers to knock down potential avalanches in the heart of the pass. We witnessed the black powder blasts along with almost full path results. 


In this photo you can see four impact zones and the resulting slabs. Nice work boys! 

At the end of the day we even got a small weather break and Mt. Sir Donald showed itself! 

The next morning we awoke to potentially more stable conditions according to the avy forecast and at least 50% of the permit zones open. I know "a spot"! On the the up-track winds were high and we were now being assaulted by a different kind of a bomb. Huge one meter plus tree mushrooms were being deployed from the old-growth trees and landing everywhere. Only 10 minutes out of the truck I narrowly escaped a direct hit from what we estimated was 200lbs of dense snow. The powder cloud if left me in deposited 1cm of new all over my body.  


But this was no time to hide from danger! Conditions were ripe to milk this incredible area I call "Linens and Things". Nicely spaced trees with pillows on 1200ft laps. Game on! 

As confidence in the snowpack built up we decided to hit a line out of the trees and slay a line we'd been eyeing up. Chris dropped in.... destination Trans Canada hwy. 


Kurt Withers snapped this shot of me gettin sum! 

As we headed for home it really started to puke. Anticipation was building! I awoke to 60cms and a small cornice building on my Toyota. Conditions in the Parking lot were "High". 

After a thorough discussion we decided to hit one of my all time favourite zones I like to call "Bed Bath and Beyond". This was a more complex area with consistent open areas. The day would require smart decisions and organized yo-yoing. This was gonna be good! 

It puked all day! 

A good day in the Pass is coming out in the dark! At the base of the area there were mentions of top 10 all time "DEEP DAYS" with massive pow eating grins.       

The next morning we decided to hit my all time favourite deep day zone. It would require a brutal up-track that needed to be set as it's a lesser known spot that was given to me a very long time ago. In over 10 years I'd never seen anyone else up there. 


Kurt snapped these 3 shots of me completely emerged in the white room. After a long day out we all agreed this was a "Top 3" all time day and I think I even heard a "Best day ever". Nevertheless it was beyond deep and I'm still pulling pow out of my nose and ears!

The last task left was to kill the Keg which now seemed easy after four big days in Rogers Pass. This week turned out to be one where everything lined up. Stupid deep snow, relative stability, beer and good buddies! The only think missing was Major Rogers enjoying a pint with us celebrating our victories! Until next time Rogers Pass!

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