Trip Report

Guests:
Me
Chiu Lee, Toronto
Peter Martin, Ottawa
Eve Kovacs, Chicago
Geoff Bodwin, Chicago
Michelle Hegmon, Phoenix and Dolores, CO
Bob Bolin, Phoenix and Dolores, CO
Five others who skied on their own:  Ryan Creary (photographer, ryancreary.com) with snowboarder Scot Heale (NZ) and skier Tim Haggerty
Jocelyn and Bob

Guides/Staff:
Larry Dolecki, guide and lodge owner
Emelie Stenberg, assistant guide
Andrew Adamson, assistant
Monique Vigne, cook


March 31, 2011: I drove solo from Silverthorne to Great Falls, Montana.

April 1: Drove to Golden. Snowstorm after Lethbridge. Got too close to Calgary and was caught in traffic. Decent driving conditions to Golden, but weather is very cloudy now. Definitely should have taken the Bragg Creek cutoff to avoid Calgary.

April 2: Woke to snow. A bit dreary to have put in all the effort to get here and then face the possibility that we might not even get to the Lodge. But I went to the hangar on schedule, met the stager Jill and some of the other guests, and we kept to the schedule. This was remarkable not only because of the weather, but because a large accident had closed the highway making it impossible for assistant guide Emelie to get over from Revelstoke. But the helicopter was near where the accident was, so Mike simply hopped over it to pick her up and bring her to the staging area, which is at Bluewater Creek now, a little farther north than last time. The flight is still long, and spectacular even in poor weather. After avalanche rescue practice (good idea (see below)) we skied Home Run twice in low visibility. This was difficult for me because of low vis and deep snow. About 1800 feet.

April 3. 6700 ft. Full sun for most of the day. Through Ice Col, down a long way, and on to the Diamond Glacier on Icefall Peak. Superb skiing through large seracs in an icefall. Two laps. Long climb back to Ice Col. This day was remarkable for the good weather and the spectacular glacial terrain, which was completely new to me. We skied one short but very steep pitch. Michelle tumbled once and lost a pole, which was buried. Andy found it, but it took a while. The moderate skiing on the front side of Ice Col -- the Lodge side -- was superb.

Monday, April 4. 4900 ft. Snowing. Visibility was in and out, but in when it counted. To the Portal, with cook Monique joining us. Then a fantastic 2500 foot run down the north side. Great views of Vitamin P. Long climb back up and I opted to skip the second lap on the same slope. We returned the way we climbed, bringing back many memories of the 2007 trips. Weather forecast is for lots of snow and little sun in next few days. Again, my telemarking is not very good in this deep snow.

Tuesday April 5. 5400 ft. Snowing. So a day in the trees, but really big avy paths. But it was really phenomenal terrain and conditions. Much too steep and deep for me to even try telemarking so I gave in and just made parallel turns. With my new boots it was just effortless. A whole new world. Larry calls this “credit card skiing”: we started by climbing a bit west and then did successive descents down the valley, each time descending more than we climbed. We pay the bill at the end with a 1600 ft climb to the hut. Runs skied today: Alien Bowl, Lust, then three laps of Greed. Saw a ptarmigan. Saw a huge avy on the opposite side of the main valley, starting high on Mons. The final climb up to the hut was quite nice as we used a stream canyon at the start. Pressure up a bit so maybe we can go back to the alpine tomorrow.

Wednesday April 6: Superb day. 6800 ft. Through Shark’s Gate (the pass E of La Clytte), down 2500 feet in perfect cold powder, complicated up-and-down traverse W back to the Kemmel-LaClytte valley, and the long climb up through the Portal and home. Cloudy start, but good light started at the Shark and continued the rest of the day. Had to walk down about 80 feet to get through the shark rocks. Larry deliberately started a Size 1.5 avy before Kefi Col. And some excitement on the descent after that as Chiu smashed into Larry at the stopping point. “Coming in too hot”. Also very exciting: ZERO falls for me, doing mostly alpine turns.

Thursday. Interesting. 5800 ft.  We all packed the extra stuff needed to go over to the hut on the Lyell Icefield. That extra stuff was: one lunch, a headlamp, and a toothbrush. But we had an avalanche at Kefi Col that forced a change in plans. Eve, Larry, and Geoff climbed 40 feet to ski from the top. I followed and skied a line from a slightly less steep entrance to skier’s right. Andy, Michelle, Bob skied the slope skied yesterday, avoiding the climb. Peter and Chiu then skied from the top too, by which point all but Andy, Chiu, and Peter had skied the second followup pitch as well, and so were at the bottom. Emelie then followed from the top and after a few turns the slope released on her from above, completely burying her at the bottom of the pitch. We at the very bottom could not see, but heard the yell. Andy dug her out in about five minutes; she was a meter or just less below the surface, totally immobile. Peter reported that the digging out was as fast as possible. She was ok. One pole lost. Angle at top: 42 degrees. Size: Class 2. Crown: Varied from 6 inches to 18 inches. Total run. 300 ft. Type: Storm snow on sun crust (soft slab). So Andy and Emelie went back to Lodge. Because the back side of Crampon Col is same aspect, we abandoned our plan. We all went to the top of Groove Tube. Skied east from there twice. Then one more run from the ridge S of there. Beautiful skiing in heavy pow. Easy to tele! Then various slopes down to the avy path, like those we skied in 2007, and climb back up and over Kefi Col. On LaClytte the snow depth measured on one of our slopes by probe: 3 meters; almost 10 feet.

Friday.  7300’. Eleven people to Kemmel summit. Lovely, especially the last exposed traverse to the top between a huge dropoff on the left and very large cornices on the right. Near Ice Pass the probe never hit bottom. So at least 3.2 meters of snow, probably more. Then all guests except Bob were led by Emelie and Andrew down Vitamin P. Emelie and Andrew both took the very steep entrance, while we amateurs went in by an easier route very slightly to the left. Snow was choppy (previously skied this week twice) and dense, settled powder. But still perfectly skiable. Steep. 45 degrees for about 200 feet, then down to 35. Great couloir feeling. We skied it 1600 feet down, then did a descending traverse to hit the up track back to the Portal. Very cool day, especially as the first descenders were from our group in 2007. And I had not skied this much vertical in one day in many years.

Saturday.  2000 feet of good snow near the hut in the morning over three runs. Then heli ride to town (chatting with Robson Gmoser at the exchange) and drive to Great Falls, Montana. No duty on my 48 bottles of BC cider!! Breakfast Sunday morning with Brice Addison of Great Falls, with whom I have done a couple of trips.

Average for six days was 6150 feet per day. About 41000 vertical for the full 8 days.

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