I had the great fortune of being invited to Roger’s Pass for a backcountry skiing trip this winter. Reed Finlay and I got to tag along with, Steve Romeo from www.TetonAT.com who was headed to the Cold Smoke Festival in Nelson, B.C. and then to Revelstoke.
We arrived in Nelson at the tail end of a 21 day high pressure spell that had left the surface snow wonderfully faceted. We knew it would not hold up well once new snow came, but for now it made for great skiing on all aspects.
After a few days in the Southern Selkirks we were ready to meet up with Greg Hill and friends in Revelstoke, and get down to business on Roger’s Pass. We headed north into a large storm system that put an end to the high pressure and low danger. The avalanche cycle we all expected started in force and we kicked off numerous small and medium sized avalanches on the McGill Shoulder.
The next day dawned high and dry, and with Aaron Chance and Greg Hill ready to go, we headed to the top of the pass. The weather was spectacular and we had assembled an all star team of backcountry skiers, but we knew we would have to keep our energy in check as the buried facets and surface hoar were likely to be reactive today. As a few of us stuck our heads in the snow to see what was happening beneath the surface we witnessed the sure sign of a disaster, 2 ridges to the east, a large avalanche released as a group of skiers made their way across it. Greg, a former ski mountaineering champion employed his high speed transition and was off skiing towards the site of the accident.
I followed suit and we were soon skinning at breakneck pace to begin the search. By the time I arrived, all members had been accounted for and were staring wide eyed at the claw marks down the center of the bed surface that evidenced a desperate attempt of the person who triggered the slide, to stay on top. Luckily the slide had not been as big as it seemed from across the way, and the one victim had come out on top.
Our final day on Roger’s was certainly the highlight. With another day of high pressure ahead of us, we headed out to climb Young’s Peak, and ski the famed ‘7 steps of paradise.’
We climbed the Illecilleweat Glaicer under crystal clear skies and opted not to rope up, but rather follow in Greg’s carefully laid skin track to avoid buried crevasses.
Spread out for safety, we each entered our own little world skinning for what seemed like hours. Coming from the steep and jagged Tetons-which are a small range, the expansiveness of the High Selkirks was other wordly, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
We lingered on the summit, mesmerized by the amount of skiing terrain, enjoying the last of our tea. Hundreds of turns later we regrouped at the TetonAT rig–and begun the journey home, but not before making plans for our next trip to Rogers’ Pass.