Sunday, March 6, 2016

Speed Traverse: Kicking Horse Pass to Lake Louise

Last spring, I convinced Travis, Adam, and Mark to take a look at a ski tour that I've been thinking about for a while. Kicking Horse Pass to Lake Louise via Opabin and Wenkchemna passes. 

After blasting our way up to Lake O'hara to warm up, we skinned up towards the Opabin glacier, admiring the large face of Mt. Hungabee and a neat looking line off Mt. Yukness. The Opabin glacier was interesting with a cornice running down the middle and we were able to avoid what looked like crevasses.
Looking towards Opabin Pass
 Topping out the col, we dropped into the Prospector valley, steeper up top, giving way to a lower angle traverse before transitioning above the Eagles Eyrie rock feature. The slope up to Wenkchemna pass was consistent and definitely avalanche terrain. It would have presented a nice ski descent with some powdery snow on top of a crust that was making skinning difficult. We stepped off the deep slidepath and booted up over the windswept col.
Wenkchemna Pass
The descent down to Moraine Lake was mellow, right from the cross loaded gullies at the top. There is the option of adding additional challenge to the day by climbing over Wastach Pass and descending Paradise Valley. With the sun beating down on the south slopes of Wastach Pass, we decided to just ski out via Moraine Lake road. The slope really mellowed out as we approached Moraine Lake and it was important to work the terrain features and the still supportive crust to minimize polling and skating. Moraine Lake presented us with some skating through moistening snow. All that was left was a slow slog out along Moraine Lake road. 

The snow was slow and moist, quite a departure from the fast trackset that is found here in the winter. We skated, then switched to polling to give the feet a short respite from the pain. Tired, blistered, and thirsty, we rolled into the Moraine Lake road parking lot after 7.5hrs, ready to pillage the gas station in Lake Louise.

41km, 1650m+/1540m-, with both cols around 2600m.
garmin file here

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