Thursday, January 12, 2017
Line of the Week: Mt. Bell Main Couloir
At 6.5km, the ski up the Taylor Lake trail (from the Taylor Parking area on the Trans Canada Highway) seems long. It never seems to get any easier. But it provides efficient ingress/egress to 2100m. I'm told this area is busy in the summer, but there might be only 1 or two groups in the area, often none at all. Once at the trail's namesake lake, the main couloir is still not visible. While skiing across the lake, the broad couloir will start to appear: first its upper bowl, then its distinctive vertical wind lip-spine will appear. A crux appears early: Just getting up to the moraines from the lake requires a couple of steep, awkward, kick turns on a snow-covered waterfall. The skin up the moraines to the couloir is fairly self explanatory. As the slope steepens, decisions need to be made. There is a convex roll as the couloir drops from the upper bowl into the steepest part of the line. I've attempted and backed away this line a couple of times in stormy weather, and it appeared that the line was getting loaded up by snow blowing down the line as I was getting blasted by spindrift and sluff.
The couloir isn't necessarily steep or narrow so only a short bit of bootpacking is required to gain the upper bowl.
Elevation Gain: 1210m
Top Elevation: 2750m
Line Length: 300m
Other Options in the Area: There are options for safe and other shorter, steeper skiing off Panorama Ridge. There are also a couple of big skinnier couloirs in the area, you are really only limited by your imagination. Stay Tuned for future lines of the week. The moraines also make a good lap.
Skiing the windlip-spine: This is a fairly advanced alternative. Each turn atop the spine will send snow cascading down on either side. The spine steepens (i.e. it rolls convexly!) and becomes planar forming a classic trigger point. Sluff on either side might prevent an easy escape should something happen.
Other "Lines of the Week"