Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Line of the Week: Mt. Rae, Elbow Lake Couloir

While the face above could provide an awesome line in the right conditions, the couloir is on the left of the photo.
Gloomy, rainy weather and battling a poor freeze on the weekend has me reminiscing about a June day a couple of years back. I was supposed to meet up with some friends who were camping in the parking lot. I think I misinterpreted a text message and thought they were camping up at the lake. I hiked up to Elbow lake and didn't see anyone awake at the campground. But I looked up and saw a line that looked interesting to ski. The Campground Couloir. I transitioned to skis at the base of the fan, a short, easy bushwack from the campground.

The crust was marginal at best, but I was able to work my way up to the top col, which provided a nice view of the Rae Glacier. A quick ski down to my shoes and I was on my way back home.

Rae Glacier from the top of the line.

The window for Highwood is coming up soon enough. Current snow pillow data shows that the snowpack is in the upper historical quartile. While the road is currently snow covered, some good skiing might be remaining by the time the road melts out (for bike access) or when the gate opens on June 15. I've also seen pictures of this line being skied in November before the gate closes.

Total Distance: 4.5km
Total Elevation: 725m
Top Elevation: 2700m
Line Length:  400m
Hillmap Route
Other options in the area: Highwood pass is chock full of good skiing, but only when the road is open between June 15 (or earlier if you want to bike or ski in ~19km) and December 1. Rae Glacier and the north bowl of Mt. Rae are two other lines in the vicinity of the Elbow Lake Couloir.

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