Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Line of the Week: Purple Knob Couloirs

After missing last week's #lineoftheweek, I thought I would include a "zone" containing multiple lines for this week.

Hero Knob is the classic ski tour in Kananaskis, and while it is not in the book, the cat is certainly out of the bag. Due to the young age of the Rockies, the mountains are still steep, leaving few places for the cold, intermittent snowfalls to stick to. The Hero Knob area is a bit of an exception as there are lots of options for skiing, and certainly more variety than most spots. Skiing the Hero Knob traverse as a loop, the North facing lines off Purple Knob present an opportunity to add some more skiing to your day. With the right conditions and attitude, it is possible to add 2-4 of these lines to your typical Hero Knob traverse.

Dogleg: Good tree/avalanche path skiing. I typically traverse into this area from the Hero Knob road. Makes for a shorter walk at the end of the day if doing the full Hero Knob loop

Purple Knob Ridge Couloirs: Once in the big avalanche path coming off the south face of Hero Knob, you can start to make your way up a north facing avalanche path to the base of these two lines.

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Graupel makes for some interesting sluffing.

Two parallel side by side couloirs. Boot up!

Purple Knob Bowl. This is a good spot to get in a lap or two while you wait for some other sucker to punch in a track across the sketchy headwall that gains the hanging valley to the Hero Knob ridge. The Purple Knob col can also be accessed by ascending the bowl on its south side after skiing from near the top of the Dogleg. Watch out for the cornice at the top! The rest of lines can be booted up from the North Bowl! The approach to the north bowl is more in line with the typical Hero Knob circuit, except instead of heading up and to the right to gain the hanging valley, you go further left!

Black Prince Col. This area is similar to the North aspect of the Hero Knob col, but more wind affected and thin, especially at the top. The other lines off the col present some interesting options though! The first (and the second depending on your definition) couloirs on skier's left of the col can be accessed by climbing up the south side of the col. The rest require bootpacking up them or more creative scrambling on the col. The col can be gained from the North via the hanging valley, or from the south via an interesting traverse from the Black Prince parking lot described below.
Using the South side to access the first couloir adjacent to the col.

Thin at the top!
South approach to the Black Prince col.
Black Prince Col Traverse: Ski as you would if you were heading to the Black Prince tree triangle, but once in the bowl, head up the bowl and start climbing an avalanche path coming off the headwall of Mt. Black Prince. However, before getting onto steeper slopes, follow a creek to the right into the next avalanche path coming off the headwall. Continue up the ramp leading to the hanging valley and then continue up and to the right into the hanging valley. The col can be ascended by center punching it. The run down the other side of the col is usually more wind affected than Hero Knob and may be thin at the top.
Elevation gain: 1000m
Distance: 10km
Top Elevation: 2460m

Other Lines of the Week .
Other Kananaskis lines.

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