Friday February 18th, I took a day off work and went skiing with a couple members of the ACC Rocky Mountain Section. We parked at Numa Falls in Kootenay Park, and then hemmed and hawed – it was -22C with a brisky and icy northerly outflow wind pushing down from Alberta. Eventually, Al convinced us to get out of the car by saying “it’ll be better in the trees”. And it was!
We crossed the road, clipped on our skis, then skinned up Vermilion Peak, gaining 900m elevation. It was a nice sunny day, and the higher we went, the warmer it got thanks to a temperature inversion. By the time we stopped for a bite of lunch, we were down to single layers (though we quickly covered back up to avoiding cooling off too much while eating).
With avalanche risk in the alpine forecast to be considerable, we decided to stay below tree-line where the hazard was only moderate. Naturally we all carried beacons, shovels and probes, but no one wants to have to use them.
The snowpack was great: 15-25cm of fresh snow on top of a hard layer below provide just enough float for nice turns, while preventing us from sinking deeper into the snow where we suspect there might be deadfall. We had a great run down: the slope had a nice consistent pitch, neither too steep nor too flat, and the trees were spaced widely enough to serve as slalom gates rather than barricades. Here’s a visual record of the day: