Monday, June 17, 2013

Rogers Pass

I dropped Brian off at the airport in Calgary and picked up my Dad who few in for the final week of my Canadian Rockies trip. 

Terry Deshler

My Dad was a ski instructor in college and at that time in his life skiing was among his greatest passions. He taught me how to ski when I was 10 and during high school we spent many weekends on ski trips to Utah and Jackson Hole. After that my Dad for the most part stopped skiing while I was away in college. When I moved back to the Rockies I took him ski touring a few times and he was hooked. The solitude and fantastic skiing justified the required labor. 

 Dad and Classic Rockies Scenery

We spent a day touring in the Canadian Rockies, practicing beacon searches and warming up the legs before heading west to the Selkirks, and Rogers Pass.

Rogers Pass is arguably the best roadside ski touring in the world but some of the approaches are long. My Dad is very strong for his 66 years of age but I knew we would ski more if we didn't have to deal with the approaches. I convinced him that we should camp in the Asulkan Valley. A promising weather forecast helped the decision but as we skinned up the valley the clouds showed no signs of relenting.

Skiing Up the Asulkan Valley

 Camp On the Triangle Moraine

We did a little skiing in the afternoon but the visibility was terrible and the clouds only thickened as we made dinner and climbed into our sleeping bags.

It was a cold night and I think we both questioned our plan until we woke up the next morning and unzipped the tent to this view...

A clear day at Rogers Pass is what ski touring dreams are made of. Our gamble paid off. We ate breakfast, soaked up the early morning sun, and got ready for a big day of skiing.

Far ahead of the folks hiking up the valley we started up towards Sapphire Col with breathtaking mountain views spilling in every direction.


 Sapphire Col Hut

 Tea Time

 Heading Down from Sapphire Col

 Father and Son Tracks

We headed up to Dome Col afterwards to complete 4,000 feet of spectacular powder skiing. The suffering the night before paid off as we carved effortless turns through soft powder with one of the most spectacular backdrops in the world. It was among my best days of ski touring, and in all likelihood, my Dad's finest day of skiing.

Dome Col

 End to a Perfect Day

 Another Cold Night

 Mt Sir Donald

The next day we awoke to more cloudy skies. We tried to make it to Dome Col but were thwarted by lack of visibility. After waiting for an hour for things to improve we threw in the proverbial towel and descended in the thick fog. 

 Dad in a Rare Moment of Visibility


We found some better skiing below camp and then we headed out - skiing out the Asulkan Valley to the Wheeler Hut. We spent a warm night in the hut and were shocked to wake up to blue skies. Only a fool would pass up a clear day at Rogers Pass and so we went skiing.

 Heading To Lookout Col

 Father and Son

 Sapphire Col on the Left. We Camped on Top of the Triangle near the Bottom of the Photo.

 Heading Back For More

We skied over 5,000 feet and started the drive home tired and content, beating a big storm that hit the Selkirks the next day. As the avalanche danger quickly increased we headed south, back to the states. Ski touring is fickle and when the right conditions come together it should not be taken for granted. I marveled at our good timing but above all I was thankful for time spent with my father. It was special to know that after all these years we could still share our common love of fresh snow together. Here's to many more years of father and son tracks!