Monday, January 27, 2014

Asulkan Valley- Rogers Pass, BC

I have been known to squeeze a lot of adventure out of small chunks of time and I will have to admit that Gaelen and I nailed this trip! The timing and the conditions were impeccable. We booked the Asulkan cabin on Tuesday, got out of work at 7 p.m. Wednesday, ate breakfast in Golden, BC on Thursday and set off into the mountains before 10 a.m.

A nice sight...
The Asulkan Cabin is Plush! It kind of pricey by American standards, but the fees are well worth the experience of spending a night on these glaciers. The cabin has everything that you need minus a sleeping bag and food. The entire cabin is run on propane so you can light a fire by turning a dial. It sleeps 10 comfortably.
Ski in...Ski out to Youngs Peak
We climbed the 3,000 and 9 K in just two hours and were surprised to be staring at the summit of Youngs Peak at PB&J o'clock. We planned on climbing Youngs and skiing the 7 steps of Paradise the following day, but the skies were clear and the snow was fresh, a 3 inch dusting upon arrival. We had the daylight and the energy to push for the summit.
Arriving at the Cabin before noon, the sun was shining and our sights were set on the 7 Steps to Paradise
It is a 2,400 foot climb from the back door of the Asulkan to the summit cone of Youngs. A casual stroll amongst some of the most impressive peaks in North America. A dream come true, honestly. There were no open crevasses on the glacier. We didn't bring harnesses or a rope.
Impressive Peaks and inversion below. The cabin is below also in the middle of the picture.
We managed to skin up the headwall, which was a bit intimidating, but the conditions felt stable. Plus some sense of security of a tracked in skinner and 8 lines down. There are skinners everywhere on Rogers Pass. In this country the beer and gas are expensive, but the skinners are free. After a day pass and wilderness permit at the Discovery center.
Looking towards Sir Donald from the Summit cone of Youngs Peak
From the top of Youngs you have amazing views of Icillewat Glacier to the south and a feature called Witch Tower. To the north you can spot Rogers and the Swiss Peaks. You also have the option to ski is an impressive couloir that will make any Skier Boy drool called Forever Young. We chose to ski the straight forward descent off the North side known as the 7 Steps of Paradise which is claimed by Davenport as a 50 classic descents of North AMerica in his new book w/ co-authors.
2 skinners below the summit

Gae dropping in on her first "50 classic descents"

G ripping a lower step= really fun

Welcome to Paradise

Day one... So whats next?
The run was Amazing! We skied 3,500 feet of a smooth type of velvet, mostly surface hoar. The Headwall was glorious and the steps to follow kept the legs turning and earning for more. The skiing felt effortless and before we knew it we were 1,500 feet below the Cabin. We got back on the skinner up the Tree Triangle and were at the cabin in 40 minutes.
Looking back up at the Headwall of Youngs Peak
The next morning we packed up, said good bye to new friends and skied a mellow 1,800 foot run below the cabin to the base of the Triangle Moraine and met the skinner up the Saphire Glacier. Again this glacier did not have any open crevasses so we carried on unroped
Skinning up the Saphire col with Youngs Peak and the 7 Steps in the background. Follow the shade/ sun line.
The weather was spectacular once again and the sun hitting the eastern slope did not effect the snow conditions. We moved quickly up the slope and paused just to look around and appreciate the day and soak in where life has brought us. For me, in the winter, it doesn't get any better than this.
Up to the Cleaver on the Saphire 
We climbed another 3,200 feet to the Saphire col, checked out the Saphire hut up there. Which is bare bones, a structure with a bunk that sleeps 4, no stove. We ate lunch, watched other skiers on various slopes and ridges then decided it was time to ski ourselves. We descended the 20 degree slopes of the Saphire Glacier and down the Triangle Moraine for a 4,000 foot run to the valley floor.
Plenty of wiggle room here. 

Wiggles for Days... Sir Donald in the background
Canada, anyone?