by Ethan Shaheen November 18, 2021 3 min read
Saturday morning we arrived at the freshly snow-covered Rogers Pass Discovery Centre parking lot where we were stoked to see around 20cm of fresh snow. We began our trip out around 8:30 and started the trek to Balu Pass - myself on our Blue Skis and Cam on the Green Split. It was about 5km to the shoulder of Balu Pass, at the saddle we turned northwest and kept ascending until we hit 1,000m total elevation gain from the parking lot. At this height, we were transitioning our gear while standing in around 30cm of untouched powder - beautiful.
The rip down was gorgeous, passing multiple groups of smiling skiers and boarders everyone was just happy to be out and have such great conditions. I made two runs myself, one from the top of the shoulder and the other through the lower chutes. I’d have loved to make more but this was my first day in new boots, and the dogs were barking. Surprisingly, I didn’t find a single rock on either of my runs and to my knowledge neither did any of our group members!
Our group split in half between those such as myself who were done for the day and those who wanted to keep going. The keep-going crew actually had members whose total ascent for the day averaged around 1780m and with the amount of snow they were cutting fresh turns throughout.
With the beta showing even more snow coming and an increased risk for avalanches, Sunday we decided to stick to the trees and find the safest areas for our conditions. We settled on Grizzly Shoulder - a shorter trek than Balu, but with much steeper elevation through trees.
In the parking lot, we were getting hit with fresh wet snow - it wasn’t the best snow, but it was snow and this is mid-November, so who’s complaining! Following somewhat of a similar route to the days previous we found our mark to start ascending and began a steep zig-zag of kick turns. As a newer backcountry skier myself, it was quite challenging getting up; with encouragement and advice from the experienced riders I was with, as well as the extreme lightweight of the Blue Ski I was able to do it without being totally exhausted.
Unfortunately, my Garmin shut off midway up at 432m, but I figure we would have passed just over 500m gain before we decided to transition. Our day had started in shin to knee-deep snow but by the time we reached our transitioning point we were waist deep in thick snow. This early in the season we still needed to watch out for fallen trees and shrubs as we dropped - again, fortunately, no rocks were found.
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