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TRIP REPORT - Rogers Pass Backcountry Skiing - Nov 13 & 14

Paradise Co-Founder Cameron Splitboarding at Balu Pass

Backcountry Skiing in Rogers Pass - Glacier National Park - November 13th & 14th

With forecasts of fresh snow and good times, co-founder Cam and I saddled up and began our trip to get our first backcountry powder turns in of the season. Arriving in Golden, BC we camped out at the Travelodge Sportsmen (shoutout to this place) where we met up with the rest of our group of 8; including Paradise Athlete Sean Murray.

Checking and double-checking forecasts, reports, and avalanche warnings we decided to make our game plan for the weekend - hoping to find good conditions for both Saturday and Sunday.

Balu Pass

Paradise Co-Founder Cam making his way up on Green Splits


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.

Balu Pass Route - Strava Tracking via Garmin Watch


Grizzly Shoulder

The crew enters the tree line at Grizzly Shoulder


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.

Teddy Bear Trees - Strava Route via Garmin Watch (incomplete)


The Journey Home - Rogers Pass to Calgary 

There’s no way I can talk about this weekend without mentioning the drive home. According to Google Maps, it’s about 5 hours from Rogers Pass to Calgary. All was fine from Rogers to Radium, the roads were icy but nothing we couldn't handle.. Once we hit 93 south we found ourselves in a gridlock between Radium and the TransCanada. For 15 hours we sat in our truck waiting for traffic to move.

We were fortunate to be prepared. Equipped with food, water, clothes, and gas we really didn’t have much to worry about. No matter where you’re going in the winter, always make sure you and your vehicle are ready to have an extended trip -especially in the mountains. Here’s a great list of things to keep in your vehicle for backcountry skiers & snowboarders.

Ethan Shaheen
Ethan Shaheen


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