Fairy Meadows – Day 10 – Echo Glacier – Friendship Col – Sentinel Peak

After “suffering” through last week’s embarressment of powder riches, it’s nice to see all the terrain heading to Friendship Col. A high percentage of avalanche incidents occur on the first bluebird day post storm-cycle. Trying to be mindful of that fact I try to quell my rising excitement glimpsing all the skiable steep lines as we make our way through the moraine, the Echo Glacier and to Friendship Col.

Sharon and Benet on the moraine.

Kate and Joel with Granite Glacier and (from L to R on the horizon) – the Unicol and Enterprise – Colossal Col as the backdrop

Sharon headed up the Shoestring Glacier

Sharon and Benet on the Echo Glacier

Lee on the Echo Glacier ~photo Benet Summers

It’s a bit breezy and cold at the top but it’s still possible to get there on skis. All the group make it over without bootpacking. We dig in for a rest and take in the hard-earned view of the Gothics Glacier and the Gothics Group. Finally, after four tries at this damn col I get to see something on the other side!

Friendship Col

Holing up on the Gothic Glacier. Sentinel Peak as the windy backdrop

View from the Gothic Glacier looking east towards Yggdrasil and Wotan

There are two lines off the summit of Sentinel Peak that look skiable. Today Benet skied off the centre of the picture down a 50 to 45 degree shot that was about 100m in length then right down the 300m bowl. I backed off and just skied the bowl today. A few days later I skied a variation of Sentinel Peak on skiers left that is also 50 to 45 degrees and about 100m.

Sentinel Peak untouched – for now

Trucking towards Sentinel Peak and the east face looks very tempting to ski. More and more views appear. Places that were formerly only names to me – Pioneer Peak and the iceclimbs below to Pioneer Pass, Adamant, Austerity, Unicorn ….. this is the place that was described as the Chamonix of the north

Lee looking down Pioneer Pass and the alarmingly broken Granite Glacier ~photo Benet Summers

View north along the Adamant Group and the Nobility Group

I do want to summit Sentinel and take a look around but am not entirely convinced that skiing off the peak would be a good idea given the recent heavy snowfall and the short intervening time period. Truth be told, I was still more then a little spooked by last week’s snow and storm cycle. We had heard size 3s pop off south facing slopes on Doubletop into Swan Creek. I had (purposely) triggered many smaller slides and our group had also run into many smaller slides that had run and propogated. While Benet, Susan, Geoff and I scrambled to the top, Sharon and Tim hung around on the shoulder of Sentinel Peak to do a hasty pit and assess stability.

Benet and Jeff bootpacking to Sentinel summit

Photo below is taken from just shy of the summit. You can approach Sentinel Peak on skis by avoiding the corniced ridgeline and skinning up low-angle (15 – 25 degrees) slopes to the summit block. The bootpack to the summit is a short 100m climb on class 3 rock and snow – an axe is nice but not necessary. Sharon and Tim are doing a hasty above a 300m slope that starts at about 45 degrees, is about 40 in the middle and benches to 30 for the last 100m of descent.

Looking down the summit bootpack to the SW shoulder of Sentinel and the beginning of the corniced ridgeline

Sentinel Peak

The views were spectacular of the North Selkirks from Sentinel Peak. I fear I couldn’t concentrate much as my heart was in my mouth hoping that the whole slope wouldn’t slide as Benet dropped in.

Benet ready to drop in off Sentinel Peak

Benet dropping in

Benet skied it beautifully – his line is the one coming from the top in the picture below. Not even sluff cut off the slope. As I booted back down to Tim and Sharon with my skis, they tell me that stability looks “awesome” but that they’re going to ski down the ridgeline. Hmmm? I don’t get it – but its not up to me to tell them where to ski. I’m still a little spooked about the snowpack so drop in quick, make big GS cuts under the cornice (finding the best snow there btw) and scream out through the bowl. It was a glorious feeling dropping into the face. There was so much light airy powder but I dropped in so fast that it geysered behind me as my skis reached planing speed. Apparently my squeals of joy and tracks changed Tim and Sharon’s mind as they both dropped in right after me.

Sharon down Sentinel’s E face. She crossed my tracks (lookers left under the cornice!

We then dropped back down Friendship Col and back to my old friend – the west ramp – to test more stability. I love tree skiing powder but I really get off on skiing steep alpine lines. Benet follows me in and also slices and dices the line – hmm – Sharon and I may have found a touring buddy!

Lee heading down the Friendship Col ramp ~photo Benet Summers

Short little 45 – 40 degree chute west off Friendship Col up towards Damon.

Benet gets sloppy seconds on the Friendship Col chute

Temps were cold today and there was no wind on the Echo Glacier. Predictably, it skied FANTASTIC. Sharon had only wanted to do one run not wanting to “overdo” the first day. It was so good that when Benet and I caught them on the flats, they were already skinning up for the second run. It doesn’t take me any time to be talked into more skiing so I went up again for another run – this time on the steeper skiers right of the rock that splits the glacier

Gratuitious Echo Glacier shot in front of Gog and Magog

Tim down the Echo Glacier for second run

Benet - view looks down towards Quadrant/Outpost Ridge and Swan Creek

While we farmed the east side of the glacier, the rest of our group farmed the west side

Cutting sluff down the Echo Glacier

Oh the snow was about as good as snow gets

We hammered that poor glacier three times in short order

I really wanted another run as I still felt good and Sharon had very lovingly restocked my supply of cream horns. Jeff came up with me for run number three. I think this was the best snow of the entire week – it was so smooth, so creamy and the fall-line so consistent. My tracks are to picture left.

Jeff and I liked it so much we went back for fourths – this time getting a shot off below Gog and Magog down the Shoestring Glacier

Jeff – another experienced ripper

This shot of the Echo and Shoestring Glaciers is taken from Sir William. It has a vantage point 8km NW and about 600m higher. It shows our routes and another route I put in via Damon- Sentinel col.

Day 10 routes

Day 10 elevation profiles

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