Words by Lee Lau. Photos in first half of trip by Sharon Bader, Lee Lau and < Rob McLachlan. Photos in second half of trip by Karl Mascher, Max Melchior.
- Trip preparation page
- British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment official web-page for Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park Kootenay Rockies webpageon Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park with summer routes and activities primarily described.
- Alpine Club of Canada’s webpage on the Kokanee Glacier chalet.
- Snow observations from Selkirks
- Lee’s trip from last year
- 1:250 scale map of Kokanee area
- 1:50 scale map of Kokanee area - east map; west map
- 1:20 scale TRIM data map (best for navigation imo)
- 1:20 scale TRIM data map of North Kokanee area
A word on the Kokanee Glacier hut. Hut is the wrong word. Call it Chalet maybe, or Palace in the woods perhaps. It’s designed to accomodate 24 people but only 12 people are allowed there in winter which means S P A C E and hot and cold running water, industrial stainless steel stove and fridge, fir floors, wood furniture luxury. Hardly roughing it. Today the forecast calls for an afternoon storm so we’re off to explore some trees. We head to Glory Basin with a plan to deviate to the trees west of Sunset and drop down to McGuire Creek if conditions and light go bad. Half the group splits off and heads north to the Nansen, Giegerich, Robert Smith area while half of us head due west to Sunset.
Almost half the entire huge basement is devoted to a drying and gear storage room. The other half has a workship, a septic system and the electrical plant
Spacious place to organize and prep gear.
High clouds as we head across Kaslo Lake to John Carter and Glory Basin
SUNSET - GIEGERICH
As we get to Glory Basin, clouds are rolling in over Kokanee Pass from Nelson to our south.
We decide to head down the pass from directly due north of Sunset and down to McGuire Creek. For reasons that will become apparent, we named this run “Call Your Bluff”. This run drops from 2400m to 1800m through incredibly light, dry snow and is very worthwhile.
Panorama from the pass north of Sunset looks west down McGuire Creek with the Valhallas in the background
Gregor drops in
Adrian and the view of the top half of the run
The top half of “Call Your Bluff” drops west down to a bench at about the 2000m level. I was leading and stopped short at a steep roll-over where my sluff poured over something that looked alarmingly steep. The skiers left (north line) then continued traversing along a steep ridge – Adrian and Rob headed over there. I continued straight down and to the right looking for a way through what was apparently cliffed out. It turns out that there is one slot that allows you to ski through the cliffs but it is pretty hard to spot from the top. Sharon and I had to pinch over to some mature timber about 100m on skiers right to make it pass and around the cliffs. John and Steve had already descended skiers right and had good turns around the cliffs dropping to a small un-named lake at about 1800m. Gregor found a bushy, billy-goat line through the centre of the cliffs as I spotted his line from below.
Adrian and Rob continued traversing along the ridges on the north side of the bowl hoping to find a place to drop in. I would not advise this route. It is possible to traverse all the way to KGR couloir and ski out to the base of the run but the entry to the couloir is exposed and difficult to spot from above. I called this route “Suicide Traverse” as Rob and Adrian chose to reverse their route back out by skinning all the way as 1 vertical km of 35 to 40 degree snow, rock and ice were above them – not a pleasant place to be!
Bottom line is that it would be nice to know this terrain before you dropped in although the cliffs were very easy to spot. It is possible to ski from the 2400m mark to the top of the bench above the cliffs/bluffs at 2000m and then skin back up the bowl. The slope is treed, and has great fall-line skiing on a nice aspect for skiing when weather is poor.
View of the cliffs on Call Your Bluff. Top picture is Gregor finding a billy-goat clear line in the centre. Bottom picture is a shot from my vantage point where a treed slope goes around the cliffs on skiers right.
Adrian retreats on the Suicide Traverse
The weather had stayed high overcast but quite stable till now. Rob and Adrian were higher and got back to our starting point about 30 minutes before us and dug in. Our skintrack back up was convoluted, switch-backed and frankly exhausting through complicated treed terrain to gain a ridge running W – E from Lemon Pass. Halfway up it started snowing S2 – 3. By the time we rejoined the group at Lemon Pass it really started puking. Half the group went back to the chalet. John, Rob and I went for one more peak – summitting Giegerich then skiing off it back to Enterprise Ridge and back down the ridge towards Griffin Creek and back to the hut.
John on the skintrack back up
John off Giegerich – its flat broad peak ridge is in the backdrop.
Rob on Enterprise Ridge. I insisted on the hat for better photos
Nansen - Robert Smith – Boomerang
While we were playing around in the Sunset – Giegerich area Karl, Max, Vince, Trevo went north towards Nansen, Robert Smith then the Boomerang east bowl area where they skied down to some mature timber through wonderful snow and then back through Timber Creek. They also had a bunch of snow as the same system which hit us clobbered them.
Kokanee Glacier area viewed from Boomerang
Up to Boomerang from back side of Robert Smith
Robert Smith N couloirs from Boomerang bowl
Trevor loving life on the Boomerang approach . Tanal is the backdrop
Karl dropping off Boomerang down NE slopes
Vince and Karl wondering who goes first on the NE couloirs
Vince preparing then dropping
Max and Vince skinning back up for a ski down a coastal timber hallway
Nice long run back down from Boomerang to Timber Creek then out
Day 3 map – Lee group