Words by Lee Lau. Pictures by Lee Lau and Steve Hutchison
Other useful links:
- 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 primarilydescribed.
- Alpine Club of Canada’s webpageon the Kokanee Glacier chalet.
By now the weather (and us for that matter) had settled into a routine. Just below freezing at night meant fast travel in the morning. Warmer temperatures had nearly yielded corn yesterday so today we went up high again to look for corn. This time we gained the vertical quickly by bootpacking the frozen north-facing slopes up to the Kokanee Glacier.
Panorama looks north to Goat Range in the background
Waiting for Steve on the bootpack up to the glacier
Despite the vast terrain accessible from the glacier we were actually rather limited by the impending high temperatures and the fierce sun. I correctly guessed that SW slopes would corn and quickly knocked off a few runs on really fun snow. But the snow deteriorated alarmingly quickly as one dropped elevation and we retreated back again to higher ground
The corn cycle begins! SW facing slopes get hit first
SE slopes get sloppy really fast.
We hadn’t checked out Pyramid Peak yet and I had the itch to ski its NW face visible so temptingly from the chalet. However, the face had long since been cleaned out by wet-slides and there was debris scattered all over it. The views from the peak however were amazing and we were glad to take those in! The panoramas below will show that the face proper is cliffed out and not skiable. The approach to the NW face is gained by dropping down to the saddle immediately to the S of Pyramid Peak where you can ski right into the face.
All three panoramas are from the top of Pyramid Peak and look to the east.
We debated what to do next and took a wild guess that the NW slopes of Pyramid would be corn. They were perfect corn and we had great skiing from 2500m to almost 2100m. It doesn’t seem a lot but after the marginal skiing of the previous two days this was an epic run. We now knew that the rest of the week would be good for steep lines as the corn cycle built.
Perfect corn skiing on Pyramid
Sharply spiking afternoon temperatures had played havoc with the snowpack. Snowbridges started failing over creeks and lakes and ponds were now visible where they weren’t present yesterday. So we tiptoed back to eat and drink more and hide from the glaring sun.
Quick melting snow takes out snowshoe track
Resorting to crossing by bridge to avoid collapsing snow
Day 5’s route