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.
After getting the lay of the land Steve and I figured that it would be good to get high to perhaps escape some of the spring heat and hopefully find some left-over powder from last week’s surprise powder – dump. The snow down low had already deteriorated into slushy suncupped schmoo (technical term) but we figured that certain aspects might be less temperature and sun-affected. So off we went packing ski crampons up to the Kokanee Glacier.
Up the ridge towards Pyramid. View looks west.
This is further up the Pyramid approach. Expect this NW aspect to be icy during morning spring approaches only softening in afternoon.
Steve approaches the small col near Pyramid – Kokanee Glacier.
The route up to Pyramid itself is pretty straightforward. If you have ski crampons or conditions allow you can climb steepish but skinnable slopes to the obvious ridge leading to Pyramid and the gentle NW slopes leading to Pyramid proper. An alternate approach takes you up the N facing slopes bisecting the Battleship. In less then 2 hours we were at Kokanee Glacier where temperatures were below-freezing and the snow was in good condition.
The Scottish group took a different way up to the glacier – view looks east towards the Giant Kneecap
I said hello to the radio repeater tower
There is a lot of terrain accessible from the glacier but Steve and I wanted to stay high and pick off the best skiing. So we headed over to Kokanee Peak to check out the straight N-facing shot off the peak towards Joker Creek. On the way we picked off a few minor peaklets and also skied some fun SE facing lines that were still in great condition. Early morning starts seemed to be a good call.
Traversing over towards Cond, Esmeralda and Kokanee Peak. View looks south
By noon we were topping out on Kokanee Peak and taking in the views of the Rossland Range to the SW, the Valhallas to the W and the Goat Range to the N. Truly an amazing place. Warm and not a breath of wind made for a beautiful place to hang out and enjoy being in the mountains.
Steve approaches Kokanee Peak. To the north is the Goat Range.
Lee and Steve summitting Kokanee Peak
Then it was time to ski. We skied down from Kokanee Pk (~2790m) to about the 2500m mark on a N aspect towards Joker Creek where we encountered a touch of sun-crust then headed back towards the Giants Kneecap. In better snow conditions, it would be a tremendous long run all the way down to Joker Lakes. Again, snow was in pretty darn good shape for spring with boot-top powder present. Then we headed down on the slopes W of the Giants Kneecap down some more tremendous soft snow, past the lateral moraine bordering the bowls at the N approach to the glacier. Then traversing the bowl to give overhanging cornices on the Battleship a respectful wide berth we finished off with some more soft snow that was just turning slushy. All in all we skied pretty good snow all the way from up high to 2100m! That’s amazing for spring conditions.
Steve enjoying boot-top powder
Lee spring-sking on the Kokanee Glacier
The name of the spring-skiing game is early starts and early finishes. We followed that to the tee and returned to the chalet by about 3pm just in time to eat like hogs, sit in the sun and enjoy this palace in the woods and glaciers.
Mellowing out in the chalet post-skiing
Day 2′s travels