Words by Lee Lau. Photos by Sharon Bader, Lee Lau and Rob McLachlan unless otherwise noted.
- 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
Our luck with weather continued and was typical throughout the week. An iffy forecast (sunny breaks, mostly cloudy) turned out to be pessimistic and we started out the day in bluebird and skied most of the day in good weather with cold, clear conditions and some scattered clouds. I’ve skied with all of the group before but many of them had not skied with each other and I think they were pleasantly surprised by their motivation. Most of us were up by 6.30am and by 8am were raring to go. By 8.30 am we were all out the door. None of this old geezer sleeping in till 9am and leaving at the 10.30 – 11am after farting around and putting on Depends …. this set a nice tone for motivation.
Getting going early in the morning in cold clear conditions.
Heading up to Smugglers Ridge with Kitchener, Kokanee Pass, John Carter and Glory Basin from L to R.
Procession of motivated tourers heads up to the alpine.
Our intent was to get to the alpine and check things out. We took the ramp going SE to Kitchener (the northernmost peak of the Pyramids group) and at a ridge at about 2550m dividing the ramp and the glacier bootpacked to a small col. Then we traversed the glacier to the top of its accumulation zone at about 2750m. Winds were light and it was a joy to be there soaking in sun and taking in the view west to the Valhallas and east to the Bugaboos/Purcells. At this point the group split up; half of us heading to Kokanee Peak and half doing laps in Grizzly Bowl down past the Giant’s Kneecap.
Trevor past the bootpack and heading to the glacier
Traversing the NE face of Kitchener and to the glacier.
I took Rob, John, Max, Joel and Steve to Kokanee Peak while the rest of the group headed to the Battleship and Giant’s Kneecap. You can skin a flat then uphill approach to Kokanee Peak or hit a short steepish shot off Esmerelda. What better way to test slope stability then to rip a powder shot?
Panorama shows Esmerelda, Giant’s Kneecap, Sawtooth Ridge in the background then Kokanee Peak – our destination
View from Kokanee Peak looking down our planned ski to the toe of the glacier in the direction of Joker Basin
Gray’s Peak and its stunning NW couloir from Kokanee Peak
We dropped off Kokanee Peak at 2790 and ended up at a lake at the glacier’s toe at 2215m for a nice NWísh run – a fairly gentle 30 degree slope and a nice way to play it safe. We then headed back up a ridge around the broad steep bowl dropping NE off the Giant’s Kneecap to Joker Basin. Of note, our run gets pretty mellow after a bench at 2500m. It is possible to contour while slightly ascend from the 2500m contour line back W to the Kneecap then drop into Joker Basin down a more sustained fall-line slope. Next time I think I’d consider doing that.
At the toe of the glacier skinning out and back to the Giant’s Kneecap and Battleship
We finished up by skiing a pretty mellow (and frankly boring line just W of the Giant’s Kneecap then E of the Battleship. For me, its more worthwhile to drop off the glacier off the Kitchener fall-line and be W of the Battleship as its a more sustained and steep fall-line slope. It is a straightforward ski back to the hut from either alternative. Meanwhile the other group had made tracks E of us and had done laps in the Grizzly Bowl area. With over 2150m for our group today, it was a lot of powder -farming
My skintrack up the glacier E of Kitchener (pit in picture centre)
Sharon down the glacier E of the Battleship
Gregor on the run back to the barn
Day 2 map – Sharon’s group