Russet Lake – Fissile Bowl

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The first sustained high-pressure to hit SW British Columbia in one of the nowiest ski seasons of the last 20 years lured me to the high alpine with thoughts of big glaciers and big peaks. First though I had to navigate crowds and people with a big pack.

Whistler Village

After successfully avoiding opening up anyone’s sequined fartbag with my axe or other sharp implements, we got to Flute, looked out onto alpine nirvana and crossed the ropes – leaving the “inbounds backcountry experience”.

Sharon at the Flute gates – the extensive riming will give you a clue about the strength of the recent winds

Views of the Black Tusk looking rather ominous after the last round of northerlies

We followed the standard route over Flute ducking south and took in Cowboy Ridge. From even this far, you can see the wind ripples on the ridge and glacier snow.

View from Oboe looking to Cowboy Ridge and the Fitzsimmons Range beyond

Rob on Oboe – Blackcomb ski area is to picture left, Blackcomb Peak and DOA couloir in the centre and BodyBag Bowl on picture right.

Really, there wasn’t too many turns to be had today. With the big packs all we really wanted to do was to not fall and get to the hut without breaking gear or limb.

Meadow-skipping Oboe’s mellow aspect

It took more time to get to the hut then anticipated especially with our relaxed pace. We left the boundaries at a very civilized time of 10.30 and didn’t get there till after 1:30. The view from the hut always gets me every time.

Himmelsbach Hut and Fissile Peak

We didn’t have that much time to explore but wanted to set an initial skin track up the shoulder of Fissile, take a look at snowpack and see what was going on out there.

Up the bowls NW of Fissile

At a bowl at about 2300m, the sun gets low in the sky and we elect not to continue any further or put in a high traverse. We had no snowpack information or recent data and had no reasonable explanation for why this bowl was still intact when other aspects had released. So I went to get some information doing a hasty pit on this NW facing slope @ 2300m @ 3.30pm

(-16 C, 42degree slope, HS 290) 10cm 1F 10 – 25cm WS P 35 – 120 homogenous 4F

Sun setting over Cheakamus Glacier

Fissile Bowl

Basically, the snow stability was good as expected. There were sizeable old cornice drops but no signs of fracture or initiated crowns at debris. There was also lots of sastrugi and wind slab up high. This bowl still had decent snow.

Rob preparing to drop in

Fissile Bowl

We quickly dropped the 400m back to the Russet Lake hut and took in the view of sunset over the Spearhead Range. Pictures cannot adequately compare the incredible beauty of these mountains. The ski area looks so small.

Sunset over part of the Spearhead Range

Our route on Jan 11, 2007

Elevation profile for the day

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