Sorcerer Lodge – Day 2 – Nordic Glacier (West Russian Col) – Black Russian Col – Critical

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The next day we woke up to 40 cms new but a foggy glacier. Still the sun was peeking through the clouds intermittently. First MB put us through a quick crevasse rescue refresher.Split into 3 groups we all headed up the Nordic Glacier eager to explore.


Crevasse rescue practise – drop loop system ~photo Sharon Bader


Trailbreaking was deadly easy. The snow had that skeletal quality associated with low-water content; you could see the topsheets of our skis through the snow. Weather closed in and visibility was not great as we progressed up the Nordic Glacier heading to White Russian Col.


White Russian Col in the whiteout


Hint of clearing skies approaching White Russian Col


It was a shame to get to the col and not see much. Snow was still amazing and after having toured up the glacier, we at least knew what tracks to take to avoid crevasses. While the other two groups wanted to ski the upper slopes, Greg, Sharon, MB and I elected to ski down to the lower glacier and see if we could put a track up to Black Russian Col – just a bit to the west of the White Russian.


Sharon dropping 400m down the Nordic Glacier to the lower glacier


Clearing afternoon skies looking towards the West Nordic Glacier and route to Black Russian Col


As we got higher and higher on the glacier, the cloud got progressively thinner and the full glory of the high-alpine started becoming evident. Huge peaks, big snowfields, blue ice crevasses and glaciers started making themselves known. It’s not hard to have “feeling tiny” moments in this terrain


MB, Sharon and Greg at the end of the rope on the Nordic Glacier


The snow started getting ridiculously deep as we got closer to Black Russian col so I let Greg take the lead trailbreaking. Ski pen of about 40 cms went to 60cms as we approached the wind-loaded upper slopes.


Approaching Black Russian Col


Deep trailbreaking at the peak of windloading on Black Russian Col


Views of the familiar mountains of the Rogers Pass group were unreal as we crested the col. Just 10 or so kms to the south, there is the Trans-Canada highway.


View south about 10km to the Rogers Pass Group from Black Russian Col


Roped team coming up the Nordic Glacier – Mt Iconoclast in the background


The skiing down was even better. Results showed that the new snow was bonding well to the underlying pack and the underlying pack was not reacting to anything but hard results to the buried mid – February surface hoar. Ski cuts and aggressive turns on the slightly steeper upper Black Russian slopes had no results. With this in mind we cut hard skiers right over to the Critical Thursday ski run.


Dropping in to Black Russian Col


Approaching Critical Thursday run


View from Critical Thursday ridge towards the upper Nordic Glacier and the Traverse of the Angels


After skiing more wind-slab, hardpack, and looking real hard for non-sun or wind-affected snow in our recent one month PNW snow drought, it was really nice to meet my good friend Mr Over-the-Head once more. Bonus when its Selkirk cold smoke. We made our run dropping down 1000m to the valley bottom.


Greg dropping into Critical Thursday


MB skiing down lower Critical Thursday


Lee on Critical Thursday ~ Greg Paulhus


Tracks down the Nordic Glacier on Critical Thursday – my line is lookers left


While we farmed Black Russian, the other group had lapped White Russian with ruthless efficiency


Pete on White Russian ~photo Dave Fullerton


What 10 ski tourers can do to the Nordic Glacier – looking to White Russian col


Greg thoroughly enjoyed meeting his good friend Mr Over the Head ~photo Sharon Bader


While we played on the Nordic, another group ventured over to the Escargot Glacier – sluff pours down rock walls as they advance ~photo Mark Dumont


Chris making tracks down Escargot Glacier~photo Mark Dumont



Escargot tracks by Jeremy ~ photo Mark Dumont


Day 2′s route


Day 2′s elevation profile

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