Our first day had started off well and with continued decent weather, we were optimistic that we’d be able to see some high alpine today. Our plan was to tour up and over McGillivray Ridge, descend into Connel Creek, ascend Ronnie’s Col and with any luck, find some skiable snow off the NE facing chute of Star Mountain accessible just SE of the Gargoyles rock bluffs. The wind-scoured ridgeline that we had encountered yesterday was obviously still there. Also present at ridgetop was horribly faceted snow which made for a bit of a trying skintrack.
Lee and Zdenek on the march to McGillivray Ridge ~ Photo Pat Mulrooney
It was still crisp but a bit overcast at ridgetop where the winds had hammered a 260 cm snowpack into what seemed like a 10 – 20 cms pack (grass and rocks poked through). Fortunately there was enough light to navigate the rather alarmingly large cornice seperating the ridge from Connel Creek. We even managed to get a nice ski down the headwall of the creek and quickly descended to the base of Ronnie’s Col.
Pat approaching ridgetop.
Clouds seem to live in Connel Creek. What we could see of Mt Piebiter’s (2551m) massive south faces looked very skiable. Of course, Whitecap (2918m) to the east was also shrouded in cloud.Interesting BC history snippet courtesy of Mike Cleven sourced from bivouac.com – Piebiter got its name from “an early prospector with protruding teeth and a special fondness for pies. He went insane while working his claim here.”
Sharon checking in with the cabin.
We got to the top of Ronnie’s Col in fine time but the chute didn’t look like great skiing – to say it was looking wind-hammered would not be exaggerating. Still, what an impressive view of inspiring terrain.
Pat even had time to practise competitive lawn-darting ~ photo Danielle Balik
Lots of wind at ridge-tops make for alarmingly large cornices.
Just when you think you’re all rad-gnar slumming around in the mountains in our color-coded Arcteryx, Mother Nature reminds you who’s boss. On a peak to our east appear a family of mountain goats making short work of the Class 4 scramble – unroped even! No goretex necessary for these tough creatures.
Mountain goats near Ronnie’s Col. Second photo Pat Mulrooney
We don’t want the goats to farm our pow so off we go – electing to ski down what we came up.
Sharon drops into the glacier.
Pat doesn’t bother turning for the next 1000 feet
Mike airs out the windlip showing his freestyle steeze.
Jack hammers it
It might have been worth it and we could have found pockets of decent snow touring over to Star Mountain but we figured that the glacier north of Ronnie’s Col would be money – well it was and then some.
Danielle on lower Ronnies ~ photo Pat Mulrooney
We headed back to the headwall separating Connel Creek from McGillivray Ridge but not before taking a little detour to ski off the north side of Connel Creek. This view gives you a nice view to the ridgeline west of Ronnie’s. There’s enough couloirs and chutes there to keep one busy for quite a few days.
Skinning up the north side of Connel Creek
After this last run, it was time to head for home. It was getting dark and winds had picked up so it was quite chilly at the top of the headwall.. We ended up skiing to the hut just as it got dark and did not have to resort to headlamps.
Staircase up Connel Creek headwall to McGillivray Ridge
I am pretty happy with how the day’s tour went ~photo Pat Mulrooney
New Year’s and champage is always fun. It’s even more fun in a hut at 1860m (6180ft) surrounded by a whopping huge amount of snow with good friends! We only hope to be going as strong as these guys when we get to their age, er I mean wisdom!
Zdenek and Ron ring in the New Year ~ photo Pat Mulrooney
Day 2 route – Dec 31, 2006
Elevation profile for Connel Crk – Ronnie’s Col