Coast – Icemaker Glacier and FASP

Words by Lee Lau. Pictures by Lee Lau, Sharon Bader and Chris Kelly unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved

The forecast panned out. Stars came out in the evening and morning dawned cold and clear. We had discussed heading out and hitting some big N faces but the first day after a storm cycle it seemed prudent to keep things a little more contained. I had suggested a tour out to a glacier west of us and possibly to two bigger peaks – Guthrum and Icemaker. I’m convinced that the inherent coolness of those names convinced the group  so off we went looking for a route from the pass to the Icemaker Glacier.

Pillow zone near Fool’s Gully

Red – the route we took. Blue – the route we should have taken.

View looking back E and down off the ridgeline towards the glacier, the Washing Machine (treed slopes in mid picture) and Peak 8600 at the head of the glacier

It was a mistake not taking a shot of the route we had planned in the past few days. We meandered around and probably lost a couple of hours skinning up unnecessarily higher then we wanted and not taking the most direct route to the glacier in front of Icemaker. All was not lost as the views were gorgeous and the travel was easy – although a tad warm.

Chris and Lee both using their own various headgear to keep the sun at bay. Thiassi is the prominent peak at picture left in the bottom shot.

By the time we got to the col overlooking Icemaker and Guthrum it was about 1pm. Climbing and skiing off the N face of Icemaker would probably have taken another 1 hour to 1.5 hours or so. We badly wanted to take a look at the E couloir running off FASP to see if it was skiable too – too many projects and not enough time.

What settled it was the sight of two medium natural avalanches off the S and E flanks of Icemaker. We’d have to go cautiously. Previous trip reports had indicated that it wasn’t too difficult to get to the peak itself. We figured that we’d leave Icemaker – Guthrum for another day and take a look at FASP.

Top picture is the view from the (Unnecessary) col at about 2600m looking E. Bottom picture looks W. The direct col to the Icemaker glacier is at about 2300m

Looking back NW to Icemaker from the glacier. Spot the two naturals to lookers left and right in the bottom shot.

View to FASP Peak from the Icemaker glacier

It was quite the shocker when we got to the correct col and realized how unnecessary the diversion had been to the other col. At about 2.30 pm we had lots of time to take in the view and contemplate options. The couloir and face we wanted to look at was actually off a small peaklet just to the S of FASP proper. I didn’t feel the need to summit FASP but really wanted to look at the couloir. Sharon and Chris D were content to ski back down the route we should have gone up and had nice turns all the way back down to the cabin.

Beautiful terrain and ski routes in this neighbourhood. There are a lifetime of ski descents visible from the general area. It deserves a proper dedicated visit. The area is popular with tourers doing traverses in the Bridge Lillooet drainage areas.

Steep 50 – 55 degree aesthetic face off the ridge running SW off the FASP ridge would be tough to access

FASP East face couloir

Chris K described our decision making process like-so:

“That would be last minute couloir, an 1100m descent, that pic only shows the top third. We called it “last minute” because we stood at the top humming and hawwing for a while, eventually deciding against it. (alternate names included “Mt st anne”, “Hyram jumps ship” or “the goat chute”). As we skied away we all had a change of mind and dropped in. 100m of beautiful creamy pow slowly rolled over beyond the point of no return…We interrupted a group of mountain goats at this point, who quickly blasted across the couloir and up a steep rock face… no doubt wondering what we were doing… as the next 400m of descent became glare ice.. kinda hair raising knowing that and tumble would result in pinballing off rock walls for nearly a vertical kilometre. Once through the glare ice section, we entered an area of perfect breakable crust… a huge relief after the ice, as it was a lot easier to hold an edge during our Scot Schmidt jump turns

This lasted about 100m before we joined a much wider couloir not visible in Lee’s photo which finally held some nice pow for the final 500m of descent… easily the burliest line I have ever skied. “

First couloir of three obvious couloirs off the E face of FASP

Bottom line is that Chris and I skied one line while Kevin skied another. Chris and I descended 1.2 vertical kms in variable snow while Kevin had good powder the whole way down. There’s a lot of really good lines off this face and it’s definitely a worthwhile ski descent. Beta is that it is even better later in spring when the sun corns up the snow.

Walking the ridgeline is a good way to scope out the various lines. It didn’t take long to get up there and you can see various discrete routes off the ridge and peaklet

Chris and Kevin looking down a line. “Hey guys. Does it go??” “Lee, its certain death!”

Between the FASP peaklet where we stand and FASP itself is this gorgeous steep E face that looks skiable.

I got to drop in first. The first 100m was good snow – just enough vertical to suck you in. At the first choke, I hit glare ice and that put a bit more of a damper on things as a fall in this situation would not have been pretty and would have been very hard to arrest.

Kevin’s rational brain kicked in and he booted out of the chute and went off to ski down another (hopefully more conservative) route. Chris joined me in the choke and we made our way down slowly and tediously.

Lee putting lines down the couloir

It was pretty exciting skiing for us but very unexciting skiing for the viewers from the valley bottom who were probably wondering why we were taking so long. There’s a technique to skiing steep no-fall zones which is particularly unexciting – in large part because you want every turn to be so safe and so controlled that there’s almost zero chance of falling. Both Chris and I had that dialed and were communicating all the time about safe zones to pull out and when each other was skiing.

Unfortunately the sun had hit the face pretty hard in the last high-pressure. We had very firm conditions after the first 100m of descent. In the chokes where it was steeper, the snow became glare ice and we were reduced to side-slipping in some cases.It was fun in the sense that each of us were both very calm about the skiing and very controlled but it sure wasn’t sexy turns.

Shots of Lee, Kevin and Chris in the couloir taken from the cabin by Chris Davey

Chris in the couloir. Bottom shot shows the icefall we had to skirt

Chris and I were very relieved when we got to the last quarter of the couloir and saw Kevin blasting turns down powder below us. We yelled at him to wait up and then joined him to ski out last 400m vertical in fantastic snow. We ended up at the bottom of the McParlon drainage and skied back up to camp. It was a very worthwhile deathmarch!

Kevin took the central couloir and had nice snow all the way down

Slightly different angle of FASP showing a bit more headon view. 1 is the couloir that Kevin skied. 2 is the couloir that Chris and I skied. 3 is the “certain death” face with the overhanging cornices ~ photo Jordan Peters.

Craig, Mark, Kathy and Bryce headed up Pk 8600 while we were on the other side of the valley.

Elevation profile for Day 4

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