Kokanee Glacier laps – Keyhole

Words by Lee Lau. Photos in first part by Sharon Bader, Lee Lau, Steve Hutchison and Max Melchior. Photos in second part by Sharon Bader, Steve Hutchison, Max Melchior, Rob McLachlan and Karl Mascher.

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Kitchener – Keyhole The snow was still good and the weather broke clear and cold – again! Steve, Max, Trevor, Sharon and I figured we owed ourselves some powder on N – facing slopes. After the now-routine trek to the glacier rounding Kitchener we de-skinned and did three fantastic laps on light powder. Light wind had filled in a lot of old tracks and had softened the surface even more while the cold temps continued to suck moisture out of top layers so the powder laps were enormously satisfying.

Gregor is taking the morning off and contemplating wine

Route – planning

Max on the glacier – Battleship in the background

Steve likes powder

Lee likes powder too

Trevor started backcountry-skiing this year and is a recent pulver schwein convert

Sharon and Steve did another lap then headed back to the chalet – Sharon still had quite a bit of beer to work on.

Kitchener alpenglow – names for runs are “informal”

Steve coming off Smugglers Ridge

Back to the barn

Trevor and Max weren’t done yet. Somehow I managed to talk them into following me into the Keyhole – a west facing line that drops over 700m to Kokanee Lake. Last year I had done this in full spring corn conditions. This year, I was sure that the powder would be preserved despite the aspect as it had stayed cold during the past few days. This turned out to be a good call – any of the west aspects were good – any aspects that strayed even slightly south were sun-crusted.

The Keyhole entry is marked with a small cross and a sign. It’s rocky and sees a fair amount of wind but its pretty easy to bootpack the entry, put on skis and then clear the entry steep ramp. In short order we were past the buried sharks in the entry ramp and cruising down wide 35 degree bowls towards Kokanee Lake with amazing views around us.

Keyhole entry

Lee, Trevor and Max drop in

Max taking the fallline. You have to trend skiers right as you come off the Keyhole to avoid a flat bit and keep heading to Kokanee Lake

Skiing the fall-line below the Pyramids on the way to Kokanee Lake

Max with the view to Nelson down Kokanee Creek

Sun and shadow on the last slopes before Kokanee Lake. The snow was good all the way to valley bottom on W aspects

Nansen – Robert Smith – Boomerang

Rob, Joel, John, Karl and Vince took off north to take a look at N facing slopes in the Nansen, Robert Smith, Boomerang area. They found more untouched powder lines, dropped a bunch of cornices on slopes (without results but with much gusto) and did not have to deathmarch 4.5 hours back up a convoluted creekbed to the chalet.

Nansen’s peak

Panorama from Nansen looking south

Dropping cornices, now it’s there, now it’s gone. If a house-sized cornice doesn’t trigger an avalanche then a Karl-sized skier is probably OK.

Group’s tracks down E face of Nansen taken from Kitchener moraine across the valley

Karl heading up to Robert Smith from Griffin Creek. Nansen N face which the ground descended are in the background.

Joel dropping off a N facing shot off Robert Smith

Rob in the bowl below Robert Smith (l) and Boomerang(r)

Lots of food to end the day

mmmm – taco salad and beer

Route for the day – total for me including scouting jaunt to John Carter – 2200m

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