Report by Simon Coward
With a bit of new snowfall in the last week or so we finally bit the bullet and headed out to 93 south. With the low snow year so far and the fact that trailheads are a lower elevation in that zone we had been hesitant to commit to a day wallowing in alder tree wells and facets. Though yesterday (Tuesday) we bit the bullet and visited one of my personal favorite areas to ride in the Rockies.
Photo (Liam Fournier): Typical climbing on 93 south, burnt trees and great views
Now, as this is a trip report I will put the caveat in (before I start going on about how great a day we had), lower elevation travel on 93 south right now is pretty miserable. You are basically trying to link together windslab and sun crust to support your weight, if not you are regularly sinking to the bottom of the snowpack and wading around trying to wiggle free. We found the SE facing side of ridges to be the most supportive whilst below treeline.
Photo: Part of the long skin track to our final destination
We were skinning by 8am and had very limited visibility due to the valley fog, though this burned off almost entirely by noon, and we were treated to stunning light and amazing views of this very steep and rugged area of the mountains.
The travel down low was pretty slow and tedious, however once we reached treeline elevation we found the travel to be quite supportive and relatively easy going. Anything due south and with enough steepness to ride was pretty heavily sun crusted, to the point where it would have made riding not so much fun. This seemed to be very widespread. As soon as you got any west or east in the aspect the crust quickly disappeared.
Gallery Below: Click on an image to view all gallery images (Most pics by Liam Fournier)
We topped out at about 2500 metres and did 2 laps on an open SW facing slope. we avoided the major start zones of the slope we were riding as there are still plenty of thin looking trigger points all over the place out there, and we didn’t have great confidence in the steeper upper slopes. But, we were treated to to amazing 300 metre descents in sunny open terrain, it almost felt like spring skiing it was so warm.
Photo (Liam Fournier) – Pic of the year for our blogposts, Tommy big hack with a view.
After that we rode out a small drainage to the main east facing slopes in the zone we were riding and had a sensational facet fest for 1500 feet or so. Super soft snow, supportive if you were going fast, with lots of little features to pop off and play around on. We were however pretty aware of how shallow the snowpack is out there, so as we got lower in elevation we slowed right down and tried to stick to the same supportive slabs we skinned up. We were able to ride all the way to the road though with a lot of caution.
Photo: Tommy surfin’ it up in the Alpine
Photo: A little airtime in the sun
93 South is still a ways off being in great condition but if you don’t mind a bit of bushwhacking (on the up and down), there is some good snow to be found still in sheltered areas.
Happy hunting and check out www.avalanche.ca for current avy conditions in the zones you are planning to ride.
The Splitboard HQ Team