May 14, 2011

Return to the NE Face of Mt. Victoria


The Berglar on top of the South Summit of Mt. Victoria. True to his name, the Berglar crept in to town and snaked a classic ski line that takes most of us numerous attempts.

After trying to ski this line twice in as many years, fate was kind yesterday and allowed Gery, Ross and I to climb and ski the NE Face of Victoria. The face itself was in perfect condition with firm, boot-top steps on the way up and semi-soft, consistent and predictable turns on the way down. I'd say that this was one of the more engaging descents of the season.

We left the car at 3:30 and fought our way through the drunken revelers who were milling about the lake. They asked us where we were going and we told them that we were looking for the Lake Louise Ski Area. They laughed at us, called us names, and told us that the ski area was on the other side of the valley. We thanked them for their input and made our way across an eerily
wet and unfrozen lake.

Instead of just following the valley until below the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House, we made the brutal mistake of taking the hikers trail and traversing huge debris piles for what felt like hours. Despite the light freeze, conditions improved as we climbed. At 9am, we crested the ridge and emerged on to the summit under a perfectly blue sky. A light wind was blowing and we spent thirty minutes hanging out on top and taking in one of the best mountain landscapes on the planet.

Eventually the cool temps forced us to move and Ross volunteered to make the first turns down the steep, exposed face. Or maybe we volunteered Ross to make the first turns - I can't remember. Unlike the Sickle line on Victoria, the NE Face is a big, bulging prow / rib feature that doesn't let up until you are back on the flat glacier below.

After numerous hi-fives, fist-bumps and ogling of our tracks on the face, we were treated to a perfect creamy corn run back to the lake.


The Sickle is located on the lookers left side of the peak and the NE Face comes down from the highest point on the lookers right.


Gery and Ross on the way up. The West Face of Lefroy is in the background.


Skiing up below the face.


Still approaching the face.


Gery crossing the schrund which was easy to get across but really deep.


Gery punching up the lower face.


Still on the lower face after passing through a steep, shallow section.


You mean you want me to break trail???


Heading up the middle part of the route.


The upper face. This was Gery's view for most of the climb since Ross and I struggled to keep up. Gery U Photo.


Gery on the summit with Hungabee, Neptuak and Deltaform showing prominently in the background.


The Coasty.


Getting ready to start down.


Ross hop-turning it up!


Shadowy jaws on the glacier below.


Coming down the middle part of the face. I had to steal some of Gery's skiing shots since I didn't have the wherewithal to grab my camera on the way down. Gery U Photo.


Rossta on the lower slopes. Gery U Photo.


The first time I tried the face, I brought my tele gear and ended up boot-packing down. I opted for the fixed heels / skiing option on this attempt. Gery U Photo.


Nice snow on the lower face. Lefroy in the background. Gery U Photo.


Too bad there wasn't a patio right here so we could sit around and point at our tracks.


Done like dinner.

1 comment:

Jeff Norman said...

looks like a great trip!