Some early season turns with Graham got us high into Highwood Pass
without the hours of tree thrashing that it usually takes to go for
a ski tour.
Graham invited me to join him for a ski tour in the Highwood Pass area, an area I haven't
explored very much. Since we both have young families, this was an early morning start (I left at
5:30), but we get the benefit of seeing sweet alpenglow.
The awesome thing of skiing in the Highwood Pass area is it takes ~10 minutes and you're into the
alpine. This is looking up at Storm Mountain, and specifically a couloir called the Storm Gutter.
This basin didn't look that promising and so we decided to head a bit further to the north east and
around this big rock in the centre of this shot.
As we went around that horn, the sliver half moon was out and I thought it looked cool.
While there wasn't a lot of snow coverage everywhere, there was some really nice light for
photos. This is the sun touching the exit route from Mt Arethusa.
I think this is the Storm Gutter, although I thought the mound to the left of that couloir
looked like a lady's behind.
As the sun came up, we got a really nice look back at Highwood Ridge. I don't really think there
would be great skiing off this line, but it sure looks cool.
A look down at the uptrack I put into this amphitheatre. Lots and lots of switchbacks.
After punching out some 'tenuous' hard pack turns and pushing through the wind, here is Graham
just about to get a glimpse of what I am calling the Arethusa-Storm col.
A really cool cliff at the top of the col. Too bad I caught Graham with his eyes closed.
Video of a look-around at the Arethusa-Storm Col (pardon the wind)
Yours truly looking out at the Elbow-Sheep area. This col is actually the border of Peter Lougheed
park and the Elbow-Sheep park, but it's all K-country. Looking out from here you can see Mt Burns,
Cougar Mountain, and Bluerock Mountain too.
A pretty impressive hunk of rock sitting above us.
We waited in the wind a bit to let Graham's friend Duncan catch up. You can see a pretty wind-scoured
landscape up here with lots of loose rocks.
Video of me skiing first turns of the season
Graham skiing the top pitch of this area
Duncan skiing some turns
Patrishka skiing Arethusa
Graham skiing the best snow in this area
Graham's video of Duncan and Patrishka skiing
A look at the upper bowl of this challenging route.
Hard to believe we put an uptrack through this mean-looking bowl.
We elected to do a second tour up into Mt Arethusa bowl proper, which gave us a neat look at
Storm Mountain, and this mean-looking piece of rock in the middle. The top of Storm is in the
clouds in this shot.
A look at the Arethusa bowl, which I think would hold really excellent, well-protected snow.
The tough part about this area is that after Dec 15, this approach gets a LOT longer since the
road is then closed. A few of these sideways-leaning couloirs look like they could be fun to
ski with the right snow too.
The exit on this day wasn't as bad as the epic Storm trip that Graham and I did a while ago
(see that one HERE ) but it still involved some creek crossing.
So, it turns out that crash at the top of the first tour cost me a bit of skin. The rocks that
I found for the rest of the crew hurt a bit for sure.
Graham's cool photos
A neat panoramic looking back at the Highwood Ridge.
Going up for a lap in the Arethusa Bowl.
Graham loved this moment since he said, "Hey Paul, isn't that the line we just skied?" and I said,
"There's no way, that's too steep. Our line must be to the left of that. Huh, you're totally
right Graham. That's MEAN!" Our line came down to the left of the two peaks.
Duncan's friend Patrishka exiting Arethusa Bowl.
After a big day, it's always happy times to have a beer at the car, or in this case, at
Graham's new Black Beauty.
A look at our GPS track for the day showing the two tours we combined. Note the amount of
kick-turns involved in the right-side track.
Another look from Garmin Connect, showing where the peak of Arethusa is.
The stats for the outing. Since this was ~6.5 hours and I've clocked myself around 600 cals/hour
ski touring with a chest strap on, I'd say optical heart rate isn't quite working for this outing.
Almost a thousand metres vertical and 13 km distance is a decent tour!