Ski Tour Snowdome

Access: From Jasper, head South, Hwy 93, 100 km

Park­ing: Yes

Trail­head: From Park­ing Lot

Dis­tance: 12 — 14 km one way

Activ­i­ties: Sights / Ski­ing / Camp­ing

A trip like this does not come so often, so when a friend invit­ed me on this trip to the top of the world (in my mind), I could not pass it up.  The Snow Dome sits high in the Rock­ies, part of the Colum­bia Ice­field cov­ered in (you guess it) snow!  An expe­ri­ence guide is a must for this trip and I was for­tu­nate to tag along a guide train­ing trip con­duct­ed by Doug Latimer , and when they said it was ski­ing, well I was tick­led pink!  The Snow Coach­es can take you part way up this Athabas­ca Glac­i­er, but not pass the huge ice falls and crevass­es.

The ski up was quite a bit of a grunt and hav­ing a clear blue sky day was a bonus, mak­ing our trip safer to nego­ti­ate in the dan­ger­ous ter­rain. Gear (har­ness, skis, rope, tents, etc…) was rent­ed and bor­rowed from friends and var­i­ous sport shops from town. We set off ear­ly from Jasper around 07:30hrs and with all the shut­tling of vehi­cles, (will get back to this lat­er) we were at the toe of Athabas­ca Glac­i­er by 11:00hrs. Around 15:00hrs, we were pass the two ice falls and hav­ing a break look­ing back at the tiny build­ing in the dis­tance we see the Ice­field Cen­tre.

Snow camp­ing is quite dif­fer­ent and was a first for three of us.  Doug had sur­veyed the camp spot with a probe and taught us some tricks to set up a tent pad and shel­ter from the wind.  Din­ner was a wel­come site from all the hard work. Bless with a beau­ti­ful sun­set and a full moon to boot.

The sec­ond day was windy. We ven­ture off to the Snow Dome, giv­ing our­selves about 3 to 4 hours to reach the sum­mit was the plan. With the near white out con­di­tions and the grunt uphill we reach the top. Wait­ing for breaks in the clouds so we can snap off pic­tures and hav­ing lunch with the wind gust­ing was not so pleas­ant.

The third day, yet anoth­er dif­fer­ent weath­er sys­tem, WHITEOUT, nowhere to ref­er­ence and vis­i­bil­i­ty less than a rope length. I was won­der­ing how do we go out from here? The guide trainees had mark the co-ordi­nates of the camp site and with the map they plot­ted a bear­ing with the com­pass. This expe­ri­ence just gave me the under­stand­ing that, with­out prop­er guid­ance in this hos­tile envi­ron­ment, you can seri­ous­ly put your life in jeop­ardy! With Doug tak­ing the lead and a com­pass in hand, all of us rope up, we ven­tured off towards the Saskatchewan Glac­i­er. A big day was ahead of us with about 30 kilo­me­tres to go, we got lucky with the clouds lift­ing about 2 hours into the White­out. Ah, the rest was cake with our car wait­ing for us (the shut­tle of car) at Big Bend, we met some poor souls who were head­ing into the sys­tem that we left. Some part­ing shots.

The cast:
Chan­tal, Doug, Ter­ri, Eddie

Ski tour 1999


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