by Gavin Rittammer
Last weekend (February 28-March 2) the keeners of the Red Deer Nordic ski team packed their back country ski gear, got into two cars, and headed out on an adventure. After being on the road for a couple hours we stopped driving, unloaded our gear, and stayed overnight at Rampart Hostel. We made our beds and then Kelly helped us fit our backpacks so we wouldn’t have to do it the following day outside in the cold. Rampart was a fantastic hostel to stay at and was equipped with a sauna/creek dip. We might have taken advantage of this if the temperature outside wasn’t in the low negatives. In the morning we woke up and had eggs, sausages and toast for breakfast before filling up water bottles and getting in the car.
Once we arrived at the Edith Cavell parking lot we applied wax and started the 12 km climb up the mountain which took us about three and a half hours. It was very sunny and a little cold but overall good conditions. When we reached the hut at about 4:00 PM, we started a fire and changed into dry clothes. The kitchen was in a smaller hut separate from the one we slept in and it heated up quickly. We soon realized one of the windows in the hut we slept in was open and that is why the rest of the hut wasn’t heating up so we closed it. We then ate butter chicken that Kelly had organized for dinner and it was really yummy after such a slog up the mountain. The kids did the dishes after dinner. Everyone was pretty tired and went to bed early, but once in a while someone would have to get up to put more wood in the fire. In the morning we packed up our backpacks and some of us ate lunch in the warm kitchen while the adults went another 2 km up the trail to see the lake. Once they return we started back down the trail towards the parking lot. It was cold going down the hill with the wind so we layered up well. Descending the mountain took our group about 45 minutes to a hour. When we got to the parking lot the cars weren’t starting so we had to wait a little till someone drove by so we could boost the cars. We all got our stuff in the cars and headed back to Red Deer.
A Superintendent’s Order has been issued in Jasper National Park for the access to Tonquin and Edith Cavell areas effective from November 1 through February 15th annually. This order is issued to prevent human roads and trails from facilitating an unnatural level of predator access to the threatened woodland Caribou. If you violate this order you can be charged under the Canada National Parks Act. This will affect skier access to the Tonquin and Edith Cavell as well as the described exit for Winston Churchill Traverse (Alpine Ski Tours in the Canadian Rockies 1). Slack-country access off Marmot Basin south of Marmot Pass into Portal creek is restricted as well. Normal access to the Brazeau Icefields via Poboktan Creek to the Poligne Creek confluence will not be affected but you will not be allowed to access south from this point. Ice climbs on the Highway 93a that will be unaccessable during this time are ‘Looking out the Back Door’, ‘Fall of Dune’ and ‘Sorrow Falls’. Again, these are just delayed access and will be open to skier/climber traffic for the Tonquin after Febuary 15th and for the Brazeau area after Febuary 28th.
For more detailed information on these closures visit this link of important bulletins for Jasper National Park… http://www.pc.gc.ca/caribou
Jasper National Park
A few photos from the overnight trip into Fryatt Valley.
A few photos from a fun weekend YO-YO skiing around the Hilda Area.
Dave watches as Debby crosses some open water on the Howse River on the trail towards Glacier Lake
Departing Ramparts Hostel the temperature was -23 at 8:30 am. 30 mins later as we began are climb up to Wilcox Pass the temperature had risen to -8. It remained a cloudless sky for the full day with temperatures reaching around +5. The snow through the trees was good, but once out of the trees there was little snow and lots of bare areas for a while. We lunched opposite a gently slope which became a ‘play area’ for a few people, the others choosing to languish in the sun. We skied to the far end of the pass and contemplated skiing down Tangle Creek. (Its definately not only women who have difficulty making decisions,it seemed the pros and cons were tossed around for ages by the gentlemen in the group!) We returned the same way and floundered down the trail for a while before finding the good snow in the trees.