This year Helen treated us to another fantastic ski adventure. The original plan was to ski from Mosquito Creek, up the Drummond Glacier, down the valley, up to the Bonnet Glacier and down the valley to exit by the Lake Louise ski hill. We had clear weather for the first three days but a storm moved in on our third night. Given this forecast, we opted to stay low and near an exit route. We never did see the Bonnet Glacier but our adventure was formidable nonetheless.
The team consisted of Helen (lead guide and mastermind), Olivia (apprentice ski guide), Madeleine (aspiring ski guide), and three clients: Bibiana, Bill and Renee. This was Bill and Bibi's fourth ski traverse together and my first. I suspect it won't be my last : )
The following trip report was written by our guides and posted to the Mountain Conditions Report:
We guided a version of the Drummond/Bonnet Icefields traverse (April 29- May 3) . The route took us in via Mosquito Creek, over the Drummond Glacier, down to the Red Deer, below the Bonnet by Oyster Peak and out to Lake Louise via Baker Lake. We modified the traverse due to deteriorating weather conditions.
Weather: We had three days of intense sun with daytime highs of 12 degrees and freezing levels up to 3000m. There was minimal overnight recovery on Thursday at our 2400m camp. This made for a challenging descent through some breakable crust once we passed the freezing line. The weather deteriorated on Thursday night/Friday morning with rain followed by snow . Snow continued through to Saturday, with poor visibility both days and approx. 30 cm accumulation over 36hrs at 2200m.
Travel conditions were excellent Tues-Thurs on a supportive crust at tree line and below tree line with afternoon warming turning snow isothermal. Coverage on the Drummond glacier ranged from bare ice on steeper aspects to 250cm. The ramp (from the Pipestone River side) leading up to the Drummond was in good condition.
There were numerous loose wet avalanches on steep terrain on all aspects on all days. East aspects were avalanching early in the mornings due to strong solar warming at this time of year.
Of note we spotted some grizzly bear tracks, some small feline tracks (bobcat or lynx), numerous wolverine tracks in various valleys and our tent got attacked by a hungry marten seeking goodies one night as we were slumbering.
Madeleine Martin-Preney AHG
Olivia Sofer ASG, HG
Helen Sovdat MG
|Day 1: Mosquito Creek Parking Lot|
|Day 1: Skiing along Mosquito Creek|
|Day 1: Wolverine tracks|
|Day 1: Bibi going up Molar Pass|
|Day 1: Madeleine above the Pipestone Valley|
|Day 1: Our camp along the creek|
|Day 2: The guides eyeing the route up to the Drummond Glacier|
|Day 2: Madeleine working her way up towards the Drummond Glacier|
|Day 2: A cool snow cave|
|Day 2: Still going uphill to the Drummond|
|Day 2: Olivia probing for crevasses and leading the way|
|Day 2: View from the top of Drummond Glacier|
|Day 2: The crew (Olivia, Bibi, Madeleine, Renee & Bill)|
|Day 2: Three girl guides (Madeleine, Olivia & Helen)|
|Day 2: Helen at our scenic moraine campsite|
|Day 2: Three happy skiers enjoying sitting with a cup of soup after a 1380m elevation day|
|Day 3: Our camp in the meadow between Mt Douglas & Oyster Peak|
|Day 3: We enjoyed a leisurely afternoon around the kitchen table|
|Day 4: Helen poses for a selfie|
|Day 4: Our camp at the end of Baker Lake|
|Day 5: Checking out the map and the route home via Lake Louise|
|Day 5: Packing up to head home.|