Trip Report: 8812 Bowl @ Roger’s Pass British Columbia

Sergei Poljak | | Conditions ReportConditions Report
Swiss Peaks and Rogers in the Hermit section of Rogers Pass, as seen from the Discovery Center Parking Lot. Photo: Sergei Poljak Jan. 3, 2017.
Swiss Peaks and Rogers in the Hermit section of Roger’s Pass, as seen from the Discovery Center Parking Lot. Photo: Sergei Poljak Jan. 3, 2017.

Many times I’ll meet keen travelers in Revelstoke, and Roger’s Pass will come up in conversation. I guess it’s lore has been growing recently; multiple times, folks who haven’t been there have heard it was “the best ski touring” in North America:

Just so, my friends, just so. Located between Golden and Revelstoke in Glacier Park, B.C., there are simply no comparable areas in the States or Canada as far as access, snow conditions, diversity and scenery. To be more specific, Roger’s has:

  • Amazing access. There are several parking lots to shorten approaches, and you can stay overnight at the discovery center parking lot at the top of the pass for free.
  • Speaking of free, the entire park is free for all of 2017, happy centennial Canada National Parks!
  • The resources available are fantastic. There is a comprehensive avalanche forecast and discussion updated daily, a lodge at the Discovery Center where you can dry things overnight, and Ranger’s who know about the goods and are happy to share information with you. Did I mention a free rescue anywhere in the park?
  • The scenery is unparalleled. That’s all there is to say about that.
  • The diversity of tours is incredible. You can ski everything from steep chutes and couloirs, trees, open bowls, ridgetops, mountain peaks and faces, wide-open glaciers, and even easy cols like Balu pass for novices. There are several established routes with bolted rappels, and many more that require knowledge of glacier travel. Additionally, there are several big-league multi-day ski traverses (i.e. Rogers to Bugaboos traverse).
  • Avalanche conditions that are generally much better than any of the continental snowpacks of the U.S. and Canada (we saw very few signs of natural activity), and snow conditions that are generally much better than any of the maritime snowpacks of the west coast. Intermountain, baby!

The agenda for yesterday was 8812 bowl, a wide-open bowl descending about 1000 meters to Connaught creek. On an epic day, that would be 1000 meters of pure powder snow. Unfortunately, there was a very, very strong north wind on Saturday night that persisted through Monday. Alas, a great amount of arctic air was present, and temps ranged between -10 and -20 degrees F. The top third or so of the Bowl was a penetrable sun crust that was nearly impossible to ski, but the bottom two thirds offered a hundred or so bouncy powder turns. If you’re fast, you could easily do this in a few hours and go up for another lap. However, I was plagues with gear issues as my skins ended up falling off completely and I had to bootpack the last few hundred meters up the ridge…

Staring down into 8812 Bowl from Bruin's pass. Photo: Sergei Poljak Jan. 3, 2017
Staring down into 8812 Bowl from Bruin’s pass. Photo: Sergei Poljak Jan. 3, 2017

There were only two other tracks in the bowl. In fact, all of the main alpine routes of the Balu pass trail were either untracked or had just a few tracks, while the tree runs were practically bumped out. This was perhaps the result of not ideal snow conditions, and an avy danger of “3” due to wind slabs…however, the snow in the bowl was less wind affected and all three of us in our party concurred that conditions were safe. There are lots of low angle powder objectives like 8812 to do on days of caution.

Glacier Park provides a lovely avalanche bulletin every morning.
Glacier Park provides a lovely avalanche bulletin every morning.

If you wanted to spice things up you could add 8812 Peak to the mix:

8812 Peak, a short but exposed bootpack off Bruin's Pass, but a gnarly ski down, depending on conditions. Photo: Sergei Poljak Jan. 3, 2017
8812 Peak, a short but exposed bootpack off Bruin’s Pass, but a gnarly ski down, depending on conditions. Photo: Sergei Poljak Jan. 3, 2017

All in all a great trip. Roger’s Pass may be getting more popular, but there are still many lines to do for days and days after a snowfall. Usually it just snows before the alpine gets tracked. The more advanced, gear intensive lines are basically around all the time. However, I suppose due to the large number of “novice” ski tourers, the trees get tracked very quickly. But don’t bother with those, there are better trees elsewhere. In my opinion, the glory of Roger’s is its alpine touring.

See you out on the pass!

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