words & photos by Todd Mansfield
We meet at the Petro Can on the Highway, #1 Highway in Canada, my buddy Jesse shows up riding his motor bike with his skis attached, Ricky shows up with the truck. Yup, goes skiing on a motor bike. Bad ass.
We jump in the truck and head to Highwood Pass which is the highest paved road in Canada and in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. The Highwood Pass highway, known as highway #40, sub-stained significant damage this past spring due to extreme flooding in the area. The road has not been open most of the summer and is only open to Lost Lemon Pullout which means we have access to the trail head for Rae Glacier.
Pumped we are going skiing! We start out by hiking from the highway for 2-3 hrs with our skis on our packs. The terrain has changed significantly since last fall due to the flooding. We get to the snow line where it is windy, approximately 120km/h winds which is knocking us off our feet as we switch from hiking boots to ski boots. As we are skinning up, we are noticing a lack of glacier, there is a snow field but very little evidence of a remaining glacier.
It is debatable how much glacier is still here, which is sad and makes me frustrated by the disappearing chunk of ice. It is only September, but if there is any remaining glacier, it has already been covered by snow. On our last mission last October, we could see evidence of the glacier and there was more snow however wind has played a significant factor in moving the snow around this trip and could be hiding the top part of the glacier.
The significant rain that occurred in the area in June most likely helped reduced the glacier size as well. ARGGHHHHH!!!! We boot packed up this couloir, on the east side of where the glacier should be and made some sweet first turns of the season.
The snow was awesome in the couloir and was great up top until we got 1/2 way down. Maybe only 50 -75 turns, but awesome turns for skiing in Alberta, Canada in September. Best first turns of the season me. Go get some!!!