Good spring skiing up high still

French - Haig - Robertson

Tom Wolfe

I enjoyed a day on the French-Haig-Robertson tour in K-Country yesterday. We chose this tour for the obvious reasons -- it gets you up high, there's great views, and the glaciers and steep sided north-facing valleys still hold lots of snow.

The morning was fine and warm, +6 C at the parking lot. Loose wet avalanche activity began at 9:00 am on sunny steep rocky E to S facing terrain and continued throughout the day. Clouds and colder temps rolled in around noon time and by mid-afternoon light snow in the alpine made for dry dust on crust skiing on steep north facing terrain down to about 2500 m. Below that it was a mix of moist, corn and eventually schmoo down to valley bottom that carried well and made for great spring skiing.

Glacier coverage is still good with no sags on the obvious ski line. Getting on to the Roberston glacier with a cloud ceiling just below the col and with 100+km wind gusts was exciting -- at the top of the bootpack the steep windscoop on the northward side requires you to head well to the right (just like Chic's guidebook description says) until the obvious spot where the windscoop tapers and it admits easy access to the wind-scoured glacier below. After 50 meters of sliding over scoured surfaces the skiing gets good.

We took glacier gear, ski crampons, ice axes and 1 pair of boot crampons. We didn't use the crampons or ice axes but with a good freeze that bootpack would be more comfortable with an axe in hand and possibly boot crampons. There's no reasonable way to skin up the S slope to the Sir Douglas-Robertson col now as it's mostly melted out.

Tom Wolfe
Mountain Guide ACMG/IFMGA

Source: Mountain Conditions