Crystal Ridge N face

Banff Yoho & Kootenay National Park

jpkuce , Monday 28th December, 2020 8:05PM

Initial objective was to ski the NE aspect of crystal ridge, we ascended via Helen shoulder. Upon gaining the summit ridge we found our desired line, a relatively open couloir just south of the sugar cube entrance point. Performed a roped ski cut with no result. Also dug a pit about 10m below the entry of said couloir. NE aspect, 40 degree slope, SH 160cm @ 2420m. First Column test came out CTH23 fracture 30cm down. Did a second test closer to the middle which came out CTH 23 but this time RP 30cm down. Given the high consequence nature of our line these tests inspired no confidence therefore we decided to turn around and head back down to the burnt trees. On our way back we did not follow the safety of our uptrack and cut low towards the burnt tree triangle. As we descended and had eyes on the slope we identified cross loading/wind slab. We tried to mitigate by picking a low consequence route; nonetheless, one skier did trigger the slab remotely from 10-15m away which first broke on a 10cm slab and then stepped down to 30cm slab running the length of the slope. Only a size 1 avalanche but had anyone been caught the thing would have taken them through the cheese grinder and probably ended very poorly. Luckily our route mitigation kept everyone out of harms way but with obvious hindsight it never should have happened, lots of easy steps we could of taken to avoid the whole situation and great reminder to never let your guard down. Skiing the burnt trees coming back down was decent. If you’re heading that way in the coming days definitely keep to the sheltered areas.

Snow conditions were: Crusty, Powder. Weather conditions were: Sunny. We rode: Alpine slopes, Open trees. We avoided: Steep slopes. Riding quality was ok.

Avalache Conditions: Slab avalanches today or yesterday.

Avalanche

Skier trigger from 10m away. First crown was 10cm slab which then stepped down 30cm a couple meters downslope.

Source: Avalanche Canada MIN