Rogers Pass Base Camp Skiing

By:  Ben
September 1, 2010


September First is an important date for skiers. It marks the transition from “summer months” to “fall months,” which have much better potential for skiing. Year round skiers have been known to use September 1 as the start of a “new ski year.” Today I’m honoring the day by posting the long-delayed Part 2 of my Roger’s Pass Trip last March.

After going on a few day trips to get a feel for the area and the snowpack, we decided to head into the backcountry. One of the goals of our trip was to get away from roadside skiing, and have a few days of skiing out of a basecamp up in the mountains. Unfortunately, the Canadian Alpine Club huts in Rogers were already reserved, so we had to use tents. We chose a prominent ridge near the Asulkan Glacier that looked like it would have some good tent spots and set out armed with ski gear, glacier travel gear, camping stuff, and five days of food for four hungry guys. Our packs were HEAVY.

Are we there yet?

On our designated Shlep Day it was warm down low, so we were dripping in sweat pretty quickly. I won’t spend too much time describing the feeling of skinning up thousands of vertical feet with a 60 lb pack – suffice to say “light and quick” are not adjectives that come to mind.

The SLOG. This bowl was like a giant magnifying glass.

A few hundred vertical feet below the ridge where we wanted to set up our camp, the temperature changed abruptly. Suddenly the air was colder, and the wind carried a vicious bite that stung sweaty exposed skin. After the morning’s sunny slog, it was a stern reminder that we were high in the mountains.

We scouted a few potential locations for our camp before settling on one that was well protected from the wind behind a stand of trees. Breaking out shovels, we got to work creating our dream base camp.

Tom Flynn shoveling out the camp

Camping in snow is cool. You can sculpt kitchens exactly to taste, build walls to block out the wind, and generally design and build to your heart’s content. We worked on our set-up for much of the afternoon, although Tom and I took a break to do a quick lap of the trees below our camp. It’s hard to beat ski-in/ski-out convenience!

The first night - back when we thought it was going to be nice weather

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5 Comments

  1. powhounddd
    wrote on September 1st, 2010 at 8:06 pm  
    1

    Thank you. Between these TRs,watching Ice Road Truckers and snowboard trailers, I think I can survive both this ridiculous heat wave AND the rest of ragweed season. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!!!!!! Bring on the snow!

  2. Harvey44
    wrote on September 2nd, 2010 at 7:51 am  
    2

    I’ll admit I had to Google Rogers Pass to figure out where it was. Having skied the west only 25 days in my life, it’s hard for me to grasp the feeling of being disappointed in cloudy snowy days. I mean I understand it, logically … blocking access to the terrain you were after. Love the skintrack pics and all the shots from the last two days. Must be great to ski so much that you don’t get all your TRs up until Labor Day. Great for us too. Let the temp dropping begin!

    • Ben
      wrote on September 2nd, 2010 at 11:19 pm  
      3

      It’s a tricky question – you’re never really AGAINST new snow ;) but between visibility and avi conditions, it’s really the sunny days that let you get up high and ski the cool stuff!

  3. Patrick
    wrote on October 26th, 2010 at 10:30 am  
    4

    Hey, sweet trip report. The pics were awesome.
    Some buddies and I are going to be doing some winter camping up at Rogers Pass this winter. I was curious what kind of camping gear you guys used and if you slept warm/comfortable through the night. Was a 0 Deg F rated sleeping bag warm enough, or did you need something rated below that??

    • Ben
      wrote on October 26th, 2010 at 10:39 am  
      5

      Thanks Patrick! We used a 4-season Mountain Hardware Trango 3.1 tent. It worked great, even with all the snow (make sure you guy it out really well if it’s snowing a lot!). It wasn’t particularly cold, we had 0 F bags and were fine, although I’m sure it gets colder sometime. Make sure you’ve got plenty of food and a nice puffy and I think you’ll be all set most of the time, unless it’s a particularly cold spell. That place gets enough snow that the 4-season tent is pretty key though!

      Another good option is to check out the huts run by the Alpine Club of Canada. You have to reserve them way in advance and they’re more expensive, but that would definitely be a sweet option that would keep you warmer (and allow you to carry less up!)

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