Rogers Pass near Revelstoke is infamous for a variety of reasons: Canadian history buffs recognize the name in reference to the building of our national railway and, ultimately, the forming of our country; hikers and climbers know Glacier National Park for its challenging routes and glorious summits; and winter adventurers flock to the area because it is one of the top ski touring destinations in BC. It can be daunting even just to drive through the Pass once the snow flies, but the slopes and ski areas vary in size and complexity, meaning that there is something for just about everyone most of the time. If you happen to be in the neighbourhood and ski touring is even just kind of your thing, I can’t imagine an excuse good enough for not spending at least a morning wandering around up there.
No matter where you plan to ski, a quick stop at the visitor information centre near the summit of Rogers Pass is a great place to start. Parks Canada staff are on hand to offer the latest intel on snowpack stability and ski conditions, and this is where you will need to buy your parking permit and visitor’s pass for the day if you plan to ski within the boundary of Glacier National Park. It’s also a warm, cozy spot to suit up and boot up, fill your water bottle and use the facilities one last time.
The little zone just above/behind the info centre is a go-to spot for many who are still developing their touring legs. The area known as Connaught Creek provides some easily accessible quick laps through well-spaced trees without too much in the way of commitment, as well as longer trips up into Balu Pass. No matter your route, you will skin up what is almost sure to be a well-established track and head back home the way you came in. The downside to skiing in this area is that it will likely be fairly tracked out and populated due to its proximity to the info centre and Trans-Canada Highway. The upside is that you’re ski touring in Rogers Pass.
If you’re looking for a larger, more elevated experience, there is no shortage of incredible routes into the alpine. The Asulkan Hut is a great destination for overnighters in a beautiful a-frame that sits perched just above the treeline. From here, you can access popular ski routes like the 7 Steps of Paradise (Young’s Peak), Pterodactyl, and the Asulkan Pass itself. Perhaps the best bang for your buck is a tour up to Avalanche Crest. It’s a steep climb with over 650 metres (2,100 feet) of elevation gain in the first 2 kilometres (3 miles), but the reward is in getting up above the trees quickly so you can enjoy the alpine in all its fluffy, white glory!
It would be careless of me to encourage anyone to go ski touring anywhere, let alone in Rogers Pass, without insisting on the essential safety equipment and a sound understanding of when/how to use it. Equally as important as having the knowledge yourself is knowing who you’re skiing with and being comfortable making decisions as a group in the backcountry. Don’t kid yourself: while you may actually be able to see the highway from many of the peaks, this is a remote ski area and the risks are very real. Rogers Pass: Uptracks, Bootpacks and Bushwhacks by Revelstoke local Doug Sproul is a fantastic new reference for anyone looking to get up and out there, with detailed route descriptions, high resolution photos and a brilliant topographical map that will help you make informed decisions about which of the 100+ routes to tackle and enjoy!
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