East Ridge Of Panorama Ridge
On New Year's Day 2016, I joined Rafal (Raff) Kazmierczak, Julie Muller and Marta Wojnarowska for a ski up what So Nakagawa refers to as the East Ridge of Panorama Ridge in Alberta's Banff National Park.  Braving frigid temperatures at the trailhead, we warmed up nicely once we started skinning up the well-packed trail to Taylor Lake.  Trudging steadily uphill, we had very little to see other than snow-covered trees for the first six kilometres or so.  Amazingly, Marta brought along some paperwork to study while she skinned up the trail; she is truly a brilliant multi-tasker!  Near Taylor Lake, we stopped briefly for lunch before continuing up the drainage to the north where the trees started to thin out enough for us to get a glimpse of our objective.  We also finally emerged from the shadow of the trees and the surrounding ridges to bask in warm sunshine for the first time on this day, and was it ever welcomed!  A final push up through larch trees and open slopes brought us to the top of the broad ridge with sweeping views.

After about a half-hour stay at the top, we pulled off our climbing skins and started our lengthy ski descent back to the trailhead.  Skiing off-piste is still a bit of a challenge for me, and I had a couple of minor wipe-outs on my way back to Taylor Lake.  On my first wipe-out, I actually lost one of my skis in deep powder and had quite a bit of trouble finding it again.  On my last wipe-out, I sank so deep into the snow that I felt running water below me!  I fared much better on the packed trail going back to the trailhead, but my lack of endurance forced me to stop frequently to relieve my aching leg muscles.  My lousy skiing notwithstanding, we all made it back to the trailhead together just as daylight was about to fade.  Despite all the pain and suffering, this ski trip was a great way to ring in the New Year.  It had been an incredibly fun day for me, and I am thankful to have shared it with some incredibly fun people.
What am I doing here freezing my ass off?? The temperature is a frosty -27C as everyone gears up at the trailhead.
The scenery is pretty much like this for the first 2.5 hours. The trail to Taylor Lake is comfortably wide and conveniently packed for skiing.
What a grim-looking bunch! Might have something to do with the cold temperatures and lack of sunlight... Raff, Marta and Julie stop for a quick bite not far from Taylor Lake.
I'm not sure that I would have been motivated to continue had the weather been overcast or socked in. The objective of the day finally comes into view at far right.
And we're in the warm sunshine finally!! The trees begin to thin out as the group gains elevation.
Now we're cooking! Julie heads up the open slope.

Watch the rocks around here if you're on skis!

Marta stands on the high point (2558 metres) of the day.  Julie and Raff can also be seen coming and going along the connecting ridge.


Freedom Climbers! Raff joins Marta on the high point.
I stole this pose from Marta! Sonny raises his skis in triumph on the high point.
Thanks to So Nagakawa, I still have some unfinished business left on Panorama Ridge! The sun quickly disappears behind the highest summit of Panorama Ridge.

 I wish we had more daylight!

In this view from the high point, Julie is enjoying the fading sunlight on the East Ridge of Panorama Ridge.  At far right is Mount Bell.


 Can you figure out which one is Mount Willingdon?

Mount Hector (far left) is one of many recognizable peaks on the northern horizon.


Not the sexiest mountain in my books... Castle Mountain dominates the view to the east.
I guess I still have a lot to learn about how to pose with skis! Julie, Marta, Raff and Sonny pose for a group shot in front of Panorama Ridge.
My legs feel like jelly already... Julie gets ready for the long downhill run back to the trailhead.
Looking good, Julie! Julie makes some smart turns along the narrow trail.
My...legs...are...burning... Marta follows Julie down the trail.
Might be worth a return visit in the spring when the days are longer... Total Distance:  20.2 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  7 hours 10 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  1103 metres

GPX Data

I would return for a second ski ascent of East Ridge of Panorama Ridge in 2021.