Matt and I met Raff and Nadia at the trailhead just before sunrise, and the frosty temperatures made me question why I even got out of bed that morning. Once we got going though, we warmed up nicely and made good progress to the open flats below the headwall that leads to the upper valley. While Raff and Nadia continued to skin up the headwall, the narrow trail proved to be too difficult for Matt and me to herringbone, and we resorted to carrying or dragging our skis and walking up the trail. We certainly did not get any points for style, but Matt and I got up the headwall nonetheless! After catching up to Raff and Nadia in the upper valley, Matt and I resumed skiing, and the four of us made our way southward along an open flat stretch before entering trees and climbing again near the head of the valley. Not seeing any advantage in struggling further uphill with our skinny skis, Matt and I ditched them and donned our snowshoes for the remainder of the ascent.
We eventually cleared the last trees and entered a veritable winter wonderland of open rolling snow slopes. Being the strongest climbers in our group, Matt and Raff did a masterful job of breaking trail and picking out a gentle line of ascent to South Burstall Pass. Just before the pass, we turned westward and began climbing more steeply up to a false summit below Ridge 147230. The avalanche danger was rated low on this day, but the steep slope below the false summit still gave us pause to consider its potential hazards. From the false summit, it is a short drop followed by a quick climb to reach the summit of Ridge 147230.
Mist continually danced over us throughout our summit stay, but we were afforded some amazing views nonetheless. Matt had been the first to reach the summit, and by the time the rest of us joined him for a group photograph, he was starting to feel cold. He promptly began his descent, and I followed suit shortly after. Matt and I effectively parted company here with Raff and Nadia, and we eventually retraced our steps back to our ditched skis. Skiing back to the top of the headwall, we again picked up our skis to walk down the steep trail. We resumed skiing upon reaching the flats at the bottom and continued out to the trailhead. The last several kilometres of our ski out were rather frustrating since it was hard to sustain any momentum on the flat trail. In fact, it felt like we were skiing uphill most of the way back! Matt and I would later learn that Raff and Nadia had made it back to the trailhead about an hour after us. I can only imagine what curses they may have uttered while coming out the same wretched trail.
Be sure to check out Matt's trip
report. Standing on the summit of Ridge 147230 (2589 metres)
are Matt, Nadia, Raff and Sonny. L to R, Mount Smuts, Mount Birdwood, Pig's Tail and
Commonwealth Peak all deserve another look.
As the group sets out from the
trailhead, the first rays of the morning sunshine strike the top of
The open flats of Burstall Creek offer
this view of Commonwealth Peak (right) and Pig's Tail (left).
Nadia and Raff ski across the flats.
Snow Peak is visible at right.
Clouds sweep over the shoulder of Snow
Peak as Nadia enters the upper valley.
The south ridge of Mount Birdwood is
commonly known as Lizzie's Ridge.
The terrain starts to open up in front
of Matt. Raff can be seen further ahead. Ridge 147230 is
also visible at upper right.
Nadia follows Matt up an open slope.
Visible behind Nadia are (L to R)
Mount Smuts, Mount Birdwood, Pig's Tail, and Commonwealth Peak.
The group works its way up a wide
The mist finally clears up enough to
reveal Mount Sir Douglas.
Raff leads the way up a gentle slope
near South Burstall Pass.
Nadia continues to skin uphill with a
majestic backdrop behind her.
Matt and Raff begin climbing in
earnest up Ridge 147230.
The slope begins to get steep as Raff
and Matt continue to climb higher.
Whistling Rock Ridge is visible to the
east across South Burstall Pass.
After dropping briefly from a false
summit, Matt is nearly at the top of the main ridge.
Mist persists on the summit of Ridge
Raff comes up to join Matt at the
The mist begins to dissipate to reveal
the Spray River Valley below and Mount Assiniboine on the horizon at
Matt and Raff stare in awe at the
surrounding scenery atop Ridge 147230.
Nadia takes the last few steps before
the summit as Mount Sir Douglas re-emerges from the mist.
South Burstall Pass is an area of
sublime beauty on this day.
Raff and Nadia are barely perceptible
on the ridge at left.
Matt is happy to pack up his snowshoes
and transition back to skiing.
Matt looks pretty serious when he is
Commonwealth Peak looks resplendent
late in the day.
Mount Robertson is partially
illuminated by the late day sun.
Distance: 18.9 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 7 hours 52 minutes
Net Elevation Gain: 694 metres
Standing on the summit of Ridge 147230 (2589 metres) are Matt, Nadia, Raff and Sonny.
L to R, Mount Smuts, Mount Birdwood, Pig's Tail and Commonwealth Peak all deserve another look.