Crowfoot Pass
Zosia Zgolak and I celebrated her birthday on 24 March 2018 by visiting Crowfoot Pass in Alberta's Banff National Park.  Just as described in Chic Scott's Ski Trails in the Canadian Rockies, we started the ski tour at the Crowfoot Glacier viewpoint along the Icefields Parkway.  Arguably, the most challenging part of the whole trip is the descent down the steep embankment from the viewpoint.  Snowplows likely dump cruddy snow here while clearing the viewpoint's parking lot, and the resulting icy chunks are a bit of a nightmare to descend on skis.  Following the tracks of other skiers, we side-slipped down the embankment with some difficulty before leveling out a bit in the trees at the bottom.  We soon emerged from the trees and crossed the outlet of Bow Lake before continuing along open flats to the base of a forested slope leading to Crowfoot Pass.  While we were taking a short break here, a group of skiers passed us and began breaking trail up the slope.  We naturally followed closely behind the group for awhile as they zigzagged up the steepest part of the slope.  Eventually, we pulled ahead of them after we came across a previously broken trail, and this led us to open slopes higher up.  Our broken trail actually ended on sort of a high point, and to continue, we had to break trail ourselves for a bit until we found another up-track.  This one, as it turned out, led us all the way to Crowfoot Pass without much difficulty.

Despite sunny skies, a cool breeze at Crowfoot Pass made it uncomfortable to linger, and we soon began our return journey more or less along the same tracks we came up.  Although the open slopes above tree line were easy enough to ski down, I found some of the best skiing in the trees of the steep forested slope we had followed the other group up.  Zosia and I got separated here at one point, and she found herself on increasingly steep slopes above a drainage (possibly the "small canyon" mentioned in Scott's route description).  While she managed to muddle her way down to the drainage and get out to the flats relatively unscathed, I stuck closer to our original up-track and ended up wiping out near the bottom of the slope.  After picking myself up and shaking off the snow, I reunited with Zosia, and together, we skied back to the Crowfoot Glacier viewpoint with the only difficulty being the awkward climb up the steep embankment at the end.
This sucks even more on the way back! Sonny makes a tricky descent from the parking lot.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Much easier than in the summer! Zosia crosses the outlet of Bow Lake (far left).
Beautiful! What do we need to go up to the pass for? Bow Peak looms in the distance as Zosia skis along the banks of a mostly frozen Bow River.
Looks impossible to ski up from here!

The route that Zosia and Sonny would take goes up the forested slope at right.

That little knob behind the trees in the right foreground looks very inviting! From this vantage point, Crowfoot Glacier is hardly visible above the headwall at centre.
Some memorable "exposure" on that one! Dolomite Peak stands out to the northeast.
We timed our break just right to let this group pass us! Zosia waits as another group of skiers breaks trail up the forested slope.
Gotta start minding potential avi slopes now...

Zosia follows a broken trail onto a short rise.

We're actually climbing a bit higher than we should here (note the tracks in the distance).

Bow Peak reappears as Zosia ascends yet another open slope.

Best birthday present ever for Zosia!

Zosia pauses to admire the views of Bow Lake and the surrounding peaks.


Proof that I do break trail...once in awhile! Sonny breaks trail for a bit in search of another up-track.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Oddly enough, this group stopped and turned around well short of the pass. Zosia looks back at the group of skiers that she had initially followed up through the forest.

Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world!

Zosia approaches what appears to be a giant wave of snow.  Note the ski tracks at upper right.


Zosia is a climbing machine! Zosia climbs above the last trees.

Simply beautiful.

Bow Peak towers above the stark landscape on the approach to Crowfoot Pass (right).


Almost there! This is the final slope before Crowfoot Pass.
The elevation here is about 2350 metres. Sonny and Zosia celebrate their arrival at Crowfoot Pass.
Great skiing with even better views! Zosia removes her climbing skins in preparation for the ski back down.
So much nicer than resort skiing! Sonny descends a pristine snow slope.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

It's so annoying having to put climbing skins back on at the very end! At the end of the ski tour, Zosia awkwardly climbs back up the embankment to the parking lot.