On 11 February 2023, Chester Fitchett, Zosia
Zgolak and I skied to Rockbound Lake in Alberta's Banff National Park.
The ski tour is described in Chic Scott's Ski Trails in the Canadian
Rockies. Zosia and I had already previously skied most of the
approach trail for our ascents of
East Peak and
Ridge East Peak Too, but Rockbound Lake gave us a good excuse to
return for another ski tour in the area.
From the trailhead, Chester, Zosia and I quickly settled into a long but
uncomplicated uphill grind up the Rockbound Lake trail. The snow on
the hard-packed trail was old but not icy, and other than the odd rock or
two, coverage was generally excellent. After passing the turnoff to
Helena Ridge East Peak, we were fortunate to still have a packed trail to
follow and subsequently reached snow-covered Tower Lake without much
trouble. Beyond Tower Lake, we climbed up a short but steep
headwall guarding Rockbound Lake. Ascending this section on skis
was very challenging even with climbing skins, and it might have been
easier to carry our skis here and walk up. Regardless, we
surmounted the headwall on our skis with some difficulty, and then we
finally had to break trail--albeit only for a short distance--through
untracked snow to reach snow-covered Rockbound Lake. A slight but
uncomfortable breeze blowing across the lake prompted us to take cover in
some nearby trees before we stopped for a short lunch break.
For our return trip, Chester, Zosia and I kept our skins on to descend
the challenging headwall. While Chester seemingly dropped down in
the blink of an eye, Zosia and I descended much more slowly with short
zigzags until we were off the steepest sections. Knowing that there
would be a few uphill sections on the way out, we kept our skins on
probably longer than we should have while skiing out from Tower Lake.
Once the skins came off though, the remainder of the descent, not
surprisingly, went a lot faster. On this day, the hard-packed trail
felt slick, and I could feel the burn in my legs as I pressed to maintain
control of my ski edges throughout the long downhill. As such, I
did not find the ski back to the trailhead as enjoyable as my previous
trips here, but at least we all made it down without a spill.
Ridge towers above Rockbound Lake.