Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Line of the Week: Arethusa S Couloir

Keeping with the Highwood theme, this week's Line of the Week is yet another classic Highwood quick hit. At under 600m vertical, you can be back at the Banff Film Festival or a ski swap spraying about your adventures.
Typical Highwood. Wind Loaded chutes above boulderfields. Not a great ride if you trigger the windslab...

The Arethusa Cirque is much quieter than the other Highwood cirques. Park at the next drainage south of the pass and ski up the creek. Head left towards Arethusa up a neat boulder filled valley to the base of the line. The top of the line gives you a bird's eye view of the madness going on in the Ptarmigan Cirque. The conditions when we skied it were quite sporty with breakable windslab!

Hillmap Route
Total Elevation Gain: 520m
Round Trip Distance: 5km
Top Elevation: 2700m
Line Length: 130m
Other Lines in the Area: The meadows on the approach to the line can offer some good, but short skiing. This line shares the same approach as the Mt. Storm couloir, so either the couloir or the fans below can be alternative options.

Video of Mt. Storm and Arethusa

Other Lines of the Week .
Other Highwood Pass lines

Monday, June 19, 2017

Line of the Week: Tyrwhitt Cirque Couloirs

Highwood Pass opened for the summer just before last weekend. So in honour of the opening, how about some Highwood lines?

If you haven't experienced the Highwood Pass initiation with a "ski" in the Ptarmigan Cirque side, I suggest you stop reading now, and check out that area first. It is an essential part of the Highwood Pass initiation experience.

The Tyrwhitt Cirque and it's many options. In Spring
On the other side of the road from the parking lot at the pass are the Tyrwhitt and Pocaterra Cirques. The trail in, trending north from the parking lot and contouring into the bowls does a fairly good job of weeding out those who are unfamiliar with bushwacking and sidehilling and descending on skins. Once into the first open bowl, the Tyrwhitt Cirque, there is a wide variety of lines topping out or almost topping out on the ridge. The lines are short, so you might want to do a couple of them before calling it a day. Those familiar with the Purple Knob area, might notice some similarities.
In Winter. When it gets filled in before the road closes. The first couple of chutes are accessed from the first bowl.

While more chutes can be found in the 2nd bowl. The aspect changes slightly so keep that in mind when thinking about snowpack, wind, etc...
Beware of the human factors. The acronym FACETS is helpful, particularly the last two, Tracks and Social Facilitation. The skiing at Highwood Pass is extremely crowded early season, especially when word gets out that someone was able to ski without hitting a rock every other turn. This means that skiers might push above or beyond the current skintrack to get a fresh line, putting them into untouched and riskier terrain and new features. And if one group pushes into some gnarlier terrain, don't try to one up them without considering the spatial variability of the snowpack! Tracks are not a sign of intelligent life!

The ridgewalk between the chutes can be tricky, so it's best to climb the line you intend on skiing.

A surprise awaits if you are able to top our the ridge. The south bowl.
The South bowl

Hillmap route:
Top Elevation: 2550m
Line Length: 150m
Vertical gain: 450m (definitely do more than one), 720m if skiing the South bowl.
Round Trip Distance: 5km

Other Lines of the Week .
Other Highwood Pass lines

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Line of the Week: Mt. Buller "Crack of Noon" Couloir

A lot of the previous "Lines of the Week" are fairly self explanatory: If you can see it, you can ski it. The same can be said about this roadside hit. The couloirs and gullies coming off of Mt. Buller certainly catch the eye of skiers as they drive by along the Smith Dorrien road to ski something more appropriate in the winter. "One day", you say. While the broader gullies might catch the eye of the less imaginative skiers in your crew, I've avoided them for various reasons. Massive cornices, variable depth snowpack, and they get the snow blasted off of them for highway avalanche control work.

The "Crack of Noon" chute, is certainly one of the more aesthetic lines that regularly fills in on the mountain, though the thin choke at the bottom doesn't fill in to something wider than ski width until the spring snow sloughs into it. Despite the casual nature that the name "Crack of Noon" implies, this line can be hard to time. This area just doesn't get as much snow as the mountains to the immediate south and might have a faceted snowpack. The 2500m top elevation means that it is susceptible to high freezing levels. In the end, we blasted up this thing fairly late in the season (still not the worst freeze I've ever had) and found good coverage, but wind affected snow.

As I mentioned the highway avalanche control program earlier, one thing to note about these lines, and any on Buller is to watch out for the "AVALANCHE AREA. NO STOPPING SIGNS". It means that while these are pretty much roadside hits, you might have to park a km or two up the road and out of the avalanche path. But you're a skier who has done avalanche training, you should know that! You can either walk along the road or traverse up through the different avalanche paths. Then boot up the thing until you top out on the ridge!
Topping out on the ridge

Thin crux at the centre
The narrow choke at the bottom takes some slough to fill it in

It's a quick one. We returned our rental ice axes before the guy at the rental shop thought we had used them.

Line Length: 500m
Total Elevation Gain: 780m
Round Trip Distance: 5km
Top Elevation: 2500m
Other lines in the area: There are lots of other options on Mt. Buller if you are keen on them. Otherwise, I would keep driving to where there is more snow. There are endless lines in the Tower, Galatea, Chester, and Headwall drainages.
Hillmap route (the map is probably wrong as there is no snow for reference in the google maps image!)

Other Lines of the Week .
Other Kananaskis lines.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Argentiere Basin of the Rockies

Although I have never been to Chamonix, I have seen pictures and videos from the Argentiere Basin, a "playground" for ski mountaineering with slopes ranging from fairly mellow to the current leading edge. A quick ski up the valley leads to a multitude of adventures and possible enchainments. Some so serious you must start by headlamp at an hour when many partiers are going home. But you get to watch the sun rise over a sleeping town from high up on the mountain. A place where you can choose from a buffet of lines, be gripped one moment, and sitting on a patio a half hour later.

First light

While acknowledging my inexperience with the real Argentiere, I must say that after skiing up past Lake Louise, I was wondering about the similarities. Surrounded by ski lines on both sides: Surprise Pass, Mt. Aberdeen, The Mitre, the "death trap" leading up to the West face of Mt. Lefroy and the Sickle on Mt. Victoria, the NE and N faces of Mt. Victoria, the south facing bowl coming off of Popes peak. Not to mention the skiing that can be done on the other side of the mountains into adjacent valleys. The temperamental Rockies snowpack makes most of this area off limits for much of the season, but the skiing really shapes up in the spring with spring snowstorms plastering the steep, high faces, and a melt freeze crust in the valley bottom providing quick travel. Certainly quicker than stumbling up the trail and the scree and boulder moraines in the early season, or wallowing in faceted snow in the mid season.

On a perfect day, we were surprised to find ourselves alone high up in the valley quite the contrast from the bustling shoreline down below. The mountain was waiting for us to make our move, but we wouldn't be pushing it today especially with a couple of season's worth of lines to be skied.

While waiting for the snow to soften up, we enjoyed the sunshine and the stillness. When we got bored, it was a quick ski down, enjoying corn up high, traversing, avoiding avalanche debris, and finally skating and contouring the valley before the first signs of other life appeared: deep footprints from someone venturing up the valley in shoes. And finally back into the crowds along the lake, not long after being perched up high on the glacier, no doubt the subjects of many vacation photos.

Joel in front of Abbot Pass



Thursday, June 8, 2017

Lines of Last Week: Skyladder and Silverhorn

Eventually, I instead of merely writing about lines, the FOMO kicked in and decided to go out and ski some. So instead of writing about favourite lines that I have not yet mentioned, let's look back to last week. With a solid melt freeze going on, excellent coverage on the glaciers and some stoked partners, I got dragged to the icefields.

The parking lots at the icefields are certainly an interesting place. During a nice weather system like the one we experienced, it morphs into a bit of a village with parties camping out to get an early start on their objective, whether it be skiing onto the icefield, steep skiing on Athabasca or Andromeda, mountaineering, or alpine climbing (mountaineering without gaiters). Of course rolling into the parking lot at the casual hour of 04:00 and seeing headlamps bobbing up and down the toe of the glaciers coming off Athabasca and Andromeda quickly makes things seem very real. Maybe I should have gotten up earlier. Oh well, I'll just move faster and make it up on the trail.

The loss of the "climber's" parking lot has been lamented over, but we are really only talking about a kilometer of fast walking in running shoes to shake the legs out.


Skyladder is a classic alpine climb and also a must-have in every Rockies shredder's resume. Travel through the moraines was quick with a well beaten trail. Once we put the ski boots and skis on, a firm crust also provided fast travel, though requiring finesse on the sidehills.
The line poking out over the glacier. Rumour has it that the glacier is starting to cause issues for more and more climbers.

A fast crust and no issues on the glacier. Sounds like that is easier said than done for this glacier

It felt good to be back booting up steep snow. I kicked it into high gear.

The "cold shoulder" above the main slope of Skyladder was shaded and the angle did not let up that much. It made for some scratchy skiing on the way down before we sunk our edges into Skyladder's softening slopes.

Safely down after a great ski

Top elevation: 3450m
Total Vertical: 1450m
Round trip distance: 12km
Line length: 500m (from glacier to subpeak)
Hillmap route

Silverhorn: A white Silverhorn in the sun was staring us down as we walked back to the cars after skiing Skyladder. There were no questions what our objective for the next day would be.

I've been turned around before on this mountain. It is easy to underestimate one of the "easy" ways up a mountain with so many routes. When the Ramp Route is in ski-able condition, it is also puckering, requiring a traverse across a steep slope above seracs. I had a harrowing experience there two years earlier when a ropemate triggered a small wind pocket as we tried to gain the ridge. The plug was quickly pulled on that day.

Once again, we were able to make it up a decent way with shoes on. The freeze wasn't quite as good as the day before which was a bit of a bummer for the ski down. We were not able to enjoy prime corn conditions up on the glacier so that we could ski a gully down to the moraines before it got too warm.

The Silverhorn. Great coverage this year!
 After skiing up the glacier, we skied onto a skintrack from a previous day across the Ramp. After a puckering traverse, we looked up onto the ridge and saw 28 climbers from the Spokane Mountaineering School!
I'm not usually one to care about summits, but I had no desire to "experience" the Ramp Route ever again, so I made sure to tag the summit. We also put the skis on and skied along the ridge.
 One would say the trail up the ridge and across to the summit was well beaten in. I put on skis and skied off the summit, booted back up to the Silverhorn then put skis back on for the main event.

 The skiing was firm with a bit of windslab and was a little more gripping when the slope rolled over midway down.
Finding some soft snow at the bottom
Skiing most of the steeper pitch non stop, my legs were burning and we waited a little for the glacier to corn up, before realizing that the crust was probably too thin for good corn turns. We managed to make it down without catching too many edges for another great day.

Top elevation: 3491m
Total Vertical: 1500m
Round trip Distance: 10.5km
Line length: 270m
Hillmap route

line of the Week
Icefields Parkway

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Line of the Week: Purple Knob Couloirs

After missing last week's #lineoftheweek, I thought I would include a "zone" containing multiple lines for this week.

Hero Knob is the classic ski tour in Kananaskis, and while it is not in the book, the cat is certainly out of the bag. Due to the young age of the Rockies, the mountains are still steep, leaving few places for the cold, intermittent snowfalls to stick to. The Hero Knob area is a bit of an exception as there are lots of options for skiing, and certainly more variety than most spots. Skiing the Hero Knob traverse as a loop, the North facing lines off Purple Knob present an opportunity to add some more skiing to your day. With the right conditions and attitude, it is possible to add 2-4 of these lines to your typical Hero Knob traverse.

Dogleg: Good tree/avalanche path skiing. I typically traverse into this area from the Hero Knob road. Makes for a shorter walk at the end of the day if doing the full Hero Knob loop

Purple Knob Ridge Couloirs: Once in the big avalanche path coming off the south face of Hero Knob, you can start to make your way up a north facing avalanche path to the base of these two lines.

A post shared by Travis Brown (@personal_peak) on

Graupel makes for some interesting sluffing.

Two parallel side by side couloirs. Boot up!

Purple Knob Bowl. This is a good spot to get in a lap or two while you wait for some other sucker to punch in a track across the sketchy headwall that gains the hanging valley to the Hero Knob ridge. The Purple Knob col can also be accessed by ascending the bowl on its south side after skiing from near the top of the Dogleg. Watch out for the cornice at the top! The rest of lines can be booted up from the North Bowl! The approach to the north bowl is more in line with the typical Hero Knob circuit, except instead of heading up and to the right to gain the hanging valley, you go further left!

Black Prince Col. This area is similar to the North aspect of the Hero Knob col, but more wind affected and thin, especially at the top. The other lines off the col present some interesting options though! The first (and the second depending on your definition) couloirs on skier's left of the col can be accessed by climbing up the south side of the col. The rest require bootpacking up them or more creative scrambling on the col. The col can be gained from the North via the hanging valley, or from the south via an interesting traverse from the Black Prince parking lot described below.
Using the South side to access the first couloir adjacent to the col.

Thin at the top!
South approach to the Black Prince col.
Black Prince Col Traverse: Ski as you would if you were heading to the Black Prince tree triangle, but once in the bowl, head up the bowl and start climbing an avalanche path coming off the headwall of Mt. Black Prince. However, before getting onto steeper slopes, follow a creek to the right into the next avalanche path coming off the headwall. Continue up the ramp leading to the hanging valley and then continue up and to the right into the hanging valley. The col can be ascended by center punching it. The run down the other side of the col is usually more wind affected than Hero Knob and may be thin at the top.
Elevation gain: 1000m
Distance: 10km
Top Elevation: 2460m

Other Lines of the Week .
Other Kananaskis lines.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Line of the Week: Flower couloir and Pacman couloir double

I'm going to go with a more popular and classic line this week, but with an added twist. Either of these lines are a pretty short day by themselves considering the long drive to Bow Summit, but can be easily combined to make for a proper day, more in line with other "Line of the Week". More like "Line of the weak" if you just want to do one and call it a day...

The Flower Couloir is accessed by traversing along a bench above Bow Summit, in the mid section of the slope.  The "stem" of the flower is steep and narrow leading into the bowl of the "receptacle". I skied the north facing "petals", closer to the climbers left side.

Descend the Flower, then traverse back along the bench, all the way to the north end of the face above Bow Summit. Climb up the North ridge, and trend west into the north facing slidepath coming off of the Pacman couloir when available. The Pacman couloir is short and steep. After skiing the couloir, you could ski the avalanche path all of the way to the lake, or traverse back on top of the ridge and enjoy a nice NE facing run back to the parking lot.

Heading towards the Flower

Pacman couloir. Short and steep.

Total Vertical: 950m
Top Elevation: 2700m
Round Trip Distance: 7.5km
Line Length: 300m + 100m

Other lines in the area: There is lots of ski potential on both sides of the Icefields Parkway starting from Bow Summit, or from a couple of km north or south of the parking lot. Rumour has it that power tripping RCMP are ticketing vehicles parked along the highway that are not completely in the shoulder.
Hillmap route

line of the Week
Icefields Parkway

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Line of the Week: North Face of Mt. Lyautey

As spring days get longer, it is time to think about those bigger ski tours on your list. Of course with the warm spring weather, approach and access need to be considered. I like to think about lines that have good trail, creek, or open avalanche path access that can provide expedited travel to the alpine as they freeze better than densely treed areas. While Mt. Lyautey starts off with a long valley bottom approach, an open avalanche path provides access to the glacier, and there is the potential that the trail could be melted out, while the line has wintery snow up above. I first noticed Lyautey glacier in some summer skiing pictures and was intrigued with the spot. A week before this trip, while attempting Mt. Joffre, I was in awe of the couloir riddled SE face of Mt. Lyautey.
Start the day off with a 6.5km slog from North Interlakes Day Use, almost to the Forks campground. The map link might come in handy for determining where to leave the trail as there are a couple of avalanche paths and drainages that converge in a similar area. Once in the creek, we ascended the drainage to the moraine on the climber's left side. I believe there is a small waterfall that can get buried with snow under the climber's right side. Once on the moraine, it is an easy ski onto the glacier where a north face that is absolutely riddled with couloirs stands out.

Looking up the glacier. Summit is the high point on the right side
On the climber's left side of the face are two prominent couloirs and we even made an attempt before discovering windslab. They however, do not lead to the summit! The summit is accessed via a much less "walled-in" couloir further on climber's right.

The line to the summit with tracks down it. Obviously endless possibilities for ski descents!
Looking down the line from the top. Both glaciers are visible at the bottom.
On the exit, we skied down the skier's left side of the moraine (not the side we climbed up)

Round Trip Distance: 21km
Elevation gain: 1550m
Top elevation: 3045m
Line length: 200m
Other options in the area: Once you are committed to the drainage, there are options for more mellow skiing on either of the glaciers and the col to the west of Mt. Lyautey. There are many skiable lines on the North face of Mt. Lyautey. If you do not wish to commit to the creek heading up the moraine, you could ski even deeper up the valley to 3 Isle lake and attempt to ski north facing bowls on Defender Mountain, Mt. McHarg, and Mt. Worthington.
The equally "delicious" SE face of Lyautey
As you can camp at the Forks campground, the Lyautey glacier can also make an excellent summer skiing objective.

Hillmap route

Other Lines of the Week .
Other Kananaskis lines.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

Line of the Week, South face of Eiffel Peak

I know, another line  that requires either a long approach or waiting until the road opens. Either factor keeps this classic line from being the highlight of the ski guidebooks.
Staring across to the SW ridge of Mt. Temple. Also skiable...apparently

From Moraine Lake, follow the trail to Larch Valley and Eiffel Lakes. I prefer to ski up the SE shoulder of Eiffel peak rather than center punching the slide path which may or may not have a couple of chokes to navigate. Once on the face, it's just a straightforward skin up to the top, with possibly a short bootpack through a choke. Pick the right day and the views at the top are incredible!
South facing powder at the end of May. What?

800m of fall line skiing awaits. Ski out the avalanche path all the way to the bottom. If you are lucky, the snow in the drainage will still have a supportive crust and you can surf your way down the moraines to the lake. Or slog it out if the snow has become isothermal.

While the top of the line had slid down to hard snow through the choke, we were content with powder turns in the main body of the line. On this outing, the base of the avalanche path had melted out, with only new snow on the grass, bushes, and rocks. made for an interesting exit.
Elevation gain: 1080m
Round Trip distance: 10km
Top Elevation: 3077m
Line length: 800m
Other options in the area: As mentioned the the Eiffel-Pinnacle Couloir article, there is no shortage of lines in the Moraine lake area.
hillmap route

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Line of the Week: Mt. Rae, Elbow Lake Couloir

While the face above could provide an awesome line in the right conditions, the couloir is on the left of the photo.
Gloomy, rainy weather and battling a poor freeze on the weekend has me reminiscing about a June day a couple of years back. I was supposed to meet up with some friends who were camping in the parking lot. I think I misinterpreted a text message and thought they were camping up at the lake. I hiked up to Elbow lake and didn't see anyone awake at the campground. But I looked up and saw a line that looked interesting to ski. The Campground Couloir. I transitioned to skis at the base of the fan, a short, easy bushwack from the campground.

The crust was marginal at best, but I was able to work my way up to the top col, which provided a nice view of the Rae Glacier. A quick ski down to my shoes and I was on my way back home.

Rae Glacier from the top of the line.

The window for Highwood is coming up soon enough. Current snow pillow data shows that the snowpack is in the upper historical quartile. While the road is currently snow covered, some good skiing might be remaining by the time the road melts out (for bike access) or when the gate opens on June 15. I've also seen pictures of this line being skied in November before the gate closes.

Total Distance: 4.5km
Total Elevation: 725m
Top Elevation: 2700m
Line Length:  400m
Hillmap Route
Other options in the area: Highwood pass is chock full of good skiing, but only when the road is open between June 15 (or earlier if you want to bike or ski in ~19km) and December 1. Rae Glacier and the north bowl of Mt. Rae are two other lines in the vicinity of the Elbow Lake Couloir.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Stanley Mitchell Trip

A couple of weeks back, I was thinking about what I should do during the Easter break. In the back of my mind, I knew that the Little Yoho Valley is a ski touring paradise at this time of year with good coverage on the approach, long days, and better stability. After seeing that there was open space in the Stanley Mitchell Hut, I scrambled to get a crew together to make it happen.

After studying the guidebook, I even hatched an ambitious plan of skiing all of the tours...in a day. And I wrangled up Joel and his buddy Antoine to join me for that day, as well as my girlfriend and her sister/sister's boyfriend to joins us at the hut.

The approach was fast, even four the casual crew I skied the approach with. 3.25hrs to Takakkaw and to the hut in another 4.

Unfortunately, we didn't have the weather/visibility to tackle my ambitious tour, but that's not to say we didn't try. After getting up Isolated Col and to the shoulder of Mt. MacArthur in the whiteout, we decided that the wind tunnel of the President Glacier was too much. Back at the hut, we took a consolation prize, skiing some protected powder on the south slopes of MacArthur on the way to Kiwetenok pass.
A post shared by Peter Knight (@peteyknight5) on

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Bummed that we didn't get up the Presidents, we decided to take advantage of a weather window on Sunday morning before skiing back out to the highway. Joel and I traded turns leading and made it to President pass and back in 2hrs. Great snow near the top!

A great weekend. The approach/exit was not too bad, and I still would like to go back and hopefully nail a weather window!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Some good deals on skimo gear now

Posting this for as much of a reminder for myself for future years and as a heads up for anyone looking to get into the sport or upgrade their current setup. This isn't cross country skiing or running where reps apparently see some sort of return (really?) from giving away free stuff. We all buy our gear, except a select few top guys. The top guys just have to beg their "sponsors" for replacement equipment when things break. It's one of the refreshing things about the sport: we all work to pay for it; you aren't competing against the equivalent of the Russian boxer from Rocky.

Anyways, there are some good deals out there right now on clothing, packs, and equipment that bring prices more in the ballpark of what you would spend on a normal touring setup. You just have to know where to look and what to look for.

If you aren't sure what/where to look (refer to an earlier blog post), you could comment below, but I would suggest waiting for the fall and following the development of a new local skimo shop, skiuphill.ca who will be able to provide expert advice and stock the gear that you can physically touch.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Line of the Week: Eiffel-Pinnacle Couloir

This one is well back there and quite hidden. Unless you've ventured up the Paradise Valley (or have seen pictures, like I have :) ), or have topped out the Mitre Col or Mt. Aberdeen, you might hardly have known this great line existed. Similarly, unless you wait until Moraine Lake road opens for the season (usually late May after the long weekend), the approach to this line requires a long walk up the Paradise Valley.

The seed was planted with a photo just like this one

On this particular day, we first skied the south face of Eiffel Peak (in great powder conditions), then entered the Paradise valley by skiing over Wastach Pass. Accessed via the summer trail to Eiffel Lakes. Wrapping around Eiffel Peak left us at the base of the line. I assume it is also possible to access the line by skiing over Sentinel Pass and wrapping around the base of Pinnacle Peak. Being late in the season, crusty snow, runnels, and debris were all part of the experience.

The couloir for me topped up against a rock band. More adventurous might make it even higher, but this would necessitate taking off the skis or rappeling on the way down. Of course, it might go higher in fatter snow years.

Once over Wastach pass on the way out, It can be fun skiing down the drainage to Moraine Lake rather than backtracking the summer trail, as long as the snow is still supportive.

Line Length: 400m
Top Elevation: 2750m
Total Elevation: 1330m (1200m via Paradise valley)
Round Trip Distance: 13km (23km via Paradise valley)
Other options in the area: You are in a ski mountaineering hotspot that really comes into its own late in the spring when the road opens. Aemmer Couloir, 3/4 Couloir, S face of Mt. Aberdeen, SW Ridge of Mt. Temple are in the area. The previously mentioned south face of Eiffel peak. The passes (Sentinel, Wastach, and Wenkchemna) offer tamer skiing if conditions or skillset warrant.

Hillmap route

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Line of the Week: Narao Left-hand Couloir

The Twin couloirs coming off of Narao Peak's summit always grab my attention as I drive by heading west over Kicking Horse Pass. The line on climbers right is the more committing of the two with a chockstone wedged in the couloir that requires ascending and descending through the small tunnel under the stone. Obviously not the place to fall or get taken away by slough, cornices, or avalanches, lets you get funneled through the toilet bowl! The left hand couloir is less committing, but no walk in the park. When I skied the line, there was a small cliff in the chute that required climbing/skiing around. Let this choke fill in. Still not a great place to fall.

Approach the line as you would for the Popes Peak tour described in Summits and Icefields, going over the Narao shoulder from the Lake O'hara parking lot. But instead of going right to the base of the hanging valley to continue up to the Popes col, follow a bench leading to the moraines at the base of the couloirs. But not so high you are on the steep slopes coming off of Narao Peak

A view down the line where you can see the route from Narao Shoulder. Cornices were coming down at this point!

The cornice at the top combined with the North East exposure makes managing the cornice hazard with early morning sun difficult. We elected not to top out the upper slopes as they opened up, instead transitioning at the base of a rock where the chute diverges near the top.

Line Length: 450m
Top Elevation: 2973m
Total vertical: 1400m
Round Trip Distance: 9.5km
Other options: The previously mentioned Popes Col tour is a classic described in Summits and Icefields. The Narao Shoulder offers some skiing as well. The Lake O'Hara parking lot is the starting point for numerous tours: Cathedral Peak, Collier, and Mt. Nibloc to name a few.

Hillmap route

This particular line was the scene of probably the most significant close call with a cornice fall that I have witnessed. I have stepped away or at least limited attempting lines like this since.