Blanket Glacier Ski Trip

March 10-18, 2001

This file was mostly prepared in advance of the trip, at the end of the page are a few comments added after having been there.

Snowboarding Note

This is a backcountry ski destination and trip, not a mountaineering one. The terrain in this area has an inherently low avalanche danger. Most runs are long and at a good slope angle but not too steep. The way this years snowpack is developing in many areas this is worth considering!

The terrain at Blanket Glacier is supposed to be quite varied, there should be something for almost everyone from relative novices to those comfortable on long runs on glaciers. This is a good destination for families or for friends/partners where not everyone is an expert skier.

The treed skiing has been described as "limitless" and will not be entirely tracked out at the end of a week even if the cloud ceiling remains low the whole time. It is not extremely steep, with the average and most common slope angles approximately 30 degrees. There are some steeper shots around but they require good weather and an early start since many are south facing. They are often not in condition by mid-March, although some may still be skiable. While it may be possible to seek out steep chutes it is not the main appeal to this area. Long runs with consistently good skiing slope angles are the biggest appeal, along with the fact that there are lots of options in any weather.

Most of the runs are supposed to be relatively safe from avalanche hazard since they are treed, have moderate slope angles, and are often benched.

The glacier offers excellent long runs on good weather days. There is one well recognized avalanche area on the glacier and there are crevasse fields, but both hazards are generally avoided with straightforward routefinding. The few commonly skied runs on the glacier are typically skied unroped. Remember that visibility can change without warning at any time though.

The area is used by CMH heliski during periods with low cloud ceilings, for the same reasons backcountry skiers like the area. When weather permits they generally fly elsewhere. Many alternate destinations have far more limited skiing in poor weather, so sharing the area with the helicopters is a price to pay for having so many excellent options. Most people would consider it better than being hut bound with no helicopters around. (CMH is aware of the chalet and tries to minimize conflicts when the weather permits. They have also been known to give chalet skiers a lift once in while when they do use the area.)

There is a traverse to Mt Begbie and Revelstoke which should take two days. If the weather is good at the end of the week this will be possible to anyone interested. It is not being organized as part of the trip. Participants are welcome to plan to do it. If the weather is poor or is deteriorating the traverse can easily be called off and the scheduled flight out can be used. This is a good shorter ski traverse with relatively low commitment (as these things go, anyway). Those interested in longer tours may want to consider doing this one to gain some experience.

Snowboarding Info, straight from the chalet folks:

"Split-board is definitely the way to go as we get too much fresh snow to make snow-shoeing efficient or fun! Most of our lines are good for snowboarders - a couple of lines once you get to know them - have benches - but can be straight-lined. All of our snowlines finish with great vertical down to elevation of chalet - then a couple hundred yards of horizontal travel - we sometimes get a "ride" across lake back to chalet or take time to split our board! We seem to average 1 - 2 snowboarders per week throughout winter!"

Post-Trip Comments

Most of what is written above turned out to be accurate. The one thing which was highly misleading was the comment about the use of the area by CMH for heli-skiing. The immediate area was heavily heli-skied all week, something other groups have reported as well. While we never had any crystal clear days we had a variety of weather and CMH was there in all of it. While we had no direct contact with heli-skiers the track from the lake uphill to the low divide to the west suddenly looked like a downhill run midweek. The CMH helicopter flew directly over us at times (not to say this was intentional, I assume they are just indifferent to hut based skiers) and one of their pickup points is right on the end of the lake very close to the chalet.

2004, Update concerning the heli-skiing conflicts - The following is from an e-mail received from the chalet - "The major change involves a new working arrangement with CMH heli -skiing with whom we have now reached an agreement whereby they will not longer fly over our chalet or pick up skiers near our buildings. We have also agreed to communicate with each other to avoid conflicts with daily skiing areas."

2006, Notice - This is an archived trip report from 2001, not a current review. I'm not running a site with reviews and I'm not paid to update anything in the interest of promotion. For more current information on any updates and improvements to the chalet and/or the operation please seek out actual reviews which are more recent, inquire of people who have been there more recently, and contact Blanket Glacier directly. The heli-skiing situation is subject to change and after five years no further updates will posted to this archived trip report from 2001.

While the area is inherently safe from avalanches in terms of having many runs that are low hazard from a terrain point of view this is still very much part of the Canadian mountains. There are various terrain traps and areas of localized hazard. Even though there is a great deal of safe terrain for runs groups should plan on carrying safety equipment and knowing how to use it.

The weather kept us in the trees just about the entire time. While people did tend to go to the same general areas where tracks had been made there was certainly no shortage of untracked snow at any time. There was also a steady accumulation throughout the week to refresh things - typically 10-20 cm each night with a total for the week of about 1 metre.

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