Glacier Crest was supposed to be an easier day after completing Video Peak on Sunday. Instead we got a little more than we bargained for! Avalanche Danger was marked as considerable mostly due to a storm that was supposed to come in later in the evening. Therefore, we decided to be a pre-dawn start from the Asulkan TH. There is a great ski track that travels up the Asulkan Valley. After about 1km the forest opens to a big open space and trail junction. Stay right (left goes to Wheeler Hut). The trail continues back into the forest. There are lots of signs marking the turnoffs to different trails. The Turnoff (left) for Glacier Crest Trail  is right after crossing the stone bridge. The skin track begins to ascend from here using many switchbacks and thus endless tight kick turns.  After gain probably about 900ish meters the trees begin to open up on a broad flatter ridge. The hump of Glacier Crest can be seen and the track traverses toward it. Thsi also make the end of the major switchbacks which in celebratory! Views also begin to present themselves on the ridge.

Finally the treeline is reached and the ascent of the final ridge with requires a few switchbacks again. Then a traverse to the summit. There was one steep sections which required us to bootpack our skis, but everything else was doable. Looking down will make you dizzy. Lots of exposure on the ridge, but it is not a knife edge. The summit is broad and big enough to removes skins and set up for a descent. There are few options. We watch some folks ski directly off the summit into the moranie bowl. This option is probably a double black diamond and had lots of rocks to navigate. Another option was to ski through the trees directly back into the Valley. Yet another was to continue several meters along the ridge and drop into the bowl where the angle was ever to slightly less intimidating than the summit direct descent, but featured no rocks. Finally there was an option to backtrack along the ridge and ski off a lower angle slope into the bowl.

We first decided that our best option was to ski down the lower angle slope into the bowl. Two others skiers were also weighing their options. One had dug out a small pit which he let us examine before making a final decision. There seems to be a large slab on top of insecure facets. That didn’t see good on the rolling terrain into the bowl. They decided to descend via the trees which we had no beta for. We opted to backtrack to the summit again and then a bit further on to descend into the bowl. Meanwhile as we were making our decision the weather situation was declining. Temps dropped, some snow flurries fell and the sky filled with clouds. We wanted to get off the the summit!  Instead of skiing the extremely steep initial part of descent we felt it better to boot pack our skis until the angle eased a bit. Damien stamped out a flat spot on the side of the slope and we clipped into our skis for the descent.

Like the previous day on Video Peak the powder was stellar. and we were luckily that flat  light didn’t seem to be an issue this time. The snow stopped, but the cold temps and cloudy skys remained and we made some bouncy turns down the main summit slope and into the rolling bowl. In fact we became joyous turning through the pristine slopes of the upper moraine of the Illecillewaet Glacier. This descent was going to  be a breeze!… just kidding!

About 1/4 of the way down back to the valley the once soft rolling slopes turned into a moraine minefield. We were faced with navigating through a maze of ice walls, cliffs, protruding rocks, trees, boulders… any kind of terrain trap you could think of basically. This wasn’t going to be a chill as we imagined. I can’t give detailed advice on the best way to descend other than do not go fast or approach the top of the hill expecting that there is a slope down. Often there were cliffs. Usually as ever road bock there was some kind of an exit. However, we did have to drop down a few cliffs about 2 meters high. There’s a first time for everything. The experience was very intense and the moraines seemed to go on forever. But to be honest I relished the challenge even though it was stressful.

Finally we reached the lower creek and we were able to breathe a little easier. We followed an up-track at that point which got wider the more we descended. Here the skiing went back to be fun and not quit as stressful. This track linked up with the main trail with the valley which we followed back to the parking lot.

So, more than what we expected, but no regrets! I like living on the edge!

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