A Perfect Day On The Little Sifton Traverse

After exploring Wolverine Ridge on Saturday, Kyle, Skyler, Christine, and I were looking to tick another new line of our to do list and the Little Sifton Traverse seemed like a pretty damn perfect objective.

The Little Sifton Traverse takes you up Grizzly Shoulder, across Little Sifton, and down the Hermit drainage all in only about 1400m of elevation gain so even with a short day we figured it’d be a pretty manageable objective.

Stability wasn’t perfect, but we’d spent some time exploring the Hermit side of things the weekend before and I’ve spent enough time up Grizzly Shoulder that I was pretty confident that we could manage that side of things and that really just left the connector between the two which on topo maps looked pretty straight forward. Ultimately, we felt that we could safely complete the Little Sifton Traverse - and hey, skiing back down Grizzly Shoulder would make for one hell of a consolation prize if we got to a point where we decided it would be more prudent to turn around.

The day didn’t start off feeling like it would be successful though. Down by the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre, the weather was miserable. It was a little chilly, totally socked in, and basically just looked slightly miserable down low - but we were pretty certain that if we gained a little elevation we’d see a temperature inversion similar to what we’d seen the day before. An inversion meant we would probably be getting above the miserable weather.

Gotta start the day pole whacking bridge cornices if you’re going up Connaught

Climbing up Grizzly Shoulder that theory was almost immediately borne out. We climbed up into the clouds and then we climbed right out above them and were treated to some of the most staggering beautiful views of Rogers Pass that I’ve ever seen. The temperature also steadily climbed and before long we were touring in a base layers enjoying what felt like spring conditions in January.

Christine soaking up the views as we tour up Grizzly Shoulder in Rogers Pass

We made steady progress up to the top of Puff Daddy which was as high as I’d previously bothered to go up Grizzly Shoulder. From there the climbing eased up significantly and we continued cruising up. There was definitely some cautious terrain management happening but we continued to be happy enough proceeding.

Nearing the top of Puff Daddy, the weather remained amazing

Before long we reached our high point - just a few meters bellow the summit of Little Sifton. We contemplated topping out but the snow looked like poop so we decided it wasn’t worth it for what wouldn’t be much more than two turns.

Kyle nearing the top of the Little Sifton Traverse with Sir Donald’s incredible ridge in the background

There was a large cornice on the ridge separating the Grizzly and Hermit sides of the traverse but we could skirt around it on the west side and access the Hermit Glacier from there. While the Grizzly Shoulder side of the traverse had been bathed in sun and so warm that it was definitely above zero, the Hermit side had been in shadow all day. The temperature difference was incredible and we went from base layers to enjoying cold, dry snow with only a few crusty bits scattered about.

Skyler cruises down the Hermit Glacier with Mount McDonald and Mount Sir Donald in the background.

Skiing down we were staring out at incredible views of Rogers Pass bathed in cloud, but with all of its peaks jutting out like islands. Conscious of the less than stellar snow stability, we cautiously made our way down linking islands of safety and sticking to mellow features wherever possible. Despite the caution, we got to enjoy a 1400m continuous run down the Hermit drainage. I love those super long runs.

Kyle cruising down the Hermit drainage towards the cloud layer below

Eventually, we hit the cloud layer and it was a jarring change. The light went from perfect to dead flat and at times we could only see a few dozen meters in front of us. Once we dropped through the bottom of the cloud layer we were back to the slightly shitty weather we’d departed in.

It’s sort of funny to think of all the people driving over Rogers Pass that day. While they sat in their vehicles on a dreary day, we were basking in perfect sunny weather above the clouds.

Touring back to the Discover Centre from the Hermit Parking Lot. Hard to believe there’s a sunny paradise up above those clouds

Touring back to the Discover Centre from the Hermit Parking Lot. Hard to believe there’s a sunny paradise up above those clouds

The Little Sifton Traverse wasn’t a super huge day, it wasn’t super technical, but it was straight up incredible. Great terrain, incredible views, and despite short days and not pushing too hard a pace, we were car to car in about six and a half hours.

Grumpy, cantankerous, wildly opinionated and so much more! Getting really tired on skis is what makes me happy.