I’m always looking to explore new areas in Rogers Pass and despite the number of times I’ve been there, I hadn’t spent much time skiing out of the Hermit Parking Lot. As things get busier and busier in Rogers Pass, the crowds present a great incentive to try out different areas that maybe don’t see Grizzly Shoulder levels of traffic.
Last weekend, Christine, Marie-Eve, and I rolled into Rogers Pass to meet up with Yann. Yann knows Rogers Pass better than any of us, so suggested he pick our destination for the day. I was doubly happy because everything looked rather socked in and I wasn’t feeling super motivated. Yann suggested we park at Hermit and then head up the drainage. Stability was a little dodgy - not bad necessarily, but really just one of those days where we didn’t feel super confident in the snow and therefore wanted a destination that would afford us regular opportunities to reassess our plans.
The plan was that if we started having alarm bells going off, we could stick lower down in the trees outside of the Hermit slide path, but if things seemed decent, we could wander up into the alpine without immediately committing ourselves to huge terrain.
The initial climb out of the Hermit Parking lot is probably a big part of the reason that you don’t see a ton of parties up there - it’s seriously steep and a bit of a grind. The upshot is that if you put your head down and just crush, you can get high fast - and sure enough we did. We super quickly found ourselves at tree line, above the clouds and looking out at endless peaks. Seemed like a pretty reasonable place to stop for a quick bite and to take in the views.
Probing with poles and hasty pit didn’t turn up anything too scary, so we decided to press on into the alpine. We found a broad rib that would let us continue to work our way up while remaining relatively protected. It wouldn’t keep us safe if anything big released above us, but there were no parties above us who might trigger something, the temperature wasn’t spiking, and there was no snow or wind to speak of, so we decided the risk was acceptable as long as we stuck to low consequence terrain and avoided convex rolls.
Eventually we reached a ramp at about 2250m that while still relatively mellow, would have come with higher consequences if anything pulled so we decided to back off and ski back down from that high point. Our first lap down we mostly retraced our footsteps skiing down the rib, but took a couple of opportunities high up to ski cut convexities to test stability. Again, nothing budged so while sticking to conservative lines, we let ourselves have some fun skiing from 2225m down to 1650m which was a pretty fantastic almost 600m run.
We toured back up to our highpoint, ripped skins. and skied a continuous line from 2225m down to the parking lot at 1300m. More confident at this point in stability and knowing that there were no parties above us, we elected to ski the edge of the slide path. It was a fantasitc line that took us from blazing sun in the alpine down into the low hanging clouds.
The entire time we were skiing in the Hermit drainage that day, we only saw one other party - a guided group doing an AST2 and they generally stuck to different terrain features than us and skied out early. Considering the parking lot is at nearly the same elevation as the Discovery Centre, it’s rather surprising that Hermit doesn’t see more traffic - even if we didn’t feel like going into the alpine, there was some super nice treeline skiing that we could have done, so there’s definitely options out there that I would be interested in exploring in a range of conditions.
I’m on a quest this season to try and not repeat lines. I want to try and force myself to ski something different every time I’m out there to get myself out of ruts that take me back to the same lines over and over again. For no good reason I haven’t spent much time up Hermit - and this day showed me just how silly that is. There’s great terrain, I felt like we could manage the hazards reasonably effectively, and the steep trail let us get above the low hanging cloud super quickly.
Grumpy, cantankerous, wildly opinionated and so much more! Getting really tired on skis is what makes me happy.