I went out to Egypt Lake for the weekend a few weeks ago with grand aspirations of skiing the Sphinx Couloir.
Well, actually, that’s a lie. I went out to have a great, mellow weekend with a few friends including Christine, David, Marie-Eve, Paul OBK, Sera, and Christine’s sister Tanya who would be joining for her very first ski tour and we decided that the Egypt Lake Shelter would make for a great destination. As ski destinations go, it’s not exactly thrilling - terrain is mostly ultra mellow, but it’s a mellow ski tour to take someone for their first crack at things. I figured that if we were slogging out all that way then maybe I’d take a look at the one interesting line out there - the Sphinx couloir.
On the tour out conditions were decent - but as soon as we ripped skins at the top of Healy Pass I realized I was probably out of luck unless I wanted to sacrifice a set of skis. Conditions were nice, but there were A LOT of sharks lurking just below the surface of the snow.
Sometimes you can get away with a really shallow snowpack if you’ve got a supportive layer next to ground - something strong enough to support you over the rocks instead of plowing into the rocks.
That isn’t what we had this weekend. We had a few inches of snow broken up into a few different layers - but none of them were even close to strong enough to carry me over a rock at speed. Even at slow speeds on mellow terrain, we were nailing rocks left right and centre.
Long story short, there was enough snow to cautiously ski, but committing to the Sphinx Couloir and the even more worrisome talus fan below seemed like just a fast way to destroy some gear.
So with plans of skiing a cool line put on hold, I enjoyed an early season weekend with great people out at a nice little hut.
Now, this in itself isn’t really worth a trip report - but I decided to post this for one simple reason - every time I go to Egypt Lake, I get suckered into trying to ski the fall line from Healy Pass down into the drainage and every time I swear it’s going to be the last time I do that right about the time I find myself thrashing through dense trees and deadfall.
So, if you go - don’t just ski fall line unless the snowpack is really good. Instead, session the upper mellow slopes until you’re ready to go to the hut and then follow the summer trail down to the hut. I’ve posted the GPS track of the route we took on the way out (which was super pleasant) and have tactfully NOT included our track in which was a total thrash.
Grumpy, cantankerous, wildly opinionated and so much more! Getting really tired on skis is what makes me happy.