On Saturday, December 15 2012, Wietse and I warmed up our back country skiing technique / muscles with a trip up to Healy Pass in Banff National Park.
There is nothing technical about this trip - simply push one ski in front of the other for 9 or 10 km to the pass and then enjoy a very low-angle ski back to the parking lot. I found the skiing through the trees a bit boring, but the views open up very nicely near the pass. I can see myself going back in the fall - there's a ton of larches around the pass area.
I would also have no problem doing this ski solo. There are a couple of slide paths near the beginning of the trail but you are across quite quickly.
[Ice climbers can be seen beneath this popular ice climb (Bourgeau Left) near the back country parking lot at Sunshine Village.]
[Gorgeous trail with tons of snow already in mid-December.]
[The meadows open up after about 6.5km from the parking lot. LOTS of larches start in this area.]
[Looking back at our tracks (we broke trail after reaching the meadows).]
[Wietse breaks trail towards the pass which is just left of center.]
[Heading for the pass. You can see how gentle the terrain is all around here. Perfect for a nice spring day or higher avy days.]
[Looking back as we near the pass. Sunshine ski area in the center and Wawa Ridge on the left in the far distance.]
[Wietse skis up to the pass. Mount Assiniboine just peeking out of clouds on upper right.]
[Telephoto of mighty Mount Assiniboine!]
[Goats Eye in the far distance on the left with Twin Cairns and Citadel Peak also in the far distance from the pass.]
[Looking over Healy Pass towards the Pharaoh Lakes and impressive peaks.]
[Lunch break just above the pass to climber's left. We were tempted to climb the peaks in the background but choose to save that for a warmer day!]
[Telephoto of the top of the lift on the left with the impressive view of Eagle Mountain on the left and Howard Douglas on the right.]
[Vern at Healy Pass.]
[Another view over towards Pharaoh Peaks.]
[Panorama from just above the pass looking towards Sunshine Meadows. ++]
[Healy Pass. ++]
[Ready to ski down - almost too gentle to generate any speed! But a beautiful day and a gorgeous area nonetheless. ++]