Simpson Pass to Sunshine Village

December 22, 2013

Ski Touring

Banff – Sunshine Village, AB

I think this is my first report of a non-peak-bagging trip. With 260 peaks on my belt now, I already start to feel the challenge of finding suitable objectives in winter, especially on skis. If I don’t slow down on the “pace”, I’m pretty sure that ski touring and ice climbing will gradually replace peak-bagging for my winter activity in the near future. Two days ago I’d already ski’d Twin Cairns in this area with Ben, but the weather was miserable throughout the day. And I’d already done Twin Cairns two years ago, so I didn’t take any photo during the day. Therefore no trip report for that day. This would be the 6th day (also the last day) of my post-exam trip, and was much better weather wise, and I decided to join Kelly Smith, Wietse B and Dave Salahab for a ski touring trip in Sunshine area again. Even though I’ve done pretty much all winter peaks in this area, I’d never been to Simpson Pass before.

The day started cold (-20 ish) at the parking lot. I’d done Healy Pass trail two times already in winter and I was totally prepared for how long the initial slog would be. It was indeed pretty long. After turning left at Simpson Pass turn-off, heavy duty trail-breaking started. For some reason I wasn’t high on energy this day so Wietse and Dave did most of the trail-breaking fair. We went a bit too far climber’s left and came to a set of cliff bands. We contoured right for a while but still had to ascend a steep slope with unconsolidated snow. That’s the only part I’d wish to have snowshoes on instead of skis, but it’s a good practice on skinning up. After finishing most of the elevation gain we came to a large meadow.

Our objective would be aiming towards the broad col between Twin Cairns and a small ridge on its left, but the terrain was not as flat as expected. There were lots of up-and-downs. From this broad col, we aimed straight towards the top of Wawa Chairlift, and then picked a blue run straight down to Sunshine Village. We enjoyed some beer at the Village before heading out. The ski-out was fast and fun. Don’t forget to take the Jackpine (name?) Chairlift on the way out. Two days ago Ben and I forgot to do so and ended up slogging through a long section of flats.

Simpson Pass to Sunshine Village ski route

Simpson Pass to Sunshine Village ski route

We had to ascend this steep slope due to off-route

We had to ascend this steep slope due to off-route

The Monarch

The Monarch

The weather was much better than anticipated

The weather was much better than anticipated

Great view of Mount Ball

Great view of Mount Ball

Arrived at the meadows now.

Arrived at the meadows now.

Skiing

Skiing

Panorama of the meadows

Panorama of the meadows

This part is treeless, makes it look like an icefield travel

This part is treeless, makes it look like an icefield travel

Wietse breaking trail ahead

Wietse breaking trail ahead

Mount Brett

Mount Brett

A great way to end a trip!

A great way to end a trip!

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