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fissile peak - northwest face

Feb 26, 2005

Clear skies had persisted all last week leaving the avalanche hazard at low in the alpine. The weather forecast for Saturday was blue skies, so Colin and I decided it would be a good day for a steeper ski descent. Both of us were keen to ski Fissile having failed on an attempt last year. (I will never ski up the Singing Pass Trail again).

We left town at 6:00 am, half an hour after our planned departure time thanks to colin. Our tardiness turned out in our favor, due to a wacky new money grab by Intrawest. As it turns out, there is a new Fresh Tracks ticket you can buy to allow access to the lifts at 8 AM, everyone else waits until 8:15. Fifteen minutes for sixteen dollars. A bit crazy to me, and I was perplexed as to where anyone would find fresh snow.

At the top of the gondola we met an old friend Adam Brovender, who was planning to ski the same route with his friend Dylan. We joined up and headed out across the musical bumps. I was happy to have them along, and Adam backed me up on the idea that everyone in the party should have an avalanche probe (Colin still hadn't gotten one!)

By 11:30 we were starting up from Russet Lake towards the west ridge of Fissile. After a lengthy bootpack we topped out on the ridge above the northwest face. It was my first time on the ridge in winter, so I scurried down to check out the top of banana chute, and then followed colin up to the summit. The views were great, but I was already going to be the last one skiing, so I didn't stay long.

By 1:20 I was on my skis and descending the northwest face. Conditions were far from ideal: windslab and variable snow made for a tricky descent. I stopped near the top to check the slope angle. It was 47 degrees, and I was a couple turns below the steepest part. I'm not sure if it was because of the challenging snow, or maybe because I'm a tele wuss, but my legs were dying on the descent. By the time I was at the bottom I could only drop to the snow and pant.

We zipped down the last slope and traversed around until we could climb back to the Russet Hut. From there it was a long tour back to Flute bowl and the much appreciated groomers back to the village. Overall the day was very enjoyable, despite the poor snow conditions.

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