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Backcountry Ski in Rogers Pass

Columbia-Shuswap A, British Columbia


Added by Tam McTavish

Rogers Pass is one of the world's best ski touring destination. Located in the Glacier National Park alongside the trans Canada highway it offers quick and easy access directly to steep tree skiing, rolling pillow lines, and marvelous alpine snowfields. With everything from cruisey sheltered tree runs, to epic traverses or gnarly couloire runs this area has it all with deep fluffy snow.

The back country skiing in riding in Rogers Pass is top notch. The snow quality and quantity is some of the best in North America with easy access to some very steep terrain. 

What to Know

Rogers Pass is known for it's avalanches. The whole pass stretches for quite some distance and due to the steepness is carefully monitored by the Glacier National Park Safety team. They work with the Canadian Forces Artillery to ensure minimal risk to the Trans Canada highway, but this means there are frequent closures, and Zone Closures. To avid accidents, all recreationalist are required to get a permit to use most of the park. If you are skiing for more than a couple days it's worth taking the online test on the Parks website and obtain a annual winter permit. 

The avalanche control is done only to protect the road which means if you're new to the ski/ride/snowshoe touring you will need to take your Avalanche Safety Training 1 at minimum and be sure to check current conditions before heading out. 

Where to Stay

The pass doesn't have much in the way of accommodation unfortunately. But that don't that spoil your trip. The Discovery Centre parking lot is a temple for ski/ride bums, with Sprinters, and rusted pickups spending the night. You do have to get a free permit for this, so make sure to enquire at the Discovery centre before 4pm to ensure you're registered. This is also the only parking lot this is allowed in. 

There is also the 30 person A.O. Wheeler Hut run by the Alpine Club of Canada. This old log cabin is very cosy with everything except consumables and sleeping bags provided. It books up pretty quick, so get your bookings in early. The Asulkan Hut is located in the alpine higher up and has spectacular views. it book sup even faster, and requires avalanche training to safely navigate too. 

Where to Ski

Rogers pass is a huge area, and where to ski on any given day depends on conditions, permit closures, and how busy the crowds are. Balu Pass, and the Illecillewaet valley don't require permits, which means Grizzly Shoulder, and the Asulkan can be busy areas. 

But if you want the best advice then check out: Rogers Pass: Uptracks, Bootpacks, and Bushwacks. It the best written guidebook in Canada with concise, direct and thorough information that allows skiers of all abilities, and interest to find something for them. 

If you're on snowshoes you're going to struggle if you try and follow the ski tourers. Snowsheos don't sidehill well, and the terrain is generally to steep to head straight uphill. But Balu Pass, and Illiceliweat Valley have some beautiful trails that rise slower and offer better snowing terrain. Definitely a solid option. 

What to Bring

  • Avalanche Rescue Kit
  • Buff (for the faceshots)
  • Touring Skis or Splitboard 
  • Solid layering system - Dress for sweaty uptracks through the trees.  The snowpack is generally pretty dry so softshells work pretty well. When it's snowy heavy though, waterproofs can be nice
  • Ten Essentials
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