Vermilion Peak

Perfect day out with the North Face crew in Kootenay National Park.  We chose to climb Vermilion Peak and ski down its south face.  This valley was burned to a crisp in 1968 so I was looking forward to an unusual environment.

Above:  Without any tree branches, early morning light casts unique and highly striated shadows through the burnt forest.  Surface hoar from the previous evening makes for nice sparkles.  

Above: Climbing through an eerie landscape.  We had 3200 vertical feet to climb which past by quickly when everywhere you looked was something interesting.

Above: We arrive at the final summit block.  We had a group discussion about changing conditions here.  The air temperature was warming up making this slope aspect unstable. To complete the climb meant taking off skis and climbing up to summit and back down to our skis for a round trip of perhaps an hour.  In that time we weren’t sure what the snow stability would be like to make the ski descent.  Our group operates with leaders but with individual veto power.  Only one vote is required to back away from an objective.  That’s what happened here.  We discussed it fully but finally followed our decision protocol and decided to not summit.

Above: Enjoying the fruits of our labours for a few minutes while we switch our gear around to make the ski descent and have a bite of food and drink.  Peggy grabs a photo while Mark’s smile is taking over his face.

Above: Randy and Peggy planning the descent line down with the “Rockwall” in the background.

Above:  Solar radiation dislodged small bits of rock from the summit block onto this slope which send “pinwheels” of snow down  making the tracks seen here.  Mark waits his turn as we skied this high section one at a time to minimise our exposure.  Safe zones to wait and regroup are picked out as we ascended.

Randy and I enjoy an amazing view with perfect conditions.  That bump of a mountain a little higher than the others in the center is Mt Assiniboine nearly 50km away!

A fantastic trip with great trip partners.  Most impressive is how when the veto vote was cast, everyone supported it completely.  Reactions like this make it easier to object to the  prevailing opinion.  No one worries about whether it was overly cautious, or not.  Everyone just submits themselves to the decision and enjoys the day.  Group psychology definitely influences decision making so I’m very grateful to have a touring group that has an excellent dynamic.

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