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Storm Mountain – Banff – Ski – May 11, 2012

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Mount Storm Banff AT Alpine Touring  Ski Mountaineering Mount Ball

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Mount Stanley North Face from Mount Storm

After skiing Quartzite last weekend on a hard crust I was almost ready to put up the skis but noticed another cool rainy day with cold clearing trend was forecast for end of week –   Good overnight freeze of – 8 C for elevation on Thurs night so decided to go for Storm on Fri.  The amount of overnight freeze, the sun, cloud cover and temperature rise are the keys to these trips so best to be safe.   I had been saving this for a ski for years waiting for good conditions as everyone always complained about the thrash in deadfall/ trees on way up and down from road and the ugly loose scree. Now there is the firebreak that has made this much more popular and there are almost no flat spots so you could ski out the 6 km from top in about an hour in right conditions. Elevation gain is 1500m so good workout on way up.

Note this ski trip goes up a different valley than the Kane scramble route which is in next valley to the east – not skiable.

Trip worked great – parked in North ditch beside start of firebreak. Start at 6 am – Walked across road and down to creek – easy cross on rocks and then skied up from there.  Icy rain crust so ski crampons were useful.  Three steps up firebreak and then near the top went left on a horizontal cut line/trail that went around to the drainage/creek from the Storm valley.  Should put some flagging on the tree on the corner of the cut line.  Skied up through reasonably spaced trees over and around creeks for another hour although there were open areas/avi paths on RH side that we skied down at end of day. One rock bench on RH side of trees that we went across on ledge halfway up bench but skied above bench on way out(and down a avi path between rocks).  Out of trees into middle section of valley in 2 hours.  Valley splits in two near end as there is an upper valley on RH side which goes up to the col to beside/west of the rock point that is visible from the road. That trip looks interesting as it would be about 1200 m, upper valley should collect wind deposit snow and the col looks down on Shadow lake/mt Ball.  Saw a ski TR on it early in year.

Storm mountain is lower left valley and has some long low angle slopes that lead up to storm summit. There was old wet avi debris – frozen solid- but obvious risk if hot from the left.   About 2.5 to 3hrs to corner – Lots of elevation yet to gain as about 900 to 1000m to go from here.( of 1500 m)  Worked our way up and right aiming for RH middle bowl as LH middle bowl beneath rock band  had lots of avi debris in it.  Ended up on steeper icy slopes – Wietse first time with ski crampons but he did great.  Went up to RH ridge and carried skis up ridge so we could ski upper bowl.  Left skis about 150 m from top because of poor snow quality.  Snow was thin breakable crust over sugar and rocks rest of way to summit. On top in 6 hours at noon.  Great views but cold in wind.  Day did not warm up as much as expected so ski down was icy but fast. Guess we could have slept in a bit but the amount of overnight freeze, the sun, cloud cover, wind and temperature rise are the keys to these trips so better to be safe.

Had a nice break when down out of wind.  Skied down on skiers LH side of trees most of way and then quickly through trees – avoiding creek – could walk easily in tight spots if needed – no isothermal at all.  Had to walk back uphill about 30 m to catch horizontal cutline to get back to firebreak – should have put some flagging on the corner tree of the cutline.  Ski down firebreak was easy as it had softened nicely but no isothermal problems – a lot of rock and stumps, logs. –  cross creek easily on rocks and carry skis to car.

Good trip – highly recommended now that can use the firebreak to access the Storm valley.

Pictures at Storm  – full screen slide show is best.  Some good pics of North Face of Stanley which we did last year.

Wietse’s pics   – some really good pics – use slideshow.

Note on ski crampons – I use Voile fixed crampons vs binding specific crampons that move up and down with the binding. I have used Dynafit, Diamar, etc moveable ones in the past.  The teeth on the fixed crampons are fully engaged in snow versus only partial engagement problems with the teeth when on high heel placements.  I have several attachment disks so can use one pair of crampons for various skis/bindings including my tele skis.  I can take them off or put them on standing up with my skis on so easy to use.  Lack of glide is never an issue because do not use on low angle snow.

See pic and more pics in album.

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