Valkyr Lodge Adventures Part 2 — Ski Touring Western Canada’s Powder Belt


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | February 22, 2018      

(This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry. Valkyr Adventures provided Lee and Sharon with accommodations. Valkyr neither reviewed nor pre-approved contents before publication. All images used by permission of Lee Lau.)

Read Part 1 here.

Andy on Rollins 2

Andy on Rollins 2

To borrow a turn of phrase from Evan Stevens of Zenith Guides the terrain around Valkyr Lodge is like a mullet. Clean and nice in the front. Business in the back!

It’s in the back bowls on the Valkyr Lodge tenure that the longer, steeper, rowdier runs lurk. The inversion of earlier in the week had rendered solar aspects uncharacteristically poor for skiing; unusual for Kootenay mid-winter conditions. However, accessing and exiting the back bowls meant that their north facing goodness was unlocked.

Valkyr Terrain with labels courtesy of Valkyr Adventure. We visited all zones N of the Rollins Zone.

Valkyr Terrain with labels courtesy of Valkyr Adventure. We visited all zones north of the Rollins Zone.

Viking

The Viking zone is the lee-side of the prevailing SW’ers pluming off Naumulten Mountain. Viking is massive; entry guarded by pure north facing slopes with steep rocky entrances and cornices. All those cornices off Naumulten’s East face as well as the wind deposition results in powder on north facing choice lines off Viking.

The easiest way (but by no means the only way) to access Viking and hit the north facing aspects was via Viking Ridge. Another relatively simple way to get into Viking is via a south facing bench leading to the Rune Stones col from the heart of the Rollins Zone. We tried both ways and it’s a toss-up as to which is nicest. Of course south facing shots from the logical Glasheen step and the Grind crux can also result in south facing pow goodness to enter Viking if conditions warrant

It’s one thing to get into Viking. It’s quite another to get out. As well as being a good ski-line Rune Stones has enough islands of safety and treed protection for exits via uphill skin tracks. Another way is via the lake at 1880 meters and then via Norseman Lake to the Viking-Grizzly Col. The elevation gain between 1880 meters and the upper lake at 2051 meters is lined with cliffs along both sides of the drainage splitting the face. There is one easy out via a bench at approx 2010 meters — a rather sniper line to hit but which can be seen from the Rune Stones entry or at any point on Viking Ridge. If you miss this exit you’ll find yourself doing about a 100 kick turns so be warned.

The binary outcome Viking Holler has cornices to the left, cornices to the right. Be sure about this one

The binary outcome Viking Holler has cornices to the left, cornices to the right. Be sure about this one

Rune Stones in a storm cycle

Rune Stones in a storm cycle

Rune Stones with slightly better views. Continue down the ridgeline for yet even more playtime!

Rune Stones with slightly better views. Continue down the ridgeline for yet even more playtime!

Kyle on Rune Stones

Kyle on Rune Stones

Jesse and GQ at the lower lake. Rune Stones & Scrape and Pillage in the backdrop

Jesse and GQ at the lower lake. Rune Stones and Scrape and Pillage in the backdrop

The pleasant ramble of multiple kickturns up to Norseman Lake

The pleasant ramble of multiple kickturns up to Norseman Lake

Another view down Scrape and Pillage - just another one of many lines in the Viking Zone

Another view down Scrape and Pillage — just another one of many lines in the Viking Zone

Rollins

Rollins is another gem of a zone with so many options for north facing blower steep pow off Rollins Ridge. Access is pretty simple with the main routes being off Naumulten or the Prow into the Heart Zone then a simple gain of the Heart-Rollins ridgeline. Then pick your route down Hi Rollins or Lo Rollins into the zone then dropping to the natural bench below Rollins Ridge where you can inspect your lines down. The only downside of this zone (as with Far Bowl or the McBride Zone) is the risk of being late for dinner and missing hors d’oeuvres. It’s a good distance and elevation back to Valkyr Lodge so either manage time or bring headlamps — or maybe do both!

Dropping down to the plateau below Rollins Ridge affords many chances for pow as Shar finds out

Dropping down to the plateau below Rollins Ridge affords many chances for pow, as Shar discovers.

Greg on Rollins 1

Greg on Rollins 1

Greg on Rollins path Majoris

Greg on Rollins path Majoris.

Andy on Rollins path Majoris

Andy on Rollins path Majoris.

Another day - another headlamp return

Another day – another headlamp return.

Grizzly

Grizzly is the zone that, once unlocked, opens up the most north facing goodness. Not only are the runs a lot of fun, access and return to Valkyr Lodge is ridiculously simple from Grizzly. Grizzly’s polar aspects weren’t sun affected and the prevailing SW’ers dropping in snow distributed a fine amount of snow on Grizzly’s slopes. There’s more than enough treed terrain to explore if the weather stayed cloudy with options to get higher in the alpine if the visibility improved.

Our group put in the Dragon Low Entrance which then switchbacks up through the Dragon to get back to Stoney Zone. The Low entrance starts at 1810m. It’s also possible to bootpack or ski-crampon up the grind from the Grizzly – Norseman col which then sets you up for an easy cruise back to the Lodge

Shar drops the Middle Entrance

Shar drops the Middle Entrance

Looking at "18 year old me would ski this" off the Low Entrance skintrack

Looking at “18 year old me would ski this” off the Low Entrance skintrack

At the top of Grizzly-Norseman col as Naumulten looms through the clouds

At the top of Grizzly-Norseman col as Naumulten looms through the clouds

GQ skis Grizzly Gulch - the views opening to the lake some 1200m below

GQ skis Grizzly Gulch – the views opening to the lake some 1200m below

n the Low Entrance Slidepath looking up to Bluff Charge

Looking up to Bluff Charge

The key to the Lower Entrance skintrack was the Puddicombe-Quan step. Improvisation always welcome for making reuseable skintracks

The key to the Lower Entrance skintrack was the Puddicombe-Quan step. Improvisation always welcome for making reuseable skintracks

Lodge Life – some randoms

Did we mention that, in our opinion, catered trips are the way to go? For a few more hundred a person a dedicated cook who knows how to make tasty food sets you up for breakfast, lunch, appetizers and dinner. Valkyr also provides a staff custodian who stocks the fireplace, preps the sauna, makes sure the generator is working and keeps the lodge spic and span.

Valkyr itself is one of the premier offerings in the Kootenays as far as lodge comfort. Let me mention once again: hot water! This is a backcountry luxury to which one can get accustom!

Ski room with tools and tuning close by

Ski room with tools and tuning close by

Sauna

Sauna

Spacious well-lit interior with lots of places to lounge around

Spacious well-lit interior with lots of places to lounge around

Lunch and other fixings

Lunch and other fixings

Our wonderful cook Sarah in a blur of motion

Our wonderful cook Sarah in a blur of motion

BYOB, or get some beer from Valkyr Lodge as presents for construction of the Quan-Puddicombe step

BYOB, or get some beer from Valkyr Lodge as presents for construction of the Quan-Puddicombe step

Mmmmm Dessert!!

Mmmmm, dessert!!

Lodge stretching

Lodge stretching



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Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


Comments

4 Responses to “Valkyr Lodge Adventures Part 2 — Ski Touring Western Canada’s Powder Belt”

  1. Kevin P. February 22nd, 2018 2:46 pm

    Mullet = Business up front,…. Party. in. the. back.

  2. Lee Lau February 22nd, 2018 5:35 pm

    I always get that mullet part wrong

  3. Lou 2 February 22nd, 2018 6:06 pm

    Hey Lee, glad you dropped by, mouth watering posts, thanks for sending them over. Should be a good guide for folks going up there or considering it. Lou

  4. Frame February 23rd, 2018 12:36 am

    Looks amazing





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