Mt Walsh area. Icefields range, Yukon.
Mike Stuart and myself guided a week-long ski touring base camp in the Mt Walsh area of the Icefields range in the Yukon.
The original objective was an ascent of Mt Kennedy via the Cathedral Gl however, a short delay due to lost luggage and incoming weather to the southern part of the range inspired a change of plan further north. The Walsh col area offers safe landing sites and access to a variety of ski touring/mountaineering objectives in addition to Mt Walsh itself. We established a base camp at 2700m on the north plateau of the Donjek Gl. Like much of the range, the area is home to very large crevasses and car to house sized seracs. Snow depths were below average so uphill travel un-roped was rare.
Weather was a mixed bag with 2 short (24hr), warm storms that kept us tent bound for a couple of days. During the fair-weather days, overnight lows were in the -25C range with the northern sun beating down on us during the day. A well thought out sun protection strategy is key for this part of the world. I once sunburned the roof of my mouth out there!
Snow depths were below average with less than 300cm probed in many areas on the big glaciers. It is normal to never find ice with your probe in these areas. Average HS was 300cm.
We experienced a number of widespread whumpfs likely on a facet layer buried approximately 50cm. We witnessed Na wind slab activity to size 2 and a few serac failures that carried into low angle terrain.
If planning a trip to the big range it is best to either give yourself heaps of time (in the case that you are hell bent on a specific objective) or be flexible in your choice of area. The weather in the north end of the range (Steele, Lucannia, Walsh) can be very different from the south (Kennedy, Vancouver, Logan).
Keep in mind that obtaining mountaineering permits cannot typically be done until April when the Kluane crew is back in full swing.
Icefields Discovery is the only operator of ski planes flying in from the Canadian side and they do a great job considering what is asked of them. Get to Kluane lake early and be reasonable with your expectations about getting into the Park. This is a form of commercial flight that is unique on the planet. Sometimes we forget that.