Mallard Lodge North of Athabasca Pass
A small group spent Feb 18 to 21st based out of Mallard Lodge near Whirlpool pass near the west end of Jasper National park. The snow pack at the lodge (1920m) was170cm, average for this time of year.
Being first group we got to explore and assess conditions. We skied some lower angle terrain in the alpine, then got into some steep short runs at and below treeline. Ski quality was excellent.
The skiing in wind exposed terrain was better than expected from other reports in the region, visibility was the main reason we retreated into the trees after the first few days.
The snowpack was mostly facetted, with a layer of decomposed surface hoar and facets down about 35-40cm. We found hard resistent results in pit tests. The lower pack was strong and no results found.
The main area of concern was around rocky boulders and pillows where the snowpack was weak. I ski cut a large size 1 around some boulders. Though it ran to bottom of slope, it did not entrain much surface snow.
We also tweaked some short steep test slopes with little to no results.
Temps were in the -15 to -10 range most of the trip.
We saw no new natural activity over the 4 days and little activity on the longish flight in and out of the region.
Yesterday we awoke to strong winds, rising temperatures, blowing snow and rapid loading at ridge crests. On our flight out we could see many of our tracks were blown in. The main concern will be leeward areas near ridge crests and deep alpine depressions.