Park Ridge/ East Ridge of Hilda Peak
Looking for cold snow during today's Chinook, we sought refuge in the higher altitudes of the Icefields Parkway near the Banff/Jasper NP boundary. Driving the Icefields Parkway this morning at 8am the air temps on the highway were +5 to +9 all the way to the Saskatchewan Crossing; +1 at Rampart; +2 at the Weeping wall; and finally -2 after the bend at Nigel Creek and parking for Parker Ridge.
Weather obs were steady-moderate NW winds gusting to high with and obscured sky, snowing S1. This did not relent until 11:30am. Later the sky parted and became overcast and then broken even a few shots of sun. The cloud deck lifted to 3500+m. The winds began to settle after 1:00pm and became Moderate to Light at 2200m and Light below 2000m. Snow rate reduced to S-1. HST 4-5cm by 3pm.
BTL the Surface form was soft and uniform drifted maritime snow with 10-30cm ski pen on a supportive base. In the Alpine surfaces were scoured. On ridges significant satrugi erosional features were a factor (10cm-to 60cm in extreme cases). Between the ridges we found 5-20cm soft-snow in the gully features and good skiing. NTL was the transition.
We route to the "summit" of Parker Ridge followed approximately the summer trail following a rib of low angle 25 degree terrain to the saddle. A logical more fall line descent from the summer trail saddle provided a good run and beta for yoyos. It was easy to avoid complex terrain and enjoy a great day in the Canadian Rockies. Great views of the Mount Willis, Big Bend. Athabasca, Saskatchewan Glacier.
Be safe out there. More Pow Tomorrow!