Ski Touring Basecamp
Mount Nimbus Area
We just wrapped up a 5day ski-touring basecamp in a remote corner of the Northwest Coast region from March 7-11, 2023. The Mount Nimbus area is roughly 55km Southeast of Terrace BC between the headwaters of the Kitimat and Clore Rivers. We access the area with Canadian helicopter from Terrace. Our camp was on a treeline knoll (1400m) in a north facing basin near an unnamed pass between the Dogs Ear peak and the Clore Canyon. This vast area of the Kitimat Range provided a good base for exploring various valleys and varied terrain.
We were under the influence of arctic air for most of our trip. Overall weather conditions displayed scattered skies, daytime highs around -10C, overnight lows around -20C, and light to moderate alpine winds from the Easterly quadrant. The area received about 15cm of low-density snow during our stay. More reminiscent of the Rockies but hey, this is Canada!
We skied on all aspects between 2200m and 1000m. Ski quality was good in the alpine and excellent at treeline or below. Ski penetration was in the 20cm range in deepest areas, this made for fast travel and easy trail breaking. There was variable wind affect in the alpine but still we found good skiing up high. A thin sun crust was observed on most Southerly aspects, it was easily avoidable with the ample northerly aspects available. The average height of snow at treeline was 330cm however, there was much variability in snowpack distribution above treeline.
The snowpack in this area was reminiscent of the inland coastal regions. Depth and distribution varied drastically from thin on traditional windward areas to deep in classic lee ward areas. Coverage on glaciers was deeper and upwards of 350cm. We didn’t travel on glaciers as much as anticipated however, coverage was visibly thinner in wind exposed areas. A snowpack test on a North aspect at 1300m in a sheltered glade produced a moderate sudden compression shear down 30cm and a hard resistant planar shear down 45cm. Other than drum like sounds, we did not observe any signs of instability during our trip. Surface hoar growth to 8mm was observed in sheltered locations at treeline and below by day 4.
Avalanche wise, we observed various wind slabs avalanche cycles over our 5days in the area. Most of the activity was quite predictable and generally related to immediate loading of steep leeward alpine start zones. All new activity only involved surface snowpack layers and ranged in size from 1 to 2. We rated the avalanche hazard as 2-1-1 by the end of our trip.
Of note, this area is located inside the Northern part of the Great Bear Heli Skiing (GBHS) tenure. Special thanks to them for graciously allowing us to use this area for our trip.
A great start to the basecamp season!
acmg mountain guide