North Buller Pass Loop, Kananaskis
Went out to test my post-COVID fitness yesterday. Started by heading to the Tent Ridge parking lot where over 50 vehicles chased me away. Decided on Buller Pass instead. Only 3 vehicles at Buller came as a pleasant surprise. The normal trail to Buller Pass was in excellent condition with only a 3m patch of firm snow on level ground encountered.
Decided to continue on to North Buller Pass where the trail deteriorates and eventually disappears and good route finding skills are necessary to stay on track. As N Buller Pass drew closer more snow patches needed to be crossed.
All told I kicked steps in a couple of hundred meters of flat and then moderately angled snow patches. It would have been beneficial to have better boots, icers and/or an ice axe. I have years of experience kicking steps but my footwear was a pair of smooth-soled low cut approach shoes which made for a fair amount of effort to ensure good footing! The party who followed an hour behind would probably report easy travel in the freshly kicked buckets.
The top of the descent from the pass was initially on unpleasant hard-scrabble scree for a while until a vegetated rib made for pleasant travel. No further snow was encountered from the pass down and the trail was relatively easy to follow. A party coming up in this direction found it more interesting to stay on the less-distinct trail going in the other direction. The guidebook suggest that taking this circuit in a counter-clockwise direction is recommended. I concur.
The weather began clear with with cirrus clouds eventually giving way to overcast skies but no precipitation encountered.