Monday, April 9, 2012

Kuskanax Mountain On Skis

After a wet, cool March and early April, Easter has featured surprisingly good weather.  Almost, perfect for a short ski traverse, if there weren't lots of convective activity in the mountains, a snowpack that is getting its first dose of heat after a long winter season, and, 50 cm of fresh snow in the past few days.  With all these things in mind, we settled on a couple of days peak bagging around Nakusp instead of heading out on one of our planned spring traverses. 

On Friday, we drove up Hot Springs Road from Nakusp and found a fallen down trail-sign indicating we were at the now (presumably) defunct Arrow Lakes Cross Country Trails.  Our plan was to ski up Kuskanax Mountain via an old mining road (Dinner Creek FSR) that climbs a south facing spur ridge to the east.  We had with us a BC Basemap showing some of the roads in the area, and, the first of the three accesses to Dinner Creek FSR seemed to offer the shortest alternative. 

We crossed Dinner Creek on a small wooden bridge, and soon found a shortcut spur road that climbed steeply meeting the main Dinner Creek FSR at 1050 metres.  We plodded up the road, the trail-breaking getting heavier and heavier as the new snow got deeper and deeper, until we reached 1400 metres, where the road winds through a lovely hemlock forest.  The road continues relatively steeply up right along the ridge crest through open timber until it disappears somewhere near the ridge crest. 

Following the ridge crest, we cut across the head of Dinner Creek to gain a col on the northeast ridge of Kuskanax Mountain.  On the south side, in the sun, the snow was heavy and wet.  Once on the ridge, travel improved and we quickly skied up and down the wind-rolls to the summit.  Our views were somewhat marred by all the convective activity in the surrounding mountains, but the squalls all missed us. 

Descending was very quick, and took less than a quarter of the time it had taken us to get up, although the snow was wet and heavy. 

Back down at the truck, it only made sense to go up to the Nakusp Hot Springs for a soak as we were close by. The only observation I have to make about the Hot Springs is that Canadians appear to be rapidly catching Americans for status as some of the worlds fattest people.   At least two thirds of the people there would be better off taking a run at Kuskanax Mountain than lying about in a hot tub.

Doug arriving at the summit of Kuskanax Mountain

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