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KOOTENAY NATIONAL PARK

Established in 1920, Kootenay National Park is comprised of a 1,406 square kilometer chunk of landscape in the south-western region of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Featuring glacier-clad peaks along the Continental Divided and semi-arid grasslands of the Rocky Mountain Trench, the park is known for its wide diversity of landscapes, ecology and climate. It lies about 170 km west of Calgary and, if you need supplies, the nearest full-service towns are Radium Hot Springs, just outside the park's west gate, and Banff, 33 km east of the park's north entrance. Keep an eye open for shaggy white mountain goats (the park’s wildlife symbol).

Skiing off the Radium Hwy in Kootenay National Park has been a local go-to spot for Rockies skiers for years. Its close proximity to the Bow Valley and higher snowfall amounts (on the Continental Divide) make it an obvious choice.  After the forest fires of 2003, even more great options have opened up for skiing burnt trees and fire breaks.  The area offers great peak ascents like Storm, Whymper and Vermillion and fantastic skiing can be found up Chickadee Valley and the Boom Lake area. Some imaginative traverses have been done here too.

We want to hear about your adventures in the Rockies so don’t forget to post a trip report in the backcountryskiingcanada.com forums. If you have a new route in the area you want to share, mouse-on over here. N-Joy.

Two of the three routes below are in a shortened format, the full versions can be found in our Lake Louise Sunshine Banff Ski Touring Guide which you can pick up for a bargain over here. Be very well prepared and be sure to check out the Parks Canada Avalanche Forecast web site for conditions in Banff National. Have a look at the routes, buy the guide and play safe!

Backcountry-skiing-Kootenay-National-Park

 (This map is not meant to be used as a navigational aid but rather a visual indication of the route description.)


 ROUTES:
1. Chickadee Valley - South Slope
2. Storm Mountain Fire Break
3. Vermillion






For a full listing of backcountry huts, cabins and lodges check out the Rocky Mountain cabins/huts/lodges page over here. If you are looking for maps and guides to the area then check out the following Backcountry Skiing Canada publication in our Backcountry Skiing Canada Store:

Lake Louise Sunshine Banff Ski Touring Guide Lake Louise Sunshine Banff Ski Touring GuideGuide: $16.95

 

 


Backcountry skiing is an inherently dangerous activity that requires experience and knowledge to travel safely. Any of the routes on this site may be dangerous depending on conditions. You are responsible for your own safety in the backcounty—the team behind backcountryskiingcanada.com disclaim any responsibility for any injury resulting from people travelling on routes described on this site.  To read our Terms of Use and get all the details, read HERE. 


CHICKADEE VALLEY - SOUTH SLOPE
The south aspect of Boom Mountain up the Whymper or Chickadee Valley has several long avalanche paths that run from alpine to valley bottom. The lower reaches of these paths and their flanks offer nice skiing through open or thinly treed terrain. It’s a great place to soak in the sun on a cold Rockies day and get some turns close to the road but the nature of these massive slides paths in complex terrain means you won’t want to be here in marginal stability or when the sun has enough punch to cause avalanches. 

Backcountry-skiing-Kootenay-National-ParkROUTE: #1
ACCESS: Vermillion Pass Parking Lot
MAP: 
Mt. Goodsir 82 N/1
TIME: 2 - 5 hours
ELEVATION GAIN: 600m/1,969' 
ATES RATING: Complex (3)

 

 

 

 

 

Full route description—including details on access, ascents and descents—in the Guide

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STORM MOUNTAIN FIRE BREAK
When the wildfires were burning out of control in 2003, forest fire fighters strategically logged this 50m wide swath of trees and lit fire to the south side in an attempt to rob the natural fires of their fuel before they got there. The strategy worked and ultimately saved the towns of Banff and Lake Louise just 50km away. Now the fire break makes for a man made, roadside ski run in the middle of nowhere. How convenient.

Backcountry-skiing-Kootenay-National-ParkROUTE: #2
ACCESS: Stanley Glacier Parking Lot
MAP: Mt. Goodsir 82 N/1
TIME: 1 - 2 hours
ELEVATION GAIN: 250m/820' 
ATES RATING: Simple (1)

 

 

 

 

 

Full route description—including details on access, ascents and descents—in the Guide

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VERMILLION PEAK
This is a great straight up tour with good skiing through burnt trees.  If you don’t have the time or conditions to stand on the summit, the skiing is worthy from any turn around point.  From the Paint Pots parking, cross the hwy and get on an old logging road that parallels the highway running south through the trees for 1.5km to the base of the obvious slide path gully that goes right to the summit.  Uptrack through the burnt trees to the climber’s right of the gully all the way up to the alpine.  Gain the summit ridge on the far right and boot pack to the top via the corniced ridge (extreme caution here).  You will want to drop in off the top and ski the main slide path right to the bottom, but then you’ll probably snap out of it and opt for a line in the trees that you skinned up.  If the snow is half decent, you’ll grin from ear to ear the whole way down and be back for more – guaranteed.  

Kootenay National Park Backcountry Skiing Vermillion Peak

ROUTE: #3 
ACCESS: H Drive south on Hwy. 93 in Banff Park past Vermillion Pass and Marble Canyon and park on the right at the “Paint Pots” parking. 
MAP: 82 N/1
TIME: 7 - 9 hours
ELEVATION GAIN: 1200m/3950’
ATES RATING: Complex (3)




 

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