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.
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All routes listed here provided by Shaun King of Mountain Sense. If we have missed anything please let us know?
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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.
ROUTE: Vermillion Peak
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)