French-Haig-Robertson Ski Traverse (Dec. 12)

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After doing demo events at Revelstoke and Lake Louise this past weekend, Max and I were itching to get out for a tour. With the lack of recent snowfall we knew ski conditions wouldn't be great so we opted for the French-Haig-Robertson Traverse which has been on our list for some time. Located in the heart of Kananaskis, the tour climbs up the French glacier to traverse the Haig and then descends down the Robertson glacier.

Working our way up the French drainage.

Working our way up the French drainage.

Leaving the Burstall Pass parking lot at ~7:45am, we made quick travel through the French Drainage due to the presence of old skin tracks and firm snow. Travel to the moraines took longer than expected and we were happy to get above treeline.

The snow on the moraines and the French glacier was boiler plate with isolated icy sections. We travelled up to the col by hugging the moraine features on climbers left through the valley.

Hitting treeline looking towards Mt. French (left) and Mt. Robertson (right).

Hitting treeline looking towards Mt. French (left) and Mt. Robertson (right).

We passed by the "Hole in the Wall Couloir" on our way to the col and it didn't have quite enough coverage yet, but the group agreed that we would have to make a return trip at some point to ski such a unique line!

"Hole in the Wall Couloir" 2nd from the left.

"Hole in the Wall Couloir" 2nd from the left.

The views from the Haig glacier were stunning, we could see Mt. Joffre (3449m) in the distance and Mt. Sir Douglas (3411m) which hugs the north end of the Haig glacier.  This spot would be an interesting place to camp in the spring due to the number of steep lines in the area, such as the couloir of the South face of Mt. Sir Douglas.

View looking west on the Haig glacier, Mt. Sir Douglas on the right.

View looking west on the Haig glacier, Mt. Sir Douglas on the right.

The final "crux" of the ascent climbs up the Robertson col from the Haig Glacier. Luckily for us, avalanche conditions were favourable but this south facing slope could be suspect in other conditions.

Ascending the Robertson col, Mt. Joffre way in the distance (centre).

Ascending the Robertson col, Mt. Joffre way in the distance (centre).

Once at the Robertson col we stripped off our skins and started the long descent down the glacier and into the drainage. The ski quality was poor, much like the snow on the French glacier, which was wind hammered, but the views were phenomenal! This descent would be really enjoyable in more favourable conditions and the steep valley walls are stunning.

Looking down the Robertson glacier.

Looking down the Robertson glacier.

We quickly made our way through the valley and reconnected with the Burstall Pass hiking trail and then back to the parking lot by roughly 2:15pm.

Looking up towards the Robertson col from lower down in the drainage.

Looking up towards the Robertson col from lower down in the drainage.