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Crowfoot Glades Ski Touring

Banff + Yoho, Alberta

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Crowfoot Glades Ski Touring

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  • Stopping on the lake to check out the Crowfoot Glacier and the possible lines. - Crowfoot Glades Ski Touring
  • The Glades as seen from the lake. This is a great spot to scope out your lines. - Crowfoot Glades Ski Touring
  • Breaking into the alpine above the glades.- Crowfoot Glades Ski Touring
  • Dolomite Peak and Helen Shoulder in the background. - Crowfoot Glades Ski Touring
  • Looking up the valley toward Bow Lake, Mount Jimmy Simpson, and beyond. - Crowfoot Glades Ski Touring
  • Tree skiing through the glades. It's classic Rockies Tree skiing, which means short, narrow trees in light snow. - Crowfoot Glades Ski Touring
  • Some sections in the trees can get a bit tight. - Crowfoot Glades Ski Touring
  • Punting out to the transition spot to get some more laps. - Crowfoot Glades Ski Touring
  • Heading back out across the lake for home with Dolomite Peak looking rad. - Crowfoot Glades Ski Touring
  • The superb shape of Mount Hector in the distance. - Crowfoot Glades Ski Touring
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Close to the road. Often has good snow in mediocre conditions.
Cons: 
Tight trees. Busy and well known.
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Region:
Banff + Yoho, AL
Access: 
Vehicle
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Site characteristics: Drinking water: 
Snowmelt
Recommended Equipment:
Helmets
Highest point: 
2,250.00 m (7,381.89 ft)
Max slope angle: 
15-30 degrees
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
National or state forest pass
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring
Primary aspect: 
North facing
Route Characteristics: Terrain type(s): 
Bowls
Shuttle required: 
No
Total Distance: 
7.50 km (4.66 mi)
Total elevation gain: 
390.00 m (1,279.53 ft)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,940.00 m (6,364.83 ft)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Vertical descent: 
380.00 m (1,246.72 ft)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

Crowfoot Glades is a popular area for running laps. It's terrific for newer skiers or those not looking to stretch their legs too much. The parkway tends to get better snow than areas further south, so often when things are dry in Banff or Canmore, it can be dumping further north. The glades also sit northeast of the Wapta Icefield. With prevailing winds coming from the southwest, dry snow tends to get blown off the icefield, where it gets caught by the treed glades bellow and provides above-average glade skiing for the Rockies. The trees are younger lodgepole pines, so they are tightly packed and hardy. Rockies skiing is all about softshells, and on these runs it's evident that only softshells have the durability to manage the occasional snag. Hardshells have almost no place in the Rockies anyway. The lack of breathability of hardshells and near total absence of wet conditions makes them basically useless except in extreme storms. 

The tour trailhead is at the Crowfoot Glacier Lookout located on the Icefield Parkway about 20 minutes north of Lake Louise. The drive is generally pretty good, though in heavy storms the Parkway is not a priority for snow clearance, and the road can get shut down. Be sure to check Parks Canada Road Report before heading out. 

The tour begins by dropping down into the valley. It's pretty shallow, so keeping your skins on is an option if you are pretty stable, or don't care about your skins too much. Thick trees give way to wide open waters and you can cross quickly. Head for the trees sitting to the climber's left of the impressive seracs of the Crowfoot Glacier. 

Once you get to tree line the route becomes a choose your own adventure. The easiest skin tracks are further to the climber's left beyond the craggy gullies. There is some more open terrain for skiing back down on the climber's right of the gulleys, though you can find good pockets higher up to the southeast. The bowls beneath Bow Peak also have some good runs, but the avalanche risks multiplies because there are plenty of steep and suspect slopes. It's also a wind funnel that tends to be blown into sastrugi. 

Avalanche risk is generally pretty low in the trees because the terrain rarely gets that steep. Be mindful of open areas, and remember that avalanches can and do happen even in tight trees.

Backcountry Safety

Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(17 within a 30 mile radius)

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