Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Ski Touring to Blow Me Down Ridge, Bay of Islands, Newfoundland

by Keith and Heather Nicol     
John skiing up the flank of Blow Me Down Mtn
        On Tuesday, April 9, 2013 John Moores and I headed up to check out the snow stability and snow depths along the flank of Blow me down Mountain. I was interested in checking out the snow depths for general ski touring and also how well the snow from weekend’s spring blizzard was bonding to the crust below. Initially we were surprised how little snow there was at the Nature Trail Parking lot (UTM 21 0410043E 5434993N). But by walking uphill about 200 meters we reached pretty much continuous snow which we could see went right to the summit ridge at an elevation of 1500 feet. We had spectacular views of the Bay of Islands as we climbed and we found anywhere from 80 cm to 140 cm of snow in the gullies that we were following. The new snow came with temperatures close to freezing and it seemed to have bonded quite well to the crust below although several times while skinning across some steep sections I would end up going through the new snow and sliding on the crust. I suspect if it had been abit warmer on Tuesday the new snow might have been more prone to sluffing. As we climbed higher we found up to 25 cm of new wind packed snow, sitting on a very compact base of snow. The main snowpack was so firm I had difficulty penetrating it with my G3 Speed Tech probe ( Since this slope faces east it has cornices ringing the top section but we found a gap at UTM 21 0409216E 5433721N which allowed us to reach the ridge top. From there we skied along the ridge and had striking views of Humber Arm and we could see all the way to Corner Brook. 

View from the ridge with Humber Arm in the background
       The skiing on the way down was tricky since the variable thickness wind packed snow was not particularly user friendly. I was glad I had on alpine touring skis. If you see avalanches or large cornice falls in your travels let me know at and I will post it to my Newfoundland Avalanche webpage at: Ideally take a photo and get a GPS location if you can. Thanks to the Canadian Avalanche Foundation for helping promote avalanche awareness in Newfoundland.
Picking our way down off the ridge top

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