Monday, 5 May 2014

A Whale of a Backcountry Ski Trip to the Tablelands

by Keith and Heather Nicol
     We decided to get in another backcountry ski trip to the Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park and combine it with a trip to see a huge Blue Whale that had washed ashore in the community of Trout River. This past winter was particularly cold and with more sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence many whales got trapped by changing ice conditions and ended up dying. These whales are now washing ashore along the west coast of Newfoundland and one ended up on the beach in Trout River. When we arrived at 10:45 am Sunday, May 4 there were throngs of people and we counted over 30 people at one point in our short visit.
The large Blue Whale is attracting lots of people to Trout River
Watch for glide cracks !
     From Trout River we backtracked to the Tablelands parking lot and began to skin up into the bowl. Quite abit of snow had disappeared since our last visit on Friday, April 18 th but we were pleased to see a continuous line of snow from the parking lot to the top of stream. From there we had to walk about 40-50 meters across rock at the base of the bowl and then we continued on skis up the western side of the bowl to "lunch rocks". On this trip we were joined by  Rick Lichtenauer and his dog Molly and it was his first visit to the bowl. We made runs on either side of the bowl and the corn snow was superb. Just enough to get an edge in but not heavy and slushy. There appeared to have been no avalanches since our last trip but there are still lots of cornices to come down so watch out for those very warm days which will likely bring them down. We also saw lots of glide cracks both at the top of the bowl and along the stream bed so watch out if you head up after a new snow fall which might bridge these cracks. A thin layer of new snow may be covering deep cracks that could catch the unwary dog or skier. There is still good skiing to be had at the Tablelands Bowl but it won't last long.
Rick with Molly in pursuit (note large cornices still to come down)

Skiing off the top of the Eastern side of the bowl

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