Albert Edward/Jutland Ski Trip

-submitted by Adrian Houle

March 17th, 2018: We headed out from Raven Lodge, Mount Washington ski resort around 8 am. We took the western route through paradise meadows to and across Lake Helen Mackenzie, between Mount Elma and Mount Brooks. We continued past Strata Mountain and several hours after leaving the parking lot we were at our chosen base camp on Circlet Lake.

Skinning towards the distant view of Albert Edward

We quickly made camp, hung our food, and headed onto the lake to cross over to our ascent path up the NW side of Jutland with the hopes of scouting out the path up and getting a ski in before dark. We had chosen to go the long way around and up Jutland, instead of kicking steps up the summer route. This was due to a large overhanging cornice and terrain traps that are reported to be present most of the winter. As it turns out the conditions probably would have allowed for at least a morning accent up the summer route, but luckily the best skiing turned out to be on the NW face of Mount Jutland anyways.

Beacon Checks on Circlet Lake

We found our way up a gully on the far side of the lake, clear of any falling snow from the cliffs, and climbed our way up and past Amphitheater Lake. We continued climbing up the now Alpine slope, steep switch back after switch back.

We got to the ridge that connects Jutland with Albert Edward having already decided we would just try for Jutland that day, and began the last ascent to its peak. After some time, the snow became wind blown and icy, we met up and decided that sinse we already had great scenery, reaching the peak was not necessary if it was not going to be fun skiing down. And so, after a second beacon check and some route planning we dropped down onto the slopes and began taking turns flying down the 5cm of fresh powder.

A lot of hard work led to what seemed about 20 minutes of downhill, but worth it. Turns earned! We got down through the gully and back onto the lake. Camp was waiting for us and it was time for dinner and some rest. We spent the rest of the evening cooking, boiling water, building infrastructures, and Mel and Peter even dug out the outhouse.

March 18th, 2018: We headed out the next morning shortly after dawn. The goal for the day was to summit Albert Edward. We took the same route as before, this time a little easier having had a good rest. The weather was overcast just starting to clear up with the forecast calling for blue skies until noon at which point clouds were supposed to roll in. As we got part way up Jutland things sure were looking nice – except AE, as usual it had its own personal cloud hanging over it, not moving.

We finished climbing, back onto the ridge, and headed in the direction of Albert Edward. The peak was still in an unmoving cloud, and a long chain of clouds, the forecast coming early, waiting to replace it. We started to ski into the fog, hoping it might break, no one wanting to call it just yet. Albert Edward is like a ramp into the sky. A somewhat steep and steady incline with large 100ft+ cliffs and cornices hanging off both sides. Ascending this in low vis, even with backup GPS and navigation is not a good idea. We were there to ski after all, and if the snow up there had been good we may have risked it, but the snow blown ice was not, and the powdery NW side of Jutland, still with clear skies, was the real reward of the trip. And so, we headed back down for one last awesome ski before heading back, packing up camp, and heading home.

Into the cloud hanging over Albert Edward

3 Replies to “Albert Edward/Jutland Ski Trip”

  1. Hey! Great post! I’m also looking at summiting Mt Albert Edward before the end of this March. Wanted to know how well the trail is marked or if you used mostly GPS for this trip. I’ll be snowshoeing. Any advice or knowledge would be incredibly appreciated!

    1. Hello,
      Thanks for your feedback. It will still be full winter conditions with the likelihood of overnight snow, and temperatures could easily drop to -10 on a cold night. Additionally, if you’re hoping to use the summer route you need to be aware that Mid March through Early May is cornice drop season which could create an avalanche problem on the summer route up from circlet lake to the upper ridge. For this reason, I’d recommend using the winter route. In winter conditions you will not see trail markers, though you will probably find a booted route if it snows that will quickly disappear in any amount of wind and snow. Once on the upper ridge the wind can rip through there and blow tracks away, and if the wind blows in then you could lose the boot rack in fog and snow. Further, there will be many different routes up on the ridge leading to the various peaks. Take a map and compass, GPS as a backup, and be sure that you know what route you’re going to use.

      1. What are the conditions for mid to end of May. Thinking of a snowshoe summit. Do able ? Or dangerous on summer route during this time ?

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