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by Maria Brunori
To celebrate the first snowfall of the season at my local mountains in Colorado, this Shred Spot entry will revolve around the mountains; specifically in the Purcell mountain range, which can be found in Invermere, British Columbia. If you are an advanced to expert skier or rider and have a love for the backcountry, then keep reading. You won’t be disappointed.
For those of you who don’t know, the Purcell mountain range has anything you can want and more. From glaciers, to high alpine terrain, to meadows, to 11,000 ft. peaks, this backcountry heaven is a prime location for the adrenaline junkies in snow sports. However, for this Shred Spot, we are going to focus in on the Catamount Glacier.
To get to the top of the Catamount Glacier in this backcountry paradise during the beginning of the season, when snowmobiles are not yet allowed, ski touring and splitboarding are best. However, during the peak season, a snowmobile is necessary. A 30 mile trail ride begins your journey, but when the trail ends, you go through a meadow before beginning your intense climb to the top. There are three different climbs you must make, and they are not easy. To get to the glacier and to successfully ride or ski down, being an advanced rider is a must. This is not a ‘green circle’ trail, but rather ‘expert terrain.’ Once at the top, get ready to send your snowmobile down the mountain with a ghost rider driving it for you as you cruise down the glacier next to it.
If you spend your day getting to the top of the Catamount Glacier and are too tired to ride down, have no fear! Located at the top is a small, four person hut that looks over the glacier. It’s a great spot to rest before dropping in.
Our SheShreds.co crew member, Chantal von Rotz is an avid adventurer in the Purcell mountain range. Identifying as a backcountry rider as of four years ago, Chantal shared some of her experiences on the glacier with me. Along with all of her information about how to get to the glacier and what to expect, there was one comment that stuck with me the most:
“There are three major climbs to get in, which all seem to get harder the further you get. The third one has rocked me a few times and I don't think I'll ever not be scared of it. But once you get up there, it opens up to this huge, amazing, wide glacier with a lot of slopes along the side to snowboard down.”
One thing to always remember when riding in the backcountry is to be sure that you have the correct gear and the knowledge about backcountry safety. Taking avalanche courses to learn about what to look for and how to react during emergency situations is a must. Also, be sure that you and your crew each have a beacon, shovel, and probe in case an avalanche does occur.
If you choose to take on the extreme adventure of what is the Catamount Glacier, keep your head up, be aware of your abilities, look before you leap, and have fun! Just keep in mind, “Safety first because injuries last.”
Stay Safe in the Backcountry
Make sure to carry avalanche safety essentials when heading out into the backcountry - and know how to use them!
BCA Tracker 2 Avalanche Beacon
Arva Light 2.40 Avalanche Probe
Black Diamond Ava Lung