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Elfin Hut via Winter Ski Route
Timestamp Free: 2020.02.21 - 10:31:43
Ranges: North America Ranges / Pacific Cordillera Range / Coast Mountains / Pacific Ranges / Garibaldi Ranges
  (1 days)     Elevation Gain: 650m
Participants: Robin Tivy, Betsy Waddington, Steve Grant, Darlene Anderson, Susan Holenberg,Tom Tiedje
Difficulty: 2: Easy ski on old road. In some icy conditions, the descent down the road can be challenging.
A description of the winter route to Elfin Shelter, as marked by the wardens.
The ski trip into Elfin Shelter is probably the most frequent day trip in the Vancouver day trip area. The winter route is different than the summer route to avoid theoretical avalanche danger. The main difference is that the winter route goes along the crest of the ridge and on the south side of Round Mountain, whereas the road is on the north. The reason they do this is to avoid having to cross theoretical avalanche slopes on the north side of Round Mountain. I have never seen an avalanche on these slopes in 30 years, and in fact they are the destination for most yo-yo skiers.

The winter route is marked by vertical plastic "wands" about 4 meters high that are stuck in the snow. There are also a few large orange reflective markers on trees. The winter route is longer distance than the summer route, but once the snow gets deep, it is the only broken trail, and so is the most practical even if there was zero avalanche danger. The distance of the winter route one way is 10.1 km in winter.

Twenty years ago, the route was entirely used by people on skis, but nowdays once you are past the "high point", the people on snowshoes greatly outnumber the skiers. Most people doing day trips on skis only go to the high point just beyond Round Mountain, and then spent the day doing ski runs, rather than continuing on the long trail to Elfin Shelter. Modern skis and plastic boots are much heavier than the traditional telemark skis, and don't function well without skins. These facts make it much more difficult to reach the cabin as a day trip.

Our Trip
Now that I have outlined the general facts, I can describe our specific trip. We left Vancouver at 8:00, fueled at the Petrocan, and drove up the Diamond Head road. At the start it goes through Quest University, where...

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