This is Day 2 of the Bonnington Traverse. Click HERE if you missed Day 1.
March 6, 2020
The Bonnington traverse is named after Bonnington Falls. It was named by Sir Charles Ross, the first president of the West Kootenay Power and Light company. He borrowed the name from a waterfall in Scotland. I was hoping it had something to do with legendary climber Chris Bonnington, but no such luck.
The trip from Grassy Hut to Steed Hut was our first day of a weather system that was moving in. Gone was our blue bird skies, replaced by low cloud and reduced visibility as the day wore on. The snow began as we got closer to Steed Hut, and kept up pretty much over the next two days until the end of our trip.
The traverse to Steed Hut can best be described as an endless round of Skins On, Skins Off. It seemed to be an endless day of going up and down ridges, losing elevation as soon as we gained it. I’m used to skiing in the Rockies, where you gain elevation all at once, and don’t lose it until it’s time to ski back down. Despite this, it is an enjoyable day in the mountains with ever changing terrain and lots of opportunities to practice route finding.
Route from Grassy Hut to Steed Hut
From Grassy Hut we headed uphill to immediately start gaining elevation heading towards Grassy Mountain. Our line split the difference between the two major humps of Grassy.
Once on the ridge line, we descended down to the low spot.
The next photo shows the route to Steed Hut. From the ridge, descend down to a road crossing. Then gained the next ridge with two peaks. From the summit of the second peak (Grassy N4), turn left and descend that ridge to valley bottom and another road crossing. In the background is Siwash Mountain. After a trudge through the forest to get around the first rib of the mountain, ascend the slope up to the col. Ski down the backside of Siwash Mountain to a small lake. The Steed Hut is just beyond the lake.
After we lost all our elevation from the ridge, we trudged through the forest for a bit, and then came to the first road crossing. It is huge so don’t worry about missing it. We crossed the road, and headed straight back into the forest to gain the first of the twin peaks on the ridge in front of us.
After a short climb, we were at the first of the two peaks on the ridge.
After a short descent and another climb, we were at the top of the second peak (Grassy N4) on the ridge. From here, we got a great view of the Siwash col and could plan our route on how to get up there.
From this spot, we could finally take off the skins and have a bit of fun. We turned left off the peak, and descended down the ridge. This was a bit tricky. The slope was wind loaded with near vertical snow ridges. The right side was cornice infested with a near vertical drop.
We picked our way down the ridge until we came to a low point that also offered some good turns. The snow was great heading down, and good times were had!
As we skied down the ridge, we contoured to the left as much as possible until we hit the second road. We skied up the road for a bit, and then turned right into the trees to contour around the base of the first ridge coming down from Siwash.
Once in the trees again, we found some interesting snow features. I imagine these are giant boulders off the ridge above us.
Once at the lake, we could start planning the route up Siwash Mountain, heading towards the col.
The slope up the col is a wide open expanse. With the lack of snow, it was pretty much boiler plate heading up. The snow was beginning to fall, which would help a bit. Callum was not at all happy with this slope as we neared the col.
Conditions for us worsened as we climbed. The col was steeper, and cutting a line through the boiler plate snow was tougher. It was getting sketchy, but we did it. I imagine this slope with some fresh snow would be a completely different and more enjoyable experience.
At the col, we took off our skins and enjoyed a great run down. I have to say that the trees on the Bonnington are perfectly spaced for excellent skiing. The fresh show sure helped to make the downhill much more fun.
We then angled down to the small lake in the middle of the clearing on a wide bench.
Finding the Steed Hut was a bit difficult. From the amount of ski tracks wandering around the area, we were not the only ones perplexed as to where it could be hiding. We finally found it past the lake, and angled up to the left.
This slight hill up to the hut is a real pain at the end of a long day. It was steep enough to herringbone, but the fresh snow was making progress maddeningly slow. Thankfully my hubby is a real sweetheart. He walked back and pulled me up by my ski poles. Now THAT’S love.
The Steed Hut
The Steed Hut was built by the KMC in 1995 and it is awesome! The main floor is quite big, with a large table and several benches. Lots of pegs to hang our wet clothes and space to dry all our gear. The sleeping area is upstairs, in one big flat bunk that sleeps 4 across quite comfortably.
The wood stove at the Steed is also fantastic. It holds a good amount of wood, and heats up the hut very quickly. Between sleeping upstairs and Callum doing a 2:00 am stoke, it was the first night I was warm and I could sleep all night.
The Steed Hut was also very clean. The kitchen was in great shape. All the dishes were washed, and I felt like we could use the bowls and utensils without first disinfecting the entire thing. Before we left, the hut was swept, new wood was chopped, and all dishes were washed and stacked.
After a great night’s sleep, we awoke at 6:00 am to start our next phase of adventure over to Copper Hut.
Thank you for joining me on the Bonnington Traverse. Click HERE if you missed the trip into Grassy Hut. The continue the adventure and read about the traverse from Steed Hut to Copper Hut, please click HERE.
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Totals – Tracked on Strava
Date: March 6, 2020
Group: Four (Alisen, Mike, Brian and Callum)
Distance: 11.22 km
Elevation Gain: 885 m (2,920′)
Elevation Loss: 676 m (2,230,′)
Time: 6 hours 44 minutes (including lunch, snacks, and numerous skins on / skins off breaks)
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