Bonnington Traverse – Grassy Hut to Steed Hut

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.

Overview

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.

Steed 1

Mike working his way up the slope above Grassy Hut. We are aiming for the low spot between the summit (above, not shown) and the far summit. We contoured around the left of the middle bump and picked up the ridge.

Once on the ridge line, we descended down to the low spot.

Steed 2

From the mid-point on Grassy Mountain, we found the ridge and began our descent. But not for long! The next uphill is straight ahead.

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.

Steed 3

From Grassy ridge, ski down to the road (shown entering on far left). Skin up the twin peaks on the next ridge (Grassy N4). Turn left, and ski down the ridge to valley bottom. Then ski up Siwash Mountain (in the distance) to the col. The Steed hut is on the other side of Siwash Mountain.

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.

Steed 4

This is the first of two road crossings. This is a major road with lots of sled tracks. We crossed the road and headed up the ridge for the first of two small peaks.

After a short climb, we were at the first of the two peaks on the ridge.

Steed 5

The peaks are marked with these black painted poles. Straight ahead is the second peak called Grassy N4 on this ridge. In the background is a slightly better view of the Siwash col.

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.

Steed 6

At the top of the second peak (Grassy N4) on the ridge. We stayed well back due to the cliff face below us, and the cornice that was no doubt there. The weather was starting to come in, but we could still see the Siwash col and plan our next steps.

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!

Steed 7

We had to stay well back to avoid the unsupported cornices. There are lots of opportunities for skiing the bowl on the right depending on the snow and how steep you like to ski.

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.

Steed 8

This is the second of two road crossings. We skied up this road until it was time to turn right into the trees. We are aiming for the little lake, but avoiding the base of the ridge on the right.

Once in the trees again, we found some interesting snow features. I imagine these are giant boulders off the ridge above us.

Steed 9

Contouring around the base of the ridge, making our way towards the small lake above Glade Creek.

Once at the lake, we could start planning the route up Siwash Mountain, heading towards the col.

Steed 10

The lake is ahead on the left. We need to gain the ridge ahead, making our way over to the final slope to 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.

Steed 11

Mike is in the background up against the trees. He set a nice line up the slope, that also got us off it as soon as possible. The rest of us took turns following so no one was on top of another skier.

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.

Steed 12

Glimpsing Mike through the trees as he waits at the top of the Siwash Mountain col for us to arrive.

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.

Steed 13

Mike’s work is never done. He’s not even inside the Steed Hut and he’s already shoveling out the steps. The snow is really falling thick now, and at this point we were thankful for the fresh snow.

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.

Steed 14

This is the backside of the hut, viewed from the outhouse. The sleeping area is upstairs. The light is the main floor kitchen / table.

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.

Steed 15

So much room in the Steed Hut – we were definitely spoiled. The ladder takes you upstairs. Plenty of room to dry all our stuff.

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.

If you found this post useful, please do me a huge favour and click the Star button to “Like” it. You can also follow my blog, or join my facebook page Al’s Adventurers.

Alisen

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)

Map

The traverse from Grassy Hut to Steed Hut follows the Grassy ridge lines, then down to valley floor to pick up the col on Siwash Mountain.

Profile

Today was all about elevation gain and loss. The first bump is gaining the ridge behind the hut. The twin peaks are in the middle. The ascent to Siwash Col at the end of the day is on the right.

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Posted in Adventures, Skiing

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