McMurdo Hut, Purcells
Skied out of McMurdo Cabin this past week (last week of April) as a party of 5 in very good conditions. With the hut being at 1750m and winter snow above 2000m, we stayed mostly in the Alpine on polar aspects on and around the Spillimacheen Glacier which averaged 250-300cm of coverage. The prominent peaks in this drainage top out around 2850m (David, Cony, Twin Towers) and all delivered excellent steep skiing conditions on aesthetic lines. We also skied numerous lines on the various moraine features around treeline which offered exciting lower elevation / lower visibility options.
The week (and flight) started out with convective snowfall up to 15cm in the ALP which bonded well. The following few days had broken and scattered cloud, cooler temps (below zero), good visibility and a snowpack that inspired confidence. Initial tests in the TL & ALP elevations produced mostly resistant planar results in the moderate range up to 40cm down. Subsequent slope tests only reacted within top 10cm of cold dry snow. April 27th brought more fresh snow (15-20cm) with light to moderate SW winds. The only visible natural activity in the immediate area from this storm was a size 2.5 storm/wind slab on an exposed NW asp around 2600m with wide propagation (see picture). The next few days we skied more supported terrain. Great views of the neighboring International Basin and south end of Glacier National Park. Overall this area has great terrain options for all abilities and some high hazard hide out areas with the comforts of a rustic log cabin (beware of Marty, the resident Pine Marten!). We chose to fly in and ski out. The Spilli FSR is melted out to about km34 where we staged a vehicle (now possible to drive further on frozen snow and gravel). This makes for <24km over 450m vert ski out which took us 4hrs gliding and skating over early morning frozen snow made firm by a season of snowmobile traffic. For hut booking and more info, go to http://www.cvhsinfo.org/