Metal Dome Early Season Ski

Alex, Bill, Rob, Dan and I did a quick ski trip up to Metal Dome via the Brandywine FSR. It’s still early season on the Coast, but being snow-starved skiers, we were keen to see how the snowpack was shaping up. I had doubts on whether it was worth getting out of bed for, especially as I had to be back in the city for a dinner. I rather not rush a trip, but Alex convinced me to join him anyways. He had a point. Instead of making excuses not to go skiing (crappy approaches, no snow, too much sunshine), it should be the opposite.


Blackcomb Powder Cats operates out of here, and have cut a cat track from the end of the road through the forest to the alpine. This makes for easy access to the rolling sub-alpine terrain, especially when you can drive high in the early season, or in the spring. They are not operating yet, but the snowmobilers were out in full force on the Brandywine area, taking advantage of the December sunshine and powder.

The past week’s pineapple express left behind puddles and torrential creeks on the North Shore mountains. Fortunately, the freezing levels were just low enough for the alpine to be covered in snow. With a 4WD vehicle, we drove to 1200m, and skinned straight from the car. Of course, there were some patchy sections of snow, and water bars that required the removal of skis to cross.

Snow depths changed dramatically from less than 15cm at the car to a healthy early season snowpack of 130-160cm on the open gladed ridgetop. We skied the upper part of the glacier on the north side of Metal Dome, with a snow depth of 260cm. I saw a wide range of snow textures. Breakable crust below 1500m, changing to light powder overtop of a supportive raincrust above. Widespread surface hoar due to the cold and clear night from the night before. And wind sculpted snow on the ridge crest.

For a day that started with low expectations, I’m pretty happy with how the skiing worked out. We broke out of the clouds, saw all the familiar Coastal peaks poking out, and skied some nice alpine powder.

More photos here:

Foggy Rob
Above the valley clouds
Harrison and Alex on the scenic tour
Alex skiing off Metal Dome on the Squamish-Cheakamus divide
Alex and Harrison
Rob skiing off Metal Dome
Straight line into the shadow

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