The Sugar Cube

~ By JonnyPublished December 7, 2018


There are some awesome, hidden gems all over the Canadian Rockies. Venturing out beyond the usual ski touring haunts, it’s easy to find some amazing lines quickly, and often with not a lot of effort. The sugar cube is a perfect example of a quick day trip that rewards a short drive and approach with an awesome little line.

Adam, Brandon and I started the day without much of an objective. We wanted to ski somewhere around the icefields parkway to take advantage of the higher altitude and more snow. Unfortunately, none of us had a lot of area knowledge yet, as it was early in the season. We settled on Cirque Peak area, and set off.

We started out by accessing the zone from the creekbed (rather than the Helen Shoulder access) and soon found the snow to be extremely wind affected.

We grew concerned that our day might become more of a hike than a ski due to snow conditions. Upon exploring the valley, we noticed the interesting sugar cube feature on the far west end of the zone. I had seen the feature in Marcus Baranow’s 93N guidebook, and decided to head that direction to assess.

As we climbed the fan below the Sugar Cube, we found much better snow than expected. Finding better conditions than expected would become a theme for the rest of the year.

We skied partway up the fan, and then soon found ourselves boot packing through incredibly deep facets towards the short Couloir. While it was short, the incredibly deep and bottomless facets meant we were fully wallowing our way up.

We soon were grateful for the effort as we topped out on the Sugar Cube, and clipped in for a short but rewarding run back down to Cirque valley.

Approaching the sugar cube from the bottom from Helen Lake
Approaching the Sugar Cube near Helen Lake
Topping out the sugar cube at Helen Lake
Bootpacking the Sugar Cube
On top of the sugar cube at Helen Lake
Looking south to Dolomite from the Sugar Cube near Helen Lake
Skiing the Sugar Cube Couloir at Helen Lake
Getting down at Helen Lake

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