Crystal Ridge Ski Touring

~ By JonnyPublished January 13, 2019


Crystal Ridge is a large zone north of Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway located just a few kilometers south of Bow Lake. It offers a huge range of low angle touring, glade skiing, and even access to a significant alpine zone with lots of options for easy or steep skiing off the east aspect towards Helen Lake itself.

Skinning the upper alpine zone of Crystal Ridge
Skinning the upper alpine zone of Crystal Ridge

The tour starts out at the Crowfoot glacier overlook pullout (typically clogged with tourists later in the day in the spring!), and follows the summer trail for Helen lake for a few hundred meters before breaking out left towards the open glades and benches of Crystal Ridge.

I did this tour twice in the 2018/2019 ski season, and experienced very different, but very good skiing conditions both days. The second day involved some good snow, but very poor visibility and high winds that hampered the fun factor somewhat.

Ascending the final pitch of Crystal Ridge
Ascending the final pitch of Crystal Ridge
Crystal Ridge, looking North towards Bow Summit and Mt. Chephren
Crystal Ridge, looking North towards Bow Summit and Mt. Chephren
Cirque Fore-peak from Crystal Ridge Summit
Cirque Fore-peak from Crystal Ridge Summit

Overall, a great area for some fun laps, particularly in times of higher avalanche risk as there are plenty of safe options in this area if you use good judgement in line choice.

Crowfoot Mountain looking impressive from Crystal Ridge
Crowfoot Mountain looking impressive from Crystal Ridge
Perfect light and good snow on descent from Crystal Ridge
Perfect light and good snow on descent from Crystal Ridge

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