Cheops Mountain - North Bowl
Mountain Elevation: 2,581m
Tour Elevation Range: 1305-2250m
Total Vertical: 1000m
Exposure: Low-Medium (North, East, South, West)
Car Park: Rogers Pass Discovery Centre
Pwoah, one of my favourite ventures into the pass for the 2020-21 season; this tour is amazing! Albeit, like most tours, your experience will depend on the weather and conditions. When I completed this trail the weather was clear and sunny with minimal wind. Avalanche conditions were: Alpine - Moderate (2), Treeline - Low (1), Below Treeline - Low (1). These conditions proved to be a phenomenal day for touring in the pass!
Above: Approaching entry ramp for North Bowl
It should be noted that I have heard from others that the final skin up on the ridgeline to the bowl can be icy at times, even to the point where crampons can be considered. Assess the conditions and ability of all party members before packing. The last hundred metres or so of the skin were even slightly icy and wind affected when I ventured there, and I had it easy! So take note, talk to others, or check MIN reports so you are prepared.
The actual skin component of the tour was a breeze, taking 4 of us just over 3 hours to get to the entry. Once again, this may vary depending on conditions/skill (also we didn't have to break trail as this is a commonly used uptrack). Starting from the discovery centre your tour will take you through the Balu Pass trail head. Stunning panoramic views will greet you as you skin through the pass; be sure to take it all in when in a safe position to do so (out of the way of avy paths!). This has to be one of my favourite places to tour, especially on a sunny spring day where the views are second to none.
To get to the north bowl you will skin all the way through Balu Pass and past the north bowl and Nicci's notch (a variation of north bowl which is a bit more sporty, shown by blue line), which can be seen on your left as you uptrack Connaught Creek (see photo below). At the end of the pass you will turn left onto the ridgeline (depicted by yellow line) to approach the north bowl entry point. This section is where the skin becomes tougher and may be icy (as previously mentioned), gaining incline with switchbacks and kick-turns. When up top, enter via a prominent ramp (red line entry) or continue skinning and enter via the col for a sportier entry. The day we rode this line we entered via the ramp and found ourselves with fresh lines (the col had been tracked).
The line is incredibly fun with good snow, as I found myself surfing pow to the bottom of the run and the adjacent chute (STS). The run is not overly steep either with moderate incline (intermediate/blue run), allowing for a breezy ride down, ideally soaking up the sun! Be sure to continue riding out until you are in a safe position away from overhead exposure. For such a simple, quick skin up, I cannot recommend this line enough; just make sure the conditions are worthwhile as the ride down is short. We completed this entire tour and were back to the car in just under 4 hours.
8812 Bowl viewed from the Cheops ridgeline
Add this to your list of musts - a cruisy uptrack with phenomenal views and a fun, chill ride down; hard to beat.