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Rink Lake Ski Touring and An Ascent of Leather Peak

Difficulty: 
Ski Touring
Elevation [m]: 
2429
Round Trip Distance [km]: 
31.2
Net Elevation Gain [m]: 
1300
Total Elevation Gain [m]: 
1950
YDS Difficulty: 
3
Ascent Time: 
5:45 to Rink Lake, 3:30 to Leather Peak
Bushwhackyness: 
Bit dense near Rink Creek
Tripdate: 
Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A trip plan had been in the works between Liam, Sean, and I for some time and as the day grew closer I was worried that I wouldn't be able to make it out (waiting to hear back from a 《hopeful》job offer).  In the end we redirected from our original 3 day trip to a less time-consuming 2 day trip and after throwing around a number of objectives settled on an overnight ski tour up to Rink Lake.

Rink Lake is on the western edge of Jasper National Park just north of Yellowhead Mountain (which marks the AB/BC boundary) and has recently been the candidate location of a proposal by a duo of local Jasperites for a new winter only ski cabin.  With talk of amazing ski potential it was certainly worth a trip to check out.

One factor to consider is that it was going to be cold (-20 overnight in Jasper townsite).

We approached the lake by the Yellowhead Mountain route, starting off in BC (as for Steven and I's Miette Pass trip earlier in the year) heading up the trail to the shoulder of the mountain before hooking west up towards the lake.  For the first bit of the approach we actually had a tracked trail which was very pleasent to reduce trail breaking and navigation delays.  Before  long we can across the weather station and the open flats near the shoulder which mark the start of the traverse west.

 

Looking across the valley towards Mount Fitzwilliam from the trail.

 

Nice open terrain near the shoulder.

 

Passing by the weather station.

 

Bushwhacking was actually not that bad and our main delays came from Rink Creek not being fully frozen.  Later in the season skiing directly up the creek would be a swift (and very preferable) alternative.  Reaching Rink Lake itself was kind of a sudden event (from fairly dense trees to wide open lake in a very short distance).  We ended up setting up our camp on the east shore of the lake and got a good fire pit ready to ward off the frosty fangs of winter after the sun went down.

 

Looking across Rink Lake quite a nice area.

 

Setting up camp and then reday to roll out.

 

Having a few hours of daylight left we decided to cross the lake and head upwards to get a better feel for the terrain (and to decide on an objective for the morrow).  At the west shore of the lake a large snowt boulder field leads to the upper valley which made for decent ascent line and some exciting turns on the way down later!  Atop the boulder field you start to get a feel for the size and variety of terrain.  Dana Ruddy and Sean Elliott are quite right to say this area has ski potential!  There are couloirs, glades, open faces, pretty much enough ski variety to keep anyone busy for a few days!  We toured higher following beneath a low cliff to reach a good viewpoint  before skiing back down to camp.

 

Liam crossing the lake.

 

Liam and Sean ascending the boudler field on the far side of the lake.

 

Looking north to Mount O'Bierne from above the boulder slope.

 

Lots of ski potential around here.

 

Looking back towards Rink Lake.

 

The crescent moon above Lucern Peak.

 

Quite a nice fire to keep out the cold.

 

Not the clearest night but still a few stars.

 

The comfortable glow of the fire from near the tents.

 

Waking up the next morning sure enough it was cold (my thermometer read -22 in my tent and -27 outside).  Thankfully after a bit of coaxing a good fire was roaring taking some of the chill out of the frosty air.  After stowing some of our gear we set off back across Rink Lake towards our objective for the day Leather Peak, one of the summit along the ridge leading from Yellowhead Mountain.  From the lake we followed our tracks to the upper snowy slopes and then carried on towards Leather.  After a quick snow pit we set off up the north face and after a few switchbacks switched over to bootpacking the last bit of elevation to reach the summit.  Views from the summit were exceptional (especially given how the forcast called for overcast skies!).  While we were happy to be in the sun, daylight was still dwindling so we skied back to camp swiftly.  After packing up camp we started the journey back to the road.  Descending the Yellowhead Mountain trail is somewhat tedious on skis given all the flat/uphill sections!

 

Waking up the next morning, very frosty out.

 

Looking back down at Rink Lake from above the boulder slope.

 

More interesting ski terrain to see.

 

Sean and Liam with the ascent slope of Leather Peak in the background.

 

Liam and Sean ascending the face of the mountain, time for boots for the rest of the elevation.

 

Gaining a steep step to reach the summit plateau on Leather Peak.

 

Great views from the summit of Leather Peak looking across the valley.

 

Views from the summit back towards Rink Lake.

 

A more zoomed in pano.  Mount Bridgland is a very impressive peak.

 

Liam and Sean on the summit.

 

The view down towards Rink Lake and the other unnamed lakes.

 

Lots of couloirs to ski up near on Mount O'Bierne.

 

Back down to Rink Lake.

 

Packed up camp, ready to roll.

 

Great area for a ski tour, can't wait to head back!

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