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Couloir Series: The Grand Daddy Couloir on Bow Peak

Couloir /ko͞olˈwär/ noun: A narrow gully with a steep gradient in mountainous terrain

Bow Peak is a 3,055-metre mountain on the Icefields Parkway north of Lake Louise. The area around Bow Peak is famous for its hiking, climbing, paddling and skiing. While the mountain has a lot to offer, it’s the Grand Daddy Couloir that keeps thrill-seeking skiers returning year after year.

The Grand Daddy couloir is one of the most atmospheric ski line in the Canadian Rockies. It drops down a steep slot between tall walls where echoes reverberate into the abyss, and it’s all guarded by daunting spire.

The approach begins at Mosquito Creek, just behind the hostel. You’ll find freat skiing in the trees along the West Nile track that leads toward the couloir.

Most skiers will stop about a pitch below the top of the couloir where there’s often a big cornice. Conditions can range from marginal to superb and may require some down-climbing. The slope at the top of the couloir is 53 degress, but it runs between 40 and 45 degrees lower down. The full line is over 300 metres.

Ski with caution down the narrow section, leap frogging and spotting your partner. Eventually you’ll hit the transition from the mouth to the wide open fan to the trees. A round-trip will tark about five to six hours and you gain nearly 1,000 metres from the car. It’s 12 kilometres from car-to-car.

Grand Daddy Couloir