Mt MacDonald : a first

Christina Lustenburger and Andrew McNab have made the first ski descent of Mount MacDonald in the Glacier national park, British Columbia. For Christina, this achievement brought a new satisfaction to her desire to honour the most beautiful slopes and mountains of her vast country.

Christina Lusti

Mount MacDonald, at the height of 2 883 metres, towers above Rogers Pass. With good snow cover, its north-west face can whet the appetite of connoisseurs. “It’s one of the last big unskied lines in the area. You can see it from the trans Canada highway, and so many other places in the pass. It’s a beautiful line that you can ski into from the summit of Mount MacDonald. I had been looking at it wanting to ski it for around 6 or 8 years. I think what makes this line fun or desirable is the unknown of it. No one’s skied it before, there is no route plan. You’re getting to figure it out for the first time.”

Christina Lusti

With very good conditions in British Columbia since mid-January, the coveted line had become feasible. Christina had therefore joined up with an old buddy, Andrew McNab, to try this first. “I’ve been skiing with Andrew for about 10 years. Someone you can text message your crazy idea the day before and if he’s not working without a doubt he’s keen. Andrew was born and raised in Revelstoke and is probably the most well travelled guy in the area. He has a skimo background and has just recently finished his ACMG ski guide program. He’s very talented in the mountains. It’s so valuable to have friend you trust that have a similar style and goals in the mountains.”

Andrew MacNab

Leaving Revelstoke at 6:30, Christina and Andrew took three quarters of an hour to drive to the pass. After having reassessed the itinerary from the road and checked that the access zone was open to hikers, they began their ascension (at Rogers Pass, there is a system of permission of access in winter due to the triggering of avalanche cannons which are sited there, Ed). “It took us about 4-4.5 hours to reach the summit at 2883meters. This consisted of skinning and boot packing and a minimal section of rock scrambling. The line has a huge cliff in the middle. With this line of course you want to wait for good conditions, the middle of the line has 3 rappels so for a good portion of the ski you’re very exposed. Some years the line has looked very scratchy and full of rocks. This season in Revelstoke has been very snowy! And things look very filled in! So it was a matter of waiting for a good weather window as well as good snow conditions considering both avalanche danger and ski conditions. ”

Andrew MacNab

A 70 metre length of rope for rappelling in their packs, Christina and Andrew wanted to minimise the risk of being short of rope, but they had therefore increased their load. Just as well that they took it because they actually needed three rappels in the central section. “During the morning I was thinking lots about the cliff band in the middle of the line. But I was able to relax knowing we had the right gear to move through and on sight this terrain. It felt very comfortable all day, as we had great conditions and all the right tools. I think we nailed both. We had perfect snow for this line! And did it in great style.” So it only left Christina to go and buy balloons and a cake to celebrate her husbands birthday back home. Good conditions don’t wait, all the more so when you plan to post your country’s most beautiful lines on your list of conquests. “I have an unofficial list of lines I’d like to ski. Some first descents some just beautiful mountains or lines I’d like to try and feel.”

 

Articles associés


Black Friar, a mass for present times