2016 Winter Hard Trip: Stein South Divide

Since 2012 the southern skyline of the Stein Valley has been, for me, the pinnacle of outdoor aspiration. I first glimpsed it in 2010 – heavily glaciated, remote and punctuated on the eastern end by Skihist, the highest peak in Southwestern BC. I wasn’t capable of conceiving a traverse of it then.

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 10.31.19 PM
Elton Lake off the Klackarpun Icefield

I mentally added it to the top of my long term hiking goals list in 2012, thinking a hike/scramble route was likely possible. By 2014 I realized it was better as a ski traverse both for glacier safety and because it’s how this terrain ought be experienced. Surely the proper way to descend a mountain called Skihist is via skis.

Last winter I decided to ski it in February but switched last minute to a safer route when the avalanche risk was too high for solo alpinism. This winter with a more flexible schedule I’m going to give it a shot, likely next week conditions permitting.

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Stein South Divide 2016 Route

I’ve revised my route from last year, opting to skip the eastern 30% of the divide for a hike down the Kent Valley to Kent Lake, which as far as I can tell has never been visited by a non-indigenous person. From there I’ll try to scramble out of that hanging valley into the heart of the Stein Valley and packraft out the Stein River. Skis on the bow of a packraft is one of the iconic symbols of proper adventure, so I’m excited for my first time.

I’m not quite sure what to make of my odds of success. As far as I can tell, Skihist has never been climbed in the winter, nor solo, but this seems to be a product of it’s remoteness more so than it’s difficulty. I’m more worried about the 10km of glaciers and often narrow ridges with unknown technical obstacles but still I think there’s an 80% chance I can complete the majority of the route. I’ll find out soon.

Route Specs
Distance: 111 km
Alpine Distance: 68km
Raft Distance: 18km
Hike Distance: 25km
Vertical: +31,500′
High point: 9740′
Days: 5-6

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