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The Shelf

Glacier National Park (Canada)

Serious free-skiing on the North Face of Mt Cheops

Freeride Skiing Extreme

12 km
1.2 km
1.2 km
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
2.5 km
The Shelf Map

A steep and serious north face route of Mt Cheops with quick, easy access. Features a single rappel & a couple of variations to finish. Good visibility & very stable avalanche conditions are required to complete this route.


Start at the Parks Canada Visitor Center (1320m). Follow the well blazed trail up Connaught Creek to Balu Pass (2075m). You can spot the line on the left side of the valley as you approach. Make sure there is enough snow on the right side of the choke 1/3 of the way down the run before committing.

From Balu Pass, turn left & begin climbing the west ridge of Mt Cheops until you reach the west summit (2510m). Ski crampons are often required on the steeper sections as this aspect receives a lot of sun & wind.

Carefully traverse along the summit ridge using skis or crampons depending upon conditions, until you find the entrance at 2500m. Some trimming of the cornice may be needed. As you stand looking down the line, there is a rap ring bolted into the rock behind you on the left, at about calf height.

A single 40m rappel down a steep rock slab puts you on the slopes of the shelf. Slope is 50 degrees (measured) here. Begin skiing & trend right towards the wall. Be careful, an 25m cliff is directly below you. Ski the narrow choke on skier's right, next to the wall. Slope is about 60 degrees in here. There is an anchor in the wall on the right if needed.

Once below the cliff & choke, the lower slopes are more open. Slope is 45 degrees (measured) & can be exhilarating skiing. Trend right, staying close to the right wall. Move quickly as this lower section is threatened from above by the slopes under the main summit.

Once in the main bowl (North Cheops #2) you have a couple of options to finish. Option #1 is you can ski easily straight down the main bowl which offers undulating, open bowl skiing. Option #2 is to traverse skier's right to the top of an obvious moraine wall and from there skin up right, through the trees & over the shoulder. Careful, this slope is steep, avalanche terrain. This will put you at the top of the western most Chromosome line, a short but steep couloir that drops you directly to the head of the valley & a short ski to your car. It is also common for some to go back up Mt Cheops & drop the STS couloir if time & energy levels allow.

Make sure there are high-fives all around, crack a cold one & enjoy tailgate beers!

Car-to-car time 5-6 hrs



Extreme skiing terrain above 45 degrees. These routes are reserved for experienced experts.

High Exposure (E3)

3 out of 4

In case of a fall, death is highly likely.


1 out of 4

Close to help in case of emergency.

Best time to visit

between February and April


  • Bowl
  • Cliffs
  • Couloir
  • Walk Required

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons

Guidebooks in this area