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Macdonald West Shoulder

Glacier National Park (Canada)

Roger Pass’ most accessible ski descent

Ski Touring Difficult

4.9 km
1.2 km
1.2 km
4-5 hrs
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
2.5 km
Macdonald West Shoulder Map

For a deeper dive into the route and detailed terrain photos, check out the post on Beyond Our Peak: https://beyondourpeak.com/skiing-the-macdonald-west-shoulder-nrc-gully/


The Macdonald West Shoulder and its neighbouring NRC Gully (Shoulder Valley Path) offer some of the Roger Pass’ most accessible ski descents. Unlike most routes in the area that require a long approach to even get a glimpse of the goods, the Macdonald West Shoulder #4 slide path provides 1200 meters of uninterrupted, west-facing fall line skiing, accessed with a 2.5 km-long ascent. If the sun or the crowds haven’t gotten to it yet, it might as well be some of Rogers Pass’ best skiing. As you might have guessed from those figures, it’s a popular route, especially with beginners and guides on the job. On the lower section before the bench, you’ll find a million botched uptracks and, maybe, the perfect one, expertly crafted by said guides – the needle in a haystack. Mind you: it says it in the name: the route follows a massive avalanche path. It gets even more exposed in the NRC gully, a major terrain trap with a big bowl overhead. As always, good terrain knowledge, prior research and avalanche awareness are crucial.

The ascent is pretty simple. Park your car at the NRC lot and begin the gentle ascent through some dense trees. When possible, veer north towards the edge of the main avalanche path. Climb as high as you can until you reach a steep pillow field that can be circumnavigated to the south through the NRC gully. You'll get a good view of NRC col which leads to the Avalanche North Glacier, seldom travelled. Climb the moderately steep slope heading generally northeast. You'll find some sparse trees along the ridge to grant you cover on the ascent into the alpine. The alpine ridge is typically a very windy place and provides abysmal ski conditions on a good day.

The descent is as straightforward as it gets. Descend the west slope towards the NRC parking lot and enjoy the powder along the way.



Serious gradient of 30-38 degrees where a real risk of slipping exists.

Low Exposure (E1)

1 out of 4

Exposure is limited to that of the slope itself. Getting hurt is still likely if the slope is steep and/or the snow is hard.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between December and April


  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Cliffs
  • Tree Skiing

Equipment required

  • Skins

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area