4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
For a deeper dive into the route and some detailed terrain photos, check out the post on Beyond Our Peak: https://beyondourpeak.com/balu-pass-rogers-pass-old-faithful-ski-tour/ It goes without saying Balu Pass is an ultra-popular ski tour and it does live up to its hype.
It delivers stunning views of the Connaught Valley and Cougar Valley, offers some cruisy skiing and is relatively straightforward which makes it appealing to the less experienced crowds.
Beware! The route takes you through several large avalanche paths, 16 according to my count.
Some run every storm cycle, others once every few years.
This makes reaching Balu Pass a hazardous endeavour even if thousand of ski tourers and splitboarders casually stroll across its length every winter. The valley-bottom tour starts at the Rogers Pass Discovery Center.
From there, the trip kicks off with a gentle warm-up as you enter the Connaught Valley and tour along its peaceful creek that runs year-round.
You'll have the option of taking the winter or summer path.
Both take you through some magical old-growth forest.
Either option works depending on the snowpack depths. After crossing many active avalanche paths, you'll reach an open area bordered by 8812 Bowl and Cheops North Bowl.
This is where the fun truly starts.
Make your way up the 30-degree open slope to the top of Balu Pass (2100m).
From there, you'll see the magnificent Cougar Valley to the West and Mt MacDonald to the East.
Soak up the views and when you're ready to ski follow your uptrack back to the car.
The skiing itself is cruisy and takes you through a treeline bowl with many great alternatives to get those fresh turns.
Enjoy the powder!