ApproachThis is a 4300’+/- ascent day
. I parked at the Fish Creek Trailhead and hiked up the road. There are two better solutions however. Lake Louise was running a shuttle (for non-purist) that ran up a limited access road to a lift area on the backside of Lake Louise. Even though I was not a paying customer, I was offered a ride by the operator which I graciously turned down. I imagine not a whole lot is said if someone wants to use this shuttle. Another, my preferred option now that I am aware, is to skin up a green ski run to the right of the parking lot. I received less than stellar information from the Internet regarding taking cross country skis versus alpine skis. Definitely take alpine skis for this ascent due to icy conditions and two passes to climb and descend. With alpine skis, if conditions are right, you can practically ski from the summit to the car.
Ski from the trailhead past the halfway hut and up to Boulder Pass. This pass lies between Redoubt Mountain and Ptarmigan Peak. The wind can get brutal here.
Continue on this nice flat section to Deception Pass which doglegs to the left. Once at the pass, take your skis off and head up the southwest ridge of Fossil Mountain (right). This southwest ridge stays clear of snow most of the winter due to intense winds
(70+/-mph during my trip). After about 1700' of gain you will reach the final summit ridge and simply head east to a marker memorizing two cousins who were killed on the mountain in 1988.
Off to the northeast is Mount Douglas (not to be confused with Mount Sir Douglas
) and prominent Mount St. Bride. Ptarmigan Peak's glacier and the Wall of Jericho fill the west, and Mount Temple
is to the south.
This snow is extremely wind blown creating wind slabs on the south face of Fossil Mountain.
Therefore, I do not advise trying to ski this mountain unless you have appropriate avalanche safety experience. There are other options to find quality powder below on the other side of Deception Pass. Whichever descent you use, the south face or returning the ridge, once back down to Deception Pass or Baker Lake, the return is the same.
Skis, Skins, Goggles, Alpine Ax, Gaiters, Wind Resistant Clothing (the passes can be brutal)