The Winter Permit System is in effect from November to April annually. We encourage winter backcountry users to plan ahead and obtain Annual Winter Permits. Learn it. Get your permit!
As an experienced backcountry skier, you know there’s a lot of prep involved before the skins go on. But did you know: if you’re heading to Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park, British Columbia, there’s one more step you won’t find anywhere else?
THE BIG PICTURE
Rogers Pass is perched on a high point of the continent. The steep slopes frame a narrow valley that brings both the Trans-Canada Highway and CP rail line over the Columbia Mountains. In the 43-km stretch that runs through the park, there are 135 avalanche paths that can affect the road or the railway. For experienced backcountry skiers and snowboarders, this complex terrain is also known for world-class powder.
Since 1961, Parks Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces, under Operation PALACI, have partnered to run the world’s largest mobile artillery avalanche control program in Glacier National Park. Avalanche control using live explosives remains the most efficient method to protect the national transportation corridor in Rogers Pass. To reduce avalanche risk to the Trans-Canada, the highway was closed and live explosives were used to trigger avalanches, reducing the risk of larger natural avalanches. When the highway opened, the steep slopes and deep powder along the transportation corridor were off-limits from November to April. Local backcountry skiers were keen to access these closed areas of Glacier National Park, getting only a taste of what it had to offer in spring. Parks Canada worked together with local stakeholders and in 1995, the winter permit system was first piloted.
THE WINTER PERMIT SYSTEM
The Winter Permit System, which is unique to Rogers Pass, was designed to allow access to some of the slopes along the national transportation corridor when no avalanche control is planned or anticipated.. The slopes along the Trans-Canada Highway in Glacier National Park are divided into 3 types of areas: Prohibited (always closed), unrestricted (always open), and restricted, meaning they may be open depending on planned and/or anticipated avalanche control.
Restricted areas are part of the highway avalanche control program, meaning they are subject to explosive avalanche control using howitzers. As you can imagine, it is essential that no one is in these areas when avalanche control takes place. All winter restricted areas and restricted parking areas close at midnight and remain closed until their status is updated at 7 AM daily.
The system is to keep backcountry skiers away from explosive avalanche control, it does NOT render slopes safe for recreation. Winter backcountry users must comply with the Winter Permit System as 100% compliance is required to maintain access to these areas and enjoy this world-renowned ski touring destination.
WHERE TO START
Get on the right track by visiting parks.canada.ca/skirogerspass Both a winter permit and a national park pass are required to access backcountry routes in Winter Restricted Areas.
Learning the Winter Permit System involves some time investment – don’t wait until the last minute to familiarize yourself with it. Apply for your permit today: Learn it. Get your permit!
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY
The backcountry in Glacier National Park is not for beginners. You must have the skills, knowledge, and equipment to travel in complex avalanche terrain and to conduct self-rescue.
Parks Canada would like to thank the ski touring community for their ongoing ambassadorship of the Winter Permit System at Rogers Pass.
Wishing everyone a safe and adventure-filled ski season!