Via Island Lake Lodge and Orca Road. Our chosen route up Orca’s drainage prevented this one from getting 3 stars. Stick to Orca Road and save it for a safe day.
Park at the Island Lake Lodge parking lot, just past Mt. Fernie PP.
The route begins along the Island Lake Lodge cat-track and cross country ski trail from the parking lot.
At approximately 49.497N 115.140W you will see a rustic-looking outhouse. Branch left off the cross country ski trail at this point and find the makeshift bridge over Lizard creek above. This is also the start of the Orca Road, which leads up into Orca bowl.
If you think Orca drainage will be a better ascent/descent, think again. It was pretty tight with an open creek down the middle, shown above. Luckily, there was enough snow cover to make the ascent into Orca bowl bearable, but it is not ideal.
At the top of Orca Road, continue skinning up towards the looker’s left, then traverse right into Orca Bowl once you have gained enough elevation. Watch out for some steep slopes and terrain traps. No evidence of instabilities on this day, though. Turn around here if you aren’t sure of conditions.
Looking back on the traverse into Orca Bowl, above.
The view into Orca Bowl above after the traverse. There are some significant, but obvious, slide paths to minimize your time in. We chose to skin up the left trees, quickly cross over the slide path in the middle, and continue up the mature timber on the looker’s right.
You will come across a large depression in the bowl near the top. It is possible to continue up to ridge top if you have the right conditions, shown above. This slope was wind loaded so we turned around at this point.
Skiing down Orca Road, marked by flagging tape above. Much better than the drainage!
Bath time in Lizard Creek for the resident moose.
GPS route shown above. The red track is our ascent route via Orca’s drainage – not recommended. Take the blue track on Orca Road, with the start and ends denoted by the waypoints.
Times and distances are round trip. There is an additional ~150m to gain the ridge if conditions permit.