Gros Morne National Park of Canada
© Parks Canada
Backcountry Ski Touring
Gros Morne National Park has all the ingredients for a great backcountry
skiing experience: coastal mountains with heavy snowfalls, lowland boreal
forests, treeless alpine highlands, and stunning vistas. Trips can range from
short roadside skis to multi-day adventures involving camping or
Advanced skiers can choose routes up into the windswept arctic-alpine zone of
the Long Range Mountains where they enjoy hard climbs, extended traverses,
and long, varied downhills.
The coastal lowlands in the north of the park offer flat or rolling terrain
with moderate climbs, and sheltered forested valleys. Hilly landscapes with
short, rolling climbs dominate in other areas, such as the Southeast Hills
Much of the park has steep mountains that climb above 600 metres, such the
Tablelands and the Long Range Mountains. Here skiers can traverse hundreds of
square kilometres of rolling, windswept arctic-alpine terrain.
Trips into alpine areas are best suited to experienced skiers in groups. Be
aware of extreme, changeable weather, steep terrain and gullies, and
avalanches. Cornices build up on many cliff tops and can break off without
warning. Stay clear of these areas and of cliff edges. Assist avalanche
monitoring by reporting the location and extent of any slides to park staff.
Ice & Snow Conditions
While there is often good skiing in early winter and spring, snow and ice
conditions are most reliable from late January through late March.
Never assume that the ice covering water bodies is thick enough to support
you, even if you see tracks in the snow. Always check ice thickness or avoid
travelling in such areas. Avoid crossing ice near inflows and outflows of
ponds as these areas rarely develop safe ice cover. Baker’s Brook Pond,
Western Brook Pond, and Ten Mile Pond are large, deep, and slow to freeze.
They are rarely safe. Avoid these lakes or use extreme caution.
Snow conditions vary with the terrain and change frequently. Expect to
encounter clear blown patches of hard icy snow on slopes that appear to have
an even layer of soft powder snow. Beware of open or hidden snow crevasses
over areas with running brooks, especially in gullies where wind-blown powder
snow collects. The water in these channels often causes the snow to melt from
the bottom up, forming snow caves up to 7 metres deep. The roofs of these
caves collapse easily and can injure or trap skiers.
Plan & Prepare
Wider skis with full metal edges are preferable and climbing skins are often
necessary, especially in the steeper terrain of the highlands. As a minimum,
it is recommended that skiers carry:
In a waterproof bag, insulating clothing, spare socks & gloves, and a base
Navigation aids including a map, compass, and
- Food, water, sunglasses or ski goggles, and a headlamp
- Avalanche safety and rescue gear, if travelling in avalanche zones
Beginner backcountry skiers should seek experienced travelling companions or
hire a guide, and seek out training programs on topics such as wilderness
navigation, first aid, and (if you travel in the mountains) avalanche safety.