One of the best day skis in Gros Morne National Park is Trout River Bowl, in the Tablelands. This concave depression rises over 400 meters above the parking lot that marks the trailhead of the Tablelands day hike trail and features some great slopes for those willing to strap on a pair of skins and hike it to the top.
The hill starts out with a low gradual rise over the peridotite barrens that make up the Tablelands, but it soon turns steep and you really have to trust your skins to get you up the slope. Heel lifters on a pair of telemark skis work well but good alpine touring gear should get you to the top as well. The views of Bonne Bay and Trout River Gulch are great as you make your way up so leave plenty of time for picture taking on your way up. Believe me you won't want to stop on the way back down.
There are plenty of hazards to watch out for when skiing the bowl and it is wise to check with park officials to get the latest conditions before heading out. This place is avalanche central! A 50+ foot cornice hangs precariously out over the middle and evidence lies all over, indicating the path of flow as pieces began to break and fall. There is a fairly safe route up if you know what to look for, but bring your probes, shovels, and beacons just in case. There is also a brook that runs down the left side as you go up. Make sure to stay well away from it, especially in late spring. A hollow, rotten, snow cover often masks the 30 foot drop right up until May.
When you do finally reach the top, remember to take a deep breath and take in the spectacular views before ripping off your skins and tearing down the hill. Sometimes you cannot reach the absolute top because the wind swept slope becomes too icy making it impossible to climb, but even from the last section before the upper bowl, you can get some great runs in. It drops in sections giving you a chance to give your legs a rest if the snow conditions are bad.
On good days in the bowl you can get some of the best skiing to be found anywhere on the east coast, and even when conditions make you turns slow and mushy you can still enjoy the great scenery that the area has to offer. With skins you can get 2-3 runs per day but some people opt to use a snowmobile to ferry them to the top. This is great for getting more runs in, but you don't get to enjoy the still silence and awesome magnitude of one of the harshest places on the island of Newfoundland.
Keep in mind this is a real mountain with real dangers. Beginner's need not apply.
From Deer Lake take route 430, known as the Viking Trail. At Wiltondale take route 431 to Bonne Bay South. Turn off at the Trout River access road and look for the sign that marks the head of the Tablelands trail.
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Posted By: Bud Stokes
- Thu Oct 09 20:20:07 UTC 2008
UpsideShort approach makes for more turns! DownsideHard to get good snow. Try during Spring. Open, featureless bowl leaves you wanting more. CommentGreat area for the intermediate skier to get initiated into mountain environment. Make sure to check the avalanche conditions before going. Although the bowl is fairly featureless the daredevils can try dropping in off cornice (attemt only if cornice is not overhanging, snow is stable, no fracture lines in area, and you understand the risks associated with this type of skiing). When the setup is right you can get some major hangtime, just remember there is probably alot of avalanche debris at bottem of bowl so stomp your landing and keep your head up. Also, on the far skiers right of the bowl there are some rock-gardens and small chutes that offer some interesting line choices (once again, you must understand and accept the risk involved in skiing this type of terrain. Remember: Tomahawking down snow looks bad, tomahawking down rocks IS bad)