Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Backcountry Skiing in Gros Morne National Park

Birchy Hills to Rocky Barachois Backcountry Ski Trip

On Saturday January 29, 2011 we set out on a backcountry ski trip from Birchy Hills to Rocky Barachois. The Birchy Hills route starts at the bottom of the Southeast Hills just beyond the bridge on the north side of route 430. We followed the remnants of an old logging route which offered great access to the Long Range plateau. The views of the southeast hills along this route are very rewarding and well worth the effort.

Overlooking Southeast Hills route 430 from Birchy Hills

The old logging route up Birchy Hills

Once you reach the plateau the terrain is a mix of forest, barrens, ponds and valleys. It is very open and you can choose to go pretty much in any direction. Our objective was to reach the headwaters of Barachois Brook and ski down the valley back to route 430.


By noon we reached the high point of our trek. We decided to lunch in a valley just before our descent. Normally we would look for a more sheltered spot given it was the end of January, but this day happened to be windless and relatively warm. After a quick lunch we started out again and before long we were descending down to the pond that feeds Barachois Brook. The descent was steep and the perfect snow conditions allowed us to carve lots of turns.

Powder filled valleys

This is an unmarked backcountry route so map and compass skills are essential. Visibility can become very poor on the hills in minutes so knowing how to navigate in these conditions is essential. We always travel in a group of four or more. We carry a cell phone, first aid kit, extra clothing and gear to make an emergency shelter. Avalanches can occur in the backcountry so be avalanche aware and be prepared.

If you would like more information on this trek and other backcountry ski routes in Gros Morne National Park or you are interested in guide services, email me at


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