Less than two weeks ago, Markus found himself in need of a cook with strong backcountry skiing abilities and the ability to cook for a group of 20 day-in and day-out, and who could leave the country and be out of cell and email range for a week on almost no notice. Miraculously, I was able to get out of work and other obligations last-minute and head to Canada. Unfortunately, the late booking meant I had to fly from Denver to Vancouver, spend the night, and fly to Calgary in the morning before shuttling out to Golden, B.C. Even worse, the Vancouver airport seems designed to discourage overnight stays, and this was where I settled in for the evening.
After a very long travel day (including overloaded minivans, rockslide-induced highway delays, and a very slow dinner) we finally got to Golden, I caught a few hours of sleep, then it was time to pack up from the hotel.
A short drive in to the hills later and we piled up the week’s provisions, then waited for our ride.
Before long a Bell 212 showed up and we piled in.
Half the group and half the gear made the first flight, so the remaining folks got to enjoy securing the stack of boxes with their weight.
I had a window seat and was able to record the full 9-minute ride, for anyone interested:
The rest of the day was a hectic one, with most of the group practicing avalanche rescue while I unpacked, sorted, inventoried, and organized the groceries. We went for a short shake-out skin up the Escargot Glacier before I cooked up baked salmon and asparagus.
The next morning started early (as they all did). Breakfast took a while, and the lodge caretaker, Mike, and I headed out about an hour after the rest of the group – largely because I forgot just how long bacon can take to cook in a pan.
We made good time and caught up quickly, just as the group was ready to head up to the Swiss Col and ski some laps. In a terrible turn of events, Howie had a crash and blew his knee on the first lap. Fortunately Great Canadian Heliskiing was able to get him back across the valley to the lodge, where he hung out for the rest of the week. Thomas also managed to blow up the walk-mode in his boots, locking it in to a far-forward ski mode, leading to a difficult skin back to the lodge but an easy-enough repair that evening.
The next morning we headed out for a big tour around the area, the “Perfect Tour.”
The views and snow were amazing from the very beginning. (Escargot Peak on the right).
It was a chilly morning and skinning in to the sun was very pleasant.
Our first objective for the day was Perfect Peak, for a descent down a steep north-facing gully.
Stephen was here for work as well as play, and skied with kilos of extra camera gear in his pack the whole week.
A great ski and a brief skin later and we were at Perfect Pass, for another great run.
From there we skinned up to the White Russian col and skied back towards the lodge from there.
The skies were clear that night, and I was able to get an almost-decent shot of Orion and the mountains. It made me miss my SLR, but I still love it. There are many photographs of Orion and Sirius over mountains like it, but this one is mine.
The next day we did a big tour that added up to 5400′ and almost 10 miles, and at this point I was fully understanding how tired I was going to be at the end of a week spent on my feet working and moving 14-16 hours a day. I knew I would get to the end, just in need of a few rest days afterwards. I also realized that I’d really like a nice santoku for the kitchen.
The days started to blur together, and if I hadn’t taken notes at the end of the day, I’d have no idea what we skied when. The weather was amazing, mostly sunny and warm, yet cool enough to preserve the snow that had fallen the week prior to our arrival.
The scenery never quit,
the company was amazing,
and the snow was as good as you could ask for.
All too soon Sunday morning rolled around again and we all had to come back to the real world. It was a great time with a ton of great people, and I can’t wait to do it again.