It’s been a slow year for adventures, but at long last Aubrey and I had a chance to go on a ski adventure a few weeks ago. We headed up to British Columbia, a little past Pemberton, to the Duffey Lakes. There are a number of public cabins in the area, some that you can reserve, some that are first-come-first-serve, and apparently, quite a few private cabins that are legally open to any passerby, if only you know where to look. We stayed at the Wendy Thompson hut for three nights, in the Marriott Basin.

The Wendy Thompson Hut.

Inside the Wendy Thompson hut.

Being that we were there rather late in the season (mid April), the wood supply at the hut had long been used up. So, keeping the fire going meant hauling the wood from an emergency cache a quarter mile down the hill. It made for a good workout, but I’m glad I only had to do it once!

Hauling fire wood for the cabin’s stove.

On the second day we were joined by two friends, and took advantage of the sunny morning by going on a longer tour. In the early afternoon some cloud cover and moisture came in, reducing the contrast to zero. On our way back to the cabin we couldn’t tell up from down. It really is the most bizarre feeling to be skiing purely by feel, with no visual feedback whatsoever. It wasn’t a true white out–we could see the mountains around us, and knew exactly where we were headed–but the terrain features right in front of our eyes melted away into a homogenous whiteness.

Aubrey, excited for her sandwich and tea, but not so excited about the poor contrast on the snow.

Aubrey, Art, and Darragh looking at the maps and route. Mt Cayoosh is the snowy peak in the distance.

Art and Darragh take in the good views and sunshine.

The blind skiing was bad enough, but it was even more disorienting for me, as this was my first trip on alpine touring bindings. Yes.. after 8 years of learning to telemark, I’ve finally admitted that there are times, many it turns out (pun intended), when it makes more sense to lock in the heel. With the heel locked, the turns feel much more aggressive, but more secure. It’s a trade-off – giving up carefree flow for fewer face plants. It’s a hard and in many ways disappointing trade off to make, one that’s well summed up in this hillarious classic video by AT Anonymous.

Skinning up the mountain for lap #2.

Later that afternoon the sun started to poke through the clouds, bringing back some contrast, so we went out for another run. The snow was far better than expected, heavy but soft pow. It was so good, in fact, that we climbed the 1,000 feet for a second run! That also gave me a chance to get a couple sunset photos. Normally when photographing winter scenes, I try to avoid partially exposed trees, instead preferring them to be fully cloaked in snow and ice. This little grove of evergreens, however, provided a lovely contrast of spring greenery to the otherwise white and wintery landscape.

Aubrey making some turns.

Winter, Marriott Basin, Joffre Massif

Spring is Coming : Prints Available

As the days get longer, these young trees are beginning to break free from their winter trance. In the distance, across the Marriott Basin, looms the Joffre Massif.  

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