OK, OK, things are just happening too fast for me to keep up in a timely manner. Apparently I’m taking too much vacation for my own good and I’m falling behind in my obligations, like the blog. But after a hard days scuba diving in the Turks I guess I have a few minutes to jot down a few random thoughts and post a few pictures. Mostly post pictures because they don’t require me to think very much, it is St. Patrick’s day after all.
First off the Back country skiing trip to British Columbia. Every year a few good friends and I pack up and head off to the mountains to do a little skiing. A few years ago we got hooked on deep power and the only way to get it without a helicopter is to climb. So we all bought skis and bindings that allow us to unlock our heels, put climbing skins on and climb mountains in search of our particular addiction. It’s not easy on a bunch of old guys like us but when waist deep power is the the reward you’d be surprised what you’ll do.
The conditions started off good with low avalanche conditions and good temperatures. Unfortunately as we got closer to the top of the mountain where the hut we would be staying in for the next week the great climbing snow we’d been enjoying turned into hard wind packed ice that our climbing skins couldn’t get a purchase on. What followed was a grueling test of endurance where we were forced to take our skis off and climb up the ice covered slopes on our hands and knees. The fact that we all had 35-40 pound packs full of clothes, sleeping bags, food and the essentials…..you know, wine. Scrambling up that final pitch was tough and the senior member of our group almost didn’t make it. But we’re a team and we all pitched in and got him to the top.
Once we made it to the top we settled into the hut that would be our home for the next 6 days. It was a great place with all/most the comforts of home. That is if you have to walk 50 yards through thigh deep snow to go to the bathroom and melt snow for drinking water. But it was worth it. It had started snogging when we started climbing the mountain and did ‘t stop until after we left.
But what goes up must come down, and when you’re talking about massive amounts of snow in the mountains that means avalanches. Every day we were up in the hut the avalanche danger rose and rose to the point that when we finally had to leave the rating was moving from high to extreme. The ski out was pretty damn scary. It seemed like every slope that we’d been playing in just the day before was on a hair trigger getting ready to dump a ton of white death on us at any minute. The most dangerous part was an area below a major slide path called “The Mousetrap” When it was time to traverse the Mousetrap I went first to make a track through the waist deep snow. The guys selected me to go first because I was the strongest and fastest. At least that’s what they said, I think it was because I’d just gotten my new hip and they didn’t think my life was worth as much. But in the end clean living and a pure heart prevailed, not mine of course but someone’s I’m sure. Either way the crew didn’t get killed again.