Friday, March 18, 2011

Deeper USA & Canada: Part 5

Day 15 – Sunshine Village
I got picked up by my sisters boyfriend, Troy early on Day 15, my last day skiing. The olds were crook and my sister had to work so it was just Troy and I. I had arranged a meeting with some of the SSV ops staff which went well and then hit the slopes.

It was a beautiful day up the hill, clear skies with wispy clouds around. Absolutely freezing though at around -25.

We hit some of the inbounds terrain and then headed out into the BC.

In Revesltoke I got chatting to my old mate who had told me about a backcountry run from the top of Wawa Ridge to the Sunshine carpark along Healy’s Creek. We had a pretty good idea about where it was and decided it was the day to hit it. We had about an hour skin out to Wawa.

When we got there I couldn’t resist putting in some turns down the main face.

I skinned back up to the peak and we tried to find our route. There were some nice views of Banff and Bow Valley, the surrounding terrain and also some cool Cairns that people had built.

We dropped in taking it very cautious. There are a number of routes but there is a rather large cliff band around half way down that must be avoided. We did some nice turns down to a flatter part and planned our descent.

When we got to the trees we noticed some ski tracks which we followed for a bit. We saw an awesome looking chute with what seemed like access to the Healy Creek ski out. I dropped in first and got some great deep turns down to the treeline.

Once in the trees I continued cautiously trying to place ourselves. As I was heading through the trees my worst fears were realised, the trees stopped abruptly and I was standing on top of a massive cliff! I turned around to see Troy, who is not keen on heights, looking very nervous.

I had a quick look around but there didn’t seem to be any safe route down from where we were. The depth of the snow and the steepness of the terrain preventing me skinning out so boot packing it was. What followed was around an hour of hiking in waist-chest deep powder up a 45deg chute, not much fun!

Back up we go

We finally made it back to the top of the first chute we hit and hooked up again with the old ski tracks. It was getting pretty late and the temp was dropping fast. The impromptu boot packing had left me lathered in sweat which was quickly freezing. We decided the best option would be to follow the ski tracks, failing this approach we would have hiked the hour back to Sunshine.

Following the tracks around 50m the terrain funnelled into an amazing chute for about 200m vertical. After this was a long avalanche path all the way to the ski out. The snow was exceptional, boot deep dry powder. Unfortunately the boot packing had turned our legs to jelly but we managed to get down safely linking a few turns.

Troy at the bottom.

We skied out along the Healy Creek hiking trail back to the Sunshine car park.

I was a bit frozen and shell shocked

We had skied around 800m of vertical, an epic run. Next time I do it I will know how to avoid the massive cliffs.

Troy works at a nice Italian restaurant in Banff and had arranged for us to go there for dinner. We absolutely stuffed ourselves and had a few beers to toast the days adventures.

Day 16 – Canmore

With the skiing all done and injury free I spent my last day in Canada checking out Canmore with the family. We went to an amazing thrift store full of old retro ski gear, if only we could get this stuff back in Oz. It warmed up a little and we had a nice time wandering around the town.

I spent my last evening wandering around Banff watching the sunset with my sister.

I cooked dinner for everyone and crashed. I was hoping to have a few beers for my last night but the week of skiing, hiking and getting lost had taken its toll.

Day 17 – Going Home
I got up early on Day 17 and got the transported to Calgary. The view was again amazing flying over the Rockies.

I had five hours in LAX watching Deadwood on the lappy then it was home to oz.

Once in Sydney it was a quick luggage shuffle then the aeropelican back to Cooma, picked up by my beautiful understanding girlfriend and then the drive up to the snowies.

All in all it was an amazing adventure. From the first few days skiing in the Cascades and wandering around the Pacific North West to the epic powder and good times of the Canadian Rockies.

My gear held up good and I made it home safe and injury free. I had only nearly killed myself on two occasions, not bad. I got home to my house in the snowies pumped for the coming oz season.

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