Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A week in the Selkirks

(Click on any of the pictures to enlarge...)
Jill and I spent last week at Selkirk Lodge, a backcountry ski hut in British Columbia. The hut is at 7200', a little bit below timberline, twenty miles east of Revelstoke in the Selkirk range. The only access to the hut is by helicopter, about a 7-minute ride from the heli pad at Albert Canyon on  the Trans-Canada Highway. Our group consisted of eleven skiers (our group of nine from Jackson, plus two new faces), two guides, and two cooks. 
I had been to Selkirk Lodge once before, in March 2000. That trip was the most spectacular ski trip I had ever been on, and I was hoping that this year's trip would at least not suffer too badly by comparison. I wasn't disappointed!
Getting there was an adventure in itself: while we were driving north, there was a big storm going on in the area. The Trans-Canada Highway over Rogers Pass was closed due to avalanches -- the BC highway report said the Pass would be closed for at least 8 hours. Rather than waiting out the closure and possibly missing our helicopter ride in on Saturday morning, we decided to backtrack and take the long way around. After an extra six hours of driving, we finally reached Revelstoke (where it was raining steadily) at 10:30pm. Sue and Guy also took the long way around (from Calgary!). Steve, Marc, and Jim had made it over the pass just before it closed. Bev and Dave sat in Golden until 10:30pm when the pass finally re-opened, and they got in to Revelstoke about 1:00am. Whew, we all made it in time for our 7:00am van departure from Revelstoke.
On Saturday morning, it was still raining in Revelstoke. It was raining at the heli-pad. The good news is that it was snowing up high! The total storm snow (Thursday-Friday-Saturday) was about 110cm, and it was nice and light up at the hut. The conditions weren't conducive to skiing on Saturday -- very windy, poor visibility, and potentially dangerous avalanche conditions -- so we did our avalanche beacon training and then retired to the hut for the afternoon.
The rest of the week was great skiing. I averaged 5000' per day in the remaining six days, which is a lot more than I typically do at home in the Tetons. Some of our group did even more skiing; I took one afternoon off, and took the "early bus home" option on a couple of other afternoons. We had one day of bluebird weather, and the rest of the week varied from mixed clouds and sun to totally overcast. On the sunny bluebird day, we went up on Justice Peak for some spectacular glacier skiing...