For many years, my winter tradition was a powder focused road trip with my brother. We would drive some version of Ventura, CA to SLC, to Jackson, through Montana, up to BC, and back down West Coast. But, things change. My brother got married, moved back east, and started a family. I am happy for my brother, I am proud to be an uncle, but winter ski trips live on!
So, when my buddy Isaac hit my up over the summer and let me know a spot opened up on a hut trip in BC, I was all over it. I didn’t have many details. Basically, all I knew was that we would get dropped off by a helicopter at a backcountry hut, stay there for a week, and ski our brains out. I really had no idea what I was getting into, but that was part of the adventure. I put a deposit down and started training/getting in shape.
The trip was nearing. It was the height of the end of the Omicron wave and a negative Covid test was required to enter Canada. This was the wildcard because I was just up in Mammoth with several people that tested positive for covid. A positive Covid test would mean no trip. But, I got my negative test and left LA on a Friday afternoon and flew to Spokane, WA. I picked up a rental car, crashed by the airport, and made my way toward Nelson, BC the next morning.
From my journal: I’m now up in Nelson and am SO STOKED. I walked the town, bought myself a new beacon, and scoped out the downtown zone. I really liked it. Quaint little spot with good food and cool shops nestled in a little valley. I met up with Isaac and his buddy Steve who would be on the trip. We met at a pub and I had a few beers, my first in several months as I had stopped drinking many months prior. Candidly, a few beers felt good and I didn’t think much of it beyond that. Later that afternoon I headed up to Nakusp as it would be much closer to the heli staging area the next morning. It was cool to catch up with Isaac, Steve, and another couple. It eased my concerns and the crazy thoughts in my head. Like, I what if I die up there? Would anyone know? Would anyone care? It also occurred to me that very few people knew that I was out of the country and in the back country for over a week. New anything is scary. New + big mountains + avalanche terrain = is totally scary. So, I was feeling it.
Anyways, I went up to Nakusp and met with another couple that would be on the trip. I had a few more beers with them too. This was after checking in at the Leland Hotel which is apparently the oldest running hotel in all of BC. It was super quirky, creeky, and a quintessential ski hotel. I absolutely loved it.
The next morning I slept like shit. I didn’t like how I felt or looked. I could see it in my face when I looked in the mirror. And that was the last sip of alcohol I had, February 5, 2022 (today is June 5 that I’m posting this). I didn’t have a single drink on the trip, and it felt great.
Continuing, I woke up at the Leland feeling a lil groggy but perked up after a cup of coffee, then blasted some music and headed 30 minutes to the helicopter staging area. I had no idea what to expect but we pulled up to a river bank where there was a helicopter staging area. We packed up our gear, got it all ready, then waited for our helicopter. There were a few huts being run by this group so there was a bit of activity there. Finally we loaded the helicopter with all of our gear and a ton of food for the week and headed up this incredible valley to the Outpost, our home for the week. It was my first time in a helicopter and a bit frightening, but awesome and beautiful at the same time. We arrived at the Outpost. We were a total of 12 skiers, two ski guides (Evan and Connor), a chef, and our hut custodian, Martin who actually owned and operated the company. Martin was incredible guy and he loaded the heli last minute because our original custodian tested positive for Covid. Martin built the hut by hand with wood that he harvested from his back yard. He told us incredible stories each night and it was such a pleasure to have him up there. He was so knowledgeable about the land was absolutely one of the coolest men I have ever met. Talking with him filled me with inspiration and hope.
Once we got settled, we were in full ski mode for the next seven days. Each day we would wake up, have coffee/breakfast, make our packed lunches, and head out for the day. It felt so good be so physical each day, to climb up high, then ski down. Truly one of the best sensations in the world.
Overall, the trip was incredible despite, as noted by our guides, some of the worst snow you can get in BC in early February. We had super warm temps, no new snow, one night of rain, but were still making fresh tracks every run. The snow wasn’t the epic blower BC pow you dream of, and we didn’t ski anything that was particularly gnarly/challenging, but it was just so great to be out there, completely off the grid using my body, burning calories, eating well, being in the outdoors, breathing fresh air, learning, connecting with new people, and living a completely different routine for a week. I truly felt so alive out there.