After arriving to Squamish the crew remained disappointed and confused. Questions still lingered in our minds and answers had to be reached. The most pertinent of these questions was obvious: where was the good snow? Well, as seasoned powder enthusiasts and newcomers to the game of backcountry touring, we did our research and found a promising locale in the form of Rohr Ridge, located just northeast of Pemberton. This had to be our place of salvation from crowds, fog, and cement snow.
After a quick and delicious (is quilicious a word?) breakfast from Tim Horton’s, we ventured past Whistler along the Sea to Sky Highway to Duffey Lake Provincial Park, an area known for its vast wildlife and seemingly endless recreational opportunities. The road to the park was long and winding, becoming more remote at every corner. Certain crew members, namely Grey Fox, were beginning to question our game plan and if we were venturing too far off the beaten path. But, low and behold, we found our trailhead across from a large sand shed on route 99. The game was on.
The well-trodden skin track was giving us quick elevation gains from the get-go. The crew was energized and making speedy work of things, optimistic about the possibilities of light, deep snow at the higher elevations. Dozens of animal tracks were spotted along the way, confirming all previous reports that this area was highly inhabited by bears, wolves, deer, and the like. Being this the first time in the B.C. wilderness and also having seen The Grey recently, we were on our toes in the rare case we would encounter a dangerous situation. However unlikely, powderhounds must always remain on high alert.
As we reached an approximate elevation of 6000′, the snow layer was beginning to become lighter and drier, yet still hovering over a ghastly dense layer of crust. As promising as the pillow lines and tight trees appeared, we knew powder mirages when we saw them.
We found ourselves at the bottom of a fairly open area, where the tree placement seemed optimal for charging. As we hiked further looker’s left of the zone, we remained optimistic about the snow pack and took note that it was improving – but not nearly as much as we had hoped.
Eager to sink our skis in and keeping an eye on the time, we got about half way up through the zone and strapped in. Soft turns were had here and there, but the crust was omnipresent. The five or six inches of fluff was certainly appreciated and enjoyed, but there was just no avoiding the crust layer on the down. We made our way through the classic B.C. trees and were able to link up a few nice turns, but the collective feeling was that our time would be better spent on building some backcountry booters.
We set up shop below the zone and did our usual efficient work: cutting out the slope, digging from behind, and allowing Powder Moose to use his stout frame for plowing out a take-off. A nice session was had by Boomer and Easy E, while some unforgiving landings forced G. Falcon and Pow Moose to retire for the remainder of the afternoon. Though it’s always good to get your jumps in, the clock was ticking and it seemed time to make our way down to the car. A 6 hour haul from Pemberton to Seattle was looming ahead of us.
We had been exposed to some hauntingly classic PNW conditions yet again – and as self-admitted powder snobs, this was not sitting well with us. But, we carried on and held our heads high; yet another great adventure was had and we left knowing that we should be ever-grateful to have the opportunity to take on endeavors like this, regardless of snow conditions.
Next western stop: Colorado.