Yeah, it was another epic Canadian hut trip in many ways. This time, a fellow Tucks patroller joined me which was a good thing in many ways.
With no bus service west of Lake Louise anymore, we rented and got an upgrade to a Ford F-150 pickup - sweet machine and I had no problems dealing with the snowy Trans Canada Highway into Lake Louise. After a few well earned drafts to acclimatize in Lake Louise, we had to eschew a powder day at Lake Louise as we had to fill up Eric's ABS pack cylinders at A.S.S (Avalanche Safety Solutions) in Golden. The operation went quickly with the usual outstanding Canadian hospitality that I have grown attached to over the last 20 years which meant we had time to splurge and get an afternoon ticket at Kicking Horse.
Driving up the snowy access road which included the 1 lane bridge across the mighty Columbia River brought us to the base area which was much smaller than anticipated - not some obnoxious urban sprawl though it does look a little like it was designed by the same architects that worked on the Bertucci's restaurant chain much like so many of these other resorts. Whatever.
Up the lift we went and at the top, I was surprised by running into Lars and Saxton the Practicum from a prior trip and then a minute later ran into Lane from a 2015 Snowfall Lodge trip - wow, this just shows us how cool of a World our Global Backcountry Ski society is.
Then there was the terrain. I have not skied many of the western ski areas over the last 20 years so maybe my opinion is kinda'/sorta' distorted but from what we saw that afternoon, Kicking Horse has TERRAAAAAIN, ma-a-a-a-a-n. WOW! We only made 4 runs but with over 4000 feet of verts on *that* terrain, we felt a little smoked at the end of the day. Huge bowls, hardly any grooming, intense steeps, bold terrain openings, intense scenery and lotsa' cool people. When we rode up in the gondola with the 2 patrollers from the UK and Northern Alberta we had a great time swapping our Tuckerman Ravine stories and I brought up how bold the terrain is and how I thought it topped Jackson Hole which led to a discussion about the vaunted Corbet's Couloir at Jackson to which one of the patrollers responded with "yeah, I've heard of that - we have 6 or 7 terrain features just like that". Yeah, ponder THAT! We only scratched the surface of what that place has to offer, too! Per the way the patrollers described the operation there, I sooooooo wanna' patrol there now - this patrol just has to totally ROCK!
Uh-oh, a nasty logistical situation over apres ski drafts regarding Icefall Lodge, our objective for the upcoming week. Oh $hit, after skiing and climbing with Larry over the last 20 years, have we gotten too familiar with each other? ...... contact Larry, contact Pierre.
Oh $hit, another brutal Canadian mountain challenge ....... which could be personally crushing.