Global warming or whatever. Colorado doesn’t have much snow. Indeed, we were getting downright psychotic a few weeks ago when the extent of our ski touring was a weed infested and rock strewn hillside near Aspen, otherwise known as a ski resort. Or, known as that on better years.
Solution, British Columbia. A bit of an epic relocating our WildSnow HQ to the Valhalla Range of the Selkirks, but we are here. Specifically at Valhalla Mountain Touring, where a nice average 2 meter snowpack supports about 18 inches of fluff on top. Where the sauna is hot, the food is cooked with love — and they even have internet.
Shew, a blogger’s dream. No guarantees on the WildSnow updating pace while we’re here, as doing so depends on their cool micro-hydro system (as well as how convincing owners Jasmin Caton and Evan Stevens are about getting the goods instead of us sitting here fiddling with our computers. Like, who needs a powder deprived geek for a guest?)
A few things about Valhalla that make it special: Access is via a 1-hour snowcat ride on a logging road. Helicopters are neat, but they can be grounded when the powder really flies. Snowcat gets you up there when your schedule says you should. Terrain here is nicely variable. Lots of tree skiing for when it’s stormy (which is good, as producing all this snow requires a little detail called weather). On top of that, alpine variations add spice when the bluebird commences.
Our trip is self guided, meaning the guide/owners are here but we’re providing our own food and doing our own map reading. Nonetheless, Evan and Jasmin are not averse to following along and somehow showing up at the same drop-in points. More, they’re good at keeping the sauna going.
My wife Lisa and I are up here with our son Louie, who we linked up with in Bellingham, Washington. For us that’s a dream, but I’m pinching myself twice a minute because we’re also up here with the Kennedy family of alpinists, specifially young turk Hayden, voice-of-reason Michael, and ever spirited Julie. Topping that, a crew of 7 Canadian locals round out the mix.
And wow we’ve got the gear to test. That huge snowcat hauls anything you want so just for the Kennedys and Dawsons we brought 12 pair of skis, several avy airbag backpacks, 8 radios, 16 cameras, and 14 pairs of pants.
Bring it on (and commenters, be sure to ask about MK’s exploding enchilladas)!
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.