Great rewards await those willing to make the effort
dave norona photos/for metro vancouver
These days, resort skiing and snowboarding has become very popular. But along with the high-speed lifts and fancy restaurants come the big crowds and big line ups that take away from a great mountain experience.
To combat this, many ski or snowboard enthusiasts are heading off into B.C.’s amazing backcountry to find their own little patch of heaven to explore. Backcountry skiing or snowboarding requires a little more effort than its resort-style counterpart. The rewards, however, far outweigh any struggle that you may encounter.
Here is how to get out there.
Before anyone heads off into the backcountry, it is important to note that there is no ski patrol, avalanche blasting or any other safety nets. You and the group you travel with must have taken a recreational avalanche course and carry an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel, along with all the other backcountry essentials. Each year many people suffer injuries or die due to avalanches and it is important to note that, in an emergency, your friends become your rescue team, so travel with those you trust.
Whether you telemark, snowboard or alpine ski, there are many companies that make amazing products that allow you to hike up with the same gear that you ski down on. Firstly, you will need a pair of skins that attach to the bottom of your skis and allow you to walk uphill without slipping backwards. If you choose alpine-style skiing, you will also need a pair of alpine touring bindings. These bindings have a releasable plate that allows you to walk uphill. Once up top, the plate is locked in place to provide you with the same downhill system that you are used to.
Snowboarders can use snowshoes to get uphill or use a split board, which is designed to come apart down the middle to provide two short skis. With a special binding pivot and skins, a snowboarder can now go anywhere they desire. Once up top the skins are taken off, the board is put back together and voila, you are off to shred endless powder!
A few hints that will make your day go smoothly are to remember to shed a layer or two as you head up the hill. You do not want to overheat and sweat as this may lead to hypothermia later in the day.
Also, bring lots of snacks and water as you will be burning a ton of calories throughout the day. Make sure you put the most knowledgeable and fittest person up front as they can find and set a proper uphill trail that will make the climb easier for the less experienced people in your group. Finally, be sure to take your camera because — besides the amazing skiing — you will capture some incredible scenery that will dazzle your co-workers back in the office on Monday morning.
G3 CLIMBING SKINS
PRIOR KHYBER SPLITBOARD
BACKCOUNTRY ACCESS SHOVEL AND PROBE
HELLY HANSEN’S VINTER JACKET