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Photo courtesy of Dave Norona
Finally, after two weeks of brutal storms that have hit our mountains and filled them with huge amounts of snow, the sun finally broke through. My friends and I were waiting for this day to come and when it did we were ready.
Leaving my house at 6:30 a.m. in the dark, I was first inspired by the rising sun shining brilliantly on the Sea 2 Sky corridor as I passed the Horseshoe Bay turnoff. Hip-hop music rang through my brain as I screamed out a big “Yahoo!”
Arriving at the Cat Lake turnoff, my friends and I rallied our snowmobiles to get us to the alpine in about 20 minutes. Once up top, we shut down our machines and just sat in awe of the beautiful morning with Diamond Head shimmering in the sun; it was perfect.
Below us lay 1,300 vertical feet (396 metres) of untouched, super deep, light fluffy powder. As I dropped in, the snow engulfed my body and the feeling of weightlessness overtook me as I descended. The tips of my fat skis barely scratched the surface as they guided me down the hill while the spray from them hit my face.
At the bottom I looked up at my tracks in silence as my friends came down one by one experiencing everything I had just felt. Together we sat relishing in the moment at how lucky we are to do this.
Attaching my skins to my skis and switching my Scarpa boots to walk mode, I began the arduous task of setting a track back up to the top. This is one of the best ways to get fit and enjoy the magical surroundings.
Ski touring is one of my favourite sports. There are no crowds out in the backcountry and the snow is always perfect and untouched. However, the backcountry is no place to mess around which is why I, and all my partners who I travel with, have extensive avalanche training. I only travel with people who I know have the experience and can count on if something goes wrong.
The equipment for ski touring is important. You need precise gear that won’t break down and will work in all conditions. Boots are the most important piece of gear, as they need to keep you warm, perform like a downhill boot and be lightweight for the return trip up the hill. Alpine Touring bindings are also quite different than downhill bindings, as they need to work well for climbing as well as descending. The Diamir Fritschi AT bindings are the best on the market and are simple to use. Fat skis allow you to float on top of the snow and carve the powder like a hot knife through butter.
Your clothing also has to be chosen carefully for your surroundings. There are no chalets to protect you from the elements so it is up to you to layer properly and keep warm without sweating. Food and water are also very important when you’re climbing up to 2,400 metres throughout the day. Being prepared and having the right gear means you will have a ton of fun out in the backcountry.
Black Diamond Covert Pack
Description: The Covert pack is the ultimate daypack for all backcountry adventures. Pockets for avalanche safety gear, side compression straps that double as ski holsters and water-shedding 420-denier fabric to keep all your stuff dry.
Where to find it: www.blackdiamondequipment.com
Movement Black Rose Women’s Skis
Description: Find those bottomless bowls with these Black Rose skis from Movement. This lightweight mid-fat high performance women’s ski is equally at home on the groomers as it is in the crud.
Where to find it: www.roirecreation.com
BCA Low Fat Climbing Skins
Description: Get to the top efficiently with Backcountry Access’ Low Fat climbing skins. Lightweight, less bulk than other skins and the durable hydrophobic synthetic material repels water.
Where to find it: www.backcountryaccess.com
Scarpa Tornado AT Boot
Description: A lightweight, stiff, and high-performance boot with a walk-friendly design is what you need for backcountry touring. The Scarpa Tornado does all this while being compatible with both alpine and touring bindings.
Where to find it: www.scarpa.com