Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:55 am Posts: 998 Location: Wasatch
This trip report is a little overdue. I've had a hard time sitting down to write this as pretty much every version has ended up going something like this, "I paid to go on a trip of a lifetime, and I got sick all week". However looking back on my photos now I feel like I can contribute more to the story than just bitching about getting the flu or whatever I had.
Bucky, Jason, Zac, and Aaron loaded up all the gear in the two vehicles. An epic costco run eariler in the week was positioned in zak's truck, while bucky and I took a lot of the other gear in his forester. A 10am departure had us heading north on I-15 towards Canada. The weather and roads were great and the road trip was going nicely until we got to Dillon, MT where the was a small incident at the Subway.
A long drive full of James Urbaniak, Juicy J, Isis, and led to a semi strange but successful crossing of the border. We met up with the other car in Lethbridge and turned in for the night. A good nights sleep had us waking up to heavy snows which made for an interesting drive to Calgary to pick up Alister and Steve B at the airport. After leaving Calgary we headed towards Banff to eventually end up in Golden,BC. After an hour and a half at driving. I looked out the window and saw nothing but plains. Wait weren't we supposed to be in the mountains? Shit we were almost to Red Deer. we had been going the wrong way for an hour and a half! We flipped around and made the long long drive to Golden arriving around 9pm.
The next morning I woke up with a sore throat and headache and instantly new I was getting sick. I decided not to say anything and head down stairs to the breakfast at Kicking Horse Lodge. All seven of us were packed and dressed for the helicopter ride into Sorcerer's Lodge. A 45 minute shuttle had us to the helipad. Flight instructions were given and soon enough I was on the first flight into Lodge.
Our guides Dave and Aaron had us doing multi burial avalanche rescue scenarios for a bit, and then we strapped for our first run down. Some pow, little drops, ice, and waterfalls ended in a thick stand of alders. We crossed the creek and headed up towards perfect pass. This gave us awesome views of perfect glacier and the nordic peaks silhouetted behind. we dug a pit and found less than ideal stability. we rode the trees and followed the creek before skinning back up to the lodge.
The next day we woke up and decided to take a run down the other side towards cheap scotch. The ride down wizard gully was good but a little tracked out from the previous group. A long skin finally had us out of the old growth and into the alpine. the views were outstanding. We rode down from a high knoll as the conditions didn't allow passage up the finally push of the high bowls above us.
Mt. Iconoclast in the morning light
Skinning in the land of scotch
Some random mountain range
Not a lot of steep turns on this tour but great snow and long runs.
After a good run we skinned back up and over towards another col to line us up with a good run back towards the creek.
Big views of nordic group and one of our objectives for the next day. You can see the peaks of Rogers Pass in the top left.
Phantoms fucking rule, most of the riders in the group were on them.
Some good riding up high led to tight powders turns through the alders down low. Would have been a lot more fun with a few more feet of snow. We skinned back up to the lodge and made a killer dinner before hitting the sauna and calling it a night.
The sun didn't come out until about 8:30-9am each day so mornings were leisurely. Big breakfast were had each day. I woke up feeling really shitty but wanted to hang. We brought out the harnesses and ropes and headed up towards the White Russian col. Lots of crevasses and open ice on the route made things a little complex but an easy skinning route was found and soon enough we were looking over the very windy col. The other side was lit up in the morning sun and it looked warm, a nice contrast to the frigid cold side of the glacier. Dave dug a pit and declared things safe enough before we dropped in for 5 or 6 steep turns onto the very mellow and creamy terrain below. the snowpack was much deeper over here and it was decided to ascend another ridge and drop another drainage away into an area heading into glacier national park. The snow was killer if not a little heavy from the sun. The terrain was an awesome 2000+ vert of little pillows, mushrooms, and gullies.
After the last run I was toast. At this point I was really falling behind. We had 2200 something feet to skin to get back to the ridge. Then a traverse back into the basin that would lead us up to the White Russian col. All said and done we had close to 3000 grand of skinning to get back up to the lodge. I somehow arrived at the col about 15minutes after everyone else. While riding the terrain of white russian was great, my form was horrible and it was all I could do to just keep heading down hill. Thus i don't have many pictures from the last half of the day.
Alister, Dave, and Chucky our custodian, who turned out to be a total bad ass and killer guide in his own right, heading up with Nordic Glacier above and Escargot on the right. We lucked out having Chucky as a resource on this trip. As Buckchow put it, he could start a cult and I would join no questions asked.
An overview of the previous days work
I crawled my way back up to the hut and passed out on the couch. I woke up to catch a intense round of Jenga where a new lodge record was set.
Breadbox with fear and confidence
The next morning was going to be one of the last bluebird days forecasted so I rallied to hang with the group for the day, but knew it would be a struggle and left the camera at home. We made it through the broken ice and up onto the nordic glacier. After some sketchy skinning on a firm traverse above an open crevasse we pointed towards the Nordic Skier summit. I was falling really behind and worried I couldn't keep up. We were only at 8000 feet but I felt like I was at 14000. Every step sucked but with a lot of encouragement and help from Dave and Chucky I was greeted at the top of the little summit by the group. We strapped in and everyone shredded the step variable snow to the apron. I more or less did shaky hop turns. Good thing I left the go pro in the lodge.
After that we booted up to Wedding Bells a step little shot that leads into Broadway and our ticket home. It was fun to get on some steeper terrain but my legs couldn't hang. It was super fun watching everyone else rip the line thought. Turns through a landscape of walls of blue ice and huge vistas made the home run awesome even if the snow was so-so. Bummed I left the camera and couldn't capture this landscape, but glad I did so I could complete the tour. Some of the guys wanted more and head up Escargot glacier for an extended tour while three or four of us head to the lodge.
I woke up the next day completely wrecked, had breakfast with the crew, but decided to sit the day out. Everyone else was feeling a little beat and decided to have "short" day. Apparently I missed some awesome tree riding with drops and soft snow. The crew pulled off about 3500-4000ft vert of riding in a half day and was back at the hut around 2pm. Food, Beer, Sauna, Jenga, and a foam roller session had us in bed ready for the next day.
I felt much better the next morning and we head down the moraine and towards the Perfect Glacier. A cool little ramp made for some awesome skinning that put us right under the glacier. A few big kick turns later we were dropping in. This run was awesome and would be even better with more snow.
Alister of Chimera Snowboards stoked to be here
Skinning on Perfect
Aaron B. Getting some good turns on Perfect
After that run we skinned back up to the Perfect Pass and dropped down little bigfoot, which had fun rolling terrain for 1500-2000ft. unfortunately the visibility had shut down and was replaced by wind and snow. Our next across the drainage looked really wind scoured and low on snow and we pulled the plug. Back up to perfect pass and over to the top of some other run. We dropped into shreddies bowl which was awesome but needed a few more feet to cover all the little trees. Good turns were mixed in with smashing into little pines and hitting some little drops. A quick alder bash gave way to the familiar skinner up the moraine. A few of us wanted to hit some pillows and get an extra run in. Dave, Aaron C., Bucky, Al, and myself hit boulder boogie and my best run of the trip. Pillow line after pillow line presented it's self for about 1300 vert. I was energized from the run and dug deep for the final skinner back up to the lodge. I hit 6000 vert that day which is the biggest day I've had this season so far. stoked.
Aaron C. Popping a little hardboot method in mushroom land. This dude rips.
Bucky dropping behind a tree
We had a huge dinner, followed by some drinking games (sorry we never played bite the bag Dave). It started snowing pretty heavy that night.
We woke up to new snow for our last day of riding at the lodge. We decided to hit as many pillow and pow zones close to the lodge as possible. I didn't get many pics as the snow was too good. Over the head pow turns mixed in with all sorts of little drops and terrain features made for the overall best day of riding. Such fun terrain and it's all right below the lodge.
Bucky going mute
Dave launching it
Aaron C. Deep after a lining up a sweet pillow zone
Alister popping pills like it's Draper
Just like that we were packing up, finishing all the food, beer, wine, liquor, and other recreational substances before we had to turn in for the night. An early wake up the next morning had us waiting to hear if the heli could fly due to bad weather. At the last minute things came together on schedule and we got out of there in 3 heli loads. Dave and Aaron C. had to split ASAP to get back to revelstoke before they closed the highway. The rest of us drove back on icy roads to Golden to sort out our gear. After lunch Bucky, Steve B., and myself said farewell to Zac, Aaron B, and Jason who were headed straight back to SLC. We headed to Calgary to drop off AL and Steve at the airport. A final peruvian dinner and trip to the local theatre to see Her, capped off a great week in a bizarre but fun style. The next day Bucky and I rallied from Calgary to SLC. With a few blizzards, being detained at the border, and a never ending search for a subway veggie patty we were a little delayed but home in about 14hours.
I have to thank the staff of Sorcerer's Lodge for running an awesome operation. Dave, Aaron C, and Chucky you guys are gods to me. Thanks for putting up with us. To Alister, Bucky, Jason, Zac, Aaron B, Steve B and the almighty Chimera. thanks for making this trip happen and letting me tag along!
Awesome recap, Dan. I’ll dip back into this post for years to come.
Anyone thinking of a hut trip to BC should consider Sorcerer. The terrain is outta sight for splitboarding, a lot short approaches and plenty of vert, with varied terrain and epic some pillowed tree runs for down days. Plus, the lodge is cosy and has a wood-fired wet sauna.
We debated long and hard about getting a guide. I am really glad we did. Dave Sproule and Aaron Chance really did an amazing job, sniffing out good lines, and keeping us in check while inspiring confidence. Hell, it might have been worth it alone for all the trail they broke. As competent as most of us like to think we are nothing replaces the experience of guys who live in and ride the region, day after day. The lodge owner recommended Chucky Garrard as the lodge custodian, but I believe he also a guide. These guys are all snowboarders and really know what to deliver.
Hey nice write up Dan! Likewise, I was continually impressed by the operation of the Sorcerer Lodge crew and our guides. What amazing facilities, terrain, and environs. I want to go back.
One little personal takeaway: So, I tried out a different shaped splitboard one day, and immediately fell, hard, on my first couple runs on it, in spots I particularly did not want to fall. Wow, I really was not adapting to this different board, and it was frustrating. That evening as Chucky was calling obs to the base over the radio, his impressively detailed communique included something like "Aggressive slope testing yielded negative results." Pretty sure my tumbling falls were a large part of that "aggressive slope testing." Tail tucked, I reverted to my standard, familiar splitboard and remained relatively upright for the remaining days.
Thanks Alister for spearheading this, and to everyone else on the trip. Hopefully that check will clear, Al. If you work the US/Canada border, and are reading this, I have no idea what that smiling smoking emoticon means.