WildSnow Goes Canadian – Valhalla Mountain Touring

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Valhalla Mountain Touring's Ruby Creek Lodge sleeps more than a dozen people in total luxury.

Valhalla Mountain Touring's Ruby Creek Lodge sleeps more than a dozen people in total luxury.

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.

Louie hits it. 'Star Wars' style.

Like the Starship Enterprise entering another galaxy, Louie's Cherokee, odometer pushing 240k, gets us there. Packed to the gills with gear, muffler held up with bailing wire, snow pounding out visibility, the approach was an adventure on numerous levels.

From Bellingham, some time in the middle of the night, on the Shelter Bay ferry ride.

From Bellingham, some time in the middle of the night, on the Shelter Bay ferry ride.

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?)

One hour of snowcat and there you are.

One hour of snowcat and there you are.

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.

When you come from the land of no snow to the wonderland of Valhalla, forgiveness must be rendered for endless photos of white.

When you come from the land of no snow to the wonderland of Valhalla, forgiveness must be rendered for endless photos of white.

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.

The tool that hauls you to the goods. All skiing is human powered once you get there.

The tool that hauls you to the goods. All skiing is human powered once you get there. I quite liked this snowcat, a vintage monster with a big people-box strapped on back. The blade is essential in a place where snow piles up in meters month after month.

Bring it on (and commenters, be sure to ask about MK’s exploding enchilladas)!

Comments

12 Responses to “WildSnow Goes Canadian – Valhalla Mountain Touring”

  1. Crazy Horse December 17th, 2012 8:58 am

    Ah yes– the diesel solution to global warming. Not that I wouldn’t jump in that people box to Valhalla in a second given the opportunity!

    Beautiful country. I’ve a friend who owns a timber frame company across the hill at Meadow Creek on the upper end of Kootenay lake. Enjoy.

  2. Tom Gos December 17th, 2012 10:34 am

    Really looking forward to seeing the reports from this trip. Strangely, your departure from CO seems to have conincided with the onset of winter here.

  3. andrew December 17th, 2012 11:10 am

    Nice. And, judging by what I see out my window right now, you should be getting puked on! Welcome to BC Lou and crew. Enjoy your stay.

  4. Dillon December 17th, 2012 11:46 am

    and just when I was convinced this site was about everything BUT skiing.

  5. Ansh December 17th, 2012 11:47 am

    I am also looking forward to see how the reports of this trip are. I’ve never been hiking in alpine meadows although I’ve heard there are fantastic views, stunning wild flowers and alpine lakes. Also my family and I are planning to come down there for the summer. Does anyone have any good ideas for us.. things to do? We really like to hike..what are the names of some of the trails so I can check them out before we come?

  6. cam December 17th, 2012 1:31 pm

    great pick of venue…it’s fairly epic at the moment!

  7. john nobil December 17th, 2012 1:37 pm

    its a tough job but somebody’s got to do it! good luck testing those avy bags :wink:

  8. oc ender December 17th, 2012 6:10 pm

    Although I’ve argued the fact that” Global WARMING” has missed us up here,I need to state that those pics must have been photoshopped in some dark room somewhere in Co….no snow here folks,nothing to see,move along now.!

  9. Mark Sevenoff December 17th, 2012 6:30 pm

    Tell Jasmin & Evan that their old friends(Mark & Max) from Moab (& the LaSal Avy Center) say “hello”. 15″ over the wknd. & more tonight.
    Lou – at least you’ll come home to much better skiiing. I think sometimes it takes a road trip to make it snow in your home range!

  10. Lou Dawson December 17th, 2012 7:25 pm

    It was indeed snowing rather hard today. At one point while uphilling, the wind in my face blew so much snow down my throat I choked.

    Mark, yeah, it seems that every time I’m in Europe in January skiing mank, family back home are ripping powder.

    We’ll keep the trip reports coming. Was wondering when you guys were going to cry uncle due to all the gear reviews and essay posts. But that stuff is fun too. As many of you know by now, the rhythm of WildSnow.com is such that we tend to cover more gear up through Christmas shopping season, then shift to lots of trip reports as winter progresses.

  11. john doyle December 18th, 2012 6:34 am

    Happy holidays to the Dawsons and the Kennedys! Canada seems to be the destination for Roaring Fork powder skiers. Glad you have 14 pairs of pants…

  12. myska December 18th, 2012 3:45 pm

    yup, it truly puked out here in the kootenays yesterday. went out to the whitewater backcountry today, i couldn’t get down the hill, it wasn’t steep enough. enjoy yourself guys and on your way back, if you want to get rid of one of those avalanche bags, ehm, ehm, well…….. :-) eeeeeeee…teeheeheeehe

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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