Backcountry Skiing in British Columbia – Trip Report

Post by blogger | April 1, 2011      

I spent most of my spring break on a school trip, but managed to get a way for the last few and do some British Columbia backcountry powder skiing. Sleeping in my car gets a little old, but amazing terrain and light snow sure don’t! Out of deference to the friendly locals we’ll not publicize the exact location. If you know it great. If not, you’ll have to discover it. What made my trip special was getting some of that low rated avy danger along with skiable pow — a combination that’s about as rare as moon rocks back home in Colorado and more common up around here (though things can of course be dangerous anywhere). Click images to enlarge.

Beautiful British Columbia.

Lee ripping it up in the sun.

Steve breaking trail.

Sterling, first tracks.

Jeff liking some fresh pow.

Robert maching out of a nice chute we skied.

Finding our way through a white out.

Sharon ripping it up.

To all involved, thanks!



36 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing in British Columbia – Trip Report”

  1. mc April 1st, 2011 9:52 am

    Way to keep your mouth shut kid! :mrgreen:

  2. Jay April 1st, 2011 11:01 am

    I like it: ‘stoke’ without being a tattletale.

  3. Lou April 1st, 2011 11:08 am

    I’ve noticed a distinct change in the air when it comes to sharing backcountry skiing locations. The sport used to be pretty sparse, so we tended to talk things up. Now the sport has boomed and it can be poor style to yell and shout how great a specific place is. For a writer, this can be a delicate balance. When I used to do guidebooks I didn’t worry about it too much, as the books tended to cover and promote large areas, thus spreading out the use. But Internet posts seem different as they tend to reinforce the same places, since where people go is what will be posted about. Thus, the net may not help with crowding but rather exacerbate it. Hence, we’ve been taking more and more care with this here at WildSnow. We still intend to share the stoke and stories about specific places, but not _every_ place.

  4. Sean April 1st, 2011 11:43 am

    The internet and its offspring “smartphones” — portable tweeting etc — have radically changed the landscape, Lou. Since you have the most prominent backcountry skiing blog, and since a lot of people in the USA now have gravitated toward “outdoor lifestyle” (emphasis on -style), I think you may find that your publicizing locations will cause overcrowding in short order.

    The smartest strategy is to provide a trip report and pictures, but not disclose the location. The location doesn’t matter anyway, really.

    And for those who are your friends or e-friends, with whom you want to share location details, you can always do that privately via email etc.

    Think of it this way: pre-Internet, did you come back from a day of backcountry, travel to the Town Square, get out a megaphone, and shout about your day?

    (that explains why the ramp-up in crowding is so quick)

  5. Richard April 1st, 2011 11:44 am

    I have been going to Canada for bc skiing almost every year for the last 20 years. In the fact this year we (yanks and Canucks) celebrated our 20th anniversary of skiing together at the Campbell Icefield Chalet. I recognize the place from the pictures and I am glad Louie did not share the location. It gets enough pressure from those in the “know”.

    Canada is having a great snow year!!

    Not bad here in Utah either…

  6. Brian April 1st, 2011 11:51 am

    The web is great for sharing observations and conditions info that help keep us safe. I just make sure to discuss aspects, not locations, when skiing in my stashes. πŸ˜‰

  7. Lee Lau April 1st, 2011 11:55 am

    we made the frontpage wooohooo. Good skiing louie – do it again soon

  8. Lou April 1st, 2011 12:04 pm

    Sean, exactly. Megaphone is good analogy. My approach these days is to share places that are already well know and obvious, otherwise go more to the general and artistic side and not try to be a guidebook. For example, our trip reports from Denali were totally appropriate in my view.

  9. Robert April 1st, 2011 12:35 pm

    Great pics Louie! Was fun skiing with you out there. Hope to share some turns with you again one day!

  10. Smokey April 1st, 2011 12:41 pm

    How did the idea of a Trip Report even start? The whole idea, including blogging about your day seems really lame in my own opinion. Your experiences are just that…your own and the only reason to share it is pure ego. I don’t buy into the “share to stoke” bullshit. If you get all excited about someone elses experiences, are you really living your own life?

    Anyways, my perspective which shouldn’t matter to any of you….

  11. sterling April 1st, 2011 1:13 pm

    Great pics louie! And lots of fun sharing some lines with you! We’ll be back for that big banana one day!!!

    ps – I’ve got some good pics for ya!

  12. Christian April 1st, 2011 1:17 pm

    Don’t like the surfer attitude. If you share more it wont be crowded…the problem is if you share just s little. There are tons of sweet dpots around – most undiscovered…..if everybody tells, the cake will bigger.

  13. Lou April 1st, 2011 1:39 pm

    Christian, I hear you and have definitely taken that approach now and then. Like I said, the web seems to have changed things so I’m more leery. Also, I’m serious about doing what locals want. They’re the ones who put in the skin tracks, volunteer for SAR, show us around (when they feel like it) and so forth so I like to be nice in return.

    Not saying I haven’t pissed a few people off over the years with some of my trip reports or guide books. I’m just feeling more sensitive to the issue now that the web seems to exacerbate the “crowd concentration” problem.

  14. Matt April 1st, 2011 1:48 pm

    I’m not sure if this factors for you guys, but it seems like tough to access mountaineering type trip reports that are unlikely to get super busy are always discussed with explicit locations. But something like this, that looks like some nice not super tech terrain that could be overcrowded, you stay quiet about. I can respect that.

  15. SteveG April 1st, 2011 1:57 pm

    Gee, I’m new to this back country scene. Overcrowded means somebody else went down earlier in the day? Two people waiting at the top to drop in when you get there? While I’m sure there are times that it gets over the top (Tuckerman Ravine on a late April weekend) my son tours extensively in an area 45 min from 100,000 skiers that had all the best places outlined in a book. He tours 50+ days a year there and if someone is in the chute he wanted, he just goes over to the next one. And that doesn’t happen often. That said, I’m a really slow tourer and a people person. Meeting and greeting all the fine folks that pass me on the up is part of my pleasure.

  16. Lou April 1st, 2011 2:36 pm

    Steve, I’m not getting too crazy about this, we’ll still be sharing plenty of locations. Just not when it seems appropriate to keep it down a bit.

    I’d totally agree that most places are truly far from being “crowded.” but some are and dispersed use is important.

  17. SteveG April 1st, 2011 3:02 pm

    My educated (i.e.”been around a while”) guess is that it’s more paranoia than fact. Just did a Powder Safari to small ski areas in Montana/Idaho that a number of people begged we not disclose. Skiing 1800′ vert of fresh powder on 2000 acres with another 75 skiers did not seem to be too much. Another 50 would not have made a difference. If everyone goes to Chute X, go in another direction. But again, the best experiences I’ve had in the back country were meeting skiers so maybe I’m the odd ball.

    BTW- On our trip we noticed that 99% of the over 40 tele skiers had gray beards. When are you crossing over?

  18. Mike Traslin April 1st, 2011 3:25 pm

    Good work guys….

    Fun trip!!!!

  19. Lou April 1st, 2011 3:35 pm

    Steve, I figure I need to start posting at teletips under a secret handle and fussing about NTN bindings. At that point I’ll be allowed as a tele greybeard. A helmet will be of course required as well, and binding risers wouldn’t hurt. Whether I tele or not will be immaterial at that point (grin).

  20. Evan Mitsui April 1st, 2011 4:13 pm

    Nice shots! Sterl, that BD pack is perfect photo-blue. Pick it out from a mile away.

    As for sharing locations – I think these things have a natural progression. Part of what makes meeting people out in the backcountry enjoyable, especially for a spot that isn’t subject to heavy traffic, is sharing in a secret.
    We’re blessed with a tonne of terrain in B.C. and sharing the location of a stash with a friend or two isn’t going to lead to over-crowding.
    But, in my opinion, revealing a zone online, especially one that has a bit of a mystique around it, takes away from the magic.
    Part of what makes backcountry skiing so great is the discovery factor.
    Intentionally leaving a ‘shroud’ around certain spots is a good thing.
    Sharing info face to face with people you know and trust is all good, but we should take a lesson from surfing. Bad localism (i.e. jerks in the lineup) stemmed from an explosion in popularity and limited easy-to-reach spots to surf…
    Backcountry skiing/boarding is getting more popular and, while I don’t think it’ll ever be as popular or crowded as surfing, part of what skiers and boarders can do to allow the sport to grow naturally is limit sharing beta to people you know and trust. And I’d add that sharing that intel should be done face to face, not publicly online.
    We all have to earn our spots in the lineup and finding out about a spot is part of the process. If someone already knows about a spot and just needs a suggestion or is concerned about safety, share what you know… but do it in person.

  21. Lee Lau April 1st, 2011 5:45 pm


    Glad you asked. Speaking for myself I do trip reports to torture cube-dwellers. With the blessings of the internet, this is now a worldwide possibility.

  22. SteveG April 1st, 2011 6:51 pm

    Lee Lou-

    So cruel. What one has, one has. Spoken by someone who started BC skiing at 60+ and never had to endure a “Real Job”. Fresh Powder for All!! Even if only in one’s dreams.

  23. Tele April 1st, 2011 8:49 pm

    Being from Canada, I recognize that spot instantly.

    We need more tourism, so SteveG, here’s the link.

    Deep pow for all. Get it before it warms up πŸ™‚,-111.060791&sspn=3.185747,9.876709&ie=UTF8&hq=53.16324,-104.507446&spn=0.005969,0.01929&t=h&z=16

  24. SteveG April 2nd, 2011 4:06 am

    Gosh, thanks for the link Tele. We’re moving to the PNW from the east coast in the fall and the plan is to take 2 months on the trip exploring. I see 2 golf courses, 3 cemeteries, scores of ponds for fishing and the elevation gain is well within my comfort range. I’ll have to park the camper there for a day or three. πŸ˜›

  25. brian h April 2nd, 2011 7:55 am

    If we didn’t have trip reports wouldn’t this then be some giant gear site? I know we have posts regarding access issues and a few other repeat subjects but seeing good skiing in big mountains is…good. I’m not totally stuck at a desk but seeing people who really live the life (in the winter anyway) feeds the dream of the big prison break.

  26. Lou April 2nd, 2011 9:17 am

    Brian, that’s a big 10-4, we’ll keep doing trip reports. Some with more detail, some with less. Last thing I want is for WildSnow to become just a gear site, but backcountry skiing gear is presently undergoing a sea change, hence our coverage has kept increasing to try and at least keep up. I’d imagine that eventually things will stabilize again and there won’t be such a gear review frenzy, but I have no idea when that would be.

    Appreciate the feedback.


  27. Mark W April 2nd, 2011 8:53 pm

    Guess I haven’t seen any lamentable crowding where I ski, but can understand that people want to keep certain stashes quiet. Several people I have run into in the bc were quite cool to chat with, but only went for short tours, i.e. two miles or less. In my experience, day tourers are largely non-existent beyond that threshold. In any case, I thank Louie and crew for the report. Inspiring as always Louie.

  28. Aaron Trowbridge April 2nd, 2011 11:06 pm
  29. jeff April 3rd, 2011 1:46 am

    I dunno Louie, I find sleeping in my car to be quite comfortable! Good stuff!!

  30. Kyle April 3rd, 2011 7:41 am


    i think it’ll be some time before you have to complain about the crowds up there!

  31. Jon Moceri April 3rd, 2011 9:45 pm

    I didn’t do many long tours, but iI just returned from 8 days of skiing in the Monashee’s with Mustang Powder. I did a 3 day steep chutes program with some touring to access the burly lines. Then finished with 5 days of Cat skiing.

    Our group was able to get a first descent of Twilight Couloir. See the Facebook link for a photo:

    I did the complete trip with a lightweight set up: DPS Wailer 112RP Pure Carbon skis, Dynafit TLT 5 Mountain boots, ATK RT (La Sportiva) bindings, and Clipskins for going uphill.

    Everything worked great and I was jumping off powder pillows and dancing down fluted ridges like never before. And I never felt guilty jumping in first and stealing the good lines.

  32. Dan April 4th, 2011 11:06 am

    Best spot ever.

  33. RK April 4th, 2011 10:06 pm

    I may be the exception in that I mainly check in on this site for the gear reviews, tech tips etc. Now you may ask why did I click on this trip report and read the comments? Well I’m from BC so I’m always interested in what’s going on here. Trip reports can be useful when they reference a specific area or access information but otherwise it’s just pictures…and once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. If you’re getting turned on by pictures isn’t that called mastur…anyway…

    To be honest I’ve stopped viewing all the local ski/outdoor sites because it is a small group of people posting the same trip report on 3-4 different sites at once, and they’ve obviously spent hours crafting it for public consumption…I dunno, not to stir the pot anymore but all the rampant self promotion seems so…so…American…

  34. brian h April 5th, 2011 8:05 am

    I don’t see trip reports as “self promotion”. I think it’s part of the complete package of a site like this. I find the same in the print ski mags I read. Before I ever found this site I read Lou’s book “Wild Snow” and that set me on a whole new course. That (amazing) book could be viewed as a bunch of trip reports by the gear heads who break skiing down to numbers and efficiency. The soul of skiing can be conveyed by the written word and by a great photo. That doesn’t happen with every post about someones weekend tour but I don’t believe that those stories always come from a “hey look at me” mentality.

  35. Lou April 5th, 2011 8:24 am

    Brian, yeah, trip reports at their best are simply classic story telling that humans have done, since, we’ll, we sat around throwing bones at the wolves circling our campfire (grin). In my view, if we can exercise the creative or artistic impulse to tell an interesting or entertaining (or educational) story then the trip report has fulfilled a useful purpose and easily exceeded any sort of brag or sophomoric self promotion.

    As for the latter, I don’t find a bit of self promotion as a negative when it has a purpose. In my case, I’m a writer and for years built my career with me myself and I as my own PR agency. So, I self promoted. I had a reason to do it. In return, I tried to produce something of value for folks. Also, I’m only human and given the opportunity to brag or just tell an amusing tale I’ll still sometimes take the bait, but as the years have rolled by my motivations for story telling have gone over mostly to just exercising the creative impulse…. and I like publishing _other_ people’s stories!

  36. Wick April 5th, 2011 11:55 am

    Well put…..

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