COMP - First Time out in the Back Country
This season marked the start of the something I have always wanted to try: backcountry skiing or more appropriately back country snowboarding. I remember taking my first AST 1 course years before and never getting the opportunity to get to the mountain to apply the skills. But this year was different – I had a partner in crime that was equally as excited as I was but had more experience.
We had gathered all the gear we needed: transceiver, probe, shovel, and snowshoes. We were lucky enough to be working in Whitehorse at the time so we piled into the truck with our gear one weekday morning and headed south of town past the industrial area, sprawling country residential subdivisions, rolling hills, beautiful lakes of different colors, towards the mountains towering over the historic town of Carcross set between Bennett Lake and Nares Lake. The goal was to get to know the areas along the highway and review some of the potential access routes using a guidebook we had picked up days before.
We stopped in Carcross for a quick bathroom break only to learn that the highway beyond was buried in snow and closed. Back we went to Whitehorse.
First day in the backcountry take number two.
A week or so later (and a new back country pack purchased), the conditions appeared to be stable, the weather forecast looked good. Off we went again. This time we had canvassed friends and locals on suggested routes beforehand and had narrowed it down to two areas that we would try to explore first: Summit Creek and Feather peak. We chose Feather peak.
”Snowshoes!? And a snowboard, I haven’t seen that setup in ages. Your brave." Said one of the ski tourers as he passed by. I don’t know if this was a compliment.
Up we climbed following a set of skin tracks and snow mobile tracks winding our way up a gentle alpine slope finding an area to make our first turns and an amazing view in every direction.
We spent our first afternoon doing laps of this gentle area returning to the truck at the end of the day to share a beer or two and watch the sunset over the BC/Alaskan boarder.
We thendescended into Skagway, Alaska for some food, beer, and sleep.
The next day we returned to the same parking spot, descended into the same gulley, climbed past the gentle slope that we had practiced on the day before, and continued on up around the first ridge to discover that we were still a ways from Featherpeak.
Our confidence built up from the day before helped us push on up another slope, around a corner, and then finally to the base of Featherpeak.
We zig zagged our way to the top, getting access to incredible views of the surrounding mountains.
And an incredible view of the Cleveland area.
The bigger and longer slope below us meant more powder, more turns, and bigger smiles.
After a couple of runs we trekked our way back to the truck to take in another sunset over the spectacular mountains. We then made the journey back to Whitehorse.
Best introduction into backcountry touring possible.