A trip to Paradise Spring touring at Kokanee Glacier Cabin
I love spring touring but in all honesty I do very little of it. By April or May my motivation starts to shift to riding my road bike and work starts to control my life. I had a pretty prolific winter and managed to ski over 60 days with almost 40 of those being self-propelled. Though not as deep as winters past, it was good none the less.
Lately I've concentrated more on taking photographs to capture the stories, and document my adventures. So I submitted an entry for the ExposeYourself Contest and was super stoked to win a trip to Kokanee Glacier Cabin joining the BackcountrySkiingCanada.com crew. The popularity of this cabin is outstanding during the prime winter months, and accommodations are secured by a lottery draw. However the “shoulder seasons” are a quieter time, and offer many opportunities for groups to experience this paradise in the Kootenay’s.
It was early May when the weather turned to a tropical +30 Celsius in Nelson as we readied to depart. We arrived to a 4500 sq. ft. cabin which really feels more like a mountain chalet, complete with most of the luxuries found at home, serving as an outstanding base for a week of touring. The effort to build and maintain this cabin is a true testament to the dedication of its custodians, the Alpine Club of Canada and our gracious host, Kevin Giles.
At a first glance of the terrain, it was obvious the touring opportunities were endless, and my mind quickly drifted to the possibilities of places to go. Though the weather in the alpine neared daytime highs of 15-19 degrees, conditions were surprisingly stable and our only real concern was the warming that occurred during late afternoons.
Never has a ski vacation felt more like a beach vacation given the hourly reapplication of so much sunscreen. Because of the strong rays, we ventured out each morning by 7am to complete our tours before the afternoon sun took its toll on the snow pack. One of the best parts of the cabin is the close proximity to high alpine terrain. Within a two hour hike you are standing on top of a world-class 800m glacier run. By late lunch hour we were back at the cabin, sipping from a fresh pot of coffee and unwound in our peaceful surroundings.
We had seven straight days of ski touring and smiles on our faces. We had long mellow alpine ascents and one big successful mission bagging Grey's Peak (the highest peak in the park). This one week adventure has very much altered my perception of what it means to experience a great hut trip. When we concentrate so much on the deep powder winter days, we miss many of the benefits of spring; beautiful vistas, snow stability, and touring missions that are only possible with long days and good visibility.
If you’ve ever thought about going to Kokanee Glacier, I can’t stress enough to enter the lottery, or better yet consider visiting during the shoulder season where you may just experience a more epic ski vacation than you ever expected.
A big thanks to the Alpine Club of Canada, Kevin Giles (our most gracious host) and Brad of Backcountryskiingcanada.com.