Friday, April 10, 2015

Ticket to ride, white line highway - rang dang diggedy dang di-dang

In spring 2015, a rational person might say something like "Hey, didn't skiing in BC totally suck this season?" And they would have a point. However, it's important not to be too hasty when abandoning *the dream*. I literally received several emails (well, at lest one) questioning whether we should bother going to Eldorado over Easter, seeing as mother nature mothballed her mukluks and got out the lawn chair already. As I'm not the sort of person to let reason or evidence stand in my way, I told everyone it was going to be great and we should go anyway. Plus, I didn't want to lose my deposit on the hut.

Then, with days to spare, the snows returned to the Chilcotins. Last Thursday we made our weary after-work journeys north to Lillooet and the delights of "Canada's Best Value Inn". I've got to admit, it was pretty good value. Skipping past the details of breakfast, driving, waiting, moving cars around, packing, waiting some more, and finally loading up the helicopter - we were on our way. We were flown in on the last flight of the year from Tyax Lodge in one of the Bell 212's they use for heli-skiing. This thing was a monster, swallowing all nine of us, the hut custodian, and all our stuff with room to spare. Then it flew the custodian and a broken oven back out again. There are many things I don't like about helicopters, but being able to plop you in the middle of nowehere with your friends and a selection of fine cheeses is an excellent thing.

Angie, one of the two heli-virgins on the trip got to ride shotgun which resulted in her eyeballs doing this.
Having spent most of the day wasting time, there was an explosion of enthusiasm to use the last few hours of daylight to ski once we got in. It was looking very promising - cold temperatures with fresh snow and no-one had been in the area for a week - a blank canvas for us to mess up. We only had two and a half more days to spoil as much of that pristine snow as possible.

So, we set about it bright and early on Saturday morning:

Apparently the only people who ski telemark any more are either British or Norwegian (mostly British). Luckily Paul was on the trip so I wasn't the only one left living the dream.

This did not suck.

Chris, the other heli-virgin on the trip got to ski this slope, which resulted in his feet making this shape on it.
For two days, the usual skin-up - ski down - do it again cycle developed. Given that none of us had really done much in the way of skiing this season, it all seemed to go very smoothly. Until it didn't.

There were nine, but only eight were to return intact.
For reasons of thrift, and that all the helicopters had gone on vacation to Kelowna we were to ski and then walk back out to the road. This all started off very well, with some actual fun skiing and then some Type 2 fun luge-ing down a crusty track through the trees. Then, just as the snow was running out and we were preparing to start the trudge along the last few kilometers of old road to the truck, there was a problem.

Nikki had already dealt with part of the problem herself by the time we got back to her, which involved yanking her foot straight again from where it had ended up. Ouch. As any good collection of boy and girl scouts (I'm not sure if any of us actually were), we were well prepared. Paul and Angie got a SAM splint in place and we rigged up a sort-of backcountry chaise-longue with packs and down jackets. Luxurious. We had a great plan of fetching an ATV from the lodge below us and driving Nikki out on that, so with Kala and Guillaume dispatched to find the truck and get an ATV we set about responsibly caring for our stricken companion. Or in Nikki's words - "The rest of the group tries to cheer me up, but since that gets a bit boring and the wait is a bit long they start drinking and setting fire to things. That cheers me up".

Marc browsing Nikki's down-jacket emporium.

Then the news came via the winged heels of Chris that the ATV plan wasn't going to work out. Uh oh. Fortunately during the drinking and burning things, Marc had harvested some Alders to make a stretcher. I had some hose clamps handy, and pretty soon we had something resembling this strapped together:

I suppose it looked a bit more like this really, but ours was better because it had hose clamps:

It worked pretty well, and we made it to within about 1.5 km of the truck before salvation appeared in the form of a lovely man on an ATV who the others had recruited back at the road. By this point we had also made contact with the SAR helicopter which had come out from Pemberton, so it looked like Nikki was going to get a bonus ride for her pains. Literally.

More omitted details later, we are now all back in Vancouver and it turns out Nikki wasn't just being lazy, something had gone a bit wrong in the ankle-bone integrity department:

...or as Nikki's analgesic-addled mind would have it:

To conclude, I think we can all learn something from this story; whether it's that giving up is for quitters, cheese is carried in helicopters, hose clamps are good for stretchers, or that I can't think of any more words that end with "-ers". So that's it, ski season is over and apartment painting season is open. Be excellent to each other.