[Note: Part One of this trip report focused on my pilgrimage to The North, and the glorious smorgasborge that is Montana’s gas stations. Part two features more skiing and more pizza….]
I was at the Canadian border when my phone finally dropped out of service, just after one final rejoinder from our editor-in-chief, Jonathan Ellsworth, to enjoy my time listening to Adele.
I did, and eventually Adele’s sweet strains and a healthy dose of Johnny Cash brought me to the town of Invermere, BC.
At Invermere, we carbo-loaded at the aptly named “Pepe’s Italian Fuel,” an establishment that, notably, has no “Meat Lover” pizza option, but you can order the “Vegetarian Nightmare,” which most definitely lives up to the name. It features pepperoni, ham, salami, sausage, and ground beef.
After Pepe’s an exchange rate heavily biased in our favor led some of us to a cheap hotel room where an inordinate ice axe-to-person ratio quickly developed.
The next morning saw the first of many packings and unpackings, as we consolidated all of our gear for the trip up to Jumbo.
Late that morning, we loaded 7 people, and 7 people’s gear onto 3 sleds and made our way up the logging road to the trailhead.
The trip up was mostly uneventful, except for one river crossing that almost got exciting:
Our first night was spent snow camping. Snow camping is super fun while the fire is still burning and you are still taking artsy #campvibes photos:
Once you actually have to sleep though, things get less fun. Deflated sleeping pads make for early, cold mornings, and we were met by the last party of jolly canadians on their way out.
It was at this juncture that a few members of our group (myself included) were informed that we were staying in the hut through March 2nd, and not just until the 1st of March.
This led to widespread panic (widespread panic in my psyche at least) when I realized I would be out of touch with work an extra day. Luckily, one of the Canadians volunteered to send Jonathan an email explaining the situation, and I figured Jonathan wouldn’t kill me.
(And for the record, JE didn’t dock my paycheck, either.)
From the trailhead it’s a 5.5 kilometer skin with 670 meters of elevation gain to the hut, and the front half of our group made it in about 2 hours.
After depositing our gear, we headed out for the first pow turns of the trip. What followed was a blur of snow, low visibility, and hippy-turn tree skiing.
It turns out that Canadian weathermen are just as fallible as their American counterparts, and we ended up with 8-10 inches of new snow each night rather than the bluebird skies that had been forecasted. All the new snow compromised stability, and kept us off any big lines.
So we did a lot of this:
Some of this:
More of this:
A little of this:
And a decent amount of this:
In the evenings, we sat around like a bunch of L.L. Bean models and serenaded each other with John Denver covers.
Alright, the real truth is that we sat around looking like homeless people, ate like Walmart customers, and serenaded each other with the impressive array of odors that the human body can produce.
We also practiced our Dynafit-certified repair techniques…
..which yielded a surprisingly skiable product: the new Dyanfit Porcupine Binding!
And throughout my entire time at the hut, I was haunted by my boss. Someone had hauled up to the hut a few years ago an issue of Backcountry magazine, which had this ad from 2013 featuring our very own Jonathan Ellsworth and Will Brown…
…which made my already pained conscience twinge even harder.
And then, all too soon, it was time to head back to the land of hot showers, cold beer, and greasy poutine.
So Jumbo is still calling, and I look forward to heading back there someday with better weather and a more stable snowpack.